rodlox (rodlox) wrote,
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repost: Enterprise fic: "Deus Ex Malcolm" & sequel "Consiquences"

.

title: Deus Ex Malcolm

author: rodlox

pairing: M/H...it was "mild M/H" until my Hoshi muse inserted a sentance...then my Malcolm muse inserted one of his own.

archive: linguistics database?? do you guys want it?

characters: Malcolm, Hoshi, Archer, Trip, Travis, Q, mention of T'Pol.

rating: PG...let me know if it's not, okay?

feedback: Oh yes please!!!
====
"My Name Is Ozymandias, King Of Kings.

"Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair."

--Shelley.
--

Malcolm stumbled and nearly fell, that fate prevented by grabbing hold of a stone collumn. He stayed there, clinging with what little strength he had left, while gasping for air. He hoped the ruins here would provide sufficient shelter...while he tried to think of a plan.

Captain Archer had told him to run; Malcolm'd stayed to figure out a way to save his friends. Subcommander T'Pol had told him to run; Malcolm'd kept looking for a solution to the problem. Trip had cursed at him to run; Malcolm'd ignored that, still trying to problem-solve.

Hoshi had asked him to run; and though he dammed himself for leaving her, he'd done as she asked.

His knees still feeling weak, his legs still rubbery, Malcolm managed to look up; his neck was the least sore part of him, which
was not saying much.

"Simon and Garfunkel," Malcolm said, seeing what was on the collumn:
writing on the wall. Somehow, some way, he could read the writing
on the wall. Writing that read `Upon this stone ye lean, power
untold receive' which didn't seem very good poetry in the translated
form. "Well that's just great," Malcolm wheezed, his chest feeling
much better already. "Though I don't suppose it can save my
friends."

The whisper of `???' in a new breeze startled Malcolm. "What the
hell, may as well see if it does any good," not figuring it
would. "I wish I was back with my friends."

ABRUPTLY, he was. He stood outside the cages that held his friends,
while the Oknalue approached with clearly sinister intentions.

"Maybe it does work," Malcolm breathed. His chest'd never felt
better, and his feet weren't weary at all. He just hoped that he
hadn't imagined the whole `running and wishing' thing.

"How the hell did you get back here?" Trip asked, which answered
Malcolm's question.

"O-kay," Malcolm said, rubbing his hands together. "I wish for
nothing to ever threaten my friends." The Oknalue vanished, as did
the cages and instruments of torture.

The Horta, who would one day kill a blood descendant of Travis
Mayweather, vanished from existance, along with all the eggs she
watched over.

The Continuum managed to find a loophole and escape through it.

The Borg, who would one day assimilate Jean Luc Picard, a blood
descendant of Charles Tucker III, were wiped from the slate of
existance.

The Romulans, who would in the impending war kill Captain Archer
and son, simply vanished, along with the other half of their
species: the Vulcans.

The [Name Unpronounceable & Untranslateable], whose ship was a
massive cylinder, who sought revenge for the extinction of the
Humpback Whales, who brought about the death of of Crewman Cutler's
descendants, ceased to be.

Hoshi, feeling a sudden lack of restraint, ran up and leaped into
Malcolm's arms, kissing him
thoroughly. "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou," she whispered in
his ear.

"Hope ya don't mind if I just thank you without that," Trip said,
offering Malcolm a congratulatory handshake.

"I'll second that," Captain Archer said.

"You're welcome, all of you," Malcolm said, finding it a little hard
to concentrate with Hoshi kissing him in so many places on his
face...including the ear. "But for now, let's go back to
Enterprise, shall we?"

ABRUPTLY, they were in their quarters on Enterprise. And Hoshi was
no longer clinging to Malcolm: each of them were in their separate
rooms.

Speaking of which, Malcolm turned around, and found someone in his
own quarters. "Who -- are -" Malcolm asked, "- You?"

"I," came the reply, "am Q."

--
"Those who say that Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely, are they
speaking truth?

"Or is it simply that their species is incapable of handling such
power?"

--Rodlox.
--

"Do you have any idea what you've done?" Q asked.

"I saved my friends," Malcolm replied.

"Did you?" Q asked. "Are you quite certain of that?"

"Completely."

Q smiled. "Then take a listen, El Lieutenant..." and tapped Reed's
wall comm. Not only could Malcolm hear what was happening elsewhere
on Enterprise, he could also see it happening...

