|Snippet #1: First Contact
Adjusting his uniform collar, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Archer, first contact specialist, went over the key aspects of his current mission. This meeting had been a long time coming, the planet having been on Starfleet's watch list for centuries.
He'd led several first contact missions in his time, but he had to admit that this one held a special, personal significance. It wasn't really a true first contact situation, being a somewhat unique case, and not just because of his personal connection.
By all standards, the Menk had achieved warp capability in remarkably little time. Their co-inhabitants of the planet, the Valakians, had been all but extinct for over a century. They had somewhat surpassed the initial species life-span estimate of the original Starfleet doctor to see them, Dr. Phlox.
Even before the Valakians dwindled to next-to-nothing -- those left now lived in small enclaves with the best care the Menk could provide -- the Menk had begun to quickly rise to and then surpass Valakian technological capabilities. Dr. Phlox had estimated it would take much longer. However, Matthew had carefully combed through the mission logs of Ensigns Sato and Cutler, as well as Captain Archer's own observations. In hindsight, the Menk's advancement did not seem so surprising. Reading between the lines of the official logs, and delving into the records of the Valakians themselves had caused him to suspect that the Menk had been held back not so much by genetics, but by the socio-political policies of the Valakians.
It said something about the Menk perspective that they had only ever treated the ailing Valakians with respect, care, and compassion. Some species would have resented their former rulers, and taken the opportunity to stage atrocities.
He'd carefully read the preserved logs of the Enterprise crew for more than strictly mission-related reasons. He'd long been fascinated with the life of his distant ancestor, Jonathan Archer. The man had made appalling mistakes and grand triumphs. The triumphs were most amazing, given the circumstances and constraints the Enterprise crew had been forced to work under. In many ways, it was thrilling to be able to formally engage with a species Archer had first encountered.
He wondered if Dr. Phlox had any living descendants who might be similarly interested in making contact with the Menk. After a moment, he shook his head. It was unlikely. Although they were still nominally members of the Federation, the Denobulans had closed their planet and colonies to all by a few restricted traders a century ago. From what he understood, they had begun a process of withdrawal from quadrant politics shortly after the Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant.
His door chime sounded, and he quietly called, "Come in."
Lieutenant Willan, his second-in-command, walked into the room. "Almost ready?"
He smiled. "I'm just thinking about the history of the mission."
She winked at him. "Ah, day-dreaming about the fabulous Captain Archer. What would you ask him first if you saw him? That is, if you could stop staring starry-eyed at him, and actually talk." It was an old tease, and they grinned fondly at each other.
"I think I'd ask him if Porthos really was a targ given to him by the Klingon High Council. The records really are murky."
"Maybe the Menk will know." Willan looked him over. "You look perfect. Let's go, the delegation is waiting on the planet."
He nodded, and followed her out. He was looking forward to his
first meeting with the Menk. Hopefully, it wouldn't end with
the heartache Jonathan Archer had experienced.
|Snippet #2: Not entirely possible
When he first agreed to "see where things went" with Elizabeth Cutler, this hadn't quite been what he'd expected.
They'd continued to see each other, taking in movies -- uniformly dull, but the crowd remained as intriguing as ever; meeting for meals in the mess hall -- a welcome alternate to dining alone; and taking any opportunity to work together off-ship. The relationship had become quickly intriguing, to say the least. It was nothing like the rigours of mating season on Denobula, nor like the intricacies of courtship at home. It had its own set of rules. He'd learned another when he'd suggested writing a series of scholarly articles about human mating rituals in a Denobulan research journal, using his experiences as illustrations. Elizabeth had become quite angry.
It had been a fascinating experience. Needless to say, the articles had not been written.
Eventually, their physical relationship had professed beyond kisses on the cheek. He'd been amazed at the enthusiasm with which Elizabeth had investigated the difference in their bodies, and his own pleasure triggers. Obviously, he'd previously been quite versed in human physiology. However, none of the inter-species medical exchange training had prepared him for sexual experiences. It had been delightful -- and educational -- from the start.
