Captain Sato’s Enterprise

By Lady Rainbow

Rating: PG

Genres: au drama romance

Keywords:

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Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em, don’t make money off ‘em.

Rating: PG

Genre: AU

Spoilers: None

Archive: Sure, but let me know first, please. Thanks!

Author’s Notes: This is in response to a “Switcheroo” challenge from a friend. Write a “Day in the Life” story on the ship, but switch the crew around so they’re doing another job. The challenge is to keep their personalities and/or relationships relatively intact during the Switcheroo.

This fic will sound strange because of those changes, but please bear with me. Each chapter is told from the POV of a member of the “changed” crew.

Reviews/comments are welcome, please! :)

 


 

Captain Hoshi Sato

Hoshi Sato, captain of the Enterprise, loved the early mornings, Tai-chi and meditation in Hydroponics, then a quick shower and a light breakfast in the Mess before her shift on the Bridge. On her way to the Mess Hall, she heard a tiny yipping sound down the hallway. A beagle raced down the corridor, heading straight towards her. Before she could react, he flopped down across her boots on his back, his tongue lolling out, eyes bright.

She cautiously looked around, then reached into her pocket. “Here, boy. Don’t tell anyone, okay?” Then she popped a cheese cube into his mouth and patted Porthos on the head. “Good boy. Got away from your master again, hmmm?”

There was the sound of running feet, then Porthos’s master appeared at the end of the corridor. “Sorry, Captain. He slipped his leash and decided to make a run for it.”

“That’s all right, Lieutenant Archer.” She smiled at Porthos and gave the dog a final pat. He gazed at her with pleading eyes, but she shook her head. Defeated, Porthos twisted back onto his feet and trotted to Archer’s feet. “S’shlik torun, Lieutenant.”

Archer smiled. “S’shlik torun, Captain. Hwas’su reun da?”

“My morning is well, thank you.” She allowed herself a maternal smile. Although Archer was older than she was, his cheerful enthusiasm made him seem ten years younger. He was always eager to meet new people, study new cultures, sometimes to the point of recklessness. Luckily, the other Bridge officers tempered his eagerness without stifling it.

“I understand that we’re due to meet with the Luruns in three days?”

“Yes. I’ve already uplinked their cultural and language database to your station on the bridge, Jonathan. It appears we’ve got some amazing similarities, but I want to make sure we don’t have any problems during our meeting.”

“I’ll go over it and get back to you with my recommendations as soon as possible, Captain.”

“Thanks, Jonathan.”

He whistled for Porthos, then the two of them strode down the corridor towards the turbolift. Hoshi laughed and shook her head; Jonathan Archer had become an important member of her crew, and she was glad he was aboard.

The Mess Hall was still relatively empty, but Hoshi spotted two people at a nearby table huddled over a PADD. Trip and T’Pol. Hmmm...now there’s a contradiction of personalities if I’ve seen one. The fiery Trip and coolly logical T’Pol, complete opposites, had somehow managed to forge a friendship as well as a working relationship. Hoshi’s sharp hearing picked up the words “upgrade”, “phase cannon”, “navigation”, “engineering” and “stubborn”. Obviously, Trip was blowing off some steam, while the Vulcan sat with her plomeek soup and listened patiently.

She entered the Captain’s Mess to see her breakfast partner already waiting for her. “Malcolm.”

He smiled at her and inclined his head. “Captain.”

“No ranks in here, remember?” She nodded at Crewman Cunningham and the steward went to fill her usual order. “You look tired.”

“A few minor crises in the middle of the night, nothing to worry about,” he reassured her. “Commander Mayweather injured his ankle climbing the rock wall in the gym. Luckily, it was only a sprain. Then Crewman Taliferro from Hydroponics ended up with a few rose thorns in his hand while he was pruning the bushes. Crewman Wyles from the Armory came in with a slight plasma burn on his—ahem. Apparently, he’d had an accident while training with the phase pistol—“

“Again? That’s the second time this month.”

“This time it wasn’t his fault. One of his fellows dropped his phase pistol and it went off—“

“Oh, good Lord. The man attracts more trouble than Trip does.” Hoshi smiled at Cunningham as he put a plate of fruit and a mug of green tea in front of her. She saw Malcolm give her breakfast a dubious look. “What?”

“Your meal looks rather sparse. Will that be enough to tide you over until lunch?”

She sighed, but then she saw the twinkle in his eye. “I could always add a slice of chocolate cheesecake, I suppose, if you’re that concerned.”

“And then I’d get a call from the Bridge when the sugar rush died down.”

“So there.” Hoshi shrugged and began to eat her breakfast. The two settled into easy conversation, chatting about all sorts of subjects. She listened as he talked about a new medical procedure; he commented on her first impressions of the Luruns. She enjoyed making new contacts as much as Jonathan Archer did and it was nice to find others who shared that interest.

The intercom whistled during a lull in the conversation. Hoshi shot an apologetic look at Malcolm as he rolled his eyes. She tabbed the button. “Sato here.”

