Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Dear Annie (1 -11)

Dear Annie

by Mara

Summary: Hoshi writes home to a friend.

After Shuttlepod One

NOTES: This is completely unrelated to my other Hoshi story, “The Fear.” Oh, the
coprolite story is true and belongs to anthropologist Aubrey Williams of the
University of Maryland, College Park. If you don’t know what coprolites
are…you’ve never done archaeology . Thanks to Captain Average for the fast
beta, so I could post this on my lunch hour!

DEDICATION: For Jessica, who is very far away and a damn good linguist. Stay
safe, my friend.

************************************

Dear Annie:

I wish we could talk live, but between Enterprise’s precarious connection to
Earth and your usual inaccessibility–which country *are* you in these days?–I
thought I should just go ahead and send an ordinary message. It’ll catch up with
you eventually.

I know you haven’t heard much from me since the Enterprise lifted off, and
that’s because I’ve been busy and a little lazy. Adventure just isn’t all it’s
cracked up to be, let me tell you. I know you thought being the linguist and
comm officer on the Enterprise would be a wonderful experience for me, and in
some ways you’re right…but I’ve been bumped and bruised and bedazzled and
bewildered so many times that I’m never sure if I’m coming or going.

All those stories you told me about your fieldwork in New Guinea? Hah! I’ll give
you those and raise you dead alien bodies hanging off meat hooks like a bizarre
slaughterhouse. The time you were stranded in the Sahara with a broken comm link
and three days of water? Please. I’ve got a story about a smelly Klingon ship
with a deteriorating orbit and a lot of torpedoes going boom. I was so scared, I
had to be saved by our resident Vulcan.

And I know you love to wow the undergrads with the story about collecting
coprolites in a Mexican village while in fear for your life lest they mistake
you for a witch…but we nearly lost our top three officers to the Andorians and
then the Andorians saved them from the Coridians. You need a score card to keep
track of who’s who out here, and even that won’t necessarily help.

The Vulcans are our allies, except for when they’re not. The Andorians, well,
we’re not quite sure about them at the best of times. We liked the Xyrillians,
except for the minor energy parasitism and the bit where they got our chief
engineer pregnant. Yeah, you *do* remember correctly, our chief engineer *is* a
man. Don’t ask.

But the languages. Man oh man, that’s what keeps me going. It feels like
everyday there’s a new language to translate, changes to incorporate into the
Universal Translator (which isn’t, by the way), and new aliens to communicate
with. Or misunderstand, as the case may be.

But heck, we don’t even fully understand the *Vulcans* yet, so how can I expect
to completely understand these aliens we’ve known for a few hours? At least the
Captain seems to know that, but those are the times I wish you were here. What a
team we’d make! The aliens would never know what hit them.

So, that’s my life out here in a nutshell. I’ll bet you’re wondering why I
finally got around to writing you *now*, as opposed to in the last six months or
so. I guess it’s because of a recent experience, not something that happened to
me, but that happened to two of my crewmates.

We nearly lost them.

And not because they were saving the universe from destruction, or otherwise
doing something heroic. They nearly died on a routine mission because of
something idiotic. The long and short of it is, they thought Enterprise had been
destroyed. They got stuck in a shuttlepod off the beaten path of interstellar
commerce, thinking they were going to die. They were hit by a…well, the
Captain and Commander T’Pol haven’t agreed on what hit them yet, but they were
very low on oxygen.

And while they were preparing to die, we were blithely traveling along to the
rendezvous, without the faintest idea what was going on. Malcolm and Trip came
within a few hours of dying, and we nearly didn’t find them in time.

It shook me up, I guess, how close I came to losing two friends, and I started
thinking about you and the rest of the gang. I could die out here without ever
seeing you again, some misogynistic farmer could kill you during your fieldwork,
or Mark could fall into one of his pits.

Nearly losing Trip and Malcolm made me think about how much I value my friends,
but how much I take you for granted.

I haven’t figured out, exactly, what I’m going to do with this new awareness of
mine, but I thought dropping you a line was a good start.

Here on the ship, I guess I’m going to take a little more time to get to know
people. Of course, that shouldn’t be too hard when it comes to Commander Tucker.
You remember, he’s the engineer you saw on the news and told me was “damn sexy.”
Trip’s a sucker for a lady, and all I need to do is bat my eyelashes.

That makes him sound like a womanizer, but that’s not what I mean. He’s a
sweetie, with quite the sense of humor, and a gentleman to boot.

I’ve known Jonathan, I mean Captain Archer, since well before this assignment,
but even before he became my Captain (oh, that came out wrong, you know what I
mean) he wasn’t easy to get to know. And around here it’s worse than academia!
At least I could spend time with my students without it becoming a capital case.
They take rank so seriously, which I find amusing. Well, we must allow the boys
their games, right?

I’m not sure how easy T’Pol will be to get to know. She and the Captain seem to
understand each other, but she’s not exactly into girl-to-girl talks in the mess
hall. I’ll try, though. If nothing else, I can practice my Vulcan.

I think it’s essential that we get to know T’Pol. Do you realize she’s lasted
longer on this ship than any other Vulcan on a human ship? We need to figure out
what we’re doing right. Or what *she’s* doing right. Another reason I wish you
were here.

Then there’s Malcolm Reed, our armory officer. He’s even harder to get to know.
That man is more private than anyone I’ve ever met. Remind me to tell you the
saga of the birthday cake, someday when we have a few hours. He makes T’Pol look
like a chatterbox, I swear, but he can be charming when he wants to.

Don’t make that face at the screen, Annie, I mean it. I know you, you read that
last paragraph and immediately thought of Eric. Well, Malcolm is *nothing* like
Eric, and I haven’t forgotten the lessons learned from that debacle. I promise.
Besides, I didn’t even say I was interested in him. I mean, I’m not. Probably.
I’ll let you know.

There are so many others, Travis, Dr. Phlox…I want to get to know all of them.
If something happens, I want to be sure someone will remember them. I want
everyone to know that I would mourn their loss.

I didn’t mean to descend into doom and gloom, so I’ll stop now before I start
updating my will. I should get back to work, in any case. We’ll be in orbit
around this new planet (new to us, I mean) in a few days, and the Captain wants
his greeting prepared in advance. In their native language, of course. It’s got
some interesting fricatives and…oh, never mind, you’ll want to know about
their food preparation methods not their language. I’ll try and get you some of
the preliminary reports on them as well as the other species we’ve met.

Just in case my message to Mark doesn’t reach him, be sure to ask “Found any
gold yet?” for me in a really obnoxious voice. And tell Tracy her help with
Vulcan has come in handy.

I miss you, Annie. Be well and keep yourself safe. I plan to have all my friends
around until we’re old and gray.

Love,
Hoshi

After Fusion

NOTES: Thank to everyone who took the time to say they liked Hoshi’s first
letter. Feedback does a body good. Thanks again to Captain Average for the
beta.

******************************

Dear Annie,

As promised, here I am again, remembering to catch you up on the events of the
day…month…whatever. I’m glad my last message reached you in good health, and
I’m thrilled to hear your news about Sarit, she deserves all the good luck in
the world! Tell her I said she’ll knock ’em dead at Bar Ilan.

As for what’s happening out here, well, I never knew that mapping could be so
exciting. Not the job of mapping, exactly, but who we had helping us. Would be
believe renegade Vulcans?

Apparently, they took off in this ship with the goal of integrating emotion with
logic. T’Pol says this is pretty dangerous, and if even half of what the rumor
mill and the official log say are true, T’Pol may well be right.

Of course, I was out of the loop for most of the goings on, what with no new
languages to learn. But, when I wasn’t helping with the mapping or routing calls
to and from Vulcan and Earth, I did get a chance to speak to their comm officer,
and I gave him some help in upgrading their communications capabilities.

Don’t laugh, I did admit you were right about those extra electronics courses
way back when. And they came in handy before this, remember? I *know* I told you
about the incident with the donkey and the waterfall.

So, I chatted up their comm officer, and if seven months ago you’d told me I’d
meet a Vulcan who could chat, I’d have laughed you out of the room. Their small
talk abilities still leave a little to be desired, but I did learn a bit about
them. They’ve got some intriguing ideas. Just imagine: the formidable Vulcan
intellect matched with emotional range. And it seems like most of them are
managing pretty well, although there’s a rumor about one…but it’s only a
rumor.

