Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Dear Annie (12 – 22)

Dear Annie

by Mara

Summary: Hoshi writes home to a friend.

After Carbon Creek

NOTES: Hoshi and I were confused by the whole thing. Can you tell? Sorry it took
so long, but RL got in the way. Thanks to Captain Average for his usual speedy
beta, he’s the original superhero who edits. (And what better thing for a
superhero to do?)

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

You probably haven’t even gotten my last letter yet, but I just had to write and
tell you about how strange things are at the moment. The crew’s in a really odd
mood since our reprieve by Starfleet, not to mention recovering our Captain. But
would you believe that T’Pol was teasing Trip and Jon last night at dinner? Not
just the slightly sarcastic wit she shows normally, but if you can believe Trip,
she told an elaborate tale just to wind the two of them up.

Trip, Malcolm, Liz, and I were having lunch today, and Trip was lost in thought.
He kept shaking his head a little, as if in disbelief, until Malcolm finally was
annoyed enough to ask him what was wrong. That was apparently what Trip had been
waiting for, because he told us what she said.

I won’t go into the full details of the story, because Trip’s memory was hazy on
a few points, but according to T’Pol, three Vulcans (including her ancestress)
crash landed in Carbon Creek, PA in the 1950s.

Uh-huh, I did a double take when he said that part, too.

Supposedly, they were investigating the launch of Sputnik when their ship
malfunctioned and they ended up spending several months living in this small
town, working odd jobs and interacting with the locals. We were all (including
Trip) a bit dubious about their ability to stay undetected in the middle of the
Cold War period, and I, for one, would have asked T’Pol when they learned to
speak English.

The whole story seems weird. My first thought was that Trip was
teasing us, but honestly, he’s a lousy liar. And his ability to lie to
me, when his body language tells all, is nonexistent. (Kind of like your
ability to lie–or lack thereof–actually.) So, if Trip didn’t make this up,
then either it’s true, or T’Pol made it up!

It seems to me that if she were inventing a story, she would have made the whole
thing more plausible. (For instance, I found the idea that her ancestress
invented Velcro a bit odd.) And she wouldn’t have claimed that one of the
Vulcans stayed on Earth for the rest of his life.

Okay, the Captain’s been a bit smug recently, but I can’t believe that T’Pol
would go to the trouble of rewriting Earth history just to burst his bubble. So,
having concluded that would be a non-T’Pol action, does that mean her story is
true? That’s even more troubling than T’Pol acting uncharacteristically, I
think.

Perhaps at some point I’ll get up the nerve to ask her about this. In any case,
it’s been nice to have some downtime after all our excitement. Nice to have this
as the biggest mystery to solve.

Engineering has been working overtime to get the ship back in shape and we’ve
all been trying to help out whenever we can. It’s one of those times it’s
frustrating to be a linguist, but I’m afraid I’m of little use in repairing warp
engines or EPS grids.

Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t put it past T’Pol to set out this story
just to get us thinking about something other than the condition of the ship.
She often completely misunderstands humans, but she also shows occasional
moments of rare insight. This could be one.

Do me a favor, would you? In your copious free time, could you and Tracy do a
little research in the Vulcan archives and see what you can find out? Subtly,
though, I don’t want to get T’Pol in trouble if she wasn’t supposed to tell us
this. I’ll sit down with Trip and get as much detail as he can remember and send
it to you. Let me know what you find.

Meanwhile, I promised Liz to help her with her spoken Denobulan tonight, so I’m
off to work with her on conjugations. Don’t say it, I know exactly what you’re
thinking and you need to clean up your mind again. It’s filthy in there.
I just hope Amanda appreciates it. Good luck with those grant applications, and
let me know if you need a letter of support for NSF.

Love,
Hoshi

After Minefield

NOTES: Thanks to Captain Average for taking a look at this for me, and here’s
hoping he decides to write T’Pol’s letters home 🙂

Dear Annie:

I’ve got a new goal: make it through a few days without someone (or several
someones) ending up in Sickbay. This time it wasn’t just Malcolm, but me as
well. I’m okay now, although my head still feels like it’s got a mariachi band
practicing a new number.

Phlox said it was a pretty severe concussion and…oh, I should tell you how I
got it, shouldn’t I? Right. I can’t tell if I’m confused from the concussion or
the meds in my system.

Well, we found an uninhabited Minshara class planet and the captain thought a
little light exploration might be just the ticket. It was a great idea–except
for the pesky minefield. The first mine we hit blew a big chunk out of the port
side of the ship, and I’m incredibly thankful that nobody died. Trip tells me
his momma would say it’s because “the Lord watches over fools and children.”

That’s when I got my concussion, getting thrown out of my seat onto the deck.

Seatbelts. That’s what we really need around here, seatbelts. You know I’ve been
a big fan of them since the first time Mark drove us anywhere. (Which reminds
me, I’m glad he’s finally got a tenure-track position. Now maybe they can assign
him an assistant to keep him out of trouble.)

In any case, the next thing I remember is waking up in Sickbay, hearing the
captain’s voice over the comm asking if I were well enough to go back to the
bridge. I was trying to get back to my station when Phlox stopped me. I just lay
there and worried about what was going on. Every time a comm beeped or the ship
creaked, I wondered if I should be on the bridge trying to translate whatever
they needed me for.

After my second attempt to leave, Phlox finally suggested they bring the comm
logs down to me so I could work on them. I think he realized I was about to
implode. It was probably the most surreal experience of my professional career:
sitting on a cot in Sickbay with a handheld UT and a speaker in my ear because
Phlox wouldn’t even let me sit at a computer. I’m surprised he even let me sit
upright! I must have looked half-dead but there were T’Pol and Trip hanging on
my every word.

Fortunately, it wasn’t an incredibly difficult language and once I made a few
more adjustments, the UT was able to kick in and do the rest. In fact, I’m
surprised it went so easily. It went so well, I suspect these Romulans must have
a language related to one of the others in the UT. Well, it’s nice to know I
have a little project to keep me busy in my downtime.

But I digress. (And rather severely, I might add. I’m definitely going to have
to ask the Doctor what he gave me.)

The one advantage to being half-conscious in Sickbay is that I wasn’t on the
bridge when we nearly lost Malcolm and the captain.

I’m getting tired of writing things like that. Maybe I’ll stop writing you
letters. Once every few weeks just imagine me saying “Trip nearly died today” or
“the captain was kidnapped yesterday.” You’ll probably be right.

I suppose I shouldn’t be making light of this, but I just don’t know how to
handle the fact that the captain nearly had to blow up Malcolm along with a mine
and a chunk of hull plating. A little piece of me is glad I wasn’t on the bridge
when Malcolm said the mine had attached itself to the hull through his leg.

