Captain Archer's First Contact and Self Discovery in Broken Bow

Archer's First Contact and Self Discovery in Broken Bow
by Anita L. Balestino

Screen captures by Billie and TrudyC

From the moment his upturned face comes into view, caught in an instant of awestruck approval and eager expectation as he gazes up at his ship, Jonathan Archer has the unmistakable look of a man whose dreams are both his passion and his mission. Staggered by the vessel's trim grace and latent power, grateful for the good fortune that entrusts her to his command, he breathes out a deeply gratified sigh and shakes his head in amazed disbelief. His eyes light with a gleam of pure devotion that no living thing could ever quite rival when he declares in hushed, reverent tones, 'God she's beautiful.' But just as his soft voice fades, his chin tilts upward and a momentary look of deep longing for a dream yet to be fulfilled steals over his face.

Then his chief engineer, Trip Tucker, reminds him that this magnificent ship is not just beautiful but fast and entices him with the promise of finally taking her to Warp 4.5 in a few days. For a time, Archer's eyes remain fixed on the ship as he smiles broadly to himself. Then he turns to Tucker and marvels, 'Neptune and back in six minutes!' Archer extends the pronunciation of the last two words and invests them with his admiration and wonder for this ship that will attain such unheard of speeds. As Archer exchanges glances with his engineer, the excitement, anticipation, even impatience in his eyes are intensified and reinforced by those same expressions in Trip's own. At the thought of making a journey of that distance so quickly, Tucker exhales a wordless exclamation of amazement. And in response, Archer simply chuckles deep in his throat, then cups his chin, coils in his bottom lip and gives in to an open-mouthed grin that threatens at any moment to turn into a shout of exuberance.

And yet this man, Archer, does not conduct himself like some impractical, quixotic dreamer. He directs Tucker to move to one of the ship's specific features so that they can examine it.

As the inspection pod passes beneath the moored ship, Archer raises his chin to signal his sharpened attention and inspects her underbelly with observant, pragmatic eyes. Abruptly, he orders Tucker to slow down. 'There,' he points out in a crisp, decisive tone. His brow creasing in a conscientious, slightly uneasy frown, he marks ports that buckled during the last test and promptly advises his chief engineer that they need to be reinforced. Obviously, when it comes to the successful launch of his ship, Archer leaves nothing to chance and takes personal responsibility for even the small details. With his attention still focused on the trouble spots, Archer hands Trip a stylus and computerized pad. But as the engineer makes a notation about the repairs, the pod drifts toward and gently bumps into the ship. His close scrutiny of the ports disrupted by the impact, Archer turns instantly toward the opposite porthole to see what happened. A very subtle but undeniable look of alarm, perhaps annoyance as well, sharpens his eyes and creases his brow. 'Great,' he complains, nodding his head and whetting his tone with heavy sarcasm, 'You scratched the paint!' His irony and light tone aside, something in the way he stares at Tucker in disbelief reveals that the blemish on his perfect new ship really does upset him although he chooses not to disclose it. Trip turns to Archer with a chastened look and simply says, 'Sorry,' with a fatalistic air.

At this Archer smiles, shakes his head and puffs out a sound that is part laugh, part fond bewilderment, part resignation. Obviously these two men share an easy friendship but just as obviously Archer will not allow a minor mistake, even one involving his beloved ship, to damage it. Now the little pod's comm chirps and Archer is summoned to StarFleet medical headquarters on the orders of Admiral Forrest.

It soon becomes apparent that although Archer can be responsive and ardent when stirred by the love of his ship, he can also be abrasive, impatient and stubborn when thwarted. At StarFleet Medical Center, Archer finds Admiral Forrest, his staff of senior officers and a delegation of Vulcans already engaged in a tense discussion. Entering the observation room to find himself at Forrest's back, Archer addresses the Admiral by his rank in a respectful but expectant tone. Forrest turns around and replies to the greeting by calling out Archer's given name, Jon. In a noticeable breach of military protocol, the two men shake hands with what seems like genuine warmth and respect on both parts. Forrest introduces Archer to the group by observing, 'I believe you know everyone.' Without an acknowledgement to anyone in the room, Archer replies, 'Not everyone,' and brushes wordlessly past the Vulcan ambassador in order to reach an observation window. But even while Archer's attention is captured by his first glimpse of the peculiar wounded alien on the other side of the glass, he spares an oblique glance of distrust, dislike and dismissal for Sovaal. Eyes sharpening with amazement and the barest hint of revulsion, Archer studies the strange being in the treatment room.

A look of bewildered uncertainty narrows his eyes and drags down his brow as he tries to comprehend the improbable information he is told: that this alien called a Klingon, a species never before encountered by humans, was shot and nearly killed by a corn farmer in Oklahoma. Then a member of Sovaal's delegation pompously assures Archer that the Vulcans have kept in close contact with Kronos since the incident took place. Archer drops his chin and his eyes, only partially turns his head toward the Vulcan delegates and repeats the unfamiliar name, 'Kronos,' like question. His expression admits uncertainty, but something fleeting in his eyes also reveals a balky unwillingness to admit his own lack of information or the Vulcans' superior knowledge.

However, it is Admiral Leonard, not the Vulcan ambassador, who provides the answer to Archer's query and explains that Kronos is the Klingon home world. Then Admiral Forrest discloses that the injured alien was a courier who was carrying a crucial message back to his people. With caustic disdain, Sovaal adds that the messenger was nearly killed by 'your farmer.' Although by this point Archer has turned his focus back to the Klingon, his attention abruptly veers away from the alien when Forrest informs him that the Vulcans want to delay the launch of his ship. Because of this accidental shooting, the Vulcans conclude that Enterprise's launch would now be ill advised. Simmering anger and frustration tighten Archer's mouth for an instant before he drops his head and only partially disguises that rancor behind a taut, knowing smirk of derision. His voice fairly dripping with scorn and irony, he turns around to face the Admiral and exclaims in pretended amazement, 'Well, isn't that a surprise?' But antagonism quickly hardens his features, his voice grows strident and his eyes give off sparks of resentment as he belittles the Vulcans for contriving yet another tedious, transparent excuse to prevent the launch of his ship. To all appearances, Archer addresses his scathing remarks to his superior. Yet aiming his comments at their true target, Archer briefly but pointedly shifts his eyes toward the group of Vulcans at his side and slings his caustic words at them from the corner of his sneering mouth, 'You'd think they would come up with something a little more imaginative this time.' When he does bring his attention back to the admiral, Archer fixes his superior with an almost conspiratorial look that speaks of their shared suspicion and disdain for the Vulcans. But more conspicuously, Archer's eyes maintain the overly direct, unwavering persistence of an implied challenge, a demand that Forrest stand with him to oppose the Vulcans' obstructive tactics.

Interstellar incident notwithstanding, Archer's single-minded concern is to accomplish the maiden voyage of his ship - to finally realize the fulfillment of his dream.

Sovaal and his envoy, Tos, inform Archer that regardless of his sarcasm, only the Vulcans' agreement to take Klaang's corpse back to his home world is preventing the Klingon Empire from attacking Earth. When Archer hears the word 'corpse,' he narrows his eyes in an expression of skepticism, then drops his head emphatically to underscore his doubt and inquires, 'Corpse? Is he dead?' But almost before he completes his question and certainly before anyone has a chance to respond, he turns abruptly away from Forrest and moves toward the door leading to the intensive care unit. Archer pushes the door open with irritable force and strides impetuously into the room where the Klingon is receiving treatment from a team of doctors. In a voice that is curt, contentious and overloud in any setting but especially in a sickroom, he excuses himself but waits for neither acknowledgement nor permission before repeating his question, 'Is this man dead?' The lead physician begins to describe Klaang's injuries but Archer has no patience with the overly technical answer. Closing his eyes irascibly as he inhales a heavy, annoyed breath, Archer interrupts the alien doctor with another blunt and emphatic demand that cuts to the heart of the dilemma, 'Is he going to die?' The physician simply replies that the Klingon's death is not inevitable.

His suspicions now confirmed, Archer marches out of the unit with irate, hasty steps and hurls the door to the connecting room open with such indignant force it nearly slams into the opposite wall. Impatient in the extreme with delay and evasion, Archer wants straight answers right away and seems to only trust information that he obtains first-hand.

Now Archer confronts the Vulcans in earnest. He vehemently protests their plan to withhold treatment and deliberately allow this alien to die even though he could recover. Hands propped on his hips combatively, his face pulled into a baffled but cynical squint, his tone of voice heavily laced with mockery, he asks them where is the fabled Vulcan logic in that plan? In response, Sovaal holds forth about the Klingon culture finding honor in death but disgrace in injury or illness. Tos takes up the theme and describes the Klingons as a warrior race, a people who dream of dying in battle. Then he reasons that if Archer only understood the diplomatic complexities of the situation... But at this point, Archer becomes antagonistic to the point of rudeness. His eyes wide and insistent, eyebrows raised to convey a pressing question and utter disbelief, Archer once more cuts the envoy off in mid sentence. 'So that's your diplomatic solution,' he challenges, 'To do what they tell you…' Making his tone as scornful, vulgar and insolent as possible, Archer questions, '...pull the plug?' Now he stares contentiously at the Vulcans, as defiance and stormy incomprehension draw his features down into a demand for them to set aside their proposal.

The envoy, Tos, whose remarks Archer interrupted, responds to this insulting question with rigidly suppressed animosity and describes Archer's assessment of the Vulcan plan as 'crude but accurate.' Archer seems to interpret the Vulcan's scornful description as a reproach meant for all of human culture rather than just for his own crude question. Offended, Jonathan answers in kind with an indictment of what he believes are the darker maneuverings of the fabled superior Vulcan ethics. Archer stirs from his position opposite the Vulcans with a sudden, dynamic jolt, then advances on the envoy with measured steps that bring him right into the man's personal space. But in distinct contrast to his brash body language, Archer's voice sounds composed, almost quiet as he makes the indirect accusation, 'We may be crude but we're not murderers.' Without any warning, Archer takes an abrupt side step around the Vulcan that looks like a body block and amounts to a brusque dismissal, forcing him relentlessly aside. He stations himself face to face with Admiral Forrest and studies him with eyes that hold an alarmed but insistent ultimatum. His voice louder, brazen and more forceful at this point, Archer bluntly demands, 'You're not gonna let them do this are you?'

Now Sovaal interrupts this conversation, which Archer has attempted to make private between himself and Forrest even though it takes place in a room full of people, and emphasizes that the Klingon Empire demands the immediate return of their courier. Instantly, Archer's eyes ignite with angry, stubborn persistence as he turns back to Forrest and calls out, 'Admiral!' in a still louder and now preemptory tone that charges the title with a pressing appeal for intervention. Forrest attempts to temper Archer's outraged protest and suggests that they may have to yield to the Vulcans' more informed discretion in this matter. But Archer fires back a rebuttal that erupts with the indignant frustration of a century of thwarted human dreams impeded by unwelcome Vulcan restraint. 'We've been deferring to their judgement for a hundred years,' he insists. Still trying to suppress Archer's incensed objection, Forrest barks out Archer's forename in the stern tones of an exasperated rebuke. But certain that his resistance is both justifiable and necessary, Archer will not be curbed and obstinately presses his point. His wide, insistent eyes, below an adamantly raised arch of eyebrows, highlight the crucial weight of his question as he flings his no longer implied but now unmistakable challenge into Forrest's face, 'How much longer?'

Archer's answer comes not from his superior but from the young woman, T'Pol, who accompanies the Vulcan delegation. With haughty condescension and icy disdain, she tells Archer that he must prove himself ready for the independence he demands by governing his volatile nature. For a moment her remark seems to echo in strained silence. Then Archer takes one swift, fluid - almost stealthy - step to the side. His controlled momentum propels his angled head and shoulder nearly into the woman's face and turns his nearness into a not-so-subtle threat. Intense dislike and cool, calculating appraisal narrow his eyes. Perverse pleasure in the mounting confrontation sharpens his features. His voice grows so dangerously quiet that it conveys its own threat, and Archer inquires, 'Volatile?' For a moment he continues to stare at her with eyes that are hard, hostile and insultingly direct. Then, in a tone that grows more offensive and crude with each word, Archer informs the woman, 'You have no idea how much I'm restraining myself from knockin' you on your ass!' He keeps his belligerent stare fixed on the woman while bolts of resentment fairly dart at her from his eyes. But he maintains that stare for a fraction too long, and a vague, incomplete sense of something formidable - something ultimately, though begrudgingly admirable in her character seizes his perception and catches him off guard.

However, that insight causes Archer only a momentary hesitation before he turns his attention back to Admiral Forrest and the StarFleet staff. At the same time, Archer deliberately recovers his air of aggressive defiance and adds more than a little intentional swagger to his bearing. His voice resounds with an over-loud exhibition of confidence as he pledges to have his ship ready to embark in three days and to return the Klingon to his home world, 'Alive!' But Admiral Leonard speaks up to remind Archer that the disposition of his crew is still unsettled, since his Comm Officer is in Brazil and his medical officer has yet to be selected. Now the conspicuous bravado in Archer's manner completely disappears, leaving a composed and self-possessed, but remarkably resolute conviction. With utter confidence in his ship, in the people he has selected to go with him and in his own ability to prevail against whatever challenges await him, whatever adjustments or improvisations those challenges may require, Archer vows impassively, 'Three days. That's all I'll need.'

Much to Ambassador Sovaal's dismay, Archer's confident insistence persuades Admirals Forrest and Leonard to grant his request and expedite Enterprise's launch. The Ambassador practically yells at Forrest, 'This is a mistake!' And Archer cannot resist a shrewd, derisive remark that ridicules the Vulcan's loss of emotional control and draws the conclusion, 'You've been on earth too long.' But Archer has very little time to savor his victory. As he stands before the observation window contemplating the wounded alien, Forrest steps behind him and warns in a soft ominous tone. 'Don't screw this up.' Archer quickly turns his head over his shoulder. A startled, decidedly unsettled look imprints a suggestion of doubt on his features. But Archer's eyes soon grow distant and determined again and his mouth and jaw tighten with what looks like a personal pledge to successfully accomplish this mission. As he studies the scene in the intensive care unit, the light of sudden inspiration emerges in his eyes and he signals to the alien physician who heads the team of doctors. Assurance and the authority of command characterize his solid, staccato rap on the glass and his brisk, two-fingered beckoning gesture. The doctor responds by looking up at Archer with hesitancy in his smile and pointing to himself in a way that asks a question. Archer makes a dynamic upward movement with his chin, followed by a single, compelling nod of his head to indicate both a commanding invitation and a decisive assent to the doctor's inquiry. Demonstrating the inventive, resourceful thinking that will serve him so well on this mission, Archer enlists his medical officer. But blunt force and combative persistence do not make up the whole of Archer's nature. He demonstrates a naturally perceptive and insightful ability to understand people and assess situations. Nor is Archer above using a little guile to influence those people or events to achieve the outcomes he desires.

Archer makes a hurried trip to Brazil for the express purpose of convincing the brilliant young linguist, Hoshi Sato, to leave her teaching position there and serve as his Comm Officer on Enterprise's hastily arranged maiden voyage. As they stroll together through the lush, green grounds of the University, Archer twice asks Hoshi to resign her post and join him aboard Enterprise.

Twice Hoshi firmly refuses him, first citing her obligation to her students and then making a playful but spirited stand against his halfhearted attempt to order her compliance. Archer turns away from his partly annoyed, partly admiring observation of Hoshi with a little huff of frustration, then reaches, almost unwillingly, into his pocket for a small tape recorder. Donning an expression that looks both crafty and reluctant at the same time, he resorts to this devious little tactic but suffers a twinge of conscience about doing so. Archer looks intently at the small recorder to avoid the young woman's gaze and, knowing full well that her professional curiosity will be irresistibly piqued, presses the button that plays the harsh sounding language.
Hoshi immediately wants to know, 'What's that?' Archer's own expression now deliberately empty, he turns toward her and examines her face closely to verify the interest he hears in her voice. 'Klingon,' he tells her with very precise inflexion. Hoshi hits the bait hard, demanding, 'Turn it up.' Mock innocence and a hint of wily charm on his face, an amused, canny sparkle in his eyes, Archer hands the tape to her with a tolerant air and an attitude that implies her response was inevitable. When she asks what he knows about these Klingons, he responds 'not much' except that they are a nation of warriors. Then after a meaningful pause, Archer describes the Klingon dialects in precise, technical terms that he calculates will fascinate the linguist beyond her powers to refuse. All the while, his eyes smile at Hoshi with intrigue and mutual elation as he nods his head with the cadence of his words to underscore the unique syntax of this language. Now Archer tempts Hoshi further with the prospect of being the 'first human to talk to these people.' As he does so, the anticipation that lights up his face radiates unmistakable sincerity but reveals the magnetism of his own dreams and aspirations as well. 'Do you really want someone else to do it?' Archer challenges her. Hoshi can only meet his smile with her own and accede.

Back on the still space-docked Enterprise, Archer is explaining to Trip that the crew will include a Vulcan Science Officer on this first flight. In exchange for the Vulcans' star charts and their database on the Klingons, StarFleet had to agree to accept a Vulcan officer as second-in-command. Tucker complains irascibly that Enterprise gets 'a few maps' and in return has to accept the presence of a Vulcan spy on her bridge. But Archer Quotes Admiral Forrest's counsel and advises his chief engineer to think of the Vulcan woman as a chaperone. Still, as he sits at the desk in his ready room and pours himself a glass of water, Archer assures Trip that the Vulcan will only be aboard for the duration of the journey to Kronos and back to earth. 'Then she's gone,' Archer promises, laying repugnant weight on the verb like he can't wait to be rid of her either. But he cautions Trip as if he is reminding himself, 'Until then, we're to extend her every courtesy.' Now, the signal bell at the door of Archer's ready room rings out. The Captain looks up at his chief engineer and says, 'Here we go,' his relish for the impending contest with the Vulcan betrayed by a sparkle of roguish anticipation that lights his eyes even while a grimace of distaste narrows his lips. As this interview with T'Pol will reveal, Archer has a keen sense of humor, enjoys a light-hearted laugh at life's absurdities and plays a pretty good game of one-upmanship when he must.

