trekwriter151: (trip)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes: A little idea I had for January's "Sir, we have a Problem" month. Some silliness ensues when Travis shares a gift during Movie Night and chaos happens. This story will be updated fairly regularly, but I can't promise it'll be at my previous lightning-speed. LOL.

Health's still iffy, but slowly getting back to my creative stuff. Thanks for all the well-wishes...really appreciated.

This story takes place after "Terra Prime" in Season 4, before my fic "Captain Mayweather's Mission". R/S and TnT implied.

Prologue


"The Five Words No Engineer Wants to Hear"

Personal log of Commander Charles Tucker the Third: June 15, 2155

"There are five words that no engineer really wants to hear. Okay, besides, "The warp core's gonna blow." And "Divert power to the Armory, " said in a prim British accent. And, "What the hell did you do now?" (So that's seven words. Sue me...I've heard 'em too many times during this mission.)

The five words are: "Sir, we have a problem." And I know I've heard that too many times. This last time out, it was a really big problem. One that involved a case of weird, blue-green ale that Travis got from one of his Boomer buddies, Phlox's new inoculation program, a Denobulan TV series, odd power sources, and a dose of Tucker ingenuity. Lemme tell ya all about it, while the memory's still fresh..."

The door chime interrupted his entry; he waved a hand and ordered, "Computer, pause. Yeah, come on in." As the visitor stepped into his cabin, Trip grinned widely and said, "Well, how's the Iron Stomach, Travis?"

Ensign Travis Mayweather patted his abdomen and replied, "I'm good. Just wanted to stop by and see how you were doing, and to tell you I'm sor-"

"Whoa, hold it right there." Trip raised his hand again, this time in a 'Shush, you listen to me' gesture. "I'm gonna say it again...I'm not blamin' you for anything. It wasn't your fault, and once you realized somethin' was wrong, you helped make things right. So, no beatin' yourself over the head, okay?"

Travis chuckled and said, "Okay. Thanks, Commander. I feel a lot better now. Phlox says the only people who are in Sickbay now are Castagna and Mueller, but they're there only for observation. Malcolm's poring over those weird specs, and Chef's dumped the rest of the bottles in down the drain."

"Good." Trip hesitated, then said, "Um...the Cap'n and I talked it over, and we've agreed not to tell Commander T'Pol when she gets back from Vulcan. She'd be embarrassed as all get out, if she ever heard 'bout what happened. The Cap'n has already talked to Hoshi and Malcolm about it, and they've agreed. I mean, the ship's okay, no one got hurt, no state secrets got out, and she doesn't need to know."

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea," Travis agreed. He made a deliberate effort to put a hand over his mouth while crossing his chest with the index finger of his other hand. "She's not gonna hear it from me. I promise."

"Let's just let sleepin' dogs lie." His cheeks turned a slight shade of pink as he said the words. "That's what my mama always said."

The conversation turned to the schedule for cross-training protocols for the following day. Travis had volunteered to teach some of the science department some piloting skills, while Trip planned to brief Travis's Navigation department on some engineering basics. Later, after Travis bade Trip good night and left, Trip turned back to his computer.

"Okay, where was I? Yeah, I was gonna talk about the latest 'problem' on board the Enterprise..."

"-about which I have already heard the generalities, if not the specifics," remarked a voice from the doorway.

Trip closed his eyes and swore mentally for a few seconds. Then he turned to look at her. The Vulcan's face seemed as impassive as ever, but he detected the slightest upturn of her lips, the sparkle of curiosity in her eyes.

Damn, he thought. Busted. Aloud, he asked, "So...how was your trip to Vulcan?"

"It went well. Ambassador Soval gives his regards." She raised an eyebrow. "I understand that there were some interesting events that occurred during my absence."

"How much do you know?"

"As I said, the generalities, not he specifics." She inclined her head. "I am curious to hear your version of the events."

Trip sighed and motioned her to a chair. "Well, since you already know...make yourself comfortable." As T'Pol settled into the chair opposite him, he added, "I guess it all started with the Five Words No Engineer Wants to Hear..."

"Sir, we have a problem."

One

"What's wrong?" Trip asked. He looked up from the manifest on his PADD and met the gaze of Master Chief Antoine Desgauld, the ship's quartermaster. The QM knelt at the end of a long row of sealed cargo containers in the bay. It was the second shipment of three from the ECS Magdalene, and part of a routine resupply mission.

