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[personal profile] trekwriter151
T'Pol indulges in some scientific analysis, with Trip's help. Malcolm discovers a new side to Hoshi, while Phlox feels protective towards Liz Cutler. A member of Engineering ends up in Sickbay (not Trip). Travis and a group of his Boomer friends decide to upgrade Shuttlepod One with some new Dnayui hardware.

French: "C'est le chocolat. Il y a une raison pour laquelle c'est la nourriture de l'amour.” (It's chocolate. There's a reason (why) it's the food of love.) “Mais oui.” (Of course.)

OCs: Ensign Neal Campbell is Hoshi's 2IC in the comm department. He was introduced in my story "Voices of Treachery".

"I do not understand this...obsession."

Lieutenant Travis Mayweather glanced over his shoulder at Commander T'Pol. The Vulcan watched as Crewman Cunningham rang the chime of the captain's Ready Room. They all heard Archer's muffled response, then Cunningham entered, letting the door slide shut behind him.

"Yes, Lieutenant. This obsession with a food substance." T'Pol held the maroon-foil wrapped chocolate to the light. Her mouth was pulled down in a grimace of distaste.

Despite himself, Travis snorted in laughter, and T'Pol turned her disdainful look on him. "Sometimes it's just a personal preference, Commander. In the case of chocolate, there has been evidence that the chemicals make people feel good."

T'Pol nodded at the scientific explanation. "Endorphins."

"Yeah. Chocolate has anti-oxidants in its chemical make-up too," Travis went on. "So it's supposed to be good for your health...I think dark chocolate is supposed to be the best." He decided to change the subject slightly. "Do Vulcans have a sweet tooth?"

She didn't quite shrug, but he could hear the grudging agreement in her tone. "There are desserts in Vulcan cuisine, Lieutenant, but personally, I do not enjoy them, as most are too sweet for my taste. I have sampled some Human desserts, like cake, but I would prefer not to indulge too often."

"Too bad." Travis unwrapped his piece and popped it into his mouth. "When I was growing up on the Horizon, we took a shipment of Ndaian spice to Aldeberan once. Just the smell of the stuff was addictive. Paul and I took turns sitting in front of the cargo bay doors just to savor the aroma."

T'Pol raised an eyebrow and replied, "I believe Ndaian spice has a rather...hallucinogenic effect on the human brain, specifically the male brain.

"Well, yeah, but no one knew that then. Mom and my sister Lina thought we were nuts. Luckily, we reached Aldeberan and off-loaded the stuff before either of us did anything stupid. I think my dad ended up sleeping in the Mess Hall during that week 'cause my mom was mad at him for some reason." Travis chuckled and shook his head, then suddenly his eyes widened. "Whoa—"

The drastic change made T'Pol concerned. "Lieutenant? Are you well?" When he didn't answer immediately, she asked, "Shall I call Sickbay?"

Travis shook his head and held up a hand to stop her. "No, no, Commander...I'm all right, it's just...whew!" He blinked and swallowed a few times. "That's a powerful piece of candy! I thought for a minute I tasted some cinnamon and a touch of spiced curry. That'll wake you up in a heartbeat." His expression turned sunny once more. "I gotta ask Cunningham where he got it. This stuff's pretty good."

Just then, the door opened and Cunningham walked out with his glass dish of chocolates. Archer said something that Travis didn't catch, but T'Pol did, and she raised her eyebrow again. Cunningham chuckled in response and said, "I don't think that'll be good for Porthos, sir. I think chocolate's bad for dogs, isn't it?"

"It's supposed to be," Archer agreed, "but for some reason he's bent on getting a piece. You'd think it was covered with cheese or something. Don't worry, Crewman, I'll keep it away from Porthos."

"Thank you, sir." The Ready Room doors closed, cutting off Archer's reply. Cunningham nodded at T'Pol and was heading back to the lift, when he turned back to Travis. "Hoshi got the mokka from the Dnayui chocolatier, Lieutenant. The chef gave her a free tray and she asked me to distribute it among the crew."

Travis blinked. "How'd you know I was gonna ask that?"

"Because everyone's been asking me that, and everyone wants another piece." Cunningham laughed and added, "Well, I think Chef's got a healthy supply of it now, so it'll be back."

