Chapter 1 – Preparations
"Mister Shapiro," said Malcolm Reed, "I am here to give you the news."
Ethan Shapiro, a young crewman, had attempted suicide almost six months previously. He had been comatose, and had begun to awaken about six weeks ago. The man was still very weak, and could barely speak, but that is what happens when you're in an airlock without oxygen for a few minutes. Malcolm, his boss, had visited several times, and talked to Ethan, telling him the news of the ship.
A fluttering eyelid told Malcolm that Ethan was listening. "In any event, the news. The captain has said that, even though Earth is still plunged into a world war, we are going to try to do a few things that the people on the planet cannot. And one of those things is baseball."
He sipped a little water from a tumbler that Doctor Phlox had thoughtfully provided. The Denobulan had seen Malcolm coming in for a while, and the attention seemed to be working, so he left them as he tended to others, including Judy Kelly Rostov, who was due to deliver soon.
"Now, baseball. You see, I did not grow up as a fanatic or anything – and I'm not the only one – but the captain seems to feel that we can have a spot of fun and improve crew morale by staging a game. It will be the MACOs versus Starfleet. It shall be a dozen persons to a team, so there will be extras in case anyone is tired or injured. I shall not be playing. My sport is footy – and I shall stay here with you, as will the doctor."
"Why not go?" asked Phlox. "I can certainly hold down the fort here on my own."
"I know. It's just, sometimes it seems as if we're engaging in a little too much frivolity. We may have been tossed back to 2038 but we still have a job to do."
"Lieutenant, I suspect that most if not all of the single women will be there. Now, I know that you and a lot of the other unattached folk have not been attending the recent weddings. And I can understand that. It must be a bit of a reminder. But this game is; it's being played, in part, for the benefit of persons such as yourself. It is a means of socializing that isn't centered around someone's nuptials."
"Huh," Malcolm thought for a moment, "Long as they don't make me play."
"I think you'll be all right in that area," Phlox said, "Now, have you heard anything about the teams?"
"I have," Malcolm said, "and that is part of the news, Ethan. See, the MACOs – their team is as follows – Major Hayes is their leader of course, and he is catching. Susie Money is apparently their first baseman. Er, woman. Rex Ryan is playing second, and Frank Todd is at third. Julie McKenzie is at shortstop. Daniel Chang is in left field. Center field is Oscar Tiburón. He is apparently a rather fast runner. Right field is Eric Forbes. Walter Woods is pitching. Their three alternates are Nan Myers, Neil Kemper and Brad Moreno. Now, if you've been paying attention to all of my chatter about the women who are available, you'll note that their team contains two of the remaining thirteen – Nan and Susie."
Ethan moved his lips slightly. Malcolm bent over and heard him whisper, "Vid … e … o."
"That's a good idea," Malcolm said, "let's see if Hoshi and Chip can rig up a camera so that Ethan here can see a video of the game."
"I can sit you up for that," Phlox said.
"Then it's settled," Malcolm replied, "Now, our team. Our team captain isn't Captain Archer at all – it's Chip Masterson. The captain insisted, as he did not wish to be in charge of that, on top of everything else. Chip is also pitching. Hoshi is at first, we don't have a second baseman or a shortstop yet, and Captain Archer is at third. Left field is Andrew Miller. Center is Craig Willets. Then at right field is Joshua Rosen."
Ethan raised his eyebrow slightly. This had had to do with his suicide attempt, for he was in love with Josh's wife, Karin.
"Yes, Mister Rosen," Malcolm confirmed, "Uh, moving right along, the catcher is Azar Hamidi from Security. We don't have alternates yet, as Mister Masterson is still looking for his two other first-string players."
"You forgot the announcers," Phlox said.
"Oh yes, that's right. It seems a bit silly, but if we can get a video feed set up, this will start to make some sense. We have two announcers to facilitate the action. They are Victor Brown from the MACOs and our own Meredith Porter. T'Pol has been pressed into service as the umpire. I do hope she realizes just how seriously we humans can sometimes take our sporting."
He smiled a bit. "The game will take place on the Paradise planet. It should be nice and warm there – it always is. We considered the other planet we've claimed – Amity – but according to Botanist Shelby Pike, er, Shelby Miller, most of the flat ground there is being used for growing food crops. Don't want to trample any of that. And on Paradise, oranges and lemons are very nearly ripe. Perhaps we'll celebrate our grand victory with a harvest."
Another eyebrow raise. "Con … fid … ent?"