"We're missing a cargo container," Desgauld answered with a frown. The man's bushy eyebrows drew together until they huddled in a straight line across his face. "It's Seventeen-Twenty Alpha."

Trip consulted his PADD and scrolled down until he found the entry. He groaned silently and shook his head. "That one's got some scientific equipment for Commander T'Pol. We'd better find it or she'll be more than annoyed."

"Can a Vulcan get annoyed?" Desgauld wondered aloud, as he began double checking the other containers.

"They may not be obvious in showin' it, but they sure can," Trip mused. "Hang on, Antoine. I'm gonna ask Crewman Petersen. Hey, Tyler!"

Petersen, the Beta shift Landing Dock Officer, hurried over at his shout. After Trip outlined the problem, Petersen said, "I'll talk with the Maggie's LDO, Commander. It could be that it's been shifted to the last shipment that's coming aboard in an hour."

"All right, Tyler. By the way...Maggie?"

Petersen chuckled. "Some Boomer captains give their ships a nickname...Maggie is how her crew calls her...like the ship's a part of the family too. Kinda silly and sentimental, but that's how we do it."

Trip nodded; Petersen, like Travis Mayweather, was a Boomer, through and through. "I understand, Tyler. Every ship's got a personality. You go and talk with their LDO while Antoine and I look at the other containers."

"Yes, Commander."

Trip looked up and saw Doctor Phlox standing next to a pile of steel crates tucked into the corner of the Cargo Bay. The Denobulan hummed under his breath as he checked off items on his own PADD. Then he reached into the nearest box and withdrew a tightly sealed package of holodiscs. Curious, Trip went over to Phlox, who grinned at the engineer's approach.

"Some stuff for Sickbay?" Trip asked. He could see lab equipment through the layers of bubble wrap, as well as a stack of emergency first aid kits. All were labeled with neat Denobulan script and stamped with "MCD: Medical College of Denobula" in English.

"Mostly," Phlox replied cheerfully, "but there are little parcels tucked away, some comforts of home. It makes opening these crates such a joyous surprise. And these," he held up the holodiscs, "are courtesy of my third wife."

"Letters and pictures from home?"

"Actually, no. She is a director of Denobulan cinema and recently completed a dramatic mini-series; she promised to send me a copy of it once the final edits were done." Phlox handed Trip the holodiscs; Trip could barely make out a picture of the cast on the front cover and a description of the holodrama in Denobulan. "Perhaps we could show it for Movie Night sometime. A cultural exchange, if you will."

"This in Denobulan or does it have subtitles?" Trip wasn't too fond of movies that needed subtitles. He wondered what kind of movies Phlox watched on his home planet.

"I believe the discs have the options of Denobulan and English."

"I'll keep it in mind, Doc." Trip handed the discs back to Phlox.

"Thank you." He looked over the rest of the crate's contents. "I will need to carry all this to Sickbay-"

"Ask Crewman Henderson and Ensign Michel to load 'em on an anti-grav sled. They'll be more than willin' to help. I have to locate some stuff for T'Pol. I don't think she'd be happy if it turns out missin'."

"Then I'll let you get back to your search, Commander."

Trip went on to the next row of containers, then the next row, but no luck. Finally, he reached the very last one at the back of the Cargo Bay. "Found it, Chief! It's over here-" He noticed that the crate's seal had been broken. "That's weird-"

"What's weird?" Desgauld asked as he reached Trip's side. He frowned at the layer of white powder that had been carefully scraped from the seal between the box and its cover. "Hmmm...it's been opened. Deliberately, it looks like." The QM took out a scanner and passed it over the crate, then added, "Nothing out of the ordinary...spectrometers, electron microscopes, and a small generator, just like it says on the manifest. Maybe someone got curious about the stuff and decided to take a look."

"Someone who thought they'd make some money off the side if they stole the equipment?" Trip asked with a visible wince. Most Boomer crews were trustworthy, but there were always the exceptions.

"Maybe. Whoever it was either changed their mind or got caught." Desgauld said with a shrug. "We ought to move it so it'll get to the science department, where it belongs."

The rest of the cargo transfer passed without incident. The last shipment included spare parts for engineering, which Trip was grateful to see. He, Rostov, and Hess loaded the crates on a pair of anti-grav sleds and pushed them to engineering, where they began the long process of unpacking and updating their inventory. It was tedious, but Enterprise was heading towards Libreadth Colony at a steady warp 2, and for a change, there weren't any crises to deal with.