“Commander Mayweather here. I’m in Science Lab One. Can you come down here for a moment?”

A smile quirked on her lips. “On my way, Travis. Sato out.” She wiped her mouth with her napkin. “Sorry, Malcolm, duty calls.”

“That’s quite all right; I should be getting back to work anyway. Lunch as usual?”

“Lunch as usual.” There was a genuine warmth in his gray-blue eyes that wasn’t there very often. Hoshi promised herself that she would do what she could to melt that ice.

“I’ll see you later.” She smiled at him and headed out of the captain’s mess.

 

First Officer/Science Officer Travis Mayweather

Commander Travis Mayweather’s second home was Science Lab One. If he wasn’t on the Bridge, in the gym or the Mess Hall, he was there. At the moment, he sat at one of the stations as he analyzed the scans of the Urathan Nebula. He stared at the screen with child-like wonder and joy. The bright reds and oranges danced on the screen and reflected off Travis’s dark eyes. Now this is why I joined Starfleet, to see the wonders of the Universe.

“Beautiful, isn’t it, Travis?” asked a soft voice behind him.

He grinned and glanced over his shoulder. Captain Hoshi Sato leaned casually in the doorway, her uniform neat as a pin, her long black hair up in a braided bun. At their first meeting, he’d thought she didn’t seem to be old enough to be a captain, despite the four pips on her collar. Then he noticed the confidence in her eyes, the steel under the soft voice. People tended to underestimate Captain Sato, until they found out otherwise.

He chuckled and waved towards the screen. “That it is, Captain. Lemme show you something. See these variables? These are definitely not the norm for a Class Two nebula. I’m trying to compile all the scans and calculate the variances. There’s something about this one that’s got me curious.”

Hoshi frowned. “That’s the Urathan Nebula, not too far from the Lurun homeworld, isn’t it?” “That’s right. Thought I’d run a couple of scans since we were going past it anyway, compare it to the baseline that was taken by the first survey team.” He tapped some keys on the computer; the screen split into two parts. “The baseline is on the left, with all the relevant information that was gathered on it. Our new scans are on the right.”

At first glance, the visuals of the nebula looked the same. Then Hoshi compared the two lists of data. “The radiation levels are different. It’s gone up. You think that might be the source of the problem?”

“I’m looking into the possibility. That’s close to a major trade route between Rymer’s World and Itharia, not to mention right in the middle of our course to Lurun. I’d suggest finding an alternate route around it, Hoshi. With these new radiation readings, I’m not inclined to get too close.”

“Agreed.” She clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Good job, Travis.”

“Just doing my job, ma’am.” He shrugged good-naturedly, then continued, “We should drop off some warning buoys before we leave that area. I’d hate to see anyone get too close and get a hefty dose of baryon particles.” As a Boomer, he was well aware of the effects of radiation poisoning on ship crews. He’d seen plenty of anomalies and other space artifacts growing up on a cargo ship.

“I’ll contact Engineering.” She smiled, then changed the subject. “Travis, how’s the crew doing? Everything all right?”

He swiveled around in his chair to face her and stood at relaxed attention. He felt himself become more formal as he slipped into his “first officer” mode. “Ratings are at plus ones and plus one point fives across the board, ma’am. A few people have come in to talk, let off a little steam, but for the most part, morale’s pretty good right now.”

“I’m glad the crew can come to you.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Hoshi. You know this crew will stand by you. You’re strong.” He gave her a broad grin and was relieved that she matched it. “They all respect you.”

“Even Ensign T’Pol?”

“Even T’Pol.” A sudden thought made him sober. “Not many people can converse in her native language and can talk about Vulcan customs in an intelligent manner like you can. I think that means a lot to her, more than she lets on.”

Hoshi gave him a thoughtful look. “You’re right. I’m considering inviting her to dinner, have Chef do a vegetarian menu, talk about language and philosophy. Get to know how she thinks, and not just how the Vulcan High Command wants her to think.”

“I think that’s a good idea. She’s an enigma to many people. Sometimes I think she’s more of one than Doctor Reed is, and that’s saying something.”

“Malcolm’s just reserved, but he does show some emotion,” Hoshi objected without thinking. If she hadn’t been distracted by her thoughts about T’Pol, she would have seen a knowing look on her first officer’s face. “Well, I’m off to the bridge. Call me if anything else comes up.”

“Will do, Captain.” Travis gave her a mock salute, then turned back to his scientific data as she left the room. He shook his head and thought,I wonder how long it’ll take her to figure it out. Hell, I wonder how long it’ll take the good doctor, ‘cause I think everyone else sees it, but they don’t.

 

Chief Engineer Phlox

Phlox of Denobula sat in his office and pored over the various reports that flooded his desk. “Fascinating,” he murmured to himself. “If this theory is correct, it could increase our top speed to at least Warp Seven. I wonder if we can modify the plasma injectors to compensate for the higher coolant ratios—“

He sighed. All of the theories and simulations in the world wouldn’t convince the Armory Officer to divert any more power to Engineering. Phlox couldn’t blame him, for Phlox himself was reluctant to spare any extra power to the Armory for “some really important fiddlin’.”

