trekwriter151: (enterprise)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Wish I did, though.

Rating: This chapter is K+. For other chapters, the rating might change.

Warnings: AU

Main Characters: Sato, T'Pol (I always got the feeling Hoshi could come from a family descended from samurais.)

Spoilers: None, but R/S and TnT

Reviews and comments needed! Thanks ;)


Chapter One

Lieutenant Hoshi Sato sat in the middle of the shaded clearing, concentrating on the symbols on her PADD. The humidity made her break out into a sweat, even here in the shade. Strands of hair kept escaping from the tight bun and her dust-colored uniform did nothing to reflect the intense heat. Aronia Three's year-round temperature was around ninety-seven degrees Fahrenheit, even during the winter. She looked at the elegant symbols on the screen and compared them to the inscriptions on the stone walls. The white marble columns reminded her of the old Greek temples, while the colorful pictures were similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs. Together, the effect was amazing.

"Evatu dr'olio bekkha," Hoshi murmured to herself. "'In the beginning, there was life...'" She traced the stylized curves and angles of the letters. A week of some old-fashioned head beating had given her some clues to the language. So far, she knew the Aronians' lettering ran from right to left, their pictures clarified meaning, and some of the word roots were similar to ones she'd seen elsewhere. Hoshi brought up a database of Rygillian and programmed a grammar comparison between the two.

She smiled to herself; it wasn't every day that a Starfleet linguist was asked to assist with a major archaeological dig, especially one this major. The head of the team, Doctor Jamilla Yumisa, specifically requested the Enterprise for this particular mission. This was a welcome change from boring patrol duty. At this moment, Captain Archer and Yumisa were in the command tent, while the rest of the team scoured the dig site.

Her communicator chirped and an accented voice said, "Lieutenant Sato, security check-in."

She smiled and opened the comm channel. "Sato, checking in. I'm in Sector One-Three-Four with Commander T'Pol."

"Are you enjoying yourself, luv?"

Hoshi laughed at Malcolm Reed's question. "I'm sitting beside a temple wall decorated with Aronian characters, Malcolm. Their language is giving me quite a challenge. I think it'll be enough to keep me out of trouble."

He snorted in amusement. She saw, in her mind's eye, the half-smile he usually wore. "Perhaps. Captain Archer and I already had to fish Trip out of the local river...twice. I suppose your morning hasn't been quite as lively."

"What was Trip doing in the river?"

Malcolm sighed and her smile widened at his next words. "Doctor Yumisa found the remains of a bridge at the riverbank. She and Trip were examining the foundations when part of it crumbled away under Trip's feet. Captain Archer dove in after him and saved him the first time. The second time, I managed to pull him to safety before he got in too deep."

"But you guys are all right?" She couldn't help but be worried. Trip had the worst luck planet-side, and the water wasn't exactly on Malcolm's list of favorite places.

"Trip was soaked to the skin, but we're all fine," he reassured her. "I believe Trip was 'madder than a wet hen'."

"That man can't stay out of trouble, can he? Even on an archaeological dig."

Her remark caught the attention of Commander T'Pol. The Vulcan stood at the end of the temple wall with a scanner in hand. As she turned to face Hoshi, her eyebrow lifted almost to her hairline, and Hoshi swore she rolled her eyes. There was a reason why her fiancé and T'Pol's bondmate were dubbed "The Disaster Twins" by the Enterprise crew.

"Apparently not." Someone shouted in the background and he said, "I have to go, luv...looks like they've discovered another cache of weaponry buried in the general's tomb. See you at lunch?"

Malcolm's tone betrayed his excitement; the Aronians had used a wide variety of weaponry in their endless wars. He had jumped at Doctor Yamisa's request for his help in analyzing the artifacts they'd found. Hoshi knew interest when she heard it.

"Of course. I hope you have enough appetite for dessert."

A year ago, he would have sputtered at the double meaning behind her words. Now, he only chuckled evilly. "I'll make sure of that. Reed, out."

