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By Samantha Quinn
Rating: Right now: PG-13. Will be R later, Romance
Being sneaky is not a treasured Vulcan quality. That truth did not deter Soval however, as he made his way down the corridor.
*Must . . . provide. . . distraction.* Soval’s mind registered. *Must. . . not . . . allow a . . .physical . . . to take. . . place.*
The doctor was waiting for him, Soval knew. Ventik had contacted him point one five minutes prior to alert him that their ship had arrived at the rendezvous point and to remind him of the necessity of a physical.
*Cannot allow it,* Soval chanted to himself. *They will know. They MUST NOT know.* Therefore, Soval was well on his way to engineering to provide a suitable diversion. *If the ship is in peril, both Ventik and the Captain will be willing to forget the physical protocol,* Soval reasoned.
Four point six two minutes after Soval had received Ventik’s communication, the Vulcan ship began to shake. Unknowingly, the crew of the ship proved Soval’s logic to be flawless as sickbay rushed to treat casualties and Soval’s physical went forgotten.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Captain Archer furrowed his brows and turned to his science officer in confusion. “What kind of engine trouble, Sub-commander?” he inquired of T’Pol.
“Unknown, Captain,” she replied.
“An alien attack?” the Captain asked.
“No,” T’Pol said, not bothering to mask the confusion evident in her voice. “It appears to be an internal problem.”
“Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about Vulcan ships, Sub-Commander,” commented Lt. Hess, “Am I correct in assuming, however, that they do not frequently experience ‘internal problems’ which cause a near warp core breach?”
T’Pol barely acknowledged the presence of the woman as she answered, “That is correct, Lieutenant.”
The accentuation on the word lieutenant was so slight that it went unnoticed by nearly everyone on the bridge. Certainly Hess did not notice. The only one who did was the one person whose job description included listening for such distinctions in tone. Although the situation on the bridge appeared to be grim, Hoshi Sato could not help but allow a smile to creep across her face. *That’s right, Lieutenant,* she mentally laughed. *Now, kindly exit the bridge and allow T’Pol's COMMANDER Tucker back up here. * Unfortunately, the both the Vulcan and Andorian ships chose that moment to respond to her hails, interrupting Hoshi’s enjoyment.
“The Vulcan ship is hailing us, Captain,” she informed Archer.
Out loud she replied, “Aye, Captain,” Archer didn’t seem to notice her emphasis, but Hoshi caught the glance from Malcolm. *Ah, you noticed did you, Lieutenant Reed? Perhaps T’Pol’s romantic advice wasn’t too far off after all. Now if she’d just use it herself, perhaps we’d actually see Trip on the bridge more often . *
The view screen provided a picture of a slightly middle aged Vulcan. His hair was only tinged with gray, and the wrinkles were evident only around his eyes. As with all Vulcans, however, the Captain maintained a veneer of calm and dignity although his ship had nearly self destructed. Grudgingly, Archer had to respect the Vulcan for that.
“Captain Archer, I presume?” the Vulcan on the screen asked.
“I am Captain Jonathan Archer,” the captain of the Enterprise replied. “We’ve noticed your ship has experienced engine trouble. Do you require assistance?”
Archer clenched his fist in reply. *What’s new?* he wondered angrily. “Is Ambassador Soval ready?” he replied forcefully.
“Yes,” the Vulcan replied, tilting his head. *These humans, they tend to anger so easily,* he thought in confusion. “His shuttle pod is ready to depart.”
“We’ll see him when he arrives. Archer out,” the Captain replied.
Cutting the transmission, Hoshi informed the Captain, “The Andorians are hailing us, Captain.”
*Aw, no rank,* Hoshi thought wickedly. “Aye, sir.”
The face of Shran appeared on the view screen. “Archer, I grow weary of waiting,” the Andorian Ambassador stated. “I am ready to begin negotiations. Is the Vulcan ready?”
*Well, that’s a nice attitude to begin peace talks with,* Archer thought wearily. Suddenly he was beginning to wonder if perhaps the ‘winging it’ plan hadn’t been so wise after all. “Yes, he’s on his way,” Archer informed the Andorian. “As soon as you’re ready to depart-"
“I will be leaving now,” Shran interrupted. “I will see you shortly, Archer.” With that, the Andorian ended transmission.
With a sigh, Archer turned to face T’Pol. “Well, that went well, don’t you think, T’Pol?” he asked, feigning cheer.
“The peace negotiations are unlikely to proceed smoothly,” she replied.
*Perhaps it is the illness that allows my agitation to be so pronounced,* T’Pol reasoned. To Archer she responded, “It was not my intention to be ‘comforting,’ Captain.”
Giving up, Archer turned towards Hoshi. “Ensign, hail engineering. Tell Commander Tucker to meet me in the landing bay.” Turning towards T’Pol he said, “Come on, Sub-Commander, we have guests to greet.”
Once inside the turbolift, Archer turned towards T’Pol. “Sub-Commander, has there been any progress –"
“Oh. Are you going to be okay with this-meeting Trip in the landing bay? If you aren’t-"
“As far as I am aware, Captain, my health will not be threatened by the mere presence of the Commander. If that becomes the case, I expect you to relieve me of duty as I will no longer be fit to be second in command.”
Although Archer himself had pointed the very fact out to Trip, he dreaded the implementation of the act. “Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, Sub-Commander.”
“You have said that before, Captain. The phrase makes little sense. It is most logical to contemplate all the possible outcomes of a situation.”
“I prefer to look at a situation as being half full, Sub-Commander. But I do have a question. If Trip’s mere presence doesn’t bother you, how about you and he start joining me for dinner again?” The Captain had been eating alone since T’Pol’s attack.
“Commander Tucker has been. . . missing his mealtime with you?” T’Pol asked.
“Then perhaps you should take the opportunity to dine with your other senior officers,” T’Pol suggested.
“I thought of that,” Archer agreed. “But the last time I tried that-with Malcolm-well, it wasn’t very successful,” he lamented.
T’Pol nodded, having heard of the fateful breakfast escapade. “It may be prudent to invite another member of the bridge crew along with Lt. Reed. It may make him feel more at ease.”
“Any suggestions?” Archer asked, thoroughly intrigued that the Vulcan who he knew to be such as stickler for protocol was providing insight on improving crew relations.
T’Pol thought only briefly before answering. “He seems the most relaxed around Ensign Sato. In addition, inviting Ensign Sato would prevent anyone from assuming your intentions to be sexist.”
“Hmm. . . . maybe. But maybe I should invite Travis too.”
“If your intention is to get to know them better, that would seem a foolish plan of action. You will have assembled nearly the entire bridge crew. Such formality would seem to be a formidable barrier to the human concept of ‘getting to know one better,’ as I understand it,” T’Pol informed the Captain. “Especially in the case of Lieutenant Reed.”
“Hmmm. Well, I guess you’re right. Hoshi and Malcolm it is,” the Captain decided.
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One person has made comments
I really liked this part and can't wait for the next piece. I was very amused at T'Pol giving Archer advice, and her putting Malcolm and Hoshi on an intercept course via the Captain's Table raised another smile. I have a feeling we are going to have problems with Soval again. Just hope those 'pinkskins' are properly prepared. Thanks for another lovely chapter. Ali D :~)