T'Pol enters the ready room and formally tells Archer she is reporting for duty, then hands him the orders which transfer her to his command. Standing to accept the orders, Archer behaves toward this Vulcan, to whom he had formerly exhibited such anger, with outwardly professional, polite, even solicitous courtesy. As Archer briefly observes T'Pol, she manifests only the most negligible signs of disquiet. But Archer's astute perception tells him immediately that something has irritated her. His penetrating look seems to probe her thoughts, as he inquires, 'Something wrong?' With a determined lift of her chin, T'Pol squares her shoulders and denies that there is any problem. But Archer makes the nearly intuitive connection between the heightened sense of smell that Vulcan females possess and the presence of his dog, Porthos, in the room as the real source of her discomfort. 'I hope Porthos isn't too offensive to you,' Archer offers.

But even while he makes this seemingly concerned admission to T'Pol, he chooses that exact moment to turn partially away from her and sit down at his computer. In addition, his detached, untroubled, nonchalant tone allows no question to remain in anyone's mind that Porthos holds pride of place on the ship and that the woman must adapt as best she can. Presently, Archer introduces his chief engineer, Charles 'Trip' Tucker, to the Vulcan and thoroughly enjoys the unintended comedy in both T'Pol's haughty disregard of Trip's good-natured offer to shake hands and in Tucker's bewildered chagrin at her pointed snub. Eyes dancing with amusement, Archer's mouth contorts into a very repressed, surreptitious smile, which he quickly disguises behind a lowered head, pursed lips and a conspicuous frown.

Inhaling deeply in preparation, Archer now turns to more essential matters. He seizes T'Pol's attention with a persistent, no-nonsense stare and asserts his authority as Captain of this ship and mission in a calm but categorical tone. Using blunt, explicit language, he specifies that he will not tolerate insubordination, espionage or betrayal from her - even if she is a Vulcan officer who does not sanction this mission. 'What's said in this room and out on that bridge is privileged information,' Archer emphasizes. Then his voice takes on an edge of very old resentment masked as mockery when he insists, 'I don't want every word I say being picked apart the next day by the Vulcan High Command!' At once, T'Pol assures him that her superiors did not assign her to Enterprise for the purpose of spying, but rather to simply assist the crew on their mission. But that reference to her Vulcan superiors only serves to draw Archer's biting scorn and a crude, offensive gibe. As he lifts his water glass close to his mouth, he argues, 'Your superiors don't think we can flush a toilet without one of you to assist us.' Laying derisive stress on the word 'assist', he skews his mouth to one side, as if the word and what it denotes leave a bitter taste on his tongue, and shifts his eyes sideways over the rim of his glass with a sharp, contemptuous glance. The instant he finishes speaking, he drops his eyes and puts his mouth to the glass, only partially concealing a face that sinks under a burden of resentment and anger.

T'Pol endures Archer's scorn with proper Vulcan poise and self-possession, yet a hint of indignation shows through her unemotional veneer all the same. Brushing aside the insult, she tells him that she will be as happy to leave Enterprise at mission's end as he will be to see her go. But suddenly, Porthos springs up and puts his front paws on her leg. The stoic Vulcan lets her composure slip for just a moment and emits a startled gasp as she glances down at the little dog. Returning her eyes to Archer, T'Pol regains a rather too-studied calm and a too-saccharine manner, then prompts, 'If there's nothing else…' From behind his desk, Archer looks up at her with a well-pleased yet somehow confrontational stare that glitters with mischievous laughter at her consternation. But that roguish look barely lasts an instant before his eyes take on the dispassionate weight of authority and command. He lifts his chin like a signal of dominance, as if to put her on notice that she is firmly in his territory now. But his manner quickly turns businesslike and impersonal again. Eyebrows lifted with cool unconcern and eyes widened innocently, he assumes a harmless expression and a determinedly casual but clipped and slightly overbearing tone to reply, 'That'll be all.' As T'Pol turns away and walks toward the door with slow dignity, Archer watches her with astute, steady eyes that gleam with pleasure in the match just played and smile with appreciation for a clearly worthy opponent.

Mischievous humor and gamesmanship aside, Archer has a profoundly principled and dutiful facet to his character, as well. He fully realizes the enormous responsibility that has been entrusted to him with the command of Enterprise and feels a devoted allegiance to the father who did not live to see her first journey into deep space. At the ceremony to launch Enterprise on her historic first mission, Archer and his crew face Admiral Forrest on the other side of an elevated window at the back of an observation deck filled with dignitaries.

As Forrest makes his introductory remarks, Archer stands with his hands clasped behind his back, his carriage martially erect, formal, unyielding. Forrest speaks of the contribution Archer's father, Henry, made to the development of the Warp 5 engine and declares it entirely appropriate for Henry's son to captain the first starship to navigate under its power. Archer's solemn, sternly resolute expression never changes; his position never alters. Only his chest rises lightly with a slow, full breath, as he recognizes the significant weight of destiny surrounding this commission and senses the intimate connection between the fulfillment of his own cherished dreams and those of his late father. After Admiral Forrest signals his order for the crew to embark, Archer returns the gesture with a brief, brisk, confident nod that looks like both a crisp salute of assent and a pledge to dedicate his utmost efforts - his most conscientious service - to this enterprise. As if to strengthen and seal that pledge, he purposely meets Forrest's scrutiny with his own determined, unwavering eyes. Then, he turns and leads his crew down the passageway toward the bridge.

A bulkhead door slides open, and the crew, followed by their captain pass through it onto Enterprise's bridge. Archer walks onto the bridge and down the single step to the captain's chair with slow, deliberate steps, his manner pensive yet alert. He scans the stations arrayed in a rough semi-circle around him and makes a last check of his crew, securing the bridge and savoring this moment. Then with a barely noticeable but deeply contented sigh, he eases into the chair, leans one elbow on the armrest and visibly assumes command of his ship and her crew. His mouth and jaw tighten, and his expression becomes determined, stalwart - unyielding. His eyes narrow with resolve but still retain their eager spark of anticipation as Archer unmistakably shoulders the responsibility for Enterprise, her crew and mission, accepting the charge gladly and embracing all the possibilities of this epic voyage.

Now Archer's eyes grow distant and nostalgic, captured for a moment by a fond memory of his boyhood. He sees himself with his father as they build a model starship and fit it with a miniature warp engine - an engine that his father and the scientists of Earth have yet to perfect. The memory validates for Archer his nearly tangible awareness that the culmination of his father's lifework functions as the pulsing heart of the ship he commands. And at the thought of this almost visceral connection with his father, affectionate warmth softens his eyes and the whisper of a private smile, both tender and bittersweet, hovers lightly about his mouth. Without question, Archer's love, like his loyalty, occupies a deep, defining place in his nature. Then, almost wistfully, he dispels the luminous memory with an unhurried blink of his eyes, returns to the business at hand and resumes his dynamic, professional demeanor. Raising his eyes to the large screen that dominates the bridge, he inhales a short, even breath, pauses just briefly in deference to the enormity of this moment and orders in a firm, composed tone, 'Take 'er out, Mr. Mayweather.' Then Archer lifts his chin sharply and elevates his line of sight, looking out toward the image of infinite space that unfolds before his ship. His eyes light up with anticipation and almost passionate enthusiasm even while they mirror remnants of that nostalgic smile. His voice deepens and vibrates with staunch conviction and spirited courage as he instructs the helm, 'Straight and steady!' The words surely have some special meaning to Archer, and he chooses them to forecast the progress of this mission as much as to order the course of his ship.

After Enterprise slips her moorings and glides away from the confines of space dock, the Captain calls down to the engine room, 'How we doin', Trip?' Archer receives an affirmative status report from his chief engineer and orders the helm to 'prepare for warp.' His matter-of-fact tone gives the command the sound of a routine maneuver but does nothing to dim the gleam of excitement in his eyes. Some of that same excitement animates Mayweather's expression as he informs his captain that the course is laid in and asks permission to get underway. But T'Pol intervenes with a minuscule correction, reporting that the coordinates are off by 0.2 degrees. With his head only partially turned toward her, Archer aims a 'thank you' in T'Pol's general direction. But his voice sounds flat, perfunctory and dismissive, and his not-quite irritated glance never actually reaches the Vulcan before he turns back to the screen. Archer leaves no one in doubt that the sole authority for command decisions remains with him. He also leaves no doubt of his negative opinion of the Vulcan tendency to attach such importance to minutiae. But that momentary annoyance quickly fades. Now, as he anticipates goosing his ship into warp speed, a slender, private but very gratified smile begins as an ardent luster in his eyes, then radiates downward to just warm the corners of his mouth. With a barely perceptible nod of approval and a confident upward tilt of his chin to indicate their route to the stars, Archer voices a measured but quietly eager and exhilarating, 'Let's go!' Although his eyes are still warmed by remnants of that smile, an expression of steadfast valor now strengthens them, while the firm set of his mouth and jaw declare Archer's uncompromising commitment to protect his ship and crew - to rise to whatever challenges await him.

As many of his actions will attest, Archer's innate, penetrating curiosity endures as a highly distinctive and consistent feature of his character. Enthusiastic and diligent in his desire to gain first hand knowledge about all aspects of his ship, the Captain pays a visit to sick bay, the area about which he has the least understanding. On one of the stainless countertops in the infirmary sits a canister filled with liquid in which small, eel-like creatures swim. Leaning over the counter, Archer brings his face close to the container as the gracefully curved fingers of his hand waver lightly just above its cover. He studies the creatures for a while with unbroken absorption, his eyes thoughtful and intrigued, his face stilled by a meditative serenity. But as the bare suggestion of a fascinated smile faintly touches his eyes and mouth, he breaks off his observation and drops his chin as if to hide his amusement at the sight of these invertebrates in a hospital. Then turning his head over his shoulder, he lifts wide, interested eyes to survey the room and to observe the bizarre assortment of live equipment his Chief Medical Officer, Phlox, has installed in sick bay. 'Love what you've done with the place,' Archer quips.

Phlox responds by warning Archer in a pleasant but punctilious manner not to shake the immunocytic gelworms that have held his attention. While the two men casually discuss Earth, Chinese food and human optimism, the hands-on Archer helps Phlox unpack a box of supplies that sits on a counter between them. Suddenly, Phlox interrupts with a sharp warning to, 'be very careful with that!' Checked in the process of lifting a latticed metal pail out of the box by its handle, Archer looks up quickly in surprise. Just as quickly, he drops his head and examines the container closely, squinting in an attempt to see through the narrow holes in its surface. Without warning, something inside the metal hamper emits a squeal and a rattle as the container vibrates in Archer's hand. He recoils at once, springing back with a small jolt of alarm. Then as if he can't get rid of it fast enough, Archer instantly - instinctively - hands off the canister to Phlox, all the while keeping his startled, apprehensive eyes riveted on the unknown thing and holding it literally at arm's length. 'What's in there?' Archer asks suspiciously through tense jaws. Once the hamper is safely in Phlox's grasp, Archer leans across the counter to peer into it again, while a dubious look lifts his brow into a vaguely anxious query.

Phlox explains with obvious pride that the creature is an alien marsupial whose droppings contain unrivalled regenerative properties. In return, Archer straightens warily and stares at the doctor in open-mouthed astonishment. 'Their droppings,' he echoes, disbelief apparent in his tentative tone of voice and bewildered frown. Phlox removes the cage with its testy occupant to the other side of the room and cheerfully admonishes Archer that exploring new worlds necessarily entails accepting new ideas. Archer pulls back his head and torso sharply as the doctor's counsel strikes a chord of special significance in him. The Captain also seems to acquire unexpected insight from the advice, for he immediately drops his chin to study this physician with close attention and an angled glance that is alert, speculative and perplexed all at the same time. Obviously, Archer possesses a healthy sense of self-preservation when it comes to alien beasts that make fractious, high-pitched squeals and rattle their cages aggressively. But he also has a wry and realistic sense of his own foibles as well as refreshing openness about them. Moreover, even though the doctor's exotic methods of healing disconcert and repulse Archer more than a little, he will obviously make every effort to quell those aversions and expand the boundaries of his understanding in order to satisfy the highest standards of his captaincy and accomplish his mission.

Meanwhile Phlox comments that the Vulcans established the Interspecies Medical Exchange for the very purpose of exploring those aforementioned new ideas. As Archer walks over to the examining table on which Klaang lies unconscious, he apologizes to Phlox for taking him away from that program to join the crew of Enterprise. Underscoring his words with a rueful lift of his brows, Archer adds, 'But our doctors haven't even heard of a Klingon.' Then he bends over the exam table for a very close but cautious scrutiny of the alien's forehead ridges. But Phlox insists that no apologies are necessary and voices his enthusiasm for the chance to study both Humans and Klingons. Now Archer explains that the ship will reach Kronos in eighty hours and asks the physician, 'Any chance he'll be conscious by then?' But at the same time he indulges his ever-present curiosity by leaning over the opposite end of the table and peering at the Klingon's feet from two separate angles and from just a few inches away. Phlox responds with an attempt at philosophical humor and says that there is a chance the Klingon will be conscious within ten minutes, but not a very good chance. Instantly Archer's demeanor transforms into a commanding, conclusive and brisk presence. 'Eighty hours, Doctor,' he reasserts with crisp authority, giving the words the sound of an ultimatum, 'If he doesn't walk off this ship on his own two feet, he doesn't stand much of a chance.' At that, Archer turns his back and walks toward the doors to sickbay. Phlox then declares that he will do his best and calls aloud in a hearty burst of enthusiasm, 'Optimism, Captain!' Now Phlox bestows on his Captain an aberrant smile so bizarre and broad that it extends truly from one ear to the other. Archer stops on his way out the door and returns the greeting with a weak, perplexed and dubious facial expression that is somewhere between a smile and an anxious wince.

Archer's suspicion and antagonism toward Vulcans notwithstanding, he shows himself to be a relaxed, cordial and very considerate host when T'Pol and Tucker join him for their first dinner at the Captain's table. Before Tucker arrives, Archer attempts to engage the starched and very literal T'Pol in small talk over an aperitif - wine for him, water for her. He mentions several impressive tourist sites in San Francisco, hoping to find a common subject for conversation. But his efforts not only founder as they encounter T'Pol's cool, reserved incomprehension, but also serve to accent the vast gulf separating their perspectives. Still the Captain tries to keep up an informal chat, even though he must patiently explain to T'Pol the meaning of the adage, 'all work and no play.' Speaking in an overly distinct, precise tone, as if the Vulcan were either hard of hearing or did not have a firm grasp of his language, and gesticulating with both hands, his wine glass and his breadstick, Archer paraphrases, 'Everyone should get out for a little fun now and then.' T'Pol merely returns an uncomprehending expression and a pragmatic reply that all recreational needs were provided at the Vulcan compound. But just in time to save Archer the effort of trying in vain to lighten T'Pol's austere manner, the bell at his door sounds and Commander Tucker belatedly arrives. A warm smile audible in his hearty tone of voice, Archer greets his friend and firmly forestalls Trip's apology for being late by bidding him, 'Sit down!' As he draws Tucker into the conversation with T'Pol, Archer moves to the table and pulls out his chair. Then, unceremoniously, he swings one long leg over the seat and straddles the chair at the head of the table. Clearly, Archer intends his words and actions to establish a relaxed, casual and congenial tone for his guests.

Once the threesome has gathered at table, Tucker mentions an outrageous tale about having first hand knowledge of great parties that took place at the Vulcan compound. Trip's irreverent gibe forces Archer to duck his head in an attempt to disguise a reluctant though still amused chuckle. But as the Captain raises his head again, his glance is seized and held in a state of politely veiled astonishment by the sight of T'Pol trying to cut her breadstick with a knife and fork. Archer's naturally courteous and hospitable nature obliges him to spare her embarrassment, so he adopts a gentle, discreet manner to suggest, 'It might be a little easier using your fingers.' Making a motion with his hand to illustrate the technique, he raises his eyebrows earnestly, widens his eyes with sympathetic understanding and nods his head in encouragement. Not even T'Pol's unappreciative and condescending reply that Vulcans never touch food with their hands deters Archer from his duties as genial host. He merely nods thoughtfully from behind his water glass. It is Tucker who gives T'Pol some comeuppance when he suggests that he can't wait to see her 'tackle the spare ribs.' With a sparkle of laughter in his eyes that he cannot quite keep from spilling over into his voice, Archer nods reassuringly, raises his hand to signal a halt to her imminent protest and makes a placating admission that he knows she is a vegetarian. As if on cue, the steward arrives with dinner: a lovely presentation of vegetables for T'Pol, thick juicy steaks for both Archer and Trip.

Of course T'Pol reacts with extreme distaste to her male dinner companions consuming, 'the flesh of animals' and implies that humans cannot regard themselves as 'enlightened' while this custom of eating meat persists. Surprisingly, Archer displays not a single indication of anger or resentment at the Vulcan's judgmental remark but continues to cut his steak. His manner remains entirely even-tempered and calm. Responding In a composed, conversational tone, he reflects that while enlightened may be too strong a description for his planet's current culture, if T'Pol had been on earth fifty years ago, she would be impressed by what humans have accomplished since then. As Archer finishes speaking, he looks up from his plate to meet T'Pol's eyes and offers his inference with genial confidence and a hint of justifiable pride in its exceptional merits. Even though Trip adds that humankind wiped out war, hunger and disease in less than a generation, T'Pol responds with most haughty contempt, calling humans 'impulsive carnivores' and suggesting that they might revert to their 'baser instincts' at any time. Nevertheless, Archer has resolved to maintain peace at his table tonight and foster a relaxed, friendly atmosphere for this dinner. So, the Captain smiles at T'Pol with affable charm and acknowledges, 'Human instinct is pretty strong. You can't expect us to change overnight.' However, the Vulcan trumps him by saying that anything is possible with proper discipline, then neatly cuts off a piece of her breadstick and picks it up with her fork. Archer accepts his defeat with companionable grace and doesn't even try to have the last word. Shrugging his eyebrows, he lightly tosses his hands out to the sides, palms turned up in a gesture of surrender, and grants T'Pol a good-natured, very engaging smile of concession. Still, rather than submit entirely to her obnoxious air of superiority, Archer looks directly into her eyes and takes a very conspicuous bite of his steak, then chews it with gusto while that irresistible and now puckish smile dances in his eyes.

