auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
[personal profile] auswitcheroo151
Story #3 in the AU Switcheroo Series. Occurs a couple of days after "Musica" in time for Valentine's Day.
The Enterprise crew makes an important First Contact with the Betazoids from Betazed. It's a learning experience for everyone involved...and sometimes actions speak more than thoughts. Kov, T'Pol and Phlox trade cultural insights, while Hoshi has an unusual conversation.

"So Humans have a special day to lavish attention upon their mates? Or search for a potential mate?" Kov frowned as he regarded the bowl of egg drop soup in front of him. Commander Phlox had highly recommended the dish; it was a delicacy from a region of Earth called "China". Kov wasn't sure if it was as appealing as Phlox claimed.

T'Pol raised her eyebrow at the red, white and pink streamers in the Mess Hall. A generous selection of desserts adorned a separate table, chocolate silk pie and peanut butter parfait, sticky pudding and caramel sundae. Next to the table was a large whiteboard with various messages scrawled on it.

She brought her attention back to the inquisitive fellow Vulcan at the lunch table and stifled a sigh. "Yes, and it is called 'Valentine's Day', for an ancient holy man by that name."

Phlox nodded as he twirled his egg noodles around his fork with practiced ease. "It is a rather tragic story. This Valentine was a priest among his people during a time of religious strife. He presided over the bonding ceremonies of many couples, although those ceremonies were outlawed. He was eventually discovered and executed by the authorities."

T'Pol winced at the story. "Yes, tragic indeed."

"Of course, in this current day, those with mates exchange gifts and those who do not, eat sweet food in consolation. Of course, there are those who don't care much for this Valentine's Day and treat it as any other day."

"Sweet food? Like this substance, 'chocolate'? I have seen the captain indulge in it on occasion," Kov mused. "It is the source of many complaints of weight gain among the female crew, yet it seems they cannot stop eating it. It must be very addictive."

"Yes," T'Pol murmured, as she regarded her own salad. "The substance contains chemicals that induce a feeling of well-being, of euphoria."

"Ah, that explains its popularity, then." Kov nodded to himself and added, "Have you tried it, Del'haia?"

She only shrugged at the formal address of "Elder Sister" and answered, "I have. It is much too sweet for my taste, even more than saya fruit. Yet I will accept a piece, if it is offered to me."

"Perhaps I should sample it, as a scientific experiment, of course."

Phlox chuckled good-naturedly as he gestured toward the Galley with his fork. "I'm sure Chef would oblige you, Kov. I don't suggest asking any of the crew, especially the captain. My observation is that most of those with chocolate are quite possessive of them...what is the word? 'Stash'?"

T'Pol's features were impassive, but there was the slightest hint of humor in her tone. "You have been consulting with Lieutenant Commander Tucker about terminology again, haven't you?"

"On the contrary. I heard the term from Lieutenant Cutler in Sickbay, when she informed Doctor Reed that the top drawer of her filing cabinet is 'off limits' to him and any other male."

Kov chuckled a little, earning a look of disapproval from T'Pol. "Yes, and Elizabeth was quite vocal about that yesterday. I believe it had something to do with the shipment from the ECS Pretwell last week."

"Elizabeth?" T'Pol asked. "You refer to her by name?"

He shrugged. "It is by her own request, that I call her that when we are both off-duty. When we are on-duty, I treat her with professionalism due her rank and experience, T'Pol."

"I see."

Phlox sensed the tension between the two. He'd hoped that both of them would at least get along, since they were both Vulcans. Unfortunately, a shared race didn't ensure a shared friendship. For her part, T'Pol treated Kov cordially enough, and Kov did the same, but neither sought the other out if they could help it. Phlox suspected the sight of each other reminded them of recent events they would rather forget.

I do hope they would learn to reconcile their differences. T'Pol and Kov do have quite a bit in common. Phlox had seen such attitudes within his own family-in a large Denobulan clan, conflicts were inevitable. He had confidence that the two would succeed in a mutual agreement.