"Sato, out." She flipped the communicator closed and replaced it on her belt.

He's enjoying himself as much as I am. I'm glad; he's actually playing an active role instead of just hovering in the background. Granted, that was his job as the Enterprise's Armory Officer, but it was nice to see him use his expertise in a different way.

"Lieutenant? Can you assist me please?"

She glanced up at Commander T'Pol's voice. The Vulcan stood a few meters away, her own scanner in hand, at the remains of the front wall of the temple. T'Pol's brow was knit in concentration, one of her eyebrows lifted up to her hairline.

"Did you find something?" Hoshi asked as she walked to T'Pol's side.

"Yes, I believe I have found some historical record of the Aronians' final battle. The weapons depicted here match the fragments that Doctor Yumisa and Lieutenant Commander Reed found earlier."

Hoshi leaned forward and examined the pictures carved into the wall. A group of scarlet-clad warriors fought against gray "spirits" with spears, pikes, swords and other weapons she couldn't identify. There were mechanical battle rams and slings, chariot-like vehicles pulled by two-horned animals. ""uako donn thot, sevo shiann thot... Varon d'agu uako bhalin dho...We shed blood to defend blood. May the gods grant us victory'," Hoshi translated the inscriptions under the pictures. "They fought to the death, Commander."

"Indeed." Her mouth twisted in distaste. "I have dated this particular section to approximately five thousand five hundred Earth years ago. This agrees with Doctor Yumisa's previous estimate."

Hoshi nodded and drew her attention to the next scene. Directly above the battle, she saw noblewomen defending their stronghold against those same "spirits". One woman had wrapped a coil of wire around one of the "spirits" and pulled it tight, while a second woman played a harp in the background. A third woman held what looked like a huge black mirror above her head. Hoshi shivered at the unholy glee on the pale features as she captured the enemy with the glass.

"Disturbing," T'Pol said.

Hoshi traced the characters under the women. "'Warriors, steel your souls for the fight ahead. Forge your passion like your swords.' The women had their own methods of warfare, even more brutal than the men, I think."

The Vulcan inclined her head in agreement, even as her golden-brown eyes flashed. "In our history, long before Surak, the women also participated in the major conflicts between the Clans. Some were powerful chieftains themselves, others kept a more...discreet profile. As distasteful the comparison, I do find it particularly apt in this case."

Hoshi nodded at T'Pol's unspoken words. Her world had been at the same crossroads, at about the same time as the Aronians. The Vulcans had embraced logic in time to prevent their destruction; the Aronians had destroyed their own world. Hoshi wondered how history might have been different, had the Aronians renounced their violence.

A gong sounded in the distance and interrupted her musings. "Break time, and not a moment too soon. I'm about the melt in this heat. I don't think even Vulcan was this hot."

T'Pol nodded; her skin was flushed an unusual shade of bronze-green. "A cooler environment will be beneficial for both of us, Lieutenant. The temperature is rather comfortable for me, but the humidity is quite taxing."

They made their way across the dig site. The junior members of Doctor Yumisa's team waved at them as they passed. Hoshi waved back, astounded by the young men and women's enthusiasm, even in tropical heat. Soon the command tent came into view and she sighed in relief as she ducked under the flap.

"Found anything interesting, ladies?" asked Captain Archer. He sat with Doctor Yumisa at a makeshift desk as they examined a long strip of parchment. Hoshi looked over Archer's shoulder and smiled at the characters.

"A treatise on diplomacy, Sir?"

"More like the Aronian version of 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu crossed with Machiavelli's 'The Prince'," Archer replied. "Their basic rules of how to be a commander in war. It includes what they call diplomacy, the big-stick kind."

"I'm wondering if the Aronians did anything else but fight amongst themselves."

Doctor Yumisa laughed, a musical trill that seemed out of place with the tall, broad-shouldered archaeologist. Her dark skin and braided hair reminded Hoshi of the elegant statues of African tribal women. She passed T'Pol a drink of fasa juice and poured another one for Hoshi.