The past few days have been a real roller coaster, though. Here we were, a batch
of humans out in the middle of deep space, working with a ship full of Vulcans
getting in touch with their emotions.

And, didn’t *that* put the fox in the henhouse. (Oh, good grief, I’m starting to
sound like Trip. I think it’s the curse of the linguist, not only to pick up
language, but to pick up dialect as well.) In any case, Trip described these
Vulcans as “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” (although I’m pretty certain
*that* was intended to be sarcastic) and had a grand time doing male bonding
activities with their engineer. This included, my informants tell me, sitting
around with Malcolm in the mess hall asking about Vulcan sex. Why they wanted to
know, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

And they weren’t the only ones acting odd. First, the Captain snookers T’Pol
into spending time on the Vulcan ship, then he acts like a broody hen (see,
there I go with the animals again, definitely too much time with a certain
dashing engineer) when she starts spending time with one of them. Maybe he’s the
one who wanted to know about Vulcan sex. As far as I can tell, most of the male
population of this ship is interested in Vulcan sex.

Do I sound a little bitter? I shouldn’t be, I suppose. It’s not as if T’Pol
encourages them, and the lure of the exotic and the unattainable has always been
strong for the male of our species. Look at Eric and whatshername.

I suppose the theme around here *has* been strong emotion of one variety or
another. The Captain and I seem to be getting jealous, most of the men are
polishing up their lust, the Vulcan engineer had a brush with regret according
to Trip, and T’Pol is getting in touch with some emotion or other, but
definitely not any of the good ones. I’m not sure what happened, but it left her
in sick bay, and she’s looked absolutely terrible ever since.

I’m worried about her, actually. I mean, this is the woman who came back from
being held hostage by the Andorians and *then* by the Coridians and the only
reaction was a briefly raised eyebrow and a comment about their “incivility.”
And after a few days with other Vulcans, she looks like she’s seen the coming
apocalypse.

I tried to talk to her–she’s helped me with my claustrophobia, I wanted to
return the favor–but I got a brush-off. I’ll try to be around in case she
decides to talk about it. I can’t force her to talk to me, all I can do is
worry.

All of this got me thinking about emotions. How did they evolve? What purpose do
they serve? What exactly do Vulcans give up by suppressing their emotions?
Sometimes, it seems like it might be nice to avoid embarrassment, regret,
sadness, anger, irritation, but I’m not sure what I would do without joy or
pride or that feeling I get in my stomach when speaking to a handsome man.

I guess that’s the heart of the problem in Vulcan/human interaction: our
emotions weave their way through everything we do. They don’t control us (as the
Vulcans seem to think), but they tie our lives together, they make our
experiences more intense, sometimes in a good way, sometimes bad.

If I were Vulcan, Eric couldn’t have hurt me so badly, but I also wouldn’t feel
the triumph when I save everybody’s butts around here. If I were Vulcan, I would
just meditate away loneliness, but I wouldn’t feel the awe when we see a portion
of space no human has ever seen before.

That’s what being human is all about, isn’t it? Trade-offs.

See, there I go getting all philosophical and dumping doom and gloom on you
again. Probably residue from late night bull sessions in your dorm room. Well,
make sure you give everyone my love, and if you want more detail on these
Vulcans, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of the long letter I sent to
Tracy. I knew she’d kill me if she didn’t get a full report. As long as she
cites me in the inevitable journal article!

Speaking of Tracy, did you hear from Jake? Can you believe he and Misha have a
baby? Those boys still seem like babies to me. I told them to take better care
of the baby than they did of the goldfish.

Time to get some sleep, I think. Tomorrow *should* be quiet, since we’re still
en route to our next destination, but you can’t take anything for granted in
deep space.

I suppose that’s half the fun.

Love,
Hoshi

After Rogue Planet

NOTES: Why did the translator give the pig things an alien name, but only name
the Wraiths with an English word? [sigh] Consistency, thy name is not Star Trek.
Thanks as always to the charming and talented Captain Average for the beta.
DEDICATION: Once again, for Jessica. Because I miss her and I worry about her
and she is searching for the apparently unattainable: peace in the Middle East.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

When a member of a telepathic species talks to another member of that species,
what language do they use?

Sounds like “if a tree falls in a forest…,” doesn’t it? Well, I was *this*
close to getting a chance to test it, but we had to get out of Dodge before
these hunters…

But, I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? The abridged version: we found these
hunters from a species called the Eska on a rogue planet and at first, we
thought they were hunting these pig-like things. That’s what they told the
Captain, T’Pol, Malcolm and me when we found them. Okay, when they found us.

Then, after I came back up to the ship–there were nasty, fluorescent bugs, need
I say more?–Jon discovered they were actually hunting these things they called
“Binna,” which the translator rendered as “Wraiths.” They are sentient,
telepathic shapeshifters.

I have to write that again, just because it amuses me. Sentient. Telepathic.
Shapeshifters. “Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger
than we *can* imagine.” I can’t remember who said that–JBS Haldane? Arthur C.
Clarke?–but I can’t help but think life out here proves it.

To make a long story short, Jon communicated with one of the Wraiths and Dr.
Phlox came up with a way to confound the hunters and once again we saved the
day.

I dragged most of the story out of Trip later, and apparently Jon’s encounter
with these aliens started with him chasing what he thought was a young human
woman in a nightgown. (We’re all hoping that she was using her telepathy to draw
him out, and that he wouldn’t *normally* chase women through the woods,
especially on alien planets that couldn’t *possibly* have a human woman.)

It’s all kind of complicated, but the woman he saw (besides obviously being one
of these Wraiths) represented an idealized vision from his childhood. Trip says
Jon was pretty weirded out by the whole experience, but I think Trip is the one
who was weirded out by Jon’s calm reaction to having his head messed with.

In any case, the experience of encountering these shapeshifters made me wonder
if the Vulcans don’t have the right idea with vegetarianism. (Yeah, I know,
you’ve been saying so for years, and why didn’t I listen to you?) In the short
time I was on the planet, I ate some of the pig-creature, but what if it had
turned out to be one of these shapeshifters? What if we’d accidentally eaten a
sentient being? It makes me sick to think about it.

Malcolm and Jon were having entirely too much fun traipsing around in the
jungle. The testosterone level got a bit high there for awhile, and I was glad
to have T’Pol there to keep them from going completely over the edge. Then,
Malcolm asked if he could join them on the hunt, and I was really disturbed by
how eager he was to go along, even if he did promise not to kill anything. It’s
one thing to like things that go “boom” and another…well, I guess we’re back
to the vegetarian thing again.

I was happy to get back to Enterprise and away from the insect life (did I
mention the borers?), but I worried about the team the entire time they were
down there. That may be the worst part, waiting for an away team to come back.

Then they called to sickbay, saying they had someone wounded, and I wanted to
scream. I didn’t even think it might be one of the Eskan hunters, I was just
imagining Trip, Malcolm, Jon or T’Pol bleeding to death in the shuttle. Scary. I
felt a little better when Travis looked nearly as scared as I did. Well, he’s
got that hero worship thing going with the Captain, so I’m not surprised.

Do you remember that Dr. Sindel we both had a crush on as undergrads? I wish
he’d been half as worthy of our hero worship, as Captain Archer is of Travis’.
Although, for the sake of our stress level, it would be nice if the Captain
wasn’t so prone to wandering off by himself into dangerous situations. Malcolm’s
not the only one who wishes he were a tad less hands-on sometimes, but good luck
with *that*.

Thinking of things we’ll never succeed with, I can’t stop thinking about the
Wraith’s parting words to the Captain: to keep searching for the unattainable. I
don’t know if that’s what we’re doing out here, but I’d hate to think so. Maybe
it was supposed to sound noble, but it just sounds hopeless to me.

It strikes me as so fatalistic, but maybe I’d be fatalistic if I were part of a
species that had been hunted for hundreds of years. Ugh, what a horrible
thought, living on a planet that never sees the sun, and every few years a bunch
of over-muscled, heavily-armed beings lands their ship and tries to kill you for
a few days.

I wonder what the Wraith saw in Jon’s mind that translated to the concept of
searching for the unattainable. What *are* all of us searching for out here?

I guess I’m searching for more data, more languages, more understanding. That
may be neverending, but it’s not unattainable. T’Pol, well, she’s hard to read,
but I think she just might be searching for understanding as well, understanding
about what makes humans tick. Difficult, tricky even, but not unattainable. The
same is true for Dr. Phlox, I think he sticks with us for the occasional glimpse
into the human psyche, or the alien psyche for that matter.