"Great. I'd hate to think something this good was just a one-shot deal."

"Yeah, that's what everyone else thinks too." Cunningham stepped into the lift. "Good night, everyone."

The Gamma shift bridge crew returned the greeting. Travis glanced back at T'Pol , who seemed to be studying her piece of mokka, which was holding up considerably well, since it was warm on the bridge.

"You gonna eat that or are you gonna analyze it first, Commander?" Travis asked, his tone both curious and teasing.

T'Pol looked back at him and said, "Perhaps it would not be harmful if I consume a little amount of sucrose." Then with a gracefulness that surprised Travis, she unwrapped the candy and put it in her mouth, closing her eyes to enhance the experience. After a few moments, she opened her eyes again and murmured, "Fascinating."

"What?" Travis asked. He wasn't the only one who was curious; the entire Gamma crew was staring at her. "How was it?"

"I experienced a childhood memory. Rat'sieka." Seeing Travis's curiosity, she clarified, "A summer treat for Vulcan children, made of saya and other types of fruit. It is refreshing, but not overly saccharine. I was able to eat it because I found the taste...agreeable."

"And you thought it tasted like this rat'sieka?" Travis asked.

"I believe my brain interpreted the chemicals in the mokka as similar and linked it to my memory."

"Makes sense, if it tasted different for everybody." Travis glanced around the bridge and received nods of affirmation. "It probably reminded us of pleasant flavors we've experienced in the past."

T'Pol nodded and looked at the crumpled-up foil, which she still held in her hand. "I would be curious to discover how this is possible. I believe this is the first time I have heard of a food substance with this strong of an effect on both Humans and Vulcans."

"Maybe you can write a paper on it," Travis joked, then winced as he realized that T'Pol might be offended. He didn't have to worry about it, for she was busy at her console, arranging a chemical analysis of the remnants of the mokka on the foil.



It took a negative scan of the ship, a thorough checking of the records, and a precise recounting the supply of phase pistols in the Armory, but finally, Malcolm and his team came up with the correct number. It turned out that the three pistols hadn't been missing after all.

Bloody brilliant. I had to ruin my enjoyable evening with Hoshi for a false alarm, Malcolm groused. A part of him, the security officer, reminded him that it was better safe than sorry, and that he'd much rather have had a false alarm now than a potentially dangerous situation later. He said as much to his staff, who were embarrassed at the mix-up.

"I would've sworn that three were missing, sir," said Crewman Michaels. His face was as red as an overripe tomato. "I'm sorry."

"Better for us to find out now than later, Crewman," Malcolm assured him. "Now, if there are no further crises, real or imagined—"

"Of course, sir."

Malcolm headed for the door, but before they closed behind him, he thought he heard one of his Gamma shift team mutter, "Someone didn't get their chocolate tonight."

Yes, well, I suppose I should remedy that lack right now, he thought. If Hoshi still isn't mad at me for having to deal with an imaginary phase pistol thief. Hoshi would understand, though. She always did. But he still hesitated in front of her door, for he wasn't sure whether or not he'd still be in her good graces.

The door opened, startling him. Hoshi was there, still in the red dress she'd gotten at the Marketplace, with a bright smile. He relaxed and said, "I'm sorry, Hoshi, it was a false alarm..."

She grabbed his upper arms and pulled him towards her, surprising him with a passionate kiss. The rational part of his brain (the part still able to think, anyway) identified the taste on her lips: fruity, not unpleasantly so, and sweet. Pineapple? I hadn't thought the Dnayui would have used an Earth fruit in their mokka...

That was all he had time for before she pulled him through the door.



Doctor Phlox turned at the sound of whistling and saw Ensign Cutler come through the Sickbay doors. "Ah, you're in a good mood, Crewman!"

"I slept pretty well, Phlox," she replied with a grin. "I guess a night off and some good chocolate works wonders."

He chuckled and said, "I did sample that piece of mokka and I found it quite pleasant indeed. It tasted like jujora, a delicious treat for Denobulan children. I remember my sister used to make it for all of the children in our family. Her recipe was very popular." He shrugged. "I could never get the ratios quite correct, so mine never turned out as well as hers. I'm more than happy to leave the cooking to her."