Aloud, he said, "In a way, I'm glad Denobulans don't have a similar holiday. With three wives, their husbands and children...providing gifts for them all would seriously strain my monetary reserve, even on a Starfleet officer's salary."

Kov nodded. "Indeed. I cannot even imagine the complications of such an endeavor, Commander."

"Please, we are all off-duty. You may call me Phlox."

"Very well." Kov gazed over to a nearby table and raised his eyebrows. Phlox followed his gaze to Crewman Cunningham and Crewman Delostrino, who sat quite close together in a booth near the window. Both crewmen seemed comfortable in each other's presence. Very comfortable.

"This is the seventh time I have seen them intruding in each other's personal space. I'd thought most Humans take offense at the intrusion. Doctor Reed certainly does."

Phlox chuckled. "Doctor Reed is unusual. Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Commander Archer do not have the same inhibitions. Crewmen Cunningham and Delostrino are...'going out'."

"'Going out'? To where? I am not familiar with the Human expression."

T'Pol looked up from her salad with a slightly annoyed expression. "They are merely exploring the concept of being together physically and emotionally, Kov. It may or may not lead to the Human equivalent of bonding. Such liaisons tend to be fickle and do not last."

Kov shrugged again. "They do not permanently bond like we Vulcans do, T'Pol, so it stands to reason they have to be more...discriminate in their choosing."

"Indeed, though 'discriminate' is a matter of opinion."

"Come, come, T'Pol. Some are more selective than others," Phlox chided her, "and each courtship ritual is unique to the parties involved. You can't generalize the process like a piece of machinery or a chemical reaction."

Kov nodded in understanding. "This discussion is enlightening, Comman-Phlox. It certainly explains certain behaviors among the crew, such as Captain Sato and Doctor Reed."

Phlox blinked in surprise and T'Pol glanced up with a look of disapproval. "Excuse me?"

"Have you not noticed?" Kov made a gesture with his soup spoon. "Just yesterday, I-" He frowned and glanced over his shoulder at the window, but there was nothing there, just the streaks of stars as Enterprise cruised at warp.

"What is it?" Phlox asked. "Kov, are you all right?"

"I thought I felt a presence-"

T'Pol put her salad fork down on the table and narrowed her eyes at a specific point past Kov. "Yes, I did as well. A light brush against my mental shielding. It was unsettling."

Phlox flipped open his communicator and called, "Phlox to Lieutenant Commander Tucker."

"Go ahead, Phlox," replied the distinctive drawl of Trip Tucker. The Armory Officer sounded unusually upbeat, more than usual. "What's up?"

"Lieutenant T'Pol and Doctor Kov informed me of psychic presence nearby. She described it as 'unsettling'."

The humor vanished from Trip's voice. "There isn't anything on sensors, but if they both say they felt something...let me check again and let the cap'n know. T'Pol?"

"Here, Commander."

"If you or Kov feel anythin' else, let me know immediately, okay?"

"Of course, Commander." She glanced at Kov, who nodded in agreement. "We shall do so."

"Tucker, out."

Phlox snapped his communicator closed. Kov raised his eyebrows and commented, "He does not doubt what others would consider 'figments of imagination'."

"Commander Tucker is well-known in accepting what his 'gut instincts' tell him, so it is not outside the realm of possibility, as far as he is concerned." T'Pol got up from her seat. "I should go to the Bridge."

"And I will consult with Doctor Reed. Perhaps he too has felt something odd."

Phlox nodded. "Go, the two of you. I need to return to Engineering in a few moments anyway." He watched the two leave the Mess Hall and go their separate ways, with only a cordial nod of farewell to each other. Phlox sighed and shook his head. There were some instances where only time could tell whether or not friendship happened.

Captain Sato? You are Captain Hoshi Sato, are you not?

Hoshi opened her eyes, slightly disoriented by the darkness of her quarters. Barely a month into the ship's new mission and she still needed to get used to the captain's quarters. It didn't help that the stars in the viewport seemed to go from right to left, which threw off her equilibrium.

