auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
[personal profile] auswitcheroo151
Kov has an encounter that shakes him to the core and makes him doubt his own integrity. Jon uses his oratory skills to sway the Great Houses. Hoshi and Malcolm clear the air between them...in a way.

Kov nodded at Major Yoras, the head of the detachment assigned to his own safety. Unlike most of Betazoid Security, Yoras's squad's mental capabilities were a good match for Kov's own Healer's empathy. Kov understood the need for his deft touch; another Betazoid might not recognize him, and another Vulcan might not expect his presence. He thrust away all thoughts of Menos, but he remembered a long-ago conversation with his father, Minister Kuvak...


"Seventeen young Vulcans, Father, with a portion of their cerebrum completely destroyed. How could anyone do such a thing? It is a monstrosity!"

Kuvak had shook his head and replied, "What makes sense to a deranged mind is incomprehensible to the rest of us, my son. The Ministry of Security has safeguards in place to prevent this from happening. As a Healer, you will encounter this sort of thing, and you must prepare yourself for it."


Kov's regard for both Doctor Adai and Doctor Reed went up substantially. Somehow, both men were able to do what they needed to do for their patients without losing their own psyches, their own souls. Kov fervently hoped he would be able to do just as well in his own career.

A foreign presence jolted him out of his thoughts. Kov deliberately left his shields down as he scanned the source. The "flavor" of the mind was familiar to him. "He is Vulcan," he whispered flatly.

Major Yoras glanced at him with a glimmer of sympathy. "We'll take care of him, Doctor Kov. You don't have to do a thing. I know you Healers have an Oath similar to ours."

He took a deep breath. That was true, but he was aware that he might have to stretch that Oath at times. He winced as he remembered Doctor Reed's ominous words: “If you touch her, I will kill you. Make no mistake.” Reed was one of the last people he had expected to utter those words. If his feelings for Captain Sato were strong enough for him to say them...

...there was no doubt in Kov's mind that she was Reed's t'hy'la, even if Reed wasn't aware of it yet. Perhaps he was, but denied it. Kov didn't blame him one bit...Trip had described Sato's relationship with Captain Hayes as 'complicated'. Kov felt a surge of wistful sympathy for Reed, the man who was quickly becoming his mentor and his friend.

A new voice intruded into his private thoughts. Ah, I recognize you. My good friend Kov. What are you doing here, unless you've decided to join us?

Kov's mouth dropped open. "Jossen?"

The presence eased considerably and he felt a thread of genuine amusement. Jossen, his fellow medical resident, more brilliant than Kov and their entire class put together. The humor that he carefully hid from their fellow Vulcans came out fully. Kov felt Jossen's unabashed joy and relief at locating his old friend.

So, you finally decided to leave the company of those idiotic scholars and their farfetched theories about the Colonies. I'm sure T'Marui wasn't happy about that.

Kov's heart hardened. "T'Marui is dead."

Yes, we heard. I truly grieve with thee at thy loss. The sympathy in Jossen's mind-voice threatened to choke him. Well, that means you are free, are you not?

In a matter of speaking.

Good. Come over where I can see you. We need good Healers like yourself on our side.

Kov glanced sideways at Major Yoras and whispered, "He is an old acquaintance. He knows I'm here."

"You aren't thinking about going to him, Doctor! Your Lieutenant Commander Tucker would be quite displeased with us if you do that."

"He believes I am alone. Once I have him distracted, you can do what you must."

"Doctor-"

Kov stemmed a wave of anger. All he wanted to do was get this over with. "It is the only way."

Yoras clenched his jaw shut, but only nodded. "Very well."

Kov took a deep breath and thought, Where are you?

Follow my mind-voice. I'm not that far away.

He took a deep breath and began to move, with Yoras's squad shadowing him, and he hoped he wasn't making a fatal mistake.

Kov kept a mental link open to Jossen, and he was able to detect another presence with him. It was muted, but definitely there. To Kov's surprise, the two minds were entwined so closely that it was difficult to tell where Jossen's mind started and the other one began. As Kov observed, the two swept gently over his defenses, probed for cracks, and sent their thoughts through those holes. The audacity impressed him, as well as the effectiveness.