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be trapped under a mine. And the
captain had to go up there himself and help Malcolm defuse the damn thing, all
because he felt guilty over putting him in danger. No, nobody told me that, but
I’ve known Jon Archer a long time, and some things are easy to guess. Of course,
I don’t know what I wanted him to do…send Trip? If there’s anyone I want to
lose less than Malcolm or the captain, it’s Trip. No, nothing has happened
between us. Just these drugs loosening my brain a bit. Ignore me, erase that,
forget I said it. No relationships for Hoshi. Only casual sex on shore leave.

Back to Malcolm and the captain defusing a mine. While they were defusing, the
Romulans showed up and told us to leave immediately and they weren’t especially
interested in no for an answer. Apparently, they could tell we were ready for
Plan B, which was to detach the hull plating with mine and Malcolm in tow. But
you must say one thing for our captain: nobody can outstubborn him, not
the Vulcans, not Trip or Malcolm, and certainly not any ol’ Romulans.

So, T’Pol stalled long enough for the captain to come up with an amazingly crazy
plan. In fact, it shouldn’t have worked at all, and I’m going to have to get
someone with a better physics background than mine to figure out why it did. But
they detached the hull plating. Then, the captain used the time between the mine
re-arming itself and the actual explosion to cut Malcolm loose, and the two of
them jumped off into space with just a couple of shuttlepod doors between them
and the explosion. I wonder why they didn’t just transport off? And why weren’t
they crushed? Maybe the EV suits have inertial dampeners and someone just forgot
to tell me. Well, as long as they’re safe, I suppose I won’t quibble.

Hmm, things are getting a little fuzzy again, so it must be time for me to get
some rest before Phlox barges into my quarters and give me more drugs. I hope I
wasn’t too incoherent, but I just had to talk to you. Remember when you broke
your arm and they gave you that muscle relaxant? I bet that’s what I sound like.
Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Did I just say that? I’m telling Phlox in the morning to put in my chart to
never give me these meds again.

Love,
Hoshi

After Dead Stop

NOTES: Thanks as always for the beta to Captain Average, the superhero who I
hope is working on his own set of letters. ::Fingers crossed::

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

He was dead, I saw him. I saw his body. Travis was dead, and then he
wasn’t. Just when I thought I’d faced every bad thing, this had to happen.

I need to calm down.

It’s just…I saw Travis’ dead body. I told Phlox that I’d seen dead bodies
before, early on, when we boarded the Axanar ship…did I ever tell you about
that? I can’t remember.

But Phlox was right–it’s different when it’s someone you know.

Remember, I told you we got hit pretty badly by the Romulan mines. Well, it was
bad enough that the captain had me put out a distress call, and he was pretty
upset to have to do that. (I had my fingers crossed the Vulcans wouldn’t
respond, because half the crew would probably have died of the embarrassment.)
Instead, we got a message from this species we’ve never met, telling us about
this repair station not that far from us.

The captain, Trip, and T’Pol went to negotiate with the beings running the
station, but there weren’t any. There was just a computer, and it assessed our
needs and set a price in plasma coolant or something. I think the captain was
pretty spooked by not having a living creature to talk to, because as soon as
he’d agreed, he came back to the ship almost immediately.

Everybody else got leave to spend time in the recreational facilities. They had
this amazing machine in the center of the tables that would make whatever food
or drink you wanted and it just appeared there, sort of a transporter. Trip had
that inventor’s gleam in his eye, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we had one
someday.

After our shift on the bridge was over, Travis and I…I’m sorry I need to go
blow my nose. Travis and I had dinner. We had a great time. I’ve been following
through on my resolution to get to know the people on the ship better. You know,
the resolution I made after Trip and Malcolm nearly died in the shuttle.

And Travis is such a sweetie. We’ve been comparing boomer and Earth culture and
just hanging out. It’s kind of nice because he’s a little closer to my age and
the same rank, so I can be much more myself.

We had dinner, then I went off to have coffee with Liz and Travis went back to
the ship.

Next thing I knew, Trip and Malcolm were in my quarters, asking me questions,
because Travis was dead. Killed by some sort of shock when he went into an area
of the ship still under construction. I couldn’t think of any reason he would be
there, I just kept remembering him at dinner, nearly choking on a glass of water
laughing at a joke I told.

I sat in my quarters for a while, then I had to go to Sickbay. I had to see him,
say goodbye in person, before I could believe he was dead.

He was mostly covered, but I could see a few burns, and I nearly lost it. I held
it together by talking to the Doctor, telling him about this practical joke
Travis played on me. I’d just figured out how to get him back. Trip and I rigged
the computer so that when Travis was walking through certain corridors off-shift
and alone, the comm system would do all kinds of silly things: wolf-whistle at
him, beep, play the Marseilles. It was going to be so funny. We’d planned it
just before the mine hit the ship, so we’d put it off until after the repairs
were completed.

Just as I was going to start crying, Phlox got this odd look on his face and
started muttering to himself. I just stood there in a daze as he ran a test and
then called the captain. I think they might have forgotten I was there, but I
wasn’t leaving if something was going on. Perhaps I was suffering from a bit of
shock, because even after a few repetitions, the words “this isn’t Ensign
Mayweather” sounded as if they were in an alien language. I felt like I needed
the UT, but finally it made sense. Somehow this alien station had created a
replica of Travis and taken him away.

(Turns out, by the way, the station faked a comm message from the captain.
That’s how it got him.)

From that moment on, the station never had a chance of keeping Travis, because
they’d pissed off the crew of the Enterprise. Not a good idea. We threw together
a plan to find and retrieve Travis and get away. Unfortunately, there wasn’t
much I could do, except my usual sit and wait. Malcolm got a little bit of
action, but then he was stuck on the bridge with me, while Trip distracted the
computer, and the captain and T’Pol did search and rescue.

I’m a little bit glad I wasn’t with them. Apparently, Travis had been hooked up
to the central computer, providing processing speed. Since then, I’ve been
having horrible nightmares, where I see Trip– or you, or Mark, or Phlox–with
wires running in and out of them, terrible nightmares where I practically wake
up screaming. I’ve been practicing the meditation T’Pol taught me, but I’m
barely hanging on.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. I was joking in my last
letter about constantly losing people, but this just cemented my fears. What if
next time someone’s really dead, or perhaps even more horrific, what if they’re
not dead and we don’t realize it.

I could really use some encouraging words from you, because I’m not sure who
else to turn to here. We’re all going through the same thing, everyone blaming
themselves. If I hadn’t gone off to have coffee with Liz, maybe Travis wouldn’t
have left, and I feel as if somehow I should have noticed the faked comm
message. Jon thinks he should have acted on his suspicions, Malcolm can’t
believe he wasn’t suspicious, and Trip believes he should have been able
to magically repair the ship without going to this station. I think even T’Pol
is feeling a bit guilty, although that’s harder to tell, but she’s been
unusually standoffish. Normally, I’d go talk to her about reining in my
emotions, but I’m not certain now is a good time.

This would be a good time for a virtual hug. I’m really wishing that we’d turned
around and limped back to Jupiter Station, or that I’d been smart enough to
never come on this mission at all.

