Mission To Oz
Part Five: The Wizard
The flight was a long one, but Archer felt safe and happy sprawled on a very comfortable seat, watching the Oz landscape fly by below them. He'd helped Reed carry out some first aid on T'Pol and she'd claimed to feel considerably better before opting to take a nap. Trip and Reed had soon followed suit and were snoring softly from their respective seats.
Mayweather, glanced over his shoulder from the pilot's chair and grinned at Archer. "Sounds like you guys had quite an adventure today, sir."
"You could say that."
"I wish I'd been there. I always miss out on the fun stuff." He checked the flight controls one last time and swivelled round so he could talk to Archer properly. "Lieutenant Reed will be getting a commendation for bringing down The Wicked Witch of the West. I expect you'll get a reward for taking out The Wicked Witch of the East too. I hope one day I'll be just like you guys."
"All I really want is to get back to Enterprise," said Archer. But he thought he probably wouldn't turn down a commendation too.
He didn't recall falling asleep, but when Archer awoke the rescue pod had just touched down and the exit hatch was already open. T'Pol, looking much healthier, offered him a hand getting up which he accepted gratefully as he heaved his tired body to it's ruby coloured feet.
The city, despite the fact that he knew it's name, was still completely unexpected. Every building, every street, every single surface was pale glittering blue as though the whole place had been carved from one gigantic dilithium crystal. Even the people were all wearing the exact same shade, from the honour guard of soldiers dressed the same as Reed and Mayweather to the crowds of men, women and children that had turned out to see the heroes arrive.
Archer was astounded, and Trip's slack-jawed look showed he was pretty amazed too. T'Pol looked fascinated, both eyebrows hiding behind her fringe. Even Reed who'd obviously been there before looked utterly overwhelmed.
"It's magnificent," Archer whispered, awe-struck, as he followed Mayweather down the centre street, blue and white confetti falling all around them and the crowds cheering and whistling with gusto.
"This way sirs, ma'am, The Wizard is expecting you."
The silence in The Wizard's chamber was in such stark contrast to the noise outside that it almost hurt to hear it, and was the first most noticeable thing about the room.
The second most noticeable thing was the sheer size of the place. It was at least twice the size of Enterprise's launchbay, carved entirely from dilithium and polished so it gleamed. At the far end stood an imposing throne.
On that throne sat Phlox.
Archer had known that almost from the start of course, but it was still curiously disappointing.
"Welcome, travellers! Come forward so I may see you more clearly." He stood from his throne, resplendent in silk robes that same perfect shade of blue, and beckoned them forward.
Mayweather stayed where he was, standing at ease by the door as the rest of them, including an unusually timid Porthos came forward together. The Wizard met them in the middle of the chamber, his mouth making an unnaturally wide smile.
"Ah, fine specimens one and all! I've been watching your progress and have been delighted by what I've seen."
"You didn't feel compelled to help us then," said Archer, unable to keep all the bitterness from his voice.
The Wizard's smile faltered and he shook his head. "I'm not here to exert my power over you out there, anymore than you can exert power over me within the city walls. I can, however, reward you for your deeds and leave you in the best possible condition to face the adventures yet to come." He opened his arms wide, as though intending to embrace them all. "Now tell me, what can I do to help?"
Trip coughed and thrust his hands deep into his dungaree pockets. "I was kinda hoping you'd give me some brains, Mister Wizard, sir."
"Brains?" Phlox said, regarding Trip with a puzzled expression. "I can't give you brains!"
Trip's hopeful expression disintegrated and he bowed his head dejectedly. T'Pol reached out and rubbed his arm soothingly.
"Wizard, I wish to have what is referred to as 'heart'. Can you help me?"
"I'm sorry, that too is impossible."
Reed stepped forward, eyes flinty with determination and barely controlled anger. "You said you'd help us! How can you turn them down! Are you going to turn me down?" He marched right up to The Wizard, the leader of his army, and glared at him.
"And what will you ask for, hm?"
"Courage. So that I can serve you better and protect my friends."
"Lieutenant, that is not something I can help you with."
"Why?" Reed pleaded.
The Wizard moved past Reed and stopped facing Archer. "You understand, Captain. Why don't you explain?"
He hadn't understood, not until he'd seen the warmth and compassion in Phlox's eyes, but when he thought about it, it was so obvious he laughed out loud.
"Malcolm, he can't give you courage because you are already brave. You saved us all from The Wicked Witch, even though you were scared of her. T'Pol," he gestured at where she stood, comforting Trip, "You risked your own life to save another's. You have a heart. And Trip, you have a brain; you worked out how to escape from the cage, you just need to trust your own judgement. None of you need The Wizard's help, you already have what you've been looking for."
"Very good, Captain. So, what about you?"
"I want to get back to my ship, my crew."
"But you are with your crew!" The Wizard indicated his three travelling companions, then he waved at Mayweather calling him over and finally clapped his hands three times, sharply. In a small puff of smoke The Good Witch appeared, fluttering lazily just above the ground.
"These people aren't my crew," Archer argued, taking in the odd looking bunch with an expressive gesture of his arms. "They look like them, sort of, but they don't act anything like them."
"Don't they? Hoshi translated the Munchkin language for you. Travis piloted you here."
"Well, yeah, I guess..."
"And yet again you've come to me to patch you up."
"Alright, I suppose so, but those three..." He pointed at Trip, T'Pol and Reed, "Aren't acting at all the same. Trip is not stupid, T'Pol is not heartless and Malcolm is not cowardly."
"As you yourself just said, Captain." Phlox admitted calmly.
"But why have they been portrayed like that? I've never thought of them in those terms."
"Haven't you? Come now, Captain, be honest. You considered Commander Tucker to be foolish in his handling of the Vissian Cogenitor situation, and still tease him about his Xyrillian pregnancy as though it was his own fault, something a more intelligent officer could have avoided."
"That's not -"
The Wizard cut him off. "You continually tell the Sub-commander that her Vulcan logic is inferior to your own Human emotion."
Phlox tutted, silencing Archer's protests. "And Lieutenant Reed's considered advice on the handling of potentially dangerous situations is sneered at for being overly cautious. Why, were you not just injured after charging into a situation Malcolm advised you against?"
"You really think I'm an arrogant bastard, don't you?"
"Not arrogant," The Wizard said softly. "Perhaps misguided would be a better term, don't you agree? Your crew is exceptionally talented and they work well together. Delegating and trusting in them does not make you a weaker captain; in fact it makes you a stronger one."
"I know that, it's just hard sometimes. I want to be the best."
"You want your father to be proud."
It wasn't a question, but Archer nodded anyway. "I wish he was still around to see all that we've achieved."
"He was always proud of you. You know that. There's really no need to be so tough on yourself."
"Look, I've learnt my lesson. I really would like to go home now. Back to Enterprise, back to my crew. My friends," he amended.
"The Ruby Boots will take you."
Archer looked dubiously down at the ostentatious footwear.
"Just click you heels together three times and repeat the phrase 'there's no place like home'."
"Okay. Here goes nothing." He picked up Porthos, took a deep steadying breath, clicked together his heels as instructed and said his line: "There's no place like home."