Notes: This story has been revised and parts of it completely rewritten. This is NOT the same as the original story that was here about a year ago. Some of the beginning chapters are mostly the same as the original (Up to about Chapter 3 and 4), but I've integrated elements from other Switcheroo Stories. I've spent time with reworking the series as a whole. There will be more First Contact and exploration stories and while the Vulcan/Romulan storyline will still be present, it will be reintroduced in a different way.
1) T'Pol is a Lieutenant, while Jon Archer is a Lieutenant Commander.
2)More emphasis on the beginnings of the crew's working relationships (and conflicts).
The title comes from Kirk’s line in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”, when he addressed McCoy, Chekov, Scotty, and Sulu before they steal the Enterprise out of Spacedock. Those words, in turn, come from a traditional Irish blessing
Pairings: R/S, TnT (brief Hayes/Sato before the mission begins. My fellow R/S shippers, don’t shoot me! LOL)
January 15, 2151
Captain Hoshi Sato stared out at the viewport at the silver shape floating in Spacedock. Transports and shuttles buzzed around it, dock personnel in EVA suits hovered over it with torches and welders, and lights blazed on it as bright as day. Her mind was calm, despite the chaos around her. She’d learned long ago to block out distractions; her sensitive hearing made that a survival skill.
Two more days and we’ll be sailing among the stars. She smiled as she felt a surge of pride. She, Captain Hoshi Sato, would be the commander of Earth’s first Warp 5 vessel. There were two Warp 5-capable ships being finished, the Enterprise and Columbia, but Enterprise would be the first to launch, much to the chagrin of the Columbia’s captain. He’d invited her to dinner the night before, the last she’d have on Earth for at least several months.
“Wanna trade places?” asked Captain Jeremiah Matthew Hayes. He couldn’t hide the envy in his voice, though his wide grin split his face.
“Hell, no, Matt,” she replied with an answering grin. “Besides, we’ll both be in joint training maneuvers with the Vulcans in a couple of weeks.Columbia’s almost done herself, you know.”
“Yeah, but—“ He sighed theatrically. “Seriously, Hoshi, you deserve Enterprise. I can’t think of anyone else on that bridge but you and you’ve got a fine crew. I can personally vouch for Commander Mayweather. He’s the best damn science officer I’ve ever had and he’s got a knack for working with people. I think he’ll do you well as a first officer.”
Hoshi nodded and sipped at her wine. “I’ve talked with Mayweather personally. His knowledge of the Boomer's trade routes and outposts will be helpful for our mission.” She and Matt chatted about their respective crews, assembled from all corners of Starfleet. Columbia not only had a Vulcan on board, but crew from several other worlds. Enterprise’s future Chief Engineer was a Denobulan. Matt thought that Starfleet was trying to integrate their Human and non-Human personnel as soon as they could.
“Is that a bad thing?” Hoshi asked him.
“I don’t know. The idea’s a good one, but—“he shrugged and said, “—I know the Vulcans and the Andorians don’t get along, and neither do the Andorians and the Tellarites. The last thing I want is a shipboard war on my first mission.”
“Good thing your Armory officer is a MACO. Major Nathan Kemper?”
“Yeah. Good guy to have at your side.”
The dinner had ended with a nightcap at the 602 Club. Everyone at the 602 knew both Hoshi and Matt; in fact, the rumors were that the two were not only fellow captains, but lovers as well. Matt Hayes, ever the gentleman, kept his mouth shut. Hoshi never confirmed---or denied---the rumor.
And now, as she gazed at her ship from the viewport, she knew Matt was doing the same on the other side of the station as he gazed down at Columbia. She felt a sudden thrill at the thought of their ships working closely together on their first mission.
A shrill chirp interrupted her thoughts. She winced at the sound, then flipped open her communicator. “Sato here.”
“Hoshi, it’s Admiral Forrest.” Max Forrest’s voice was quiet but she knew something wasn’t right. He was a consummate professional; the use of her first name meant something was really wrong. “I need to see you right away. It concerns the joint training maneuvers.”