Love,
Hoshi

After A Night in Sickbay

NOTES: I know TPTB feel no need to bridge from the last episode’s angst, but I
obviously have higher standards 🙂 (BTW, scarification is a real word, ask me if
you want to know what it is.) Thanks again for the beta to Captain Average, the
superhero who is a wizard with an em dash.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

Yes, I can certainly see how getting my last few letters all at once would have
been a surreal experience, but if you think it was a roller coaster ride
reading them, you should try living them. I thank you for your good
wishes and all the desperately-needed virtual hugs. I will especially treasure
the collection of cliches, aphorisms, and other generally mindless inspirational
sayings. It must have taken you days to come up with a list that comprehensive
and banal, and I appreciate the effort!

I’m glad to hear all is well at home, and that you and Amanda are so happy. I
just got a letter from Tracy, too, so it’s been a nice day for nostalgia.

You’ll be glad to know that things are a bit better out here, as well. I managed
to pour all my weepiness out on you before I went to see Travis. He was pretty
shaken, but Phlox says he’s fine. It’s fortunate, I think, that he doesn’t
remember much of what happened.

(The minute he was up and around, Trip and I sprang our joke on him, and it went
great! It took him almost a day to figure out how to shut off the strange comm
signals, and we got Malcolm to give us some surveillance pictures of Travis
standing in a corridor, looking confused. I’ll give one or two of those to him
for his birthday.)

In a way, the captain was more shaken by the whole repair station experience
than Travis–probably because he was awake and aware the entire time–and he’s
been acting strangely ever since.

He’s usually very laid-back, but he got so angry when Travis nearly died, and he
didn’t seem to be getting over it. Then, yesterday, we had this encounter with
the Kreetassen. We’ve met them before–remember when I told you about the aliens
who were offended we ate in public?

Well, Trip insisted they had the most compatible plasma injectors around and we
went to parley with them. Unfortunately, before we could even start negotiating,
they sent us back to the ship because we’d offended them again. Once again, we
had no clue why.

So, there I was in decon, rubbing that dratted blue gel all over, with T’Pol
(calm), the captain (frothing), and Porthos (adorable). I have mentioned
Porthos, the captain’s dog, before, haven’t I? Well, the captain decided Porthos
deserved some shore leave, so he brought him down to the planet with us.

Unfortunately, Porthos picked up some sort of infection on the planet, so the
captain was annoyed with the Kreetassen for not checking Porthos’ gene map, the
Kreetassen were annoyed at us for some unspecified reason, and the captain was
bugging Phlox for hourly updates, while T’Pol and I dealt with the Kreetassen.
Not the most fun late shift I’ve ever had.

And let me tell you, plasma injector or no, it was a mighty close call on a few
occasions whether we were going to tell the Kreetassen to just take their
courtesy and shove…Okay, I’m obviously not recovered yet.

While the captain was hovering over Phlox, T’Pol and I were exchanging sharply-
worded messages with the Kreetassen. This time, practically everything we did
offended them, and I was on my last nerve. Thankfully, I convinced T’Pol that
she should be the one to tell the captain that we offended these people
when his dog piddled on their sacred trees.

I kid you not. I almost laughed when I they informed us of the grave offense to
their dignity.

So, the Kreetassen were sitting around and trying to decide exactly how the
captain should apologize, the captain was sleeping in Sickbay, and T’Pol was
working out in the gym. I called down to her when I got the list of demands,
excuse me, requests. I said the captain wasn’t going to believe what they were
asking, then to my embarrassment, I discovered he was in the gym, too.
Someday, I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut. Honest.

The strangest part was the ritual they wanted the captain to go through. I’ve
certainly sat through more than my share of cultural rituals–powwows, bar
mitzvahs, scarifications–but this one struck me as a little odd. He defiled a
tree (or at least Porthos did) so they had him cut up a tree? It’s going to take
some study of Kreetassen culture before I can make heads or tails of that. It
didn’t help that the ritual words were in an ancient form of the dominant
language, so the translator simply gave up the ghost, and I didn’t have the time
to fix it.

I can’t imagine where the captain learned how to use a chainsaw, but I have to
say he did a very good job, and he learned the words he had to say very quickly,
once he got his mind off Porthos.

That came later. First, around midnight, he and Phlox somehow managed to let
Phlox’s Pyrithian bat out of the cage, and when I walked in they were trying to
kill it or something. You should have seen the looks on their faces when
the cute little guy landed right on my hand. You’d think the doctor would have
learned the trick to taming it by now, but I suppose he’s got quite a few other
animals to deal with.

I was in Sickbay to let the captain know that the Kreetassen were getting antsy
for a response. They were even offended that we hadn’t synchronized our time
with their capital city, and when I said I didn’t know that was required, the
response I got was “It’s not a requirement, just a courtesy.” Someday, someone
is going to teach these people that courtesy is not universal. I wish it
could have been me, but Trip swears we needed the plasma injector. (I stand by
my contention that what the universe needs most is a really good cultural
anthropology class, delivered simultaneously to everyone. Perhaps Dr. Chambers
explaining cultural relativism?)

In any case, I delivered my message, but the captain really didn’t seem all that
interested in apologizing to the Kreetassen. I’m glad to say that somewhere
along the line, some combination of T’Pol and Phlox managed to convince him.
Porthos recovering, with the aid of some kind of surgery, probably helped as
well.

I’m not entirely sure what went on in Sickbay that night (besides letting bats
loose) but I know that every time T’Pol spoke to the captain, she came away
actually looking disturbed. I mean, visibly disturbed in some way, which is
strange. Maybe she was just unable to block out his turbulent emotions? I don’t
know and I couldn’t quite ask her.

So, the captain agreed, T’Pol and I coached him intensively in the ritual, and
he performed it almost flawlessly. If he hadn’t been in such a bad mood lately,
we might have surreptitiously snapped a picture of him, in the braids and the
temporary tattoo, with the chainsaw in his hand. Sad to say, it was all we could
do to not laugh at him. But his mood seems to have evened out, and I’m not sure
if it was succeeding in getting the plasma injector, or the shock of almost
losing Porthos. Whatever the cause, we have our captain back, and that’s good.

The one thing you can say about everything we’re going through, it’s certainly
creating closer relationships. It seems as if the captain is getting along with
Phlox and T’Pol much better now, and everyone’s been making the effort to get
know other people.

But the last 24 hours have been quite bizarre–not bad, per se, just odd.
Everyone acted as if they were short on sleep, even T’Pol and the Kreetassen,
and I had rather the feeling of being caught in a slapstick movie. You know,
doors slamming, people yelling, running around in circles. Very odd. Now, I’m in
need of sleep, as I’m meeting Trip and Travis for a late meal. I don’t remember
whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, though. I never did like shift-
work, did I?

