Courage Under Fire
Disclaimer: The characters on the Enterprise belong to Paramount studios and no money whatsoever is being made from this story. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. I promise to put the characters back safe and sound when I am done with them.
Author's Note: I want to thank Floydwaters for being such a thorough beta reader and for correcting any grammatical and mechanical errors in this story and for noticing any plot imperfections in this story. Thanks to Floydwaters, this story is probably better written than my other fanfic stories which did NOT have a beta reader.
Summary: This story is based loosely on the Enterprise episode “Stigma”. Of course the disease “Pa’an” that is referred to in this story is an analogy to HIV/AIDS and how AIDS victims are treated in this country is how Pa’an victims are treated in Vulcan society. This story touches on some sensitive subjects such as HIV/AIDS, racism, gay/lesbian rights, HIV/AIDS victim rights and rape. If these subjects are too sensitive for your taste, please do not read this story.
Dr. Phlox, Personal Log, Log Entry 1
I have just gotten back from the Interspecies Medical Convention. I have asked the Vulcan doctors if they have any relevant recent medical research about a Vulcan disease known as Pa’an. Last year, a group of mind-melders boarded Enterprise and infected Subcommander T’Pol with this dreadful disease. I have done my best to control the symptoms of this infection but her disease is getting out of control and I will need help from the Vulcan scientists. Up ‘til now, I have used my own research based on my knowledge of Vulcan physiology but the disease is getting progressively worse. Due to the fact that Pa’an is such a taboo subject on Vulcan, I have disguised my request for Pa’an somewhat. I informed the Vulcan Medical Council that I needed the research for Pa’an for one of my colleagues on Denobula, my home planet. On Vulcan, victims of Pa’an lose their social standing, their reputations, and their jobs if anyone finds out that they are infected. Family members and close friends shun victims of Pa’an, and they are relegated to the outskirts of society to be locked away in a medical institution and left to waste away and die. I cannot let this happen to T’Pol. We on the Enterprise do not want to lose T’Pol, for she has become a valued crew member in the year and a half that she has served with Starfleet.
Only a minority of Vulcans can contract Pa’an and this minority is known on Vulcan as the mind-melders, which is highly frowned upon in correct Vulcan society. Mind-melding is the process by which one Vulcan shares his memories and emotions by touching another Vulcan’s mind. Vulcan doctors consider mind-melders to be genetically defective. They believe that anyone with the ability to pass on such an intimate activity as mind-melding to be inferior to the average Vulcan who values his emotionless logical mental state. Anything that meddles with Vulcan logic is not approved of. As a result, the only way to contract Pa’an is through engaging in the intimate emotional activity of mind-melding. Frankly, I do not understand why there is such a stigma against mind-melding. It sounds like a fascinating way to get to know one’s mate. If a Denobulan could mind-meld—well, everyone would HAPPILY participate, especially if it is arousing. We Denobulans are a passionate, emotional people who value our erotic side. Denobulans have many diseases similar to Pa’an, which is why I have been able to control the onset of full blown Pa’an in T’Pol just by using research in the Denobulan database. However, as the disease progresses, the differences between Denobulan and Vulcan physiology are becoming more and more pronounced, thus hampering my efforts in finding a cure for T’Pol. I have every hope that the Vulcans have a cure for this dreadful, debilitating disease.
Pa’an degrades the synaptic nerves of the brain, and eventually attacks the central nervous system and undermines the body’s immunological system. If left untreated, the patient loses his or her ability to resist infection and thus would die from any opportunistic infection that comes around. So far, T’Pol’s symptoms have been mild and I have treated her symptoms with a variety of medications in a cocktail style: in other words, a mixture that brings down the level of infection in her bloodstream. I have not been able to eliminate Pa’an; I have only been able to reduce its effects on T’Pol so that she can still perform her duties on Enterprise unhindered. It’s bad enough that T’Pol has a potentially fatal disease that is stigmatized on Vulcan, but what really angers me is that T’Pol was also mentally raped. She involuntarily underwent a violent mind-meld and that is how she got infected. So far, I, being her physician, am the only one who knows that she has Pa’an. T’Pol has asked me not to tell the Captain about her condition, and since Pa’an is not contagious and poses no threat to the human crew, I have been able to acquiesce to her request for confidentiality.