Perhaps you should use Captain's discretion and swap quarters with someone whose view of the outside isn't 'backward'. Really, life's too short to spend it suffering in silence.

She blinked several times, then asked aloud, "Hello? Who's there?"

This is indeed amazing. Other races usually cannot hear us among great distances. Are your people telepathic or are you a special case?

"What?" She sat up and ordered, "Lights!" The lights came up at her command, but she was alone in the room. Slowly, she scanned the area around her, then got to her feet and searched the entire cabin, including the bathroom and the day room/office. Nothing.

My apologies, Captain, I didn't mean to startle you. It's just that I didn't expect any results for my usual scan, but this, this is indeed unusual.

"Who are you and what are you doing in my head?" Hoshi scowled and put a hand to her temple. "I don't appreciate being wakened in the middle of the night by voices. It's just unsettling."

Light, silvery laughter rang in her mind. Then, Ah, forgive me. I tend to become overenthusiastic when I make new discoveries. Oh, and I can't talk with everyone, just those who are sensitive to it. You aren't a Vulcan, so at least you're not ready to throw me out of your head yet.

Hoshi sighed in frustration. "One more time. Who. Are. You?"

I'm Saphia. Saphia Daro. We're not too far from your ship's position. I'm sure we'll meet by morning. I can tell you're a unique individual, Captain. I'm looking forward to meeting you and your crew. I should let you get some sleep. Until morning!

"Wait a minute!" Hoshi felt the mental equivalent of a pat on the cheek, then the unseen presence faded. She blinked again, then immediately hit the comm button. "Sato to Tucker!"

Trip sounded distinctly annoyed. "Lemme guess. You heard somebody talkin' to you in your head."

"You heard her?"

"Her? Actually, nope, not me, but you're the fourth person who's called me who has. Both T'Pol and Kov felt somethin' in the Mess Hall. Then Malcolm wanted a security detail down in his quarters because he was convinced someone was there. And Malcolm said the voice was a 'him'."

"Malcolm heard another person. Mine was a woman named Saphia Daro, and she reminded me of a chatty bird...friendly but somewhat flighty." She chuckled as Trip snorted in humor. "She said she was a scientist-"

"Oh boy. One of those."

"She said that her people weren't far from us and that they'd meet us in the morning. She seems harmless, but I don't want to take a chance. I want to go to Condition Yellow, Trip. Have Travis do constant scans, and I want Security ready for anything. Have Jon monitor all frequencies, just in case they decide to call."

"You think whoever these people are, they're hostile?" Trip didn't sound surprised, but he seemed willing to reserve judgment.

"I don't know. I didn't feel anything hostile from this Saphia Daro, but out here, anything's possible."

"Okay, I'll let Travis and Jon know. We'll take care of things up here, Captain. Try to get some rest and I'll call you in four hours."

"Thanks, Trip." Hoshi cut the communications link. For a moment, she considered going up to the Bridge, but Saphia and Trip were right. She needed rest after pulling a double shift earlier that day. She shook her head and tapped on her PADD. There was no way she was going to go back to sleep, but at least, she could make some use of the time.

Notes: The E Crew meet Saphia Daro and just why was Malcolm contacted? You find an important clue to how T'Pol met Malcolm in this AU.

Captain's Personal Log: February 14, 2151

So far, there hasn't been any sign of the Betazoid ship or any word from this Saphia Daro. Trip is continually scanning for warp signatures, while Travis keeps an eye on the sensors. I would have dismissed it all as a crazy dream if Malcolm hadn't told me about hearing from a "Keivan Adai", who basically confirmed Daro's claims.

According to the Vulcan database, Betazoids are telepathic. It makes sense that both T'Pol and Kov would sense their presence. What doesn't make sense is why Malcolm and I can hear them. Why not Trip or Jon, who have also spent time on Vulcan and with Vulcans? They say proximity can enhance a latent telepathic/empathic skill, but I know that I'm not telepathic. I've had all the Starfleet tests; my results aren't spectacular in any case.