Jon, Trip, Malcolm, and Travis have always made me think they were looking for
adventure, excitement, new experiences. Jon is living out his father’s dream,
exploring the universe and representing humanity. Trip wants to make his beloved
engines work better, and find new toys to play with, like the Vulcan tractor
beam. Malcolm wants to find things to blow up, I suppose. Travis just wants to
go farther faster than he could on his home ship, see more than just a small
corner of the universe.

That’s really true for a lot of the crew. They’re in it for discovery, for
excitement, for adventure out here on the frontier of the known human universe.
I’m not sure I’m quite as sanguine about the whole adventure thing, but I’m
learning. I’m hanging in there, getting used to space travel, I suppose.

I’ve been missing you a lot lately, but I’m sure you’re keeping busy, especially
with Amanda in your life. She sounds really nice, but I wish I were there to
check her out. Can’t have someone hurting my best friend, can I? I know…I’ll
have Mark check her out for me, because he’s *so* subtle. No, you’re right, that
would be cruel to her. I’ll just have to trust you’ve made a good choice. (Which
reminds me, send me some details on Jerry and Rowena’s wedding. I didn’t expect
them to ever go through with it.)

Stay safe, don’t follow any beautiful women into the forest (it would annoy
Amanda), and keep in touch. I hope you find whatever *you’re* searching for!

Love,
Hoshi

After Acquisition

NOTES: Okay, I’m probably veering off canon here, but how could I resist writing
this? Especially since TPTB won’t, because they seem to start each episode with
a clean slate, character-wise. And yes, I *could* have written a thoughtful and
interesting letter about the deleterious effects of greed, but I didn’t. Nyah
nyah. Ferengi do not inspire profundity. As always, thanks to Captain Average
for the beta.

DEDICATION: This letter is dedicated to the amazing and wonderful Josephine for
convincing Trip to let her use the transporters long enough to get me a tape of
this episode. May the universe provide you as much Trip-in-boxers as you want.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

Just when I think I’ve gotten the hang of this space travel thing, everything
goes wonky. And, before you ask, on the Enterprise, wonky *is* a technical term.
And this time…wow, I’m not sure wonky covers the full magnitude of Trip’s
behavior, let alone the aliens. I hope you’ve got some free time, because this
is a long story, even with lots of irrelevant bits cut out.

Once again I missed all the really exciting parts of our latest adventure,
which, in this case, may be a good thing, since I’m neither the fastest nor the
best shot on the ship. I slept through the excitement, in fact. Literally. These
dreadful greedy little aliens tricked Trip into bringing on board an artifact
that released some kind of knock-out gas. Since he was in the decon chamber, he
stayed awake while the rest of us (except poor little Porthos) were out cold.
(This may be a lesson to us about picking up strange and apparently abandoned
artifacts.)

And while we were unconscious, who knows what the aliens were doing to us. I
know I was moved off the bridge. Ick, it makes my skin crawl. Mainly, though,
they were looting the ship of anything of any potential value.

The really strange thing was how vague Jon and Trip were about certain events.
(Oh, I forgot to mention the aliens woke the Captain up to ask where our storage
vault was, and Trip managed to wake up T’Pol. Trip says he tried to wake me up
next, and T’Pol backs him up. No, that’s not the really strange part, I’m
getting there.)

So, I read the Captain’s report and it was pretty clear how the three of them
befuddled and confused and tricked these aliens. Except for one part, where he
says that he and Trip were captured and Trip convinced them all to walk into a
trap.

Somehow, he never quite explains *how* they got them to go. I was curious, so I
asked Trip about it. Instead of a straight answer, he got the strangest look on
his face and said, and I quote, “The Cap’n and I pretended to argue, and they
bought it.”

Since that was essentially all the report to Starfleet said, I asked what they
argued over and he said, “Oh, over the most valuable item on the ship.” Then,
engineering conveniently called him away to check on repairs to the warp
injector.

Well, you know me, incapable of leaving a mystery alone. I figured it was
probably something silly, but it’s not like those two to be evasive, so I
couldn’t resist picking at it.

I tried the Captain, but he politely referred me to the official report and
Trip, and Trip was up to his neck in putting the ship back together.

T’Pol considered my question for a few long moments, then pointed out she was
engaged in setting the trap while the two of them were with the aliens.
“However,” she told me, “I can tell you this species was most interested in
acquiring two things: gold-pressed latinum and female members of the crew to
sell in a slave market. In fact, I overheard the Captain attempting to convince
them that I was not interesting enough to take.”

You can just imagine my jaw dropping at that, can’t you? Somehow, the Captain
left that out of his public report, although perhaps it’s in the classified
sections. Well, at that point, I was *really* curious about what happened when
T’Pol wasn’t there.

I took a day to ponder, then I had a good idea. The Captain really only confides
in Trip, but Trip sometimes talks to one other person: Malcolm. The two of them
have become friendly since they were trapped in that shuttle together. It’s not
all sweetness and light, but they’ve found common ground.

And since Malcolm’s also head of security, it seemed like they might have
discussed the events in detail, right?

So, I tracked down our intrepid armory officer, and cornered him in the empty
messhall last night. To make a long discussion short, I finally got the story
out of him. I think he’d been dying to tell me, but he cherishes the firm belief
that he is not a gossip.

Okay, we’ve finally reached the wonky part. Are you ready? Are you sitting down?
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Trip and the Captain needed to fake a fight over something, so Trip accused the
Captain of not caring about the crew. Since these aliens were going to take us
to sell at a slave market, Trip said they couldn’t have his wife. One of the
aliens who’d taken a shine to T’Pol was rather alarmed *she* might be Trip’s
wife, but Trip said, no, his wife’s name was Hoshi.

Malcolm really enjoyed watching my reaction. I was actually speechless, if you
can imagine such a thing; speechless for a good two or three minutes. My jaw
moved, but nothing came out.

Why me? There are a couple dozen women on Enterprise, and the alien even asked
if T’Pol was his wife, and he could have just said yes. But at that moment, with
weapons pointed at him, he thought of *me*.

The two of them staged a fight over how much gold I was worth–I couldn’t bear
to ask what the answer was–and Trip told the aliens they could take our gold as
long as he got to keep his wife. I mean, keep me.

It was all play-acting, though, right? I asked Malcolm that, and the man had the
gall to say “You’ll have to ask Trip, won’t you?” I think he is enjoying the
results of this whole situation entirely too much, between getting to surprise
me, and the Captain *finally* listening to him about implementing more security,
especially around away missions.

Then, Malcolm left me sitting in the messhall staring out at the stars, trying
to figure out how I’m feeling about this. It was just a gimmick, wasn’t it?
Something to distract the aliens? But Trip told me they were arguing over the
most valuable item on the ship. He must have meant the female crewmembers. Not
me. Right?

I shouldn’t be feeling so…so warm and fuzzy about this. Especially since
Trip’s been avoiding me since then. Every time he sees me, he gets the same
funny look and runs in the other direction. I think Malcolm told him I know what
happened.

I can’t believe how flummoxed I am over this. I wasn’t even thinking about Trip
in that way! Sure, we spend time together and he’s a lot of fun, but he’s not my
type. You know that. I like guys like Malcolm, quiet and sensitive, a little
shy.

But Malcolm doesn’t seem terribly devastated over this (more like amused), so he
can’t have been mooning over me. I don’t know that he stirs any strong emotions
in me, either. But he’s restful, which Trip most assuredly is not.

So–I ask my old friend who knows me better than anyone in the universe–why am
I spending half my free time analyzing the behavior of the man I wasn’t
interested in while he was under duress? Have I just developed some strange form
of claustrophobia? Space sickness? Temporary insanity?

Okay, I really need to go get dressed, my shift begins in half an hour. Love to
everyone (especially Amanda).

Love,
Hoshi

After Oasis

NOTES: Geez, if Hoshi doesn’t get some screen time soon, I’m gonna have to give
up on writing these! And it took me about a zillion times longer to write this
letter than usual because my Hoshi muse thought the whole episode was fairly
stupid. I’m grateful to Captain Average for the encouragement, the beta, and a
good suggestion for this letter (which I pretty much stole verbatim). Um, and a
quick note of apology to downinnewyork for T/S shippiness…Sorry, dear.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

Married only a little while and he’s already cheating on me, can you believe it?
Okay, I’m being melodramatic, considering Trip and I aren’t really married, but
you’d think the man would have learned his lesson from the time he got pregnant:
Don’t mess around with alien girls, they’ll only break your heart.