Back on the bridge of Enterprise, Archer orders Helmsman Mayweather to incrementally nudge the engines up toward their maximum warp speed. But with each increase, Ensign Sato worries that the vibrations she feels might signal a dangerous malfunction. Of course, T'Pol has no patience with the inexperienced ensign's nervousness and makes a condescending suggestion that she go lie down. But Hoshi, the linguist, responds to T'Pol with a withering look and an evidently insulting remark in Vulcan. Another hostile exchange between the two women brings about a noticeable escalation in both tempers and tension. But Archer quickly steps in to avert the squabble and defuses the friction with an even-tempered, tactful approach. 'It's easy to get a little jumpy when you're traveling at 30,000 kilometers a second. Should be old hat in a week's time,' he observes in a conciliatory tone, encouraging T'Pol's responsiveness with his empathy and calming Hoshi's fears with his steady confidence. It bears remarking that Archer chooses conciliation over reprimand to restore order on the bridge and in the bargain preserves everyone's self-esteem. At this point, Dr. Phlox hails the Captain from sickbay and notifies him that the injured Klingon is beginning to recover consciousness. 'On my way,' Archer replies, adding weight to his words that signifies the importance of this encounter with Klaang.

Instead of ordering his Comm Officer to accompany him to sick bay, the Captain simply calls out Hoshi's first name. But his commanding tone rises to give the call the sound of an invitation, an insistent demand and an admonition all at once. At the same time, Archer issues her a persistent, expectant look from under his brows that holds the same challenge and warning. Both Archer's look and his tone seem to put the young ensign on notice that he expects her to marshal her professional expertise and assume the demeanor of a Starfleet officer for this critical first meeting with Klaang. But when the Captain and Hoshi arrive in sick bay, the Klingon, disoriented, restrained to his litter and under armed guard, bellows out questions to them in a deep, angry roar. To make matters worse, the universal translator fails to decipher Klaang's dialect and proves useless in allowing Archer and the alien to converse directly. Hoshi suffers a glaring loss of composure, her voice trembling as she reports the problems with the UT to the Captain. Nonetheless Archer puts his full trust in the young ensign's ability to make the translations herself. Without a moment's hesitation or a sign of worry, he adopts an assured, commanding tone and directs, 'Tell him we're taking him home.' Although Hoshi stammers frequently and jumps each time the alien shouts another question, she performs her duties as interpreter with skill and successfully translates several exchanges between Klaang and Archer. Consequently, the Captain overlooks her jittery trepidation - up to a point. But when she reports the Klingon's statements as disconnected absurdities, Archer rolls his eyes in frustration. Quite obviously annoyed with Hoshi's uncertainty, Archer orders through tightened jaws, 'Try the translator again.' Exhaling an irritated breath, he fastens a stern, unbending look on her that all but snaps, 'pull yourself together!' Finally, Hoshi reports Klaang's words as, 'My wife has grown ugly,' and Archer's patience comes to an abrupt end. Sinking into one hip, he drops the opposite foot on the floor with a soft but very aggravated thump. His frown deepens, disbelief sharpens his stare and his eyes flare angrily, as he aims an exasperated look of compelling entreaty at Hoshi. But it is a mark of their mutual friendship and Hoshi's underlying spunk but certainly also of Archer's sympathetic nature and less oppressive, more approachable style of command that she speaks out with some heat to the Captain in her own defense.

Suddenly, a shudder disturbs the ship's smooth momentum. Intimately in tune with the feel of his ship, Archer knows immediately that something unexpected is happening. Despite the little furrow of concern on his forehead, his bearing evokes assured, purposeful competence as he strides to the comm unit on the side bulkhead and orders, 'Bridge, report!' Frowning with intent concentration, Archer listens to T'Pol report that Enterprise has dropped out of warp. In mid-sentence, The Vulcan's voice fades into silence and systems throughout the entire ship begin to fail. Archer looks up sharply with a startled attention as the lights in sickbay blink off, then quickly turns his head over his shoulder and exhibits genuine alarm as the display on the wall above him goes black.

Captain Archer and his small company in Sickbay are using flashlights for illumination to move around in the darkened space. All the while, Klaang maintains a non-stop flow of angry demands at a thunderous level of volume that ramps up the already mounting anxiety in the room. Finally the continual noise disrupts the Captain's concentration so much that his vexation breaks through his purposely-calm attitude. Aiming his flashlight full in the alien's face, Archer raises his own deeply resonant voice and gives it a definite edge of annoyance as he barks, 'You want to tell him to shut up?' At Archer's elbow, Hoshi forgets all about the need to translate the phrase and simply yells 'shut up' to the alien. However, the Captain doesn't even seem to notice her lapse. His mind already preoccupied with restoring power to his ship, Archer suggests that Phlox may need to sedate the Klingon and says distractedly, 'I need to get back to the bridge.'

The Captain no sooner reaches the doors to leave sick bay than Hoshi calls out to him in a frightened, urgent whisper. Surprised by the tone of warning in Hoshi's call, Archer turns around immediately, his widened eyes asking a mute question, his senses instantly alert. Hoshi tells him in the same breathless whisper, 'There's someone here.' Archer walks with slow, measured steps to stand beside Hoshi, all the while keeping his eyes fixed steadily on her face. As he gauges her rigid bearing and wide, intent eyes staring at the wall opposite her, his own expression turns puzzled and guarded. Yet despite his exasperation with the nervous anxiety Hoshi previously displayed, Archer has a remarkable ability to read the mood of his people. In this case, he possesses the insight to recognize genuine distress in Sato's warning and the intuition to react immediately to the threat she perceives. When Archer reaches Hoshi's side, he turns away from her and looks attentively in the direction of the opposite wall where she continues to stare. Moving in that direction with quiet, feline stealth, he plays his flashlight upon the companionway, hatch, walls and ceiling as he searches the darkened clinic for the intruder only Hoshi has seen. His vigilant, cautious but unmistakably fearless manner has the visible effect of arousing courage and confidence in his crew.

A faint sound behind Archer startles him, and he whirls his head around to inspect that direction with alert, apprehensive eyes. Planning to investigate, he begins to walk back the way he came with the same deliberate, quiet gait, all the while looking carefully in every direction for any sign of what made that noise. As Archer scans above his head, he discovers one of the invaders in the seemingly impossible act of crawling across the ceiling. Applying his quick reasoning and even quicker reflexes, Archer aims his torch at the ceiling to spotlight the alien and shouts a compelling order to the armed guard, 'Crewman!' The guard fires on the unknown invader but misses the mark, then loses his weapon in a scuffle with another attacker. Archer responds immediately to the sound of the struggle and trains his flashlight on his sentry. When the Captain sees the dropped weapon, he recovers it without a second's hesitation, then defends his crew and clinic by killing the alien just as it brutally hurls the guard against the wall. Immediately afterward, Archer makes the fallen crewmember his first priority - a precedent of safeguarding his crew that will characterize Archer's command. Rushing to the guard, the Captain kneels down and lifts him to a sitting position. In a tone of honest but informal concern, Archer asks, 'You all right?' Once he hears the crewman confirm that he is okay, the Captain returns his attention to finding the other alien. Hyper-alert and still charged with adrenaline, Archer trains weapon and flashlight on the center of the room again. Unbelievably, everything is quiet. In the next second power and lights are restored. But unbeknownst to the Captain, he has lost Klaang to the alien he first detected on the ceiling. As Archer notices and grasps the meaning of the empty pallet, he springs to his feet and stumbles to the litter. His eyes flare sharply for a moment, stabbed by a horrified look of dismay and disbelief. He glances from one side of sick bay to the other in search of the Klingon, an air of distracted futility in his movements. And when his attention returns to the vacant hospital bed, Archer appears visibly baffled, stunned and utterly unprepared for this calamitous loss. He cannot comprehend how the Klingon, whose return was the purpose of his mission, has disappeared from the very decks of his ship.

By the time Archer returns to the bridge after the attack on sick bay, any trace of his former irresolution has vanished. His voice and bearing crackle with crisp authority and bold command as he strides purposefully onto the bridge and snaps, 'We've got state of the art detectors. Why the hell didn't we detect them?' Mayweather and Reed report that the sensors detected a 'spatial disturbance' just before the ship's power went down. But Tucker comments that it looks more like a glitch on the sensor logs. Archer makes forceful, penetrating eye contact with Tucker to underscore the imperative nature of his order and calls for a complete analysis of the disturbance. Without any delay, the Captain turns to his armory officer and demands a report on the readiness of Enterprise's weapons. When Reed answers that the targeting scanners still need to be aligned, Archer presents him with the slightest incredulous frown and asks in a very quiet but equally commanding tone, 'What are you waiting for?' Archer's eloquently understated question typifies his orders to his senior staff: produce explanations based on the clues they have … and produce them straightaway. As the Captain turns and walks with that determined stride toward Hoshi's station, T'Pol addresses him in a harsh assertive voice. But Archer completely ignores her call. Instead, he informs Hoshi that the Klingon seemed to know who the attackers were and briskly orders her to translate what he said during the attack. With his incisive questions and decisive orders that are plainly intended to discover who invaded his ship, the Captain impels his crew to action and restores their confidence that he - and they - are in control. Archer is not a commander who will suffer a defeat with forbearance.

Now, Archer begins to walk toward the navigator's station, when T'Pol stands up behind her elevated console and calls out to him again. This time the Captain turns to face her and waits in silence for her to continue. T'Pol attempts to exonerate him for not anticipating the attack on his ship or the abduction of Klaang and assures him that Sovall will understand he could not have anticipated either event. But Archer dismisses her effort at consolation without so much as a reply. His animosity toward Vulcans undisguised in the incensed glower he shoots at T'Pol from beneath his lowered brow, the Captain reminds her that she is the Science Officer and makes a brusque request that she help Tucker analyze the disturbance on sensor logs. Immediately Archer turns around and leans on Mayweather's console to look over his shoulder at the navigation data, in effect dismissing T'Pol. But she disregards his order and presumes instead that Enterprise will return to Starfleet Headquarters to use its more advanced computers for that analysis. Archer keeps his back turned toward the Vulcan and acknowledges her assumption only with dropped eyes, an annoyed grimace and a quick swivel of his head that looks more like an uncompromising denial than an admission of having heard her. Still facing persistently away from T'Pol, the Captain squelches her recommendation with a gruff, provoked, preemptory order, 'We're not goin' to San Francisco. So make do with what we've got here!' Now Archer resolutely puts T'Pol and her arguments out of his mind and centers his attention on Mayweather's display screen. But T'Pol refuses to allow her advice to be discounted and persistently contends that Enterprise has no reason not to return to earth. She emphasizes that since Archer lost the Klingon, his mission is over.

As her stinging remark penetrates Archer's intent concentration, he abruptly lifts his eyes from the navigator's screen and fixes them persistently forward while he absorbs the affront. His mouth tightens visibly as if he is trying to suppress his resentment or perhaps a furious retort. Then he pushes away from Mayweather's station with a small but unmistakable jolt of indignation and finally does turn toward T'Pol. Grating the words out between clenched jaws in a menacingly soft tone, Archer insists, 'I didn't lose the Klingon. The Klingon was taken.' Archer's movements are unhurried and deliberate as he takes a step forward, positions himself in direct opposition to T'Pol and plants his feet with inflexible tenacity on the deck. Then with more volume, determined emphasis and absolutely unwavering conviction in his voice, the Captain vows 'And I'm going to find out who took him!' This is a commander who looks for no scapegoats and asks for no special assistance, who relies on his own resources and acumen in the face of a crisis.

But T'Pol renews her protest, calling Archer's objective to find the invaders foolish and warning him that he cannot find Klaang's abductors with only a shadow on ship's sensors for a clue. Given Archer's almost recklessly combative actions toward the Vulcan delegation and his own superiors at Starfleet Headquarters, it seems certain that he will now lash out harshly at T'Pol in retaliation for her slight. But the Captain has too much dignity, too great a sense of military propriety and too much respect for his command to continue this altercation on the bridge in full view of his officers. Archer clamps down hard on his anger with an infuriated sigh. Then speaking in a grimly controlled, deadly quiet voice, he orders 'Come with me,' and turns his back on her at once. With the Vulcan in tow, Archer strides indignantly through the door to his ready room, his mouth a taut, relentless line, his jaw clenched rigidly, cheek muscles rippling with fury, lowered eyes glaring hot under a thunderous scowl.

Before the shadow of the closing door ever slides across the opposite wall of the room, Archer turns and unleashes an incensed dressing down on T'Pol. In a harsh, caustic tone, he proclaims that he is not interested in her opinions about his intent to find Klaang. He concludes with deliberate but still insulting and hostile emphasis, 'So take your Vulcan cynicism and bury it along with your repressed emotions.' T'Pol calmly replies that Archer's reaction only serves to confirm the Vulcan belief that humans should stay in their own star system. Although Archer advances menacingly on T'Pol, his voice softens to a throaty undertone that does nothing to hide the embittered tenor of his words. 'I've been listening to you Vulcans tell us what not to do my entire life,' he protests. Now he layers his anger at her with derisive resentment of her people for purposely obstructing his father's tireless efforts to complete development of the warp engine. He lowers his head and shoulder in an attitude of belligerence and leans offensively close to the Vulcan. Then flinging his words into her face with righteous indignation that still rings with a note of grief, Archer insists 'My father deserved to see that launch!' But he quickly turns his back on T'Pol and walks away, as a stab of real and palpable pain that his father did not live to see the culmination of his lifework breaks through the surface of Archer's hostility. Keeping his back turned on T'Pol, Archer allows a deep well of quiet resentment to seep into words that seem to break out from between his tightened jaws, 'You may have life spans of two hundred years. We don't!'

After a tense pause, T'Pol begins to speak again just as the Captain turns partially back toward her. She attempts to influence Archer into taking what she deems to be the correct course of action by framing her inquiry like a positive statement with which she strongly hints he must comply. Although she tells Archer that he will be contacting Starfleet to advise them of Enterprise's situation, only her rising inflection distinguishes her statement as a question. Archer stares steadily at her over one shoulder, his eyes narrowed in a look of dislike, distrust and implacability. In a cool, contemptuous, adamant tone, he not only refuses to make that contact with StarFleet but forbids her to do so as well. 'No I'm not, and neither are you,' he replies with stern, controlled authority that brooks no resistance. Now heat returns to Archer's eyes and steel to his voice as he puts an abrupt end to the interview and dismisses T'Pol with a harsh, angry order, 'Now get the hell out there and make herself useful!' Without another word, the Vulcan turns and leaves Archer's ready room. Watching her dignified exit, the Captain vents his pent up frustration on a heavy sigh. But his troubled eyes and dismayed expression hint at a nascent prick of conscience that apparently causes him to feel discomfort over his severity toward T'Pol. Hot-headed, stubborn, fiercely independent he may be, but Archer does not have it in his basic nature to be a heartless man - nor one who evades responsibility for what he sees as his own lapses.

Obviously the Captain has also engaged his chief medical officer's expertise along with the special skills of his other senior staff to shed light on the aliens who abducted Klaang. And typical of Archer, he is driven not simply to learn information about this unknown species but to actually experience it first hand. He is now in sickbay, observing Phlox as the doctor performs an autopsy on the slain Suliban. Archer stands on the opposite side of the table and peers directly into the alien's body cavity at the organs and anatomic structures Phlox lays open. Using two long handled forceps, Phlox holds up a portion of the lung and explains that it has been modified to process different kinds of atmosphere. Even though Archer pulls his head back slightly from the particularly vile-looking fragment, he conceals what might be a wince of queasiness with an affirmative nod of comprehension to the doctor's explanation. In the same way that Archer examined the unconscious Klingon's head and feet earlier in sickbay, he leans close to the opened corpse to inspect the subcutaneous pigment sacs of the Suliban's skin, his bio-magnetic garment and the compound retinas of his eyes.

Meanwhile, Phlox explains that this alien has benefited from intentional and very sophisticated genetic engineering. If Archer subscribes to the adage, know thy enemy, he could hardly know this Suliban foe any better than by witnessing his postmortem.

Archer next goes down to the engine room to determine if Tucker and T'Pol have made any progress in their analysis of the disturbance recorded on the ship's sensor logs. Archer interrupts the Chief Engineer and Science Officer in the midst of what looks like a heated discussion. In a casual tone that still conveys a sense of urgency, he asks, 'Any luck?' Trip gives his Captain a pessimistic response that is charged with disappointment and a bit of antagonism left over from his recent argument with T'Pol. But the two senior officers do inform Archer that the disturbance was caused by a stealth vessel with a plasma drive and that establishing that ship's plasma decay rate would allow Enterprise to find its warp trail and thus track it. Almost immediately, T'Pol adds that the sensors on Enterprise were not designed to measure plasma decay. At this point, Hoshi arrives to bring the Captain her mostly completed translation of Klaang's remarks in sickbay. But to Archer's disappointment, she reports that none of the Klingon's ramblings make any sense. When Archer learns that Klaang said nothing specific about the Suliban, he turns to T'Pol and asks in a somewhat contentious tone if the name of that species 'rings a bell' with her. The Science Officer recounts that they are a primitive race and gives the location of their home world but adds that they have never posed a threat. Archer captures T'Pol's eyes with a commanding, combative stare and angrily notifies her 'Well they have now!' Only the smallest hint of satisfaction registers in his face at the prospect of challenging the Vulcan's smug, pedantic attitude. And to drive home the truth of his declaration, Archer maintains that confrontational stare for a long, insolent moment in the silence that follows, then leans slightly toward T'Pol with a subtle but assertive forward shift before he turns away.