She frowned. “Is there a problem, sir?”
“Not exactly...but I need to see you as soon as possible.”
She stifled a sigh and told him, “I’ll be right there, sir.”
Hoshi clamped her jaw shut. She mentally cursed Starfleet’s bureaucracy with a mix of Orion and Andorian curses. “Max, this is ridiculous! How can they change my crew roster two days before launch?”
Forrest sighed. When Hoshi had been his first officer on the Madagascar, he’d been the rock of stability for his crew. Now she could see the effort it took him to keep up that image. “Hoshi, I’m sorry. We’re swapping some of your people with Matt Hayes’s, but that still leaves some gaping holes to fill.”
“Does Captain Hayes know about this?”
He nodded. “I got more than an earful from him. He damn near chewed my ear off, but I don’t blame him. I gave him a modified roster. Unfortunately, that means he’s got to swing by Altair to pick up his new science officer and culinary specialist—“
“His chef’s going to be from Altair?” Hoshi tried to keep the horror from her voice.
“He’s got twenty-five years experience in Terran and Colonial cuisine, Hoshi. Skara makes more than rabbit food; I know Matt’s a meat-and-potatoes type.” Nevertheless, Forrest couldn’t keep the humor from his voice. “You’re going to be missing a communications officer, an armory officer, a helm officer and a chief medical officer.”
Hoshi stared at him and mentally threw out more curses in five more languages. “And how is Starfleet going to expect me to launch in two days with four key staff positions empty?”
“I can help with the helm and medical officers, but I need to talk with some people. I’ve got some recommendations for your armory officer, if you’d be willing to listen.” He slid a PADD across the desk to her. Its screen had only one name on it, a name that brought a faint smile to her face.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d thought you’d set me up.”
Forrest didn’t smile, but he said. “You have forty-eight hours to find your communications officer. I know you can find someone.”
After Forrest dismissed her, she thought, How am I going to find a comm officer in less than two days?
The Weapons and Tactical Research and Development Division (also known as WeTaRD, as well as other unofficial—and less savory—names) had been built on the site of the old NASA space center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The maze of buildings, its sophisticated security systems and its numerous underground passages were enough to make James Bond think twice before invading it.
Office Nine-Three A was still mostly bare; sealed boxes and bundles were piled high along one wall, ready to be unpacked. The desk was already littered with schematics and drawings, PADDS of Security Systems Monthly and Engineering Quarterly, University of Florida Press.WeTaRD’s new executive officer sat in the office and stared at the one PADD in his hand. “Change of Orders”
“Aw, no,” he groaned. “They’re playin’ musical chairs with us again?”
The sound of feminine laughter from the doorway made him jump. “Are you saying you’ve missed my charming presence, Trip?”
Lieutenant Commander Trip Tucker turned to see Hoshi Sato leaning against the doorframe. He laughed aloud and crossed the space between them in three steps. Hoshi laughed as he swung her around a few times, then set her on her feet.
“Hoshi! It’s so good to see ya!” he burst out. He glanced at the four pips on her uniform and said, “So, you’re my new commanding officer, huh?”
“Yeah.” Her face sobered. “I’m sorry you got pulled from WeTaRD, Trip. I know you’ve been wanting to stick close to home for a while.”
“Hey, I can handle it if I’m stuck on a flying tin can with ya. And at least y’all caught me before I got my stuff all unpacked,” he said gallantly. The irritation at being shuttled around the galaxy eased somewhat with Hoshi’s presence. “‘Sides, I heard the R&D guys took my recommendations on Enterprise’s armaments seriously. I’d like to see if they work the way they’re supposed to.”
“Some things don’t change, huh?”
Hoshi’s eyes sparkled, but Trip saw worry underneath the sparkle. He inclined his headand said, “Uh-oh. What is it? Somethin’ to do with all this shufflin’ around.”