An undignified squawk from the corner of his office interrupted his musings. “Yes, yes, I know. Well, I suppose it’s time for your feeding, eh? Be patient. I’m sure the captain will be along shortly.” He heard a knock on his door and grinned widely. “Enter!”

“I hope I’m not too late, Commander Phlox,” Hoshi Sato said. “I just got off-shift.”

“No, you’re just in time. My Pyrithian bat was just reminding me to pull my head out of the world of warp theory and back into the real world.” Phlox laid the PADD aside with a small sigh. “The engines are running just fine; I finally located that flux that was driving Misters Kelby and Rostov ‘absolutely nutso’. It was a simple matter to correct once we identified the problem.”

Hoshi chuckled at his turn of phrase as she carefully opened the bat’s cage. “‘Absolutely nutso’. Let me guess. Rostov?”

“I’ve learned many turns of the vernacular from Mister Rostov, both polite and impolite. Being an engineer gives one plenty of opportunity to find names for parts that break down or don’t work as they should.”

“I can understand that, though if you’re learning vernacular from Rostov, I suggest you double check with Lieutenant Archer before you use it in public.”

“I shall certainly take Jonathan’s advice under consideration.” Phlox promised. “Far be it for me to cause some kind of intergalactic incident.”

“Hmm...I suspect that’s more Lieutenant Commander Tucker’s specialty.”

Phlox chuckled; her dry observation had a hint of truth. The Armory officer, more often than not, always got himself into trouble, and dragged Captain Sato, Commander Mayweather or Doctor Reed with him. Lately, though, Reed seemed to be the unfortunate one. At least the Lieutenant Commander has the sense to include the doctor in his escapades, since it seems inevitable he’d be in need of Doctor Reed’s services before long.

“So, has the engineering crew gotten used to your bat yet?”

“Well, ever since she helped locate Crewman Holloway in the conduits not too long ago, they’ve admitted she has her uses.”

Phlox had sent the Pyrithian bat into the bowels of the ship to find Holloway during a ship-wide emergency. The internal sensors had been off-line as well as communications. Not only did the bat find Holloway, but send back signals that Lieutenant Commander Tucker and Doctor Reed were able to track. Since then, the bat had been a mascot of sorts in the engineering department.

“Yes, I suppose she does. She’s immune to warp core radiation, isn’t she?”

“She is, or Doctor Reed would have banned her from Engineering. I suppose the alternative would be housing her in Sickbay, but I’m afraid the good doctor has an objection to that.”

“I think Malcolm prefers his Sickbay rodent-free, Phlox.” Hoshi chuckled. “As long as she doesn’t escape and go swooping on people in the corridors, that’s fine.” She glanced over her shoulder at him and asked, “Have you talked to Commander Mayweather?”

“The Commander’s informed me about the warning buoys. Lieutenant Hess and her team are programming those buoys as we speak. They should be ready to go when we reach the nebula.”

“Good.”

There was a hesitant knock on the door, then Lieutenant Michael Rostov stuck his head in. “Commander Phlox? The gremlin we saw before?”

“‘Gremlin’?” He considered himself well-versed in engineering terminology, but this was the first he’d heard of this. “Ah, the flux problem?”

“Yeah, it’s back. Kelby’s about to have a stroke out here.”

“Shall I page Doctor Reed?” Phlox asked, a note of concern creeping into his voice. If one of his staff was in serious medical danger—

“Uh...just a figure of speech, sir. Kelby’s getting so frustrated that he’s not sure what to make of it.”

“I’ll be right there, Mister Rostov.” He gave Hoshi a look of apology. “Forgive me, Captain, but duty calls.”

“Go take care of that problem. I’ll finish here, then grab a bite to eat. I’ve got phase pistol practice with Lieutenant Commander Tucker in an hour.”

“Very well, then. I will see you later, Captain.” As followed Kelby to Main Engineering, he wondered briefly why the captain was holding back her laughter. Then he re-directed his thoughts to the “gremlin” at hand.

 

Armory Officer Charles “Trip” Tucker the Third

“Eighty percent. That’s pretty good, Cap’n,” said Lieutenant Commander Trip Tucker. The Armory Officer leaned on the holoprojector and studied the results on his PADD. He wore a bright grin and she returned it.

“Thanks, Trip.” She thumbed the safety of the phase pistol and handed it back to him. “Those extra lessons are paying off in spades.”

“Yeah. You’re not hittin’ the broad sides of barns anymore.” He laughed as she glared at him, and he raised his hands in surrender. She was so easy to bait, easier than Malcolm Reed. Of course, not many people could get away with teasing a starship captain who could whip your butt in aikido. “Just kiddin’. You’re better than most other members of the crew.”