I know you asked where Trip and I stand at the moment, and the answer
is…heaven only knows. He seems to be taking the approach of pretending nothing
strange ever happened, and if that’s what he wants…well, there you are. I
think you’re right about why I find him appealing, though. The question remains,
what do I *do* about it? I’ve never been one to chase a man, especially one who
immediately went after another woman. I suppose I just read too much into a
small incident.

I suppose it’s not surprising that I was confused. Trip’s relationships with
women of *any* species are a bit odd. For instance, Trip and T’Pol have this
strange not-quite-adversarial, not-quite-friendly, bickering thing going on.

In any case, Trip found himself an alien girl a few days ago, a pretty blonde
thing and she was an engineer, too. No way for a simple linguist to compete with
a woman who can talk engines with him.

And Malcolm managed to get himself shot, *again*. I know he’s our security
officer, but doesn’t that mean he’s supposed to know how to keep from getting
shot in the first place? I’m starting to worry about him.

But it was a strange situation all around. We found this supposedly abandoned
ship on an empty world. I say supposedly, because the merchant who told us about
it also said it was supposed to be haunted. Yes, that’s haunted as in ghosts,
spectres, beings from the “other side.” Color me skeptical.

But when the away team went down to scavenge some parts and material from this
ship, they started seeing things the tricorders didn’t register. Turns out there
were these people living there, carefully hidden in a shielded part of the ship.
They came out and scared the heck out of anyone who tried to loot the ship, thus
creating the image of a haunted ship.

I’ll skip the lies we were told originally and jump straight to the upshot:
Liana (the aforementioned blonde) and her father, Ezral, were the only people
actually living on the ship, all the other members of the crew were
sophisticated *holograms*. They’d been living there for 20 years, since the ship
crashed, with just the holograms for company. Kind of creepy, if you ask me.

So, instead of getting materials from the ship, the Captain ended up depleting
our stores further, helping them to repair their ship so they could return home.

Somehow, this whole experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I’ve
been trying to figure out why. (That is, *other* than Trip mooning over Liana.
I’m fairly certain I’m not that petty. Am I?) I think it has to do with honesty
and trust.

It bothers me that Liana and her father lied to us over and over, but somehow
nobody ever took them to task for that. It bothers me that Liana trusted Ezral
to take care of her, but he marooned her on that planet. Instead of asking one
of the ships that passed in the last 20 years for help, it took Trip yelling at
him to get him moving.

I suppose that I should admire the Captain, Trip, and Liana for their ability to
forgive and forget, but somehow I can’t quite manage it. It seems like
forgiveness should be preceded by some sort of regret on the part of the party
who erred. I did manage to forgive Eric, after all, but only after he apologized
for his behavior.

I’m also concerned that the Captain and Trip seem inclined to trust everybody we
encounter, and Malcolm and T’Pol are inclined to trust nobody. I can only hope
that they’ll manage to balance each other out. (I’d be fairly pleased if I
thought the Captain was paying more attention to Malcolm’s security suggestions.
I thought after the female portion of the crew was nearly sold into slavery,
he’d learned a lesson, but apparently I was wrong.)

Speaking of “trust,” apparently we can’t trust Mark out without a keeper. I’m
assuming you’ve heard about his little escapade in Oaxaca, and have teased him
suitably for me. All the high technology available to him, and he manages to get
lost within a 20 minute walk of the site? Unbelievable. If you get a chance,
send him one of those kiddie GPS units for me, would you? You know, the ones
that talk to you if you stray too far from your parents.

As for me, other than feeling a little disgruntled about Trip’s odd behavior,
I’m feeling a little claustrophobic on the ship again. Unfortunately, I’m also
afraid to go down to any of the planets we visit, as well. Really, it reminds me
of Dr. Gi’s story about being caught in that revolution in El Salvador. You
know, where she was afraid to stay, but afraid to try and leave the country? Now
I understand the concept of being caught between Scylla and Charybdis better
than I ever did.

Time for another lesson with T’Pol, perhaps. She really has been helping a lot,
and she says I’m learning the techniques very rapidly (with “for a human” being
the unspoken end to the sentence). It can’t be soon enough for me, because I get
the feeling it doesn’t get easier from here on out.

Love,
Hoshi

After Detained

NOTES: Star Trek is *so* subtle when it chooses to moralize, isn’t it? Yeah,
right. But hey, Hoshi actually appeared on screen, so life is good. Thanks as
always to Captain Average, the rockin’ superhero, who gave Travis his nickname.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

The universe is a complicated place. Okay, I know that’s not the most profound
thing I’ve ever said, but life on the frontier ranges between profound and
prosaic (or maybe between sublime and absurd). It reminds me a little bit of our
undergraduate days, when we somehow moved between boredom and utter hysteria
without ever touching down in the middle. (Remember the ice cream incident?)

Things were quite prosaic the other day, when Jon and Travis took out a shuttle
to investigate some energy readings. Next thing we knew, they’d disappeared. To
be honest, I was having flashbacks to when we nearly lost Trip and Malcolm in a
shuttle. (I think they were, too, the boys both looked a little green around the
gills.)

We spent a number of panicked hours trying to figure out how we’d misplaced our
Captain (which Starfleet tends to frown on), before being contacted by a
representative of a people called the Tandara, namely one Colonel Grat.

He immediately rubbed us the wrong way–partly because he sent off slimy vibes,
but mainly because he said the Tandarans were keeping our crewmembers in a
detention camp until they could go on trial for their accidental invasion of
Tandaran space. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t track his signal, I wanted
to scream.

T’Pol and Trip debated whether to try and find this detention camp or go ahead
with this farce of a trial. Well, Trip practically yelled and T’Pol calmly
discussed. Vulcan calm or not, I can’t imagine how she puts up with his
insubordination. Perhaps she sees that he mainly reacts this way when it’s his
friend, the Captain, on the line. I think she understands humans better than she
lets on. (I wish I could say Trip understands her, but I don’t think that’s the
case.)

Meanwhile, Jon and Travis were imprisoned with this other species that…well,
I’m not allowed to tell you about them. I know, I haven’t had to say that
before, but we haven’t had to classify anything quite this important before.
You’ll have to excuse me if I only tell you part of this story.

So, they were interned with members of this species, whom we’ve met before, but
under circumstances I’m not allowed to describe. Turns out this species–let’s
call them the X, just for brevity’s sake–had been living peaceably with the
Tandarans until recently, when members of the X started causing trouble. I can’t
explain that, either. The Tandarans proceeded to round up all of the X and stick
them in these camps, “for their protection.”

I’ll skip the obvious historical parallels, which I know you can figure out for
yourself, and simply mention how outraged the Captain was.

I think that’s one of the reasons we all adore our Captain: his ability to
sustain a belief in the fundamental rights of all beings. We’ve not had the
greatest of introductions to the X, and the representatives we’ve met so far
didn’t exactly give us the best impression, yet the Captain was absolutely
furious at the treatment of the people he met in this internment camp.

We developed a plan to get the X out of this camp and into spaceships taken from
them. (The next time Grat called, we were ready, and Malcolm and I tracked the
signal together.) The plan was tricky, and I’m rather proud of my contribution.
We needed to jam their transmissions and keep their systems busy while Trip and
Malcolm got in and out again. There are several ways to do that–and I won’t
bore you by describing them–but my favorite is the full frontal attack.

Under the guise of T’Pol being helpful, I sent Colonel Grat our full historical
database. The whole thing. Soup to nuts. And the Starfleet Charter. Including
all those pesky amendments and appendices. Then, just in case, I threw in the
Vulcan database.

I figured if they had a really good comm officer, they could clear things up in
20 minutes or so. But what were the chances some middle-of-nowhere detention
center had a good comm officer? I’ll bet they’re still finding remnants of what
I sent in their systems. Damn! I’m good.

And you should have seen T’Pol go, keeping the odious Colonel on the line while
I did this. She’s definitely learned something from her time among humans. I’m
surprised anyone on the bridge could keep a straight face while she politely
asked the Colonel if he would like to come to the Enterprise for dinner. She was
amazing.