No mental shielding is completely impermeable, even the ones from the priestess of Mount Seleya. Menos has exploited this fact with ruthless efficiency. Fascinating. Kov followed without using his eyes, but using his empathy. It was a dangerous risk, but these attacks were based on emotion, not logic. So an emotional approach was more...logical.

His mouth quirked up in a dry smile. The Betazoids and the Vulcans were like two sides of the same coin. Little wonder that Menos and Jossen sought Betazoids for their plan. They complemented each other. And Humans? They were a combination of logic and emotion, and therefore a bigger threat as far as Menos was concerned. Quite ingenious.

You understand, Jossen said, sounding quite relieved.

"Yes," Kov replied aloud. "I do. I must admit it is an audacious plan, Jossen. I am impressed."

"That means a lot to me, Kov, considering it is not easy to impress you." Jossen stepped from behind a stand of trees. Kov's eyes widened in sympathy before he could stop himself.

He is old, Kov thought, with silver hair and lines on his face. Life has not been easy for him. Has he been a fugitive all this time?

"I would not call it 'being a fugitive'. I have been studying and dissecting the teachings of Surak, specifically, the mind arts. Wholly from a medical standpoint."

"Wholly?" He couldn't hide the doubt from his voice.

"To ascertain its effect on other species, such as Betazoids and Humans. They are very much alike physiologically, you know. Can you imagine what would result if they interbred?"

"Genetics is a fickle thing, Jossen, you know that. Humans are not natural telepaths; for all we know, it could dilute the ability."

"True, but what is the expression? 'Better safe than sorry'."

"You presuppose a theory that lacks any proof. Therefore, it becomes emotionally-based, and in that case, paranoia does not help your cause."

Surprise flashed across Jossen's face, followed by an expression of fury. Then it melted into the arrogant expression Kov knew well. "Peace, my friend. I did not come here to argue with you. I see that you are as passionate now as you were when we were at the Medical Academy."

"That is part of my personality and my profession. I cannot function any other way."

Jossen smiled slightly as he took in Kov's Vulcan Healer's robes. "It is agreeable to see you again, and as a full Healer this time. Congratulations. I have heard you have secured a place on the Human's ship. Is it on First Minister T'Pau's command?"

"Not exactly. It was an...arrangement made between my father and Minister Soultek."

"Ah. Rather like a covert assignment. You are the last person I would expect to work for the V'Shar, Kov, but I suppose that is the beauty of it. No one suspects it."

He inclined his head, but didn't contradict Jossen's assumption. His skin crawled at the prospect of being manipulated by First Minister T'Pau and Minister Soultek, but, "It was the best of many poor options."

"A pity that ones like us tend to find ourselves in such situations. That is the reason why we must band together, my friend." Jossen raised an eyebrow. "So. You work with Doctor Reed, T'Pol, Archer, Sato, Tucker...it would be a pity to lose that particular advantage. I've mentioned it to Menos, you know, and he agrees. You can be our eyes and ears as well."

Kov suppressed a shiver of revulsion. "Menos. He was V'Shar as well, like T'Pol. Interesting, that he's exploited the Betazoids. I would have thought he would have eliminated them."

"It's illogical to squander resources, Kov. Besides, we need to keep the Humans in check, and it's more efficient to use the local talent than risk your own."

"I see." Kov managed a slight smile

“I'm glad you do.” Jossen chuckled and switched back to mind-speak. You know that V'Shar agents work in pairs. I suppose I don't need to tell you that Menos is listening to our conversation. If you open your mind, use your Healer's Empathy, you can communicate directly with him, instead of using me as an intermediary.

“Ah. So if I do not appreciate what Menos tells me, I don't...'shoot the messenger'.”

Jossen chuckled again at the idiom. These Humans and their idioms. Are you sure they haven't corrupted you?

Kov bristled. I am Vulcan.