--
In the MESS HALL, with a plate of pecan pie on the table in front of
him, Trip took a forkful of pecan pie. It tasted better than Chef's
stuff, and it was like his Granny used to make. "This is good s-"
and he saw what was on his plate.

There sat the pecan pie on his plate, with no pieces missing. Trip
chewed carefully, making sure he really was eating a piece of pecan
pie. Swallowing nervously, he took another forkful -- and before
his very eyes, the pie grew back the missing forkful.

In the back of Trip's mind, he could just hear his mother telling
him that he couldn't leave the table until he finished eating.

Just in case Malcolm was listening, Trip said, "Look, I'm sorry
about saying that not having pecan pie was a crime!"

--
In her QUARTERS, Hoshi looked over some of the alien languages she'd
encountered over the years...and found she could read them all.
Even the ones that had been so difficult for her. Even the ones
that she hadn't been able to figure out at all.

She commed Archer to let him know about this . . . And it took her
five minutes to realize she was talking to Porthos. Startled, she
apologized and signed off.

"I'm omnilingual," Hoshi said to herself. But there wasn't a
challenge to the languages, no thrill in learning. Just read-and-
speak...

Not even a little bit of frustration bubbled to the surface.

Until she thought about Malcolm. The unbidden phrase "Lovable oaf,"
passed her lips, and she blushed, thankful that nobody was around to
hear that.

--
Sitting at his station on the BRIDGE, Travis had to fight from
falling asleep. There was nothing out there. No asteroids, no
radiation, no stellar winds. Not even a rogue star anywhere near
them. There wasn't even an accidentally-dropped hammer floating
around in space.

Steering wasn't so much fun anymore, Mayweather decided, without
something to dodge along the way. There was more action on duty in
a generation ship, he remembered. "Maybe I should have stayed home
after all," he said aloud to himself.

--
Malcolm shut off the wall comm before he could find out what fate
had befallen Captain Archer. "I get the message."

Q smiled. This one was quick, much quicker than the
others. "Good. Then I'll give you a choice."

Unwittingly quoting Methos, Malcolm said, "Oh I'm all for choices."

"Either stay here and keep trying to `help' your friends," Q's face
showing what he thought of those particular odds. "Or leave here,
and I'll teach you how to properly use what you can do."

Malcolm nodded. "So be it," and he chose.

--
"Nearly all men can stand adversity,

"But if you want to test a man's character,

"Give him power."

--Abraham Lincoln.
----
end(?).



title: Consiquences (sequel to "Deus Ex Malcolm").

author: rodlox
pairing: mild M/H...(poor Malcolm). :)

archive: linguistics database?? do you guys want it?

characters: Malcolm, Hoshi, Q, Riann, several crewmen who never get a name, Travis, Elizabeth, Captain Sompek, no mention of T'Pol.

rating: PG-13 (Hoshi actually curses - again! this is becoming a habit for the girl)...let me know if it's not, okay?

summary: Starfleet without Vulcans...isn't that Archer's dream? Malcolm wonders.
ps: aka, fun with alternate history. :)

comments: please, oh please provide comments on how to improve this before I send it to LD for archiving.
also, Sompek is an actual Klingon name.

feedback: Oh yes please!!!
====

Pressing the `OFF' switch to the comms before he could learn of the Captain's, the Doctor's, Crewman Cutler's, or Chef's fates...Malcolm leaned against the wall. "I've ruined everything," he bemoaned.

"Are you quite certain that this is all you've done?" Q asked.

Malcolm blinked. "What?"

Q started to think that maybe, just maybe, this one wouldn't do as well as Picard might've. "It was a simple enough question." Time would tell.

Malcolm thought it over. "Well, I clearly haven't become a threat to myself, because then -"

"Nothing would happen," Q interupted. "This particular `anomaly' centers around your individual existance. Without you, there is no alteration in history."

`Alteration'?? "What sort of alteration?" Malcolm asked.

"Patience," Q said. The changes that Reed had made, they would produce a rippling effect in history, like rocks into a pond; this so far had only been an initial ripple. The bigger Ripples were yet to come.

Malcolm leaned more fully against the wall, and waited. When the first Ripple passed through, Malcolm almost fell backwards - there was no more wall behind him.

--.
*"In all things, time replies to events. Sometimes, it takes a while for time to straighten itself out; and in the meantime, seemingly contradictory events may show themselves.

*"Starfleet without Vulcans is such a thing.