Trip took in a shuttle to provide cover and take out the camps’ weapons, while
Malcolm transported in to find Jon and Travis. You know, it’s Malcolm’s job to
be in these situations, and I worry about him the whole time, but Trip just
didn’t need to be there. That’s why we have an armory team, after all. Trip just
feels responsible for Jon’s safety, probably because the Captain saved his life
a number of years ago. By this point, you’d think he’d consider the scales
balanced, but that’s Trip for you.

In any case, thanks to us, there’s a small group of the X on the run from the
Tandarans, not to mention from their own people. The problem is, now we have to
face the question of whether or not we did the right thing.

T’Pol isn’t convinced we did, and she only went along with this plan because she
was ordered to. But she’d prefer we never interacted with or helped anyone. To
an extent, she has a point. If we don’t interfere, we can’t do the wrong thing.
On the other hand, we also can’t do the *right* thing.

I really wish I could get your opinion on this, but I can’t give you most of the
important details. In a very sanitized nutshell, the X we released may head out
and get slaughtered by their own people, or they might join up with our enemies
and come back to haunt us later.

But could we, in good conscience, just extract our people from prison and leave
behind possible innocents? Or is it better to do something than to do nothing?
The Captain certainly thinks the latter.

These are difficult issues, and to an extent we’re on our own developing
answers. No precedent set for us, often out of touch with Starfleet, relying on
our own good sense and a set of rules written by Starfleet bureaucrats. I’m not
sure how the Captain takes the pressure.

But in this case, I can see how the Captain felt, seeing families imprisoned for
nothing more than being of the same species as wrongdoers. I think I would have
made the same decision. It seems to me that giving them the freedom to choose,
even if we might not like their choice, was the right thing to do.

Oh, Travis came back with an even bigger case of hero worship for the Captain
than he had before. It’s funny, I’m not that much older than he is, but somehow
I feel older–aged before my time. (Just call him Ensign Enthusiasm, ’cause
whatever we’re doing, he can’t wait to get started.) I think he’s secretly a
little proud of injuries he incurred trying to help the Captain save the X.

Is it a male thing? Do you remember how proud Misha was of the black eye he got
defending Jake’s honor at that bar? I thought he was going to take out an
advertisement. (Which reminds me, did you get the latest picture of their little
one? Is he the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, or what? That curl in the middle
of his forehead is just darling.)

I firmly believe our experiences out here just go to show: there’s nothing new
under the sun. Or the stars. Give my love to Amanda, and take care.

Love,
Hoshi

After Vox Sala

NOTES: Good heavens, I’m almost overwhelmed by this episode. Where to start? How
to fit it all in? Thanks for the beta go to Captain Average, the superhero with
heart.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

Wow! Wow! Did I mention wow? I suppose I did, but I’m still stunned by the last
day or so. From tragedy to triumph in something like 24 hours. It felt like the
day I defended my dissertation. Remember? I went from throwing up my breakfast
in the department bathroom, to dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town.

It was sort of like that. It was amazing. But first it was awful.

It all started with a first contact disaster. One for the record books, Trip
said, shortest first contact ever. We managed to offend the Kreetassen by–oh,
you’re going to love this–eating. In public. (Apparently, they were offended by
seeing us put food in our mouths. You’re the food expert…are there any human
cultures that treat eating as private? I can’t think of any off-hand. But I
digress…)

Anyway, the Kreetassens were so offended that they immediately took off, yelling
the entire time. Unfortunately, we didn’t find out why they were pissed until
later, when they finally deigned to tell Travis about it. My translation showed
they were saying, “you eat like you mate” but since we couldn’t figure out what
that meant, everyone figured the translation must be wrong.

I felt like such a failure. Nobody said they were blaming me, but I could tell
they were thinking it. God, I was wondering why I’d ever agreed to take this
job. Even T’Pol was making snide comments.

Malcolm and Travis tried to cheer me up and it was very charming, but not very
helpful. So, while I was getting more and more depressed, everything went wonky.
(Yes, *wonky* again. If you can come up with a better word, I’ll use it.)

I kept hearing these noises in the walls and interference in the comm system. I
thought I was going crazy.

Then, we got the call. There was a creature holed up in a cargo bay, and it had
captured three crewmen, the Captain, and Trip. The minutes before Phlox was able
to scan, and assure us they were still alive, were some of the longest of my
life.

Malcolm wanted to go back in guns blazing (my god, but he was angry, at me, at
T’Pol, at the universe!) but I argued with T’Pol. I knew, I just *knew*, once
Phlox said there was a chance of sentience, that the frequency distortions I’d
seen were language. And given a chance, we could speak to this thing, rather
than shoot at it and take a chance with everyone’s lives. But T’Pol and Malcolm
just dismissed me like I was a naïve idiot.

I should have started working on those distortions immediately, no matter what
they said. But I let my hurt feelings get in the way, and my crewmates suffered
longer than they had to because I was determined to wait until T’Pol and Malcolm
realized I was right. It’ll take me a long while to forgive myself for that.

But after they tried and failed, they turned to me. This thing had a language,
but it wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. It was more like higher math than
anything else, and I had to swallow my pride and ask T’Pol to help. That was one
of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I just kept thinking of the five of
them trapped, hanging, being absorbed by this creature.

At least T’Pol and I were able to clear the air between us. We’d been getting
along so well, she’d been so helpful, then recently it was as if I couldn’t do
anything right. She’s been hanging over my shoulder, checking up on me, I
figured she didn’t trust me anymore. I thought she believed I didn’t belong out
here. When I confronted her, she said she was holding me to a higher standard,
because she believed I could meet that standard.

It warmed my heart, even as I worried that we wouldn’t be able to figure out
this language in time to save everyone. While T’Pol and I were doing that,
Malcolm was building this force field thing that has Trip absolutely ecstatic
with the possibilities. (I came to Sickbay to see him when it was all over and
found the two of them buried in a stack of padds and speaking engineering–the
one language I simply cannot learn.)

The solution to the problem ended up combining all our talents: my linguistic
skills, T’Pol’s math skills, and Malcolm’s force field to keep us safe while we
communicated with the alien. I guess we’ve all learned lessons about trusting
each other’s judgment, and the importance of teamwork.

So, we stood there behind Malcolm’s force field and stared at this thing, this
sentient life form, and I was terrified. It was the first time I’d actually
*seen* the thing, and it was really scary, like a gigantic white spider web, or
cocoons slowly suffocating our crewmates.

I jumped a little when the alien poked at the force field right in front of me,
but I just kept reassuring myself that if Malcolm believed it would keep the
alien out, I would trust him. And in return, they all trusted me to do my part.

And it worked! I sent the message, the modulated frequencies, to the alien, and
it responded. The poor thing just wanted to go home. Can you believe it? I don’t
think it meant to hurt anyone, and when I figured out how to ask it to let
everyone go, it did.

When the creature released them, my feet took me right to where Trip lay on the
floor. He was covered in slime and mostly unconscious. I was stunned. I couldn’t
figure out what to do, so I just sat there like an idiot. When I looked up, I
saw T’Pol a few feet away with Jon. They were just looking at each other
(although I swear I saw her touching him out of the corner of my eye). I can’t
explain it, but it was…they just had such a connection at that moment.

The doctor kept all five of the newly-released crew in Sickbay for about two
days. (Well, Crewman Kelly stayed a little longer because she was injured a bit
worse than the others.) I went to see all of them a few times. I guess I feel a
bit proprietary, in a “once you’ve saved a man’s life, you’re responsible for
him” kind of way. I had to make sure they were okay, since I’d worked so hard to
save them.

Jon was about three beats away from ordering Phlox to let him out of Sickbay the
first time I visited, but he still looked so tired, you could actually see the
lines of exhaustion on his face.

So, after sitting with them for awhile and reporting on the cleanup in the cargo
bay, I brought out the big guns. I dropped by T’Pol’s quarters and suggested
that she go to Sickbay and convince the Captain to rest a little longer. It took
a fair amount of weasel-wording and truth-shading, but it worked. Trip told me
later that she showed up half an hour after I left, engaged Jon in conversation,
and within minutes had him agreeing to stay put and listen to his doctor’s
orders.

Oh yes, Trip and I are friends again. I’ve missed him, you know, and I was tired
of only speaking to him on work matters. I guess that means things are back to
normal, or at least as normal as they get on Earth’s first Warp 5 starship.

