This is totally and completely a joint effort between a pair of twins living on opposite coasts. We hope you have as much fun reading it as we had writing it.

Disclaimer: The characters of "Enterprise" don't belong to us at all, we're just borrowing 'em for a bit.

Archiving: Ask and it's yours.

Another disclaimer: There are an awful lot of names in this one. Don't worry about it. We just wanted to include the ENTIRE Enterprise crew. But the main characters are all present and accounted for, we promise.

Feedback: Shamelessly begged for.

One last disclaimer: Would Archer REALLY let everybody get away with this? Probably not. But let's pretend...

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The morning started out quietly enough.

It didn't stay that way for long.

------------

Engineering. 07:00 hours

When Hoshi walked in, Trip was in the middle of ranting at the rest of the Engineering staff.

"A WHOOPIE CUSHION?" he yelled, incredulous. The crew looked a little sheepish, but Hoshi heard more than a few stifled giggles. "You've got the best, most up-to-date technology of the FLAGSHIP of the ENTIRE Earth fleet at your disposal, and the BEST thing you can come up with is THIS?" He waved the floppy piece of rubber in their faces. More giggles. "I can't believe that...WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND A WHOOPIE CUSHION?"

More laughter. Trying to look grumpy (and not doing a very good job of it) Trip waved them away. "Back to work, lowlifes." He walked over to Hoshi, calling over his shoulder "And if you're gonna disrupt my engine room you better have something better'rn a joy-buzzer and explodin' cigars." He shook his head. "Amateurs.."

A faceful of water caught him in mid sentence, followed by a burst of confetti.

Momentarily blinded, Trip blinked soggy bits of paper out of his eyes in time to see the hidden compartment in the whoopie cushion click shut.

The crew dissolved into helpless laughter. Trip watched sourly as the words "APRIL FOOLS!" scrolled across the surface of the cushion.

Covering a smile with one hand, Hoshi met eyes with Trip. He grinned at her.

"Yeah, it's gonna get a little noisy around here.."

***

Quarters of Crewmen Eric Adams and Mark Briemer. 08:00 hours

Mornings. Blarg.

(Crawl out of bed. Stumble to bathroom.)

Eric HATED mornings. It always took a while before he really woke up.

(Toothbrush, floss. Shower. Dress.)

He usually spent a good part of the morning on auto-pilot, much to the amusement of his roommate. Mark liked to joke that it took a full-on emergency to get his eyes open in less than a half hour.

(Shoes...somewhere. Comb, brush.)

Which was true enough, he supposed. If there wasn't any life-or-death reason to be awake, his brain was pretty much inclined to stay in bed.

(Shave, aftershave...)

*Sniff.*

What the...

(Earsplitting howl.)

***

Transcript of PADD communication. 08:10 hours to 08:12 hours

Crewman Aber to Maintenance Engineering: I just lost hot water half-way through a shower, could I get a plumbing request put in?

Maintenance Engineering to Crewman Aber: FOOLISH MORTAL! THE GODS OF THE ENGINES HAVE NO TIME TO ATTEND TO YOUR PUNY REQUEST!

Crewman Aber to Maintenance Engineering: Hello? Guys? I think someone's messing with the padd's, I got a weird message, is anybody in maintenance around?

Maintenance Engineering to Crewman Aber: SILENCE, WORM! ABASE YOURSELF BEFORE THE MIGHTY BEINGS WHO ARE THE * TRUE * MASTERS OF THIS DOMAIN!

Crewman Aber to Maintenance Engineering: Okay, ha ha, very funny, April Fools on me, now could you guys please give me my hot water back?

Maintenance Engineering to Crewman Aber: LESS TALK, MORE GROVELING!

Crewman Aber to Maintenance Engineering: Enough's enough guys! Knock it off, this is totally childish!

Maintenance Engineering to Crewman Aber: SO'S YOUR MOTHER.

***

Quarters of Crewmen Eric Adams and Mark Briemer. 08:29 hours

Eric was still at his computer, still pointedly not speaking, when his roommate finished showering. Mark thought about apologizing, then shrugged. Eric would get over it. Might even think it was funny after a while. A LONG while.

The prank had been hell to set up. The SMELL from the chemical he'd snitched from Phlox's supplies had almost made him pass out while pouring it into Eric's aftershave. (Mark was already debating whether it would be easier to jettison the now tainted aftershave bottle into space, or just put a stasis field on it and request a new room.) The howl Eric had let out made all the trouble worth it. Eric had spent an extra ten minutes in the shower trying to scrub the stuff off his face.

The hardest part had been keeping a straight face when Eric squelshed stony- faced into the room for dry clothes, and then squelshed back to the bathroom. True, the whole thing had made Mark late getting his own shower, and he now only had a few minutes to dress, but you had to make some sacrifices when executing an unbeatable prank.