"Perhaps a bit overly so," Malcolm admitted. "I suppose it'll hinge a bit on who is selected for the two remaining slots, and the three alternate positions, eh?"
Lili O'Day, the sous-chef, found Chip Masterson in Cargo Bay Two. The bay was cleared of nearly everything. A small mound was made of a few flattened crates. There was a bat and a bucket of baseballs and a pair of baseball mitts. "What brings you here?" he asked.
"I'd like to try out."
"Lili, I, um, this isn't Amateur Hour."
"I know that," she said.
"Still, uh," he was beginning to get uncomfortable.
"You need second or short. I've played both."
"In High School. I played short most of the time, but sometimes second as well."
"High School?" he asked. Looking at her, it had to have been thirty years previously, or at least 2124. When they had been flying through the Delphic Expanse in 2154, they had hit a particle wake. It had thrown them back in time, to 2037. That had been over a year before. In the current reckoning, it was late September of 2038. Most people had gotten used to the change, although there had been numerous issues with depression. Shapiro, fortunately, was the only who had attempted suicide. Others, like Chip, had embraced the change and had found love. He was currently living with his girlfriend, Deborah Haddon.
"Yes. High School," Lili said, "but it doesn't mean I can't still hit or throw or field."
"Chandler Masterson," she said, "at least give me a look."
"I don't want you getting hurt."
"I won't get hurt. I can do this. Try me." She picked up the bat and took a few practice swings, then stood, waiting for him to throw.
"Um, okay," he said, and tossed the ball at her, underhand.
She hit it toward what would have been third. He jerked his head up.
"Now give me something that isn't an Eephus pitch," she said.
He retrieved the ball and sighed. "You asked for it, O'Day."
He threw a change-up. She missed, swinging hard. Then he wound up and threw a fastball on the outside. She hit it down, a line drive toward second.
"Again!" she yelled.
He ran to the bucket to get more baseballs, this time throwing a curve, which she missed. "Okay, you got me there," she said, "I've always had trouble hitting the curve."
"Play pepper," he said, "I'll tell you what I want you hitting."
She nodded. "Ready."
"Okay, I wanna see a fly ball." Bang.
"A liner." She hit it.
"Now a bunt."
"Hard or soft?"
"A little dribbler; barely anything." She obliged.
"Can you run?" he asked.
"Not very fast," she admitted. "I can't beat out most grounders or bunts, not anymore."
"How would you get on base, then?"
"Fly to left or center, or line drive to left, mostly. I've never been a power hitter. I can mainly get base hits with the occasional double."
"I guess you're not much of a steals threat."
"I'm not," she said, "but I can still slide."
She took off for what would have been first and slid, feet first. She shook her head as she got up. "Whoa, I haven't tried that in years." She smiled at him.
"Could you knock over a catcher in a play at the plate?"
"Probably not," she admitted, "I mean, how big is Major Hayes?"
"True," he said, "Okay, get a mitt and we'll do some throwing and catching." She did as told and stood at what they were using for home plate. "Here, now, just try to hit my glove, nothing else." He started at the makeshift pitcher's mound and she was able to hit him four out of five times. "Now further back." He walked back several meters. Her aim was still decent but the distance was not there. He walked back. "It looks like you can field pretty well from second to first or second to third. For second to home, you'll need to hit me as your cutoff man. I'll put you in at second, I think. Got anyone in mind for short?"
"Brian Delacroix," she said, "he's been working with me in Food Service for a while."
"So you've watched him slinging hash, and figure he can swing a bat?" She looked at him. "Joke, okay? Bad joke. I, uh, I'm sorry about earlier. I didn't realize you could actually play."
"Huh, I bet we could use that to our advantage."
"How?" he asked.
"I can practice with the team and all, just like everyone else. But practice is secret, except people openly complain about me. Nothing specific; it's more like, O'Day's just there for sympathy, something like that."
"So we'll lull the MACOs into a false sense of security?"
"Exactly. I mean, I can't promise it'll work that well or for that long, but if you threw me an Eephus, I bet Woods will, as well, at least the first time."
"And then you smack the stuffing out of it?" She nodded. "I see your plan, Miss O'Day."
"Will you be attending the ball game?" Ramih Azar asked Maryam Haroun as she walked down the NX-01's halls.
"I am unsure," she said, adjusting her hijab.
"Hamidi is going to be playing for the Starfleet team," Ramih said. "Do you, uh, have a favored team?"
"May I sit with you?"