Love,
Hoshi

After Fallen Hero and Desert Crossing

NOTES: Since these episodes are supposed to have occurred in close proximity,
I’m assuming that Hoshi didn’t have time to write home between them. The fairy
tale idea is inspired by Paradox, and I hope she’ll forgive me for borrowing it
🙂 Thanks to Captain Average for the beta.

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

Once upon a time there was a young Vulcan…(I know, you weren’t expecting fairy
tales, but bear with me, someday you and Amanda can tell this one to your kids.)
So, once upon a time there was a young Vulcan named T’Pol, who was much beloved
by the men of the kingdom, although she favored none but Captain Archer of the
good ship Enterprise. One day, T’Pol met a fairy godmother (I mean, a Vulcan
diplomat) named V’Lar. T’Pol asked many impudent questions, and V’Lar was very
impressed with her. She was so impressed, that when V’Lar visited T’Pol on the
Enterprise many years later, she took the time to sit down with one of T’Pol’s
co-workers and ask how she was doing, as well as answer questions about T’Pol’s
behavior. And the co-worker was pleased, and it was good.

But T’Pol was–well, it’s hard to tell what she was, but if I had to guess I’d
say she was unhappy–because it seemed that V’Lar had committed a crime. And
T’Pol did argue that Vulcans, especially those as eminent as V’Lar, did not
commit crimes. But V’Lar would not say whether she had done anything wrong.

Then a ship arrived and tried to take V’Lar away, but T’Pol and the Captain
refused to let her go, because they were stubborn and it was not in their nature
to hand over their guests to just any old obnoxious ship that demanded they do
so.

And the other ship tried to destroy the Enterprise, but the valiant Sir Malcolm
and the Captain disabled them and Enterprise escaped. But because V’Lar did not
trust Captain Archer (due to many years of enmity between their people), she
would not tell him who was chasing her. So, the Captain determined to return to
where V’Lar had come from, in hopes of an explanation.

By the time V’Lar explained that she was innocent of any crime and was in fact
trying to expose a heinous band of evildoers, it was too late; the Enterprise
was being chased by three of the villainous ships, too many for even the awesome
power of the phase cannons. So, Enterprise ran toward the assistance of V’Lar
and T’Pol’s people, pursued by three determined ships who were able to block
attempts to call for help. With the help of V’Lar, the comm officer was able to
punch a message through (although the crew did not know for certain at the time
that the message had been received).

In the end, the ship was boarded, and only through the trickery of the Captain
and the Doctor were the villains confounded long enough for assistance to
arrive. And there was much rejoicing, except in Engineering, where Sir Charles
and his crew contemplated many long nights of repairing a Warp 5 engine that had
been strained severely by actually trying to travel at Warp 5.

And so V’Lar and T’Pol met again, and learned many interesting things, and had
many adventures, until V’Lar was returned to her people. And we hope that both
T’Pol and V’Lar will live happily ever after.

There, wasn’t that a nice story? Of course, the children’s version leaves out
some of the things I heard the Captain muttering under his breath. Oh, and it
leaves out the things Trip said about what people were doing to his poor
engines. He took it quite personally that he wasn’t able to maintain the speed
the Captain needed, not to mention the fact that someone was shooting at us. He
reminded me of Mark when our boat broke down on that vacation down the Nile. (I
didn’t even know Mark *knew* how to curse in that many languages! I guess
archaeologists pick up more than we think.)

Of course, I’ve been thinking about vacations because we were on our way to
shore leave on the tropical planet of Risa when Starfleet ordered us to pick up
V’Lar. And after we managed to drop V’Lar off with the Vulcans, we tried for
shore leave *again*, and *again* we got delayed, this time by a distress call.

Problem is, our second delay was partly a problem of our own making, and it has
to do with that species I was calling the X. There’s still a lot I can’t tell
you, but the Captain’s decision to help the X came back to bite us–or more
accurately Trip and Jon–in the butt.

We answered the distress call of a little ship owned by a guy named Zobral, and
once Trip fixed his ship, he invited the Captain and Trip to visit his home and
enjoy his hospitality.

Just this once, it would have been nice if Jon had been able to resist making
new friends, or listen to his tac officer’s advice to take more security.
Because, surprise, it turns out Zobral wanted Enterprise to help him win a war
against his own government, and he wasn’t terribly interested in taking no for
an answer.

It’s Zobral’s fault I had fairy tales on the brain, because he was obviously
told the tale of Jonathan Archer the Brave Little Tailor (oops, I mean Starship
Captain). You know the story I mean, don’t you? The tailor who kills seven flies
with one stroke but he lets everyone believe it’s seven giants. And then he’s
sent off by the King to kill giants. Well, the Captain’s act of altruism,
freeing 80-some of the X from a couple dozen prison guards, has become the act
of a mighty warrior freeing thousands of the X from an entire army. “Seven at
one stroke!”

In the story, the tailor defeats the giants through trickery and deceit and wins
the hand of the princess. Our brave Captain won the heart (or at least the
admiration) of T’Pol by choosing to walk away rather than aid the revolution.

Of course, if he’d just said no and walked away, it wouldn’t have been so bad.
But noooo, the planetary government had to decide that we had taken sides
already. T’Pol tried to convince them we’d done nothing of the sort, but they
launched an attack on Zobral’s camp and threatened to blow up any shuttle we
sent to pick up our crew. They even blocked Malcolm’s scans of the planet, so we
didn’t know if they were still alive.

I seem to spend a lot of my time sitting on the bridge waiting to hear the fate
of my fellow crewmembers (especially the Captain). I can’t decide which is
worse, waiting or going on the away missions.

But this incident really made me think about how difficult our task is. I mean,
how many planets have a single government for us to contact and how many are a
collection of warring nations? How do we decide who to contact, especially for
first contact? Obviously, in this case we made the wrong choice and it nearly
got Jon and Trip killed. How do we convince other planets of our peaceful
intentions? It’s going to be a lot harder with the legend of Jonathan Archer the
Brave Little Starship Captain being spread by merchants in this sector. The
Captain and I are going to have to talk to Starfleet about some of our first
contact protocols, and how I go about finding someone in authority to speak to.

In the meantime, our Chief Engineer is in Sickbay recovering. Remember when you
took me to visit your friends in Beersheva? I don’t remember most of your
lecture about dehydration, probably because of the heatstroke I suffered.
However, I’m going to drag up whatever I can remember of that lecture and
deliver it to Trip next time I can get him alone, because he managed to get
himself a severe case of heatstroke and a darn good sunburn.

If it weren’t for the Captain refusing to leave him behind…well, that doesn’t
bear thinking about, so I won’t. But I know Trip is never going to set foot on a
desert planet again, if he can possibly avoid it. Oh, I almost forgot, he’s
promised to tell you *all* about what he ate in Zobral’s camp, because he says
you’ll love it. I shudder to think what that means, with his sense of humor, but
you should get his note soon because he’s stuck in Sickbay not allowed to do any
work.

We’ve once again set a course for tropical Risa, for our well-deserved R&R. Boy,
do I need a break; from the stress, from the bridge, from my crewmates. Thanks
for getting me those materials from the AAA meetings, maybe once we reach Risa
I’ll have some time to look at them. I’m sorry to have missed both LSA and AAA,
it’s the first time in years I haven’t been to either. (And sorrier to have
missed Susi’s annual belly-dancing party and the chance to see you and meet
Amanda.)

I feel so isolated out here. All the new languages are wonderful, but it loses
something when I can’t share them professional colleagues, who can truly
appreciate them, rather than simply wait for my translation. I’ve got wonderful
friends, but it’s not quite the same.

Good grief, I really *do* need a vacation. Just listen to me! I’ll sign off now,
Liz Cutler and I are going to ransack our wardrobes for something to wear on
Risa.

And hell, how much trouble can the crew get into on a resort planet? Nobody
chasing us, nobody shooting at us, it sounds like heaven to me.

Love,
Hoshi

After Two Days, Two Nights

NOTES: Huge gigantic thanks to Captain Average for some wonderful suggestions
that made this letter *much* better. You’re right, Annie *would* expect some
details, wouldn’t she?

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

In my last letter, I reminded you of our trip down the Nile, but after our shore
leave on Risa, it looks like I should have been thinking of that winter break in
Jamaica, instead. It took me a long while to forgive you for abandoning me for
three days with Mark and Tracy and Misha. I mean, the woman you met was cute,
but…well, now I understand.

His name was Ravis.

