DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
Jonathan Archer stared at the viewscreen and wondered if anyone else felt nauseated at the sight of stars going by at warp speed. He looked around the bridge, checking out his command staff. His glance fell on Ensign Mayweather who was doing something with the controls. The ship lurched hard to port.
"Trouble, Travis?" Archer kept his voice calm and stalwart as he tried to keep from slipping out of his chair. He heard Reed snicker behind him so he turned to glare at his tactical offer. Reed looked down, pretending to be occupied at a station that wasn't in any way busy.
Mayweather looked ahead. "Just avoiding a bit of space dust, sir."
"Don't we have shields for that?"
"Well if you want to trust the shields, sir..."
Reed snickered again.
"You have something to say, Lieutenant?"
"Perhaps I should target the space dust? I'm betting it couldn't withstand one of our torpedoes."
Archer sighed. Maybe he should have spent a little more time reading the efficiency reports before he picked his bridge crew. He admired Reed's butt as he turned to adjust some setting or other—Archer still wasn't clear what all these buttons on the bridge did—and considered that a pleasing anatomy was perhaps not the best criteria for a starship crew.
He was saved from his reverie by a hail from engineering. "Go ahead, Trip."
"I was just wondering if maybe T'Pol could come down to ummm check out the modifications I worked up for the lateral nacelle subsystem thingamajig."
Archer's eyes began to glaze over as they always did when Trip started to talk engineer-speak. "Sure, whatever. Sub-Commander?" He didn't want her to have to humor Trip with his tinkering if she wasn't comfortable being that close to a human. But she was already walking quickly to the lift. Very quickly. "Is that a good modification, T'Pol?"
"Good is a value judgment, Captain. It is..." the Vulcan seemed to struggle for words. "It is always beneficial to have more than one mind at work on a problem."
He waved her away. Couldn't she ever just say yes or no?
He looked over at Ensign Sato. As usual, his communications officer was busy talking on the comm line. He didn't recognize the language, but she was whispering urgently. Her voice got a bit louder as she moaned, "Kaa, kaa, mo'she jaila, lijhiz." She sat back for a moment then moaned some more. The voice on the other end seemed to be in some distress. She didn't seem concerned.
"What are you doing, Hoshi?"
She said a few more words, made a strange sound with her tongue, then signed off. "Improving my language skills, sir."
Reed snickered again.
Archer ignored him but noticed that Sato shot him a baleful glare.
"Well, as long as you're keeping busy in a positive way"—he looked at Travis significantly—"and not just trying to make some fun."
"Well at least I'm not breaking any fleet regs," Travis mumbled.
"I wouldn't go there, Ensign," Sato said.
"Of course not, Ensign. Wouldn't want to get the golden girl in trouble."
"In trouble? What's going on?" Archer felt like he'd lost control of his bridge. He felt like that a lot.
Travis turned around muttering something about not being a narc and boomer loyalty, but Reed offered, "She's running a sex line, sir."
He turned to her. "Is this true, Hoshi?"
"How else am I going to get them to talk to me, Jon? They certainly don't respond to your lame 'Hi, I'm from the planet Earth on a voyage of peaceful exploration' routine. Someday, all these languages I'm learning could come in very handy."
"Yeah, when we need to know the Klingon word for foreplay." Reed rolled his eyes.
"Well at least I'm not selling our weaponry on the black market."
Archer turned to Reed.
"I don't know what she's talking about, sir."
"All that bull about the targeting scanners not working. That was just to cover his little arms deals." Hoshi sat back and crossed her arms.
Archer felt a familiar feeling of betrayal suffuse him. He never seemed to know what was going on. "Malcolm, is this true?"
"Well. Yes." Reed looked down, then back up, the picture of wide-eyed innocence. "But I only did it to earn money to buy you a present."
"A present, for me?" Archer smiled at his tactical officer. "Well, then let's just put it behind us. I think we can all learn from this experience."
"On a freighter, you'd have demoted him," Travis said under his breath.
"I heard that, Ensign. And I don't think I have to remind you that you aren't on a freighter anymore. You're on my ship now."
"God help us all," Hoshi added.
"Abandon hope, all ye who enter here," Malcolm said.
Travis opened his mouth, but Archer cut him off. "Yeah, very funny." He hit the intercom. "Trip, how's it going down there?"
"We're...almost...done...sir." There was a great deal of rustling and heavy breathing coming over the intercom.
"T'Pol? Do you two need a hand?" Archer looked down in concern.
"No, sir. Only two...people...are required...for this...activity." She exhaled loudly on the last word.
There was a sudden silence. Archer looked around the bridge. Everyone seemed to be suddenly very busy. "Okay then. Carry on."
"You bet, sir. Tucker out."
Archer turned resolutely back to the viewscreen. He touched the anti-nausea pad he had placed behind his ear this morning. It didn't seem to be working very well. Maybe there was something stronger in sickbay. He stood up. "I'm going to uh walk around my ship." He headed for the lift.