“Is there anyone who hasn’t qualified on the new phase pistols yet?”

“Jon’s due for his second test. He didn’t do too well on his first one. Some of the junior officers have the same problem as him. He’s so used to the old EM-33s that he’s still compensating for the particle drift, even though you don’t have to do that anymore. ” Trip’s brow furrowed in thought. “You know, Doctor Reed’s scores are almost as good as yours or mine.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Malcolm? That’s odd for a medical officer.”

“I think he said somethin’ to the effect of him ‘knowin’ exactly where to shoot, if it’s necessary’. I guess bein’ a doctor has its advantages.” He hid a smile; the Enterprise’s chief medical officer was full of surprises. “Honestly, though, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about our CMO defending himself. That’s one less thing I gotta be concerned about in a dangerous situation.”

“That’s a good thing. Considering you two seem to get into trouble a lot of the time. The crew’s dubbed you with a new name.”

“Again? Last week it was ‘Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’. The week before that, it was ‘General MacArthur and Lord Admiral Nelson’. What is it this week?”

“The Disaster Twins.”

Trip snorted, then he considered the moniker and said, “Well, I guess that’s better than the other ones. It’s shorter and it kinda has a ring to it.”

Hoshi laughed, then became serious again. “How are the weapon upgrades coming along?”

“Nearly finished there, Cap’n. Here’re the updates.” Trip switched screens on his PADD and handed it to Hoshi. “Ran a few simulations. Looks like the port phase cannon’s better by about seven percent. Unfortunately, the starboard one’s gonna take some more fiddlin’ around. It’s beginnin’ to be a real pain in the behind, if ya know what I mean.”

Hoshi grunted. “I know you can’t sleep if the phase cannons aren’t working just right, but try not to overdo it, okay? I know you hate Sickbay with a passion—“

“Considerin’ I seem to be a frequent enough visitor.” Trip’s voice was dry. “At the very least, I can go bug Mal—Doctor Reed, I mean. Man’s got a bedside manner, if you dig deep enough.”

She laughed. “Don’t even start. Malcolm cares about the welfare of every member of this crew.”

“Yeah, I know, but it’s fun to see what’s behind that stiff British facade of his. I know he takes his job seriously, a little too seriously sometimes.” Trip believed that Malcolm Reed was one of the best doctors to come out of Starfleet Medical, bar none. A meticulous researcher with a gruff exterior, he also had a sensitive soul. Trip recalled many times talking with him after a medical crisis of some sort; the man took his job very seriously.

“Seems like you’re the only one who keeps him from going off the deep end, Cap’n.”

She shrugged. “I’m the captain. It’s my job to make sure my crew is in top shape. And speaking of, I’d like to hear your thoughts about a personnel matter.”

“Personal?”

“That too.” She told him about her thoughts about inviting T’Pol to dinner. Trip tried to keep his expression one of polite interest, but he found himself making suggestions to the captain about Vulcan food and customs. It was only fair, he thought, that Hoshi be informed as much as possible. It was only when he realized he was talking more than she was that he broke off with a blush.

“Sorry, Cap’n. I kinda got carried away. It’s just that I’ve been talkin’ with T’Pol a lot lately, y’know, tryin’ to make her feel more at home, but she just sits there with this cool look on her face, so I’m not sure if she’s even listenin’, or if she’s just toleratin’ me.” He shrugged. “The second one, I suppose.”

Hoshi inclined her head and regarded him with a thoughtful look. “Tell me, does she interrupt you while you’re talking?”

“Interrupt me? No, but I figured that was just Vulcan courtesy.”

“Does she tell you to leave? Get lost? ‘Thank you, Lieutenant Commander, but I have to program new navigational courses, preferably for Shuttlepod One, so you can find a distant star to orbit on your next away mission?’”

Trip laughed at her dead-on impression of the Vulcan navigator. “Um...no. I wouldn’t put it past her, though.”

“But she hasn’t done it. Yet. And she seems to listen to you, even if she doesn’t say much. I don’t think she just tolerates your presence, Trip.” Hoshi gave him a bright grin. “That’s why I’d like to invite you to this meal. I think T’Pol would feel more comfortable if she sees a familiar face there.”

“Sure, if you think I won’t be gettin’ in the way.” He tried to keep his voice casual, but he knew he failed utterly. Time for a strategic retreat. “Well, I’m gonna run a few more trials on the starboard cannon.”

She nodded. “Carry on, Lieutenant Commander. I’ll take your recommendations about Vulcan cuisine and customs under consideration, and I’ll let you know when that dinner is scheduled.”

“I appreciate it, Cap’n.” The comm panel whistled; Trip immediately answered it. "Tucker."

"Lieutenant Commander, is the Captain there?" came Jon Archer's voice. The lieutenant's tone was calm, but he could hear an underlying tension beneath it.

"I'm right here, Lieutenant," Hoshi replied. "What is it, Jon?"

"Could you both come up here to the Bridge? I've found something in the Luran First Contact Protocols that you need to be aware of."