“I have a big problem, Trip.”
He listened as she outlined her problem about her communications officer. He sighed and rolled his eyes to the ceiling. No wonder she was so upset; he knew that she’d already wasted breath cursing Starfleet’s desk jockeys in fifteen or so languages. He didn’t even want to imagine Matt Hayes’s rampage. How Hayes and Hoshi had ever gotten together, he had no idea.
“Unfortunately, can’t help you there,” Trip said. Then an idea occurred to him. “But I sure know who might be able to help.”Her almond eyes widened at the confidence in his tone. “Who?”
“A good friend of mine. He’s a linguist and a diplomat at the Vulcan Embassy in San Francisco.” Trip’s grin was back, wider than ever. “His name is Jonathan Archer.”Soval of Vulcan had spent thirty-seven point five one years at the Vulcan Consulate in San Francisco. As a diplomat’s assistant, he’d seen the best, as well as the worst, of Human behavior. At first, the blatant show of emotion repulsed him. He’d convinced himself these Humans were immature, illogical, childish and simply undisciplined. Vulcans were, of course, the superior species. In the course of those thirty-seven point five one years, Soval had revised his opinions more than once. He’d been forced to see his own people through outworlder eyes, and he concluded that Vulcans weren’t necessarily superior, but different.
But as the Human saying went, “The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.” Soval couldn’t help but recall those particular words as he gazed at the impassive eyes of Doctor T’Les, the Head of the Vulcan Science Academy.
“I have formally lodged a protest against my daughter’s transfer to the Earth ship,” T’Les said. “This change will disrupt an important project that she is managing. T’Pol simply cannot be spared at this time.”
Soval raised his eyebrow. This amounted to an emotional outburst for T’Les. Although her beautiful features were impassive, he heard the anger within the words. It was more than the concern of a senior scientist or the head of the Science Academy. This was the fear of a mother for her only daughter.
“I understand your objections, T’Les, but it was your daughter who volunteered to accompany the Human doctor to the ship. You cannot deny the fact that one member of the Circle must watch over him. T’Pol is capable of this. Plus, he knows her, and if there is one thing about Humans, familiarity eases the pain of transition.”
Her mouth tightened and Soval braced himself for the inevitable. To his surprise, she managed to regain some control. He knew it came at a cost; T’Les would probably spend the rest of her day in meditation to clear her mind after this difficult conversation.
“T’Les. We both know that your daughter has been...dissatisfied...with her current assignment at the Science Academy.” Soval made his voice gentle and she dropped her gaze at the sheer truth of his words. “She left the Space and Ship Operations Ministry for professional reasons, but she has always wanted to see what lies beyond Vulcan. Her heart belongs to the stars. You must let her go.”
She closed her eyes and was silent for several seconds. Soval said nothing else as he watched her struggle with her own doubts. When she opened her eyes again, her expression was calm once more. “Very well, Soval, but to ensure my cooperation, I must make a request.”
He nodded. “Ask.”
“I want you to personally watch over her progress, Soval.” Her hawk-like gaze sent a shiver of foreboding through him. “I charge thee with her welfare, I charge thee with her safety, I charge thee with her...happiness. Do you accept?”
Again, his eyebrow lifted at the word “happiness”, for that wasn’t in the original Pledge of Keeping. T’Les was asking him to be like a surrogate father, or an elder brother, to T’Pol. It was Soval who would take responsibility, should anything happen to T’Pol. It was a Pledge not taken lightly, for personal reasons, not to mention the legal and cultural ramifications.
But T’Les had made it quite clear: she would not allow T’Pol to join the Enterprise otherwise. There was only one logical reply to her request.
“I accept thy charge, mother of my cousin,” he said. “I shall be the one who will be her guide and her voice of logic and reason in all matters. I will ensure her welfare, her safety and her...happiness.”
T’Les took a deep breath and let it out in a silent sigh. “Thank you, son of my husband’s brother.”