Dr. Phlox, Log Entry 2
The Vulcan Council has refused my request to share their research on Pa’an with me. I can’t say that I am too surprised at their attitude. I have also been banned from any further contact with future medical conventions on Vulcan. This is most discouraging news because I worry that any delay in treatment for T’Pol will result in further degradation of her synaptic membranes as well as her immune system. The beta-blockers that I am using to block the replication process of the disease are starting to become ineffective.
I have just been advised of a startling development. It seems that T’Pol has been able to get the cooperation of one of the younger doctors on the Vulcan Medical Council to give her research on Pa’an. This Dr. Yuris has to be commended for his bravery because he has jeopardized his position to help T’Pol and to help me research a cure to this disease.
As soon as the research disk arrived, I downloaded all the information into the Enterprise medical database. I am disconcerted to find out that after downloading all the Vulcan research, the Vulcans do not seem to have expended any great effort towards finding a cure to this disease. The research that the Vulcans have sent me is scant; I might as well continue do research on my own.
It seems that because this disease affects such a stigmatized, marginalized section of Vulcan society, the Vulcan High Council has decided not to invest its resources into finding a cure for this disease, the attitude being, after all, that victims of Pa’an “asked for it” and deserve to die from this disease because they engaged in the distasteful act of mind-melding in the first place. I do not have time for Vulcan moral judgments; I am a doctor and it is my job to find a cure for any disease that ails my patients, and time is running out for T’Pol. It seems that I will have to ask for further assistance from the human doctors since T’Pol’s disease is worsening and I do not want her to die. Captain Archer will now have to go through diplomatic channels to find a cure for T’Pol. Her fate rests in Archer’s hands now.
Captain Archer, Personal Log 1
I was furious when I found out that T’Pol has been hiding the fact that she has a potentially fatal disease and she did not tell me about it. I don’t care if the disease is contagious to humans or not, she should have told me about this Pa’an situation sooner so that I could have wrung those idiotic Vulcans’ necks for their refusing to help my senior officer in her affliction. Now that it has become common knowledge that T’Pol is infected with Pa’an because of an intimate mind-meld…which was not done to her voluntarily, I might add...these snobby, snotty Vulcans have the gall to try to recall T’Pol from her post here on Enterprise. I can’t let those snot-nosed doctors win! I must find a loophole in their stuffy logic somewhere to save T’Pol. I can’t let them take her off this ship.
My primary duty as the captain of Enterprise is to ensure the health and safety of my crew members. The crew looks up to me and expects me to know what to do in any given situation. I must find a way to keep T’Pol on this ship so that she can continue to get treatment from Phlox. I have every confidence that Phlox will eventually find a cure before it is too late. I am afraid that if T’Pol is sent back to Vulcan, she will not get the treatment she needs since Pa’an is such a stigmatized disease, and it is my understanding from Phlox that Yuris’ research is sparse to say the least. Those damn Vulcans don’t care if people die just because the people afflicted with Pa’an are part of the minority and not part of Vulcan mainstream society. Phlox told me had this been a disease afflicting the mainstream society, a cure would have been found long ago and T’Pol wouldn’t need to be suffering like this. I have to do everything in my power to keep T’Pol on this ship. I am having Hoshi, our translator, look over Vulcan law books to see if she can come up with any legal loopholes I might be able to use against the Vulcans to save T’Pol’s life.
On a more personal note, I greatly respect T’Pol and would really miss her if she were ever recalled. She is the first Vulcan that I have ever met that I actually liked. Before meeting T’Pol I thought all Vulcans considered humans to be beneath their contempt in both technological and emotional development. All my life, Vulcans have been telling me what I should or should not know. It was the Vulcans who delayed the launch of Enterprise so long that my father who built the warp engine for Enterprise did not live to see the culmination of his life’s work. T’Pol changed my mind about Vulcans. She is more open to change, more willing to share what she knows, and most importantly, she treats humans as her equals rather than like her underlings. I have grown used to her reassuring presence on the command deck. Her presence not only inspires me with confidence, but she also inspires the crew to do their very best. When the crew sees her professional demeanor and no-nonsense attitude, they know that the mission will be a success. She inspires me to be a better captain.