Reed's voice was resigned. "Sir, aren't you forgetting something?"
Archer checked his fly.
"No, sir. Who has the con?"
"Oh. Well," he looked at three expectant faces. "You know, Reed, you always get it. So this time, I don't know, flip a coin or something."
"On a boomer ship—"
Both Reed and Sato said, "Shut up, Travis."
Archer stepped onto the lift, glad to escape the boredom of sitting on that bridge for hours at a time staring at a screen that made him sick and trying to read instruments he didn't understand. What he wouldn't give for a hostile alien or two. He stopped at his floor first to let Porthos out. "Come on, boy. Good dog." The dog peed on an instrument panel in the hallway, shorting out some circuits. "Whoa. Bad dog. What's Daddy going to do with you?"
The beagle snarled.
"Now Porthos, what have I told you about that kind of attitude?" He reached down but the dog was faster. He sank his teeth deep into Archer's arm. Blood ran freely. "Porthos, I've told you this is not a positive way to express your emotions."
The dog just growled.
"Fine, fortunately for you, I'm headed for sickbay anyway." He walked back to the lift, the small dog swinging from his arm as he clamped his jaws even more tightly into Archer's flesh. "That really hurts, boy."
Dr. Phlox looked up at Archer walked in the door. "My, my. What have we here?"
"I need a Porthosectomy," Archer said through clenched teeth.
Phlox pried the dog's jaws open and shoved him into an empty cage. "There. Now, what can I do for you, Captain? Other than fixing this." He went to work on the bloody mess that Porthos had made.
"This patch you gave me isn't working, Doc." Archer looked around. "I need something stronger."
Phlox sighed. "Have you ever considered that perhaps you weren't cut out for space travel, sir?"
"Of course not. Let me see what I have here." He began to dig through a drawer. "So Captain, when are we going to meet some new aliens. I do look forward to trying some more native delicacies."
Archer looked at the physician, his uniform seemed a bit snug. "Speaking of that, have you gained weight?"
"Oh probably. Nothing to do on this ship but eat, watch bad movies, or mate. Since I don't like movies and no one here appeals to me sexually, that pretty much leaves food. Is there a problem with that?"
Archer nodded. "Can't have you failing your suitability physical, now can we?"
"Captain, I give those physicals. What do you think the odds are that I would fail myself?"
Archer felt off balance, like he always did when he tried to have a battle of wits with someone. He never won. "Well, just try to pace yourself."
Phlox stood up and handed him another patch. "Try this. Should do the trick. Might slow down your reflexes and impair your judgment a bit."
Archer looked concerned.
"I doubt that anyone will notice anything different," the Doctor assured him.
Archer wasn't sure if that made him feel better or not. As he left sickbay he almost ran into a disheveled T'Pol. Her hair was sticking straight up and that thing she called a uniform was open on the side. She nodded to him. "Captain."
"Everything all right, Sub-Commander? He thought he caught a whiff of Tucker's cologne as they got on the lift.
"Of course, sir," she replied as she smoothed down her hair and refastened her catsuit. "What could be wrong?"
The bridge doors opened. Reed and Mayweather were trying to push each other out of the command chair. Hoshi was back on the comm system. And the ship was headed straight for a black hole.
"Hello? Anyone here a Star Fleet professional? Maybe someone should notice that we are in imminent danger of destruction?" Nobody answered. Archer looked at the instruments. So many lights blinking at him. So many dials and knobs. He felt a wave of panic.
T'Pol walked past him and took the helm. She struggled for a minute with the controls, then the ship groaned as she managed to pull it from its collision course with the star. She hit a few switches then stood up and walked over to her own station.
"Cut it out!" Archer yelled at the two officers who were wrestling fiercely for control of his chair. "Get back to your posts!"
"Sir, could you keep it down. Peaceful atmospherics are essential for the species I'm currently engaged with."
He sat down heavily. "Wouldn't want to disturb your client, Hoshi," he muttered.
She gave him a sarcastic smile.
The lift door opened and Tucker sauntered in. "Hey, sir." He looked over at T'Pol and smiled.
Archer looked at his science officer. She wasn't smiling...exactly. "Did you get whatever it was you were doing fixed, Trip?"
"Oh yeah. All systems go, Cap'n. Right as rain, fit as a fiddle, ship shape and Bristol fashion."
"On a boomer ship..." Mayweather didn't even try to finish his sentence.
Archer leaned forward and rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "All right, people. We have places to go, aliens to meet, days to be saved. What do you say we get started?"
Everyone rolled their eyes.
"Take her out, Travis."
"Sir, you can't say that when we're already underway. It's stupid."
"It's my ship, Ensign, and I'll say what I want. Now...take her out."
Travis sighed. "Aye-aye, sir."
Archer surveyed his crew. All busy at their stations doing...something. He nodded in satisfied pride. It just didn't get any better than this.