Beta shift turned over to gamma shift, and Trip decided to check his messages before getting off-shift. One message in particular made him smile ruefully:

Hey, Trip: Check out what I've been working on at the Warp 6 Complex. Got all the schematics included along with all the calculations (thrust ratios, acceleration, changes in engine temps, that kind of thing). Look over them and get back to me ASAP before Jefferies decides to shoot me out of torpedo launcher (and no, I haven't been ticking him off. Much.) Thanks, and tell Archer I said hi, and tell that Vulcan of yours to give you a break. Later, Meredith.

Trip sighed and shook his head. The only reason why Captain Matt Jefferies hadn't thrown Commander McKay off the team was because the man was a certifiable genius in warp mechanics. Trip knew Meredith's abrupt manner hid a heart of gold; in fact, Trip got along with him well, all things considering. At least he knew what Trip talked about whenever the conversation got technical.

After an hour of poring over the information on his computer, Trip decided to grab some dinner from the Mess Hall. He found Phlox, Hoshi, and Travis at a table. The Denobulan and the linguist were deep in discussion about something, while the Boomer seemed to be in a world in his own. Hmmm...I wonder what's up with Travis, he thought.

"Ah, Commander Tucker, join us!" called Phlox. "I'd like your opinion on what to show for Movie Night this week."

"Are we talkin' about that Denobulan mini-series that your third wife sent you?" Trip asked as he sat down.

"It's a historical documentary," Hoshi gently corrected him, "that takes place about three hundred years ago and talks about the a certain Denobulan family. Think Henry the Eighth and the Tudors, with all the intrigue and the politics. And the armament."

Trip chuckled and shook his head. "Malcolm would definitely go for that."

"Indeed, and there seems to be a positive reaction among the crew about learning about Denobulan history and culture," Phlox added. "I would like to share the story of my people, since it is not that well known."

Trip sighed, then thought about it as he chewed on his chicken-fried steak. "I guess we can make an evenin' of it, then. Maybe Chef can whip up some Denobulan delicacies for the occasion."

Phlox beamed. "That would be wonderful, Commander. Thank you."

"Maybe T'Pol would be interested in doing something similar for Vulcan?" Hoshi mused.

"You'd have to wait until she gets back to ask her. She's gone for the week...some cousin's wedding in Shi'Kahr, I think." As the other two went back to planning "Denobulan Culture Night", Trip turned his attention to a quiet Travis. "Hey, you okay?"

Travis started, then blushed. "Sorry. I was just thinking. The Maggie's captain relayed a message from Juanita. She's got her own cargo ship now and operating her family's business out of Draylax."

Trip raised his eyebrows. Travis would have been captain of his family's ship, the Horizon, had he not chosen to go into Starfleet. His brother Paul now headed the Mayweathers' business, and the brothers still didn't see eye to eye sometimes.

"Who's Juanita?"

"Oh...she's a childhood friend of mine. Always managed to find the out-of-the-way items for people, specializes in the weird and the wonderful, as she put it." Travis grinned and added in a lower tone, "She sent me a few items that she picked up on her most recent cargo run. One of 'em just happens to be a bottle of off-world liquor of some sort."

"Off-world liquor? You mean like Andorian ale?"

"I don't think it's Andorian. It's more of a bluish-green liquid...and the label's in some squiggly language, kind of like Vulcan. Juanita attached a note saying that there shouldn't be anything dangerous about it, no harmful chemicals or anything like that. So I was wondering if maybe you'd be interested in trying it out one evening?"

Trip laughed and said, "Alien beverages? Sure. How about you bring it to my quarters, say, Thursday night, and I'll arrange some munchies and a holovid of Super Bowl One-Hundred and Fifty. Don't worry, it won't be water polo. Be okay if I invite Malcolm?"

"The more the merrier, and I think Antoine and Tyler would be interested. Bernhard Mueller and Johannes Birkenwald. Maybe Mike Rostov and Philippe Trieste too. It'll be like a Guys Night Out." Travis's grin increased to megawatt brilliance. "This will be fun."

"Okay, football, munchies and alien beverages. What could go wrong?"

Of course, the Universal version of Murphy's Law heard him and decided to intervene.


Two

Language Translations: (German): "Es macht nichts" (It doesn't matter.) "Nicht wahr?"(Isn't it?" or Right?) "Schade.(It's too bad. What a shame.) "Gott im Himmel" (My God.)(French):"Quel m'as-tu-vu!" "What a show-off!)