I hope this reaches you before you head off to Norway, because I know how
terrible you are about checking your mail when you’re in the midst of fieldwork.
Make sure that if you don’t respond to my mail, at least you respond to
Amanda’s, hmm? (And explain to me again why you’re going to Norway and you don’t
even eat fish? I wish you could send it to me.) Long-distance, virtual hugs back
to you.

Love,
Hoshi

After Maruaders

NOTES: Thanks as always to the incomparable Captain Average, the
superhero who encourages. And thanks again to the lovely fanfiction.net
reviewers who don’t leave me an e-mail to contact them. Please, pretty
please, give me some way to thank you personally. I feel terrible for
not responding to your lovely remarks.
DEDICATION: Now and ever for Jessica, who’s in the US for a few weeks 🙂
Jess-Jess, I miss you when you’re gone!

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

I thought of you the other day, and how we always bemoaned the fact
people want things to be black and white. I could practically see you
stomping up and down and yelling “If you want the rules to be simple,
play tic-tac-toe!”

But you’d be surprised how much I’ve changed in the last year, I think.
I’m a lot more bloodthirsty (the result of seeing too many people hurt),
a lot braver (the result of so many close calls, I’m running low on
adrenaline), and a lot better shot with an energy weapon (the result of
fear and intensive training by Malcolm).

Now, I think I understand why people start to see things in black and
white. We needed deuterium, you see, so we set out for this mining
colony the Kreetassens suggested, and by the time we got there, Trip was
looking pretty peaked about our deuterium levels.

When Trip, T’Pol, and the Captain went down, the people refused to sell
to us, but they worked out a deal: we’d get our deuterium if Trip and
the engineering staff could fix two of their pumps. I figured we had it
in the bag–that man can fix anything.

So, there we were, sitting in orbit when, out of nowhere, this Klingon
ship appears. Turns out the miners couldn’t sell us deuterium because
the Klingons would kill them if they didn’t get it all.

We found that out later. First, the Captain ordered us to keep
Enterprise out of the way of the Klingons, so Travis tucked us neatly on
the other side of the planet. Meanwhile, Trip finished up with the
pumps, and the colony’s doctor came on board to pick up some medical
supplies we were trading them.

I went down to the shuttle bay to pick her up and drop her off in
Sickbay, and she seemed nice, but skittish. I wondered what was wrong,
and Phlox was even more suspicious when he saw what she was taking.
Mining may be dangerous, but he said she looked like she was gearing up
for war. Or maybe just hostile Klingons.

I swear, Klingons are just the universe’s schoolyard bullies. I’m sure
they must have some redeeming features, but I’ll leave it to you
cultural anthros to figure out what they are. Speaking of which, at
least the Klingons aren’t just humans with bumpy foreheads. Why, I ask
you, are so many of the races we meet apparently humans with bumpy
foreheads? You’d think evolution on so many different worlds would get a
little creative now and then, but apparently not. This is one of the
great mysteries of the universe, I think.

So, Trip fixed the pumps, the Klingons said they’d be back in a few days
to get their deuterium, and the miners told us to take our booty and
go–they’d deal with the Klingons.

Well, Captain Archer didn’t take that well. (Sometimes I think the man
should have a cape like that Superman guy in the comics Trip loaned me.)
Telling him to leave a colony of helpless miners at the mercy of a bunch
of bullies…it’s like wiggling your finger in front of Phlox’s bat and
expecting it to sit there nicely. Not likely! The Captain and T’Pol had
words in his ready room. I’m not sure what they said, but he went back
to the planet to talk to the leader.

(I’d give just about anything to know exactly what they talked about,
because they seemed oddly in accord when they came out. Usually after
one of these discussions, the Captain looks like he’d rather be kicking
her out an airlock than walking next to her.)

And somehow Captain Archer convinced him to let us help drive the
Klingons off. I’m not sure how he does it, exactly. Maybe it’s the
honesty and the earnestness–he cares deeply and somehow, many of the
species we encounter seem to figure that out the minute he starts talking.

Then came the difficult task of training these people enough that they
could actually defend themselves, and setting up the Malcolm and the
Captain’s convoluted plan. I’m glad I’m not in tactics, because
honestly, I couldn’t figure it out.

Travis went off to help T’Pol with martial arts, and for a big guy, he
looked pretty frightened at the prospect. I went to help Malcolm with
shooting practice in the armory, and that was kind of fun. I don’t think
he’d gotten around to noticing just how much I’ve improved recently, so
when I took the gun away from that colonist and pointed out exactly what
he was doing wrong, Malcolm looked pretty impressed. (It was like the
time Tracy wowed our Vulcan instructor so much, he actually blinked when
she spoke with her vastly improved accent. Remember that?)

Once they left the ship, I was stuck on the bridge, waiting for the
Klingons to appear, so we could signal everyone on the colony below.
They came, they saw, we conquered. I still don’t understand why they
were scared off so easily, but I suppose we weren’t dealing with the
cream of the Klingon High Council, so that might have something to do
with it. In any case, another day, another people freed from tyranny.

You know, just another boring day out in deep space.

It worries me a bit that we’re going to go around and get ourselves
mixed up in every struggle we encounter. Aha! I hear you say. You’re
right, I guess it’s not as black and white as I was saying at the
beginning of this letter. You know me so well.

It would have hurt me almost as badly as the Captain, to leave these
people to be bullied and injured–but what if we’d failed? What if we’d
gotten them killed? What if we’d gotten ourselves killed? Couldn’t we
have sent a message to their home planet? Asked for assistance from the
Vulcans?

Surely even the Vulcans couldn’t look down on us for being unable to
stay in one place and guard a colony, since that’s not our mission.

But it wasn’t my decision to make, and the Captain turned out to be
correct, and the Klingons turned tail and fled. I just hope they don’t
come back after we’re gone.

Sometimes I wish I’d stayed on Earth, happily teaching Vulcan to the
masses, where my most difficult dilemma would be whether to spend a
month in Brazil or Argentina.

Love,
Hoshi

After The Seventh

NOTES: Thanks to Captain Average, for smoothing out some ragged prose in
this letter and for the proxemics suggestion (which he made last week,
but I used to better effect this week).

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

I’ve decided that it’s finally time for me to learn to take my
relaxation when I can. No, we didn’t get shoreleave again, sad to say,
but we got a few days of a break while Sub-commander T’Pol was off on
some sort of mission for the Vulcans. I still don’t know what, and I
doubt I ever will, because neither she nor the Captain told us what they
were doing.

(Thanks for sending me the journals and newsletters, by the way. They
arrived just in time for our little break, so I’m almost caught up. I
was especially amused to see that picture of Amani receiving his award.
Have you ever seen him grin that hard? Good for him!)

In any case, while I was reading “Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Strategy
Use in Egyptian Arabic and Vulcan Refusals,” T’Pol took the Captain with
her on this mission, along with Travis as a pilot. After the Enterprise
stopped at this uninhabited planet, they took cold weather gear, and the
three of them, for all intents and purposes, disappeared.