Mark opened a drawer and pulled out a neatly folded pair of underpants. The rest of the underwear in the drawer came out in a daisy chain, firmly attached to the first pair. Pulling out a shirt had the same effect. Pants too. The rest of the drawers were either empty or sealed shut, Mark couldn't figure out how. And now that he thought about it, the clothes that he'd thrown to the bathroom floor hadn't been there when he finished his shower.

He tugged experimentally on a couple of shirts. Glued, of course. Which meant he wouldn't be able to pull them apart without tearing them to pieces.

Thorough bastard.

Eric continued to say nothing as Mark, clad only in a towel, stared down at his unwearable clothing..

"Truce?" Mark said hopefully.

"Yeah, you're gonna have to do a LOT better than that."

"Surrender then?"

"Gonna be a loooong cold walk to the nearest supply room."

Mark briefly considered overpowering his roommate and stealing his clothes, then regretfully decided against it. "How about this then: I let you in on another prank I've got planned. A huge one."

Eric looked up for the first time. "Yeah? Against who?"

"Captain Archer."

After a long moment's thought, Eric grinned evilly. "I'm in."

"Swell. Now could you PLEASE tell me..."

"I hid a tube of solvent in the bathroom," Eric turned back to the computer screen as his roommate walked into the other room, "It's just over the sink."

"Not seeing it."

"Second shelf."

"Looking. Still not..."

"In the aftershave bottle."

***

Corridor on deck 6. 09:09 hours

"I'm just saying," Ensign Parker commented to Ensigns Col and Pratchet as they made their way to the shuttlebay. "There wasn't much to it in the end; just water and some soggy paper. Not much skill in just making a mess."

"But the timing, it was the timing that was so perfect!" Col was practically jumping with excitement. "'Pretty lame prank guys.' SPLASH. POOF. Drip. Perfect!"

"Gotta agree with her, Parker," Pratchet said. "The whole point of a good prank is to catch someone by..."

A dark-haired lieutenant crashed into them, "Ohmigod gangway! " knocking Pratchet to the ground. "Incoming! Murder! Run for your lives!" She was off and running practically before her feet were back under her, dragging the other three along. "GO GO GO GO!"

Panic spread, helped along by the approaching sound of cursing. They pelted down the corridor and ducked inside a storage room, pushing the door closed behind them.

"Waitaminute." Braced against the door, Parker blinked in confusion. "Why are WE running?"

Footsteps pounded up to the door, which suddenly shook from an impact. There was a frustrated scream of rage from just inches away. "Self- preservation," Col commented dryly. "Anything in here we can use for a barricade?"

"I'll get you for this, Melody!" a woman's voice roared. The lieutenant, Melody, let out a terrified laugh, and hid in a closet. "You REALLY went too far this time!"

"Hello, there other people in the, HEY! Innocent bystanders here!" Parker turned around to hiss at the closet, "What did you DO?"

"Rigged her breakfast tray." Melody peered around the closet door. "Little clockwork timer I put together. I figured she'd spot anything too complicated..."

"I should have KNOWN something was up!" There was the sound of a fist hitting the door. "'I'll get the tray, Sam.' 'Brought you some juice, Sam.'"

Parker cracked open the door a fraction of an inch, coming eye-to-eye with a furious lieutenant, hair liberally coated with some kind of mush. The other two ensigns lunged for the door before the lieutenant could force her way inside.

"Jeez, Melody," Pratchett whispered, "Did you rig it to explode?"

"It was just supposed to jump a little." She clicked her tongue against her teeth, "Too much torque..."

A furious wail from the corridor, "You had the GALL to tell me you liked how I'd cut my HAIR..."

Parker shushed the explosion of suppressed laughter from the other three. "Listen, Lieutenant...Sam, um. Look, I'd love to clear this up but, you'd better go clean yourself off before Commander T'Pol walks by and wonders why you're wearing, uh, breakfast cereal."

The door reverberated from a hail of thumps, punctuated by curses. "The whole GALLEY staring..." There was a final thump as Sam kicked the door and then stormed back down the corridor, "...mean, even for you..." her voice trailing away, "...and I don't even LIKE oatmeal..."

Pratchett waited until the sound of footsteps had disappeared, then nervously checked the hallway. "All clear."

Then ensigns breathed a collective sigh of relief. "That must have been some prank, Melody. Wish I'd been there to see that." No answer from the closet. "Mel?"

The closet door rattled. "Um. I think the door's stuck. Feels like the release lever for the switch is..." Silence, then the sounds of a hasty search. "Where's the switch?" More sounds of searching. "Guys?"

The door continued to rattle. Pratchet looked respectfully back at Col and Parker. "Pretty clever trick there. One of yours?"

They shook their heads, listening to listen to the growing stream of curses. "I think we stumbled onto somebody else's prank here."

"...little help?"

We should probably let her out."