Jossen inclined his head, and his eyes took on a faraway look that Kov was familiar, one that indicated mental communication with another. Kov forced himself to wait patiently until Jossen's gaze cleared once more. He felt a definite surge of emotion welling within Jossen; it boiled like a living thing, all blacks and reds and yellow to Kov's Healer's eyes, ready to strike...

Then prove it.

Kov raised his own mental shields barely in time to ward off Jossen's attack. The impact still staggered him, and he nearly lost his footing. Suddenly, a shimmer passed across his vision, then he realized the Betazoids had adapted the Vulcan/Betazoid mind-linking technique for their own purposes. Their talents made up what he lacked, and vice-versa.

The sense of invulnerability was seductive, and Kov realized just how easy it could sway him to Menos's side. The realization-the temptation to disregard his Healer's vows-shook him to the core. That drove him to his knees, more painful than Jossen's attack.

Do not allow him to make you doubt your own strength, Young One. You saw the threat and acted accordingly.

He opened his eyes to find T'Pol kneeling at his side. Kov blinked as he tried to clear the fog from his mind. "Del'haia? Forgive me, I-"

T'Pol shook her head, her eyes compassionate. "'The cause was sufficient'. There is nothing to forgive. You now understand the razor's edge I must walk all the time. In that matter-" her mouth twitched with humor, "-it is possible you are stronger than I am."

Kov nodded as he met her gaze. There was a new understanding between them, and perhaps a basis of commonality to build a friendship upon. Granted, they still had differing opinions, but Surak had also said, 'I rejoice in our differences'.

"Jossen?" Kov asked hoarsely. "He is still a friend."

"He has been dealt with, Kov. I'm sorry.”

Kov reeled back, stricken. "I killed him-"

"No. It was his own choice, Kov. You didn't kill him." Her hand tightened on his shoulder. "You claim he was a friend, but he attempted to sway you, then when you wouldn't turn, to kill you. I doubt that would qualify him as a 'friend'."

He admitted the truth, but it would still take him a long time to accept it. Suddenly, he stiffened. “Where's Doctor Reed?”

“Here.” Malcolm appeared at his far side.“Menos escaped, damn it all! He has one of those sensor baffles; we've lost track of him.”

Kov could feel the tightly controlled rage just teeming under Malcolm's facade, locked down only with supreme effort. Whatever went on between him and Menos ran deeper than just hate. T'Pol's emotions were also painfully obvious, but nowhere as powerful as Malcolm's. Kov felt his own mental discipline unraveling as his still-raw Empathy picked up on both of them.

“Bloody hell,” Malcolm muttered, and the dark anger abruptly disappeared from Kov's perception. “I'm sorry---”

''The cause was sufficient',” he said thickly,“although, I do believe...I will pass out now.”

Luckily, they were there to catch him a minute later.

*****

Rumors about the psychic attacks spread over Rixx and the surrounding cities. It was difficult to hide the details from a tele-empathic people, so Minister Lev didn't even try. She issued an official explanation, detailing some of the events and what has being done to 'remedy the situation'. Both Lev and Saphia held a meeting of the Noble Houses with Hoshi, Trip, and Jon in attendance.

Hoshi wished Kov and T'Pol could attend, but both had been shaken by their battle with Jossen. A whole room of agitated Betazoids were more than they could handle right now. Malcolm, too, had opted out of the meeting. Hoshi didn't blame him one bit, but a part of her sighed in relief. She needed time and space to process what had happened between them.

Master Ven of the First House stood on the floor of the Great House Chamber and announced, “The First, Second, Third and Fourth Houses demand a formal apology from the government of Vulcan for unleashing this monstrosity upon us! And we want a guarantee that this Menos will be apprehended as soon as possible!”

“The Second House agrees,” chimed in Mistress Iorra. The elegant, black haired noblewoman stood as well. “If the representatives from Earth hadn't come, this plague would not have followed them here!”

“I object!” thundered Master Rol from the Sixth House. “Our guests are not at fault for the this incident. I will point out that Captain Sato---” he nodded at Hoshi, “---and the members of her crew have also suffered at the hands of these monsters! And might I add that our own people—Betazoids---participated in that psychic violation!”