I was deeply touched when T’Pol asked me to go away with her on a top-secret Vulcan mission. She did not choose to go with a Vulcan officer; she instead chose me, and I was honored to accompany her on her mission to capture a missing fugitive from one of her previous assignments on Vulcan. She trusted me with her secrets, and she knows that I will never betray her. No one at the Vulcan Consulate knows that T’Pol was mentally raped by the mind-melders who came on board this ship—yet she told me. She does not want me to disclose her secret to the consulate because she fears that disclosure of her rape will further stigmatize the Vulcan minority that she fiercely defends.
Captain Archer, Log Entry 2
It seems that Hoshi has found that loophole! It seems that the high-and-mighty Vulcan Medical Consulate cannot just fire T’Pol. According to their own law books that Hoshi translated, T’Pol has the right to a hearing. I can’t wait to talk to that Doctor Anurat, the chief surgeon of the Consulate, and tell him that T’Pol gets to have a hearing. There’s hope after all for T’Pol to remain on board Enterprise. I have told Hoshi and Phlox to gather as much evidence as they can. I know we can win this thing; if not, I’ll go through Starfleet channels, and maybe T’Pol can serve Starfleet instead of the Vulcans, and the Federation doctors can find a cure for her. The hearing is tomorrow afternoon. I’d better turn in early so that I can get plenty of rest for this momentous occasion.
Captain Archer, Log entry 3
At the hearing, I couldn’t help lose my temper at the inanity of it all. How dare they judge the integrity of my first officer! It seems that they have already made up their minds long ago to have T’Pol removed from duty. I kept thinking that T’Pol should tell them the truth: that she was raped for goodness sake, and that it was not her fault she mind-melded with the creep that infected her! I am keeping my mouth shut because I promised T’Pol I wouldn’t say anything about her rape. She says that telling them about the rape would only perpetuate the racism that they feel towards the Vulcan minority and would make the minority look worse...I admire T’Pol for her nobility. She’s willing to sacrifice her job and her life for the good of the minority and it makes me feel proud to be serving alongside her…proud that she is a member of my team, a member of the Enterprise.
I get angry whenever I hear racist rhetoric and that’s what this is: racism. The Vulcans judge a whole subsection of their society by the acts of a few. I say, “What is wrong with mind-melding?” What is wrong with letting another person see and feel your emotions? I am told that it is only this minority that has this ability to mind-meld, that it is in their genes...and once again I say, “Who cares?” If mind-melders choose to be intimate in this manner I say, “Good for them”, I mean “whatever floats your boat,” right? It’s none of my business what Vulcans do in the privacy of their quarters. I do believe that my first officer should not have to pay the price for this racism just because they don’t approve of her sickness. That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard, and boy, have I heard some doozies! I can’t understand how they can sit so calmly as they watch a fellow Vulcan die horribly when all they have to do is expend some energy and cure the darn disease. Almost all diseases can be cured these days with the proper medical facilities. And Vulcans claim that they are “logical”—well darn tooting there is nothing logical about their condescending attitude towards Pa’an victims. I can’t believe that these sanctimonious pigs think that they are more advanced than us puny humans. I say we humans are more advanced in our thinking because we obliterated racist thinking over a century and a half ago. I intend to give these “advanced” Vulcans a piece of my “inferior” mind! I am damn proud of my angry emotions, dammit!
