“Ve’eesa famu Dyen-bellea Sai njava!” Crack! (With the chime of bells)
“Aesam bi, sjava tu famu seeq bh’lava!” Crack! (Ding!)
“Ui be, tu ghra’aan rhi rho be sbahi bi no, porsa ge Sai njava!” Crack! Crack! Crack! (Ding! Ding! Ding!)
Jonathan Archer clapped his hands as Hoshi snapped the ahn-woon over her head in a salute. “That was perfect, Captain!”
Hoshi sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow, making the chimes on the end of the ahn-woon jangle in disharmony. “That’s exhausting. I only hope I don’t actually hit anyone. This thing packs quite a punch.”
“I have confidence in your new-found skills, Captain Sato,” T’Pol commented as she nodded in satisfaction. “I would suppose that even the Lurans will decline to get too close.”
Hoshi chuckled as she handed T’Pol the ahn-woon. “Thanks, Lieutenant. Let’s get ready...we make planetfall in less than eight hours.”
The three of them left the cargo bay. Hoshi and Jon discussed last-minute details of the mission. The Away team would consist of Hoshi, Jon, Trip, Malcolm and T’Pol. Hoshi wanted T’Pol as the shuttlepod pilot and for coaching on the ahn-woon. T’Pol had accepted the assignment with grace.
“I would’ve wanted you to go in any case, T’Pol,” Hoshi said gently. “I value your counsel.”
The Vulcan’s face flushed slightly, but she recovered her balance. “Thank you, Captain.”
Jon said. “I need to help Trip with his armor and weaponry. He looks like an overbuilt tank. I think he said something about rigging up a platform with wheels so he can wheel himself around. It’d be faster than walking.”
At the sound of his name, Trip shouted from somewhere behind the cargo crate. “I can’t believe I gotta wear this, Hoshi! I look like a tank with legs. I can’t see through this freakin’ helmet—“
Jon gave a long-suffering sigh. “Sorry, Trip, the Lurans were pretty specific about security officers’ garments—“
“I’m gonna file a protest!”
Hoshi stifled her laughter. “Sorry, Trip. At least you won't wear it forever.”
T'Pol raised her voice as she asked, "Do you need further assistance, Lieutenant Commander Tucker?"
The Armory officer sputtered in frustration and anger; Hoshi could imagine how his face reddened with embarrassment. "Nah, thanks for the offer, but I think we're good."
Jon sighed again. “We might be a while, Captain.”
Hoshi couldn’t help but laugh. T’Pol raised her eyebrow, but her eyes shone with sympathy. “Go ahead, Jon. Make sure Trip doesn’t hurt himself.”
He laughed and waved farewell as he took the turbolift towards the Armory. Hoshi glanced at T’Pol and said, “Meet me back here in six hours, Lieutenant.”
Hoshi took the lift down to Sickbay. Malcolm glanced up as the doors open and gave her a tight smile. He waved her towards his office. Hoshi sat in the seat directly opposite from him; he handed her a PADD with exam results on the screen.
"These are the results of Crewman El-Sadr's physical. As far as the tests go, he passed them with flying colors. There isn't a damn thing wrong with him."
Her eyes narrowed at the results. "Absolutely nothing?"
"Trip suggested a chemical imbalance, but I can't find any sign of it. I'm beginning to wonder whether or not El-Sadr may be feeling the effects of his previous misadventures in his Security career."
Hoshi scowled at the implications. "You think it's something like PTSD?"
"He has undergone plenty of trauma...it's made him mentally and emotionally stronger. Trip described him as a valued member of his team." Malcolm shook his head, as if unable to believe what he was seeing. "But we're only human, Hoshi...and there's a point where we start to crack."
Her eyes softened at his words and she nodded. "Perhaps you can suggest counseling for him?"
"I've talked to Kov...he actually has more experience with psychological trauma of this sort than I do. He's willing to conduct therapy sessions with El-Sadr."
She nodded again. "Inform El-Sadr about the arrangements. Keep me appraised of his progress, Malcolm. Trip needs everyone on his staff as physically--and mentally--fit as possible."
"Of course." Malcolm took a deep breath and managed a smile. "I did inform Trip that he is still due for his own physical and that El-Sadr's situation is not an excuse for him to miss his own."
She smirked, despite herself. "Trip hates physicals. I think it's prevalent among Security officers."
"At least I have no such trouble with the rest of the command staff."
"I need to set the example for the rest of the crew." She gave him a wry look. "As well as overworked doctors."
Malcolm chuckled and raised a hand in surrender. "Very well...I shall endeavor to take better care of myself. Far be it for me to risk the wrath of my captain."
"And your friend. Don't forget that." She smiled and leaned forward to pat him on the arm. "Shuttlebay Two in six hours. We've got a meeting with the Lurans."
"I'll be there."
"See you later, Malcolm." She nodded at him and left his office. He needs to take better care of himself...
Exactly six hours later, Hoshi stepped into Shuttlebay Two. She wore a sleeveless black dress, fitted at the waist with a red sash. It came to the top of her white calfskin boots. A red cape around her neck completed the ensemble, and the ahn-woon was coiled and attached to her belt.