"Right." The three grinned slowly. "So, do WE let her out, or do we go tell Sam first?"

"...hello? Anybody?"

"Depends which side we're on."

"Good point. Which side do you think would be safer?"

They considered this for a long moment "Oh SaMANtha..."

The ship, growing noisier by the minute, continued on its way.

***

Corridor on deck 4 10:19 hours

Malcolm, walking to the armory with Travis, wasn't amused at all.

"It's a shocking lack of discipline is what it is."

"Oh yes, shocking," Travis said, trying to look serious and failing completely.

"This kind of nonsense is fine for civilians, but a Starfleet crew should be above that sort of thing."

"Mm-hm."

"The Captain should put a stop to all this before someone gets.."

There was a startled "Ooof!" and Malcolm dropped out of sight.

Travis, who hadn't really been paying attention, walked a couple steps further before he stopped, blinked in surprise, and looked back.

Malcolm was face down on the ground.

"I'm fstuck! Helf!"

It was a couple minutes before Travis could do anything beyond pointing and laughing.

"Ffit's noft funny!" Malcolm shouted into the floor, which only made Travis laugh harder. He finally had to sit down and take a deep breath.

"Okay okay, I'm good, sorry, quit pulling wouldja, it looks like glue or something, you're just gonna hurt yourself."

"Ruhn und geft ssomefing to difolve it."

Travis didn't say anything. After a moment, Malcom tried to look sideways. "Trafvisf?"

"Yeah?"

"You're fstuck too arun't yu?"

"Yeah."

"Bloody hell."

"Hey, your mouth's not stuck anymore!"

"Huh, you're right." Malcolm thought about it, and puffed some air against the ground. His cheeks and chin came unstuck instantly, leaving only his forehead still attached to the ground. "I thought so, it must be that temp- seal compound they use in engineering, water vapor dissolves it."

A long pause. "Did you say engineering?" Travis asked.

"This has Commander Tucker's fingerprints all over it." Malcolm said darkly. "When I get loose I'm going to do whatever it takes to make him very very sorry."

"What about Starfleet crew being above that sort of thing?"

"That was BEFORE," Malcolm shouted, "I got stuck facedown to the bloody floor!" There was the sound of furious puffs of air, and Malcolm's head popped up suddenly. "Ah, much better." He looked over at Travis, and his eyes got a little crossed.

"What, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just..hyperventilated a little.."

"Do NOT pass out on me Malcolm, you've got to get me unstuck."

"Malcolm suddenly focused. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," Travis said slowly. "I'm stuck sitting, and I can't move my hands, but I COULD reach my hands if I could move my legs."

"So?"

"So." Pause. "You're going to have to lean over here and unstick my butt from the floor."

A much longer pause this time.

"You MUST be joking."

***

Corridor on deck 4 10:29 hours

"A moment, Captain."

Archer, on his way to the mess hall, turned to see T'pol, data padd in hand. He managed to keep a straight face, but mentally he chuckled. "Here it comes," he thought. Aloud he only said "Nice meeting you here, T'pol, something on your mind?"

"I would like to bring to your attention several incidents that have occurred since 07:00 this morning.."

"It's April Fools' Day, T'pol, nothing to be worried about."

"I am aware of the date, and of humans' curious fascination with illogical acts of subterfuge and annoyance. However, the level of these activities appears to be escalating."

"Oh?"

T'pol consulted the padd. "The windows of deck 5 have been defaced with what appears to be soap. A large amount of congealed oatmeal is being removed from the walls in the mess hall. The intercoms on deck 2 have all been altered to play nothing but a style of music I believe is called 'disco..'"

"I get the picture," Archer laughed. "Tell me, have any of the ship's vital systems been affected?"

"No."

"Have any of the crewmembers been neglecting their duties?"

"No.."

"Well we'll keep an eye on it and be ready to step in, but the crew needs to blow off some steam, and a few harmless pranks aren't going to hurt anybody."

As they turned a corner, they came across Malcolm and Travis. Malcolm was facedown on the ground, and the two of them appeared to be having a furious whispered argument about who was or was not going to be breathing on whom.

Archer ignored them and tried not to look at T'pol, though he could practically feel her glaring a hole in the side of his head.

"I would be more than content to allow the crew to engage in such illogical behavior, Captain, if they did not see fit to include ME."

"Oh?"

"I sent a request to the chef for the evening meal. The message he received was..somewhat altered from my original request." She handed the padd to Archer. In large bold letters it read "MEAT! SKINNY WOMAN NEEDS MUCH MEAT!"

Archer tried to keep a straight face. "I'm sure Chef was..perplexed."

"To say the least."

"Pretty impressive, intercepting and altering a message that fast.." T'pol glared at him, and Archer laughed. "Oh come on, it's funny! No harm done, right?"

"I would appreciate it if you would..curb the crew's enthusiasm in this matter."