Malcolm was so frustrated by the whole situation, he was actually
speechless. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be the security
officer and have your two top officers take off and refuse to tell you
where they’re going. I would hate to have been the equipment in the gym,
because I suspect that’s where he took out his frustrations.

I couldn’t decide whether to feel bad for Trip. I’ll admit that it was
frustrating not to know why we were here–and the man is a bigger
gossip than I am–but he did have a bit too much fun with being acting
captain. Well, for a little while.

Of course, when the Vulcans showed up, he got his comeuppance for
teasing me, because we couldn’t admit that Captain Archer was off with
T’Pol. I stalled them and called Trip in the Captain’s mess, where he
was eating with Malcolm and Phlox. I wouldn’t have even done that,
except that the Vulcan captain really wanted to speak with Captain
Archer. Well, Trip said he’d get back to me.

So, there I was, with impatient Vulcans banging on my figurative door
and he wanted to get back to me? I knew he’d give in eventually and talk
to them, but the harebrained scheme he came up with made me feel like we
were back in college…y’know, he reminds me of you sometimes.

I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t: He pretended to be Captain
Archer! He had me combing the files, querying everything and everyone we
could to ensure this Vulcan had never met our captain, then Trip just
stood there and baldly lied. I can only thank our good luck this Vulcan
apparently doesn’t know anything about accents or dialects of human
languages, or we’d have been found out in an instant. The more stress
he’s under, the more southern Trip sounds.

Of course, Trip would never have done such a thing if the Vulcans hadn’t
been so insistent that they had a message from Admiral Forrest, and if
the captain hadn’t been so insistent that we not let the Vulcans know
he’d gone with T’Pol.

Someday we’re all going to get tangled up in our lies, and it’s going to
be messy–but that day wasn’t today.

Honestly, I’m not sure Trip got through command school with all his
uncertainty. Maybe he just needs some more practice, and I should urge
the Captain to leave him in charge more often. Somehow, though, I
suspect Trip might not appreciate that.

Wait, I forgot to tell you the best part! Imagine the scene: Trip is
standing there lying to the Vulcans, convinced he’s going to be found
out any moment and court-martialed or something. Finally, the Vulcan
captain pulls out Admiral Forrest’s vitally important message:

“Cal beat Stanford seven to three.”

I thought Trip was going to fall over, but he mumbled something to the
effect of “I’ll tell him,” thus almost giving away the whole shooting
match, but fumbled his way to a recovery. I cut off the Vulcan captain
before he could ask any questions, and Trip collapsed into a chair.

Why I didn’t just laugh at him there and then, I’ll never know. It does
go to show that Admiral Forrest obviously has a better sense of humor
than we’d previously given him credit for. That could be handy at some
point, I suppose.

It was especially interesting to see Captain Archer and T’Pol’s
proxemics before and after this secret mission. They’ve been in much
greater accord in recent weeks, much less glaring and such, standing
closer together, you know, things like that. But now…well, obviously
something happened, something that brought them closer together. I don’t
see any signs of the residual dislike of Vulcans when he talks to T’Pol,
it’s almost as if he’s forgotten she’s Vulcan.

(It would have been interesting to watch his reaction to the Vulcan
captain, but for some reason they took off without speaking to us again.
I suppose that’s good, though, or poor Trip would have had to
impersonate the Captain again.)

In any case, it will be interesting to see how long this new accord
lasts, if they’ve truly come to some sort of understanding, or if it’s
just temporary.

I haven’t given up on my mission to figure out why T’Pol can stand being
around humans so much longer than other Vulcans. (Which reminds me that
I’m still curious about that story she told Trip and the Captain about
her ancestor, how are you doing on that research?) And if Captain Archer
can come to work happily with a Vulcan–with his personal history–maybe
our two races can come to an understanding.

Love,
Hoshi

After Singularity

NOTES: Apologies if I got the name of Hoshi’s dish wrong, it’s just a guess. The
cake is real, though. My husband made it for me once, and I’ve never forgotten
it. My gratitude, as ever, to Captain Average, the superhero who likes hockey.

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

Do our obsessions define us in some weird way? I’ve always rather thought so,
but if it’s true, I’m not certain what to say about the past day or so, not sure
what our unconscious minds have said about us.

It all had to do with radiation, T’Pol tells me, and a strange confluence of
events involving a black hole, a trinary star system, and human physiology.
(Doesn’t that sound like the beginning to a really stupid Starfleet joke? “A
black hole, a trinary star system, and an ensign walk into a bar…”)

This strange kind of radiation–which T’Pol started describing but stopped when
my eyes visibly glazed over–had a strange effect on the human prefrontal
cortex, as well as its equivalent in Denobulans. All of us, except T’Pol, became
absolutely obsessed by something, to the exclusion of everything else.

I know what you’re thinking, that I became obsessed with some translation, some
quirk of the universal translator, or some odd feature of a language. (Heck, you
think I’m obsessed under normal circumstances!) But that wasn’t it at
all.

No, I became obsessed with cooking the perfect pot of udon. (The same dish my
mom made the first time you came to visit, even after we explained the whole
vegetarian thing. I’ll never forget the look on your face when she said, “But it
hasn’t got any meat, just fish.”)

You might be wondering why I was cooking in the first place. Well, Chef got
sick, and since we were on our way to visit a stellar feature not noted for its
language abilities, there wasn’t a great deal for me to do. I thought cooking
would give me a nice break, just like when I used to cook those elaborate
dinners for everyone in order to avoid working on my dissertation. (I’ve never
managed to exactly duplicate that three-layer Drambuie-soaked chocolate cake.
Tracy keeps asking, though.)

What happened to everyone else? Let’s see…the Captain spent all his time
writing and rewriting the preface to a biography of his father, while poor Liz
got it into her head that she needed to delete all of her personal letters and
logs. (We’re still trying to recover them.)

Trip designed the perfect Captain’s chair, although he ended up scrapping his
idea when the radiation wore off, and Phlox tells me he tried to redesign
Travis’ brain. I’m glad T’Pol got there in time to stop him.

Malcolm became obsessed with new security protocols, which I’m happy to say
worked despite their odd cause, and Travis tells me he couldn’t rid himself of
the idea that he was going to lose his position on Enterprise for dereliction of
duty. Oh, and though I haven’t talked to him, I hear that Rostov became obsessed
with cleaning his quarters, and ended up coming to blows with his roommate over
it.

The question, I suppose, is whether these obsessions say something deep about
our personalities, or did we simply become obsessed with whatever we happened to
be doing when the radiation affected us? For instance, at any given moment,
Malcolm is most likely to be working on our security protocols (although I would
imagine he sleeps occasionally) and Trip is most likely to be tinkering with
something. (It might have been worse: What if Trip had become obsessed with
fixing the warp core and he’d somehow damaged it?)

I certainly used to use cooking as an escape, something you know I inherited
from my mother and grandmother, so I suppose I could see how it could become an
obsession. I don’t generally think of Michael Rostov as the neatest person, but
there may be something in his psyche I don’t know about. Something to ponder in
my spare time, I suppose.

