Keeping Abreast of Alien Cultures

By Linda

Rating: PG

Genres: humour

Keywords:

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Disclaimer:  No filthy lucre changed hands.

Note on story:  This story occurs sometime in the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise.  Crewmembers are well along in developing friendships on board.  The exploration of alien cultures is going well and there are always surprising new things to learn.

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“Yup, three,” Travis had said.

Malcolm remembered Travis’s description of the Dralax women as he reminisced while doing some PT in Enterprise’s gym. 

Ah, one more set. 

He lifted the weights, counted out the set, then as gently as he could, lowered the weights to the floor. 

Done. 

Sweat trickled down his chest as he headed for the shower.  He wondered why Enterprise didn’t have a hot tub.  Maybe in Starfleet’s next generation of ships there would be one.  He couldn’t imagine what more luxuries or recreational equipment it would be possible for a Starfleet ship to have.   He had to shower quickly, as he and Trip were headed for a little R&R on the planet that Enterprise was now in geosynchronous orbit over.

That image that Travis’s comment had set in his mind kept returning.  He finished his shower, his mind on the photos of the denizens of this planet below them.  Not three, one.  One breast.  Malcolm thought three looked better, but two was sufficient.  Two on Hoshi, two on T’Pol - that was normal and quite nice.  Two cheeks to a bum, now that was even better. 

When he had gotten to thinking of Vulcans as normal?  Cute ears.  And just about as arousing as human women.  Himself, he would stick to human women.  Though if Trip had not seemed to be making an unofficial claim on T’Pol, he might have made a pass at her himself.

“Ready, Mal?”

“Oh, hi, Trip.  Sure.”

The two men now in civvies fell into step in the companionway as they headed for the shuttle. 

“Travis is joining us,” Trip mentioned.

“Great.  We won’t have to call the ship for our ride back.  Can Travis leave the shuttle on the surface?”

“Yup,” said Travis, coming up behind them.  “I’m looking forward to this peek at a species I haven’t encountered before.    But it isn’t a first contact.  They’ve seen humans before.  My mom knows freighters who have them on their regular trade routes.”

“Let’s try not to stare,” suggested Malcolm. 

“Right,” chuckled Trip. 

“No problem,” said Travis.  “Growing up around all sorts of aliens, I’m used to seeing new things.   And the market place we are headed for has great stuff.  There are beautiful silk clothes, even bolts of that silk stuff if you are handy at sewing.”

“I think I’ll pick up a scarf for Hoshi, then,” said Malcolm.

“Why isn’t she coming with us?  Or T’Pol?”  asked Travis.

“Just the luck of drawing shifts,” said Trip.  “We’re only here for a couple of hours while the captain confers with the local planetary defense people.  We were lucky even to get this time off.”

“Anybody know much about their culture?” asked Malcolm.

Travis replied “Friendly, tolerant of humans.  But shy except when pushing their products for commerce.  Seems they import a lot of fish from Earth and export quite a bit of silk in exchange.”

“Triaxian silk.  Sounds expensive.  Looks expensive.  But it’s quite reasonable, especially when bought in the markets right on their home world.  I looked that much up,” said Malcolm .  “But I want to try their beer – the stuff which isn’t exported.  Too short a shelf life.  You guys up for that for starters?”

“You’re on, Mal!  Travis, get us to the closest parking spot you can find,” grinned Trip.

....

Travis pocketed his translator as he sat down at a table in a shady corner of the garden in back of the tavern.   He set down a large bowl of beans, which had cost much more than the beer.  The beer was served warm and was a disconcerting pink color.  Trip slid into a chair, as did Malcolm, each with a tall cut crystal mug.

“Too fancy for what I would call a beer glass,” Trip commented.

“What’s in this bowl here, some kind of bar snack?” asked Malcolm.

“Yes,” Travis grinned.  “These are a local kind of bean, crunchy and very intoxicating.”

“I thought that was what the beer is for,” said Malcolm.