"Of course, of course." He looked at T'pol sideways as they walked. "Vulcans don't have a word for 'partypooper', do they?"

They turned the corner, and he caught sight of Trip and Hoshi heading for the mess hall. "Trip," Archer called. "Gimmie a minute."

"Sure thing, Cap'n, I've got those upgrade specs you wanted," He took the padd from Archer and typed in an access code. "We should be.."

"Thanks, but that's not what I needed," Archer said, taking the padd from Trip and handing it back to T'pol. "I wanted to say something about some pranks coming from your Engineering people."

"Now waitaminute," Trip said, offended, as Hoshi tried to cover a smile with her hand. "It's not JUST my people, there's a lot of folks getting into it and I think.."

Archer laughed. "All right all right, fine, just..try to tone it down a bit would you? We don't want it getting out of hand."

Trip and Hoshi nodded with a crisp "Yessir" and Archer smiled as he and T'pol walked past them into the mess hall.

"Just try to have a sense of humor about it," he explained patiently. "There's nothing wrong with the occasional.."

A siren sliced through the air, making Archer jump and every head in the mess hall turn towards them.

It was coming from the padd. And it was getting louder.

T'pol glanced at it and, without changing expression, handed it to Archer. He had to fumble with it for several seconds before he could shut the damn thing off.

Everyone in the mess hall applauded.

Trip and Hoshi were, of course, nowhere in sight.

T'pol leaned towards him and said quietly "I request permission to remain in my quarters until tomorrow."

"Granted," Archer growled.

***

Corridor near Engineering 10:39 hours

Half breathless with laughter, (and safely far away from the mess hall by this point) Trip and Hoshi congratulated each other.

"That's one for the history books," Hoshi laughed.

"Nah, I've got some surveillance shots of Malcolm and Travis that'll be replayed for YEARS to come. Definitely my best work."

"They're gonna find a way to get you back, you know."

"Are you kidding?" he laughed as they walked into Engineering. "What kinda prank is EVER gonna beat tha ha wha WOAH HEY!"

After a blurry second Trip found himself hanging in mid-air, his head almost brushing the ceiling. He swung his arms around frantically, but still couldn't figure out what the heck was holding him up.

Hearing snickers below him, he looked down and saw Malcolm and Travis, and half the engineering crew, grinning up at him.

Trip smiled wryly. "Lemmie guess, suspension field?"

"Grav-plates," Malcom said smugly. "We pulled a few off one of the cargo movers."

"Ah ha," Trip said. He looked around casually. "Ohhh, you guys are so dead."

"Now waitaminute," Travis interrupted.

"Dead dead dead."

"Hang on, this was just payback, we're all even now."

"Not with ME you're not," a voice said darkly.

Malcolm glanced to Trip's right, a little sheepishly. "Ah, for the record, we thought he'd be alone. No hard feelings, right?"

Hoshi, hanging upside down with her arms crossed, glared at them. "Dead. Dead. Dead."

***

Corridor on deck 2. 11:48 hours

Elbows-deep in a communications panel, crewman Monzet was cheerfully rewiring the speakers (he appreciated a clever bypass as much as any engineer) when he heard a soft squishing.

Looking up, he saw Melody stomping down the passageway. Covered in..milk?

"Not a word," she snapped when he opened his mouth. "Not a single sound. Back to work."

He nodded, watching her squelch past.

Stuck to her back (where, presumably, she hadn't seen it yet) was a note that read "BECAUSE IT GOES WITH OATMEAL!"

The resulting guffaws did nothing for Melody's mood.

***

Quarters of Crewmen Deborah Teisan and Irene Wallace. 13:52 hours

"C'mon, we'll be late for the shift," Deb called from outside the door.

"I've just gotta find a hairtie," Irene called back, exasperated, as she looked under the bed. Wishing, again, that she kept her room in better order so she wouldn't be late, again, she pulled out a sock, two bracelets, her old stuffed bunny, a card from her Mom..

She stopped, blinked, and looked more closely at the bunny.

"DEB!!" she shouted, lunging for the door, stuffed bunny in hand, its little paws duct taped behind its back, and tape wrapped all around its little head. "What'd Fluffernut ever do to YOU?!!"

***

Corridor on deck 3. 15:11 hours

Malcolm stomped towards the bridge, his face still burning.

The afternoon security report had NOT gone well.

Before he turned a corner, and came face to face with Travis, who seemed to be covered in talcum powder.

They looked at each other for a moment.

"Booby trapped locker," Travis explained.

"Security report replaced with obscenities," Malcolm countered.

They thought about it.

"Trip," Travis decided.

"Hoshi," Malcolm said.

Another moment. Malcolm finally nodded.

"Let's go."

