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And Baby- Ch. 3
And Baby Makes Four
By Samantha Quinn
Eight years, ten months, three weeks and two-point five days ago . . .
Archer treasured meeting new species more than any other part of space exploration. Discovering new life forms and representing all of Earth provided a thrill like no other. Especially on the occasions in which they were actually friendly.
Especially if they were a race the Vulcans hadn’t met yet.
“Captain, the sensors indicate the ship has similar warp drive capability as the Enterprise,” T’Pol’s voice interrupted Archer’s thoughts. “There are ninety-four life signs aboard. All appear to share similar biological construction.”
Archer nodded and turned his attention next to Lieutenant Reed. “How do their weapons look, Malcolm?” he asked the armory officer.
“They appear to have similar phase weaponry, sir. They do not appear to look inordinately advanced. Nothing we can’t out-shoot, sir,” came the confident reply.
“Hopefully it won’t come to that, Lieutenant,” Archer responded with a short laugh.
Although Lieutenant Reed would not say it aloud, he briefly considered what type of Captain would take the weaponry of a potential adversary so lightly. Considering the Enterprise’s record thus far, Reed believed it fundamentally prudent to take the matter very seriously. They had made far more enemies than friends in their short time in space.
In the absence left by Malcolm’s silence, Hoshi Sato joined the conversation. “The aliens are hailing us, Captain.”
“On screen, Ensign.”
The alien that appeared in front of Archer and crew was humanoid, although vastly different from any type of humanoid the Enterprise had encountered before. The entity stood only at about four feet tall and possessed a long cone shaped head. The green shaped cone was adorned with lavender feathers. A small orange bill sat where the mouth would have been on a human counterpart and completed the bird like picture. Archer half expected a chirp to come out when the alien spoke. Instead, the entity spoke with a deep voice which commanded instant respect regardless of his species’ diminutive stature.
“Greetings, Captain. I am Captain Nantuck of the Gabbaccian star ship Letal .”
Archer turned to look towards Hoshi in surprise. These aliens seemed so different in appearance from any they had encountered, he had expected there would be some difficulty in deciphering their language. Yet, the universal translator seemed to pick up their language right away.
“Amazing,” the linguist remarked. “Captain, that wasn’t the translator. These aliens speak perfect English.”
“Ah, yes. We have had dealings with your people before,” Nantuck informed them.
Archer realized the moment that Nantuck spoke that he had not properly introduced himself. Feeling a bit silly but now truly intrigued, Archer hastened to make amends. “I’m Captain Jonathan Archer of the Earth Star Ship Enterprise. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Captain Nantuck. I am curious as to where you’ve met my kind before. We’re the first Earth star ship to have made it out this far,” Archer added, trying not to sound quite as suspicious as he felt.
The alien responded with a brief nod of his head. “I am afraid the Gabbaccians have had space travel for some time, Captain. We have had the pleasure of observing many races that we have not actually had contact with.”
“So, you’ve just been spying on us, then?” Archer posed, feeling a deep surge of resentment at the idea of being watched like some type of science experiment.
“Please do not take offense, Captain,” the alien implored. “We are a peaceful people and our past experiences have proven caution to be a valuable tool in making contact with new cultures. Not everyone values peace as we do,” Nantuck finished.
The explanation mollified Archer somewhat. “Then why are you contacting us now?” he inquired, his tone showing less agitation than it had previously.
“We may be peaceful, but we are still explorers. We have determined your people to be peaceful as well except in cases of self defense. It brings the Gabbaccian government great pleasure to initiate contact between our peoples.”
Archer felt most of the anger drain out of him. These aliens may not have chosen the most polite way of learning about human culture, but they seemed to have the best intentions. Besides, they were fellow explorers.
“On behalf of the people of Earth, I appreciate the amount of trust you’re placing in us, Captain Nantuck. Would you and your senior officers care to have dinner on the Enterprise tonight?” Archer suggested.
The Gabbaccian captain nodded his head enthusiastically. “That would be extraordinarily pleasant, Captain,” he agreed.
Archer suddenly felt very foolish for having doubted the alien earlier. The Captain seemed so amicable that Archer didn’t remember how he could have been suspicious of him just moments prior. “How about 1930 for dinner?” he proposed.
Nantuck nodded again. Archer reflected that each nod of Nantuck’s head made the little alien’s whole body shake. “That is most agreeable, Captain Archer. I will be bringing my second in command, my chief physician, my chief engineer and my overly concerned chief of security, if that is acceptable.”