Silence fell over the deck as people saw their captain. Jon blinked and T’Pol looked at her with a raised eyebrow. Malcolm had just ducked through the shuttlepod’s hatch; he turned and stuck his head out to see what the silence was all about. The doctor’s mouth dropped in utter shock.
“Good Lord,” he whispered hoarsely.
“The Lurans were specific about my garb,” Hoshi admitted with a shrug. She blushed at Malcolm’s reaction, though her heart sped up under his scrutiny. “Just like Trip’s.”
Trip Tucker waddled through the shuttle deck, his metal helmet and leg guards clanking like a ghost on Halloween night. Shiny chains criss-crossed his chest and wrapped around his waist, and daggers adorned both hip sheaves, both ankle sheaves, two holders on his upper arms, and a huge sword perched from his back like a plume of peacock feathers. Hoshi stifled her laughter at Trip outraged voice. It echoed within the helmet as if he was in a deep cave.
“This is not funny!” he ranted. “I look like a zombie in a bad horror movie.”
“You don’t have to wear the helmet until we’re down there,” said Jon, and he helped the Armory officer remove the helmet. Trip’s normally immaculate blond hair was mussed and stuck up in all directions. Trip blew out a relieved breath and tried to flatten his hair.
“Quite...becoming for a man who specializes in weaponry,” Malcolm said, deadpan.
“Geez, Malcolm. I’d like to see you try to handle all this," Trip shot back. "I'm gonna get a hernia if I breathe wrong."
“At least that would be treatable,” Malcolm muttered under his breath, just loud enough for Trip and Hoshi to hear. Trip only glared at him, but he responded with an implacable expression. Finally, Trip’s face dissolved into laughter and Malcolm joined in. The doctor helped Trip into the shuttlepod with T’Pol’s assistance.
“Disaster Twins,” Jon said with a grin. “I think we’d better keep an eye on them while we’re down there.”
Hoshi nodded. “Most definitely.”
The shuttle ride down to the planet’s surface was uneventful. T’Pol received landing instructions from the High Council and brought them up on the screen. Malcolm made a noise of disapproval.
“What is it?” Jon asked.
“It appears we’re going to land in a circular clearing with Lurans on all sides.”
Trip nodded, making his chains rattle again. “We’ll be surrounded. I don’t like it, Captain. If something goes wrong, we don’t have a way out.”
Hoshi glanced at Malcolm, then Trip. If Malcolm as a doctor could see the obvious... “T’Pol, I’m going to have you stay as close to the shuttlepod as possible. If we need to run for it, at least one of us will be able to warn Enterprise."
“That’s an order, Lieutenant.”
T’Pol nodded and answered, “Yes, Captain.”
Just before they landed, Malcolm went around with a hypospray and administered a dose of tri-ox to each member of the away team. The heavier gravity and thinner atmosphere could affect their health, so they wanted the extra security. Just before Trip cycled open the hatch, he put away the hyposprays and took his medical pouch filled with hypodermic needles instead.
Trip wriggled out with a horrible clanging and grinding, fully armed with daggers, sword, chains and helmet. A roar of approval came from the assembled Lurans and they chanted, “Fawh-der. Fawh-der.” The word for warrior. He carefully bowed to the Lurans, nearly toppling over in the process, but he caught himself at the last moment. Slowly, he turned and offered his hand to Hoshi, who was the second one out of the shuttlepod.
The ring of Lurans began to tighten around them, but Hoshi uncoiled her ahn-woon and whipped it around her. A startled murmur spread over the crowd, but they withdrew to a safe distance. Trip glanced at her; although she couldn’t see his grin, his eyes sparkled through the visor.
“Ne’jo shree lehan’di,” Hoshi announced in a loud voice, tossing her long black hair over her shoulder as custom demanded. “Uo dre’mie skell wa brun’dei chu.” And with the last syllable, she snapped the ahn-woon to her right, missing Jon by mere inches. Jon flinched involuntarily, but otherwise didn’t move a muscle.
As she went on with the speech, the murmuring of the Lurans grew louder and louder. Hoshi switched to the second dialect without pause and snapped her whip in the direction of the largest Luran. He jumped backwards with ease, despite the heavier gravity. Trip leaned casually on the side of the shuttlepod, one hand on the dagger on his right side. To all appearances, he looked proud and vigilant as he watched his mistress’s back. Hoshi could see the fatigue in Trip’s blue eyes; the heavy armor was already taking a toll on him. Her sharp ears picked up Jon and Malcolm’s conversation among all the voices.
“Jon, about two o’clock from us. The two big ones with the broadswords.”
“I see him, Doctor. What’s the guy on the right doing with his hands?”
“Looks like signals of some kind. I think he’s telling his fellows to be ready.”
“How do you know that, Doctor?”
There was a pause, then Malcolm replied, “I’ve been around Trip and his armory team too long.”
Hoshi slipped into the third part of her speech and cracked her ahn-woon to her right, between the two Lurans that Malcolm indicated. Both Lurans jumped to avoid the heavy bells as they flew past them. Then she reached the last three lines.