***

Corridor on deck 5. 17:24 hours

"And it wasn't even MY idea," Hoshi fumed as she made her way back to her quarters. "I didn't program the damn thing, I didn't get to see how it turned out, and now somehow it's all MY fault. 'Inappropriate and disruptive.' That's just...gah! Typical."

There was no one around to hear Hoshi's tirade. The corridor was blessedly quiet, what with the ENTIRE CREW running around like maniacs, planning the next big prank on the Captain, and most likely pinning the blame on Hoshi.

Hoshi double-checked the communicator at her belt. A missive from the Captain, a very STRONGLY WORDED missive, had prompted her to take a detour by the shuttle-bay and pick up a spare communicator. She'd taken the precaution of setting it to receive "emergency only" calls. Archer had been pretty clear about what would happen if someone couldn't be reached in an emergency due to the recent "tinkering" with on-board communications. Seems the Captain had been less than impressed by the booby-trapped padd, and he'd had a lot to say about crew discipline. And ship safetly. And black marks on the otherwise exemplary records of crewmen who got carried away and put their personal time ahead of the well-being of the ship and its entire crew.

That last bit stung. She'd never, ever, given the Captain any reason to doubt her dedication to the crew. And now, because of ONE STUPID PRANK, she was going around on pins and needles, hoping that the rest of the day would go smoothly, and that nothing else would happen to put her on the Captain's bad side.

The communicator at her belt began to beep. She was already in motion, headed for the bridge, as she opened the communicator and said, "Hoshi here."

Or at least, that's what she tried to do. She got as far as "H.." before almost tossing the communicator out of her hand as she tried to flip it open.

The cover was sealed shut.

With a sinking feeling, Hoshi realized she'd just stumbled on someone else's prank. And at the worst time too. She pried at the cover, "Wait! Stop! I'm right..." She could just see the Captain on the other end, growing more and more annoyed. Or worse, something happening on the ship, and she didn't even know where to report. Her fingernails dug into the edges of the cover. "Don't hang up! I'm.." She held the communicator up to her face, trying to talk into it sideways. "I'm STILL HERE, DAMNIT!"

Nightmare images of what might be going on somewhere in the ship ran through her mind. Pulling with all her might, she lost her grip and sent the communicator flying down the corridor. It bounced across the floor, still beeping madly, forcing Hoshi to race after it "If there's anybody watching, THIS ISN'T FUNNY ANYMORE!" She finally caught the wretched thing, only to drop it with a yelp as it snapped her fingers with a tiny electrical spark. "STOP IT!"

The corridor suddenly filled with a flashing red light and an ear-splitting emergency claxon. Hoshi clapped her hands over her ears and shrieked in full-on panic.

Just as suddenly, the claxon and the emergency light disappeared, leaving Hoshi standing wide-eyed and hunched over in the center of the hallway.

The communicator case quietly popped open, spitting a little banner across the carpet.

"HI HOSHI," it read. "MADE YOU LOOK."

Hoshi stood, blinking, for several seconds. A cloud of utter rage settled over her face. Growling, she stormed off towards the bridge, stopped, headed off for the shuttle bay, nearly tripped over her own feet as she turned to go to the bridge again, then decided to just go to engineering and hurt somebody until she felt better.

***

Quarters of Captain Archer. 17:39 hours

The intercom chimed.

In his room, Archer snagged the polo ball out of the air as it sailed past his shoulder. "Archer here," he said, lofting the ball at the other end of the room.

"Hoshi here, sir." There was a long pause. The Captain bounced the polo ball against the far wall twice before the Ensign continued, "Is...everything all right with the ship, sir?"

"Well I should hope so," the Captain laughed. After a moment, he set down the polo ball and ran a quick check on the ship's vital functions through his computer. Just to be sure. Things were getting a little strange lately. "No problems that I can see."

"You...didn't send a priority one call through my communicator just now?"

"Nope." Archer resumed throwing the polo ball. "I think someone's been fooling around with the onboard communications. Sounds like you may have been on the wrong end of prank."

"Yes sir." Another long pause. "Sir, about the missive you sent earlier today..."

"Haven't sent anything today."

"Ah." Silence. "Right." Hoshi was going to hurt herself if she kept gritting her teeth so audibly. "Thank you sir. Hoshi out."

Archer signed off, chuckling. Hoshi wasn't exactly someone you wanted to mess with. Good officer, though. With any luck, she'd get the upper hand in whatever situation she was in, and maybe establish a little order without him having to do any...

The intercom chimed again.

"Archer here."

"Ensign Col, sir. Just wanted to request...well, we were wondering if you could, I mean not that it's an emergency but if there was any way..."

"What seems to be the problem, Ensign."

"Chef's sealed off the food supply sir. From everybody. He says we can't be trusted to behave, and he's going to keep all the food in stasis until "someone" orders an end to the foolishness."

Listening carefully, Archer could hear muffled sounds of indignation from several people in the background. "Well there have been a few incidents involving food today, haven't there?"

