How About a Game, Captain?

By Linda

Rating: G

Genres: fluff humour

Keywords:

This story has been read by 570 people.
This story has been read 889 times.


Date: 01/08/07
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns Enterprise and its characters, no copyright infringement is intended by the author of this story.

Story background: This is kind of a warm-up exercise before I get on with crashing starships—after I understudy Rigil Kent on the subject. I need to satisfy my Gomez Adams railroad-engine-smashing alter ego. But concerning this story, the events occur two years after the Terra Prime episode. I am assuming baby Elizabeth did not really die nor did her father. She was hidden away by Trip and T’Pol who are married and living on Vulcan. In this I follow the lead of other fan fic writers like Bnb and TLR. In this story, Soval is T’Pol’s uncle and, unfortunately, I stay with canon on the subject of T’Les’s death. Soval is staying with Trip and T’Pol for a few days. Archer is still captain of the Enterprise and is also visiting Trip and T’Pol while his ship is taking on a few supplies in Vulcan space dock before taking Soval back to Earth.


How About a Game, Captain?
By Linda


“Uncle, are you sure you and the captain have all you require?”

“T’Pol, you have anticipated all of the needs that guests in your home could possibly require,” said Soval, dismissing his hostess with a wave of his hand.

“That being the case, I will leave you both to enjoy our home while I attend to various chores in the city. If you need anything, Trip is building some herb frames for me in the garden. Elizabeth is with him.”

Glad to have a whole day to herself, away from her consultant function with the Vulcan High Council’s Committee on Terran Relations, T’Pol closed the door behind her. She walked across the patio and out the front gate into the peaceful suburban Vulcan street where she had played as a child. Enough time had passed that T’Les’s house had become ‘our house.’ With fascination T’Pol had watched her toddler explore the house in the same way she had done many years ago. The child had even discovered that loose stone in the front wall where a young T’Pol had hidden childish treasures. But this day was also a treat in that child care was assigned to Trip so T’Pol could indulge in the purely adult pleasure of choosing among the bolts of Triaxian silk that had just arrived at her favorite shop.

In the main sitting room Soval rubbed his palms together slowly, face devoid of expression. Jon Archer sat across the chess board from him knowing that, like racquet ball, this was Soval’s game. Jon was already resigned to defeat, assuming the inner attitude of a student about to receive a lesson from The Master. He opened with queen’s pawn and glancing at the upper level of the board, decided to also open the conversation.

“Ambassador, I have noticed that your people will take a perfectly good Terran game and complicate it. What’s wrong with single-level chess?”

“We are a complex people, easily bored by simplistic pursuits,” Soval informed Archer, as he deftly jumped a knight over the line of pawns, then placed his hands in his lap, waiting patiently for Archer to dither over his next move. As Jon tentatively touched one piece, than another, Soval noted which pieces, filing the information away to anticipate which of his limited strategies the captain was likely to use. Archer made his move. Another pawn. Soval sighed.

“Captain, I do hope your repertoire of Starship strategies is more complete than your chess repertoire. However, to be fair, I have played on this multi-level board many times. It has become, to use a Human phrase, ‘all the rage’ on Vulcan starships and even on the home world. My people have taken to so many Terran recreational pursuits that there is some feeling our culture will be overrun. We even have our very own ‘Vulcan Prime’ contingent, although it is very small and closely watched.” Soval had made his move subtly while Archer listened, so he had to prompt him: “Your move.”

Archer raised a brow. Taking the cue, Soval pointed to the piece he had moved. Frowning slightly, Jon Archer made his first mistake, moving a bishop half way across the board. He leaned back. “We Humans have adopted just as many Vulcan games. And technology. And philosophy. Not to mention the fad for Pre-Surak romance novels that always seem to resolve rivalries by murders committed at weddings. Which led to the craze for modern Vulcan mysteries involving plots so twisted you can’t figure out who the victim is, let alone ‘who done it’.”

Soval shifted his body as if irritated by another Human misconception. “It worries me which elements of our culture Humans find interesting. And yet the harm seems limited to violent fantasies played out in the mind. We Vulcans tend to forget that violent thoughts in Humans are rarely precursors to action. The thought is often quite sufficient to purge the emotion. Whereas with Vulcans, violent thoughts usually prime the individual for violent action. Suppression works better for us.”

Soval held his knight poised over its position until he was sure Archer was watching, then counted two squares forward and three over, lifting Archer’s bishop from the board before depositing his knight in the same space. “I do think this game could remain popular into the next century. I predict that by the mid twenty-third century this game will even have found its way into the recreation facilities of Starfleet vessels. I would make a wager with you over this, Captain, but neither of us would be around to collect on it.”

The patter of little feet alerted them to Elizabeth’s presence. The little girl stood in the doorway, hair tussled and a finger in her mouth. Her other hand played with the zipper at the neck of her one-piece outfit. The zipper track extended all the way down to the bottom of one foot. Built-in padded feet gave little Lizzie traction for her still tentative bipedal locomotion. Trip had said the outfit was a gift from his mother, Caroline.