The Captain fixes his attention on his Comm Officer now and asks Hoshi if Klaang mentioned anything about earth. But she assures him that the word earth can't even be found in the Klingon database. As Hoshi hands Archer the PADD, she tells him that she has translated everything Klaang said except for four words, which are most likely proper nouns. Archer immediately reads the four unknown words to T'Pol, then gives her the translation to study. As he asks her if anything sounds familiar, his expression no longer reveals any hint of antagonism, only an honest request for help. T'Pol reads the translation in silence and merely gives an uncertain tilt of her head in place of an answer. So Archer abruptly drops his chin and fastens a searching look on T'Pol from beneath his brows. At the same time, he calls her name in a coaxing tone and urges her to respond. When the Vulcan finally does answer, she does so with a textbook definition of one of the unfamiliar words, Rigel, describing it as a planetary system, fifteen light years from Enterprise's current position. But the insight that serves Archer so well in his dealings with his crew has raised his suspicions about her answer. Pressing her for an explanation, Archer asks with a puzzled shake of his head, 'Why the hesitation?' With a forthright look at Archer, T'Pol reveals that Klaang's navigational logs show that he landed on Rigel 10 just before crashing in Broken Bow. Upon hearing her revelation, Archer rolls his eyes upward in a sign of discouraged protest, turns his head over his shoulder for a moment, then asks in a voice full of biting sarcasm, 'Why do I get the feeling you weren't going to share that little piece of information?' As Archer completes the taunting question, his mouth forms a thin line of resentment and his hostile eyes return to bore into T'Pol, demanding a truthful answer. Her response - that the High Command had not authorized her to share those findings with Archer - only increases his animosity. Once again, the Vulcans are holding back information that is vital to the favorable outcome of a human endeavor, just as they did with his father's Warp 5 Project. But this time their obstructionist tactics affect the success or failure of his mission.

If Archer felt compunction over venting his spleen on T'Pol earlier in his ready room, it does nothing to prevent him from giving her a scathing reprimand now. He knows that the success of this mission, indeed the safety of his ship and crew depend on the whole-hearted commitment of all hands. When Archer hears T'Pol's admission, he manifests a flash of fury so intense that his eyes blaze as he draws in an agitated breath between clenched teeth. Taking a quick step forward to station himself within inches of T'Pol's face, he seizes her attention with the smoldering anger in his eyes and warns, 'The next time I find out your withholding something, you're going to spend the rest of this voyage confined to some very cramped quarters. Understood?' Archer's precise articulation and calculated, ominous tone of voice leave little doubt that he will not hesitate to implement those exact consequences if she tests him. At once, the Captain steps away from T'Pol and turns to the communication unit on the bulkhead. Making a small grimace of disgust, he presses the comm button with a forceful, frustrated jab. And as he glances pointedly back at T'Pol in an obstinate show of autonomy, he orders Helmsman Mayweather to set a course for Rigel 10.

Once Enterprise reaches Rigel 10, Archer decides to take a squad of his senior officers, Reed, Mayweather, Sato, Tucker and T'Pol, down to the surface to make inquiries about the abducted Klingon. They are assembled outside the launch bays, preparing for transport to the planet in a shuttlepod. Archer informs the crew that they will be landing at a large trade complex that has 36 levels. At the same time, T'Pol distributes translators that she has programmed for Rigellian to each squad member. As if she is speaking to a group of school children about an upcoming field trip, T'Pol explains that the crew will see many other species on the complex who will be impatient with newcomers and who have never seen humans before. Standing behind her, Archer listens to her meticulous instructions with a look of solemn concentration on his face. However, now T'Pol adds to the clear disapproval in her tone and suggests that the crew restrain their human tendencies toward sociability on Rigel. In response to the Vulcan's officious warnings and presumed superiority, Archer almost loses his serious façade. His eyebrows slant upward like a question mark of bewilderment, his eyes widen and shift away from the Vulcan with a hint of amused skepticism and he inhales a deep, silent sigh to suppress what almost was a mocking grin.

Then Tucker makes an ironically helpful reminder that T'Pol forgot to tell the crew not to drink the water. This time Archer comes a lot closer to losing his composure. His mouth doesn’t quite accomplish the laugh however his eyes sparkle with merriment as he glances at Trip. But tightening his lips and frowning sternly to choke off the laughter, Archer quickly pulls an even more sober face and returns his pointedly intent focus to T'Pol. She is in the process of informing the crew that Dr. Phlox has no concerns about the food and water on Rigel. Archer drops his head to one side and then forward as he stares at T'Pol from beneath his brows with a look of utter disbelief. Can her sense of humor be so lacking that she completely misses the satire in Tucker's remark? Obviously this Captain both appreciates a playful wit and possesses one. He has also managed to lighten any sense of uneasiness his crew might feel at their first visit to an unknown world. But Archer, in his first flush of excitement at exploring those worlds, has no idea how hostile they can be. Now, he reminds the crew that Klaang was known to be a courier and suggests that if he went to Rigel to get something, whoever gave it to him might know why he was abducted. The Captain starts to cross the catwalk toward the shuttlepod, but then stops to look back at his crew and advises, 'It was only a few days ago. A seven-foot Klingon doesn't go unnoticed.' With that Archer and his small company proceed into the shuttlepod and head for Rigel 10.

The shuttle lands on the roof of the trade complex in the midst of a snowstorm. Here, the crew splits up into two-person details, each searching different sections of the complex for news of Klaang. Just as T'Pol had forewarned, a multitude of unfamiliar species visit the trade complex on Rigel 10. The human members of the crew are by turns astonished, perplexed, entranced, even frightened, but they continue to search for Klaang. Hoshi and Archer are investigating an enclave where T'Pol has told them Klingons are commonly known to frequent. They walk down an immense, dark and seemingly deserted area that looks like a warehouse. Large pieces of equipment line both sides of the sector. Steam vents discharge a thick vapor into the dank atmosphere. As they walk, Archer scans the space in every direction for any sign of imminent danger. At the far end of the expanse in what appears to be another room, he catches a glimpse of movement. Loudly hailing two men who look very much like Klingons, he takes a few running steps toward them. Hoshi also calls out to the pair in their own language, but the men continue on their way without response and disappear behind a door.

Archer's face mirrors his disappointment at not making contact with the Klingons but he doesn't really have time to dwell on it. A small suspicious sound catches his attention. He goes utterly still for an instant and focuses intently in the direction from which the noise came. As his eyes flare slightly, he makes the smallest start of alarm. Then glancing up uneasily, he recognizes the approaching threat with a frown that marks his heightened awareness. With a quick but smoothly composed movement, Archer reaches into his jacket for his communicator and tries to contact T'Pol. But there is only silence over the comm channel instead of her reply. Suddenly a loud metallic noise sounds overhead. With eyes wide, aroused and hyper-alert, Archer searches the space above him as his breath comes in shallow, tense whispers of air through his open mouth. The vapor that dampens his upturned face highlights vigilance but also apprehension and vulnerability reflected there. Hoshi is clearly spooked by the place and wants to leave, suggesting that they get back to where there are more people. But that drive to find his own answers, to solve his own problems and above all to rescue his mission from failure compels Archer to press on, even though the furtive sounds around him, their isolation and his own intuition warn him of danger. Still scanning overhead, he says, 'There're plenty of people right here,' his quiet reply preoccupied but purposeful. Now, Archer glances down to carefully draw and charge his weapon, then once more scrutinizes the area above him. Cautious intensity still kindles his expression but this time fortitude and firm resolve strengthen the look in his eyes. The Captain tells Hoshi to stay close behind him and continues walking toward the room where they saw the Klingons. But the pair advance only a few more steps before they are attacked from above and behind. Despite Archer's valiant efforts to fight off three Suliban assailants, he and Hoshi are captured and forcibly hustled out of the enclave.

Manhandled by two captors, hands shackled tightly behind his back, Archer struggles against his bonds. He strains to look over his shoulder and check on Hoshi's similar circumstances. But the Suliban are hurriedly prodding the Captain and his Comm Officer toward some kind of holding cell. Once there, the aliens lead Hoshi around Archer and shove her roughly into the cubicle to join the already imprisoned T'Pol and Tucker. However, the Suliban have other plans for the Captain and prevent him from joining his officers. Archer faces his crew across an imperceptible energy barrier and stares at them with a look of stern, unflagging resolve that asserts both his simmering outrage to see them held prisoner and his solemn pledge to free them. But as his captors harshly tug him backward, he grows visibly shaken by the reality of his crew's peril and the realization of his own powerlessness. T'Pol raises one haughty eyebrow and skewers him with an astute, skeptical, very condescending gaze. At first, Archer returns the challenge in T'Pol's eyes with a forthright stare. But knowing he has no answer to make her, he drops his eyes and lowers his head with a palpable air of humiliation. A deep disheartened breath soughs through Archer's lips as his mouth grows taut with self-reproach. He has led his officers into ambush and danger, neglected a commander's principal duty to insure the safety of his crew. And now he must admit to himself that he is uncertain how to extricate them from this crisis.

Yet even as Archer begins to lift his head and confront his officers' expectant faces, his mouth grows firm and resolute, his chin lifts slightly in a gesture of single-minded persistence and his eyes, just visible beneath the fringe of lashes, harden with defiant determination to rescue his crew. Yet he barely gets a chance to meet his officers' eyes before his captors brutally haul him around and hustle him away from the holding cell. Still Archer makes a dogged effort to resist the guards who pull on his bindings and propel him rapidly forward. Struggling to turn his head over his shoulder, he ventures a last, significant, purposeful look at his crew. Without doubt, Archer has made admirable use of the stubborn streak that was so conspicuous in his confrontations with the Vulcans at StarFleet Headquarters. He evidently has the ability to harness that tenacity and transform it into stalwart, inspiring leadership.

The Suliban guards force Archer toward what looks like an underground compound. But while they are still a little distance away from the camp, they thrust him forward with a vicious shove from behind and inexplicably release him. The corners of his taut mouth turn down sharply in a quick grimace of resentment at their aggression. He immediately turns to confront his captors but the two Suliban are already leaving the section. For a moment, Archer stares after them as an expression of incomprehension blankets his face. But then he begins to look around and take stock of his surroundings. Suddenly a gentle, sultry female voice speaks from somewhere behind Archer and asks him why he is looking for Klaang. Taken completely unawares, he whirls around in the direction of the voice but then goes motionless with shock.

Walking toward him with a slow, sensual gait, is what appears to be an alluring human woman, dressed in the same uniform as his Suliban captors. But just as he did when the Vulcans thwarted him at StarFleet Medical, Archer becomes belligerent when faced with these antagonists who seems to have the upper hand. In a hostile, combative tone, he instantly snaps back at the woman, 'Who the hell are you?' She tells him that her name is Sarin and asks Archer to tell her about the people who abducted Klaang from Enterprise. 'I was hoping you could tell me,' he replies in a distinct tone of demand. As Sarin saunters ever closer to the Captain, she asks more questions. Archer gives no answers. But for each inquiry the woman makes, he counters with a question of his own and grows more suspicious with each exchange. He warily asks her why she doesn't look like the Sulibans who captured him. Sarin finally comes close to Archer and gives him a small enigmatic smile, then coyly asks if he would prefer that she look like them. In a quiet but adamant tone, he responds, 'What I prefer is that you give me Klaang back'. Now Sarin begins to walk around Archer in a slow circle. Moving around uncomfortably close to him and searching him intimately with her eyes, she asks where he planned to take Klaang. His bearing stiff and motionless, Archer turns his head first to one side and then the other, watching with alert, distrustful eyes as the woman makes her circuit. At the same time, the Captain insists, 'Home… We were just taking him home' The sincerity that vibrates in his voice as he speaks the word home serves as a persuasive witness to the truth of his declaration.

When Sarin completes her tour around the Captain, she faces him again and moves to stand very close to him. Measuring out a small, sly, tantalizing smile, she looks up into his eyes. Archer responds with a soft but ominous warning, 'Better be careful. I'm a lot bigger than you are,' he cautions. Without diminishing the steamy note of enticement in her voice, Sarin admonishes him not to harm her and reaches out her hand to delicately touch his face. However, Archer views her obvious attempt at seduction with very guarded mistrust. Reacting from instinct and apprehension, he snatches his head back quickly. And yet he doesn't quite pull back far enough to completely avoid her touch.

His voice is a soft, breathy murmur of arousal, not of demand, when he asks what she is doing. As the tips of Sarin's fingers sensuously stroke Archer's cheek, his eyes flare slightly with interest and fascination despite the look of alarmed skepticism on his face. She brushes the backs of her knuckles over his jaw line with tantalizing subtlety. Archer's taut mouth and rigidly set chin do not relent at her caresses. But his smoldering eyes and the flaring nostrils belie that resistance - hint at a growing sense of pleasure and excitement in her touch. Nonetheless, Archer initiates a polite refusal to her not-so-subtle enticement, yet replies in a deep, smoldering undertone, 'You know under different circumstances, I might be flattered by this, but… ' Then, without further warning and swift as a lightning strike, she grabs the back of his neck and kisses him ardently, cutting off his words in the midst of his denial. But despite his very perplexed frown, Archer is not a totally unwilling participant in the proceedings. His chin tips upward a little as he fully absorbs Sarin's kiss, and his lips maintain the connection with hers until the woman draws completely away. Unquestionably the banked fire of this Captain's passion ignites under the influence of impulses other than love for his ship and the longing to fly her into deep space.

Sarin then takes a deliberate step back from the Captain while she looks into his eyes with a purposeful, almost solemn stare. Then slowly lowering her eyelids, she undergoes a permutation to her true form and takes on the mottled, reptilian skin, protruding brow and prominent eyes of a Suliban. Held captive by the sight of Sarin's metamorphosis, Archer's eyes widen with shock, disbelief and a trace of fear. But at the same time, his expression intensifies with a kind of bizarre fascination. He turns his head slightly to one side as if to recoil from her appearance but cannot wrest his gaze from the sight of this alien female who repels and attracts him all at the same time. When Archer is finally able to speak, the smallest shake of his head in disavowal, a barely noticeable stammer that also sounds like a hesitation and a just audible crack in his voice give testament to just how unnerved he is by the incident. 'That's n-never happened before,' he vows unsteadily as if he has just witnessed some strange rite of female sexual stimulation that incites an atavistic, superstitious fear within him.

At this point, the woman begins to walk further into the compound. She tells Archer that she has been given the ability to measure trust but only through intimate contact. Then she confides that she was a member of the Cabal (the Suliban group responsible for abducting Klaang) but disassociated herself from it after she discovered that its policy of bio-engineered evolution carried too high a price. Maintaining a little distance between Sarin and himself, Archer follows her slowly but stops when she turns to face him again. A slight, puzzled frown tugs at Archer's features, but his tone recovers a bit of its usual brass when he asks, 'So you know I'm not lying to you. Now what?' Sarin admits that Klaang was carrying a message back to his people. At that, Archer's frown deepens and his narrowed eyes focus on the woman with outright suspicion. 'How do you know that?' he asks, his voice turning the question into a challenge. Sarin discloses that she herself gave Klaang the message and that it described how the Cabal was staging attacks within the Klingon empire in order to pit one faction against another. But most shocking of all, she claims that the Suliban are fighting a temporal cold war and taking instructions from the distant future. When Archer hears her final disclosure, his eyebrows shoot up with searching urgency and his eyes take on a stunned, vulnerable look as they crinkle up with incomprehension. Thrusting his head forward and uttering a faltering, 'What?' he seeks some kind of clarification for a phenomenon that is so unimaginable to him, a concept that so stupefies him he simply cannot work his mind around comprehending it. But Sarin does not explain. Instead, she informs Archer that she and her comrades can help him find Klaang but that her band of Suliban rebels does not have a starship. And so, Sarin asks Captain Archer to take them aboard Enterprise.

Without warning, the flare of a plasma bullet streaks into the wall behind Sarin as she and Archer come under attack from Suliban supporters of the Cabal. Sarin quickly retrieves her weapon, and she and Archer dodge hostile fire for the duration of their run back to the holding cell. There, they find Sarin's comrades engaged in a firefight with enemy Suliban over control of the cell and the hostages from Enterprise. Meanwhile Archer's captive officers watch with alarm from their sealed enclosure as the intense skirmish blazes around them. Sarin's cohorts kill two of the hostile Suliban but are likewise killed by return fire. Sarin herself, with the unarmed Archer behind her, kills the last assailant who is firing at them from above the holding cell's control console. Moving rapidly to the console, she keys in the code that releases the energetic barrier and frees the captives. Then as she opens a weapons locker and passes Enterprise's confiscated weapons to Archer, he returns them to his officers.

As hostile fire ceases for the moment, Sarin shouts to the Captain in an urgent voice, Where's your vessel?' Archer tells her the location of the ship, and she leads the four humans at a run toward the shuttlepod's docking port on the roof. Meanwhile the genetically altered Suliban give pursuit, defying gravity as they crawl upside down along the system of catwalks suspended overhead. Sarin leads Archer and crew to another console where she keys in yet another code. A door slides open to reveal a platform and vertical shaft inside one of the huge pipes. Sarin returns the re-established enemy fire, protecting the crew until they safely enter the shaft and step onto the platform. But just as she reaches the entrance to the shaft herself, an enemy Suliban takes aim from the overpass above her and cuts her down. Archer rushes back out of the conduit and fires twice at the assailant on the catwalk. But realizing his shots didn't eliminate the hostile Suliban, the Captain shouts for Trip to provide cover and jumps to the ground in an attempt to rescue the badly wounded Sarin. Archer crouches down beside her and very gently turns her over as his hand first brushes, then gingerly avoids the scorched, ragged wound on her side. Cradling the back of Sarin's head in his hand, Archer bends close and looks into her eyes, an expression of intent concern etched on his classically handsome profile. In a weak, faltering voice, Sarin tells him to find Klaang and then dies in his arms. The fierce battle raging about him allows Archer only the briefest moment to react to her death. But the tenderness on his face and in the angle of his head, the stark distress in his eyes as he lays her softly on the ground, turn quickly to fury and disgust at her unwarranted murder, then transform into fierce determination to accomplish her last request. It is very apparent that Archer has no tolerance whatsoever for the squandering of life and does not witness untimely death with equanimity, regardless of the species that sustains the loss.

Still under heavy fire, Archer has to get his crew back to their shuttlepod at once. He springs up from beside Sarin's body and vaults up the steps of the platform, into the conduit. Almost at the same moment, Tucker quits firing and ducks back inside the shaft himself. Instantly, a perfectly aimed shot from the Suliban on the overpass strikes the conduit hatch just as Archer closes it on the shaken crew. Now the platform ascends rapidly upward through the shaft to the roof of the complex, where doors on the surface open automatically. The Enterprise crew steps out into the midst of a blinding snowstorm, zipping up their outer gear and turning up their collars against the wind.