They glanced at each other. If there was a potential problem with first contacts, Jonathan Archer was the one who usually found it before it became a problem. "On our way, Jon. Sato, out."

Trip closed the channel. "Jon's a good guy. He's smart, thinks on his feet, cares for everyone like he's their big brother. Think he'll be a good captain someday?"

Hoshi's smile was bittersweet. "If he can learn to put aside his empathy when the situation warrants it, he could."

 

Communications Officer Jonathan Archer

Jon Archer read the protocols a second time, then a third. With a sigh, he called Captain Sato and Lieutenant Commander Tucker to the Bridge. Nope, I wasn’t seeing things. Trip’s going to have a fit when he sees this.

“Is there a problem, Lieutenant?”

He glanced at Ensign T’Pol at the helm station. The Vulcan raised one elegant eyebrow at him in curiosity and concern. He managed a slight smile at her; although Vulcan tradition insisted otherwise, he knew that T’Pol had emotions like the rest of them. She only hid it better.

“Just read something disturbing in the first contact protocols for the Lurans,” he told her. “I wanted to make sure the captain knew about it before she stepped into trouble.”

T’Pol nodded. “That is a wise thing, Lieutenant. What seems trivial to one species is a grave concern to another.”

He smiled at her understanding. “You’re definitely correct there, and this might be one of those cases.” Archer glanced over his shoulder as the doors to the lift hissed open and Captain Sato and Lieutenant Commander Tucker came onto the Bridge. Trip gave him a friendly grin and he returned it. The man’s enthusiasm for life was infectious and Archer appreciated it because he saw it in himself.

He’s probably the most unlikely Armory Officer in the Fleet, he reflected. If anything, he’d rather talk his way out of situations with his Southern charm, but if that fails, he won’t hesitate to defend the ship and its crew by any means necessary.

“What do we have, Lieutenant?” Captain Sato asked.

Archer gave her a PADD with the information on it. Tucker leaned on the console and looked over Sato’s shoulder. “According to this, the Lurians are so steeped in tradition that they only allow Luran weapons on the planet. No phase pistols, no phase rifles...just whips and chains.”

“Whips and chains?” Hoshi repeated.

“Not what you think, Captain,” Jon said, failing to hold back a grin. “Apparently, Luran males wear heavy chains like bandoliers on their chest. It’s a test of manhood, along with the seven swords and daggers they carry around with them...and women carry studded electric whips in leather holders.”

Trip muttered something under his breath that Jon didn’t catch, but Hoshi only chuckled in response. “Ahem. Interesting,” she said.

“And it gets better, Captain. They allow medical equipment...as long as they’re needles. No hyposprays.”

Trip scowled. “What’s up with the sharp points?”

Jon’s grin grew wider as he replied, “They consider a ‘point’ the ultimate sign of enlightenment. Mountain peaks come up to a point, for example. One of their holy men was supposed to have sat on a pointed stake for three cycles—that’s thirty-six days—with hardly a scratch.”

“Ouch,” Trip muttered. “The guy’s poor butt must’ve been sore.”

Hoshi coughed in an attempt to cover her laughter. “Well, you’re going to be armed to the teeth, Trip. That should make you happy.”

“Yeah, but I can’t move around under all that weight, Cap’n. That’s like putting a whole suit of armor over your underwear. Chafes ya like all get out.”

Jon sighed and scrolled his screen down. “They refer to their security men as “fawh-dehr”. It’s supposed to be a title of respect because it conveys the danger and uncertainty of their position.”

Fawh-dehr? I’m not crazy about being anyone’s fodder, cannon or otherwise.”

Hoshi finally lost it and she began to laugh. It spread all over the Bridge, except for T’Pol, who only looked at them with a bemused (and confused) expression. Trip took pity on her and said, “I’ll explain later, T’Pol. I promise.”

Jon glanced at Hoshi. “Don’t think you can get away unscathed, Captain,” he said in mock sternness. “The main representative gets to make a speech—“

“Doesn’t sound too difficult.”

“—an eight-thousand word affair in three different dialects, and you have to get every stress and intonation completely correct.” Hoshi looked at him. “And I’ve got three days to do this?”

“Yes, ma’am. All in three days. Don’t worry, I can help you with it. The Lurans sent over the copies of the welcome speech in all the dialects. Oh, and you’ve got to crack your whip at the appropriate pauses to fight off your admirers—“

“WHAT?”

“Oh boy. Malcolm’s gonna have a field day,” Trip muttered again.

“I heard that.” Hoshi growled. She sighed and shook her head. “I suppose I’m gonna need whip lessons, then.”

“Don’t look at me. That ain’t in my arsenal, and I sure know it ain’t standard equipment in the Armory.”

T’Pol cleared her throat. “If I may make a suggestion, Captain?”

“Go ahead, Ensign.”

“There are Vulcan weapons similar to a whip, such as the ahn’woon. With your and Lieutenant Commander Tucker’s permission, I may be able to help you gain the necessary skills.”

