auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
[personal profile] auswitcheroo151
It was late by the time Travis and Shurtus left the Crystal Temple. Travis shaded his eyes against the glow of sunset. The reds and oranges threw shadows on the mountain, obscuring the peak and valleys.

"I hadn't realized how late it's become," Shurtus said. "We should return to base camp as quickly as possible."

"I agree with you."

Both men attached their ropes, crampons and pietons, checked their lines, then slowly made their descent. The Singing Mountain reflected the colors off its surface; if Travis hadn't known better, he would have thought the mountain was literally made of fire. He smiled at the thought.

Fire, water, ice, wind, earth...

The Elements chose that time to go haywire.

Suddenly, the wind scaled upward in pitch and the hum from the mountain echoed it. The vibrations shook the surface of the cliff face. Travis gripped his lines with white knuckles as the ropes groaned in response. He glanced up and to his right to see Shurtus hanging on for dear life as the cacophony increased. Travis couldn't talk to him even if he tried; the noise was tremendous.

Abruptly, the humming ceased. Travis opened one eye, then the other. The silence was just as deafening as the chaos that came before it. Slowly, he looked back up at Shurtus, who was already checking his ropes. Travis began to do the same; he hoped the vibrations hadn't jarred something loose.

A shriek of metal sliced through the air and Shurtus slid down the cliff face, banging against rocky outcroppings and stray boulders. The rope whistled through the safety ring with alarming speed. Travis dug his spiked boots into the rock as deeply as he could. As Shurtus tumbled past him, he grabbed the Climbing Master and used his superior weight to stop the deadly fall.

It worked...for all of five seconds. Shurtus's momentum tore Travis's hold and he found himself tangled within Shurtus's lines as he plunged after the Climbing Master. His fingers still had a grip on Shurtus's jacket, but they were falling too fast...A part of his mind registered shouts and cries from nearby climbers.

A jolt of pain slammed into him and he jerked to a stop. He nearly lost Shurtus, but managed to keep him from falling away. Despite himself, he yelled curses in trader tongue and at least two other languages as waves of agony hit his brain.

"Don't move!" shouted a voice. Travis painfully turned his head to see a Risan mountain ranger in full rescue gear. "You've got your leg jammed in a crevice, young man. It's the only thing that's keeping you from falling the rest of the way."

"That's...just...great..." Travis moaned. He couldn't see his leg, but judging from the ranger's expression, that was probably a good thing. No wonder it feels like I've been snapped in half.

"You're pretty damn lucky. Okay, we've got your friend secured. Let go of him nice and slow. The extra weight won't help us get your free."

Travis pried his fingers loose. "Is he okay?"

"He's unconscious, but so far so good. The rescue transport's ETA is ninety seconds. Hang on."

"I'm...hanging..."

The ranger chuckled. "I guess you are. Keep up that sense of humor...it's a lifesaver."

"Yeah..." He clung to consciousness, but he hardly felt the arrival of the rescue shuttle or the hands of the other rangers as they carefully moved his leg out of the crevice. A stab of sharp pain hit him and he blacked out.


T'Pol sat in the back of the jazz club, listening to the house band's attempts at John Coltrane. The music was decent, yet she winced every time the players hit a wrong note or strummed the wrong chord. Part of her understood these Risans had learned the music second-hand; none of them had ever set foot on Earth. Another part of her thought, Why bother learning it at all if you cannot learn the correct way to perform the pieces? It is an insult to the one who created it.

A second inner voice reminded her, Trip would say 'it's the thought and the effort that counts'.

She hid a smile. Of course, if Trip discovered where she was, it would turn every belief he had about Vulcans on its ear, figuratively speaking. A jazz club on Risa? It appealed to her sense of aesthetic, the slow music ideal for meditation. Jazz had some elements in common with Vulcan music, and she rejoiced in the similarities.

She sipped from her water glass and settled back to watch the rest of the patrons. This club was not on the main boulevard, so the audience was small and intimate. T'Pol wore an off-the-shoulder dress of light blue, with a matching scarf hiding her pointed ears. The overall effect brought adoring looks from the male contingent, but she ignored them all.

Coltrane's soft strains complemented her mood. It had taken several hours of meditation to clear her mind of the excess emotions from her visit to the garden. Guilt, grief, regret...they had no place in her life now. She'd fulfilled her last mission for the Vulcan Security Council, and immediately resigned her commission afterward. Luckily, she still had contacts in Vulcan Space and Ship Operations, and spent the next twelve years there.