"When is a movie not a movie?"

"It's a historical documentary. It's based on fact. Phlox said those knives and crossbows were the real things and his wife had borrowed them from a museum to use. No fakes, no substitutions. Even I was impressed."

"So that scene where the Head Monarch decides to get rid of his rival, that was the genuine thing, too?"

"Ach, macht nichts. It's entertaining all the same."

"But I thought Denobulans don't watch movies. That's what Phlox said."

"Neither do Vulcans. I think."

"They would probably find them illogical, nicht wahr?"

"Why tell outlandish, made-up stories when they didn't really happen in the first place?"

"This isn't an outlandish, made-up story. It's history. I swear, you technical types-"

"Hey! I'll have you know I made an A in American history in school."

Hoshi sighed and rolled her eyes at Trip's remark. He, Travis, Malcolm, and Bernhard Mueller were discussing the so-called 'historical documentary' that was showing for Movie Night. During intermission, they sampled some Denobulan cuisine that Chef had whipped up for them. Trip thought it was actually pretty good; Phlox's people enjoyed a wide variety of tastes. He was particularly fond of a spicy stew that reminded him of jambalaya.

He glanced around the Mess Hall. Denobulan Culture night was turning out to be a modest success. Phlox stood in the midst of a small group, explaining some point or another of his native culture. The movie-documentary, he reminded himself with a smirk-definitely blew the stereotype of the cheerful, good-natured Denobulan out of the water. Like Humans, there were heroes, and there were villains.

And if this was an example of their real-life history, no wonder they hadn't needed to look anywhere else for entertainment.

Trip caught a glimpse of one of his engineering staff. The woman certainly looked ill at ease; there was a faint sheen of sweat on her forehead. He excused himself from the conversation and quietly went up to her.

"You okay, Thera? You don't look too good."

Crewman Thera Maladonits managed a weak smile as she replied, "I think I'm coming down with something, Commander. I didn't think I'd be feeling this badly-"

Trip shook his head and took the glass out of her hand. He noticed the deep azure color of the liquid and smelled the strong scent of alcohol. "What're you drinking?"

"Some kind of aperitif, according to Chef. Whatever it is, it's easy to forget how much of it you've drunk." Maladonits looked chagrined and embarrassed at the same time. "It came in with the rest of the new cargo. Chef decided to serve it tonight."

Trip chuckled and said, "No wonder you're feeling a little ill. How about you call it an early night and get some rest? You're on alpha shift tomorrow, aren't you?"

"I guess that's a good idea. 'Night, sir."

"Good night, Thera."

"You too, sir." Maladonits nodded and unsteadily made her way towards the exit. Trip frowned as she wove her way through the Mess Hall, but before he called for someone to help her, Lieutenant Hess appeared at Maladonits's side and put a supportive arm over the woman's shoulders. Trip stifled a proud grin; the people in his department took care of each other.

The lights dimmed, signaling the beginning of the second half of the night's feature. Trip grabbed a plateful of Denobulan flat chips and settled back in his seat. A hush settled over the audience as the screen lit up. Lady Sennal rallied her women-in-waiting to arms as their menfolk were barely holding their defensive lines against the Antarans. Trip glanced over at Malcolm, Johannes, and Bernhard, then grinned. Anything having to do with battle tactics, heavy weaponry and pyrotechnics is sure to be a hit with the guys in the Armory...

Someone sitting behind him started to cough. Trip glanced over his shoulder at Crewman Jerzy Nietsa, another one of his engineers. Nietsa coughed behind his hand again; this time drawing the ire of his fellow moviegoers. Trip jerked his head towards the Mess Hall exit; Nietsa nodded, got up, and headed in that direction, still coughing. Trip followed close behind with a cup of the aperitif.

"Need somethin' to drink, Neat?" Trip asked.

"Thank you, sir," Nietsa gasped. He, like Trip, was better known in the department by his nickname, which reflected his personality. And indeed, he drained the offered cup without spilling a drop. "Just a little frog in my throat. Nothing major."

"Okay, if you say so. Need some help gettin' back to the Mess Hall?"

"Nah, I think I'll be okay."

The two men came back into the room and quiet reigned for a whole five minutes. Then, Neat started sneezing up a storm. Unfortunately, it set off a chain reaction among the people in the back row, and soon half the engineering department was reaching for tissues and towels. Antoine Desgauld managed to find a roll of paper towels somewhere in the Mess and began distributing the makeshift hankies. Travis's Navigation department and Malcolm's Armory team slowly shuffled their chairs away from the engineers, as if they feared catching whatever illness was going around.