Disoriented by the swirling snow, Tucker and T'Pol point in opposite directions to indicate the port where their shuttlepod is docked. Obviously a little confused himself, Archer quickly scans in both directions to get his bearings, then makes an immediate decision. 'Come on,' he shouts in a tone that resonates with conviction, looking in the direction T'Pol suggested and breaking into a run before the command fully leaves his mouth. Whatever doubts Archer may have, he moves with decisive confidence for the sake of his crew. Moreover, Archer is a bold leader who trusts his own instincts and gives each situation his best attempt. He doesn't agonize over every possible consequence but firmly believes in his ability to make the right decision. Even more, he has steady trust in his capacity to cope with whatever may arise if he is wrong.

Walking at a quick pace, Archer leads his three officers through the snowstorm toward what they hope is the location of their pod while at the same time contacting Reed by communicator. The Captain orders him to get Mayweather and meet the rest of the crew on the roof right away. Over the static, Reed replies that he and Mayweather are already back in the shuttle and asks for Archer's location. But the snowstorm stirs up so much interference that the transmissions break up at both ends and neither man can make out what the other is saying. Finally frustrated with hearing only a garbled message, Archer snaps his communicator shut and makes a small tossing movement with the now-useless comm before he deposits it back in his pocket. He and his officers continue in the direction where they believe the shuttle waits but instead find only an empty docking port. In the swirling snow that reduces visibility to only a few feet, the group's sense of isolation increases acutely. Hoshi reacts to the empty space with anxious discouragement while Tucker insists that he was right in saying the pod lies in the direction from which they just came. Suddenly an explosion blasts the surface of the vacant port on their left. The crew find themselves attacked by the band of hostile Suliban and engaged in another fierce firefight. They secure cover behind whatever structures they can find on the roof and return fire.

From her place behind one of the empty docking ports, T'Pol looks over her shoulder and sees the shuttlepod only a few feet from where she expected it to be. She hurries to the pod and knocks insistently on the porthole just as Reed and Mayweather are trying to isolate her bio-signs. Travis opens the hatch for T'Pol but just then she is caught in the powerful exhaust of a huge ship taking off from the roof. The force of the ship's reverse thrust knocks her down and propels her backward through the snow toward the Sulibans' position.

From behind a circular steam vent, Archer is firing on the attackers and shielding the inexperienced Hoshi with his free arm. He views T'Pol's nasty spill with heightened alarm, then immediately notes her conspicuous exposure to Suliban fire and her lost weapon lying in the snow several feet from where she finally comes to a stop. In that instant, he formulates a plan of action and initiates a rescue. As he keeps a grasp on Hoshi's shoulder and partially covers her head and chest with his torso, Archer shouts an order to Tucker, 'Get Hoshi to the ship!' Then, abandoning cover without hesitation, he barks an urgent, 'Now!' to Trip and bursts into the open, all the while discharging a rapid barrage of shots at the Suliban to draw their fire. As Tucker shepherds Hoshi into the security of the pod, Archer continues to return fire but makes a dash for T'Pol's weapon. He goes down smoothly like a runner sliding into base and retrieves her pistol with his left hand, then gets to his feet again without so much as a pause or stumble. His position totally unprotected, he moves forward in a low crouch toward T'Pol and engages the alien foe with two-fisted, rapid fire. Reaching the still prone Vulcan, Archer kneels beside her with a weapon in each hand and fires a continuous cadence of shots to provide cover as she regains her footing. Then he directs her into the shuttle with one single, gruff word of command, 'Go!' T''Pol attempts to take back her weapon and tells Archer to precede her into the pod, declaring that Enterprise needs her Captain. But Archer won't even consider it. He bellows the order again with angry insistence and obstinate valor, 'Go!' then holds out alone against the crossfire to protect her retreat. It is clear that this Captain will readily and without hesitation, perhaps too readily when it comes to reckoning his own peril and his crew's need for his leadership, throw himself into the breach to secure the safety of those entrusted to his command.

T'Pol races into the shuttle while Archer fires steadily at the Suliban and backpedals toward the pod. But just as he reaches the emergency hatch, a plasma bullet strikes him in the thigh. He falls down on the pod's snow-covered ramp and writhes in agony while the heat from the scorched perimeter and raw flesh of his wound condenses into steam in the cold air. As soon as Reed and Tucker see Archer go down, they charge of the pod. Continuing to return Suliban fire all the while, each man grasps one of his fallen captain's arms and half drags him to the shuttle. Archer utters a small, suppressed groan of pain with each movement as his crew hauls him inside and settles him on the floor of the pod. They close the hatch just as the Suliban make a rush for the pod, then lift off despite a thruster that sustained damage in the attack. Although a spasm of anguish distorts Archer's features and his upper lip arches in a soundless moan, he endures in silence as Sato and Reed cover his smoldering wound with gauze. Then as his face goes slack and tranquil, he loses consciousness and drifts into an idyllic dream.

Archer is a boy again on the beach with his father, learning to fly a remote controlled starship. As the small ship begins to wobble and descend, the young Jonathan says he doesn't think he can control it. But Henry Archer expresses firm faith in his son's ability and encourages Jonathan to take the ship up and keep her, 'Straight and steady,' the very same order Captain Archer gave to the helm when Enterprise started out on her maiden flight. However in this dream, the boy loses control of the little ship and it dives into the sand. So Henry tells his very discouraged son, 'You can't be afraid of the wind, Jonathan. Learn to trust it.' Given the obstacles, disasters and danger from a shadowy enemy with which Archer's mission has been beset, not to mention the pain and shock which are a result of his severe wounding, the Captain's physical and mental distress certainly carry over into his unconscious state. This dream may represent Archer's subliminal doubt about his abilities to command the first deep space vessel and to complete the seemingly impossible task that lies before him of finding Klaang. The boy Jonathan might express the adult Captain's dismay over his misadventures at the trade complex and the astonishing revelations he learned there about a temporal war. On the other hand, the voice and words of Archer's father likely represent a form of self-encouragement - an unconscious way of bolstering his own trust in his ability to surmount the challenges ahead. However, at that moment, T'Pol's image intrudes into Jonathan Archer's dream. Her apparition, a cunning, austere figure, appears with the boy and his father on that unspoiled beach and seems to cast a dark shadow over the sunny day. And so, perhaps Archer's subconscious, coupled with his habitual distrust of Vulcans, is now responding to the real sound of T'Pol's voice beside him as she notifies the crew aboard Enterprise that she is taking command of his ship.

When next Archer opens his eyes, he sees the bright, calm, spotless efficiency of sickbay instead of the dim, tense interior of the shuttle or the murky, chaotic battle on Rigel 10. He lifts his head and catches site of something that looks like a starfish atop the wound on his thigh. First gasping in pain then looking over at Phlox with a deep frown of very skeptical apprehension, he watches the good Doctor remove the five-pointed creature from his leg. The lesion is no longer a gaping hole of charred flesh but a large patch of pink, mending skin. The briskly cheerful Phlox praises the wound's improved appearance with effusive enthusiasm and exults, 'Your myo-fibers are fusing beautifully!' Phlox's ebullience causes Archer to glance down and take more notice of his nearly healed injury, but it also earns Phlox another puzzled look of uncertainty from the Captain. 'How long have I been uh…' Archer begins to ask in a voice that still sounds fuzzy and disoriented. Phlox interrupts immediately and reassures Archer that he has only been sedated for six hours while the, 'osmotic eel cauterized your wound.' As the Denobulan physician carries the creature across the room, Archer stares at his retreating back from under his brows with an extremely wide-eyed expression of astonished disbelief. The Captain glances away momentarily as if trying to assimilate the unorthodox treatment that was performed on him. Something fleeting in his still-widened eyes recoils with more than a little squeamish anxiety. That moment represents an eloquent, not to mention very funny, disclosure of the vulnerability Archer feels in the care of this doctor and his outlandish therapies. But as the Captain looks quickly back up at Phlox, he seems to make a deliberate leap of faith and decides to trust his medical officer's expertise in these bizarre treatment protocols. Archer aims an ironic - bordering on indignant - sidelong look at the physician and returns a terse, tentative, anemic, 'Thanks.' But Archer's face discloses the qualifying remark that he makes only to himself, 'I think.'

Just then, T'Pol and Tucker stride briskly into sickbay and ask how their Captain is feeling. In a voice that has regained its vigor, clarity and tone of command, Archer replies 'Well, that depends. What's been going on the last six hours?' Much to Archer's dismay, T'Pol tells him that Enterprise has been under her command while he was receiving treatment for his injury. He briefly stares at the Vulcan with a rather blank, disconcerted expression. But that look quickly turns to intent stillness as he turns away from her and concentrates on sensing the pulse of his ship. Although he almost certainly knows the answer to his question before he asks it, Archer looks to his chief engineer and inquires if the ship is underway. Oddly, the Captain accepts a breezy, affirmative nod from Tucker like a blow, dropping his head in defeat for a moment and seeming to concede his own failure. Then he turns a quick indignant glare on T'Pol and asks in a derisive tone that also holds both resentment and resignation, 'You didn't waste any time, did you?' Before Archer even finishes speaking he turns his back on T'Pol and gingerly swings himself off the gurney on the side opposite from where she stands. Of course, he has no doubt that T'Pol not only assumed command of Enterprise but also implemented the decision she recommended as soon as Klaang was abducted. Turning toward Trip, Archer asks how long it will be before the ship reaches earth. But T'Pol promptly informs him that they are not heading toward Earth but are in fact tracking a Suliban ship that left Rigel soon after the firefight.

Rather than bear any weight on his injured leg, Archer leans one hand for balance on the gurney that sits symbolically between T'Pol on one side and himself and Tucker on the other. Facing neither of his officers The Captain instead looks out on the open area of sickbay. However after hearing T'Pol's announcement that Enterprise is tracking a Suliban ship, Archer turns a look of utter, gaping astonishment on her. But more than just astonished, Archer seems actually shaken by her report on the ship's course. He looks over at Trip and waits silently for verification, which Trip gives in the form of another confident nod. Returning his focus to T'Pol again, Archer asks in a halting, tentative voice, 'You got their plasma decay rate?' As he waits for her response, that same troubled, questioning look maintains control of his features. T'Pol reports that she modified Enterprise's sensors with Tucker's help and that they can now detect the alien ship's warp trail. But that answer does nothing to alleviate Archer's uneasy expression. He slowly turns a skeptical look on Tucker again and wonders why would the Vulcan go to such extraordinary measures to proceed with a mission she formerly described as foolish? Then still using the stretcher for support, Archer turns to squarely face T'Pol. Drawing his body up tall and straight, he raises his chin to a conspicuous, even contentious height and quotes her previous opinion verbatim, throwing the words back at her like a brash challenge, 'What happened to "this is a foolish mission?" ' Immediately, T'Pol rebuts his challenge and restates with pronounced emphasis her belief that the mission is foolish. But she goes on to explain that, as acting captain, she had a duty to proceed as Archer would have wished.

Archer presses both hands into the stretcher that lies between him and the Vulcan and braces himself on straight arms. Then leaning forward from the waist, he draws closer to T'Pol and moves his head down between his shoulders to bring his eyes level with hers. His approach to the Vulcan looks slow and effortless but distinctly confrontational. With a shrewd smile of distrust and quiet, drawling derision in his tone, he argues, 'As acting Captain, you could have done whatever the hell you wanted to do.' But as Archer concludes what began as his cynical retort, he studies her face with discerning, contemplative eyes and earnestly seeks some motive behind her decision to advance his goal of finding the Suliban. Despite Archer's implied demand for an explanation, T'Pol evades giving him one and says that she must return to the bridge. However, she pauses for a moment first and meets his silent inquiry with her own steady and strikingly candid gaze. Archer tilts his head to the side and searches T'Pol's face even more closely. At that moment, the expression in his eyes grows startled and speculating. Dawning albeit grudging respect becomes visible on his face as he gives two almost imperceptible nods of assent and says, 'Dismissed.' He pronounces the word not in the sharp tone of command, but softly and with a distinct note of pensive conjecture in his voice. Something in T'Pol's silence, in her forthright gaze revealed a truth that she did not articulate and gave Archer the information he was searching for about her motives. It seems that Archer's need to explore - to find accurate answers - drives him not only to probe the reaches of deep space but to probe the inner spaces of an individual's heart as well. And he acknowledges honesty and good intentions wherever he finds them, even if his vision is becloud at first by long-standing bias. So as Archer continues to watch T'Pol leave sickbay, he has the disconcerted, unsettled look of a man whose convictions have just been shaken to their very foundation.

Back in the privacy of his quarters, Archer is dictating a log entry while he flexes and stretches the muscles of his injured leg and walks around the cabin to test its strength. But he keeps interrupting the dictation to ruminate aloud over T'Pol's seemingly altruistic act of modifying the sensors and tracking the Suliban ship. He keeps trying to deny or talk himself out of accepting what he discovered in her eyes during that silent moment in sickbay. The unselfish compassion he detected there doesn't correspond to his jaundiced opinion about all Vulcans. Did T'Pol really facilitate and proceed with his mission because he saved her life on the roof of the trade complex? His face twists up into a puzzled, skeptical grimace as he tries to work his mind around the thought of T'Pol repaying his gallant act with one of her own. 'One good turn deserves another,' he muses. Then turning his head briefly over his shoulder, Archer concludes in a dismissive tone, 'Doesn't sound very Vulcan.' He resumes his log entry but the anxious, perplexed look returns to his face as he interrupts himself yet again, scratches his eyebrow absently and asks, 'Have you ever known a Vulcan to return a favor?' But Porthos, who is the target of Archer's question, maintains a docile, placid silence and gives only a tacit response. Of course Archer already presumes that the unspoken answer from Porthos will be negative, for he agrees with his pet in a conclusive but scornful and disillusioned tone. 'No. Neither have I,' Archer says and accompanies his conspiratorial reply to Porthos with a knowing lift of his brow and a wry smirk of disdain.

Still T'Pol's reciprocal act of loyalty has at least caused Archer to question the bias he has nurtured for so long. And he cannot silence either his nascent doubt about those biased views or prevent the small, nagging sting of his conscience. However, since the little beagle's acquiescence has seemingly reinforced his misgivings, the Captain again resumes his log entry and begins to get dressed. As Archer dictates his observations, he admits his uncertainty over whether or not to ask T'Pol about, 'this temporal cold war.' Mentioning this supposed conflict in a very skeptical tone, Archer wordlessly discredits the possibility that such a thing could actually exist. But then he confesses that his instincts tell him not to trust T'Pol, though he leaves unfinished the conclusion, 'even with bizarre, possibly bogus information.' Suddenly Archer goes quite still and attentive again as he heeds the change in the thrum of his ship's engines. Just as he turns toward the porthole to see the ship decrease from warp speed, he hears T'Pol's voice over the comm system summoning him to the bridge.

Archer is still closing the zipper on the sleeves of his just-donned uniform when he exits the turbo lift and steps onto the bridge. But he doesn't advance more than a pace or two before he stops short and raises his chin sharply. A look of pure fascinated astonishment now takes hold of his features in response to the onscreen image in front of him. His spellbound attention never wavers from the projected figure of the immense orange-red sphere as he moves with slow, distracted steps to stand beside the Science Officer. T'Pol quickly furnishes him with the wholly superfluous information that he is looking at a gas giant. But Archer reveals his own thorough knowledge of the huge gaseous planets by estimating this one's size or class. 'From the looks of it, a class six or… seven,' he concludes as he tilts his head to one side and looks at the sphere from a different perspective. T'Pol, of course, corrects that estimate and informs him that the planet's exact category is, 'a class seven.' The Vulcan now returns to her science station and informs the Captain that the Suliban vessel has disappeared into the planet's outer radiation belt. When Archer turns away from T'Pol to look at the image of the giant sphere again, the slow burning vexation in his eyes intensifies and his shoulders lift, then drop on an audible and deeply frustrated sigh. Yet a tone of quiet, controlled authority in the Captain's voice both steadies and strengthens his command to the helm to bring Enterprise closer to the planet. The looming image of the huge red-orange ball fills the main plasma screen but nothing more can be seen. With an annoyed grimace and a disgruntled shake of his head, Archer turns to Reed and asks tersely if the sensors have picked up anything. But Reed reports that radiation has reduced the Suliban ship's warp trail to mere fragments.

Archer's pressing need to continue tracking that Suliban vessel impels him to overcome his disrelish for Vulcan advice in general and his professed distrust for T'Pol in particular. Laying aside his pride, the Captain forces himself to actually ask T'Pol for help. But he does not do so graciously. His chin tilted to a pugnacious angle, his expression arrogant and anxious at the same time, he confronts her with a disturbingly direct stare and phrases his request like a grudging, combative ultimatum. 'Are you through helping us?' he bluntly demands. But his tactless, awkward appeal is somehow counterbalanced by a hopeful light that he cannot suppress in his eyes. Perhaps it is that light that prompts T'Pol to give Archer her assistance without even a word about his brusqueness and only a tart, sidelong look as rebuke.

T'Pol proceeds to issue a series of orders to Lt. Reed and elicits data that sparks an idea. She directs Reed to calculate the trajectory of each fragment of plasma decay that the sensors have detected. Almost instantly, Archer grasps the strategy behind her commands. He lifts his head sharply and turns toward the main screen with a look of alert concentration, as if sensing the direction of her reasoning. Then he pulls his brows into a very small frown and almost imperceptibly nods his head in silent accord while the shade of an approving smile just touches his eyes. When Reed seeks clarification of T'Pol's order, Archer returns a crisp, decisive, 'You heard her.' As he descends the single step to join T'Pol in front of the helm, they meet each other's eyes with a mutual look of nearly palpable like-mindedness and dawning respect. Now Archer and T'Pol stand shoulder to shoulder immediately before the large main screen and issue orders in tandem, aimed at finding the solution to the puzzle of the disappearing Suliban ship. They act and sound like a proficient, well-matched team that seem almost capable of reading one another's thoughts. And they end by discovering, at nearly the same instant, that the fragments represent warp trails from not one but fourteen Suliban ships.

This gaseous planet appears to be the Suliban command station and the presumed whereabouts of the abducted Klaang. Jonathan Archer may at times show instances of brash, stubborn or impatient behavior. But his quick understanding and willingness to collaborate with T'Pol in this instance reveal that he is nonetheless a highly intelligent, perceptive man. Moreover as a Captain, he possesses the self-confidence and discernment to recognize, respect and make effective use of the particular talents of his subordinates - even, it would seem, if that subordinate happens to be a Vulcan.