In any case, today is Valentine's Day. I received a subspace "card" from Matt Hayes, while little presents exchanged hands all over the ship. The Mess Hall has desserts from many different cultures, much to Kov's delight.

I'm looking forward to meeting the Betazoids. If this beginning is any indication of what might come next...

"I do not understand why Humans reserve just one day to give their mates affection," Kov said, as he chatted with Trip Tucker at the Tactical station. He kept his voice low and eyed the helm station. T'Pol made no indication she overheard."Would it not be easier to show the appreciation all year, instead of just one day?"

"Most mated couples do that," Trip replied, as he readjusted the sensor feed again. "Most Humans aren't touch-telepaths, so we have to be more, well, obvious, about our feelings. I guess it can border on the obnoxious as far as you Vulcans are concerned."

"On the contrary, I find it fascinating." Kov shrugged. "I have not had strong feeling for a specific person before, so it is somewhat of a curiosity for me."

Trip frowned and glanced at T'Pol again before asking in a whisper, "I know it isn't any of my business, Kov, but aren't you bonded to a gal back on Vulcan?"

"I was. Her name was T'Yana." Kov didn't quite wince, but his normally friendly face became impassive. "My family discontinued the bonding when I chose to join the Beta Polaris expedition and was assigned to Enterprise."

It was Trip's turn to wince. "Ouch. Damn, sorry, Kov. I didn't mean to-"

"That is all right, Lieutenant Commander." He shrugged. "It is only normal that people will be curious about my status. I have asked questions among the crew, and it is fair that I will be asked in turn. Although, curiously, all those who have posed questions are female.

Trip stifled a laugh, and Jon Archer coughed and cleared his throat over at the comm station. "You'll hear those kind of questions on Valentine's Day, if you're unmated. Male or female."

"Does it indicate some interest in my unmated state?" Kov sounded intrigued. "Perhaps-"

"Uh, this might not be the place to discuss this, Kov," Trip interrupted, indicated T'Pol at the helm. Her shoulders were tense and it was obvious to Trip (though not to others) that this conversation bothered her.

Kov nodded in understanding. "Very well, Trip. Shall we meet for lunch as planned?"

"Of course. Thirteen hundred hours. See you then."

Kov nodded and retreated into the lift. T'Pol relaxed visibly when the younger Vulcan was gone. Trip frowned, then made his way to the helm station. "Hey, sorry if we-"

"He is young and curious, Lieutenant Commander," she answered in firm tone. "I will not discourage his own nature. I am not angry or upset."

"Just checkin', T'Pol." Trip smiled and patted the console in front of her, then went back to his own station. But he thought, Vulcans don't lie. They just explain things away creatively.

The doors to the Ready Room hissed open and Hoshi Sato strode onto the Bridge, PADD in hand. She nodded at Travis at the science station. Travis said, "Captain on the Bridge."

"At ease, everyone." Hoshi sat in her command chair, then turned to address Travis. "Anything on sensors, Commander?"

"Nothing yet...wait a minute." Travis swiveled his chair to the console behind him and peered through the scanner. "Captain, I'm reading three ships, heading zero-one-five mark two," Travis reported. "All three are Betazoid Consular Ships. Looks like they're in a standard formation. The main Consular Ship is in the middle of the other two."

"Confirmed," T'Pol echoed from the helm. "Ship configurations match Idaras-class Betazoid ships. They are lightly armed, but they are fast and maneuverable. Their top speed is warp 4."

Hoshi nodded to herself. At least that much of Daro's claims were true. "Any sign they've spotted us?"

"None so far," Trip replied. "They're continuing on their course."

"Jon, hail them, standard greeting."

Jon Archer nodded and tapped his board. "Betazoid Consular Ship, this is Enterprise. We extend the hand of friendship and goodwill. Please respond."

A tart voice replied, "No need to be so formal, young man. I can hear you just fine. Please adjust your frequencies so I can actually see you. Whom am I speaking with?"