“I should be the one to thank you, wife of my father’s brother,” he said formally.
“Do not fail in your charge, Soval.” T’Les gave him one sharp nod. “T’Les, out.” Her image vanished, to be replaced by the logo of the Vulcan Science Academy.
Soval sighed, leaned forward and rubbed his temples. He must inform T’Pol of this new arrangement. He’d already adopted a policy of complete honesty with her; she would know why he’d undertaken the Pledge on her behalf.
His intercom beeped. He took a few seconds to compose himself, then he said, “Soval.”
“Ambassador, I would like you to meet me in the Meditation Gardens, if it’s possible.”
Shock upon another shock. His sense of foreboding increased, for his assistant had never asked for such a meeting before. “Is there a problem, Jonathan?”
He heard the slight hesitation before the reply. “I require your advice, Ambassador.”
That seems to be the order of the day, Soval mused, allowing himself a slight upturn of his mouth at the thought. “I will be there in five minutes.”
Jonathan Archer, son of Henry Archer, had seen many things in his long diplomatic career. He’d thought nothing could surprise him anymore. Obviously, he was wrong.
“Let me get this straight, Trip,” he said as he looked at his old friend. “Starfleet decided to throw you for a loop and instead of working at Cape Canaveral, they’re putting you on Enterprise?”
“Yeah, two days before launch.” Trip Tucker sighed and ran a hand through his short blond hair. “They really did a number on the crew rosters. Hoshi—“
“You mean Captain Sato.”
“Yeah, she and Matt Hayes are in a bit of a bind. She’s got me as her Armory Officer, but she has to go by Vulcan to pick up her helm and medical officers. She’s still missin’ a communications officer. I told her you can help her, that you probably know someone that could fit the bill.”
Jon smiled at the hopeful tone in Trip’s voice. “I might. Where is she now?”
“Talkin’ with T’Saiya in the foyer. She speaks fluent Vulcan and she said she wanted to chat a little bit.” Trip chuckled and said, “I think she’d make a great diplomat herself, if she wasn’t in Starfleet. She knows about as many languages as you do.”
“I remember you talking about her when you two were on the Madagascar with Max Forrest.” Jon was already going over names in his mind and trying to figure out whom to recommend to Captain Sato. Unfortunately, most of the candidates were already committed somewhere else or simply didn’t adapt well to space travel.
A soft knock on the door interrupted Trip’s reply. Jon called out, “Come in.” The door opened at his invitation and Hoshi Sato walked in.
His first impression of her was “graceful.” Indeed, she moved like a gazelle on the savannah. The top of her head barely reached his shoulder, but she held herself straight and proud, so she seemed taller. Those brown eyes were all business, though Jon saw a flash of humor when she glanced at Trip. Suddenly, he realized why Trip had talked about her so glowingly when the two were on the Madagascar. There had to be more than met the eye, if Starfleet had given her Enterprise.
She may have appeared fragile, but the force of her personality struck you like a wave. He blinked, then managed to remember where he was. “Captain Sato,” he said formally. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Trip’s been telling me some good things about you.”
“Trip tells good things about most people,” she replied lightly. Her smile faded as her mind came back to her serious dilemma. “I’m sorry to impose on you, sir, but we don’t have a lot of time.”
Jon nodded. “Trip told me about your problem. You have to understand that it’s almost impossible to recall one of our linguists on such short notice. Diplomatic assignments can be really tricky at the best of times.” His brow wrinkled as he thought. “Would you mind if I asked for someone to join us? He might have a better idea than I do.”
“By all means, go ahead, Diplomat.” Sato—Hoshi, Jon corrected himself, and was surprised at how easy it was to think of her by her given name—sounded relieved that he was willing to help. After Jon called Soval, he went over the list of people in his mind, omitting the ones who definitely were not suited. That left only a handful of names, and he wasn’t sure about any of them. He said so to Hoshi, but assured her that Soval could find someone, if he couldn’t.