"Yes, sir."

"And we wouldn't want to waste our food supply, would we?"

Unhappily. "No, sir."

"I think I'm going to trust Chef's judgment on this. As soon as the crew gets back under control, he'll open up the food supply again. And I'm sure the crew doesn't need a direct order to behave, correct?"

"No sir."

"All right then. Archer out."

Just before he cut the connection, Archer heard Chef's voice rising over the confusion, "...and the Captain won't be getting any more damn CHEESE either."

Porthos looked up at the mention of his favorite snack. When no cheese was forthcoming, he wuffed softly and went back to sleep.

Archer threw the polo ball again, putting a little more force into it. Well, maybe this would get the crew to calm down a little...

The intercom chimed again.

"Sir!" the voice broke in before he could even acknowledge. "It's Perkins in astronavigation, they.." he sputtered. "You've gotta see this sir, it's.."

"Calm down ensign. What's the problem?"

"Well I was only gone a few minutes, and when I came back, they'd turned the room upside down!"

"You mean it's a mess?"

"No I mean it's UPSIDE DOWN!" He paused. "I just can't figure out how they got all the furniture stuck to the ceiling so FAST..."

"Call maintenance, ensign."

"But sir.."

"ARCHER OUT."

Archer realized the was squeezing the polo ball a little harder than was strictly necessary. Forcing himself to relax, he drew back his arm to throw it again.

The intercom chimed again.

"YES?" he shouted.

"I do apologize Captain," came Phlox's polite reply. "Have I caught you at a bad time?"

"No no," Archer said wryly, thwocking the ball against the wall again. "Not at all, what's up?"

"I'm missing several items from sickbay I'm afraid."

"Do tell."

"A small quantity of Arandian vinegar, I'm told it has quite a potent smell to humans, though I've always thought it pleasant myself.."

"Go on,"

"A tube of solvent, a cage full of chameleon lichen, a jar of lubricant, several bottles of sealant, four packets of antibiotic powder, which I do hope hasn't fallen into the wrong hands, the itching can be quite annoying.."

"Anything dangerous missing?"

"Nooo..not as such." Archer heard the sickbay doors open at this point. "And nothing I can't replace if necessary, though the lichen is really more of a pet than a commodity so I.." there was a hum in the background, and what sounded like giggling. After a pause Phlox said "I do beg your pardon, Captain, I'll have to get back to you. My clothing seems to have disappeared. Phlox out."

Archer gave up, chucked the ball under the bed, and went out for a walk.

***

Sickbay. 17:49 hours

"Marvelous, simply marvelous." Phlox beamed at them, delighted.

"Th-thanks," Jarrod stammered, very deliberately staring Phlox in the face.

"And you chose ME as the target? Really, I'm quite flattered I could participate."

"You're, um, welcome?"

It really had worked perfectly, Jarrod thought. The whole prank. Except, he'd never imagined Phlox would want to TALK to them about it.

At least, not until after he'd put some clothes back on.

Phlox took a step towards them, and seemed not to notice them flinch.

"And you ALL worked on this together?"

Jarrod swallowed. "Uh, yessir."

"Really? So it was a joint effort, so to speak?"

"Um.." Jarrod glanced over at Cheryl and Darrin for help. Darrin had the politest smile on his face, though Jarrod thought his jaw looked awfully clenched.

And...dear lord, Cheryl was just staring downward, her head tilted to one side, a puzzled look on her face.

"WELL.." Jarrod said loudly, and Cheryl's eyes glanced back up guiltily. "I, um, calibrated the transporter to your, uh, clothing, and Cheryl figured out how to do a point to point transfer, while Darrin rigged up a remote so we could do it, um, remotely."

"QUITE impressive," Phlox said happily. "So my clothes are now....?"

"Engineering," Cheryl blurted.

"Wonderful, I'll just pop over and get them.." he started for the corridor.

The three of them flinched again, and jumped between Phlox and the door.

"No no, really, that's okay, we'll get them, we don't mind.." they all said at once, practically falling over each other.

"Are you sure? I was going that way anyway..."

"REALLY!" Darrin said, too loudly. He cleared his throat. "It's the least we can do. Our..um..pleasure."

The three of the backed all the way out the door into the corridor. Phlox gave them a cheery wave, before the door shut between them.

They stood there for a moment, looking at the floor. Cheryl finally looked at the door.

"I suppose.."

"Don't!"

"What?"

"Suppose."

"Well I was just wondering..."

"There will be no 'wondering' here. Back to work."

***

Corridor on deck 2. 17:55 hours

Archer was so busy trying to pretend that everything was business as usual, nothing amiss here, nope, we're all doing just fine, thanks anyway...that he'd almost bumped into T'pol before he saw her.

"Captain," she said, falling into step beside him.

"How..how do you DO that?"