T'Pol's eyes widened as she turned to the voice on the speakers, and Hoshi heard stifled snickers all over the Bridge. Jon, for his part, didn't seem nonplussed at the pointed words. "I'm Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Archer, communications officer and resident diplomat."

"Ah, that's the reason for the formality. I'm old enough to be your mother, Lieutenant Commander Archer, but that's no excuse to address me like I'm teetering at the edge of the grave."

Jon stifled a grin and tried to sound penitent. "My apologies. I didn't mean to sound insulting or condescending."
"I know you've got the best intentions at heart, so I'll forgive you this time."

Jon couldn't help but smile as he matched the frequencies to the Betazoid Consular Ship's comm system. "Positive frequency match, Captain."

"On screen," Hoshi said, as she got up from her command chair and brought herself up to her full height. The screen lit up with the image of a silver-haired, black-eyed woman, in an elaborate blue robe and red scarf. The intricate decorations at the hems and collar only emphasized her stocky build. Her grin rivaled Phlox's on a good day.

"Captain Sato, I presume?" she asked. Her melodic voice held the slightest hint of an accent. "I am Saphia Daro, daughter of the Sixth House, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Dronia, and bearer of the cup of Prolesia."

Hoshi heard a choked cough from the tactical station as Trip stifled laughter at the matter-of-fact tone. She felt a definite sense of playful humor mixed with the formality of the greeting. This Saphia Daro valued someone with a biting wit. Hoshi found herself grinning, despite her effort to remain calm and noncommittal.

She didn't dare look back at Trip, but only replied, "I'm Captain Hoshi Sato, daughter of Hiroshi Sato and Yuika Takamura, captain of the Enterprise, NX-01, protector of eighty-two Humans, two Vulcans, a Denobulan and one beagle."

Saphia laughed in genuine delight. "Finally, someone with a title that's even more laborious than mine! And snicker all you want, Lieutenant Commander Tucker. Can you imagine how much of a headache it would be to go through all that every time you introduced yourself? Nobility hath its share of headaches, believe me."

Trip's jaw dropped, then he narrowed his eyes at Saphia. "Excuse me, ma'am?"

She inclined her head at him. "No, I wasn't trying to read your mind. It's not my fault that you think as loud as you talk."Saphia's eyes softened, and her breezy tone still managed to convey her sincere apology. "Forgive me, Lieutenant Commander. I don't rummage through minds like your grandmother's clothes closet. Sometimes a telepathic connection goes only one way, and it can be just as awkward when someone's thoughts just crash through your mind."

T'Pol's eyebrow shot up to her hairline, and her carefully measured expression told Hoshi just how uncomfortable she was in the Betazoid's presence. Hoshi guessed that she had clamped her mental shields as tightly as she could, in order to protect her private thoughts.

Is this how T'Pol and Kov feel all the time, having to block our thoughts from their consciousness? Hoshi thought. Maybe Saphia's headache is worse than theirs.

"No offense taken, ma'am," Trip replied. "I'm glad you told me that you don't just peek into my mind whenever you feel like it."

"Like the Vulcans, we do have some rules of courtesy. One of those rules is to assess the possibility of threats, and another one is to follow up on potential allies." Saphia chuckled and blushed a little as she regarded Hoshi again. "You have my word that I and my crew will not invade your minds uninvited."

"Thank you, Madame Daro."

"You can call me Diplomat Daro, Saphia if you want to be informal. You sound like my personal physician, Keivan."

"Keivan Adai?"

Saphia blinked and inclined her head at her. "Why, yes. Have you heard from him? Keivan rarely involves himself in the security scans."

Hoshi chuckled. "My chief medical officer heard him."

"Hmm...interesting. I should ask Keivan." Saphia looked distracted for a moment, then she continued, "I would be honored to have you and your staff as guests aboard my ship for dinner. Consider it an apology to you and your medical officer."

Hoshi felt the curious gazes of her Bridge crew, but she replied, "We'd be honored to accept your invitation."