Turning now to his tactical officer, Archer calls for an update on targeting scanners and hears Lt. Reed report that they are aligned and ready. The Captain swings his head back toward the main screen and stares at the image of the gas giant with a look of cool, clear-eyed, pragmatic appraisal that, for all its practicality, is fortified by a strong spine of determination. For an extended moment, Archer continues to study the planet as if he were both gauging the strength of an enemy and acknowledging the unvarnished reality of his own risk. Only the slightest lowering of his eyes and an inward shift of his focus betray the weight of command that presses on him - the responsibility that he alone bears of committing the lives of his crew and safety of his ship to extreme peril. But that flicker of hesitation lasts no longer than an instant. Now Archer raises his eyes and aims a stern, stalwart, almost defiant glance at the image onscreen. Then he immediately turns away and issues the first of three commands to action, each more dynamic and more decisive than the one before. 'Bring the weapons online. And polarize the hull plating. Lay in a sixty-degree vector.' At the same time Archer is snapping out those orders, he moves with long purposeful strides back to the central dais, then mounts the stairs and assumes the Captain's chair with an air of determined valor. As he stares straight into the heart of the planet's image, an aspect of tenacious resolve blended with unshakeable courage harden the contours of his face but also serve to embolden his crew. Then with quiet but unassailable conviction, he pledges, 'We're going in.'

On that promise, Enterprise ventures into the gas planet's outer atmosphere. But as the ship descends into the layer of cyclohexane directly underneath, Hoshi reports that sensor resolution falls off sharply at only 12 kilometers. The Captain's face reflects the gravity of his ship's severely limited viewing range as he shifts his eyes sideways toward his helmsman without turning away from the large view screen. In a tone that implies both a stern admonition and a critical question, Archer simply speaks the young ensign's name, 'Travis?' In effect, Archer is making an intentional assertion of trust in Travis' training, skill and judgement to either get the ship through this current predicament or to report any insurmountable hazards without delay. But Travis tells his captain that he is 'okay' as things stand now. Immediately afterward, T'Pol assures the bridge crew that conditions will improve once the ship leaves this layer behind. But instead, the ship is jolted and buffeted during a very bumpy passage through a layer of liquid phosphorous that not even T'Pol speculated would exist. Of course, Archer lightly mocks T'Pol's prediction of easier conditions with a tongue-in-cheek understatement. 'I wouldn't exactly call this an improvement,' he says and looks over at Reed with a meaningful, ironic glare. Obviously unnerved by the turbulence, the inexperienced Hoshi suggests that Archer install seat belts when Enterprise returns to earth. But the Captain manages to reassure her with a gentle parody of the commercial pilot's cliché'. 'It's just a little bad weather,' he calls out, as he grasps the arms of his chair to counterbalance the bucking motion of the ship and leans toward Hoshi in an attitude of encouragement. Neither Archer's tone nor his manner dismisses the young ensign's nervousness or completely disguises his own misgivings over the effects of this bizarre atmosphere.

But Enterprise finally breaks through to the less volatile interior of the planet and regains its sensors. Now Archer's demeanor turns direct, decisive and completely professional. 'Level off,' he directs the helm, his order terse and preemptory, 'And go to long range scanners.' Almost immediately, T'Pol reports the presence and position of two smaller ships advancing on Enterprise. At once, Archer issues a brisk order to, 'Put it up,' and at the same time propels himself out of his chair. A bearing of disciplined urgency and martial fortitude informs Archer's gait as he walks down the platform steps and stands before the main screen to observe the two approaching ships. Just as Archer asks Reed for data on the ships' weapons, Travis interrupts and notifies the Captain that he is picking up something a lot bigger than those two vessels. Hoshi keys in the coordinates, and a huge stationary structure that seems to float without support in the planet's atmosphere appears on screen. Equal parts alarm and stunned disbelief sharpen the severity in Archer's eyes as they slowly survey the spiral structure's image from top to bottom. 'All sensors! Get whatever you can,' he orders. The last word of his command sounds a little winded, as if the sight of this massive thing has constricted his breath. He directs Hoshi to give him a tighter view, then studies the exterior details of what is almost certainly the Suliban base with keen, calculating scrutiny. Excitement at finding his enemy's headquarters flashes for a moment in his eyes but a stab of apprehension over the danger this command center portends dilates them as well.

Suddenly that foreboding of danger becomes actuality when an explosion rocks Enterprise. The Captain immediately turns an appalled look on Reed and is shocked to hear him report that a particle weapon has struck Enterprise. Just then another blast rocks the bridge and Archer turns back to the screen in confusion. From below decks, Tucker hails Archer over the comm system to report that engineering is taking damage and to ask what is happening. Archer maintains unremitting focus on the view screen as a deep, troubled frown and a wince of bewildered apprehension contract his features. Still, he opts for a light-spirited reply to steady his fledgling crew and hesitates only a second before he answers, 'Just a… little trouble with the bad guys.' His casual tone does nothing to obscure the spur of alarm that arises in his eyes or the tension that escapes him in a soft rush of breath on the last word of his answer. T'Pol no sooner finishes suggesting that Enterprise return to the phosphorous layer, than another impact rattles the ship. But this time, not even a fresh blast can prevent the glint of steel from hardening the resolve in Archer's eyes as he recovers his footing and glares at the screen. Still, he knows that T'Pol's suggestion represents the wisest course for the moment and orders in a quiet tone that seethes with frustrated resistance, 'Take us up.' As Archer walks back to the Captain's chair, he glances over his shoulder at the screen and tosses a quick look of angry defiance at the onscreen images of the attacking craft.

Enterprise returns to the planet's phosphorous layer and is sheltered for the moment from further attack. Now the crew has a little time to analyze the data from the strange spiral base that Enterprise's sensors have compiled. From her place at the science station, T'Pol calls out to the Captain with some insistence. Archer immediately leaves his chair and reaches T'Pol's station in three very long strides, demanding in an urgent tone that matches hers, 'What've you got?' He leans over the back of T'Pol's chair and studies the figure on her screen with absorbed fascination, while she explains that this Helix structure is composed of hundreds of Suliban vessels, each held onto a central core by interlocking magnetic seals. Hoshi interrupts at that moment and excitedly points out the single dissimilar bio-sign among three thousand others recorded on the Helix that are all identical to each other. Now Archer hastens to the comm station and scrutinizes the data on Hoshi's screen as he peers over her shoulder. But T'Pol objects that they can't be certain this anomalous bio-sign belongs to a Klingon. The Captain continues to study the data with attentive eyes under a pensive frown and muses aloud, 'Even if it is Klaang, we'd have a tough time getting him out of there.' At this point, Reed suggests using the still untried transporting device to rescue Klaang. But Archer rejects that alternative straightaway and underscores his distrust of the transporter by saying, 'We've risked too much to bring him back inside out.'

Archer withdraws from Hoshi's console and moves slowly in the direction of his tactical officer's post. A look of shrewd, speculation contracts his cheek muscles and narrows his eyes, as he questions Reed in an analytical tone, 'Would the grappler work in a liquid atmosphere?' Malcolm immediately grasps the plan his captain is formulating and delivers his affirmative opinion along with a canny smile. It takes no more than that instant of concurrence for Archer to make his decision. He orders Reed to bring the grappler online. With brisk conviction in his steps, Archer descends from the semicircular ledge on which the senior officers' stations are arrayed and proceeds toward the bridge's central platform. As he does so, he gives a stirring order to the helmsman, 'One more time, Mr. Mayweather,' directing the ship down to the planet's inner atmosphere. Again Archer chooses the informal phrase and commanding yet lightened tone to ease the tension in his yet-to-be battle tested crew. Mounting the single step, he takes his chair, lifts his torso into an erect, ready posture and raises his chin to observe the main screen with an alert, expectant but undaunted look. Thereupon, Enterprise descends once more into enemy fire. Although this Captain has no hard and fast operational codes to follow in a crisis this grave and although he is outclassed by a culture that is more advanced and inexplicably hostile, Archer responds with an inventive plan and daring action. It is the mark of this man that he uses his intelligence and quick-witted ingenuity to improvise unorthodox solutions to difficult and extremely challenging dilemmas.

Enterprise once again enters the planet's inner atmosphere, this time with her own torpedoes blazing, and comes under heavy fire from several small but nimble Suliban craft. Archer commands the bridge with cool, unflinching composure and expert control. He seems to have consciously damped down the fiery streak in his nature to icy-hot resolve. As Enterprise sustains more damage from the highly maneuverable enemy, Reed provides a running commentary of the course of the battle and announces that the ventral plating has been neutralized. Archer's unbroken concentration and fiercely focused eyes never waver from the screen and the advancing Suliban vessels. His clenched jaw, taut cheek muscles and relentless, defiant mouth give mute testimony to his strength of will. With quiet, imperturbable certainty Archer orders the helm, 'Hold your position.' The enemy ships bear down on Enterprise and render more of her hull plating ineffective, leaving her fully exposed to their weapons. In what must surely be a tone of some urgency for a Vulcan, T'Pol presses Archer to take the ship back up to the phosphorous layer. But Archer steadies his clearly nervous crew with an order that he enunciates in an overly precise tone and delivers with only moderate volume but compelling emphasis, 'Hold your position!' More charges rock the ship and explode on the bridge itself right behind the Captain. Archer glances over his shoulder at the intense flash of enemy fire, but immediately returns his focus to the main screen. Controlled, undaunted and single-mindedly patient, he waits as the targeted ship advances to the precise location that will maximize Enterprise's chance of success. His eyes alight with exhilaration at the imminent challenge and the confident expectation of success, the Captain orders Reed to cast the grappling device. 'Now, Mr. Reed!' he charges, his deep voice galvanized by vigorous conviction. Both magnetic grappling cups hit the target Suliban craft and wrench it back toward Enterprise, dumping its pilot into the planet's atmosphere. Then Enterprise quickly ascends back to the phosphorous layer as it tows the smaller vessel into its launch bay. For only a moment, Reed and Archer savor their joint success with a shared smile: Reed's, an animated, satisfied, expansive grin; Archer's, just an intimation of pleasure that expresses no less satisfaction but that merely touches his eyes. The Captain knows full well that still more formidable challenges await him and his crew before they can complete their mission.

Taking uncertain refuge once again in the gas giant's upper atmosphere, Enterprise continues to endure the effects of distant Suliban charges, some of them armed with proximity sweeps intended to locate and destroy her. As concussions from the intermittent blasts advance steadily closer to his ship, the Captain and two of his officers stand in consultation around a graphics table in the situation room and occasionally have to grasp the edges of the table for support. Helmsman Mayweather is giving Archer and Commander Tucker a greatly accelerated course on how to operate the captured Suliban craft. Indicating a keypad on the images of the cell ship's control panels that are reproduced on the table, Mayweather asks Tucker to identify what function this particular pad executes. But Trip mistakes the key for the 'pitch control,' and then must listen with close attention while Travis provides the correct answer. The Captain reacts to his chief engineer's blunder by inhaling a slow breath and looking up with only a somewhat anxious expression on his face as Travis continues his explanation.

Archer himself, on the other hand, proves to be a very quick study. In response to his helmsman's question about how to deploy the docking interface, the Captain details the entire sequence in a clear, confident, letter-perfect delivery, pointing out all the correct keypads on the control panel display with brisk efficiency. Now, the oral quiz reverts to Tucker again. Travis asks the Commander to locate the auxiliary throttle. 'Huh! It's not this one,' Tucker equivocates as Archer turns his head sharply sideways to stare at the chief engineer in consternation. Accompanied by a drawn out, hesitant pause, Trip scans the various diagrams on the table between the three men and falters over the correct choice. Meanwhile, as Archer leans against the tabletop on stiff, straight arms, he lowers and turns his head to the side with an air of disbelief, searching Tucker's face from below for some sign of comprehension. But for the moment, that search seems to yield no results. So, Archer drops his head and lets it hang between his shoulders in a gesture of dismay and exasperation that looks clearly genuine but nonetheless comical.

It seems clear that the Captain seldom errs in matters of scholarship or training and does not take inaccuracies at all lightly. Moreover, this little vignette gives fascinating clues about Archer's attention to detail, his custom of exacting preparation and the high standards he sets for his own performance as well as that of his officers. Finally, Trip locates the right function pad on the panel and points it out with triumphant enthusiasm. But as enemy charges detonate ever closer to Enterprise, T'Pol makes it clear that the ship is in imminent danger of being located and destroyed by the Suliban. Archer leans toward Mayweather in a manner that communicates crucial concern and says, 'You're gonna have to speed this up a little, Travis.' But in reply, Trip minimizes the difficulty of navigating the alien craft and reassures his Captain with glib certainty, 'We'll figure it out.'

The air in the Captain's ready room crackles with tension. More frequent blasts from Suliban charges rock the decks and force the two people in the room to brace themselves against the bulkheads. Archer is hastily preparing to leave his ship and take the captured alien craft to the Helix base. In obvious agitation - especially for a Vulcan, T'Pol lingers in the room uncharacteristically close to Archer and urges him to reconsider this attempt to rescue Klaang. Archer offers his science officer a determined but obviously too facile guarantee. 'We'll be back before you know it,' he promises smoothly and demonstrates his certainty of a successful outcome by adding, 'Have Mayweather plot a course for Kronos.' However, T'Pol insists that since a Vulcan ship is close by, Archer is being illogical to try recovering Klaang alone. But the Captain gives only cursory regard to T'Pol's increasingly pressing appeals as he makes hasty preparations to go to the Helix. For a moment, he pauses to level a penetrating look and puzzled frown at the Vulcan and expresses his disappointment that she fails to understand his obligation to accomplish this rescue alone. Showing that she does indeed understand him, T'Pol argues that Archer will have other chances to demonstrate his independence from the Vulcans. But while Archer busies himself with retrieving and checking the function of his scanner, he quips, 'Never put off 'til tomorrow…' voicing the cliché like a mantra that needs no further justification. Finally, T'Pol's face takes on an expression that looks all but distressed, and she admonishes the Captain that he and Tucker could both be killed if they try to infiltrate the Helix. Perhaps the unaccustomed, unexpected development of T'Pol implying a solicitous attitude toward him rubs too much against the grain of Archer's prejudice against Vulcans. Perhaps it seems less threatening to return his relationship with T'Pol to their more familiar adversarial stance. Maybe he simply wants to stop her objections and get on with his mission. But for whatever reason, Archer responds with a churlish taunt. 'Am I sensing concern?' he asks in a sarcastic tone and finally stops to look into her eyes. Then turning his back and proceeding to outfit himself for departure, he almost sneers, 'Last time I checked that was considered an emotion.'

Archer's gibe effectively sends T'Pol into a defensive stance. She argues that the Vulcan high command will hold her responsible if harm befalls him and Tucker on this raid. But Lt. Reed's arrival with newly devised weapons prevents any further dispute between the Captain and the Sub-Commander. 'You finished?' Archer demands as he looks at the Tactical Officer with the light of urgency in his intense stare. Reed demonstrates a device that will reverse the polarity and disrupt the magnetic locking system that supports the Helix structure, warning Archer that he only has five seconds once the sequence is set. Then Reed opens another metal case, and Archer responds with obvious enthusiasm, 'Ah, our new weapons!' As Reed shows Archer the 'stun' and 'kill' settings on the new phase pistols, another discharge convulses the ship. Holding onto the wall for support, Archer allows himself a brief grimace of frustration and outrage that he sternly disciplines. But when he glances back up at Reed, his eyes have gone hard with insistent determination. The very deep pitch and ominously grave tone in his voice cause his words to rumble deep in his chest as he declares, 'Time to go.' He tucks the weapons case under his arm and precedes Reed out the door, but not before he turns back to capture T'Pol's eyes with an eloquent stare and, this time without hesitation, officially gives her command of Enterprise. His voice deep and solemn, Archer says, 'The ship is yours.'

In her futile attempt to persuade Archer not to infiltrate the Helix without asking for help from the nearby Vulcan ship, T'Pol implies that the Captain is trying, once again, to prove that humans can succeed in deep space on their own merits. Yet during their confrontation in his ready room, Archer manifests none of the swagger or obstinate defiance he displayed at StarFleet headquarters when he coerced both the Vulcans and his superiors to let Enterprise return Klaang to his people. Rather, even in the face of T'Pol's vehement objections, Archer is all business - unperturbed, immovable and wholly focused on his goal of retrieving Klaang. Clearly, no argument she could make has the least possibility of changing his mind. The Klingon was under Enterprise's protection when he was taken. There is no question in Archer's mind that the crew of Enterprise must bring him back. Archer did not make his pledge lightly when he told T'Pol that he was going to find out who took the Klingon. From the moment Archer stepped onto the bridge after Klaang's disappearance, he applied his considerable intelligence, ingenuity and single-minded resolve to keeping that commitment. And he will not even consider asking the more powerful Vulcans to help him be true to his word. However, it seems clear that Archer neither forgets nor takes lightly a loyalty done to him. For regardless of his protestations about not trusting Vulcans and despite the uncertain likelihood of his return from the Helix, he turns command of his ship over to T'Pol with entirely obvious and unwavering trust.

Their considerably less than thorough knowledge of the captured craft notwithstanding, Archer and Tucker pilot the Suliban ship toward the Helix. With only the two of them together in this small vessel, removed from the more formal naval conventions required on Enterprise, the close and easy friendship between these two long-time comrades becomes apparent in their uninhibited interchanges. Archer keeps alert, slightly anxious watch out the front porthole while Travis sits nervously at the controls. An ominous chirping alarm sounds in the craft as a large warning light flashes on the control panel. Archer turns a disconcerted look of alarm on Tucker and demands in a harsh, startled tone, 'What's that?' then quickly returns his attention to the flashing panel. The sound of Tucker's tense, shortened breath makes a glaring clash with his too casual and obviously fabricated dismissal when he quotes Mayweather's purported advice, 'not to worry about that panel.' At this, Archer instantly looks up from the controls, turns his head over his shoulder and stares at his friend with an appalled, uneasy and very distrustful expression on his face. As the Captain turns away again, that look hardens into a show of annoyance, bordering-on exasperation - the kind of look one brother adopts toward another whose foibles are well-known and sometimes frustrating but tolerated out of genuine affection. 'That's reassuring!' Archer growls between clenched teeth, his words low-pitched and heavy with plenty of sarcasm and skepticism but no rancor. However, in spite of the repeated warning signal, the Captain and Commander proceed toward the Helix.