Silence fell over the entire room after Rol's angry retort. Hoshi felt the anger, the horror, the shame, that they felt over this incident. They weren't angry at her or her crew or Enterprise, but at themselves, for allowing this to happen. Two thousand years of peace was on the brink of being destroyed by mistrust and rage.

This might be what Menos wanted all along, Hoshi thought bitterly.

Minister Lev nodded gravely, her face a tight mask. “Is the request of the First House supported by the majority? Will we jeopardize our good relations with First Minister V'Lar and Vulcan High Council because of the actions of a dishonorable man?”

Jon Archer glanced at her. “Minister Lev, may I speak?”

She gave him a surprised look, but nodded. “You may, Diplomat Archer.”

“Thank you.” Jon unfolded his long frame out of the chair and stood to address the Great Houses.

Trip leaned in his seat and murmured to Hoshi, “Here we go. Jon's gonna read 'em the riot act.”

Before Hoshi could object, Jon continued, “Minister Lev has a valid point, Masters and Mistresses. Are the Great Houses willing to break ties with Vulcan, an ally for two thousand years, because of what Menos has done? Are they willing to deny a new friendship because of the actions of a few?”

He waited for an answer, but got none. So he continued, “You follow a code of peace; so do the Vulcans, and so do my people. There are times when that code is tested, strained and even broken. When that happens, we can do one of two things. We can hide in shame, or we can overcome it and become stronger than before.” Jon inclined his head at Mistress Iorra and Master Ven. “Inner strength knows no specific race or House. We can all join together, and make sure this doesn't happen again.”

“And this Menos?” Master Ven demanded. “He is still free and may return.”

“True, but his treachery has been exposed.” Jon nodded at Saphia and said, “Now that we know just how he managed to combine Vulcan and Betazoid mental disciplines, we can detect it and counter it. I've spoken with both Ambassador Soval and First Minister V'Lar. They've reassured me that Security Minister T'Pau is personally handling Menos's pursuit and capture.”

Hoshi resisted a grin; even T'Pau's formidable reputation was known on Betazed. Trip's mouth turned upward in humor. He whispered in a low voice “Damn. Jon can convince 'em all to buy snake oil if he really wanted to.”

“He probably could,” she agreed. To her relief, both Ven and Iorra appeared mollified by Jon's reassurance. Saphia watched with a combination of pride and satisfaction.

“Are you sure we can't borrow him?” she asked Hoshi.

“If he were still part of the Diplomatic Corps, maybe, but he's under my command now. Sorry, Saphia.”

Saphia pouted a little. “I had to try.”

Minister Lev brought the meeting back to order. “Thank you for that insight, Diplomat Archer. We are indebted to you and Captain Sato and your crew.” She turned her attention to the representatives. “So, how do the Great Houses vote? Shall we agree on an initial treaty with Earth, for future peace and friendship, or shall Betazed stand alone?”

This time, the vote was unanimous. The Houses approved the proposal for a treaty between Betazed and Earth. It wasn't a concrete guarantee of a long-term partnership, but it was a start. Master Ven insisted on Jon's participation in its creation. Mistress Llandru, the head of the Third House, got to her feet and bowed to Jon.

“I would be honored to write down the particulars of this agreement, in the honor of my ancestors, with the instruments of the Master Scribe Llandru, whose pen resides in the Great Archive.”

It took Hoshi a moment to decipher her words. So, her ancestor was the man whose writing kit was the 'sacred item' of the Third House, and Mistress Llandru wanted to use it to record this momentous treaty. Hoshi wanted to cheer, and just barely held it in check.

Minister Lev nodded. “The honor would be ours. Thank you, Mistress Llandru.”

Hoshi exchanged smiles with Trip and Jon. Menos had failed to prevent a treaty between Earth and Betazed. The First Contact mission was a success.