I think I’m even a little surprised at myself, but you know, it was nice. I’m
feeling remarkably guilt-free at having just this once gone for uncomplicated,
no-strings-attached sex. No expectations of true love, just a pleasant vacation
affair, and even better, an affair with a fellow linguist!

Okay, perhaps I feel just a *little* guilty, because I was teasing Trip and
Malcolm in the shuttle on our way down to Risa. But they were acting like such
*children*, nudging each other and laughing about going looking for women. It
was a little annoying, but I just kept reminding myself that after all the stuff
we’ve been through, I shouldn’t begrudge them a bit of childishness. It’s not as
if either of them would actually do anything bad, other than a bit of ogling.
Boys will be boys and all that. (You’re right, I don’t believe it either, but it
sounded good, didn’t it?)

I guess I should begin at the beginning. We finally made it to Risa, quite a few
days after we set out, and we had a lottery to determine who got two days and
two nights of shore leave. Most of the bridge crew won, although I don’t think
T’Pol even put her name in. I’m surprised Jon didn’t call her on that, I could
imagine a fascinating argument between the two of them about whether Vulcans
need vacations.

So, I rode down in the shuttle with Jon, Trip, Malcolm, and Travis. Oh, and
Porthos, of course! Porthos and Jon were headed for a villa on the beach, Trip
and Malcolm were looking for nightlife (so to speak), and Travis was planning to
go rock-climbing. (Where a boomer learned to enjoy rock-climbing, I can’t
imagine. Maybe they practice climbing in the cargo hold?)

I set out to practice my language-learning skills without the dratted translator
getting in the way. I got to practice Risan, which is really a lovely little
language, and not too difficult at all. But while I was sitting in a little
café, I met Ravis and I taught him English, while he tried to teach me his
language. Given a little more time and a little less distraction, I could do it,
I’m sure, but we got sidetracked. And a nice track it was, too!

He really was a perfect gentleman, a nice change from my last several
relationships, and it was so romantic. We sat in the café, ate together, walked
on the beach, then he showed me his favorite spot in these lovely gardens. Just
stunning.

You’d have loved his pick-up line. We were working on his English by giving
English names to the fruits we were eating. So, I tasted this sweet-tart green
fruit and decided it was very close to a kiwi. He smiled, and when I asked him
what was funny, he said that kiwi meant something else in his language, he
didn’t know the English word for it, but he could show me. Then, he leaned over
and kissed me. I nearly choked, but managed to kiss him back.

After dinner, we went back to my room, and I’m blushing, so I think I’ll stop
there, but I can assure you that we were biologically compatible. At least
compatible enough that–as I told him the next morning–I could easily have
spent the whole day there! But a few hours later, I was on a shuttle back to
Enterprise.

It was so unlike me, but you know, the more I think about it, the more I believe
that for all of us, this little vacation was about trying to forget who we are
for a little while. Trying to forget all the near-death experiences, the
pressure we’re under–not just to survive, but to represent Earth to the rest of
the universe.

So, we all took different routes, but ended up at the same place. I wanted to
get away from the translator, our boomer navigator went rock-climbing (where the
only person he was responsible for was himself), two of the most proper
gentlemen on the ship went tomcatting, and Jon pretended to be a man of leisure.
Travis’ plan backfired, I’m afraid, because he managed to injure himself and
wound up back in Sickbay with an allergic reaction. Poor thing. Liz tells me he
was quite miserable there for awhile.

Even Phlox was taking a vacation of sorts–his annual hibernation. Too bad they
had to wake him to tend to Travis. Liz says it was quite bizarre, really. He
needed his sleep just as much as we needed our vacation, and she left him tucked
in on a biobed after he finally helped Travis.

I’m not sure if I ever told you about them, but Liz really has quite the crush
on him. They work together regularly, and I know Phlox is fond of her, but he’s
completely befuddled by human romance. (Although, we know quite a few human men
who are as well. Mark and Emmanuel come to mind.) And we’re still not entirely
certain if Phlox is even *available*–there’s still the matter of the three
wives. I’m glad my interspecial romance wasn’t long-term, because it seems to me
there are much greater difficulties than just those of language.

But back to my point, we were all trying to escape for a little while. I’m
really curious about whether everyone else found what they were looking for, but
barely anyone seems willing to talk about it. I guess I can’t blame them, since
I’m not entirely certain how I would describe my two days and two nights either.

I hope they all relaxed, but somehow I don’t think so. On our shuttle ride back
to Enterprise, you could have cut the tension with a phase pistol. All three of
the guys were putting out “don’t ask me” vibes so strong I expected the shuttle
to explode. And as for why Trip and Malcolm were in robes…I wonder if I
actually want to know the answer to that.

That’s not jealousy, either, since it’s not as if I have any room to talk. You
know, if the men on this ship are going to treat me as their little sister, I’m
just going to have to find fun where I can!

Doesn’t sound like me, does it? I don’t know, it’s tough, we’ve been thrown
together on this ship, tossed out into the wild black yonder, and expected to
face the unknown with courage and honor.

But we’re only human, with all the human faults that so irk T’Pol, and every
once in a while, they’re going to emerge from behind the mask of Starfleet
propriety we all wear. And so, we came to Risa, we saw, and I suppose we
conquered. Or were conquered! It’s hard to tell…

Love,
Hoshi

During Shockwave

NOTES: And some of you thought I couldn’t pull this off…oh, ye of little
faith. Ha, but Captain Average believed in me. So there.

DEDICATION: For Jessica, of course, who sent me my virtual hug when I needed it
so badly.

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

I’m in such turmoil, I’m not certain how much sense I’m going to make, but right
now I just need to get my thoughts in order, and if writing to you is the best
way, then so be it.

Somehow, at this moment it’s easier to write to you than record a personal log,
because this way I can pretend you’re sitting here with your arm around my
shoulder. I can even hear your voice saying, “Hoshi, babe, it’s gonna be okay. I
promise. Even if I have to personally beat someone up to make sure of it.” I
wish there was someone you could beat up for me, but I’m not sure who it would
be.

By the time you get this, you’ll probably have heard all kinds of things about
why we’re returning to Earth. I know how rumors and innuendo travel, who better?
Don’t believe it. Don’t believe any of it, because I’m sure it’s all lies.

We were invited to visit a mining colony, it sounded fascinating, and I was
looking forward to learning about the matriarchal structure everyone was talking
about. My impression was that it was the reverse of what we had on Earth, except
these men only gained full equality a few years ago. The first shuttle to go
down to the colony had Jon, Trip, T’Pol, and Malcolm. Malcolm was piloting, and
he was very concerned about the safety protocols we’d been sent, because
apparently the mining process creates this gas that can explode in the presence
of plasma.

He closed the plasma ducts, I know he did. The word anal does not begin to
describe Malcolm, so if he said he closed them, they were closed! As he’s been
saying over and over, there are redundancies built into the system specifically
to be sure of these things. They were closed!

But there was an explosion. God, I can barely even think about it. The colony
was wiped out in an instant, 3600 beings, entire families, just gone in a flash.
And our shuttle thrown around like a cork floating on the ocean in a hurricane,
blown away by the shockwave from the explosion.

I had to search the surface for survivors. I had to look at acre after acre of
charred buildings. There was nothing left. Nothing. Just destruction.

And, once again, those long moments until we found out if the shuttle had
survived the explosion, until we could get them back on board, get Trip into
sickbay. I was ready to explode, between seeing him lying unconscious on a
biobed, and the Captain demanding that I find survivors on the colony. I wanted
to tell Jon to go to hell, drape myself over Trip, and just sob.

But I didn’t, I stood there and did my job and told the Captain over and over
what I’d seen. Nothing left. He just couldn’t believe it, but he hadn’t seen
what I’d seen. He hadn’t scanned the surface over and over, hoping this time the
result would be different.

When Jon gave up beating that dead horse, he switched to Malcolm, who was
busy beating himself up. They argued over whether there was any way the plasma
ducts could have somehow opened, or malfunctioned, until T’Pol intervened and
separated them.

Since then, Trip, Malcolm, T’Pol, and I have been analyzing the data backwards
and forwards and upside down and sideways, but it just doesn’t seem to make
sense. There’s simply no reason for the explosion to have occurred, yet it
happened, and it happened while our shuttle happened to be entering the
atmosphere.

The Captain reported what happened to Admiral Forrest, and Starfleet recalled
Enterprise. Just like that. After everything we’ve gone through, after all our
discoveries, they cancelled the mission and ordered us home.