“Ah, Lieutenant Commander Tucker,” Soval said as he entered the Garden. His voice was dry, but Jon could hear the sliver of affection through it. “I had thought you were in Florida.”
Trip grinned and split his fingers in the Vulcan salute. “I was, but there was a—change of plans.”
“I see. And I assume this is your new commanding officer?” There was a note of interest in his voice.
Hoshi copied the Vulcan salute and said in Soval’s dialect, “I bring you greetings, Ambassador Soval. My name is Captain Hoshi Sato, commanding officer of the Enterprise. I seek your advice.”
“In what matter?” Soval asked in the same dialect.
She outlined the problem, and Jon saw the same thoughts flash across the Vulcan’s mind. He knew that Soval was compiling names and eliminating them as he had, and had come to the same conclusion. When Hoshi had finished speaking, he caught Soval’s grave expression.
“I am sure that as Jonathan has told you already, it will be difficult to find one who has the skill set that you expect and the desire to serve aboard a Starfleet vessel. Most of my peers are either away on missions or teaching, and it is the middle of the term.”
“We can find someone,” Jon argued. “We just have to look harder.”
Hoshi bit her lip as she thought. Her eyes went to Jon as if appraising him, but he was surprised that he didn’t feel threatened by her gaze.What is she thinking?
“What about you, Jonathan?”
Her words hit him like a sledgehammer. “Me? Begging your pardon, Captain, but I don’t think that’s a good idea—“
“Why not?” She looked up at him with an innocent expression. “You have the skills, you have the experience in space—“
“I don’t have any desire to join Starfleet. I do very well as a civilian.” Jon swallowed hard and glanced at Trip. “Besides, I’m not sure I can stand being on the same ship with Trip for five years straight.”
Trip pulled a face. “Geez, thanks. I love you too, Jon.”
Soval stepped in and Jon heard the underlying tension in his voice. Although Vulcans hid their emotions, they still had them, and Jon had worked with Soval long enough to know when something bothered him. “In any case, I have need of Jonathan’s services here, at the Embassy. I am sorry, Captain, but you must find an alternative solution.”
Hoshi nodded, the spark gone from her eyes. Jon immediately felt a surge of guilt; he wanted so much to help her, but to find a qualified person for a deep-space mission in less than forty-eight hours? Learning Andorian was easier than that. He had to admit that her proposal sounded intriguing. Perhaps...he shook his head. No, it was better that he stay put. Soval needed him here.
“...the names of those I feel may suit your parameters, Captain. I am sorry we could not be of any more assistance—“
“That’s all right, Ambassador. I appreciate any help you and Jonathan can give us. I hope that one of your colleagues will be the one we’re looking for.”
“As do I.” Soval nodded, indicating the meeting was over. He raised his hand again in the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper, Captain Sato. May your journey be successful.” As she and Trip returned the gesture, the corner of Soval’s mouth twitched imperceptibly. “And Captain, please attend to Lieutenant Commander Tucker’s welfare. His...misadventures have assumed legendary proportions at the Consulate and I wish to see him uninjured.”
Trip glared at Jon, who only gave him a shrug. “I had no idea you cared so much, Ambassador,” he deadpanned. “And might I ask who’s been tellin’ stories about me?”
Hoshi decided to exercise command prerogative. “Come on, Lieutenant Commander. We’re running out of time.” She nodded at both Soval and Jon, turned on her heel and left the garden. Trip rolled his eyes at Jon and mouthed, “This ain’t over yet.” Then he followed his commanding officer.
“I sympathize with her situation,” Soval said. He glanced sideways at Jon with an inscrutable expression. “I am hopeful she will find the person she is searching for.”
He was still staring after her long after she was gone. “Yes. So am I.”
Hoshi spent most of that morning tracking down and talking with the four people on Soval and Jonathan’s list. Trip wanted to join her, but he needed to report to Enterprise and familiarize himself with his new duties and crew. She reassured him she’d be all right on her own. Every hour, she checked in with Travis Mayweather, her new executive officer.