Liz smiled. Phlox chatted a lot about his family back on Denobula and she always enjoyed listening to his stories. "Jujora? Can you describe what it tastes like?"

He thought for a moment, then replied, "I suppose a combination of Earth's strawberry with a hint of orange and mint would be the best way to describe it. I used to eat so much of it as a boy; I ended up with an upset stomach a lot, much to my second-father's chagrin." He laughed and shook his head. "Liz, I wanted to inform you that those samples you wanted have arrived."

Her eyes lit up. "Oh, good! No offense, Phlox, but I'm always glad to do some work in my specialty. You don't run into many bugs in deep space."

Phlox nodded. "No offense taken, Liz. I've put them in the medical lab and set up all the equipment. Enjoy yourself." He watched as she literally skipped to the lab, pulled open the door and disappeared into it. Her unbridled enthusiasm was contagious and he found himself humming a tune to himself.

The sickbay doors opened again and Phlox turned. "Lieutenant Commander! What can I do for you today?"

Malcolm Reed winced and put a hand on his right shoulder. "I think I might have pulled a muscle in my shoulder, Doctor."

"Let me take a look at it." Reed sat on the biobed as Phlox ran his scanner over him. "Ah, you are correct. It seems that you pulled the muscle between your shoulder and your neck. A muscle relaxer should help." As he reached for the hypospray, he asked, "Is this the result of a training exercise?"

Reed blushed. "Ah, no, not exactly, but I didn't really notice it until I ran a few phase pistol drills with the Armory crew. That's when it became a real bother."

"I see." Phlox noticed that he hadn't answered the question. Judging from the lieutenant commander's coloring, it was better not to ask. "There, that should do it."

"Thank you, Doctor. It feels a lot better."

"If there are any complications, please don't hesitate to come back."

"I won't, Doctor."

As the doors closed behind Reed, Phlox noticed a sweet aroma in the air. Pineapple. At least Reed was up to date on his allergy shots; the bromelin didn't agree with him, and the last thing Phlox wanted was to treat him for a serious reaction.

As the morning went on, other crewmembers came in for minor ailments: upset stomachs from indulging in too much mokka the night before, minor burns from Engineering, a few bumps and bruises from off-loading mishaps in Cargo Bay Two. Phlox thought the high case of accidents was quite unusual, so he called Captain Archer.

"I sent some crew members down when they complained of headaches and stomachaches," Archer confirmed. "It seemed to pass pretty quickly and they haven't had any problems since."

"Captain, are you feeling well?"

"I'm feeling fine, Doctor. Porthos was sulking this morning because I wouldn't give him any mokka, but other than that, he's fine too." The captain's tone became concerned. "Do you think there might be something going around the crew?"

"It's difficult to say, but perhaps it is just one of those days when accidents seem to happen."

"Keep me informed, Doctor. If there is something, I'd like to be the first to know."

"Of course, Captain." As soon as Phlox closed the com channel, he turned to see Crewman Rostov limping through the door with Commander Tucker supporting him on one side. "Mister Rostov! What has happened?"

Rostov muttered something under his breath in Russian, then translated it into English. "I'm convinced that damn spanner of yours is cursed, sir. Every time I use it, it tries to eat me."

Trip couldn't help grinning. "And you wonder why I won't let you borrow it?"

"Gentlemen," Phlox interrupted.

"Sorry, Doc." Trip helped Rostov onto the biobed. "Mike was helping me in one of the conduits. He bumped his head on the ceiling, then slipped on a tool that was lying around—"

"That damn spanner—"

"—and it flew up and socked him in the knee. I think he whacked it pretty good."

Rostov winced as Phlox carefully pulled the right leg of his jumpsuit up to examine the bruise. "I believe the Commander's initial impression is correct, Mister Rostov. It appears that your right knee has sustained a considerable bruise. Liz?"

"Doctor?" Liz asked as she stuck her head out of the lab.

"Will you fetch a cold compress for Mister Rostov? He's bruised his knee."

"Of course, Doctor."

Phlox worked gently but efficiently to ease Rostov's pain. He noticed Commander Tucker's look of concern; at least, the engineer hadn't ended up in Sickbay today—

The com went off again. "Commander T'Pol to Doctor Phlox."