Twelve years with the VSSOM, eighteen months at the Vulcan Science Academy, at her mother's request. A total of thirteen and a half years since that fateful day, when she had silenced Tolaris. He'd deserved it. Still...although she shouldn't feel regret or remorse for her actions, it still niggled at her consciousness.

Surak said that confronting your past can excise emotions connected with it. He is correct.

The trumpet player hit another wrong note and she winced. The band reached the end of the song to a smattering of applause. T'Pol finished her drink, left a tip on the table, and quietly left the club.

The communicator in her pocket buzzed once. She automatically reached for it and flipped it open. “Lieutenant T'Pol.”

“Lieutenant, this is Lieutenant Cutler. Forgive the interruption of your shore leave, but there is a medical emergency, and we can't locate Doctor Reed.”

She straightened up abruptly at Cutler's report. “Has the captain or Commander Mayweather been alerted? Or Lieutenant Commander Tucker?”

“The captain's transponder is off, as well as Lieutenant Commander Tucker's. As far as Commander Mayweather-he's the medical emergency. He was treated on Risa for a minor injury, but apparently, it was more serious than they'd thought. Commander Phlox and Doctor Kov have beamed up to the ship--”

It must be serious, if Kov cannot remedy the situation, she thought, and Lieutenant Cutler is hardly an alarmist. T'Pol thought quickly and said, “I shall make inquiries here as to Doctor Reed's whereabouts and appraise him of the situation.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant. Cutler, out.”

T'Pol found it strange that Doctor Reed hadn't left any indications of his whereabouts, even on shore leave. It hardly fit the careful personality she knew of him. Then again, perhaps Malcolm hadn't wanted to be disturbed. T'Pol didn't blame him at all; he was a private person.

She sighed and began her search.


Malcolm shook his head as Trip regaled the women with stories of his illustrious career in Starfleet Security. One thing was sure, Trip was definitely the raconteur; Malcolm remembered the time he'd told the tale of how he'd met Ambassador Soval and Jonathan Archer at the Vulcan Embassy in San Francisco. The entire senior staff sat in Trip's quarters, packed like sardines, and listened to it...

He glanced at Flame-Haired, as he mentally dubbed her. Her actual name was a string of tongue-twisting syllables that Malcolm had trouble repeating, even after his years of learning Vulcan. Rainbow's name was just as bad, and Trip stuck with the nickname instead. They seemed friendly enough, and were so close that they finished each other's sentences.

The bartender kept the drinks coming from the bar, and by the time the night was far advanced, Malcolm was feeling a pleasant buzz. He felt his normal reserve slip away, and he allowed himself to relax for the first time in a long time.

“So...you're a doctor? I feel a bit faint; can you cure what ails me?”

He chuckled at the feeble pick-up line. Of course, he'd heard it before. “Feeling faint? What can I do to make you feel better?”

Flame-Haired smiled and leaned closer to him. “How about we go some place a little less...public? It seems your friend can take care of himself. R'haialaparoskia'tiapi is besotted by his charm.”

His mouth quirked up in a slight smirk. “Ah. And you aren't?”

She laughed lightly and answered, “The quiet ones are the most interesting, and you definitely interest me.” Flame-Haired leaned back towards her sister and said something in their musical language. Rainbow laughed and replied something that made Flame-Haired laugh.

“Did you know that Risa has a network of subterranean gardens?” Rainbow said, batting her eyelashes at Trip. “It's nice and quiet...in a manner of speaking. We can be...alone.”

Trip raised his eyebrows and glanced over at Malcolm. “Really,” he said. “Whaddaya think, Malcolm? Game for an adventure?”

“You're the one who goes headlong into adventure, Mister Tucker,” Malcolm reminded him, though his voice wasn't as sarcastic as it could have been. “Someone has to make sure you survive in one piece.”

Trip rolled his eyes, even as the women exchanged a humorous glance. “I don't need a babysitter.”

“I didn't say that. I'm a doctor, remember? Think of me as insurance against the Gods of Mayhem.”

“You as a good luck charm? That's a new one, but for some reason, that doesn't sound bad at all.” Trip stretched and got up from the couch. He gallantly offered Rainbow his arm. “All right, then, ladies. Lead the way.”