Our salvation was the difference between human and Vulcan physiology, but I’ll
admit there’s a small part of me that wonders what T’Pol might be obsessed by,
given the push we received. Would it be her work, or is there some less logical
passion roaming in her brain? Inquiring minds want to know.

But T’Pol wasn’t affected, and when the rest of us finally collapsed over our
obsessions, she discovered that the fastest route out of the radiation–the only
one fast enough to save our lives–required two people to navigate through. Now,
Travis was sedated, so he couldn’t pilot, but I did wonder why she didn’t pick
the beta or gamma shift pilot.

Of course, Captain Archer is a damn good pilot, but I do think it’s interesting
that her first instinct was to get his help. More things to ponder in my
spare time.

I’m happy to say that everyone has recovered well, just a few bumps and bruises.
I’d love to write more, but Chef made me promise I’d come help him clean up the
galley. I’m afraid I made a bit of a mess. Oh, and I’ve got to remember to
apologize to Crewman Cunningham for my rude behavior.

Unfortunately, the poor guy made the mistake of trying to get between me and the
perfect pot of udon.

Love,
Hoshi

After Vanishing Point

NOTES: A tip of the hat to Sarah Gerber, whose post on the Linguistics Database
made some of these points before I’d even started writing, and I stole from her
shamelessly. Of course, the tremendous beta was by Captain Average, the
superhero who punctuates.
DEDICATION: For Jess-Jess, as always, but especially because she was just here
visiting and I miss her already. Just for her, there’s a true story tucked in
here.

* * * * *

Dear Annie:

Shoot me, please.

I’m not kidding. Please shoot me before I have to face my crewmates again–now
that they’ve probably all heard about how Ensign Sato went nuts and thought
aliens were trying to take over the ship.

I thought I was embarrassed after I screamed like a twelve-year-old on the
Axanar ship, but that was nothing compared to how I feel now! Then, I
could excuse myself based on inexperience, but I don’t think that will wash a
year later.

Now, I’m just a wimp.

I know by now you’re glaring at the screen and muttering imprecations at me, so
I’ll stop babbling and try to explain what happened.

Trip and I were down on this abandoned planet doing a quick survey when a huge
storm blew up. For some reason, we couldn’t take the shuttle, something to do
with the kind of storm. (I didn’t pretend to understand the explanation.) So,
what did they do? They used the transporter.

Well, as you could guess, I wasn’t too thrilled with the whole idea of being
broken down into my component molecules and reassembled on the other side, so I
tried to talk the Captain out of it. No such luck.

Trip agreed to go first, and he materialized back on Enterprise. Then it was my
turn, and all hell broke loose.

I won’t burden you with the whole story, but I thought I was coming apart at the
seams…cell walls…whatever. Murphy’s Law hit with a vengeance, and suddenly I
couldn’t decipher a simple language, people were completely ignoring me, it was
awful. Then I started to become see-through, finally completely disappeared, and
everyone thought I was dead, although I could still see them. While I was trying
to communicate with the crew, I saw these aliens rigging some kind of a bomb. In
the end, I jumped onto an alien transporting device in a desperate attempt to
follow them.

As you’ve undoubtedly guessed already, it was all a dream. I was trapped for
eight seconds in the transporter’s pattern buffer while Trip and Malcolm
struggled to rematerialize me.

No! Not a dream, a nightmare, like every terrible nightmare you’ve
ever had rolled into one. I stumbled off the transporter platform yelling about
aliens and bombs and who-knows-what. Trip and Malcolm thought I was absolutely
insane! It took a little while for me to realize that what I’d experienced
hadn’t actually happened, and that just a few seconds before, I’d been down on
that planet with Trip.

I went to Sickbay to get checked out by Dr. Phlox, who assured me that it was
perfectly normal, but somehow that didn’t help (most likely because in my dream
he assured me of the same thing). Then, Jon came by to try and make me feel
better–which was nice of him–and that helped a bit, but not completely.

You know how it is when you wake up from a really bad nightmare, and it takes a
long while to shake it? Even when you understand that none of it was real, you
still feel shaky and upset, sort of twitchy, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I still feel like that, and I really don’t want to go to sleep. I suppose that’s
why I’m writing to you instead…

I sure as heck don’t need Starfleet Psychiatric to interpret the meaning of my
dream: my subconscious is not noted for its subtlety.

One section featured performance anxiety: what if I can’t decipher a language
when people’s lives are at stake? (And it was Trip and Travis–my two best
friends onboard–whose lives I couldn’t save.) My brain even threw in the
Captain kicking me off the bridge for incompetence, just for that extra little
touch of fun. Am I still that worried about my abilities?

Quite a bit of my dream had to do with feelings of invisibility, being ignored,
not taken seriously. Gee, I’ve never felt like that, have I? (All sarcasm
intentional, of course. And there’s no need for you to comment on how you’re
reminded of the whole Eric situation. I’ve seen the connection.)

There was also some family anxiety in there, when I desperately tried to get
Jon’s attention while he was calling my Dad to tell him I was dead. Dad acted
very oddly, irritable and unemotional, you’d barely have recognized him. This is
one of the few parts of the dream that didn’t have an obvious explanation.
Perhaps I feel as if I’m so far away from my family that we’re no longer
emotionally connected? (No comments on Jon being a substitute Dad, because that
couldn’t be further from the truth. Jon is…let’s just say he’s nothing like my
father and leave it at that.)

I even managed to fit in a piece of one of my usual nightmares about being late,
very much like the ones I used to have in college about missing exams. (I still
blush when I remember the time we really did almost miss our sociology
exam because we both overslept. I’ll never forget the sound of the door slamming
open and Rachel yelling at the top of her lungs for us to wake up.)

And for that final oh-so-subtle touch, there was lots of Trip. Lots and lots and
lots of Trip. I would imagine, partially, it’s because he’s the last person I
talked to before I went into that infernal machine. But, whatever the
reason, he was all over the dream/nightmare. First, he tried to reassure me that
the transporter hadn’t hurt me; then I saw him mourning my loss in a corridor. I
still shiver at the memory of that. I didn’t tell anyone about that part, it’s
just a bit too private.

Jon and I talked a little bit about the end of my dream–when he came to see me
in Sickbay–and he thinks it’s important that at the end I jumped onto the alien
transporter in order to save the ship. I suppose he’s right, but I wish I really
believed that my decisions in the dream world necessarily translate to this
world.

I mean, it’s nice that he thinks I’m braver than I was a year ago, and that
means a great deal to me, but does that really help? If I’d failed in my dream,
I still would have woken up, but if I’d failed in speaking to the Axanar, the
ship might have been destroyed. Do you see? There’s no comparison.

This nightmare shows that I’m worried that I haven’t really grown in the past
year: deep down I’m still the nervous ensign who didn’t want to go on away
missions. Am I really valued by my crewmates? What if I let everyone down? How
would people react if I died?