He sighed and hit the com button with his elbow, then continued his ministrations without stopping. "Phlox here."

"I require your presence in Science Lab Two."

"Acknowledged, Commander. I will be there in five minutes."

"That is acceptable. T'Pol, out."

A soft hand touched his wrist. "I can handle this for you, Phlox. You go and see what the Commander wants."

He glanced at Liz in surprise. Her hand felt warm and comforting on his skin. He knew that Liz was aware that Denobulans didn't like being touched in a casual manner, but right now, that didn't seem to bother him at all. In fact, it felt rather...nice.

She seemed to misinterpret his gaze. "I need some practice in this kind of work, Phlox, if I'm going to be your emergency medic."

He nodded and handed her the hypospray. Of course, he really didn't need to do so, but he found that he wanted any excuse to touch her. "Very well, Liz. Crewman Rostov, she'll take good care of you. Just be careful in the conduits next time."

Rostov nodded and managed a grin, in spite of his pain. "Sure, Doc. I'm not touching that spanner ever again."

Tucker laughed and said, "I'm holdin' you to that, Mike."

As Phlox left Sickbay, he became aware of Tucker's curious gaze at his back. For some reason, that stirred up a wave of irritation. She will be just fine, he told himself. Liz is a competent medic. I wouldn't be surprised if she decided to become a doctor herself someday.

Commander T'Pol sat at one of the lab computers and looked up as Phlox entered the room. "Thank you for coming so promptly, Doctor."

He nodded. "What can I help you with, Commander?"

"Does this compound look familiar to you?" She turned the screen so he could see it clearly. "I was running a chemical analysis on the mokka that Lieutenant Sato brought from Dnayu. This is not in any database from Vulcan Medical or Starfleet Medical, and I was curious whether or not you recognized it."

Phlox studied the diagram for a long moment, then slowly shook his head. "I can't say I've seen it before. Perhaps there is something in the Denobulan medical database. This was in the mokka from last night, you say?"

"Yes. There was trace remnants on the foil of the candy I consumed last night. I believe it triggered a pleasant memory from my childhood, one that involved all of the senses."

"That wouldn't surprise me, for the Dnayui consider sensory pleasure an art, just like any other part of their culture." He frowned. "I must admit that I experienced something like you did, Commander...the taste reminded me of a Denobulan sweet that my sister makes for her children."

She nodded, and Phlox thought she saw a hint of relief. "Then the effect is not unusual."

"It appears not to be." He gazed at the diagram with interest. "Do you believe there may be other hidden effects?"

"Unknown, but I would like to pursue this line of inquiry further."

He smiled and reply, "Would you mind transferring your data to my office computer? I would like to assist you in this. If anything, it would satisfy my curiosity, if nothing else."

"I will do that immediately, Doctor."

"Thank you, Commander." He inclined his head to her in gratitude, then left the lab. He wondered if Liz had finished treating Rostov, and if Tucker would have helped the unfortunate engineer back to his cabin...

The thought brought him up short, and he frowned. What was he thinking? Liz Cutler was an attractive woman, for sure, and of course, there were a limited number of Human males on a ship of eighty-three people. He was quite fond of her, but he preferred to think of her as a friend and nothing more than that.

Still...he felt another spike of unease at the thought of her alone in Sickbay with Rostov and Tucker...

His steps quickened as he headed back to Sickbay.



After Trip made sure Rostov was comfortably esconced in his quarters, he returned to Engineering. He nodded as Lieutenant Anna Hess finished up a routine repair on the secondary environmental circuits. "Thanks for doin' this. I know this isn't your shift."

"Well, I heard Mike got his knee hurt and I thought I'd help out," Hess said. "How's he doing?"

"Restin' comfortably in his quarters. I bet you that half of the department will be by to see if he needs anythin'."

Hess nodded and said, "I'd better go check up on him, then. Just in case."

"I think he'd really appreciate that, Anna," Trip said.

He watched as his second-in-command disappeared down the access ladder to the lower deck. Hmmm...somethin' going on here I don't know about? He considered it, then chuckled. Naaah. Anna and Mike? They're at each other's throats all the time. She's more likely to push him out an airlock. Still, that's a nice gesture, checkin' up on him after he got nailed by that spanner—huh? Wait a minute.