"Actually, they lived life with as much enthusiasm as they ended it. Their art, literature, technology...they threw their whole being into their culture. A pity they couldn't redirect that enthusiasm." Yumisa shook her head. "T'Pol, this mural you found is astounding. It illustrates some of the principles that Jonathan and I were reading about. Hoshi, did you make out the captions underneath it?"

Hoshi nodded and told Yumisa what she had translated. "Who was their enemy? Disembodied spirits?"

"Probably not a literal representation. Their enemy was the Pr'hada, translated as 'The Shadows'. The problem is that we have no clue what they looked like or why the Aronians were so hell-bent on wiping them off the face of the planet." Yumisa shrugged. "Malcolm and Trip are at General Hu'fase's tomb right now; maybe they'll find some missing pieces of the puzzle. Hoshi, your fiancé has been a great help to us. You are a lucky woman."

Yumisa, not being Starfleet, called them by their given names and not their ranks. Her open attitude and blunt manner was both refreshing and embarrassing. "Thank you," Hoshi said with blush.

Archer grinned and said, "It's a good change to see him actively participating instead of hovering in the background. I don't think you can drag him out of that tomb. Hu'fase was buried with a virtual armory around him."

"Wonderful. I'll have to pry him out of there at the business end of a torpedo," Hoshi groaned, but she smiled as she said the words. "I don't suppose we could---"

A blast of cold air rushed into the tent scattering the pieces of parchment all over the floor. The temperature dropped several degrees in a matter of seconds. The ground shook under their feet, just before a bang erupted from the heavens.

"What the--" Archer began. "I didn't know the weather could change this fast---"

"It doesn't," Yumisa said shortly. The archaeologist strode over to the tent flap and looked outside, but quickly ducked her head back inside."Storm clouds on the horizon, though. Looks like it'll be a bad one and it's coming fast. You'll have the opportunity to drag Malcolm out without firing any torpedoes, Hoshi. I don't want any of our people caught underground."

Archer nodded. "Come on, let's get Malcolm and Trip before the storm breaks. T'Pol---" He broke off at the expression on T'Pol's features. The Vulcan's eyes had gone glassy, as if she'd gone into a trance. "T'Pol? What's wrong?"

"T'Pol?" Hoshi echoed. Suddenly, those eyes widened in surprise and fear. A mental image of rushing water and fire, a scream that sounded almost human...Hoshi could hear the unspoken words as if T'Pol had screamed them aloud.

Thy'la...no!

The ground trembled again and opened up under Hoshi's feet. She stumbled and reached for Captain Archer, who lost his balance and crashed into her. T'Pol's unresisting body slammed into both of them and the three pitched headlong into darkness.

Two

"Watch your head there, Commander. It's a tight fit."

Trip Tucker swore as he bumped his head on the stone archway. He rubbed the sore spot and bent lower to enter the tomb. Trip glanced over his shoulder to see Malcolm enter the small room with an eerie grace. Of course, Malcolm didn't have to duck; there were some advantages to having a smaller frame.

"Yeah, thanks for the warnin', Malcolm," Trip said sourly. The dust clung to his wet hair in a sticky film. His unscheduled swim had put him in a foul mood, but he managed a smile. "Thanks, by the way, for getting me out of the water. I knew it wasn't easy for you."

Malcolm shrugged and said, "I was the closest. Besides, I doubt the tarra fish would have appreciated the change in their diet."

"Gee, thanks. I'd probably give them indigestion and they'd spit me out." He grinned and moved aside for Malcolm to join him. Trip saw an amused smile pass over the armory officer's face at the thought.

A man's voice called out from the next chamber. "Commander Tucker? Lieutenant Commander Reed? Over here."

They joined Doctor Harry Llewellyn, Yumisa's assistant. The Welshman's eyes lit up at the sight of Malcolm and Trip. "Gentlemen, take a look at this. This was hidden in a back passage, behind the general's coffin. Seems like he wanted to make sure his soul was doubly protected."