Archer has another scare when the cell ship approaches the Helix and he orders Tucker to bring the docking interface online. As Tucker hesitates indecisively, his finger hovering over the control panel, Archer frowns in disbelief and turns to look at the Chief Engineer as if his friend were trying to move a car forward with the gearshift in reverse. Tucker finally chooses the right function pad. But although Archer must still prompt Trip to open the co-axial ports, the Captain manages to do so with an attitude of unruffled control. Yet, once Tucker successfully finds the panel and accomplishes that task without help, Archer gives a short, mollified nod of his head and urges in a quiet tone of steady conviction, 'Let's go.' Tucker proceeds to steer the little craft to the Suliban base. Nevertheless another tricky moment follows when the engineer loses sight of the Helix in the dense liquid atmosphere and cannot recover his bearings. However, it seems that Archer has an innate ability to navigate by the seat of his pants and orders Tucker to, 'Bank starboard ninety degrees.' The Captain's instincts are right on target for the Helix materializes directly in front of them. With the aid of his scanner and his own keen instincts, Archer directs Trip to align the cell ship precisely opposite the docking port, urging, 'A little more,' then coaxing in a deep, melodious intonation, 'A little more…'

In spite of the Captain's precise directions, the cell ship's approach is just slightly hampered when Tucker runs the little craft right into a projection on the Helix structure, in much the same way that he ran the inspection pod into the undersurface of Enterprise. Archer's jaw drops in amazement as the impact jolts him sideways. He glances up from his scanner, then slowly turns and stares at Tucker with eyes that have widened in a silent reprimand that is half satire but also half shock. When Archer turns his attention back to the scanner, a pointed look of disgruntled tension tightens his mouth and a long, sigh of forbearance escapes him. But Tucker, not the least intimidated by his captain's disapproval, just shrugs with a sheepish air of pretended futility and continues his approach to the Helix. A short time later, Archer holds up one hand to gesture a halt and says with finality, 'Right there!' Then Trip finally brings the vessel into the docking port. Even though Archer is, himself, conscientious and extremely precise, he obviously both knows and accepts Tucker's nonchalance because his friend's attributes easily outweigh his shortcomings. This Captain prizes loyalty in his friends and subordinates but clearly demands the same of himself in his association with them.

Phase pistol drawn, senses heightened and sharp, Archer emerges from the hexagonal entry port into the core of the Helix. Dropping into a defensive crouch, he scans the immediate area with extreme caution and looks for any sign of Suliban forces. Satisfied that they have not been observed, Archer accepts the large crate from Tucker and sets it quietly down on the deck. Inside the container is Reed's device that will disrupt the magnetic locking system of the Helix and hopefully prevent any Suliban from following the StarFleet officers once they have recovered Klaang. Tucker follows his Captain out the entry hatch and picks up the crate while Archer takes the lead into the heart of the Suliban base. Archer consults his scanner carefully and often as he tracks the one dissimilar bio-sign in this place and hopes his pursuit will lead him to Klaang. Moving with quiet, deliberate steps, he and Trip pass through a series of shadowy, labyrinthine corridors with archways all molded in the same hexagonal shape as the small vessel that brought them here. Just as they reach one of those arched doorways on their left, Archer detects an alien in that area via his scanner. Allowing his lightning quick reflexes to take control, he instantly whirls around to face the opening and almost at the same moment fires his phase pistol at a lone Suliban coming toward them. After the alien goes down without even uttering a sound of alarm, Archer studies the new weapon for a moment with a judicious look. Then, he deadpans to Tucker in a thoroughly dispassionate tone, 'Stun seems to work.'

Archer and Trip continue their search and actually do locate Klaang in one of the cubicles off the winding corridor. Left unguarded, the seven foot Klingon remains shackled, confined to a chair and wired up to some sort of interrogation device. When the door to the compartment slides open, Trip hurries to the chair and frees Klaang from his wrist restraints with a word of encouragement. Those reassurances get lost in the translation however, for Klaang lunges up from the chair and shoves Tucker across the room into a piece of equipment. With a roar of fury, the giant rips off the collar that harnessed him to the questioning device. Archer immediately raises his phase pistol and takes dead aim at the Klingon's head. That seems to enrage the massive alien all the more. He roars again and makes an aggressive surge toward Archer. But when the threat of force appears not to faze the Klingon, Archer backs it up with a temperately worded ultimatum. His voice subdued in comparison to Klaang's bellow but thick with intensity and intimidation, the Captain declares 'I really don't want to have to carry you out of here.' Archer's harsh tone and the quiet but fearless growl of tenacity that rumbles deep in his throat, along with his ruthless, implacable stare stop Klaang in his tracks. More than anything, Archer's relentless determination convinces the Klingon that this man will not hesitate to shoot and persuades him to accept the human's aid. When the ferocity of Klaang's expression abates, the Captain keeps his phase pistol trained on the alien, but spares a sideways glance for his Chief Engineer. His voice mellowing with palpable sympathy for the force of the attack his friend endured, Archer asks Tucker if he is okay. When Trip indicates with a short and wary but affirmative nod that he is all right, the Captain says in regard to Klaang, 'I think he gets the idea. Give him a hand.' Tucker hesitates for a moment and looks at his Captain with a rather doubtful expression but gingerly takes the Klingon's arm for support. Then Archer leads Trip and the alien out of the cubicle and into the passageway. Even in these perilous circumstances, Archer deems it of primary importance to first inquire into the well-being of his valued officer, just as he did with the injured crewman in the attack on Sickbay. Archer's conduct in this regard, in fact the very character of his command regularly affirm his respect and concern for the crew that serve under him.

Consulting his scanner to direct him through the convoluted passages, Archer tries to hasten his small band toward the docking port and their vessel without being discovered by the Suliban. The Captain takes the lead, his phase pistol drawn and ready to defend his little group against attackers. Tucker carries the container with the device that will sever the magnetic locking seals, and Klaang follows behind the engineer. The Klingon doesn't make their progress at all easy when he begins to roar unintelligible protests at full volume. Without slowing his pace, Archer shouts a command over his shoulder and orders the alien to, 'Be quiet!' The Captain's insistent, aggravated tone almost matches Klaang's in terms of both loudness and ill-temper. But the Klingon doesn't stop his exclamations and if anything begins to voice them more loudly. Suddenly a particle weapon flashes across Archer's path, halting him at the entry to a corridor that veers off at right angles to the one through which he and his band are moving. He crouches down beside the bulkhead at this junction of the two passageways while Tucker and Klaang take similar positions behind him. Still on his haunches, Archer whirls with dazzling speed and agility into the open entry, returns fire on the Suliban soldier and then just as quickly ducks behind the bulkhead again for cover. But Archer's first shot misses their assailant. In a voice made tense and harsh by his annoyance, agitation and surging adrenaline, Archer demands of Trip, 'Give me the box!' Meanwhile behind the two StarFleet officers, Klaang uses his bare hands and brute strength to neutralize a Suliban attacker who approaches the trio from a different direction. But As Archer grapples with the hasp on the container, another blast of weapons-fire barely misses his head. He grimaces with vexation, then spins around the corner and fires almost at the same instant, this time taking out his man. Now he turns his undistracted focus to deploying the magnetic disrupter. Hovering over the container to remove the device from its case, Archer gives Trip a brusque, pressing command. 'Get to the ship! I'll be right behind you.'

While Trip and Klaang run to the docking port where the ship is moored, Archer places the rectangular device into position on a support column, then programs and arms it. Hurrying to the doorway of the small corridor that leads to the docking port, he braces his back against the frame and waits to confirm that the device detonates. In a matter of seconds, he is forced to turn his head aside and lean it back against the archway, then close his eyes tightly against an intense blaze of concussive light that emanates from the mechanism's detonating energy. But Archer has waited too long after arming the mechanism before he returns to the cell ship. As its magnetic locking system is disrupted, the Helix structure begins to break apart, releasing the mass of ships attached to its core. The floor beneath Archer trembles and almost jolts his legs out from under him. He looks down to see a coupling between his feet begin to rupture and leave him straddling a slender but growing fissure. He makes an abortive move to step across the widening chasm toward the docking port and the little craft, then glances up at the porthole and stops short. Twin flickers of stomach-wrenching alarm widen his eyes. His mouth sags open in shock and the breath seems to catch in his throat, as he watches the ship float free of the docking port. His means of escape is receding into space, and Archer finds himself stranded in hostile territory. Without warning, another blast of particle weapons fire erupts menacingly close to his position. Archer aims through the archway, returns fire and inactivates the Suliban soldier. Then he springs through the entry into the main passage of the Suliban base.

In spite of that initial moment of horror at seeing the ship withdraw and his subsequent realization of his now desperate circumstances, Archer's first response to the communicator dialogue with Trip is an expression of awed excitement and gratification that their plan succeeded. 'It worked Trip!' the Captain says, exhilaration audible in his voice. Klaang is no longer a prisoner of the Suliban. Reed's device not only created havoc with the Helix but also hampered the aliens from pursuing Tucker and the Klingon in their commandeered ship. By Archer's criteria, the mission was an outstanding success. The fact that he himself didn't make it out of the Suliban base remains an inconvenience to be dealt with after the fact. The Captain's almost buoyant response makes it very clear that he doesn't waste his time or energy on endless scrutiny, excessive regret or unproductive anxiety over a misstep. Upon Tucker's somewhat anxious demand to know where his Captain is, Archer replies that he is still in the central core and orders Tucker to get Klaang back to Enterprise. Tucker objects, 'What about you, sir?' But Archer repeats his command, 'Get him to the ship! You can come back for me.' Now it is Archer rather than Trip who fabricates a glib response to a difficult situation. The Captain makes this proposed second rescue attempt from the Helix sound effortless and uncomplicated. But Archer has clearly established priorities that remain unalterable. His main goal is to retrieve Klaang and return him to Kronos - even if that means Archer must exchange places with the hostage. Before Tucker returns to Enterprise, he advises the Captain to stay as far away from the Suliban as possible so that his crew can isolate his bio-signs. 'Believe me, I'll try!' Archer vows. His last words rumble in his chest, low pitched and grim, with a tone that is part determination and part dread.

Archer walks back toward the interior of the Helix and, with the aid of his scanner, looks for a remote, unfrequented place in which to conceal himself. As he passes another archway that leads to a long passage on his right, a bright and startling but bizarre display on his scanner catches his attention. Responding with a puzzled scowl and exhibiting a fair amount of visible wariness, Archer nonetheless follows the long corridor in pursuit of whatever made that disturbance on his scanner. Although he is alone, exposed and at risk of discovery in the midst of the alien camp, Archer's intense curiosity compels him to explore, to discover - to experience for himself whatever caused that anomaly. Keeping careful watch above, below and on every side of him, Archer walks slowly down a corridor made up of consecutive, octagonal sections until he reaches a set of similarly shaped doors. The doors slide open and give entry to a very small chamber with another set of closed octagonal doors at the farther end. His face taut, alert and intent, he undergoes a noticeable moment of hesitation, when nothing but his eyes shift around to scrutinize the room. Then, even though his features quickly harden into an expression of stern determination, he moves into the cubicle with slow, cautious steps. Archer reaches the center of the small space in three paces when he hears the doors behind him begin to slide closed. Rapidly looking over his shoulder, he turns and makes a hasty movement toward the vanishing exit but stops short when the panels glide together with an irrevocable, mechanized click. Now Archer makes a wry grimace at the barrier and seems to mock not only his predicament but also his propensity for probing into the unknown and landing in just such a tight spot.

Suddenly the little chamber goes dark and then at rapid intervals phosphoresces with flashes of blue strobe light. At the same time an eerie sound rushes upward like an enormously powerful supercomputer launching. Archer slowly revolves around the small space and looks for some indication of what the lights and sounds signify. Although the phenomena suggest being in transit on some surreal elevator, Archer's expression discloses confusion, amazement, curiosity… but no fear. When at last normal lighting returns and the strange sound ceases, the second set of doors at the back of the small compartment glide apart. Startled by this new noise that comes from behind him, Archer jumps very slightly and then spins around to face the open doors. In front of him are two curved steps and a very large room with some sort of lighted pedestal at its center. Left with no other option, Archer goes down the steps into the room. But the bizarre conditions he experienced in the small chamber only intensify. His footfalls sound before he takes a step. A phantom second self projects his movements before he makes them. Time itself seems to be distorted. Once again yielding to his innate desire to understand, Archer deliberately experiments with the effects of the mysterious environment. He twists his body to one side and back several times. He repeatedly raises his arm above his head and lowers it to his side, then carefully observes the optical foreshadow of those actions. He makes impact with one fist in the palm of the other hand and listens to the distinct pre-echo the force makes. In this instance, however, Archer's curiosity will ultimately save his life.

As Archer looks into the large empty space, the doors to the room reopen. He whirls around and aims his weapon at the opening, crouching defensively and straining to discover the location of someone who has almost certainly entered the room but whom he cannot see. Alert and guarded, he rotates his weapon in one direction to confront nothing but incorporeal footsteps. Then as a disembodied voice sounds from the opposite side of the room, he rapidly wheels around and trains his weapon that way. The voice tells Archer that he is wasting his time and that, 'Klaang knows nothing.' Now Archer does look alarmed, confused and disoriented as he casts around on all sides to find the source of that unctuous but menacing voice. But just as he did when he was brought before Saran, Archer defies the jeopardy in which he finds himself with blunt questions that represent a determined bid to gain both information and a semblance of control. Shifting positions abruptly to take aim at a vague, shadowy blur that seems to be in front of him one second - behind him the next, Archer demands to know, 'What is this room? What goes on here?' But instead of giving an answer, the voice makes a patronizing remark about Archer's keen curiosity and calls him by the familiar name, Jon. Despite this being's incomprehensible physical powers and apparent clairvoyance, Archer refuses to be intimidated. 'Am I supposed to be impressed that you know my name?' he asks in a tone that conveys ridicule and annoyance but absolutely no awe.

The unseen alien responds to Archer's question in a voice that flaunts a smug stripe of arrogance superimposed on the oily tone, gloating that he has learned a great deal about Archer and knows more about him than Archer knows about himself. Interestingly, that tone of complacent superiority seems to give Archer exactly the information he was seeking. The Captain's manner now grows more purposeful, confident even cunning, for he has discovered the chink in this alien's armor. Yet remaining watchful and cautious, Archer continues to survey in all directions for some sign of this being. But now, he abandons his exposed position and begins to back up slowly, placing himself between the wall at his back and a beveled stanchion in front of him. At the same time, he feeds the alien's sense of complacency a little and admits that the invisible creature has him at a disadvantage in terms of personal acquaintance. But then Archer replies with the brashness that any attempt to daunt or humiliate him invariably evokes. Intending his disdainful words and sardonic tone of contempt to disparage and provoke his adversary, Archer suggests 'So why don't you drop this invisible man routine and let me see who I'm talking to.'

Archer edges slowly along the wall to his right, keeping intent, sharp-eyed watch in all directions for anything that might betray the being's presence. The bodiless voice rationalizes aloud that if Archer had learned anything from Sarin on Rigel 10, he would not have come looking for the Klingon. The voice takes on the well-pleased tone of superiority again as it pronounces that Archer is no threat and orders him to leave the room, right away. The entry doors slide open almost before the echoes of that order recede. With an agile and instinctively swift move, Archer turns and points his weapon at the entrance. As an incredulous and mystified frown descends over his face, he leans forward as if straining to see and doubting the evidence his eyes present to him. Did he really catch a fleeting glimpse of a figure that suddenly took on the appearance of the surrounding walls? Now he moves quickly to put the lighted platform between himself and the obscure form. And being Archer, he characterizes the incident with a decidedly cocky and impudent turn of phrase that is calculated to insult his adversary all the more. 'This chameleon thing is pretty fancy,' Archer drawls. Now he begins to taunt the alien with the few details he learned from Sarin about the Suliban plot and takes perverse pleasure in correcting the creature's mistaken assumption that he doesn't know anything. Although revealing this knowledge places Archer at mortal risk, he asks of the being's special skill, 'Was it payment for pitting the Klingons against each other or a trophy from the temporal cold war?' Between his disclosure of having covert information and his insulting tone of contempt, Archer achieves his objective and incites the alien to action.

The body of what is clearly a Suliban seems to coalesce out of the inlaid stone wall as he rushes at Archer from across the room. The Suliban drives a shoulder into Archer's chest, knocking him to the floor and jarring his weapon free. Then the alien retrieves Archer's phase pistol, points it at the still prone Captain and says with patently hypocritical regret that he was intending to let Archer go. However, an undertone of malicious pleasure in the man's voice clearly delivers the unspoken message that this is no longer the case. As Archer slowly gets to his feet, he draws himself fully erect and one at a time plants his feet in a widened stance with obstinate solidity. His eyes narrowing slightly with defiance, his demeanor calm, resolute - even confrontational, he parries the Suliban's implied threat with a scornful retort, 'You obviously don't know as much about me as you thought you did.' Archer delivers his response in a tone that lacks almost all emphasis. But a low, barely audible rumble vibrates deep in his throat on the last word and quite effectively counters the alien's warning with one of his own. The Suliban takes haughty exception to Archer's rejoinder and boasts that he even knows what day Archer is going to die. Then the alien adds in his smooth, malevolent yet gleeful tone, 'But I suppose that's about to change.'

A red orange flame appears at the mouth of the phase pistol in the Suliban's hand and is followed by a long narrow ray. The time distortion effect of the chamber allows Archer to see the forecast of the pistol's beam even before the Suliban fires. His eyes wide and intense with alarm, Archer stares as if transfixed at the trajectory of this uncanny prevision. Dropping his head, he looks closely at his chest and sees the beam strike center mass but feels no concussion. With a jolt of understanding, Archer realizes that he has just seen the foreshadowing of the shot that will kill him. An expression of open-mouthed horror takes command of his features. He quickly lifts his head and glances at the weapon just as the Suliban fires it in real time. Instinctively Archer makes his chest hollow and folds acutely inward, then spins away and raises his arm out from his body as the beam passes underneath.