*"But were the Vulcans neccessary?"
--Rodlox.*

--.
He and Q were on the Enterprise bridge.

At least, he thought it was the Enterprise.

The bridge wasn't as well-lit, and there was the faint smell of smoke. Malcolm figured that was why Hoshi was talking with a crewman he didn't recognize. Hoshi and the crewman were speaking -- the language, it sounded familiar. "Is that Klingon?" Malcolm asked. Or rather, Hoshi was speaking, and the crewman was pleading.

Hoshi was also dressed in what Malcolm thought was a historical costume. Armor, plating, and padding.

Q nodded, and flicked his fingers...and suddenly Hoshi was speaking Queen's English. Or shouting, rather: "Yet again! Yet again you have proven how greatly you deserve to be leased from this life...or at least this ship," Hoshi growled; thinking of ordering this nincompoop being launched from a missile tube into the depth of space.

"Please," the crewman begged, "please, Sato-_sama_, don't kill me."

"Like you'd be worth my time or my effort," Hoshi snorted disdainfully, having dismissed her idea.

"I take it this is all a translation?" Malcolm said. Why were these people speaking Klingon?

"Very good," said Q. This one required a bit of enunciating, but then, so did Picard.

"That was the second time you've supposedly fixed that conduit, you _targ_ shit!" The crewman cowered more and more. "Get out of here before you're scraped off my boot-heel!" and the crewman fled off the bridge.

Malcolm caught sight of a familiar face manning the helm: Travis Mayweather. And there, eyes obediently lowered to look only at the instruments -- and not at Hoshi chewing out the crewman -- was Elizabeth Cutler at Weapons. In a way, it sort of made sense to Reed: `that which heals can also kill' was an old Reed family phrase.

"We're coming up on the Captain's position," Mayweather reported. "At this speed, we should be there in a few hours."

Hoshi grinned at the thought of the Andorians' surprised looks when another Imperial vessel dropped out of warp around the planet where a `diplomatic' event was taking place currently.

"Sensors are not detecting any vessels, cloaked or visible," Cutler said, "either around us or the planet."

"The Andorians wouldn't survive any ambush they attempted."

"I take it none of them can see either of us," Malcolm deduced. "But would they notice if I checked something in the ship's computer?"

"It's not like they have an intelligence in the ship," Q said dismissively.

So, with that, Malcolm accessed the historical records...

Without the Vulcans to impede their progress, the Klingon Empire had found Earth . . . and they'd found Earth in the midst of the Eugenics Wars.

Scary as the prospect was, Malcolm had to admit to himself that it explained the bridge scene: when the Eugenics Wars were starting, Japan was one of a dozen countries who were delving deep into the glories of their military past. And that was a past including women
_samuri_.

It also explained to him how Travis could be here: the Boomers had kept out of the Eugenics Wars, reducing the odds of their portion of human history being altered.

But, as far as Malcolm knew, Hoshi had been born on Earth, raised on Earth. Same for Elizabeth. So how was it possible for either her to be here?

"Captain," Hoshi said, startling Malcolm enough to make him back up and turn around to see the man that Hoshi was talking to. "I trust the Andorians are quivering at your feet by now?"

"So they should be, Commander Sato," the Captain replied. He was a Klingon, no doubt about that. "But they are acting with bravado now that they have a new ally," and he snorted to show what he thought of the ally.

"Like _targ_s, I suspect."

"Worse than _targ_, Commander. These large-eared claim we are sucking all the galaxy's profit away, and will fight us for it."

Hoshi joined the Captain in laughing. "I'm sure they'll cook well. Shall I bring this warship to meet you?"

"In a day," to which Hoshi gave a proper bow, then capped it with a Klingon Imperial salute. The connection ended.

"The warship Enterprise," Malcolm said to himself.

"Take us out of warp," Hoshi instructed Travis. "I feel like a bath," and left the Bridge.

--.
*"Good and Evil are moral concepts. Neither of them require a person to wear skin-tight leather clothes."
--Rodlox.*

tbc.


--.
Trip Tucker double-checked the conduit before closing the hatch. He
never ceased to be amazed at how often bloodwine helped macgyver
something into position. It ranked up there with how many times a
fight between crewmembers would result in something needing to be
fixed.