Trip whistled as he glanced at the items stacked neatly in the stone case. He scanned the vials of liquid, the thin strands of metal next to them and the serrated blades around them. "They're all lethal, Doc."

"Needles and poison-tipped blades," Malcolm added. "Shuriken."

"What?"

Llewellyn nodded. "Japanese throwing stars, Trip, used by the ninja during the Age of the Samurai. One shuriken in the right place and you wouldn't even know until it was too late. The Aronians obviously had the same idea. It's strange, though."

"What's strange, Doc?"

Llewellyn shrugged. "These are i'hala. Women's weapons. They wouldn't normally be buried with a male general, unless either he really wanted to have all his bases covered, or---"

Trip and Malcolm glanced at each other, the meaning clear. "---there's someone else buried here," Malcolm said.

"We scanned this entire area for kilometers around. If there was another tomb, it would've shown up on the scans," Llewellyn murmured. "Another scan wouldn't hurt, though. Maybe it'll pick up something we missed."

Trip nodded. "I'm on it, Malcolm. I'll ask O'Neill to run another scan from Enterprise."

"We'll take another look around here." As Trip ducked back under the doorway and made his way up the steep stone steps, he heard Malcolm ask, "Where exactly did you find this, Harry?"

Trip reached the tomb entrance and flipped open his communicator. "Tucker to Enterprise."

The response was immediate. "Enterprise, Lieutenant Mayweather."

"Travis, where's Lieutenant O'Neill?"

Travis chuckled and replied, "She went down to the Mess Hall for a few minutes. I'm holding down the fort for her till she gets back."

A smile turned his lips. "You ain't sittin' in the captain's chair, are ya?"

"Commander!" Travis sounded offended. "I'll have you know that Lieutenant O'Neill's given me explicit orders. She's a stickler for the rules and anyone who's in charge of the Bridge, no matter how brief, must be present in the center of command."

"You're sittin' in the captain's chair." Trip laughed and shook his head. "I won't tell Malcolm or the captain, I promise. We need another scan of the dig site, extended to about a hundred kilometers past the original borders. Doctor Llewellyn thinks there might be a second tomb hidden somewhere here. We don't want to leave any stone unturned."

"Another one? We'll get on it right away, sir." Travis sounded excited at the prospect of helping in any way possible. Trip grinned at the enthusiasm in his voice.

"Thanks, Travis. Tucker, out." He snapped the communicator closed and turned to re-enter the tomb, when the sky darkened above him. The wind whipped dust into the air; Trip raised his arm to shield his eyes. Lightning flashed and the ground shook under his feet. He swore as he stumbled, out of balance, and slid down the narrow staircase on his rear, tumbling back towards the tomb. He landed in a deep pool of liquid.

Trip spit out salty water as he grabbed the last stone step for balance. He couldn't see inside the small archway. "Malcolm? Harry?"

"Here!" Malcolm yelled. "Harry's unconscious, we need to get him topside!"

Trip took a deep breath and pushed himself through the entranceway. Malcolm was treading water at the back of the chamber, one hand clinging to a stone outcropping, the other hand keeping Llewellyn's head out of the water. He reached Llewellyn first. "He's got a nasty bruise on his temple. I'll help you get him to the stairs."

"The water's rising! Take him; I'm right behind you." Malcolm's voice was tightly controlled, but Trip heard the panic within it. He managed to grab Llewellyn's limp body and they half-dragged, half-floated the archaeologist to the stairs. The water spread quickly to the middle steps; if they didn't leave now, the three of them would drown.

"Bloody damn river," Malcolm growled under his breath. "I hadn't thought the dig site was so close to it. Thought Doctor Yumisa would've been more prudent---"

"You saw the same land surveys I did, Malcolm. We weren't that close. I don't understand how the tomb flooded so easily!" Trip paused as the stairs trembled. "What the hell was that?"