Malcolm did the same, the image of a perfect English gentleman. Flame-Haired giggled and took it as they strolled through the club. They entered the long hall and took the stairs downward, towards the basement. Malcolm noticed the curious glances as they went the opposite direction of most of the crowd.

He looked over at Trip, who still appeared as the carefree, devil-may-care sailor on shore leave. Yet Trip gave him a slight nod to indicate he'd also noticed. Rainbow indicated a wooden door set in the wall. Next to the door were a few oil lanterns on a shelf.

“Can you please bring down a couple of those lanterns? It's dark down there, but the flames give the entire place a certain ambiance.”

“Sure,” Trip said. He retrieved one of the lanterns and handed it to Malcolm. “Gimme a minute, Doc, and I can jury rig this to give us a brighter light.”

“Better to see with.”

“Yeah.” Trip's voice was still casual, but he focused on his lantern. “Tell us more about these subterranean gardens. I don't remember readin' about 'em in the guidebook.”

Rainbow giggled and lowered her voice. “Only certain people know about the Gardens, Trip, and once you see them, it's an experience you'll never forget.”

“Really? Hm...you know, Malcolm, maybe you can bring Hoshi down here sometime.”

Malcolm's head snapped around and he stared at Trip. What the hell was that remark all about? He'd been successful in not thinking about what the Enterprise's captain was doing on her shore leave. Now Trip's comment dredged up all of his concerns all over again.

Be truthful. More than concern. Try jealousy. Risa is known for their various forms of entertainment...He tried to keep the chill out of his voice. “Excuse me?”

Trip went on as if he hadn't noticed Malcolm's reaction. “You know...if the ambiance is the right one. Then again, that might not be a good idea. She'd kick your ass if she didn't like it. And then she'd want to know how you found the Gardens in the first place and you'd have to explain it to her.”

Malcolm rolled his eyes and covered his unease with sarcasm. “Who says I have to tell her? She's her own woman, remember. I don't have any control what she does and with whom.”

Trip shrugged as he ignited the lantern, which sputtered and died. After a muffled curse, he tried the firing mechanism again. “Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.”

“And an old-fashioned punch in the face by a superior officer isn't just something I purposely encourage, Mister Tucker.”

Trip nodded to himself as if confirming something. Malcolm remembered that Trip was friends with Captain Hayes; of course Trip would make sure no one was going to get into a fistfight over Hoshi. Malcolm understood his concern, but he sternly controlled his rising anger.

Trip gave him a smile of apology, then his eyes flickered towards the women. “'Kay, then, it's your funeral.”

Malcolm smirked and thought, There's no way I'm going to let that go, Mister Tucker. Aloud, he said, “If I have to tell Hoshi, you have to tell T'Pol.”

Trip gave him a dirty look, but was there a spark in the Armory officer's eyes? “T'Pol? Nah. She's a Vulcan...she wouldn't like this kinda thing.”

“Speaking of a good arse-kicking, she'd pound you into the dirt if she found out about this, you know.”

Trip looked up and gave him a deliberate shrug. “I ain't tellin' her, and you aren't either.”

“A bit of blackmail, Mister Tucker?”

“You wouldn't dare. What're the words: 'do no harm or the Gods of Karma will get you'?”

“I can't do any permanent harm, but I can provide as much pain as necessary.”

Rainbow and Flame-Haired glanced from one to the other. Malcolm saw the look of uncertainty pass over their features. Trip's mention of a Vulcan and Malcolm's mention of pain seemed to unsettle both of them. Flame-Haired raised an eyebrow, but Rainbow gave her an unladylike sneer and shook her head.

“Got it!” Trip said and his lantern finally sparked and gave off a bright light. He quickly did the same to Malcolm's. “All right, ladies, we're in business.”

Rainbow giggled again, back to her girlish persona. “Good. The Gardens await! You're both going to love this!”

Flame-Haired stepped past Trip to unlock the door. It swung open to reveal darkness behind it. She tugged Malcolm's hand and coaxed him forward. They went down a wooden staircase. Malcolm couldn't see more than a couple of meters ahead, but the dust tickled his nose and nearly made him sneeze.

Dust? In a garden? Malcolm immediately knew it was a trap. He was about to yell at Trip when a cool tone echoed from the foot of the stair case.

“I see you are in the midst of your youthful indiscretions, Mister Tucker, Doctor Reed. I am quite disappointed in both of you.”