“It’s all going according to schedule, Captain,” Travis told her. His voice held an infectious excitement that cheered her up considerably. “Chief Engineer Phlox says that all the preliminary tests for the warp engines show green. The last of the crew should arrive here this evening.”
“I take it there’s still some confusion with the rosters?”
Travis’s sigh was audible. “We had some mix-ups with some of Columbia’s people being swapped with ours. Luckily, Captain Hayes and his second officer’s helping us with that. Any luck with finding a comm officer?”
“Not yet, but I’ve still got a prospective candidate or two left. Hopefully, we’ll have someone before we launch.”
Despite her words, she returned to San Francisco empty-handed. She sighed as she asked T’Saiya, the Vulcan Embassy’s receptionist, if either Soval or Jonathan Archer was available. T’Saiya checked the schedule, then nodded.
“Diplomat Archer should still be in his office. I believe Ambassador Soval is having dinner with the Colonial delegate from Alpha Centauri tonight, but he should return by twenty-one-hundred hours. Shall I announce your arrival, Captain Sato?”
Hoshi shook her head. “No, I’ll just have a word with Diplomat Archer. Thank you, T’Saiya.”
Jonathan’s office was in the western wing of the Embassy, along with most of the Terran members of the Starfleet Diplomatic Corps. He was reading reports at his desk when Hoshi arrived at his door. She observed him for a few moments. There was an intensity in his expression, a strict concentration at the matter of hand. His sharp green eyes were fixed onto his computer screen, his chin rested on his left hand, while he tapped a stylus with his right hand.
Like most diplomats, Jonathan had decorated his office with momentos of his travels. Hoshi saw a sculpture made of obsidian quarried from Vulcan’s Fire Plains. A small decanter of Andorian ale sat next to a cluster of shot glasses. Oddly enough, a white water polo ball occupied a place of honor on his desk and a sweatshirt from Stanford University lay on a nearby chair.
“Captain Sato!” His voice startled her. “Sorry, I was just finishing a translation of Surak’s First Treatise. Fascinating stuff. I hope you weren’t waiting long.”
She blushed, like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “No, not at all.”
“Come on in, make yourself comfortable. I saw you eyeing the Andorian ale; will you share a drink with me?”
“Just a small one.” Hoshi couldn’t help but feel amused as he ushered her into the chair (depositing the Stanford shirt in his gym bag on the floor) and made a show of making her comfortable. He poured a generous splash of the ale into two shot glasses, then offered her one. She raised her glass in a silent salute and drained it with one gulp.
“I take it the interviews didn’t go well, then?”
She shook her head. “I couldn’t convince any of them to join. They didn’t want anything to do with Starfleet.”
“No offense, but some of the Diplomatic Corps see you as ‘shoot first, talk later’, while we’re usually the other way around,” Jon admitted. “It’s a case of occupational snobbery.”
Her laugh was ironic. “Well, I can see that, but now it looks like I’ll be without a comm officer when we launch.”
“Wish I could help more, Hoshi.”
She smiled at his use of her first name. “I know and I do appreciate everything you’ve done.” She looked at the smooth, transparent ice-blue crystal sphere on his desk. “Is that a da’lesha?”
He nodded. “It was a gift from the Andorian ambassador. Here, let me show you what it does.” He picked it up, and the sphere began to chime a series of notes. It was not perfectly in sequence, or perfectly in tune, but it still made a pleasant sound. Jon handed it to Hoshi and the harmonics shifted to a higher register. “It reflects your inner soul, or so the Andorians say. It’s impossible to get it perfectly tuned; that’s reserved for the Gods.” A smile lit up Jonathan’s face. “Though that sounds pretty close for you.”