"I don't know. I think that would show that I favored the MACOs." What she didn't add was – and that I favored you. Ramih Azar and Azar Hamidi were in competition for Maryam, the only Muslim woman on the ship. Maryam had kept a poker face, trying to determine who she wanted to be with, and she had asked Doctor Phlox to help her with such an all-important decision, but Phlox had been busy, as there were cases of depression, Ethan's recovery, and three pregnancies.
"Do I have any sort of a chance?" asked Ramih.
"Of course you do." She started walking, getting more and more uncomfortable as the talk went on.
In their quarters for maybe a half an hour before lunch, Andy Miller said to his wife, "Why aren't you trying out for baseball?"
"You're very athletic, Shelby."
"Don't you remember? I know I told you this. When I was in High School, in ballet, I blew out my knee. It's why I ended up going to college for Botany in the first place."
"How'd you do that?"
"It was a jeté." She winced for a moment, recalling. "I landed hard, and not correctly."
"I still have a scar," Shelby said.
"Oh? May I see?"
"You've already seen everything," she said.
"I am, as you are well aware, training to be a medic," he reminded her.
She took down her uniform jumpsuit. "See?" There was a small scar on her left knee. "I'm lucky it didn't go keloid." The scar was nearly the same color as her dark skin.
"I see," he said, coming closer and kissing her knee. "Allow me to assist with your therapy."
He worked his way over slowly and they ended up missing lunch.
Judy Kelly Rostov was in Engineering, working alongside her husband, Michael Rostov. "Yanno," she said, "I'd be fine if I wasn't so damned tired, and my back wasn't hurting me."
"You're nine months pregnant," he replied, "I think you're allowed to have a backache. Uh, don't you wanna stop working? You could. No one would think any less of you."
"Thanks, uh, yanno something?"
"I think I should go to Sick Bay."
"Here, let me help you." He flipped open his communicator. "Commander Tucker, Judy and I are going to Sick Bay."
"All right. Tucker out." Tripp left the Bridge and returned to Engineering.
Phlox took one look at the Rostovs as they approached. "Labor?"
"Maybe," Judy said.
Michael helped her onto a bio bed.
"Definitely labor," Phlox said, "Get ready to meet your daughter."
Charles Tucker III's Personal log, September eighteenth, 2038
Well, I'm down another two engineers, although this is for a good enough reason. Judy had her baby.
And it makes me wonder if T'Pol and I will ever become parents. I had tried asking Ensign O'Day if she'd be a surrogate for us, and I just ended up insulting her. I won't make that mistake again.
I'm thinking of trying out for baseball. O'Day's playing and Chip says she's not that good.
Charlotte Lilienne O'Day's Personal log, September eighteenth, 2038
So far, so good. I'll be the second baseman on our team. I haven't played in so long. My shoulder is hurting just a little. I guess it'll go along with my plan to make me look bad – lull the MACOs into a false sense of security – if I head to Sick Bay.
They have no idea what'll hit 'em.
Jay Hayes's Personal log, September eighteenth, 2038
The team is shaping up nicely. It's good to have a focus. It should be fun. Woods and I are developing a good pitch-catch rapport. Tiburón is an excellent runner. He'll probably beat most plays at the plate.
Jonathan Archer's Personal log, September eighteenth, 2038
Baseball seems to be a good idea. It seems like everyone is getting into it.
The single ladies will all be there. There are the two MACOs – Susie Money and Nan Myers. They will be playing. Then Meredith Porter will be an announcer and she'll even sing. It's a total surprise. Lili O'Day will play for our team. Chip told me what they're planning. I think we can pull it off.
Maryam Haroun will be a spectator. Diana Jones and Colleen Romanov have said that they'll work as the grounds crew. As for the other six, three or four of them might even end up playing for our team. I don't know if Ingrid Nyqvist or Nyota Warren would be interested, but maybe Kate Shelton or Patti Socorro would be. I'm not sure about Victoria Dietrich.
As for Sandra Sloane, she is still recovering from depression. Plus Dan Chang still needs to shadow her but that should be ending soon. Since he's playing, I'll assign someone from Security to shadow her, maybe Deb Haddon. I never wanted to have to take Sandra into custody, but it was for the best. Ethan Shapiro, in part, tried to commit suicide because of her cruelty. She had to be kept separate for a while. She seems to be recovering a bit. It's hard to believe that her nastiness was depression-driven.
Speaking of Shapiro, Phlox has asked for a video feed of the game for Shapiro to watch. I think that's a terrific idea so we'll pipe it into the ship. They can watch on the Bridge if they want to, assuming there's nothing else that's pressing.
Maybe one of the ladies will notice as I slide, eh?