*****
The treaty signing was a glamorous affair, with representatives of all the High Families of Betazed in attendance. In deference to the Humans, the two Vulcans and the one Denobulan, all were clothed in their most splendid attire as befitted their stations. Hoshi was grateful that no one had insisted on a traditional Betazoid ceremony. The ringing gong would have been a bit much, not to mention that she wasn't thrilled at seeing certain individual sans clothing.

Others, however...she firmly told her mind not to go there. Period.

Hoshi nodded at Kov and Travis in the middle of a group of adoring Betazoid women. Travis took it in stride, while Kov appeared flustered and embarrassed. She and Lev watched as Trip came to Kov's rescue and steered the Healer towards the dessert table.

“Your crew do care for each other, don't they?” Lev asked.

She smiled and said, “We do.”

Later, she made her way to the balcony of the Main Government building. Most of the younger members of the High Families congregated around the center pavilion and the fountains. Hoshi leaned against the railing and watched the activity below. Other members of her crew talked and chatted with their hosts.

She allowed herself a small smile. The next generation didn't have the prejudices of the older one, and with time and effort, perhaps Earth and Betazed---and Vulcan---could learn to work together in harmony.

This was why Enterprise was out among the stars. To explore space and find new allies. It made all the pain worth it.

*****
Jon watched as Malcolm made his excuses to Doctor Adai and the others. He spotted the captain on the upper balcony and went to join her. Saphia chuckled and he glanced at her.

"He is her imzadi," Saphia said softly. "And she, his."

Jon admitted they were a cute couple, but he felt obligated to tell Saphia, "Hoshi is romantically linked with another man right now, Saphia. Captain Hayes of the Columbia."

Her tone was regretful as she shook her head. "That path will only cause her pain."

"You don't know him-"

"Jonathan." Saphia's serious expression deepened. "I know you are loyal to your friends, and this Hayes is your friend, as well as Hoshi...and Malcolm. I'm not asking you to choose between them. All I can tell you is based is what I feel and what my instincts tell me. Keivan would agree with me on this."

He smiled sadly and shook his head. "You're telling me not to interfere."

"Yes."

"Dammit, I can't just watch my friends get hurt-"

"I'm asking you as their friend."

Jon took a deep breath and looked at them again. Finally, he said, "Fine, but I'll still keep an eye on them."

"I wouldn't expect any less of you," Saphia gave him a small, sad smile.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Despite herself, Hoshi's smile widened a fraction. “Are they worth that much?”

“Ha'pence, then.” Malcolm leaned on the railing on the other side. He also wore his formal Starfleet blues, with the snake-and-wings medical caduceus prominently displayed on his left arm. “I noticed you were able to get away from your admirers.”

They probably sensed my need to be alone right now, she thought dryly. Aloud, she answered, “Just needed some air, that's all. I'm glad we were able to reach an agreement, despite everything.”

“As am I.” Malcolm chuckled, then his face became sober. “Before we go any further, I must apologize."

Hoshi frowned at the sudden change of subject. Automatically, she demurred,"What? Apologize? There's nothing to apologize for."

His blue-gray eyes were the color of water, swirling and stormy. "Menos twisted my respect, my thoughts about you into something wholly inappropriate. If you believe that I should leave the ship, I completely understand. I-"

Hoshi raised a hand to his flushed cheek. "No, it wasn't your fault. I don't want you to leave."

"Are you sure?"

She paused, suddenly very aware of how he might interpret her request, but it was the truth. She'd barely known the man for a month, he was her chief medical officer...how was she to know that what she felt just wasn't more mental manipulation? Plus there was Matt Hayes. but he wasn't here. Malcolm was. She would see him every day and she couldn't avoid him even if she'd wanted to. A part of her didn't want to avoid him.

"Malcolm, I won't deny there's something between us, but I want to make sure it's real and not the result of some crazy mind-control." She smiled to take the sting out of her words. "No matter what, I would like to be your friend. Will that be acceptable?"

"Friends, then, and let the future take care of itself." He leaned forward and pressed his forehead to hers. "That will be fine."

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auswitcheroo151

October 2012

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