"Do what, Captain?"

"Be in the exact right place and time to interrupt me on my walks?"

"As your second-in-command, it seemed prudent for me to commit your exercise route to memory."

"But I don't have one specific route!"

"No sir. You have five."

Archer opened his mouth, closed it, shook his head, and asked "Was there something you wanted?"

"Yes sir," She paused as Hoshi came into view, stomping furiously down the corridor. When she saw Archer she stopped, tried several times to say something, then just made an inarticulate growl and stomped past them.

T'pol continued as if nothing had happened. "A large quantity of milk," she said, consulting a padd. "..has disappeared from.."

"I heard. It was found. Never mind. Next."

"There is no longer hot water on decks.."

"Five and six, I heard. Next."

"The furniture in the astrolab.."

"Is on the ceiling, I KNOW." Archer took a deep breath. "I've already been informed of all of this.."

"Including the jello in the hydroponics lab?"

"The..." he looked at her sharply. She raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. He sighed. "C'mon, T'pol, one day of the year they can act a little foolish. There's no need to step in at this point."

"Understood." She glanced at the padd again. "May I also remind you that the Admiral has scheduled a call with you in four minutes?"

"Th.." He skidded to a halt, then spun back towards his quarters. "You could've said that FIRST!"

***

Corridor near Engineering. 18:15 hours

By this point, there was quite a mob arguing in the corridors near Engineering.

"..and I STILL smell like milk."

"Maybe if you turned the HOT WATER BACK ON.."

"You've gone WAY too far this time mister, of all the childish.."

"Childish? CHILDISH? I was STUCK TO THE FLOOR!"

"Put a sock in it, I wasn't talking to you."

"Waitaminute, I KNOW you're not blaming.."

"Took me half an hour to get down from the.."

"I HATE disco and you KNEW that.."

"My clothes have HOLES in them!"

"Hey, I SAID you were using too much.."

"..any idea how hard it is to get tape off a stuffed animal..."

"..show you what a REAL emergency looks like!"

"..only had a granola bar all day and it's not fair.."

"Fourteen pages of profanity and you're calling ME childish??"

"All personnel," Archer's voice barked over to the loudspeaker. "Report IMMEDIATELY to the shuttle bay. This is not a prank. REPEAT. This is not a prank. Archer out."

Everyone threw a startled look at each other.

"At last count.." Trip said slowly. "About how many pranks were in the works for the Captain?"

"Three, at least," Hoshi said.

"I heard seven."

"Eighteen," Eric said quietly, his face pale.

Silence.

"Any idea which one got 'im?"

More silence.

Everybody ran for the shuttlebay.

***

Shuttlebay. 18:22 hours

The whole pack raced down the hallway, burst through the doorway, and skidded to a halt in the middle of the shuttlebay, looking around frantically for the Captain.

In the sudden silence, Malcolm said "Lock the doors."

There was a beeping noise, and half the group threw a panicked look at the now closed doors.

The other half was running towards several canisters at the far end of the room.

"It's a trick it's a trick! Get 'em!" Cheryl shouted, chasing after the others.

Too late. Malcolm and his group reached the canisters and threw them open to reveal..

..oh boy...

..one heck of a lot of water balloons.

"Hold it right there!" Travis shouted, holding his water balloon threateningly. Trip and Hoshi and their group braked suddenly, wide-eyed.

The sudden silence was broken by a quiet chuckle.

Trip grinned at Malcolm "Nice work with the Captain's voice. Take you long to put that message together?"

"Not too long," Malcolm said, only a little bit smug.

Trip cleared his throat. "Don't suppose you'd like to just call it even?"

Malcolm grinned back. "Not a chance."

"Didn't think so." Lightning-fast, Trip whipped out a communicator and shouted "NOW!"

And gravity disappeared.

Laughing and yelling, everybody took to the air. Things got pretty chaotic pretty fast.

Travis launched a balloon at Trip, but it missed him by a mile and hit the ceiling instead. Trip was still pointing and laughing at Travis when the resulting wall of water came back from the ceiling and swamped him.

Water balloon fights get very interesting in zero gravity.

Jarrod ATTEMPTED to throw a balloon at Cheryl, but since he wasn't braced against anything, he ended up just spinning himself in place a few times.

He looked over at Darrin. "Mind giving me a push?"

"Sure," Darrin replied, and calmly pushed him into a glob of water.

Deb had a bead on Irene, who zipped past, shrieking "Stop it stop it I'm not playing anymore!"

Malcolm did his best to deliver a stirring speech. "All right everyone, on my mark...(pfash!)...take no prisoners...(sploosh)...ackpth..Hey, you're supposed to be on my side...(paff! paff! paff!)..would you PLEASE stop throwing those things at me!"

Melody faced down Samantha with a balloon. "It goes with oatmeal, huh?"