Sliding his gloves back on, Trip checked his parka. Klingons liked
it cold. Downright icy at times. Down here in Engineering, the only
thing that countered the chill of the thermostats was the heat of
the engines. So his parka was lying on a nearby pipe...and Trip
wanted to be sure that some upstart minor officer hadn't played a
prank on him.

Pranks were tolerated by their Klingon Captain and his superiors --
so long as the prank was not directed towards the Empire, or even
ranking officers. Pranks, that typically Human custom, were a matter
of individual leeway. Some Klingons were more forgiving about them
than others.

There were just some things about Klingons that Trip never figured
he'd understand. Like why the Empire'd flatly forbade all Boomers
from becoming engineers.

Trip shrugged. That just meant more engines for him.

As he grinned to himself, his stomach growled. "Looks like end of
the shift fer me," Trip said. It was the end of his shift anyways,
regardless of what his stomach was doing. "See ya in the Rec Room,
Crabby." `Crabby' was his nickname for one of his Klingon coworkers,
one whose name Trip always had trouble with.

Trip left the room, donning his parka, but not zipping up just yet.

He knew a gal back on Earth who sold pure chocolate candy worms on
the black market. Trip smiled, remembering how he liked her for more
than just her worms.

Onwards to the Mess he went, planning his next shore leave.
Whistling to himself, Trip recited a song that always amused the
Klingons:

_Nobody likes me,
_Ev'rybody hates me,
_Guess I'll go eat worms..._

Charles Tucker, though he was the son of Charles Tucker the 2nd, was
not himself the 3rd. That was his younger brother, who was back on
Earth.
--.

ON the Bridge, once Q had left in a pinprick of bright light, Malcolm
started to walk towards the Weapons console. Maybe he could talk to
Elizabeth, and find out --

ABRUPTLY, Malcolm found himself in...well, he only knew it was
Hoshi's quarters when she entered. But Q was nowhere to be seen.

Malcolm frantically fished for something, anything to
say. "Commander," he said, a polite greeting.

Hoshi stopped, the door sliding shut behind her. "Who? Are? You?"
she asked. Changing her mind, "No, say nothing to that," and
smiled. Taking a step forwards, she touched Malcolm's forehead. "I
imagine that hurt," and took a step to one side.

He was in Hoshi's quarters, and Malcolm had to admit to himself that
he didn't know what she was talking about.

"Now," Hoshi said curtly; and Malcolm didn't understand -- until,
moments later, when Riann hurried out of one of the side rooms in
Hoshi's quarters, and she began to unlace the armor from around
Hoshi. A handmaid, a servant.

"You've come for the bath?" Hoshi asked.

"I -" Malcolm said, remembering her words on the Bridge. He didn't
know how much would be authentic Japanese tradition, how much would
be Klingon tradition, and how much would be other -- from other
sources or from changes building up in the timeline. "Thank you for
the offer, but I'll have to decline this one."

It looked like Hoshi was getting angry, but the anger fled when
Malcolm'd said `this one'. "That's a quaint uniform you have on,"
Hoshi said as Riann eased her out of her armor. "Whose is it?"

Malcolm had to swallow his nervousness as best he could, before he
could even try to say "My own."

"Aw, how cute," she said, more mocking than adoring. "One of those
armies of one."

"At the moment," slipped out of Malcolm's mouth.

Hoshi frowned. "You are not thinking of drafting from my ship." It
was not a question.

"Of course not." And the frown left.

By now, Riann had removed the armor overgarments, and now Hoshi had
only the midgarments and undergarments left on her person. Despite
the temperature being lower than he was used to on Enterprise,
Malcolm was starting to sweat.

Breaking away from Riann's servile grasp, "Errrrrrrmmm," Hoshi purred
as she circled Malcolm. "I knew Captain Sompek was pleased with my
performance," and took another circle `round Malcolm. "But I didn't
think he was this pleased," with a smile that unnerved Malcolm.

He had a feeling that Sompek was the name of the captain that had
laughed with Hoshi about how well the Andorians would cook.

"So, tell me, Risan," said Hoshi, "what talents do you have?" The
grin grew. "Or am I to find out firsthand?"

`Risan'? Part of Malcolm blushed, part of him felt rediculous. Part
of him wondered where in scatland had Q gone. Thinking quickly,
Malcolm assured her, "You would be surprised what I can do,
Commander. Though, having just gotten here, I am somewhat desirous -
of sleep."

Hoshi looked peturbed at that, at first. Then she calmed herself
down. "Very well," she said with a nod. "You can have her room,"
gesturing to Riann.