“Only very mildly alcoholic, this beer, according to the bar keep,” said Travis.  “The crunchy beans, believe it or not, are what the locals come to get high on.  The beer is just to wash down the crunchies.”

“Okay, let’s crunch and wash down,” Trip said, grabbing a handful of the beans.

Malcolm leaned back in his chair to survey the other customers.  They indeed were used to humans, judging by their silent acceptance and lack of interest in the three of them.  There were no other humans in this establishment, though crew people and families from several human freighters were wandering through the market place in this section of the city.  Malcolm had gotten used to the single breasted females, sort of.  But it was disconcerting that the men had a single breast too, and quite as well developed as the adult females. 

Taking another sip of the not unpleasant and very mild beer, Malcolm continued to scan the garden tables.  Many customers were drinking a non-alcoholic purple fruit concoction, like that couple two tables off to their right.   He almost gasped, but stopped himself.  Then he leaned to his right to nudge Trip with an elbow.

“Check out the woman with the baby over there.  She just bared that breast of hers and is nursing in public,” he whispered.   “Now don’t both of you stare in that direction at once!  These people are on the shy side and we don’t want to act like leering uncultured cretins.”

Travis shifted his chair to the right and lifted his mug as if only interested in the overhanging vines on trellises above the tables.  “Man!  That baby is hungry.  Her mother probably needs that fruit drink to replenish her liquids.”

They tried not to stare, but sat watching until the baby slapped his mother’s breast and let go.  The woman did not try to cover her breast but sat there lifting her own crystal mug with sunlight glinting off it and smiled at her companion across the table.  Apparently naked breasts in public were the norm here.  Her companion lifted the baby from her lap and placed the child on his own lap.  Then he unlaced his shirt.  The baby attached himself and started sucking.

Malcolm slopped a bit of his beer as his mug hit the table a little too hard.  “Damn!  That is a man isn’t it?”

“Sure is,” said Travis.  Only men have beards on this world, same as on ours.”

....

T’Pol was ready to get underway as soon as the captain was back on board.  The three tourists had returned.  Monitoring the shuttle bay, she almost smirked at their expressions.  The boys seemed a bit subdued. 

“He’s back.” Hoshi said, looking in T’Pol’s direction.

“By him, I presume you are referring to the captain?” asked T’Pol.

“Of course,” said Hoshi, “Who else, since everyone else is on board?  He just transported in.”

“Who indeed.  Let us not get sloppy in discipline.  We need to be precise in all of our communications or we will slip up in tight situations where precision could mean the difference between life and death.”

“Yes, Commander, I stand corrected,” said Hoshi crisply, rolling her eyes at the helmsman at an angle that T’Pol could not see.

“And the eye rolling is not strictly necessary,” said T’Pol.  “To answer your unasked question of ‘How did you know’, it was the up tilt of your chin, Ensign.”

Hoshi sighed and frowned in studied concentration at her console.  Vulcans.  She was glad there was only one on board.

....

The door to her quarters chimed.  It could only be one person.

“Come in, Commander.”

“The captain is on the bridge,” said Trip.  “I’m guessin’ he’s satisfied with the Triaxians’ state of readiness and the continued friendly trading relationship they have with Earth…. Oh, here,” and he reached into a shirt pocket.  “I got you this.”

T’Pol took the square of fabric from Trip’s hand.  She held it in one hand, sliding it over her other hand.  She had rarely felt anything quite as soft or seen such an exquisite shade of green.  It was not quite blood green, more of a yellow-green.  Quite lovely.

“Thank you, Commander.  Next time you are on duty and I have planet side leave, is there anything you might like me to look for?”

“Aw, T’Pol, just accept my gift.  You don’t have to reciprocate; it was a spur of the moment thing.  I saw it and said to myself, ‘T’Pol might like this bit of Triaxian silk’.”

“How human, this spontaneousness.  Thank you again.” 

She folded it neatly and placed it on the self next to her meditation candles.

Then, as if she had just thought of it, she said “Did you notice the parenting methods used in Triaxian culture?”

“You could have warned me.”