Honestly, the symbolism was so obvious, I’m a little embarrassed by the whole
thing. Okay, I’m a lot embarrassed, but I feel better now that I’ve told
you about it. But I know you, and I know that at this moment you’re tapping your
fingers on the desk, your eyes are narrowed, and you desperately want to say…

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Love,
Hoshi

After Precious Cargo

NOTES: I know, I know, I say I want to avoid shippiness, but c’mon…with an
episode like this, how could I resist? Thanks to Taryn for the read-through.
DEDICATION: For my hard-working–and currently off-line–beta, Captain Average,
the superhero who rocks. Come back to us soon; my punctuation needs you!

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

At least if Trip was going to have a one-night stand, he picked a beautiful
woman. I don’t know exactly why that makes it better, but it does. (I know it
had the exact opposite effect when Eric slept with the oh-so-statuesque Nomali,
but that was different. How? I don’t know. It just was.)

I’m trying fairly hard not be jealous of Trip, considering my own behavior on
Risa. How well I’m succeeding is strictly a matter of opinion, mind you.

Granted, I don’t know for certain he had sex with this Kaitaama person, but from
the look on his face…I’d say the evidence is mounting. (So to speak. Good
grief, have you ever noticed how anything can be a double entendre in the
wrong hands? What am I saying? Of course you have, and you’re the one who taught
me–so this is all your fault.)

More information, less whining, you say?

Okay, we stopped to answer a distress call from an alien cargo ship, which
claimed they needed help with repairs. Trip went over to help fix a stasis pod
they said carried a passenger. (More on that later.) Well, he realized pretty
quickly that no matter how good his intuitive understanding of machinery, the
project would go faster with a translation.

I brought over a UT programmed to translate the written language and found him
staring into the pod. And she was certainly gorgeous, mostly human in
appearance, with just a few spots on the sides of her head. Trip barely even
looked at me, just said thanks.

“It’s not polite to stare,” I said, trying not to laugh at him as I left. (Of
course, if I’d known he was going to sleep with her, I might not have been
laughing.)

The Captain offered to give these aliens a lift to where they were supposed to
drop off Kaitaama, but they said no; Malcolm found that rather suspicious when
we discussed it on the bridge, I’ll give him that. But the Captain shrugged it
off and went to have dinner with them.

It wasn’t long before the Captain was calling Malcolm to go check out what was
going on, because Trip wasn’t answering his comm, then the alien ship broke
loose from the docking clamps…with Trip on board.

Turns out–did you not see this coming?–the stasis pod didn’t hold a passenger,
but a prisoner, on her way to be ransomed by her people. And when she woke up
and Trip let her out of the pod, the alien captain panicked and took off.

We set out in pursuit, but the alien ship played a dirty trick, dropping these
particles that clogged our engines. (I could practically hear Malcolm
filing that trick away for later use.)

While we were limping our way along with no warp engine, Trip was taking a ride.
(See? Everything I say comes out…twisted. Definitely all your fault.)

As Trip told the story, he and Kaitaama wormed their way through access tubes,
jumped in an escape pod, and landed on an island, where they waited for rescue.

But the smirk on his face says they did something else while they were waiting,
and somehow I don’t think he was found in his underwear just because it was hot
on the planet. Boy, Trip works pretty fast, and under difficult circumstances,
too. You’ve almost got to admire that.

Of course, while he was, shall we say, otherwise engaged, (ha!) we were
frantically worried about his safety. Engineering worked their behinds off to
purge those intakes, the Captain nearly wore a hole in the deck pacing, and
Malcolm swore to take out every bit of their engines next time we caught them. I
even witnessed T’Pol sounding mildly concerned for his safety.

She pointed out that the remaining alien needed Trip to repair the stasis pod,
but once that was done…ominous silence.

That’s when the Captain decided to really lean on the alien we had–oh, did I
mention one of the aliens got left behind? I suppose I was too caught up in
describing Trip’s sex life. (Say the word obsessed and we can have a little talk
about one lovely lady whose name was…let’s see, Nasreen, wasn’t it? Mm-hmm, I
thought you’d see reason.)

In any case, the Captain, in great desperation, hatched an odd, but effective,
plan. On the theory that good cop/bad cop might be new to this sector, he and
T’Pol threatened the alien we had in custody until he gave us the warp signature
for his ship.

I would have given almost anything to see the ruse being carried out. I don’t
know exactly how it worked, but I saw T’Pol go by in full Vulcan robes, and
Malcolm says the Captain was playing good cop. Vulcan bad cop–now
there’s something you don’t get to see every day. I shudder to think what
kind of threats they must have come up with–those two can be pretty dangerous
when they’re working together.

Whatever they threatened him with, it worked. He spit out the warp signature,
and we took off at top speed for the location we pinpointed, expecting to find
Trip’s lifeless body somewhere along the way.

The ship was floating empty when we found it, no detectable life at all, which
gave us a bit of a jolt, but then T’Pol found biosigns on a nearby planet (the
only one with an atmosphere). That was when I caught a faint signal, possibly a
homing beacon, but it cut off before I could pin it down precisely.

The Captain, Malcolm, and a security team went down, while the rest of us
waited. I nearly bit Travis’ head off for speculating about what they might
find. (Must remember to go apologize to him later. I’m sure he understood, but
still…)

Malcolm took great relish in describing the scene as they found it–especially
Trip’s state of partial undress–and from his description, I’d say I’m not the
only one who thinks Trip was a busy busy boy.

Well, it was pretty anticlimactic, but there you go. Trip came back safe and
sound, Kaitaama was returned to her people, and the villains were turned over to
the proper authorities. (And boy, was that a diplomatic and linguistic
mess: Kaitaama’s people screaming about what happened to her, the villains’
government screaming about our treatment of their people, and the Captain trying
to do first contact in the middle of everything.)

But I’ve just woken up from the first full night’s sleep in a few days, and
things are looking brighter already. I hope all went well in Norway, and you now
know everything there is to know about Norwegian eating habits. I’m still
holding out for a package of smoked fish, you know.

Love,
Hoshi

After The Catwalk

NOTES: Thanks to Captain Average for the beta 🙂

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

It’s one of those conundrums you hope they answered when they were building the
ship, but it turns out they didn’t. And let me tell you, the results weren’t a
pretty sight. The conundrum?

What happens if everyone takes a shower at the same time?

Why, you might reasonably ask, were we all taking showers at the same time?
Because we’d all been trapped and showerless for eight days, of course.

Okay, I’ll stop teasing you before you break something. Enterprise encountered a
class 5 neutronic storm. No, I don’t know what that is any more than you do, but
it was going to bombard the ship with deadly isotopes. That, I
understand.

The crew took shelter on the catwalk–the maintenance shafts running the length
of each warp nacelle–because it’s the best-shielded part of the ship. And it
turns out that if the warp reactor is running, it gets pretty darn hot in there.
As in, unbearably, unlivably hot. So, we had to shut everything down. We dragged
in supplies, and Trip managed to transfer navigation in and rig up a toilet. But
that’s about it.