"Splendid. I will give the details to your communications officer and diplomat." She smiled and regarded Jon again. "How wonderful that you already have a diplomat on board your ship, Captain. We look forward to seeing you all. Daro, out."

Her image vanished from the screen, to be replaced with the Consular ships. There was a beat of silence, then everyone started talking at once. Hoshi sat there for a moment, trying to gauge her own reactions to the strange conversation. Why do I have the feeling this isn't as straightforward as it seems? I guess we're just not used to smooth First Contacts, but this is just weird.

"All right, people, let's get back to work," she ordered, and a chorus of "Aye, ma'am"s came from all sides as the Bridge regained some sense of calm. Hoshi glanced over her shoulder at Jon. "Do we have the meeting details?"

"Just received them, Captain. Transmitting to your PADD now."

Hoshi tapped her PADD and accepted the transmission. She glanced over it, then said, "Commander Tucker, Lieutenant Commander Archer, dress uniforms at 1800. I think this will be a rather unique experience."

"So Keivan Adai's her personal physician? I understand why he would be the one to contact me." Malcolm shook his head as he adjusted the collar of his formal uniform. "I'm still wondering how he was able to do it."

"You have training in the mind disciplines," agreed T'Pol. She stood just inside the Sickbay doors and watched as he gathered up his scanner and hypos and stuffed them into his belt pouch. "I was under the impression your control was nearly automatic."

He winced at the unspoken question, but he didn't look at her. "It is. The fact that this Keivan was able to bypass my mental defenses is quite disturbing. I know the Betazoids are telepathic and some of them are strongly empathic, but if they are able to scan anyone-"

"According to Diplomat Daro, the Betazoid people have cultural restrictions on their telepathic scanning," T'Pol told him, "and she promised that none of her crew will trespass."

"Forgive me for being paranoid, but until we get to know them, I'll take ample precautions." Malcolm finally looked up at her, his blue-gray eyes blazing fiercely with suppressed emotion.

T'Pol softened her tone in a way that few ever heard from her. "You fear the madness again. Rest assured, Malcolm, we will protect you as best as we can. You are no longer the young, overwhelmed medical resident who had been take unaware."

He huffed a laugh. "True. Still, I'm not completely reassured until I see them for myself."

She nodded in agreement. T'Pol remembered that call long ago, from her mother T'Les, regarding that young resident at the Medical Academy in Shi'Kahr:

"Daughter, he is unlike any other Human that either I or Doctor T'Vau have ever seen. T'Vau and T'Nal are currently assigned to his care, but I am concerned for his sanity."

T'Pol laid down her stylus and her PADD, on which she displayed the latest upgrades to the Vulcan ring ships. "I had thought that Humans had no telepathic skills. You are telling me that this man possesses skills equal to a typical Vulcan?"

"Not like a typical Vulcan, T'Pol. His particular difficulties are unique and the traditional mind techniques may not help him. I am at a loss at how to handle this particular problem. Doctor T'Vau has asked Priestess T'Lya to assist. If you could spare the time, I would like you to come as well."

"I do not understand, Mother. Why do you need my presence? I am no strong student of the mental disciplines. I may be more of a hindrance than a help."

T'Les paused for a long moment, then replied, "We will need all the assistance we can acquire. Please, Daughter, make haste. He is in great pain."

T'Pol nodded and replied, "I shall be there momentarily."

Little did she know how her life would become entwined with Malcolm Reed's, and by extension, the rest of the Enterprise crew. T'Pol sighed and thought, Who is looking after whom?

"Sato to Reed. Malcolm, we're all assembled in Shuttle Bay Two."

Malcolm started at the captain's voice, then touched the comm button. "Forgive our tardiness, Captain, we'll be right there. Reed, out." He closed the channel and took a deep breath. "Very well, let's get this over with."

T'Pol nodded, put a hand on his arm and sent a wordless wave of reassurance. He managed a smile and a nod, then she let him go as they exited Sickbay.


auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)

October 2012

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