“Ve’eesa famu Dyen-bellea Sai njava!” CRACK!
“Aesam bi, sjava tu famu seeq bh’lava!” CRACK!
“Ui be, tu ghra’aan rhi rho be sbahi bi no, porsa ge Sai njava!” CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!
A sudden silence fell over the clearing as Hoshi saluted with the ahn-woon. Then, the horde of Lurans dropped to their knees and began clapping their hands and thumping their weapons on the ground. Hoshi glanced at Jon, who nodded in approval.
“I think they understood,” Jon said with relief.
“Mistress!” called one of the Lurans whom Malcolm had noticed. “Please, will you and your fawh-der and your mates come with us and celebrate our friendship?"
Per Luran tradition, Hoshi glanced at Trip, who straightened from the shuttlepod. “Do we have an assurance of my Mistress’s safety?” he shouted. “I will not allow her to leave my sight!”
“Yes, we swear it!” roared the Lurans.
Jon repeated the question and received an affirmative response. Then Malcolm, his clipped English accent harsh in the thin air. The Lurans roared their approval a third time.
“The Mistress’s mate is the Healer!” jeered another Luran. “How can he protect her?”
The rumble grew angry. Hoshi saw Trip and T’Pol surround her in a tight circle, with Jon and Malcolm on the opposite side. “Easy, Malcolm,” Jon murmured. “You know their opinion on doctors here.”
“How would they know Doctor Reed is the captain’s 'mate'?” T’Pol queried. Her eyes scanned the crowd with heightened awareness. “Neither he nor the Captain has given any indication of such a relationship.”
“I dunno. Maybe a lucky guess?” Trip muttered.
Hoshi saw a blur out of the corner of her eye. One of the Lurans—the one who had jeered at Malcolm—launched himself in Malcolm’s direction. Trip grabbed one of his daggers, but before he could throw it, Malcolm ducked under the bigger man’s arm, then drove his own fist into the Luran’s jaw. The Luran staggered back, his broadsword swinging wildly.
“Look out!” Malcolm yelled and pushed Hoshi out of the way of the sword. Trip let the dagger fly, but it only glanced off the Luran’s armor. Another Luran swung some kind of club at Trip, but the heavy chains warded off the blow with a dull ring.
The melee had started.
The heavy chimes of an ahn-woon rang through the air as the end of it wound itself around the other wrist of Trip’s attacker. T’Pol pivoted and flung the Luran against the side of the shuttlepod. Trip nodded his thanks at her, then threw his other dagger at a Luran directly behind T’Pol. She ducked and rolled out of the way.
To your left, T’Pol! She automatically flung her weapon at another attacker, wrapped the end of it around his ankle and pulled him off-balance. Then as her body reacted without conscious thought, she suddenly realized that he was hearing Trip’s voice in her head, seeing images through his eyes, understanding his warnings before he uttered them.
How can this be? She had no time to ponder the strange phenomenon, for she had her hands full watching both Trip’s and Hoshi’s backs. She had lost Jon and Malcolm in the fray and she hoped both men were all right.
Hoshi saw Jon’s Universal Translator go flying as the flat side of a sword knocked it out of his hand. He rolled out of the way and came up with a punch that made the Luran stagger backward. That was all she saw as a huge arm came around her waist and jerked her backwards.
“Hoshi!” Something whizzed through the air and buried itself in her captor’s arm. The bigger man screamed in pain and let go. She realized what it was: the sharp end of a hypodermic needle. She whirled around and knocked her would-be captor down with her ahn-woon.
The battle stopped abruptly, as if someone had thrown a switch. The man who had tried to abduct Hoshi climbed unsteadily to his feet. He glanced at Hoshi, then with a smooth motion, he grabbed Malcolm by the front of his jumpsuit and hoisted him in the air. Trip began to move, but fatigue had already taken a toll on him, and he gasped in pain.
“Put him down,” Hoshi ordered, enunciating each word clearly.
The Luran ignored her. He glared at Malcolm, who glared right back. The staring match lasted a full minute before a wide grin broke out on the Luran’s face. “You have warrior’s blood, Healer,” he said, his tone deadly. “I underestimated you. I should have known you would defend your Mistress with your life, if needed. Your claws still draw blood.”
Malcolm managed a smirk. “I see you noticed.”
The Luran growled and shook him once. “Keep your sharp points to yourself, Healer, and we will get along just fine. Understand?”
“Clearly,” Malcolm replied, but there was no mistaking the menace in his own voice. If you pull this bloody crap again, I will shove those hypodermic needles down your throat. The Luran's grin widened at the unspoken threat, then he let Malcolm down with an abrupt thump.
He turned to Hoshi. “Come and share a meal with us. You have all proved yourselves worthy. Bring your mate, your fawh-dehr and his mate, and your translator. We have much to discuss.” And he strode through the crowd, the Lurans following him in a wave.
Trip glanced at T’Pol, who raised an eyebrow. “What a welcoming reception,” Trip groused and winced again.