“Hi there, Lizzie,” said Jon. The child looked at the floor, then took a few steps toward the gamers.

“Where is your father?” inquired Soval.

“I am sure he will be along,” said Jon, “just let her look around. We can grab her if she heads for the door to the street.”

Lizzie came up to the table, her eyes and nose just high enough to see over it. Archer made a move, and then Soval, as the child silently watched. Her head disappeared and Jon felt her brush past his legs as she crawled through under the table. Two small hands grasped the table on the other side, wobbling it slightly, then two eyes and a nose appeared again.

The game continued as Soval slowly cleared the board, on all levels, of Archer’s most powerful pieces. Jon did manage to get a pawn across the board and ask for his queen back. Soval looked down on the table, only to discover less than half the captured pieces were present.

“Have you already purloined that queen in anticipation of restoring it? Perhaps you were holding it in your hand as a memory-aid—to remind yourself of your intention?”

Jon looked puzzled. “Ambassador, I wouldn’t have asked you for it if I was holding it.”

Soval looked at Archer as if trying to decide if he believed him. The two men sat eyeing each other as if something else besides a friendly game was going on here. This standoff was broken by a comment from the third person in the room.

“Ee ee fu sa ooowa. Ka ka ka roi ka…kroikah! No no touch, ma ma ma, da da. Izzie tiny dowies. Dowies my. Ba my. Izzie ba. Izzie’s! Na na a ooa na da da da da… Okay?”

“Okay what, Lizzie? Say again?” Jon looked at the child now sitting on the floor rolling a ball between splayed legs. She looked up at him and raised the ball toward him with her hands. “You want to play ball?” Jon asked, with feigned excitement. “Yes, we will, Lizzie, later.”

Jon returned his attention to the game. He studied the upper level of the board while Soval continued to search for the queen. When Jon next glanced her way, Lizzie was gone, but the front door remained closed. Sighing, Jon glanced back at his opponent. “Well, Soval?”

“It is not here.”

“You were the last one to touch it. I distinctly remember you removing it from the board, smug face and all.”

“Indeed. I did remove it. With benign expression, I am sure. But it is no longer here, nor is the child.”

“Are you implying she took it?” Archer challenged, forgetting for a moment that Soval had raised a child of his own and might infer from personal experience what a bachelor may not. “She only had a ball with her when she left.”

“Commander Tucker!” Soval raised his voice so it would carry out to the garden.

“You need something, Ambassador?” Trip appeared at the sliding door that faced the garden through the sitting room. “I’ve got some tea brewing on the timer in the kitchen.” Lizzie was at Trip’s side, her small hand firmly clasped in her father’s larger one.

“Is your daughter in possession of several chess pieces?” Soval stared pointedly at the little girl.

“No, Ambassador. But she did bop me on the side of the head with her ball. Kid’s got a good arm. Been thinking of signing her up for T-Ball when she gets a bit older.”

“T-Ball?”

“Don’t think it would be your game, Ambassador. It’s watered down baseball. Kinda wimpy, right Lizzie?” Trip’s daughter smiled back at him, oblivious. “And last I heard, you Vulcans were ramping up baseball by adding elements of racquet ball to be played in a large indoor court. I saw no chess pieces out here. Besides, Lizzie is too young to be interested in chess. C’mon Honey, lets go get some juice for you, while I get tea for your favorite uncle.”

Jon and Soval wandered into the kitchen and sat, while Trip prepared their tea. Lizzie was in her high chair kicking her feet against the underside of the table. Soval was staring out at the garden, a bit mesmerized as if beginning a meditation. Jon silently drummed his fingers on the table, mind wandering, while at the same time, trying to attract Lizzie’s attention by making faces at her.

Jon idlely wondered if Vulcans would be good at his game: water polo. He slipped into a day dream of bright lights encircled by blurry rainbows; the echoing screams of spectators; the sharp familiar smell of chlorine. Soval was next to him, flailing to keep his dense Vulcan body from slipping under, his energy nearly depleted. The ball flew toward them, and Soval jumped with quick Vulcan reflexes to intercept it so it would not fall into the hands of a member of the opposing team who was coming up behind them. But Soval had thrown himself deeper to reach the ball. His feet no longer touched bottom, so he hung onto the ball for support. Jon whispered, “Trust me,” and plucked the ball out of Soval’s hands, tossing it through the net to score, then grabbing Soval and pulling him back to where his feet could touch bottom. Jon smiled to himself. Daydreaming took the bite out of defeat at chess.

“Ambassador, if you are becoming bored with my lack of skill at chess, perhaps you would care to try another game?”

Soval, having spend much time in Jon Archer’s company lately, had come to know the man well enough to anticipate the game he had in mind. “I know my limits, Captain. I do not swim. I tried. A buxom young lady tried to teach me once. I was entirely out of my element. It was quite embarrassing to be dragged back to the safety of shallow water by a Human one third my strength…with my head resting on her ample chest. And she seemed in no hurry to release me.”