Trip caught Malcolm's deadpan look and raised his own hands as if to say, "Hey, I'm not contagious." Crewman Philippe Trieste, who was the on-shift "projectionist", had to stop the movie, since no one could understand a word of it anyway. Hoshi muttered something that sounded suspiciously like a Denobulan curse.

"Aw, crap," Nietsa muttered in the midst of another wheezing fit. This time, Crewman Nikita pounded him on the back. "Sorry, everyone."

Phlox stood up and surveyed the miserable bunch in the back row. His face softened as he went into full physician mode. "It's all right, Crewman Nietsa. These things do happen. If you engineers will follow me to Sickbay, I'll see what I can do to ease the symptoms."

The engineers grumbled, but Trip chimed in, "You all heard the Doc. The sooner you all get better, the sooner you can get back to Engineering."

"Perhaps we should reschedule the movie for another time," Phlox said. "Commander?"

"I'll take care of it, Phlox." Trip sighed as the most of the crowd wandered out and the sick crew followed Phlox to Sickbay. He finished the rest of his drink, then made his way over to Hoshi, Malcolm, and some of the Movie Night regulars.

"Schade," Bernhard said, with a shake of his head.

"I hope they'll be all right," Hoshi said, her brow furrowed in worry. "That seemed pretty sudden."

Kelby scowled. "Hope they're not contagious," he said. "If they are, we're all probably gonna get sick."

"Might happen anyway," Rostov pointed out, "considering we're in close quarters to each other."

"Well, hopefully we'll all stay healthy," Trip said with more confidence than he felt. His nose itched, but it stopped. He hoped he wasn't coming down with...whatever it was.

Travis suddenly grinned as an idea came to him. "Hey, how about we have a nightcap? I still have that bottle of stuff that Juanita sent me. Since Movie Night's a bust, we might as well salvage something."

"Now you're talkin'." Trip glanced over at the others, who nodded. "Meet in the Observation Lounge in say, half an hour?"

They all agreed to do just that. Trip decided to swing by Sickbay and check up on his people, then down to Engineering to make sure everything was all right. He chuckled to himself; it was just like Travis to see the optimistic side of things. When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.

An hour later, he wondered if Boomer liquor contained sweetened plasma coolant mixed with the hard lemonade. Travis's ale hit his palate like liquid fire, that burned its way down to his stomach. Despite the initial shock, and the odd aftertaste, Trip decided it wasn't too bad.
He wasn't the only one. Hoshi lounged on the couch with her head on Malcolm's shoulder. Travis, Tyler and Philippe were swapping Boomer tales over the empty bottle, while Bernhard and Johannes chatted amicably in German. Conversation went from the practical to the absurd and back again. Trip realized he'd never seen Malcolm so relaxed, or Philippe so talkative. Even the generally reserved Bernhard seemed in a jovial mood.

"...then Johannes looked up at the Klingon and said, 'You shouldn't be doing that.' The big guy bared his teeth and gulped down the entire barrel of Orion brew without even flinching-" Philippe mimed drinking out a keg, "-and he slammed the remains of the thing onto the pub counter with a big smirk. He knew everyone in the bar was watching him. Quel m'as-tu-vu!"

Johannes laughed and rolled his eyes. "Gott im Himmel, the smoke was pouring out of his ears and his eyes were watering, but he was trying to act as if it wasn't bothering him-"

"-and then he toppled over like a felled tree," Bernhard finished, demonstrating it with his hands, "and I swear the walls shook and dust fell out of the rafters. The next thing we heard was a herd of elephants-"

"-or oversized gazelles," Tyler quipped.

"You've been listening to too many of the captain's speeches," Travis said sourly.

"Don't interrupt, Travis. I'm listening to the story," Hoshi slurred.

"And the guy decides to take a nap, right there, in the middle of a crowd of Orions, Andorians, Klingons, Vulcans-you name 'em, they were there." Tyler went on, with a pointed glare at Travis. "You shoulda heard the roar of the audience because Mister Sober over there-" he jerked a thumb at a smirking Malcolm, "-was the last one still standing."

"Malcolm drank a Klingon under the table?" Trip said with a low whistle. "How'd you do that?"

"He cheated. Phlox gave him an alcohol inhibitor before we went to the station for shore leave," Travis said.