She smiled and handed the sphere back to him. Jon went on to talk about some of the other items in his office. He knew the history of each one and was able to share some charming anecdotes of his visits to those planets. The more he talked, the more conviction and excitement crept into his voice. Hoshi saw what drove him to explore new languages and cultures. It was a genuine love of learning and a genuine appreciation for the similarities and differences in the universe.
“When was the last time you visited off-world?” she asked, curious.
“Four months ago, I went to Denobula. Charming people, though they can be quite stubborn if they think they’re right,” Jon replied with a laugh. “Their ambassador had five wives and they were rather...friendly. Soval was with me, and I remember one of them said he was ‘as depressing as a wet ferra in a bog.’ Soval’s not that bad; he’s just, well, complicated.”
“He’s not your typical Vulcan, is he? I could tell just meeting him this morning.”
Jon nodded. “No, he’s not. A lot of people think he’s stubborn and uncompromising, but if he’s one thing, he’s fair. He’s rather close to his family, always dispensing advice to one of ‘em or another.”
“I can see that too.” She sighed. “It takes a special kind of person to adapt and thrive in different environments. Soval here on Earth, you on all the worlds you’ve traveled. Some people are meant to be among the stars, Jonathan.”
He met her gaze, but she couldn’t read his expression. “You know I can’t join your crew, Hoshi. I’ve already told you I’m committed here.”
“You’ve told me that...in Soval’s presence.”
“He needs me here. I’ve been by his side for the past nine years. I can’t throw that away.”
She shook her head. “I’m not asking you to throw away your friendship with Soval. He means something to you and I’m sure he’d want to see you do what you do best. That’s building bridges with new peoples and learning how to communicate with them. You can’t do that planet-side, Jonathan. I need the best people possible, the ones who can adapt to unusual situations, the ones who can think on their feet...because out there—“she gestured towards his open window, where the stars were shining—“out there, we don’t know who we’re going to meet.”
Jonathan’s eyes softened as he stared out the window. “The offer’s tempting, Hoshi—“
“Besides, how am I going to honor Soval’s request to keep Trip out of trouble? I barely kept him in one piece on the Madagascar!” Her grin turned impish. “And it’d be nice if I could have someone to talk to, just so I don’t get rusty on my languages.”
“But then I’d have to accept a commission. Starfleet wouldn’t let a civilian on a ship that could see potential military action.” He chuckled in a self-depreciative tone. “I’m a bit old to be an ensign.”
“I’m sure Admiral Forrest would take that into account. Your experience would jump you to at least a lieutenant’s grade, if not higher.”
“Lieutenant Jonathan Archer.” He chuckled and said, “There’s still a problem, if I’m going to do this.”
She sighed. “What’s that?”
A soft whine under Jonathan’s desk answered her. She blinked as a—dog?—jumped up into his lap. It was a beagle, with large brown eyes and floppy ears. Jonathan scratched the beagle under the chin.
“Who’s going to take care of Porthos?”
T’Saiya walked up the hall leading to Diplomat Archer’s office. She stopped short at the sight of Ambassador Soval, standing just within listening distance of the open door. The expression on Soval’s face was one of mixed regret and sadness. He looked at her and shook his head. T’Saiya nodded and with a bow, retreated back the way she came.
Soval sighed as he remembered the words he’d spoken to T’Les about T’Pol: Her heart belongs to the stars. You must let her go. He had told himself that he was only pointing out what was logical. Yet he’d never expected to be faced with a similar situation, on the same day. Jonathan was not his son by blood, but Soval surprised himself with the feelings of protectiveness—and panic, though he’d never admit it to himself.
Jonathan’s heart belongs to the stars. You must let him go. This time, it was T’Les’s voice who repeated the words in his mind. And to his eternal annoyance, Tucker’s voice added, Time to take your own advice, old man. Soval’s mouth quirked upward in a smile no one else would see. Who else better to take care of Tucker?
He shook his head and silently went into his office, across the hall from Jonathan’s. Then he went through his meditation exercises. It was time to prepare himself for the inevitable, but Soval found himself with another illogical emotion: pride.