There, at the edge of the deck, lay the spanner in question. Trip frowned and picked it up. It had to be someone else's, since he'd put his own in his toolbox so no one else would stumble over it. But, he ran his finger along one edge of it and felt his initials scratched on the side: CT III. He chuckled again and put the spanner in his belt, then climbed down the ladder.

"T'Pol to Tucker."

Trip headed for the wall com. "Tucker here."

"Commander, I need to see you right away."

He thought,What does she want? "On my way.

Ten minutes later, he gave T'Pol a look of disbelief. "Come again?" he asked.

T'Pol didn't quite sigh, but she gave Trip a look of exasperation. "I asked whether or not you have noticed anything amiss in the behavior patterns of your engineering staff."

He thought for a long moment. "Well, Mike Rostov slipped on my spanner in the conduits and needed help gettin' to Sickbay. Some of the guys in Cargo Bay 2 accidentally moved the wrong cargo container and the whole row fell on 'em. Hess asked about Rostov's condition, but that's because she was concerned about him. But nothin' serious, like anyone going crazy or anythin' like that."

"Have you heard anything from the Armory this morning?"

Trip frowned and said slowly, "Come to think of it, no. Then again, doesn't Malcolm have the day off today?"

"So does Lieutenants Sato and Mayweather.”

"All three of them on the same day? That's kinda weird. They're not sick or anything, are they?"

T'Pol shook her head and said, "There has been an unusual number of accidents of board the ship since we left Dnayu. Also, there has also been an alarming rate of shift-trading among the crew. Other department heads have noticed subtle differences in the behavior of their subordinates, not drastic, but enough to be noticed."

Trip's frown deepened as he mulled that over. "You're sayin' the crew's mental state's like they're still on shore leave? That's normal the first day or so after we get back to business, T'Pol. Once everyone gets back into the routine, things'll get back the way they usually do. Give'em another twelve or so hours and if we still have problems, we can tell the Cap'n. But we can keep an eye out, just in case."

T'Pol nodded and was about to add something else, but she hesitated. It was a subtle gesture, but Trip saw it immediately. In fact, he noticed a tremor of unease under the serene Vulcan exterior. He made his tone as gentle as he could; any conversation about emotions were still difficult for her. “What else is botherin' you? It's not just the crew in general?”

She hesitated for a full minute before she straightened her shoulders and asked, "When you had the mokka last night, did you experience any...strange effects?"

"The piece I had tasted like pecans covered in chocolate. At Chef's little reception at the dining hall, I sat with Hoshi, Liz and Phlox and we had some of the cookies and the cake. Gave me quite a sugar buzz, kinda like when I've had too many cups of coffee. I think the taste was different for each person, as if it was tailor made to mimic their favorites. I don't know how the Dnayui did it, but it definitely made an impression."

T'Pol nodded to herself as if confirming something. "Who was at the reception?"

Trip remembered that T'Pol, Travis and Jon hadn't been there; they'd been on Gamma shift on the bridge. "Let's see...everyone who attended Movie night...Mike Rostov, Anna Hess, me, Liz, Phlox, Hoshi, Ensign Mueller, Ethan Novakovich..." He frowned. "Malcolm was there for the first movie, but then he got called away to the Armory for an emergency."

"Did everyone eat their piece of mokka, in addition to what was at the reception?" asked T'Pol.

Trip tried to remember. "I think so, wait—no. Ensign Trace and Crewman Vishna are both allergic to chocolate, so they gave their pieces to other people, and they opted for the non-mokka treats at the reception. As I said, Malcolm left early, and I hadn't seen him eat his, but he could've done it later.”

Your observations are quite helpful, Trip.”

He inclined her head at her and asked, “You think the mokka affected our brains in some bad way?”

She raised both eyebrows at his question. “I am curious from a scientific point of view, especially after having the same kind of sensory experience after eating a piece of mokka. Doctor Phlox and I isolated a specific chemical compound that may shed some light on its effects.”

Trip chuckled and shook his head. “I don't think the Dnayui would appreciate someone stumblin' over their family recipe.”

It took a moment for her to understand Trip's vernacular, but once she did, she gave him the slightest of smiles. “Neither Doctor Phlox nor I are interested in exploiting their 'family recipe' for financial gain, Trip. In any case, the situation attracted both Phlox's and my attention, and we've made a mutual agreement to pursue a line of inquiry.”