"And where, may I ask, is the lady going to be sleeping?" Malcolm
asked.

"Oh no, she isn't staying with you -" and Riann looked somewhat
dejected at that, though it was hard to be sure given her face, "- I
want you all to myself."

Malcolm swallowed. "Naturally," he said.
--.
tbc.

ON THE BRIDGE, Travis steered with all the skill he possessed. He
did his best in all things, always hoping to impress the Commander.
A good job was rewarded greatly.

He counted himself as fortunate and lucky that he'd been able to be
posted to a ship that didn't have a RDD on board.

RDD. A remote detonation device. Standard issue for all vessels
crewed by Boomers, to ensure that the Boomers didn't try any funny
business or attempt to sell out or betray the Empire.

Enterprise, being a Klingon vessel, had no RDDs.

There was nothing in the flight path.

Travis Icarus Mayweather didn't look behind him, as he was positive
that Cutler was watching him. There were rumors, at least among the
humans on Enterprise's crew, saying that Cutler was something not
Human, probably not even a member of a known species...

Travis hoped she wasn't going to kill everyone in their sleep.
--.

INTO the Mess did Trip enter, intending to have some worms and pie.

Looking around for a table to sit at, Trip spied the Old Man sitting
by himself...so Trip sat down next to him. "Howya doing,
Lieutenant?" he asked.

"I'm fine," replied Archer, nicknamed the `Old Man' by some human
crewman, and the nickname'd stuck. The nickname's source was
obvious - the guy was at least twice Trip's age, maybe even thrice
it. The only crewmember probably close to his age was Crabby. Even
so, Archer was an indispensable part of Trip's staff.

Not ten years after the end of the Eugenics Wars, the Klingons had
started showing Humans how to fly starships. How to fix engines, how
to steer, galactic diplomacy -- Klingon style.

But their warp cores were forever beyond reach. People like this
Archer's father -- or maybe this Archer, depending upon his age --
found themselves out of work, forced to change careers in the middle
of their life.

Trip wasn't sure that he himself would've been able to handle
something as severe as that, which was part of the reason he
respected the Old Man so much. He also felt sorry for the elderly
Lieutenant, with no wife or kids, no relatives to mourn him if he
died -- it just yanked at Trip's heartstrings.

"So," he asked, "you got any plans for your next shore leave?" he
asked the Old Man Archer.
--.

_Tip, tip, tip,_ went the sound behind Malcolm. But every time he
turned around, there was nothing there.

So, watching the space behind him, Malcolm slid sideways once he got
to an intersection of corridors. _Tip, tip, tip -- tip, tip, tip._
And then, Malcolm swung his arm around, gripping tightly once his
hand hit flesh.

Looking at the thing, it looked back. The old line `When you stare
into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you' or something like
that came to mind; Malcolm shook his head, he'd seen `THE ABYSS' one
too many times...if that was possible.

Cue-ball eyes stared back at him; no eyelids on this critter. It
tried to open its mouth, but Malcolm's grip on the neck prevented any
jaw motion.

There were insect-like spiracles -- breathing holes -- running down
the alien's side. Into each hole was a plastic tube that ran up to a
dark box carried on the shoulders.

"Well hello, Mr. TipToe," Malcolm said. "And just what were you -"
and he got a good whiff of it. He recognized the aroma of nitrogen,
like freshly-tilled soil with pea plants...and rotten eggs - sulfur.
Malcolm remembered from early in his Enterprise's history...

^"I understand there's an inhabited star system three light-years
from here,"^ Captain Archer had said.

^Sensors are showing a nitrogen-sulfur atmosphere,"^ he himself had
replied with.

^"Probably not humanoid?"^ Hoshi had asked.

But this thing was humanoid...mostly. A stick figure.

Malcolm remembered doing the EVA on the planet, accompanied by Trip
and Hoshi. The hillocks that punctuated the landscape were
themselves punctuated by narrow holes, burrows. Nothing the three of
them had done had been enough to bring any of the natives to the
surface.

"Things must've been different here," Malcolm muttered to himself.
The feather-shaped shoulderpads fluttered on the scrawny alien. "Why
are you following me?" he asked it. The hoof-like feet scrabbled for
a grip on the floor, but Malcolm didn't let the creature down far
enough for it to try running.