Archer chuckled. It brought him a good deal of solace to know that he was not the only Captain in the galaxy plagued by an overly anxious chief of security. A brief glance at Lieutenant Reed confirmed the armory officer’s disapproval at this entire strand of conversation. “I understand, Captain Nantuck. I’ll gather the same officers. That way we’ll have plenty of fodder for conversation.”
“Until then, Captain Archer. Letal out.”
Archer afforded the screen a short nod before it went black. He then stood and waited for the predictable objections.
“Captain-“ T’Pol began but Archer held up a hand to stop her protest. “I know you probably don’t approve, T’Pol, but I can’t just pass up the opportunity. Besides, the Gabbaccians have done nothing to indicate that they have any malevolent intentions.”
“Does spying not constitute ‘malevolent’?” T’Pol contradicted.
Crossing his arms across his chest, Archer replied, “Was that the Vulcans’ intent during the years they observed humans-to be malevolent?”
“Vulcans did not spy. We initiated contact immediately upon finding human having warp drive technology,” was T’Pol’s even reply.
“May be these aliens have different standards, T’Pol. We can’t judge every alien race by human-or Vulcan-standards.” Archer turned to Reed. “I suppose you disapprove as well, Lieutenant?”
Reed’s expression was much easier to read than T’Pol’s had been, but Archer suspected that their expressions would have been identical, if Vulcans allowed themselves to express emotions more freely. Still, regardless of the tone of his facial expressions, Malcolm made his voice nothing less than the very textbook definition of professional. “I do question whether it is wise to allow such creatures to infiltrate the Enterprise, Sir,” he admitted. “Especially allowing their security officer to come aboard seems incredibly risky.”
“But you’ll be there to protect us, Malcolm,” Archer replied and sighed wearily. “I’m going to engineering to alert Trip of our plans.” At least he’ll not be as pessimistic, Archer thought to himself as he headed towards the turbo lift.
Irrespective of the protests uttered seven hours prior, Malcolm, T’Pol, Trip and Dr. Phlox waited in the shuttle bay along with Captain Archer for the arrival of the Gabbaccian shuttle pod.
*The four highest ranking officers on board and the only physician all waiting like sitting ducks* Malcolm thought to himself. *Completely improper. If we were to get ambushed . . .*
But the Captain was not concerned about that possibility. Neither, it appeared, were Commander Tucker or Doctor Phlox, both of whom had expressed only cheerful optimism at the idea of meeting a new alien race. Even an alien race that had confessed to spying on them.
“At least they told us the truth,” Trip had remarked. “They coulda lied.” *Well, that makes them completely trustworthy, doesn’t it?* Malcolm thought to himself. *They actually had the decency to tell the bloody truth instead of lying to us . . . well, by all means, let’s welcome them with open arms. While we’re at it, why not just hand them the phase pistols to shoot us with?* With that thought, Malcolm gripped his own pistol hanging at his side a bit more tightly.
Of course, Phlox was only delighted to be involved in this first contact. The Denobulan was perhaps the entity most interested in meeting other cultures out of the entire ship. Not that Malcolm didn’t appreciate meeting new cultures. On the contrary, Reed considered it a major benefit of the Starfleet experience that the Royal Navy did not have. Along with the lack of water, of course.
Malcolm was as fond of meeting new cultures as any of his colleagues. He just wished they could be a bit more cautious.
At least he’d finally gotten the Captain to agree to posting extra security outside the shuttle bay. A small concession, but one that had taken a great deal of coaxing from both Malcolm and T’Pol. Archer hadn’t wanted to make his guests feel uncomfortable once they left the shuttle bay. Eventually, the Captain had agreed but only on the condition that the extra security would try to look as inconspicuous as possible when they left the shuttle bay if there was no perceivable problems. Malcolm had relented, happy at least with the knowledge that they would have back-up if they needed it.
Still, that concession didn’t make Malcolm feel a whole lot better. *They ARE still OUT there and we are still IN here.* he reflected. In other words, the back up most likely would not arrive in time if Malcolm’s fears were correct.
*So we’ll all die. But my men will insure that the Enterprise will stay safe* Malcolm found that thought somewhat consoling.
“Hey, Mal, what kind of morbid thoughts ya havin’ over there?” Trip whispered. Why he bothered whispering, Malcolm didn’t know. After all, the Captain was standing practically right next to him. Only T’Pol stood between them, and Malcolm was rather certain her small frame did nothing to shield the sound of Tucker’s comments. A glance from the Captain confirmed that suspicion.
“I am not having any type of ‘morbid thoughts.’ And please refrain from calling me ‘Mal’, Commander,” Malcolm told Trip.
“I betcha were having morbid thoughts. Ya always do in impending moments of doom, Lieutenant Mal,” Trip replied.