It’s strange. I didn’t intend to be here, I didn’t even want to be here,
they practically had to kidnap me to get me aboard. And yet, I find myself
devastated by the thought of the mission cancelled. Maybe it’s just watching my
shipmates’ utter dejection.

The Vulcans are saying perhaps humans aren’t ready, that maybe we should wait
another few decades before we set out. Yet another example of Vulcans not
understanding humanity: to them two decades means working someplace else, then
starting over, to us it means letting someone else take our place. Maybe Travis
or I might be young enough to start over on another ship, but for Jon and Trip
and so many others, this is it. An ignominious return to Earth, the end of their
career, perhaps.

It’s the end of Jon’s dream, the thing he’s worked for his entire life, the
culmination of his father’s work. Trip wanted nothing more than to keep his
beloved engines running, especially to help his friend Jon. Travis is depressed,
worried that no other job will seem appealing after ten months piloting
Enterprise.

I told him that if anyone blames Jon for what happened in my hearing range,
they’ll get an earful from me, and I meant it! Captain Archer, Jonathan Archer,
he’s a great man and a great Captain, and I, for one, refuse to let him be
blamed for what happened. Even if he seems to be blaming himself.

We followed all the protocols. That shuttle was impeccably maintained. We did
nothing wrong. But several thousand beings are dead anyway.

The Captain just called senior staff to a conference. I wonder what else has
gone wrong. I guess I’d better send this now, because if we have another crisis,
it could be a long time before I get to write again. Tell everyone you know that
we did our best to represent Earth to the rest of the universe.

I guess I’ll be seeing you soon. It’s what I wanted, just not the way I wanted
it.

Love,
Hoshi

After Shockwave II

NOTES: Okay, there’s a paragraph here that’s a tribute to Chris from the
Linguistics Database Forum. He and the rest of the LD gang will know it when
they see it. Thanks once again to Captain Average, beta extraordinaire and
purveyor of the dreaded square brackets.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

I think you don’t realize just how important one person can be, until you think
they’re gone. Even after everything we’d been through, I don’t think this crew
(or I) realized how important Captain Archer is–to us, to Starfleet, to
humanity.

You’ve probably heard by now that we’ve been cleared of the accusation of
killing the Paraagan miners. That moment, when we realized what had happened,
was so bittersweet. First the joy–the relief that it wasn’t our fault; followed
by guilt when we realized all those people were still dead. There are still
several thousand beings, who had invited us to dinner, that we’ll never get to
meet.

There wasn’t a lot of time to dwell on it, though, because things got hairy
pretty fast. The ship was taken over by the bad guys from the X…Did I mention
this was all their fault? So much has happened!

They took over the ship, looking for the Captain, who was…gone, and locked us
in our quarters. I’m pretty sure they did something awful to T’Pol when they
questioned her. She didn’t say anything, but she wasn’t her usual cool self. And
believe me, a little thing like having our ship invaded by hostile aliens isn’t
even enough to make her sweat, normally.

(Don’t tell anyone, but I think she was very worried about the Captain, too.)

Anyway, while the X were doing whatever they were doing to T’Pol, Trip figured
out a way to jury-rig our comm panels, so that we could talk to each other from
our quarters.

By the time he’d managed to extend his jury-rigging to my quarters on C Deck,
T’Pol was back and she’d heard from the Captain. I can’t exactly tell you why,
but trust me when I say that hearing from him was nothing short of a miracle.

But what he had to say meant that someone had to get us out of our locked
quarters. You’d think this was a job for security, right? Maybe engineering?
Science officer? No, it was a job for me, not because I’m so smart, but because
I’m so small.

Turns out the best plan the most brilliant minds of Starfleet could come up with
involved me crawling through these teensy ducts, moving between various people’s
quarters. (Although, for the record, as far as I can tell there was
plenty of room in there for someone else. I don’t know why they thought I
was the only one who could do it.)

I know what you’re thinking: claustrophobia. You’re remembering the visit to
Mammoth Cave, right? You probably figure that crawling through those ducts had
to be the worst part of the whole experience. (It was pretty horrible–
there was some definite hyperventilation going on. I just kept remembering what
T’Pol has been teaching me, and that helped a lot.)

But that wasn’t quite the worst of it.

No, the worst part was definitely the last bit, when I dropped out of the
crawlspace in front of Malcolm’s quarters to let him out. You see, as I was
lowering myself through a vent plate, the back of my shirt caught on the latch
and when I dropped through, I was left shirtless. And I wasn’t wearing a bra.
(Don’t ask. Just don’t ask.)

Yes, I had to open Malcolm’s door with my hands over my breasts to keep from
exposing more than I wanted to.

Stop laughing! It’s not that funny. What was funny was the deer-
in-the-headlights look on his face and the way I had to tell him to give
me a shirt. Nice to know if I ever need to divert all blood flow away from a
man’s brains, I can just rip my shirt off. Should I be flattered or insulted?

On the bright side, I can be pretty certain he’ll never tell anyone. Sometimes
it’s handy to have a secretive armory officer around. Trip and Travis are great,
but they couldn’t keep a secret like that for anything.

After my little humiliation, we went on the offensive. Okay, that was a bit of a
royal we, because I sat and guarded a couple of prisoners while Malcolm allowed
himself to be beaten up for the cause, T’Pol and Trip shot some bad guys, and
generally we took back the ship.

As an aside, why does Malcolm keep getting hurt? I know he’s our security
officer, but still…This may be an unsolved cosmic mystery. At least they don’t
seem to have done to him whatever they did to T’Pol. Thank heavens for small
favors.

To get the X off the ship, Trip rigged the warp core to look like it was about
to self-destruct. The X evacuated, towed us away from their ships, and we took
off at maximum warp–the X now hotly in pursuit.

We were hoping for two things: to find a nearby Vulcan ship and for Captain
Archer to return. We were fairly confident of the first and desperately hoping
for the second.

As the X ships drew closer, I could see Trip, on the other side of the bridge,
getting more and more worried about his friend.

Just as they were ready to destroy us, they stopped in their tracks. I couldn’t
see any sign of the Vulcans. It had to be the Captain.

The ships drew back, except for one that approached. T’Pol told me to open a
channel and we hailed the ship. Trip nearly cried when the Captain’s voice came
through the comm and I swear even T’Pol looked pleased and relieved.

You’ve probably heard that Starfleet ordered us to continue our mission. I’m
sure you haven’t heard why. It all had to do with a most unusual meeting.

The entire bridge crew was present. On the other end of the comm were Admiral
Forrest, Ambassador Soval and various human and Vulcan aides. Soval blathered on
in his usual fashion about our unworthiness to pilot an aircar, let alone a
starship. (Where did they find him? What happened to the more reasonable
Vulcans you and I met?)

Trip mouthed off in his usual fashion and the Captain couldn’t decide
whether to cheer him on or smack him. The Captain tried to explain that humans
need to have a chance to get the hang of space travel, but I suspect that using
an animal metaphor when speaking to Vulcans was not the best idea. Maybe someday
I’ll convince him to tell me what he’s going to say before he compares
humans to gazelles. Ouch.

But you can’t deny his sincerity, the passion for exploration, the determination
to do the right thing. The Captain is, in many ways, the heart of this ship,
this mission, as well as its head. It felt good to have him back where he was
meant to be, even if we were about to be ordered back to Earth.

Everything was wrapping up–and not in our favor, even Admiral Forrest sounded
like he wanted us home–when T’Pol spoke up.

She reprimanded Soval. She chastised him. She did everything but turn him
over her knee and spank him. Damn, it was beautiful!

I’m not entirely certain what effect it had, but I know we’re not being
recalled.

It’s so nice to see the lot of us working as a team, even if I did have
to crawl through the innards of the ship to do my part. And I’m glad we didn’t
lose any members of the team.

I’m sorry, in a way, that we didn’t get back to Earth for a visit. I miss my
family and friends and the feeling of walking somewhere well known instead of
unknown.

But if Enterprise had returned in ignominy, it would have killed the Captain.
So, I guess I’m glad we’re on our way out there again. “New life and new
civilizations” indeed. Maybe Zephram Cochrane had the right idea.

Gotta go, I promised Doctor Phlox we’d have lunch and I’d tell him all about my
part in our recent adventure. In Denobulan, of course.

Love,
Hoshi



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