"Did someone order you to?" Malcolm asked. When the scrabbling grew
more intense, he looked down -- and saw that the alien's legs were
elongating. In seconds, the hooves had decent traction on the
floor. With that, it stopped scrabbling. "Psycological," Malcolm
said to himself. The alien still hadn't replied to him, in any
language...unless those scrabbles had been words and phrases. "Can
you talk?"

It was like a tyrannosaur in that its arms were itty-bitty short
things, tipped with a finger and thumb, each of those had a tiny claw
on it. "So, what do you do here?" Malcolm asked as he dragged it
along with him to his temporary quarters.

He was tempted to ask it, "And what is going to happen to me?"
--.
> tbc.



TWO DAYS LATER:

He hadn't even been allowed out of these quarters. At regular
intervals, Riann would come down, drop off a tray of food, and
leave. This morning, Malcolm had tried to talk with her, but she'd
just looked terrified at the thought of taking too long.

Malcolm wasn't sure he wanted to know what punishment this timeline's
Hoshi was handing out for tardiness.

"Probably trying to make sure I'm sufficiently softened up," Malcolm
said to himself during what shipboard clocks recorded
as `afternoon', "ready and waiting for her under-de-cover company."

"It could be worse," Q said, appearing with the usual suddenness of a
Q.

"I was wondering if you'd ever show up again," Malcolm said. After
dropping Malcolm in Hoshi's quarters, this was the first he'd seen
the - what was Q?

Q shrugged in his Malaysian Naval Uniform. "Things to see, people to
pull out of trouble," not for the first time wondering if Jean-Luc
was worth all this effort.

"Then you have my thanks for showing up at all," Malcolm said. "Can
you please take me home now?"

"You are home -- on the Enterprise," Q said. "Or perhaps you'd
rather see what Earth is like."

"No no nono no!"

"Then...?"

"The timeline where I came from, that home."

"That's something in your hands, not mine," said Q.

Malcolm frowned, thinking. He remembered when Q had said that
Malcolm couldn't cause his own non-existance, that all this centered
on/with him. "What is that? What can I do?"

"Isn't it obvious?"

"No. Not to me," Malcolm qualified that statement with.

Q just sat there.

"Come on," Malcolm pleaded with Q. "Surely there's *some* way that I
can undo all this!"

Q thought about that. "There is," he said finally. "But you won't
like it."

"Like it or not, I'll do it!" Malcolm said, fully convinced.

Q shrugged. "Do you remember where the Oknalue were holding your
fellow crewmembers captive?" Malcolm nodded, it was hard for him to
erase the image. "You have to return to that planet." And Q
vanished in a spark of pure white light.

--.
+"Each of the Ripples goes further back into time, from the Present
Day back to the moment when the altered event had its genesis -- in
this case, back to the dawns of the Vulcans, Horta, and such.

+"Each of the Ripples will have greater and greater changes to the
overall fabric of history."
+ --Rodlox.+
--.

AN HOUR LATER:

"You wanted to see me?" Hoshi asked, sitting on the foot of her bed.
Riann had been dismissed for several hours, leaving only Hoshi and
Malcolm in the room.

"Aye," Malcolm said. "I have recently remembered a place which would
be perfect for what I suspect you have planned," and tried not to
swallow nervously.

Hoshi watched him with interest. She'd lowered the room's
temperature, a kindness for him; she planned on having him sweat soon
enough, she thought with a mental grin.

But, she thought to herself, how dare he presume to know me. "And
just what do you suspect I have planned?" Hoshi asked.

"A pairing, a joining of two souls, a melding of two hearts, a
merging of -"

Hoshi coughed. "Do I *look* like an Andorian?" she snapped at him,
pounding the mattress with one hand. The rapid motion affected her
clothing shift as well, something Malcolm was trying hard not to look
at. It was either a nightgown or the strangest cotten under-armor
that Malcolm had ever seen.

And it was very thin, whichever one it was.

"My apologies. Professional mistake," Malcolm said, using her
assumption to cover his six; though he was *very* thankful that the
real Hoshi (or anyone else he knew)-- the one from his timeline --
wasn't here to see this.

"Pardoned. This time."

`This time'. Words that held a hardness that his Hoshi's voice had
never known.

Malcolm bowed gratitude. "What I was thinking, then, was a world
which can satisfy all of your delights."

"Risan, that can happen in this very room." Hoshi was amused rather
than threatening, at least. Malcolm breathed a sigh of relief for
that much.