Hoshi punched Malcolm in the arm, but it lacked any power behind it. "You-you cheated! That wasn't very nice of you!"

"Prudence is a virtue," Malcolm objected in a prim tone. "Nelson said that. Or was it Churchill? Never mind."

Trip was about to comment when the intercom whistled. He winced as the sound reverberated through his head. "Ouch. We oughta change how that sounds. It's givin' me a God-awful headache."

"We probably should call it a night, anyway. I got the early shift tomorrow." Travis stretched, then claimed the empty glass bottle. He gazed at the sparkling surface for a long minute, then remembered where he was. "Remind me to send Juanita a thank-you note. This is some pretty good stuff."

"Powerful, too," Bernhard agreed with a wince. "I should have no trouble sleeping tonight."

The little party broke up and went their separate ways. After Trip bade the others good night, he headed towards his quarters. As he stepped out of the lift, he heard a sucking sound behind him.

"What the-?" He blinked at the sticky green film that had suddenly appeared on the back wall of the lift. It looked worse than plomeek soup that had been sitting out for a month. "Where the hell did this come from?"

The doors hissed shut, but Trip slammed his hand on the controls. The doors popped open again and he cautiously stuck his head inside. He saw his reflection on the lift wall; there was no green ooze painted there, plomeek or otherwise.

He shook his head and muttered, "I guess I'm more tired than I thought." With a shrug, he let the lift doors close and trudged towards his quarters, and bed.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes: What happens when you mix an unknown alcoholic drink with a strange alien flu? A very LOOONG day for our Chief Engineer and the rest of the crew. The silliness begins!

Just a note in response to a PM: In my stories (including the AU Switcheroo series), the work day on Enterprise is divided into 4 shifts of 6 hours each: Alpha (0800-1400), Beta (1400-2000), Gamma (2000-0200) and Delta, aka "The Graveyard Shift" (0200-0800). So when Trip says he has Beta shift, it means that officially, he doesn't have to be in Engineering until 2 PM. But most of the senior staff, esp. Trip, Malcolm, Archer and T'Pol, put in a lot more hours that they're "officially" required.

Reference to ENT "Singularity". Language (German): "Valderi, valdera, valderi, valdera...und schwenken meinen Hut!" That's the last line of a German song "Der Wandersmann". The first time I heard it, I was in a Munich beerhall. Seriously. And I gave Crewman Cunningham, Archer's steward, a first name: Ryan.

Please R&R, even if you haven't R&R before, thanks.

Rating: T

Chapter Three

"Archer to Tucker."

Trip groaned and opened one eye. He stared at the blurry numbers on the digital clock on the night table next to his bed. 1000. "Aw, God, ten in the mornin'. Can't remember when I've slept in this late." He reached over the comm button. "Tucker."

Jon sounded concerned. "Trip, I've been trying to call you for the past five minutes. You okay?"

"Yeah...I think I overslept a bit."

"A bit?"

"Okay, a lot. I've got the mornin' off. What's goin' on?"

"We've got a problem."

"Now what?"

"Meet me in Sickbay right away."

Trip groaned again and swung his feet over the edge of the bed to the floor. "I'll be right there, Cap'n."

After a quick shower, uniform change, and a slight detour to the Mess Hall for some coffee, Trip found himself standing in front of the Sickbay doors. His mouth still tasted somewhat fuzzy, and his temples pounded like a pair of bass drums. Note to self: don't try any more Boomer ale, no matter what Travis says. The thought made him smile a little as he walked into the room. The sight of most of his Engineering staff on the biobeds erased the smile.

"What happened? Is everyone okay?" The shock cleared the symptoms of a major hangover. "Doc, what's goin'-" The doors hissed open and Jon Archer came in. The captain seemed equally worried and curious at the same time. "Cap'n."

Jon nodded at him, then addressed Phlox. "How bad is it?"

"In addition to Crewmen Maladonits and Nietsa, four others have reported cold and flu-like symptoms, but nothing that rest, fluids, and antibiotics should cure."

The captain nodded, though he didn't seem completely convinced. He turned to Trip and said, "When we were on Torinia Three, how many of your people were helping with their power generators?"

Trip's stomach suddenly flipped when he realized where this was going. The Torinians had asked for Enterprise's help in repairing their generators after an earthquake had destroyed their energy plant. "I'd say a good two-thirds of my department...we really needed the manpower to get the job done." His frown deepened at the implication. "Are you sayin' some of the crew caught this bug when they were on the planet?"