As I sit through the hearing, I can hear my blood broil and my heart pound. My knuckles are sweating and I can’t just sit there and watch my first officer get persecuted for something that was NOT her fault. Oblivious to the consequences I suddenly stand up and blurt out what has been in my heart all along: “I feel that I must take the stand to say something on behalf of my first officer. First of all, I think that this whole hearing is a farce. You say that you are an advanced society…you say that we puny humans are way behind you in our thinking. Well, I disagree…what I see here is racism pure and simple. You just can’t stand the mind-melder minority, and you are willing to condemn them to death by having them die of Pa’an as you sit on your asses unwilling to spend any time in finding a cure to this deadly painful disease just because you don’t approve of the way they lead their sex life—well that’s not advanced thinking in my book! We puny humans eradicated racism and sexual discrimination a century ago. We humans now embrace diversity…we embrace diversity so much that we are willing to explore outer space to find other more diverse life forms than our own. You call yourselves ‘role models’ for humanity to follow…well, mister, I have to say that I do not intend to follow your model in any way, shape, or form, for I will never be party to the condescending attitude you hold towards the minority...and…”
Captain Archer stopped writing in his log for a moment as he closed his eyes to remember the hearing:
Encouraged by the passion of Captain Archer’s speech ,young Dr. Yuris bravely outed himself as he announced, “Captain Archer is right. I am a member of this hated minority and I say that it is time that we stand up for our rights and declare that mind melding is NOT a bad activity. Some of us have that ability and we enjoy and we should not have to persecuted for doing what we enjoy…T’Pol should not be made to leave her position just because she has contracted Pa’an…she deserves the same compassion that is given to victims of any other disease…”
Shocked by Yuris’ admission, Arat stands up and declares, “Did you just say ‘we’? Are YOU a mind-melder? You will be severely reprimanded when we reach Vulcan. I will make sure that you lose this position and any future position that you hope to ever obtain for you and your descendents. Do you realize that you have risked your position for...this…this…
Before Arat can continue, another Vulcan speaks his mind: “I hate to interrupt your argument, gentlemen, but logic demands that I do so. All this argument about ‘diversity,’ ‘racism,’ ‘Pa’an,’ and ‘hated minority’ is totally irrelevant. You see gentlemen I know T’Pol’s secret. She did not want any of you to know this because she felt it would taint the proceedings here, but, you see, T’Pol was raped. That mind-melder forced himself on her and forced her to participate in his mind-melding, so you see, gentlemen, this is not her fault...”
The other members stand up with their mouths agape as they whisper together after this unexpected outburst. One dignitary says, “T’Pol why didn’t you tell us this in the first place? Why did you keep it such a secret that those mind melding animals raped you? And you, Captain Archer, what did you know of this?”
Archer stares at the floor as if he finds the ground totally fascinating as he tries to stammer out an answer of his complicity in the matter. Before Archer can stammer a reply T’Pol comes to the rescue: “I did not want my rape to be an issue. The issue is still the awful, unfair, and unjust treatment of victims of Pa’an. I came to this hearing NOT to get my job back but to stand up for the rights of all Pa’an victims so that they can get the same compassionate care accorded to victims of other illnesses. It is my belief that if my rape had become public, all mind-melders would have been blamed for my attack. It is illogical to blame the act of one violent person on a whole subsection of society. I told Captain Archer NOT to tell anyone about my rape. Counselor, I told you about my rape in the utmost confidentiality and you are the one who has broken his word, NOT Captain Archer…it seems that humans do have MORE integrity than Vulcans after all.”
Without waiting for a reply, T’Pol leaves the hearing. The other Counselors after hearing about the rape and that T’Pol did not consent to the mind-melding decide to reinstate T’Pol back to the Enterprise without further comment. The judge raps his hammer on his deck and says “case is closed”.
Archer opens his eyes and sighs as he continues with his log entry:
I am glad that T’Pol is by my side again even though she had to reveal the truth about her rape and perpetuate the racism against the minority. I know it is selfish of me to feel this way but I don’t know what I would have done without her. So much of my mission depends on her knowledge as she has more experience than I do (besides Travis, the space boomer) in space travel and her knowledge and her presence is precious to me. With T’Pol back as my first officer, I know that my mission to seek out and explore new worlds....to go out where no man has ever gone before’ will be a success.
T’Pol’s log entry Log entry 1
I have just come back from the hearing. I went to the hearing to speak in defense of the mind-melding minority, but I’m concerned that news of my mind rape will only make matters worse now that the mainstream Council will think that all mind-melders are rapists, and they are not.