Hoshi met T’Pol’s gaze. Jon cleared his throat and added, “That would help a lot, Ensign. I didn’t think about the ahn’woon, but you’re right. It’s a similar enough weapon.”

The captain nodded. “All right, then. Time for some ahn’woon lessons. All right with you, Trip?”

“Sure, s’long as I get some lessons too. Y’never know when a new skill might come in handy.”

Jon tried to hide his smile as T’Pol raised her eyebrow again, but he noticed that she didn’t object to the request. He’d had plenty of opportunity to observe the navigator and the armory officer, and thought there might be a glimmer of more than just friendship there.

Opposites attract, I guess. That seems to be going on all over the ship. Trip Tucker and T’Pol. Captain Sato and Doctor Reed. Jonathan Archer did his best to encourage both couples, without making it obvious, of course. He was only a lieutenant, after all, but that seemed to be adequate cover for his efforts. It was his nature to see his friends happy and he took it upon himself to help it happen.

“Agreed. My shift is ended in forty minutes. Perhaps we can have a short practice session then?”

“That sounds agreeable. Meet me in Cargo Bay Two, Ensign.”

“Yes, Captain.”

After Sato and Tucker left the bridge, he exchanged a nod with Ensign T’Pol. Then he turned back to the first contact protocols. There seemed to be no more hidden surprises, but he decided to go over it one more time, just in case.

 

Helm/Navigation Officer T’Pol

Ensign T’Pol concentrated on the weight and the heft of the ahn’woon. It had been a few years since she had handled one of these, but she remembered the basics of the weapon. She remembered a conversation in the Armory, a year ago:

What do ya call these things again? Ahn’woons?”

“That is correct, Lieutenant Commander.”

“Nasty lookin’ things.” Trip Tucker gave the weapon an experimental swing, being careful about its weight on one end and the wicked blade on the other. “I can see why the Vulcans have used ‘em for thousands of years. One blow on your skull and that’s it for ya.”

She had been surprised at the respectful tone of his voice. “Indeed. It takes a good amount of manual dexterity to handle the ahn’woon, for it could be just as harmful to the wielder himself. So, shall we begin?”

To her surprise, Trip not only became somewhat proficient in the ahn’woon, but he showed an interest in all things Vulcan. He asked insightful questions, and while he would always have an accent, his spoken Vulcan was adequate. She admitted to herself that while he reminded her of an enthusiastic guard sehlat, he showed an uncanny sensitivity to cultural issues.

Just like another man she knew. Jonathan Archer had worked with Ambassador Soval at the Vulcan Consulate in San Francisco, a respected diplomat and cultural liaison. T’Pol didn’t know what Captain Sato had said to convince Archer to leave such an esteemed position and join Starfleet so late in life.

“Captain Sato has given me a logical argument for this,” Soval had told her, “and while I have a certain reluctance to allow Archer to join the Enterprise crew, I believe he will gain more experience among the stars than at the Consulate.”

She had her doubts at the time, but now she acknowledged Hoshi Sato’s valuable insight. Archer was a worthy addition to the crew and a worthy friend.

“Ensign? Are you all right? What’s on your mind?”

T’Pol turned to see Captain Sato standing there in workout clothes. She decided to answer the captain’s question. “I am all right, Captain. I was pondering a few enigmas among the crew.”

Sato smiled at the word “enigma”, although T’Pol couldn’t think of a reason why. “Which ones?”

“Lieutenant Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Archer. Both men are Human, but are curious about Vulcan culture. It is not a common trait among Humans to be so accepting of customs not their own.”

Sato’s smile was mysterious as she replied, “Trip and Jon are both explorers, T’Pol. Look at it from Trip’s point of view as an Armory Officer. Vulcans are our allies, and the more we can learn about your ways of war and defense, the better we can defend ourselves. And Jon—“ she shrugged, “—he hasn’t always been so open-minded. I think working with Soval has broadened his horizons.”

T’Pol inclined her head. “I did not know that. If I may ask, how did you convince him to join Enterprise? I assumed he was content to stay at the Consulate.”

“The lure of the unknown, the possibility of meeting new peoples and new cultures. He’s meant for the stars. As Trip said, ‘better late than never’.” She chuckled and lifted the ahn’woon in her hands. “How do I handle this thing without slicing myself?”

T’Pol did not smile, but she raised an eyebrow. “Let me adjust your stance and grip, Captain. Now, watch carefully...”

She guided Sato through the simplest of exercises. To her surprise, the captain was soon snapping the ahn’woon with sharp, efficient wrist movements. Sato did have some natural ability, coming from her martial arts background, but mastering the ahn-woon still took years of practice.

T’Pol felt another set of eyes on her as she demonstrated another technique to Sato. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Trip Tucker watching her closely. Not her ahn’woon. Her. The Armory Officer sat on a cargo container near the practice area. She didn’t acknowledge his scrutiny, but watched him in turn under lowered lids.