Malcolm's eyes widened. "It sounds like---"

The wall directly next to Trip exploded outward and a rush of water slammed into him, knocking him off his feet. He lost hold of Llewellyn as he tumbled back down. Murky water swirled over his head and threatened to drag him under. Trip's lungs ached for air, but he couldn't tell which was was up or down.

Thy'la, no! T'Pol screamed into his mind. His eyes snapped open at his bondmate's voice. T'Pol? Ya all right? Where are ya? His consciousness was starting to dissolve, but he was beyond caring.

Trip, to your right!

What?
His mind was fuzzy, but his body responded. Suddenly, he broke the surface of the water and a blast of cold air hit him in the face. All he could do was let the current take him where it wanted; he had no more strength to fight it. Trip stretched out on his back, floating, his face to the sky.

It's different, he thought. The stars shone brightly overhead, twin moons on the horizon. A rainbow of color in the distance, some kind of aurora or nebula. It was beautiful.

He closed his eyes and remembered nothing else.

*****

It was his worst nightmare come to life. He was going to drown.

Malcolm fought his way through the water and managed to reach air. The river's current swept him downstream so fast that the shore passed by in a blur. He glanced around and realized he was alone.

"Trip!" Malcolm screamed, but the engineer was nowhere in sight. Again, the swirling water yanked him underneath; he reached out blindly and a tree branch snagged the sleeve of his uniform. Malcolm pushed himself upward and collided with a thick tree trunk. It jutted out from the shore, solid in place, in spite of the rushing current. Malcolm grabbed hold of it, but he couldn't get himself up on the trunk. He tried to push away the panic as long minutes passed and there was no sign of Trip.

Malcolm clung to the tree with all his strength, but his fingers were losing their hold. He clenched his hands around the tree branch as random thoughts ran through his brain. He needed to hang on, ride out the storm, soon Captain Archer and Hoshi and T'Pol would realize they were missing and launch a search.

But he was so cold and so tired...his eyes started to drift shut, his body becoming a dead weight...

Hoshi, my love...His grip slipped, but just before the current swept him away from safety, a gloved hand seized hold of him. He barely registered the shouting and cursing above him, the pounding on his back, a mug of something hot being forced to his lips. His vision swam into focus.

"What---?" he whispered.

"You'll be all right," a rough voice said. Malcolm frowned; the words didn't sound right, but he recognized them all the same. "Those charges destroyed the bridge; your handiwork knocked fifteen of them into the river. They're gone...we've stopped their charge cold, thanks to you."

He looked up at the speaker. The man's face was seamed with scars, his long golden-brown hair tied back into a neat ponytail, his eyes bright with triumph and worry. Those eyes caught Malcolm's attention...they were familiar, for some reason, though the face was different. Then he remembered something, long ago, pictures on a funerary tomb...

The same eyes. Green. The man's body surrounded by an arsenal of ancient weaponry...

"General..." he rasped, unable to believe it.

The eyes narrowed in mild reproach. "I'd appreciate it though, if you'd stop trying to throw yourself into harm's way so often. I still need you, whether you believe it or not. If you'd died doing something stupid, your lady wife would kill you again, then set her claws into me. That reminds me...we found our just-as-suicidal Builder downstream. He's worse off than you, but he'll survive. He's tough, but you trained him that way, didn't you?"

Malcolm could only nod, his thoughts still in a daze. This had to be some kind of hallucination. That's it, some kind of fevered dream, I have to be in shock...

The general nodded back, then got back to his feet. "Take him back to the fortress, tell his lady he needs some special care." His words brought snickers and catcalls from the men around them. "As for you, Weaponsmaster, I expect to see you bright and early in the morning around the tactician's table. Understand?"

Malcolm stared at him as he turned on his heel and walked away. A sickening feeling came over him as he realized this was no fever dream; the general truly believed he was an Aronian Weaponsmaster.

What in Heaven's name have I gotten into?

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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