Dr. Yuris’ is in danger for he has sacrificed his future twice to save me, which I think is totally unnecessary since I do not want his downfall on my conscience. First, he jeopardized his career when he bought me the latest research on Pa’an syndrome to Dr. Phlox knowing that such information is highly classified and if caught he can face treason or worse yet, imprisonment, or even death. Then, he outed himself by telling everyone that he belonged to the much despised mind-melding minority. I intend to do all that I can to ensure that he has a fair hearing. Captain Archer has agreed to give me a leave of absence so that I can prepare a defense at Dr. Yuris’ hearing next month. If all else fails, I will ask Captain Archer if Dr. Yuris can join the Enterprise to in help Dr. Phlox to research a cure for Pa’an disease.Captain Archer agrees with me that defending Dr. Yuris is of utmost importance.
I have grown to admire and respect the humans that I work with here on Enterprise and on Earth. Unlike Vulcans, and despite their illogical emotional outbursts, humans show remarkable potential. Already humans have progressed further in their social development than Vulcan society in that humans like Jonathan Archer embrace diversity of all kinds, and I hope that someday Vulcans will also learn to embrace the mind-melders in the same way. Right now I am preparing a deposition for Dr. Yuris’ trial. Captain Archer and the crew of the Enterprise will also vouch for the rights of the minority. Working with humans has helped me lose my preconceptions of how “primitive” or “savage” they are, which is one of the reasons why I feel so strongly about minority rights. I believe that once mainstream Vulcans understand that mind-melding is NOT a shameful activity and once mainstream Vulcans become more educated about mind-melders, they too will lose their preconceptions that mind-melders are “violent animals who project their emotions on each other,” and once these preconceptions are lost, it is my fervent belief that the prejudice surrounding the Vulcan minority will fade into the pages of history so that Vulcan society will embrace diversity just like Earth.
In all honesty, I am proud of Dr. Yuris. He had the courage under fire to stand up for what he believes in. By coming to my rescue at my trial, he refused to hide who he was, and he had the courage to tell the mainstream Vulcans just how wrongly the Vulcan minority has been treated in Vulcan society. Perhaps someday because of Dr. Yuris’ courage to speak out, more minority members will speak out on issues such as minority civil rights and the rights of Pa’an victims to get fair treatment for this debilitating disease. I will do my best to support minority rights and to hope that Dr. Yuris succeeds in his mission to speak for the rights of his people. I believe that this hearing will be the first step in the right direction.
It is interesting to note how Captain Archer likens Dr. Yuris’ courage to speak out and defend the rights of an entire oppressed people to a human female named Rosa Parks. I am not familiar with human twentieth-century history, so I have checked the Enterprise historical database to find out more about this Rosa Parks. Apparently, Rosa Parks, the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott by not giving up her bus seat to a white passenger. One year later, as a result of her brave act, the Supreme Court ruled segregation on buses was illegal. It seems that in 20th century Earth history, African-Americans did not have the same rights as other Americans. The African-Americans had to sit in the back of the bus, and this Rosa Parks, tired of the unfair treatment of her people, decided one day not to give up her seat to a white passenger and thus sparked the Civil Rights movement one fateful day on December 1st, 1955. She was then arrested and put on trial; then there was a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott where African-Americans boycotted the bus system. And her one brave act of defiance which I can only define as courage under fire sparked the American Civil Rights Movement, which resulted in laws allowing equality for Americans of all persuasions.
Whether this act of defiance on the part of Dr. Yuris to speak out at my trial against the injustices imposed upon his people will be the spark to civil rights for mind-melders, Pa’an victims, or the Vulcan minority remains to be seen. Perhaps with Dr. Yuris’ example other minority figures will come out of the shadows and defy the system to announce their rights. I believe that members of the minority serve in all functions of Vulcan society. Should these minority members ever unite and decide to boycott their vital positions, thus crippling Vulcan society, it will make the mainstream Vulcans stand up and pay attention to their demands. I will tell Dr. Yuris about what Rosa Parks did and maybe he can follow her example, and Vulcan society will evolve and throw off the chains of prejudice and ignorance which have held it prisoner for thousands of years. It takes someone who has courage under fire to spark such a change and I believe Yuris is just the man to do it with my help and with the help of the Enterprise.