"The Head Councilor assured me it isn't life-threatening, Commander," Phlox said in a soothing tone. "Their Surgeon General sent me information about the illness; it resembles your Terran flu, but once you are affected by it, you are immune."

"Kinda like chicken pox?"

"Exactly." Phlox looked over at Jon. "I've been able to synthesize the vaccine, Captain, and it should safeguard the majority of the crew. Those already affected will be sick for a few days, but there should be no permanent damage."

Jon sighed and rolled up his sleeve. "You'll have to inoculate everyone, then."

"Sooner rather than later," Phlox agreed. "It's a series of three shots, one just behind the right ear, one under the left arm, and one in the sole of the right foot."

"On the sole of the right foot?" Jon raised his eyebrows in puzzlement. "That's an odd place for a shot, Phlox."

"It shouldn't affect walking or other gross motor skills. The Surgeon General was quite specific about the order of the treatment." Phlox reached behind him and took out a hypospray. "Captain-?"

Jon sighed again. "Fine." He sat down in the nearest chair and immediately pulled off his right boot. As promised, Phlox's treatment was quick and simple, and seemed relatively painless. Then Phlox reached for a second hypospray and gave Trip a significant look. Trip rolled his eyes and dutifully took off his boot.

The second the hypospray hissed against his skin, and Trip choked back a giggle. "It tickles."

"The effect will pass in a moment." Phlox finished with him as well, then refilled the hypo. "I suggest informing the crew about the inoculation process. It shouldn't take long."

"I'll pass the word out to the department heads. Trip, go ahead and send some of your off-duty personnel."

"Sure thing, Cap'n." Trip secured his boot and stood up. His foot still itched, but it wasn't too bad, and if Phlox was right, the strange sensation would go away soon. "I'll get right on it."

In a matter of hours, every crew member not affected by the Torinian virus had received the inoculation. There were some jokes about "getting shot in the foot", but for the most part, the crew took it in stride. Trip made sure that all of his people got inoculated and passed the word to Malcolm, Hoshi, and the rest of the senior staff.

He stopped by the Mess Hall again on his way to Engineering for a refill of his coffee. Cunningham waved him over; the Captain's steward had a worried expression. "Commander, can I talk with you for a minute?"

"Sure, Ryan." He followed Cunningham into the kitchen, where Chef stood over the stove, stirring something in a pot and muttering something under his breath in Italian. Trip blinked at the dark tone of Chef's voice, but one look at Cunningham's face made him think twice about addressing Chef. He waited until they were safely in the walk-in pantry before he opened his mouth again.

"What, did someone steal Chef's prize-winning tiramisu recipe or something?"

Cunningham looked nervously at the closed door. "He's been like this since before breakfast, Commander, and it was worse when one of Phlox's medics came by to give him the inoculation shot. He nearly bit Lieutenant Reed's head off when Reed asked for peanut butter to go on his pancakes."

"Malcolm always has peanut butter on his pancakes."

"Yeah, and Chef hasn't minded it before. An hour ago, he screamed at everyone to get the hell out of his kitchen and leave him alone so he can perfect his dear old Mama's pasta sauce."

Trip jumped as a stream of Italian invective came through the closed pantry door. "His Mom's pasta sauce?"

"Yeah. He sounded a lot like Ensign Sato when she was obsessed with her udon recipe. She scared me too."

Trip rolled his eyes. He remembered that time when Enterprise had been affected by the radiation from a singularity and the entire crew, save T'Pol, had become obsessed with certain tasks. In his case, it was redesigning the captain's chair. "Uh...you don't think Chef's sick with this flu stuff, do you? He shouldn't be cooking for the crew if he's got it."

"I called Phlox and told him, but Chef doesn't have the same symptoms as the others. It could be that Chef's just in a really bad mood considering what happened at Movie Night."

"Yeah, maybe. He takes a ruined dinner party kinda personally, even if it's just Movie Night." Trip nodded. "I'll be sure to warn everyone to give a wide berth away from the kitchen today."

Cunningham looked relieved. "Thanks, Commander. I really don't want Chef to end up chasing someone down the corridors with a cleaver."

Trip tried to imagine that, and shuddered in agreement. "Yeah."

The two of them tiptoed out of the pantry and back to the kitchen. Trip noticed an tall, narrow-necked bottle sitting on the counter next to Chef's elbow. The dark glass made it impossible to know just how much liquid was left in it. Trip knew that Chef occasionally cooked with red wine and even beer for his sauces and glazes. So the bottle must have contained red wine for his authentic pasta sauce. He shook his head as the two men made it safely into the main Mess Hall with nary a scratch. In fact, Chef was too occupied to notice their timely escape.