Now it is the Suliban's turn to look horrified. While Archer dives sideways away from the blast and gains cover behind a console screen, the alien is left to withstand the full brunt of the detonation. In this atmosphere of temporal distortion, the concentrated force of the phase blast pre-echoes and re-echoes to fold back on and re-energize itself, exponentially increasing its power. Waves of intense energy expand across the room and send the Suliban flying backwards almost to the opposite wall. As the alien lies sprawled on the floor, Archer cannot refrain from adding to his indignity. The tone and rhythm of Archer's speech sounds coarse and demeaning as he taunts, 'What's the matter? No genetic tricks to keep you from getting knocked on your butt?' The alien must find the phase pistol that was knocked from his hand, so he stalls for time by giving Archer a lecture on the superior merits of genetic engineering over natural selection. Meanwhile, Archer has carefully observed the shock wave effects that resulted from the blast and works out an escape plan by surveying the room and gauging the distance from his position to the doors. When the Suliban retrieves the weapon, Archer reaches into his sleeve pocket for his communicator and with his left hand, throws it against the wall opposite the still open doors. The alien takes the bait and fires at that wall when the communicator strikes it. Instantly, Archer vaults into the spreading concentric waves of energy caused by the blast. And as he speculated it would do, the powerful recoiling force propels him through the open doors and into the small chamber. Thankfully, Archer's quick intelligence and curiosity, his powers of observation and his ability to devise resourceful solutions where none seem to exist have once again proved capable of extricating him from the predicaments into which his curiosity leads him.

Unfortunately for Archer, the Suliban also slips through the narrow opening into the antechamber just before the doors close. The leap into the powerful wave of energy has left Archer sprawled on the floor of the small room. But he extends one leg and hooks the front of his foot around the alien's ankle, then jerks him off his feet. As the lights go out and then pulsate irregularly in neon blue, the strange, powerful rushing sound swells inside the chamber again. All through the time that this bizarre sensory episode is recurring, Archer grapples around on the floor with the alien and succeeds in prying the phase pistol from his grip and making him drop it. But as the lights return to normal and the doors to the anteroom open again, the alien lands a forceful blow to Archer's jaw that almost turns his head around backwards on his neck. Archer somehow shakes off the punch, then quickly turns around and stretches out so that the weight of his back pins the man's chest to the floor. As he tucks a shoulder underneath the alien's armpit, Archer hooks both of his arms around the Suliban's forearm and holds on with all his strength. Clenching his jaw and contracting his facial muscles into a grimace, Archer strains with enormous effort to prevent the man from reaching the pistol. But he is no match for the Suliban's ability to contort his body parts in unfathomable ways. With his arm still held immobile in Archer's grasp, the Suliban begins to disjoin his wrist and reach toward the pistol. Archer aims a look backward at the alien's face while his own expression registers puzzled surprise, quizzical skepticism and a glance of implausibility at the man's preposterous physical capacity. Obviously the Captain's sense of the absurd doesn't desert him even in this crisis. Now the alien beams a complacent, wholly evil grin down at Archer and rotates only his hand three hundred and sixty degrees to grasp the weapon. In desperation, Archer releases his grip on the alien's arm, smashes his elbow into the man's face and takes off at a sprint down the long corridor. Just as the Suliban levels the phase pistol at Archer's retreating back and fires, T'Pol, on board Enterprise, gives Tucker the order to activate the transporter and Archer's body disappears from the Helix.

Immobilized in the midst of a full running stride, the reflection of mortal danger, alarm and dread still in his eyes, Archer discovers that he is no longer running down a corridor on the Suliban base. He pitches forward and stumbles off balance, then takes in the familiar surroundings of his own vessel and hears a tense voice say, 'Bridge, we've got him!' A thoroughly stunned, disoriented, uncomprehending air of shock overwhelms his features. For an instant he levels that look of gaping astonishment on his rescuer, Commander Tucker who stands at the control console of the transporter. But impelled by the surge of adrenaline that still courses through his system, Archer immediately spins around and searches behind him for his Suliban attacker. Seeing nothing but the curved structure of the transporter platform, Archer turns back and stares at Tucker with a bewildered, questioning look that also reveals conspicuous signs of accusation and reproach. The Captain seems to be asking Tucker the speechless question, 'What the hell did you just do to me?' Trip's expression reveals contrition and concern as he apologizes to his Captain and declares they had no other choice but to use the device.

The burgeoning realization of what Trip's words imply breaks over Archer's face in a frozen moment of anxious, horrified disbelief. He huffs out a heavy, deeply shaken breath through his open mouth, then tilts his head far back on his neck to stare up at the lighted dome of the transporter. His eyes fixed straight overhead, Archer turns in a small semi-circle of disoriented confusion and briefly scans the concentric tubes above him as if he just now grasps their function. Then he chokes back his obvious trepidation with a labored, audible gulp and drops his head to look at Tucker again. At the same time he places both open hands on his chest around the area of his heart, but seems to be trying to guard all of his vital organs from assault. His eyes grow huge with panic and shock - nearly start from a face that is charged with fear and aversion. Archer's urgently anxious, agitated expression seems to plead for some reassurance that he is still whole. But at the same time, that look makes the valiant Captain appear unwittingly comical and ingenuous. Cool and assured in a crisis, intrepid in the face of a deadly assailant, Archer is undone by the thought of having his atoms scrambled in the transporter. Moreover, he is not the least ashamed to manifest that visceral reaction regardless of who might be nearby.

With her Captain and Klingon charge safely aboard, Enterprise returns Klaang to his home world on Kronos. Once there, Archer, T'Pol and Sato flank the seven-foot alien as he enters the Viking-like council hall of his people. The headman of the council pulls a wicked looking dagger from his belt and slashes Klaang's hand to produce a good flow of blood. The Klingons collect the blood sample and pour it onto a platform on some sort of analyzer. One of the Klingons programs the instrument, which then magnifies the smallest components of the sample. As a greatly enlarged image of Klingon blood cells appears on a screen above the analyzer, Archer reveals the spontaneous curiosity and keen interest that are so much a part of his nature. Frowning in total concentration, Archer slowly lifts his chin and studies the image of these alien cells with eyes that reflect the eager light of discovery. But as he watches, the instrument continues to zero in on the smallest components of those blood cells: the very strands of their DNA. There, nestled within one of the bonds which link the double spiral strands, is what looks like a microchip that contains Saran's message to the Klingon Council. Fascinated by the site of a communiqué embedded in the DNA of the courier, Archer looks intently at the screen but yields to a perplexed frown that these seemingly primitive, warlike people have the technology to detect such a message.

The sight of that implanted communication from the late Sarin turns the expectant mutterings of these assembled Klingons into an uproar that fills the hall. A little unsettled by the shouting that erupts on all sides, Archer quickly turns around and checks behind him just to be certain that the clamor is one of approval and not a signal for an attack. But then the headman singles Archer out with an intense, probing and decidedly hostile stare. Archer does not return the leader's scrutiny. Rather he fixes his eyes resolutely forward, raises his chin and squares his shoulders, the military man in him coming to attention. Formidable stoicism cloaks his features and a look of steely detachment hardens his eyes as he waits for the Klingon to come toward him. The chieftain stands toe to toe with Archer, then raises his dagger and holds the fierce, jagged point menacingly close to the Captain's face. Without so much as a flinch or altered expression that might betray alarm, Archer stands perfectly still. The only concession he makes to the dagger that hovers almost under his nose is to drop his eyes briefly toward the blade. But he quickly raises his focus again and confronts the Klingon's hostile stare with a hard, unwavering stare of his own. Now, in their harsh, guttural dialect, the Klingon announces something to Archer that sounds very much like an ultimatum. Then he turns around with imposing dignity and slowly walks away. Although this forbidding encounter leaves Archer a little uneasy, he is determined to regard the mission that he risked so much to complete as a success. Muttering through one side of his nearly closed and motionless mouth to his officers, Archer says, 'I'll take that as a thank you.' At his side, Hoshi whispers that she doesn't believe the Klingons have a word to express 'thank you.' Archer hazards a quick glance at his Comm Officer but still mutters through nearly closed lips to ask, 'What did he say?' But Hoshi simply persuades her Captain, 'You don't want to know.'

One brief little vignette offers some penetrating insight to the interior landscape of Archer's character. Back aboard Enterprise after returning from Kronos, Archer is sitting in his ready room as he waits for T'Pol and Trip to answer his call for a meeting. The Captain's little dog, Porthos, sits beside him in the chair, tucked under one of his arms and resting its forepaws on his master's thigh. Archer leans close to his pet as if to croon quiet words of comfort, then strokes the animal's neck and silky ears with a gentle touch and palpable affection. As the bell rings at his door to signal the arrival of his officers, Archer turns away from the dog and calls, 'Come in!' But as he quickly brings his attention back to the animal, Archer inadvertently turns his face into the dog's soft, upturned muzzle. His own mouth and nose in close proximity to the beagle's, the Captain patiently submits while the dog detects the scent of his master's breath. More accurately, Archer welcomes this bid for intimate contact by the intelligent little creature with a brief, indulgent smile. It is that intrinsic kindness, that fundamental respect with which Archer responds to other creatures, be they canine, human, Klingon, Suliban or ultimately even Vulcan - unless they purposely thwart him from performing a duty or intend to cause harm - that so distinguishes Archer's character. Along with his keen intelligence, his dynamic energy and stamina, his staunch loyalty and steady courage, his eager, probing curiosity and, yes, even his determined, headstrong, sometimes obstinate independence, that benevolence makes Archer an ethical, charismatic and compelling leader.

As Trip and T'Pol come into the Captain's ready room, Archer gently lifts Porthos from his chair and puts him down on the deck. At the same time, he tells his officers that he received a response to the message he sent to Admiral Forrest. Archer lounges back comfortably in the chair, extends both arms onto the wide armrests and props his ankle on the opposite knee with an expansive air. The hint of a well-pleased smile betrays his gratification with the outcome of recent events. Despite the deterrents thrown in her path, Enterprise not only completed her critical mission of returning Klaang to Kronos but also uncovered evidence of a treacherous intrigue affecting the galaxy. Archer doesn't even try to hide the pride in his voice when he tells his officers how much Forrest enjoyed presenting the Vulcan High Command with this previously undiscovered intelligence about the Suliban that Enterprise, 'ran into.' But as the Captain lifts himself out of the chair and walks a little way past T'Pol and Tucker, his professional demeanor displaces any show of satisfaction he may have expressed. 'I wanted you both to hear StarFleet's orders before I inform the crew,' he announces cryptically. When both officers respond with a puzzled look, Archer merely adds to their puzzlement. Turning to face T'Pol, he adds in a conclusive tone, 'Your people are sending a transport to pick you up.'

Now, T'Pol interjects that she presumed Enterprise would be taking her back to earth. The Captain's expression grows musing and thoughtful, and he appears to deliberate this course of action. But accenting the words with a tentative, enigmatic nuance, he replies, 'It would be a little out of our way.' Then as a slow, small grin of pleasure and fulfillment sparkles first in his eyes, then lifts one corner of his mouth, Archer explains, 'Admiral Forrest sees no reason why we shouldn't keep going.' At this, Tucker voices a coarse but colorful exclamation of grateful astonishment. Archer closes his eyes to acknowledge his own surprise and satisfaction and inclines his head in several brief but expressive nods of agreement, while the crooked smile widens and illuminates his face. With a hint of a slightly bemused grin, the Captain comments that Dr. Phlox will likely want to stay on board because of his growing fondness for, 'the human endocrine system.' Now Tucker, anxious to get started on their mission of exploration, begins to take his leave and promises to get double shifts working on repairs to Enterprise. But before he steps out the door, Archer advises him that the outer hull will need some patching up. Then In a tone that sounds partly cautious, partly self-mocking and partly like a sigh of relief, Archer declares, 'Let's hope that's the last time someone takes a shot at us.'

T'Pol starts to follow Tucker out of the room, but Archer asks her if she might 'stick around for a moment.' Although his words and manner of speaking sound breezy and offhand, the Captain actually has a startling admission and a surprising request to make to his Science Officer. Turning his back to her and walking to the other side of the room, Archer takes a deep breath and confesses that he has seen Vulcans as an obstacle to human progress for as long as he can remember. His back still turned to T'Pol, the Captain leans one elbow on his safe, the opposite hand heavily on a table and continues, ' Always keeping us from standing on our own two feet.' He unintentionally discloses the obvious depth of his resentment in the explosive pronunciation with which he forces these last words through his clenched jaws and the too percussive stomp of one foot as an ending punctuation to his comment. In response, T'Pol graciously tells the Captain that she understands. At that Archer faces T'Pol again and sounds even more angry as he says, 'No, I don't think you do.' But then, a stab of anguish surfaces fleetingly in his eyes as he looks without reserve into T'Pol's expectant face. Taking in a fortifying breath, he acknowledges to both her and himself that if he hopes to succeed at this mission of exploration, there are certain things he needs to, 'leave behind.' Archer hesitates briefly, then drops his eyes and seems to look inward for a moment of self-examination and what looks like self-reproach. His face manifests total candor and a hint of regret when he looks back up at T'Pol and specifies, 'Things like preconceptions… holding grudges.' Now, obliged by his sense of honor to recognize T'Pol's essential contribution to Enterprise's success, Archer tilts up his chin in a kind of subtle salute and forthrightly admits 'This mission would have failed without your help.' T'Pol neither pauses nor displays a hint of false modesty but candidly agrees with the Captain's admission. Taken aback for a second, Archer concedes to her unequivocal honesty and self-respect with a reluctant, wry grin and an incredulous shake of his abruptly lowered head.

Now, while Archer seems to focus his attention on a point just above the floor, he takes a brief, thoughtful but clearly significant pause. Then lifting his head sharply and adopting a deliberative frown and an energized tone as if the thought just occurred to him, he announces to T'Pol that a Vulcan science officer might come in handy on this deep space mission. But at that point, Archer falters over his words a bit and demurs, 'But if I asked you to stay, it might look like I… wasn't ready to do this on my own.' Her tone of voice very gentle despite the implication of her words, T'Pol points out that Archer might need to add pride to the list of faults he should discard. Archer simply concedes in a forthright but dispassionate tone, 'Perhaps I should.' But he makes the concession in a way that admits to T'Pol his decided unwillingness - or perhaps more correctly his inability - to surrender that pride to the Vulcan High Command. As Archer speaks those words of admission, he raises his eyebrows and stares deliberately at T'Pol in an unspoken appeal for help. But at the same time, he anchors his jaw in an adamant refusal to compromise his self-esteem. And surprisingly enough, T'Pol spares Archer any bruises to his dignity as she, herself, agrees to make the request of her Vulcan superiors to join the crew of Enterprise. Like a pledge to regard Archer as her superior even while she offers him her help, T'Pol actually asks the Captain's permission to make that request. Archer straightens his spine, lifts his body taller and elevates his head, as if to embrace the responsibility of his command which T'Pol has just endorsed. But his solemn, intense eyes look directly into hers to offer her his respect and more than a hint of gratitude as he says, 'Permission granted.'

After Archer waged this obviously painful, internal struggle to admit and then purge some old and possibly justified resentments, he had the perception to realize his prejudgment of T'Pol was not only unfair but, as her actions proved, completely untrue. Moreover Archer possessed the emotional honesty and courage to admit his biased opinions to the one person whom they most seriously wronged, T'Pol. Recognizing and revealing prejudicial thinking are difficult enough tasks for anyone to perform. But these actions present even larger obstacles to one who is in command of a ship - who must maintain discipline on his vessel and retain the trust of his crew. Still, Archer realized that respect and trust must be earned and not enforced. Therefore he made his admission and indirect apology to T'Pol. But in Archer's admission, he indicates an even more impressive moral strength than this illustration of his integrity. Archer's astute insight tells him that his blind spots of bitterness and intolerance toward Vulcans will have serious negative impacts on his ability to lead earth's first mission into deep space and to achieve successful first contact with other species. Finally, although independence endures as one of Archer's defining traits, he fully grasps on both a conscious and subconscious level his need for T'Pol's superior scientific expertise and also for her steadiness, even her sometimes maddeningly staid conservatism to counterbalance his eager impulses. For the good of his crew and mission, Archer asks for T'Pol's help on this historic journey, although he does so in the most roundabout of ways. Here is a man who has the ability and willingness to recognize and learn from his mistakes and moreover to alter his future responses based on those experiences. Here is a principled man who remains determined to become an ethical envoy of human culture to the galaxy and an exemplary Starship Captain - the very archetype of those who will follow.

So T'Pol precedes Archer as they leave the Captain's ready room and step out onto the bridge. While T'Pol walks over to her station, Archer takes a moment to look around the bridge, responding to the sight with a look of pride and an inner sigh of contentment. He remains on the platform that runs in a semicircle above the bridge and makes a rather mysterious announcement to his bridge crew. 'I hope nobody's in a big hurry to get home,' Archer says. Then making purposeful eye contact with each beaming officer, he continues 'StarFleet seems to think that we're ready to begin our mission.' As he walks slowly to the Captain's chair, he mentions that he knows the crew has detected the presence of an inhabited planet a few light years away from their position. Hoshi offers the suggestion that the inhabitants of the planet are probably not humanoid. Then Archer's voice takes on the distinct tone of challenge and anticipation as he reminds the crew, 'That's what we're here to find out.' Standing directly behind his helmsman, Archer orders Travis to break orbit and lay in a course. Only then does the Captain take his chair. His torso canted forward from the hips, Archer leans one elbow on the wide arm of the chair and props the heel of his other hand on the corresponding thigh. His posture presents the image of alert, vibrant energy held in check but ready to respond at a moment's notice. Archer frowns slightly as he concentrates on Helmsman Mayweather's report of an ion storm on their trajectory. Travis turns to his Captain and asks, 'Should I go around it?' For a moment Archer just looks intently at his helmsman, and the inception of a smile dawns in his eyes. Then he raises his eyebrows in a gesture of persuasion. Kindness, warmth and the ghost of fond memory now soften his eyes. 'We can't be afraid of the wind, Ensign,' he tells Mayweather, gently echoing Henry Archer's words. Now the Captain turns his attention away from the helm and toward the big screen. As he looks out on the vastness he has always wanted to traverse, he experiences a moment of wonder and appreciation. Then the expression in his eyes grows confident, determined, serene and yet eager. 'Take us to Warp four,' Archer orders with assured composure that transfers to his crew. And the voyage of discovery begins

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