Malcolm stopped so suddenly that Trip ran into him. Trip raised his lantern to reveal a familiar shadow at the foot of the stairs. The shadow stepped forward and resolved itself into the regal figure of Lieutenant T'Pol.

Trip swallowed hard, his face flaming red like a signal light. Despite the shadows of the oil lamp, Malcolm saw the look of abject horror and embarrassment...and the resulting emotion hit him like an ion blast. Trip was mortified that T'Pol had seen him in such a rather...compromising position.

Although it could have been easily much, much worse. At least all the parties involved were clothed. T'Pol's shock, concern, and thinly veiled amusement didn't show on her face. Malcolm sensed a thread of...irritation? Anger, that they'd managed to get themselves into this situation? And that she was the one who had to get them out of it?

It was that thought that made Malcolm blush. Thank God for the Vulcan sense of discretion...

Trip tried to salvage whatever dignity he had left. “Uh...hi, T'Pol. Good to see you.”

She tilted her head and answered in that rather cool tone: “Trip.”

“Of all the basements in the Universe...”

“Indeed.”

Rainbow whirled around and grated out in a low growl, “This is the Vulcan you talked about?”

“It's a trap!” Flame-Haired shouted. Her voice was no longer the high-pitched feminine trill. It was now a rough, masculine voice.

Rainbow pushed Trip out of the way in her (his?) hasty scramble for the door at the top of the stairway, but in her (his?) haste, she (he?) stumbled and fell. Trip grabbed Rainbow and slammed her (him?) into the wall.

“Oh, no, you don't!” Trip shouted. The woman's form began to shimmer. “What the hell-?”

Flame-Haired tried to escape, but Malcolm threw himself in her path. As he watched, her tiny frame stretched and filled out into...a burly, bearded male. If he hadn't actually seen the process himself, he would never have believed it was possible. Luckily, T'Pol wasn't as stunned by the transformation. She reached over and put a hand on the shape-shifter's shoulder. Apparently, their nervous systems were similar to a Humans, for the shapeshifter dropped to the floor, unconscious.

Rainbow's howls attracted the attention of the club patrons upstairs, and Risan security thundered to the door. The head security guard took one look at the shapeshifter and motioned for the others to take her (him? It?) away. Others went down to retrieve Flame-Haired; at least he (she?) retained the hair color of the disguise.

“Our gratitude. We've been trying to apprehend these thieves for months,” the club owner gushed. “They've tricked many of my patrons and robbed them blind. I am forever in your debt.”

“Yeah. I'm sure they'd clean us out for whatever we were worth,” Trip muttered, “then probably tie us up and leave us down here in nothin' but our underwear.”

The security guard snorted in derision. “Not to say your security is by any means sophisticated.”

“I was planning to upgrade the system next week,” the club owner protested.

Malcolm nodded at T'Pol. “Thank you for your intervention. How did you know we were about to walk into trouble?”

She raised an eyebrow and answered, “I have my means of knowing these matters, Doctor.”

“Yeah, and how'd you get in here, anyway?” Trip added. “Isn't the stairway the only way in and out of here?”

T'Pol shook her head and pointed at a window high up on the opposite wall. Malcolm had missed it in the darkness. The glass pane had been meticulously removed. “It is fortunate that no one saw my minor instance of vandalism. Then, too, this room is hidden from the street, and excellent to hold unlicensed liquor products...or robbery victims.”

The security guard narrowed his eyes at the bar owner, who turned pale at the scrutiny. Trip waved T'Pol and Malcolm to the door. “C'mon, I think these guys have the situation under control.”

They quickly made their way out of the club. Once they were safely in the crowd, Trip said, “Thanks, T'Pol, you really saved our bacon back there. And...do me a favor? Don't mention this to Hoshi, 'kay?”

Her mouth quirked into a slight smile. “I will not, Lieutenant Commander Tucker.”

“A pair of beautiful women-” Trip muttered.

“They were male,” Malcolm shot back.

“Not at first!”

“We nearly got mugged by a couple of shapeshifters who were women, and then they changed into men.”

“That really makes me feel better, Malcolm.”

Malcolm snorted in laughter and T'Pol looked over him with a sober expression. “Lieutenant?”

“You are needed on the ship, Doctor. Commander Mayweather has been injured and needs medical attention.”

Her words made him sigh and shake his head. A doctor was never off-duty, even on shore leave, and if they needed him, they would find him, despite his best efforts. “Then let's see what's the problem.”
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auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
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October 2012

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