"Authentic Italian pasta sauce," he muttered under his breath. "I guess the alcohol cooks right out, doesn't it?"

Cunningham nodded. "It's supposed to. Chef ran out of wine after his second or third batch and decided to try that aperitif that was such a big hit last night. I think he's got another whole case hidden away somewhere."

Trip stopped so suddenly that Cunningham nearly ran him over. "Wait a minute. That aperitif...that came from the Magdalene's supply run, didn't it?"

"Yeah. It was in a crate marked for Sickbay. I think it was supposed to be part of Doctor Phlox's stuff, but the Doc let Chef have it."

"That stuff's really powerful. I think most of us woke up with hangovers. Wait-that aperitif was blue, wasn't it?"

Cunningham looked mystified. "Um...more like a deep plum purple, but after it sits out for a while in the air, it turns bluish. Why?"

Trip glanced around, then lowered his voice. "Is there any way you can get me a bottle of that stuff?"

"Without Chef finding out and getting out the Ginzu knives? I don't know. I can try." Cunningham replied. "But if I'm gonna risk life and limb doing this for you, I'd like to know why."

"Let's just say it's for a scientific experiment and leave it at that."

"A scientific experiment. Right." Cunningham didn't look convinced, but he said, "I'll try, but I'm not making any promises, okay?"

"Thanks, Ryan." Trip went to the drink machine to discover that they were out of coffee. Before he could panic, Cunningham said, "Don't worry, Commander. I got you covered."

Fifteen minutes later, armed with a thermos of coffee, Trip went by the Armory on F Deck on his way to Engineering. The sound of off-key singing halted him in his tracks. "What the hell-"

"Valderi, valdera, valderi, valdera...und schwenken meinen Hut!"

Trip cautiously peeked through the Armory doors. Malcolm wasn't there, but Ensign Johannes Birkenwald was, and he belted out the tune at the top of the lungs while fiddling with one of the monitors. Unfortunately, Bernhard Mueller sang counterpoint from the upper deck of the Armory, and Trip winced at the two Germans' voices. A third one echoed from within the starboard torpedo tube...and what it lacked in German it made up with enthusiasm.

He quickly retreated back down the corridor and shook his head. "The Armory Boys' Choir."

*****

Trip was halfway through the daily reports when his computer screen blanked out for a moment. He swore under his breath and was about to call Rostov when it came back up. Instead of English text, elegant Vulcan cursive glowed onto the screen. He frowned; although his Vulcan was decent, thanks to T'Pol, he couldn't make heads or tails out of what was there.

"Tucker to Sato."

There was a pause, then Hoshi answered, "Sato here."

"Um...Hoshi, can you come down to my office? I've got a problem with my computer. It's translating all my engineering reports into Vulcan."

"What? I'll be there in a minute, Trip. Don't touch anything."

He muttered under his breath and rubbed his temples. Great. Just great. Then he unscrewed the top of the thermos and poured a healthy dose of coffee into his cup. For a moment, he was tempted to put a shot of bourbon in it from the bottle hidden in his locked desk drawer, but the thought of alcohol made him sick to his stomach. Whatever Travis's friend had found was some really wicked stuff; he still felt the effects even now.

Hoshi came in with a scanner and her universal translator. Trip saw the aggravated expression on her face and wisely moved out of the way. She sat down in his chair and tapped in some commands. The screen cleared, then came up with more Vulcan characters. Hoshi frowned, scrolled down the page, frowned even more, then tapped in more commands.

The silence was deafening. "What's wrong?" Trip asked.

"Trip," Hoshi said slowly. "Do you have access to Commander T'Pol's files?"

He swallowed hard and shook his head. "No. I wouldn't even look in 'em if I did. I don't snoop around in her private life. Wait a minute-you tellin' me that this is one of her private files?"

"It looks like some sort of journal entry." Hoshi's mouth twitched at the corners, though she was making an effort to keep it under control. "And it seems that for some reason, it got sent to your computer-"

The screen flashed, and the words were replaced by a cartoonish-looking image of T'Pol, who merely looked at them, raised an eyebrow, said some words in Vulcan, then disappeared.

Trip's mouth gaped open. Then he stammered, "That cannot be good."

Hoshi agreed, "It's not."

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May 2012

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