She had described Trip as an enigma, which was a contradiction in itself. T’Pol wondered just how many people knew what lay behind the Armory Officer’s good-natured, joking exterior. There was so much that was hidden, despite his seeming openness. If she closed her eyes, she could feel his presence: intense, protective, curious. It reminded her of a fiery sun in the coolness of space.

And like any celestial body, its gravity attracted anything in its orbit. A new question formed in her mind: Why do I choose to stay within his orbit? He is Human, not Vulcan. He is a lieutenant commander, I am a mere ensign. Yet I find myself as curious about him as he is about me. Why is that?

Perhaps I need to gather more empirical evidence before I make my conclusions.

All too soon, she had to bring the training session to an end. “That will be sufficient for now, Captain. I believe you have the foundations for further training, if you wish.”

Sato nodded and flexed her aching hand. “Perhaps I’ll take you up on that offer, Ensign. Oh, do you have anything scheduled for tomorrow night?”

T’Pol raised an eyebrow again. “No, Captain.”

“I’d like to invite you and Lieutenant Commander Tucker to dinner at the captain’s table. Chef’s put together a vegetarian menu. I’m curious to hear your view of Human/Vulcan relations. Maybe you can teach us a thing or two.”

She carefully hid her surprise, though she glanced briefly at Trip. Is this his idea? Captain Sato has never invited me to her table before this. Aloud she replied, “I would be honored, Captain.”

“Good. Nineteen hundred hours?”

“I will be there, Captain.” She busied herself with coiling her ahn’woon as she overheard Trip talking with Sato.

“You oughta let Malcolm take a look at that cut before it gets infected, Hoshi. T’Pol wasn’t kiddin’ when she said the ahn’woon qualifies as a dangerous weapon.”

“I’ll stop by Sickbay before turning in for the night. If I don’t and Malcolm sees this, he’ll lecture me on that time on Optimus Prime and those nasty nanobots that got into my hand.”

Trip winced. “Yeah, I remember. He has a reason to be paranoid after that.”

“Good night, Trip. Good night, T’Pol. Thank you for the lesson.”

“You’re welcome, Captain,” T’Pol said, remembering the human courtesy. She finished securing her weapon, expecting Trip to leave after the captain. He remained there, looking at her. “Lieutenant Commander?”

“I was watchin’ you with the ahn’woon and I thought you handled it pretty gracefully. I guess it takes lots of practice to get good with it.”

“It takes years, sir,” she replied. She didn’t want to look into his eyes, but something compelled her to do so. His eyes were the blue of a very hot flame.

“I’m willin’ to learn. How about if we arrange a time where I can get a crack at it, so to speak?” His smile was genuine and warm and held no trace of sarcasm. T’Pol found it...intriguing.

Being a Vulcan, she did not smile back, but she only replied, “Of course, Lieutenant Commander. Most of my evenings are free. We can start tomorrow night, if you wish.”

 

Chief Medical Officer Malcolm Reed

Sickbay was quiet at this hour. Malcolm Reed sat at the computer with a cup of tea and a half-eaten pineapple scone. He scheduled a whole slate of crew physicals in the coming days; though he didn’t anticipate any objections from most of the crew, there were a few who might need more...convincing.

Trip Tucker, for one. By hook or by crook, he will come in for that physical, even if I have to pull rank on him to do it. His mouth twitched into a slight smirk at the challenge. The Armory Officer was adept at avoiding him, but Malcolm knew a few tricks that Trip didn’t.

A soft knock on his door broke into his thoughts. He glanced at the clock and prepared himself for another long night. “Enter,” he called.

“I hope I’m not interrupting, Malcolm,” Hoshi said as she came into the office.

“Of course not.” His sharp eyes immediately spotted the cut on her hand. “You’re injured. What happened?”

“Ensign T’Pol was giving me some ahn’woon lessons,” she answered, gingerly holding her hand with the other. She told him about the Luran customs that she had learned from Jon Archer. A vision of Hoshi with a whip in her hand threatened to turn his smirk into a full-blown grin. Somehow, he managed to keep a straight face.

“Let me see your hand,” he commanded in a gentle voice and took her hand within his own. Carefully, he examined every finger, the palm, the back of her hand. The clinical part of him assessed the shallow cut high on her palm, the calluses and blisters on the fingers where she’d gripped the whip handle too tightly. The rest of him noticed how smooth the rest of her skin was...

“Mmmm. I don’t believe you’ll lose any fingers,” he murmured, “but we need to clean those scratches before they become infected. Come on, let’s take care of it.”

As she sat on one of the biobed, he picked up the dermal regenerator and got to work. They slipped into their usual routine, she telling him about the day’s events while he listened. Her summaries were always precise, but she emphasized her stories with graceful hand movements. Occasionally, she would mimic the voices of the crew, making him chuckle.

“I would suspect our dear Armory Officer has more than just a casual interest in our navigator,” he commented. “As much as they argue at times, they tolerate each other’s quirks.”