“So you stared with dropped jaw, you and Malcolm?”

“We managed to restrain our human gawking tendencies, if that is what ya mean,” he said, sitting on her bed and placing his hands behind his head to lean against the wall.  "No other mammalian species has male nursemaids that I know of.”

“Do you not see the logic of evolution here?”

“Enlighten me.”

“With humans and with Vulcans, when a baby nurses they drain both breasts, correct?” 

“With humans, they do.  I have never seen a Vulcan mother nursing her child.”

“You would not.  That is done in strict privacy.  To get to the point: with only one breast, a Triaxian female cannot meet her child’s hunger needs.  The physique of their species and their cultural adaptations are built around the male having to stay with the female from conception until the child is two years old.  The proximity of the male to a pregnant female activates his mammary gland.  Male abandonment of a child during that time is considered a crime of child abuse.  After the child reaches the age of two, the couple does not stay together.  There is no such thing as marriage on this world, just commitment to a dependant nursing child.  Regardless of gender, the child then stays with the mother until age 10, than goes with the father until adulthood at age 20.  Families are multigenerational households, but without permanent marriages.   A child takes the family name of the mother and inherits goods and services from that family.  The bond with the father’s family is weaker, but births and deaths in the father’s family demand presents and attendance at the rituals.”

“Oh.  More than I really needed to know.  But as I said, you could have told me, since you must have researched their culture before I went down there.”

“I was hoping you would have researched it yourself.   Humans have much to learn about dealing with alien cultures.  Are you now ready for another lesson in meditation technique?”

“Sure.  And, T’Pol?”

“What?”

“I‘m glad you come with at least a pair...um,” and with reddened face, Trip continued “I’m glad that humans and Vulcans have a similar physique in many respects.”


Comments:

Cap'n Frances

Definitely a fun fic. I especially liked including Travis and the knowledge he has gained fom his Boomer background and T'Pol's description of Triaxian culture. The only thing that hit me slightly wrong was Trip's comment "More than I really needed to know." It makes sense to me that he would not have found time before that very brief shore leave to read about Triaxian culture. But he is an explorer and seems genuinely interested in learning about the people they encounter. On the other hand, his last comment was priceless!

Linda

Thanks for the comments!  My computer has been down for a few days, so I am just getting to see them.  Yes, maybe Trip could have been teased about his earlier child bearing experience, but I decided to let him off the hook, poor guy.  And this was the second season, so I was trying to make T'Pol's attitudes consistant with the time period.  It was a fun little fic to write...giggling all through the process.    

Alelou

Also -- great title!!!

Alelou

:p:p:p This was a lot of fun.  Besides my joy in the breastfeeding oddities, I enjoyed the snark between T'Pol and Hoshi. 

Lt. Zoe Jebkanto

Oh, grin!  LOL!  This was fun!  

I loved the whole development of the Triaxian culture part- it lent a scentif/anthropological serious sort of backdrop which sharpened the humor in contrast.

I too, like Cogito, thought Trip might get a little more ribbing about his "unexpected" little problem- especially remembering its unusual placement.  But then, he was probably embarrassed enough for one story by his final comment! :)  

Cogito

I'm slightly surprised that Trip didn't get teased more about his parenting experience. :)

And no wonder Trip was embarassed at the end - it's usually best to keep that sort of thought to yourself, lad. I wonder whether T'Pol has decided that complements are logical, yet? At least she seems to have accepted the logic of spontaneous gifts from her t'hai'la. :D

putaro

Heh - in addition to the breast gags, I loved the Hoshi/T'Pol interactions

Weeble

Oh lordy,  Guess that means if T'Pol hits the planet she would be capable of supporting...twins...hee hee

Mary

Um Ok. No argument about men sharing parental  requirements, nursing??? well  I think I lake that.

Last line...priceless. Please continue

Eireann

Well, yes, flawlessly logical.  Not very kind of her to leave the three boys to just walk into trouble, but then that's the sort of thing they just do!

Asso

GREAT! And the ending... doubly great!:p

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