“This is not an impending moment of doom, Trip,” Captain Archer reminded them exasperatedly. “This is a historic moment of first contact with a seemingly peaceful species.”
“Yeah, but Lieutenant Mal is probably not thinkin’ like that, are ya?” Trip teased his friend. “He’s probably workin’ out all kinds of emergency procedures just in case our new friends turn out to be set on sabotaging the Enterprise.”
“It has happened before, Commander,” Malcolm reminded the engineer.
“Aw, hell, Malcolm. Ya know you’re bordering on paranoid, right?” he added.
“I merely wish to be prepared. It is my job to do so, Commander.”
“Is it your job to be paranoid, too? Really, Malcolm, I don’t know what you’re so worried about. The Cap’n tells me our friends are only about four feet tall. I’d say we can take ‘em out if they try anything tricky.”
“It is not wise to dismiss our visitors’ potential strength due to their diminutive stature, Commander Tucker,” T’Pol remarked. “I am after all quite smaller than you in size but as I am a Vulcan, I have twice the strength as you. In fact, I can render you unconscious with a single pinch to the neck.”
Trip turned to look at her in amazement. “Do ya think about that often, T’Pol?” he asked.
“I find great consolation in the fact when you are behaving most illogically and overly emotional,” T’Pol informed him.
“In other words, very often, Trip,” Malcolm remarked.
“Snarky bastard,” Trip grumbled.
“All right you three, that’s enough. Our guests just arrived,” Captain Archer said, putting an end to their banter. Privately, he understood that their banter was a positive sign of a growing friendship. This quite pleased the Captain, especially in the case of Malcolm and T’Pol, who weren’t exactly the most outgoing members of his crew. Still, it was doubtful if the Gabbaccians would completely understand the idea of friends calling other friends “snarky bastards.”
Archer opened the door that lead to the landing area once the shuttle had safely landed.
As he did so, the shuttle pod slowly opened and out came five nearly identical Gabbaccians, lead by Nantuck. Nantuck wore a long green robe, while his companions all wore much shorter blue robes. Archer surmised that it must have been a way to indicate Nantuck’s rank, as there were no other visible insignias present. For that matter, there were no outward sign of gender differences either.
*Perhaps Nantuck doesn’t have any female senior officers* Archer contemplated. *Either that, or there’s a difference that I just can’t pick up.*
“Welcome to the Enterprise, Captain Nantuck,” Archer said, extending his right hand. Nantuck took it with little hesitation. While the hand structure was similar to humans, Archer was amazed to discover that in place of finger nails, the Gabbaccians had very sharp talons.
“Thank you, Captain Archer. Allow me to introduce my crew,” Nantuck said as the other four Gabbaccians came to stand beside him. “My second in command, Commander Lyceum; my chief of security, Lieutenant Jennair; my chief engineer, Lieutenant Sodan, and my chief physician, Dr. Aron.”
The four subordinate Gabbaccians nodded politely and extended their hands. After a brief pause, their Enterprise counterparts reached forth to return the gesture, including T’Pol, Archer noticed impressively.
“These is first officer Sub-Commander T’Pol; chief engineer Lt. Commander Charles Tucker III; chief of security Lieutenant Reed, and our physician, Doctor Phlox,” Archer introduced them. By the time he was finished, the two crews had finished shaking hands except for T’Pol and Lyceum. Lyceum had wrapped both hands around the Vulcan’s and was staring at her intently.
*Poor T’Pol. She must be hatin’ that* Trip thought somewhat sympathetically. Then remembering exactly how she had rejected his first attempt at a handshake, he stifled a laugh and decided to enjoy the view. *After all, her other hand’s free. She can always “render him unconscious” with one pinch, right?*
“Commander Lyceum,” Nantuck said firmly, “let go of the Sub-Commander’s hand.”
Lyceum let go quickly at the sound of Nantuck’s voice. “I apologize, Captain Nantuck,” he professed. “And to you as well, Sub-Commander,” he added to T’Pol.
T’Pol simply took a step backward and away from the offending creature.
Sensing the unease from T’Pol as well as the questioning look from Captain Archer, Nantuck sighed. “I apologize for my insubordinate’s behavior, Captain Archer. He’s just a bit overwhelmed at such a sight.”
“You have not encountered Vulcans in your travels?” Archer asked skeptically. Vulcans had been in space for so long it seemed nearly impossible to fathom that someone knew of humans but had not met their pointed ear counterparts.
“Oh, no. We’ve . . . encountered . . . the Vulcans,” Nantuck assured him. “It’s not the species that fascinates Lyceum.”
“Then what is it?” Archer wondered.
“It’s her gender. You see, there are no female Gabbaccians and haven’t been for the past two hundred years.”
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