“Like a married couple,” Hoshi agreed wryly. “I’ve invited both of them to dinner tomorrow night. A cultural exchange, if you will.”

“Trip’s idea?” he asked, surprised.

“I’d been thinking about it, but it was something Travis said that decided it for me. He described T’Pol as an ‘enigma’ and that it might be in our best interests if we got to know her better.”

Malcolm nodded sagely. Travis Mayweather was a frequent visitor to Sickbay, but unlike Trip, it wasn’t always because of injury. The first officer often asked about the health and welfare of the Enterprise crew.“Travis picks up on things that most people don’t. It’s a useful skill for a first officer.”

“Yes.” She wiggled her fingers and smiled at the results. “Thanks, Malcolm.”

“You’re quite welcome.” He noticed that she didn’t let go of his hand and then she leaned her head against his shoulder. After a quick glance around to make sure Lieutenant Liz Cutler was safely in the lab, he wrapped an arm around her and held her, gently resting his cheek against her hair.

She works too hard, he thought. As ship’s captain, Hoshi Sato was brilliant and resourceful, but it was a lonely position. Hoshi was warm and congenial, though she had to hold herself apart even as her soul wanted the contact. He vowed to himself to help her shoulder that burden.

In the interest of the ship and her crew, of course.

Who the bloody hell are you kidding? Open your eyes, you sodding idiot. And on the heels of that thought came Trip Tucker’s voice, Malcolm, you’re as blind as a bat on a bright summer day. He shuddered. Ugh. Let’s not think of bats.

“What’s wrong?”

“For some reason, I had a thought of Phlox’s bat in my mind. I’ve never been fond of that little bugger, but she does have her uses.”

She looked at him with a look of mock amazement and punched him lightly on the shoulder. “I give you a hug and you think of Phlox’s bat?”

“Not in that way, Hoshi!” He sounded outraged, but he caught the mischief in her eye and roared in laughter. That set her off and they both laughed so hard that their sides hurt.

“Is everything all right, Doctor?” Liz Cutler asked as she stuck her head out of the lab. She smiled at the captain and the chief medical officer and answered her own question. “Yeah, I guess everything’s okay.” Then she retreated back into the lab and shut the door again.

They exchanged a look, then Hoshi squeezed his hand. “I ought to get some sleep. Morning comes early.”

He nodded, then reluctantly let go. “Good night, Hoshi. Pleasant dreams.”

“You too. See you tomorrow.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek then left Sickbay, casting a fond look over her shoulder.

He sighed and stared after her long after she had disappeared. “Sleep well, love,” he murmured.

End


Comments:

Buurman
Very well done. You kept the basics of their characters but changed how they 'evolved' into what they are now. I like it ;D
Misplaced/startraveller776
Very fun! The characterizations are fantastic. And I loved the little nods to other things you have in there. I'm off to read the sequel!
Lady Rainbow
Thanks for all the comments, everyone!;) Yeah, you can tell I'm not a scientist, jT. :s And about the baryon...um...yeah...I blame TNG. :p
Escriba
I like this story so very much... It's very good at characterization and I specially like how everybody is [i]essentially[/i] the same in different situations. Very imaginative and entertaining :)
justTrip\'n
And I like the Trip/T'Pol heat. This is very fresh.
justTrip'n
Very imaginative. Good job. This isn't your fault, but you've incorporated a big Star Trek science boo boo into your story. In one of the Next Generation episodes the ship is in dry dock for a baryon particle sweep. However baryons are a big class of particle that includes protons and neutrons. Whoopsie. Also not literary critism, but if you are comparing two scans of a nebula, the easy way to do it is to assign colors to the different levels/types of radiation and then flip between the pictures. The changes will flash at you. Welcome to Triaxian Silk. This stuff is great!
Alelou
What everybody said. This is so creative. You really have a knack with characterization, especially with making more of the characters the show under-used.
Linda
Well I commented on this neat story on fanfiction.net, so I shamelessly cut and pasted my comment here! :D Lazy person that I am! :s It is interesting that you give the characters positions that seem to suit them while retaining some of their expertise and personalities they had in their original positions. It broadens their complexity as characters. Archer especially seems better suited to where you put him. He made too many mistakes that a captain should not have, in my opinion, in the series. There is one phrase that stood out for me. It was in chapter 6 where you described Trip's eyes as "blue of a very hot flame". Usually you see blue eyes described as cool. I like this hot flame idea - like on a gas stove.
Asso
Oh, but how much it's strange, and nevertheless undoubtedly involving. I agree with Blacknblue. He's right when he says that the characters are clearly recognizable as the same people, and just as clearly they are completely different crew members. And surely all that gives great fascination to your story. I'm very curious to see how it will go on.
Blacknblue
I am consistently amazed at how well you have maintained the characters while switching them this way. They are clearly recognizable as the same people, and just as clearly they are completely different crew members. My compliments.

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