*Think*think*think!*! During that thinking, Malcolm's gaze slipped,
sliding down a `little' bit below Hoshi's chin. "Everest!" he
blurted out, the sight and the memory mixing together.

"What?" Hoshi asked. She didn't like being puzzled.

"Individual pleasure can take place in one room, true," Malcolm
agreed with her earlier statement. "But on the world of which I am
thinking, you can gain treasure for the Empire, honors to add to
honors, and so much more."

"Interesting," Hoshi said, mulling the prospect in her mind. "And
where is this world of great treasure and honors?"

"If you allow, I will point it out on a starchart."

"In a little while. For now...come and sit beside me."

Feeling like the tightrope was getting thinner beneath his feet,
Malcolm tried to keep from alienating her, and yet to keep from being
a pushover. "Tempting as that is, I am sorry to say that my mind
suffers from an ailment -- great joy and excitement creates a
blanking-out. However much I enjoy my time here, I would not
remember the location of the planet later."

Hoshi grimaced, and Malcolm worried that he'd overstepped his bounds.

But Hoshi got up, and walked over to the comm system. "Commander
Sato to Command Staff, report to the Situation Room now!" she snarled.

"You can watch," she said as she went to her closet to change back
into her uniform.

Malcolm nodded, and when her back was turned, closed his eyes. She
wasn't his.

--.
SITUATION ROOM:

The highest-ranking officers were all with the Captain right now,
except for Hoshi. That was the main reason there were humans in the
room with her and Malcolm.

"I figure it'll take us a few hours to get there," Tucker said once
Malcolm had pointed to where the Oknalue world was, "and a few to get
back."

"The glory is on the planet's surface, not in orbit," Malcolm
said. "Add in to your figures enough time to do what has to be done
on the surface." There, truthful more than anyone knew.

"What exactly is down there?" Cutler asked, in a tone that any
impartial observer (Q, for instance) would have thought perfectly
identical to Malcolm on duty back in his home timeline.

"The last time I was there," Malcolm said, "there were resources
beyond my ability to count, being poorly managed by a species that is
an insult to the title of `warriors'." And he hoped that that would
be enough.

"The Captain can handle the Andorians for a day longer," Hoshi
decided, figuring any outbursts from the Captain would be mollified
by the glory which would accrue to the both of them. "Those blue
ones never have had any luck in finding allies that could even try
threatening the Empire."

"The engines will be fine," Charles Tucker said, grateful that there
wasn't going to be a civil war aboard the Enterprise when the
Captain returns.

"As will the warp core," said Klaang -- a Klingon whose name
coincidentally enough was the same as the Klingon who'd been shot on
Earth in a farmyard in Malcolm's home timeline.

"As expected," Hoshi said.

"Are there any threats on this planet?" Cutler asked Malcolm.

The Oknalue were gone, Malcolm knew, thanks to his wish. But
something else might have claimed the planet... "Not that I know
of. Of course, it's been some time since I've had sufficient motive
to return there." About a week or less, he figured to himself.

The room's door opened. "Your tea," said Archer, bringing a tray of
drinks into the room. Malcolm recognized him, vaguely, from
infodumps on the BBC: this man was Captain Jonathan Archer's
father...at least, in Malcolm's home timeline.

Tucker nodded; he'd swung his weight around, to get the Old Man a
more comfy job. Looks like it'd worked. "Sounds like a fun trip
we've got planned," he said.
.~~.tbc.



LATER, in the Enterprise Mess Hall:

His arms laden with a tray of what he hoped was food that wouldn't
bring forth open revolt in his stomach, Malcolm walked up to a table
where Cutler was eating lunch. "You mind if I sit here?" he asked.

"No," was all she said, and said it in a tone that told Malcolm she
wouldn't presume to command him.

So, Malcolm sat down, putting his tray on the table; paying no heed
to the stares from crewmen at surrounding tables, seeing Cutler and
the Commander's new pet sharing a table. "You looking forwards to
the planet?" he asked her.

"Curious as to what we might find, yes," Elizabeth replied.

Maybe what he did next was because she did the same job that he'd
always done -- weapons. Maybe because Elizabeth was a woman who
didn't scare him with lethal agressiveness. Maybe, he admitted to
himself, it was as simple as the fact that she was there, and didn't
seem too psycologically or physically different from the Cutler of
his own timeline.

