Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

The Ritual

The Ritual

by Mara

Summary: Hoshi is less than thrilled by the results of this first contact.

NOTES: This is a response to a Challenge in a Can from the Linguistics Database . As usual, I’ll reveal my
challenge at the end. This was just another one of those odd ideas that came up
during my vacation last year. Don’t ask me about this one, ’cause I couldn’t
explain it. Thanks for the beta go to Captain Average, the superhero who
laughed.

* * * * *

Hoshi gently banged her head against the wooden wall behind her. If she survived
this experience without committing either homicide or suicide, nobody,
absolutely nobody, was going to believe her.

Scrubbing her hands across her face, she wiped off the sweat that had formed. In
the humidity of the small room, there was nowhere for it to go, so it rolled
down her neck, tickling like a trail of insects.

The sweat ran under the sodden towel wrapped around her and Hoshi shifted
uncomfortably on the bench. Through the steam, sounds drifted toward her, oddly
muffled and yet echoing at the same time.

She couldn’t decide if it was worse to listen or to try and block out the sounds
around her. Trying to distract herself, she went back to finding human
equivalents to the smells of the room. At least it wasn’t the pine smell that
she hated so much. Vanilla? Maybe, but a sharp vanilla, if such a thing were
possible. With just a hint of seaweed.

The steam cleared for a few moments with an eddy of air, and she got a good look
at the noisemakers on the other side. Hoshi had to admit that the view, at
least, was impeccable. Lined up in a row, black towels wrapped around their
waists, and muscular damp chests on display, were Jon, Trip, Malcolm, and
Travis.

If only they could be quiet and let her enjoy the view, things would be fairly
peachy. Well, toasty, but bearable. But no, the Captain insisted that if the
Enterprise crew was going to join the festival ritual, they weren’t going to do
it halfway. In between making the abominable noise that was tormenting her, they
were swigging a foamy white liquid out of huge mugs.

When they returned to the ship, she and Dr. Phlox were going to have a little
talk about the exact definition of the words “mild intoxicant.”

But first, a suitable revenge would be prepared for the helpful alien who said
that participants often sang as they sat in the steam.

The noise died down, and the four men stopped singing and started comparing
their present experience to other first contacts. Unfortunately, the “mild
intoxicant” seemed to have reduced their vocabularies by a large amount, and
they replaced many of the words they were groping for with “thingummy” and
“whatchamacallit.”

Hoshi banged her head against the wall behind her as the four men opened their
mouths and resumed their song. The same song they’d been singing for at least
the last hour.

“Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer…”

* * * * *

My challenge was linguist/torment/sauna. What would you have done?

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