However, this was not what he'd expected. Looking at the monitor, he verified his findings. "You are pregnant."
Elizabeth grimaced. "I could have told you that weeks ago."
Puzzled, he frowned at her. "Then why wait this long to come to me?"
She shrugged. "I don't really know."
"Is this...my child?"
She punched his arm, remarkably hard. "Nice question, Phlox."
He took in the information for a few moments. "I feel compelled to tell you that this is impossible."
"So you've said. And yet, here we are." She was quiet for a minute. Finally, "Do you have any children?"
Ah. "On Denobula, this is a more complicated question than for you humans. I have two children, but two of my wives. However, they are not biologically my children. They were fathered by my wives' other husbands. Nevertheless, I accept partial responsibility for their upbringing."
She nodded, then returned to the original subject. "How is this happening?"
"I am uncertain. We do not have compatible genetic structures."
"Will the child be all right?"
Taking her hand, a gesture of human comfort he'd learned, he chose his words carefully. "Again, I am uncertain. It is possible she or he will not come to term."
She closed her eyes briefly. "We'll have to tell Captain Archer."
He thought about the implications of that. Would the captain balk at the possibility of having a child on board? Would Elizabeth be reprimanded by the chain of command? The last idea seemed ridiculous, but he'd observed that humans were still remarkably old-fashioned in some of their beliefs. Eventually, he smiled. "I am certain he will be delighted. He is a man of great compassion." That compassion might not be enough to keep Elizabeth on board.
She smiled back. "We could make him godfather."
He listened as she explained the human custom. In some ways it was like his own role with his wives' children. It struck him suddenly that his wives might not be particularly pleased about this development. Then again, perhaps they would be delighted at the thought of another member of the family.
However it turned out, this would be an interesting challenge, far from
what he'd expected when he arrived on Earth.
|Snippet #3: Family. Home.
Lying on his bunk, Travis thought about his family. They were hundreds of light years behind Enterprise, hauling cargo through the same sections of space as always. They were living in the same outdated and increasingly cramped quarters that he'd called home for so long. There would always be challenges in their work. Still, he wished they could be out here, where nothing was ever routine. He longed to show them first hand the wonders of deep space.
When he and Malcolm had landed on the ice comet, he'd thought how wonderful it would have been to turn to his left and share his wonder with his mother or his youngest cousin. He'd imagined the brightness joy would have brought into their eyes.
He longed for the days when any human could travel this far into the quadrant. He hoped that by then, the dangers would be minimal.
He'd tried to explain his desire to share his experiences with his family to Malcolm. The man had listened intently, and asked questions, but Travis was certain Malcolm hadn't quite understood. It was more than a bit sad how disconnected Malcolm was from his family; from most people even.
Still, it made him realise how rare it was for Malcolm to trust someone on a personal level. It made their relationship all the more special to know that Malcolm trusted him.
He shook his head that the thought. If he knew what Travis was thinking, Malcolm would doubtless accuse him of being "soft". Travis smiled at the expression he knew would be on Malcolm's face -- somewhat derogatory and aloof, while his eyes became slightly unfocussed and vulnerable. Then, for the next few days, he would be particularly solicitous with Travis. It had taken some time, but Travis had come to understand that this was Malcolm's somewhat stilted and awkward way of demonstrating his own affection.
He'd also come to realise that Enterprise was slowly becoming "home" to Malcolm, something Travis suspected hadn't existed in any tangible way for the man since his childhood. More than that, Travis himself was a central part of what made Enterprise home.
The comm chimed, interrupting his thoughts. "Reed to Mayweather." Malcolm's tone was crisp.
He hit the comm panel next to his head. "Mayweather here."
"Would you care to join me for dinner?"
"Fifteen minutes? I have a few things to finish up."
"See you there."
He remembered when Malcolm wouldn't have asked, when he would simply
have hoped to run into Travis in the mess hall. Malcolm had told
him that once, while they were both slightly drunk. Swinging
himself up and off the bunk, he smiled at the memory and in anticipation.
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