In any event, he told her the truth. Malcolm told Elizabeth, in a
hushed voice, about him coming from another timeline. He told Cutler
about the differences in the crew of the two timelines -- though he
left out describing the Vulcans, since he wasn't sure how to describe
them.

Malcolm told her everything...except what he hoped to do at the
planet. That was his ace in the hole, and he wasn't about to
surrender that, willingly or not.

"A Denobulan?" Elizabeth asked, a sour sound in her voice.
Disappointment, he guessed. "That's who I'm with in your home?"

"That's whom you're often in the company of," Malcolm said. "I don't
know if you're dating him or not."

She breathed a sigh of relief. "Then I guess I don't have any more
luck in your realm than in this one," Cutler said, "in finding my
fiance."

"What's he like?" Malcolm asked. "Maybe I can help," he offered; or
at least to help the Cutler of his timeline when he returned there.

She shrugged. "I don't know. My grandfather arranged it," which
made sense to Malcolm: arranged marriages could double around the
divergence point, promises kept in matchmaking over decades or
more. "You're a Reed; do you happen to know anybody named `Ebeneezer
M. Reed'?"

Malcolm didn't go pale, but he also didn't say anything. He hadn't
even told the Hoshi of his own timeline that `Malcolm' was his
middle name. "I'll see what I can do," Malcolm squeaked out.

What he didn't say was: and here I had always thought that it was
purely coincidence that your name was the same as the girl that my
grandmother had told me I was promised to.

Cutler nodded. "Thanks. It means a lot to me."

He didn't doubt it. And though lunch passed quickly enough, every
bite seemed to take a long time in passing; objective vs subjective
time.

.~~.
MUCH LATER:

ON THE PLANET:

They had just stepped out of the shuttlepods, and Malcolm wondered
whether Tucker or the Klingon had been the last one to take an actual
shower. He waited just long enough for the perimeter to have been
secured, with a confirmation of no aliens in the area. Then...

"I hate to be the one to break this to you, Mister Tucker," Malcolm
said to the officer who'd been tasked with keeping a close eye on
Malcolm, "but your prongs are untied."

Charles Tucker looked down at his feet, hoping that the guy was wrong
about the Imperial-issued pointy things on his combat boots.

Malcolm knocked the gun out of Tucker's hands, and bowled him over;
and Malcolm took off running, away from the group.

"Commander!" Charles shouted upon hitting the ground. He knew he was
going to be punished for letting the guy get the best of him, but at
least Charles wasn't compounding his error by letting the Brit get a
running start advantage over everyone else.

"After him!" Hoshi shouted as Malcolm entered the jungle. Unlike an
Earth jungle, there were no smooth treetrunks or bare patches of
bark -- this jungle was one of weeds, and armored weeds at that;
well-protected plant life.

Nobody fired a phase pistol, out of fear of inciting their
Commander's wrath.

"Don't kill him!" Hoshi commanded her crew. "But if you have to
wound him, I won't complain."

Malcolm swallowed, and convinced his feet to move faster. Sharp
psuedo-leaves grated and sliced his skin, pains that he did his best
to ignore for now, putting them aside for later. Reed fully expected
to emerge from this fiasco either in a miserable sobbing heap, or
perfectly fine...depending on if fixing the timeline also repaired
one's body.

Run. Run. Run. Dodging the scattered phase pistol blasts, Malcolm
knew better than to weave back and forth -- such behavior would
only have allowed his chasers to catch up to him, and he did not want
that.

Malcolm emerged from the jungleweeds, and was now in the clearing
where all this trouble had started. There, only a few paces in front
of him, was the monument which had granted his wishes.

Standing next to it, was Q.

"What now?" Malcolm asked Q.

"Now shoot it," Q said.

"Just shoot it?" Malcolm asked.

"Shoot it, bulldoze it, tear it to pieces with your bare hands, I
don't care." Q paused. "But you should hurry: your new friends are
approaching."

Malcolm took aim, and started to squeeze the trigger. But then he
remembered... ++Eating in the mess hall with Hoshi. Enjoying her
company. Talking with her. Laughing over some mutual
misunderstanding.++

That historical version of Hoshi Sato would be killed by the Oknalue,
and there would be nothing he could do about it. OR, he could keep
that Hoshi from ever existing, and thus ever being killed by the
Oknalue.

Just as this timeline's Hoshi barged into the clearing, Malcolm
decided.
===.END.


Tags: enterprise, enterprise fanfiction, hoshi sato, what-if
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