In other words, you can't resist a scientific mystery.” Trip chuckled again. “Well, as long as it keeps you two busy...maybe you can make a joint paper out of it.”

T'Pol's smile widened by the slightest of fractions. “Perhaps. Lieutenant Mayweather suggested something similar.”

He matched her grin. “In that case...I'll leave you to your scientific endeavors, T'Pol. I gotta get back to work, but hey, are we still up for dinner?”

“Twenty-thirty hours in the Mess Hall.”

See you then.”

“Until later, Trip.”

He turned and made his way back to Engineering. Although he tried to focus his mind on his work, something nagged at him. It wasn't until later that he figured out what it was. She had addressed him as 'Trip', without his prompting, and while he was still on duty. She was usually a stickler about protocol and decorum while on the job.

She'd done it and not just once. Three times.



“Are you sure this is a good idea, Lieutenant?" Ensign Neal Campbell was Hoshi's second-in-command of the Comm department, but he was also a Boomer, through and through. He narrowed his eyes at the mess of wires in the bowels of Shuttlepod One. He privately believed SP1 liked certain people, and Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Commander Reed were two men on SP1's black list. Travis Mayweather, on the other hand, didn't seem to suffer any ill effects from tinkering with its innards.

Ensign Trieste looked up at Campbell. “I saw those Dnayui hotsleds, Neal. One of the engineers gave me a look at his engine and I noticed some remarkable upgrades. Those sleds can make close to full impulse and half.”

He grinned. “Those things are three-quarters the size of a shuttlepod and they can do impulse-and-a-half? That's awesome.”

“The power consumption are a pain, but Hess thinks we can make it work. So I told Travis--”

“And I looked up some stuff in the database. Plans and everything.” Travis gave the duo a brilliant smile. “Anna contributed some material to the cause, and Commander Tucker gave me the green light to try some of these out. In fact, they're both coming down to join us at the end of their shifts.”

Campbell gave the engine a look of complete skepticism. “Does Captain Archer know?”

"Trip said he'd talk to him. I can't see him vetoing it though. After all, he used to be a test pilot too!"

"It's Shuttlepod One-”

Travis chuckled and said, “Neal, SP1's already proven she likes certain people, and I won't take Commander Tucker or Lieutenant Commander Reed on the test run. Boomer's Honor.”

Campbell relaxed a little. “Boomer's Honor. Okay, what do you need me to do?”

Philippe handed him a PADD and replied, “Check this out...looks like the Dnayui hotsleds have a boosted comm array, just in case someone crashes and needs assistance. Look, emergency beacon, double-jump frequencies, the works. If we can appropriate some of that for Shuttlepod One-”

“-we can make it safer for transport and travel.” Campbell narrowed his eyes at the specs, his brain mulling over all the possibilities. “Wow. They've got DY-980's in direct and alternate linkage...my boss would flip if she saw this."

"I bet. You oughta shoot a file over to her mailbox, Neal. She's not gonna show up to work today,” Travis said. He waggled his eyebrows and added, “She's busy.”

“She's got the day off. So? Everyone needs one now and then.”

Philippe slapped his forehead in mock dismay. “Mon dieu, man, are you blind? She isn't wrestling an exotic language or some complicated grammar!”

"More like she's wrestling a certain Armory Officer,” Travis muttered under his breath.

Campbell rolled his eyes. He wasn't sure why he felt compelled to voice his own opinion about the matter. After all, what Lieutenant Sato did with her free time was none of their business, especially when it concerned Lieutenant Commander Reed. He figured it was the relaxed company and the fact that they were all equals here.

"About damn time my boss decided to take the initiative. They've been dancing around each other for months! I think Mueller and Trace were about to lock them in the starboard phase cannon array and not let them out.”

Travis's smile became cagey. “Funny how they didn't do anything until that last shore leave to Dnayu-”

"They needed some motivation. Even Lieutenant Commander Reed can't be made of pure ice.”

"C'est le chocolat. Il y a une raison pour laquelle c'est la nourriture de l'amour.”

Campbell grinned and sketched Philippe a mock bow. “Mais oui.

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May 2012

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