We were there for eight days.

Oh yeah, there were also these aliens that were immune to the isotopes, that
tried to take the ship, but that kind of thing happens all the time, so I don’t
really have anything new to report there.

You know, there was some yelling, some shooting, and the Captain nearly had to
destroy the ship. The usual stuff.

But compared to the stress of all of us crammed into a small space for eight
days, a few aliens with guns are hardly a challenge.

As I told the Captain, this experience should have taken care of any lingering
claustrophobia. We’ll find out the next time I need to use an EV suit, I
suppose.

There were some amusing moments, like Chef practically burning Malcolm for
complaining about meatloaf, and T’Pol’s attempts at “hanging out” with the crew.
I would lay odds that the Captain kicked her into it, because I find it hard to
believe she would eat with us or watch a movie without pressure from above.

In the end, I think she rather enjoyed it, though. We’re really corrupting the
poor woman–I’ll bet her own people will hate her when she returns.

There were certainly also some tense moments: Malcolm and Trip arguing over
whether there was time to install a shower on the catwalk, a few debates over
food, and the incident with Ensign Laurie’s perfume. (Don’t ask, just don’t
ask.)

But somehow we survived.

Now that the whole thing is over and we’ve all been released back to our
quarters, I suppose I can see the Captain’s point, that the crew has come closer
together from this experience. (Perhaps a little closer than we wanted…)

I know we’ve only got 80-some people (and one dog) on board, but as humans tend
to do, we’ve created little cliques, and it was good to be forced to spend time
with people we might otherwise only have known to nod to.

We played a lot of cards (and I greatly improved my abilities at poker, you’ll
be happy to know), did a lot of puzzles, and watched a lot of movies. (Although
I’m going to make a point of finding out who picked them. Just because men are
in the majority on the ship doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get the occasional movie
women would enjoy.)

Ensign Tanner and I spent an enjoyable few hours discussing Brazil, as it turns
out he spent a few summers there some years ago. Lt. Hess and I had a great time
trashing the men on the ship just scandalously. What else? I discovered that
Crewman Kelly has absolutely terrible taste in literature. And she’s promised to
loan me the next three books in the series.

I even got to give some language lessons. A few people wanted to learn a little
bit of Vulcan, which I thought was encouraging, and one crewman asked to learn
some Spanish, because he’s got a crush on Lt. Rivera. Very sweet, I think.

As I said, we survived, and I think we are a bit more of a team than we were
eight days ago. But as a substitute couldn’t we just have done some of those
annoying team-building exercises they always foisted upon us in the dorms? I
actually found myself wishing the Captain had just made us sit in a circle and
recite our names and favorite music instead.

By the way, the picture of the smoked salmon? Not funny. Not funny at all. And I
hear you laughing, don’t think I don’t. I’ll get my revenge somehow. After all,
I’ve been practicing on Travis.

Love,
Hoshi

After Dawn

NOTES: Despite WDCA scheming to keep me from seeing this episode, I succeeded.
Thanks as always for the beta to Captain Average, the superhero who liked this
episode more than I did.

* * * * *

Dear Annie,

Would you believe that Trip is a budding linguist?

No, I didn’t think so, and neither do I…although I have to admit he didn’t do
half bad with our latest first contact.

But Trip’s going to be lucky if the Captain ever lets him off the ship again,
let alone by himself. See, he went off to test some modifications to shuttlepod
one, and managed to get shot down by a pilot patrolling the area. (I’ve decided
he’s sort of the Enterprise’s version of Mark: voted most likely to get himself
in trouble by simply standing around and looking cute.)

In any case, we lost track of them just after detecting the other ship, and both
Trip and the other pilot ended up crashing on one of the 62 moons of this gas
giant. As far as Malcolm and I could tell, they just disappeared.

There’s no way the Captain would leave it at that, of course, so we started
searching. It wasn’t long before we ran into the ship looking for the guy who
shot Trip, and unsurprisingly, they (the Arkonians, that is) weren’t all that
friendly.

Meanwhile, Trip was on this moon (which thankfully had an atmosphere) with an
alien and no UT. Apparently it took Commander Genius quite a while to figure out
that yelling wasn’t going to work and switch to gestures, but once he began
that, he did pretty well.

Maybe he really was listening to my lectures on first contact and
language? It only looked like he was napping.

It might have gone faster, I suppose, if the alien had been a little more
interested in communicating and a little less interested in stealing the
transceiver Trip was trying to repair. Quite a bit of time was wasted in beating
the crap out of each other before they got around to talking–thus proving
conclusively that the alien was also male. (In other circumstances, I might not
make such assumptions about whether this species has the same genders as humans,
but this is practically proof, don’t you think?)

While they were beating each other senseless, Enterprise and the Arkonians were
searching the 62 moons for them, getting more worried with every one eliminated.
The Arkonian captain didn’t help with his pronouncement that if his pilot had
shot at Trip, Trip was already dead.

T’Pol made it even worse with her thermal scan showing that many of the moons
dropped to minus 5 degrees at night and up to 170 degrees during the day. After
getting him off that desert planet alive, we weren’t really interested in
letting him broil now.

So, we searched while Trip and the alien learned a few words in each other’s
language and tried to share water–except the other guy (Zho’Kaan) didn’t drink
water. I’m sending you the chemical composition of his drink separately, you’ll
find it fascinating, I’m sure.

They managed–or Trip managed–to get the transceiver working and I was so
incredibly relieved to get his message. Then it was just a matter of tracking
his signal back to him.

When we got there, the Captain was all ready to transport Trip and Zho’Kaan up
to the ship–since the moon’s atmosphere somehow interfered with shuttle
engines–when Phlox objected. Just to make things more complicated, the
dehydration Zho’Kaan was suffering meant that his cells were degrading (don’t
ask, that’s what Phlox said, and I trust him), thus a transport would kill him.

Brave, impetuous Commander Tucker refused to leave Zho’Kaan alone, insisting
that an Arkonion shuttle could be modified to survive the atmosphere and pick
them up. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to kiss him or kill him when he finally
made it back, just barely surviving yet another sunburn and case of heatstroke.
Not to mention the fact he was bruised, beaten, and generally battered, thanks
to apparent testosterone poisoning.

I refuse to even get into the issue of the ability of Zho’Kaan’s saliva to heal
one of Trip’s wounds, because I find that a bit disturbing, and the science of
it even more improbable. I leave it to Phlox to figure out how and why it works
cross-species.

As I’m sure you can tell from my writing, I’m terribly short on sleep, so much
so that I can’t even remember how many shifts I just worked through to find
Trip. He looks terrible, but he’s alive. He’s alive. Now I’m going to bed. Love
to everyone and remember to send me your paper when it appears in Medical
Anthropology.

Love,
Hoshi

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