Jon repressed a burst of laughter. Not far off from reality, this day dream. “I am sorry to hear that, Ambassador. Perhaps we could try…”

“Not sailing either. Let me show you a newly invented Vulcan game on our voyage back to your home world. It’s called Kal-toh.”

Jon would have continued to savor the image of Soval trying to cope with water, but the rhythmic tap of Lizzie’s foot against the table disrupted it. Tapping? The child did not have shoes on, only a fuzzy footie outfit. He reached down and stilled the tapping foot. It felt hard and bumpy.

“Soval, I think we can finish our game now.”

“How so”, asked the Vulcan, brow at mild interest elevation level.

Jon lifted Lizzie out of her chair and onto his lap. He unzipped her outfit down past her diaper and pulled out the black queen. Then two of his pawns. And both his knights. And a pawn he had captured from Soval.

“She would make a good Vulcan security operative, Soval.”

The Vulcan lifted his chin. “I was completely unaware of her theft. But burglary is only one of many skills taught in the Vulcan Security Service, so it hardly is indicative of her future potential. Nevertheless, a return to our game would only put off the inevitable. You conceded. Let us leave it at that.”

“Thank you, Ambassador, for confirming my suspicion concerning the expediency of Vulcan security training.” Archer smiled.

If Soval heard this last, he did not respond.

Trip brought two tea cups to the table. Noticing Lizzie’s state of undress, he asked, “She in need of a change?”

“Not at this time. However, she is in need of parental supervision of the Vulcan kind,” Soval admonished the young father while accepting his tea. Meanwhile, Jon zipped Lizzie up and deposited her back in her chair.

“I see,” said Trip. “Elizabeth, it seems that your Great Uncle Soval wants to spend more time with you. Sounds good to me. Jon, how about that tour of the Vulcan Science Academy’s Museum of Engineering we’ve been talking about? This afternoon Lizzie can have her favorite uncle all to herself.”

Trip turned to go retrieve his own tea, studiously ignoring Soval’s gestures of denial, which devolved into resignation.

Lizzie held her sipping cup in both hands, then pushed it away to stare at Jon’s lower lip curling over his upper lip under squinting eyes. She giggled and bent her arm up to pull at the tip of her ear. With her other hand, she reached into the sleeve at the armpit of her bent arm and pulled out yet another pawn. Soval had just turned his analytical gaze on the child when the pawn hit him squarely at the base of the V in his eyebrows.

Trip was leaning on a kitchen counter. He wistfully rubbed the side of his head, muttering softly: “You take after your namesake. Your Aunt Elizabeth just about took my head off once with a well aimed football when I refused to let her tag along to the movies with me and my buddies.”

Soval set the pawn on the table and sighed. He stood and walked around the table to look down at Lizzie. Lifting her gently under the arms, he held her so her eyes were level with his. “Child, your action with the pawn was not a legal chess move. Nor was storing captured pieces in your clothing the proper way to dispose of pieces removed from the board.”

He set Lizzie on her feet and took her hand. “Now we will walk in your parent’s garden where you may show me whatever it is you do with a ball that makes your father think that baseball will be your sport.” The two walked off together, and Soval continued his end of the conversation. “You are fortunate your mother’s uncle will be watching your progress into adulthood, for I have a very Human sort of hunch that you will be needing him to steer you into a more suitable career than the Vulcan Security Service—or its Human equivalent.”

Jon winked at Trip. “You mentioned an engineering Museum? Lets make our escape before Soval decides to take our careers in hand too.”

Trip reached for his sunglasses. “You wanna take the public transport? T’Pol has the aircar. It’s too late to stop Soval from mess’n in our careers. Luckily, I like work’n at the Vulcan Science Academy. And I’ve heard it said you might be bumped up to admiral thanks to a certain Vulcan ambassador.”

Afterword: The multi-level chess game appeared in the Star Trek original series, one hundred years from the time of this story. ShouldKnowBetter in a fan fic had Soval being a member of a chess club in San Francisco, which I think suits his personality. Kal-toh was a Vulcan game that was played on Star Trek Voyager two centuries from the time of this story. Blacknblue does so well with babies in his stories that I had to try my hand at it. The ingenious cache for chess pieces was demonstrated over the holidays by a ‘two something’ poppet named Skyelar.


Comments:

Brandyjane

I've read a few of your other stories, Linda, and I've really enjoyed them.  I thought I'd work my way down your list. This was really cute, but not out of character.  I like Jon and Soval actually being friends down the line from what we saw on screen.  This cracked me up: "Not to mention the fad for Pre-Surak romance novels that always seem to resolve rivalries by murders committed at weddings."  Lizzie is so cute!  She reminds me of my own toddler. 

Linda

It looks so bare without comments here!  But there were some and they were nice.  Lost them when the system went down, darn.

You need to be logged in to the forum to leave a review!