"Well," Samantha said, bobbing in place. "It was either that or orange juice, and that stuff really stings when you get it in your eye."

They blinked at each other, burst out laughing, and shot off to shove Col into the middle of a floating puddle.

Taking a quick break in a quieter corner, Hoshi tried to wipe the water off her face (not easy to do in zero gravity) and watched the fun with Trip.

"Quite the free-for-all, isn't it?" he said.

"Yup."

"A regular free-fall free-for-all."

"Oh VERY clever."

"Head's up."

"Hm?"

(POW!)

Things got a little quieter as soon as all the little vendettas were settled. Well, that, and they ran out of water balloons.

It wasn't possible to stay mad when soaking wet and hanging upside down midway between the ceiling and floor. Trip gasped for breath, shaking globules of water away from his face, and asked Malcolm, "NOW can we call it even?"

"Done."

Trip spoke into his communicator, "Thanks for your help fellas. Go ahead and turn the grav-plates back..."

There was a collective shriek of, "NO WAIT!" from everybody suspended in mid-air.

Trip chuckled and said, "Yeah, go ahead and SLOWLY turn the grav-plates back on."

Everyone slowly drifted to the floor, sometimes avoiding the water that sunk with them, sometimes not.

The intercom clicked on.

"ALL personnel will report to the mess hall IMMEDIATELY. Archer out." The intercom clicked off.

A shocked pause while everybody looked uncertainly at each other.

The intercom clicked back on.

"I'M NOT KIDDING DAMNIT, GET YOUR BUTTS IN THE MESS HALL NOW!"

Everybody scrambled for the door.

***

Mess Hall. 19:00 hours

Malcolm was sure the Captain's address to the crew was, without question, quite impressive. Even when driven past all patience, Captain Archer had always been able to deliver a stinging rebuke. Trouble was, Malcolm was a little distracted at the time, so when he thought back about it, all he could remember was:

"...rant rant rant..."

"...a tetrahedron, how fascinating..."

"..rant rant rant..."

"...and perfect symmetry on that set of ovals, how delightful..."

The Captain broke off his tirade and sighed wearily, "Dr. Phlox, do you mind..."

"I'm terribly sorry to interrupt, Captain," Phlox said, still peering intently into Captain Archer's face. "It's just that I've never seen a reaction like this. It must be something to do with the iron in your blood."

Archer growled, and stomped over to look at his face reflected in the window.

"With all due respect..sir," Hoshi said quietly. "It really doesn't look that bad, and I'm sure that.."

"IT WON'T COME OFF!!" Archer roared, stomping back towards them.

Ordinarily, faced with the Captain's rage, everybody would practically be quaking in fear.

Now they were just trying, very very hard, not to laugh.

The Captain had found Phlox's lichen.

It covered Archer's face in an ever changing display of colorful dots and stripes and swirls.

Trip would just about have the giggles under control, when the patterns would shift suddenly.

"I swear ta God," Trip said later, (much much later) "He's glaring right at me, and he's SO MAD, and the lichen does this swirly thing, and a little smiley face curls up right around his mouth. I thought I was gonna die, I really did."

"Now look," Archer growled. "I didn't MIND the dribble glasses in the mess hall, I put UP with someone switching my reports with..interesting reading, and by 'interesting reading' I mean 'Klingon porn' and by 'someone' I mean Hoshi.."

"Hey! That wasn't.."

"NONETHELESS! This is TOO FAR!"

"How'd it happen, sir?" A voice from the back, maybe Col, asked timidly.

"Maintenance found trace amounts of dead spores in the corridor. Apparently the thing 'attached' itself to me when I walked past." He glared at Phlox. "You didn't MENTION that it's colorless until it lands on a host."

"Yes, fascinating, isn't it," Phlox said, distracted by the patterns on Archer's face and not really paying attention. "What's really interesting is the lichen doesn't normally survive long outside of its nutrient cage. It's not exactly something easy to carry, or hide. I imagine it's sustaining itself from nutrients in your skin, although I can't quite understand..."

"Doctor, IF I can interrupt," Archer cut into Phlox's ramblings, "Could you just...call your pet or something. Have it stick to YOU on the way back to sickbay?"

"Oh dear me no," Phlox stepped back slightly, still smiling. "It reacts to metal, you see. The heavier the metal, the stronger the reaction. The trace amounts of rubidium in my blood would be fairly toxic, I'm afraid." He stepped closer again, peering at the lichen now spiraling across Archer's forehead. "It seems to like iron very much. I would have thought any element heavier than aluminum would have stunned it. Most interesting. Would you consider leaving it in place for a few days for me to study?"

Archer's roared "NO!" started up another round of giggles, quickly suppressed when the Captain glared at them again.

Travis cleared his throat. "Does it..hurt..sir?"

"No, in fact, I didn't even notice it was there at all, until AFTER I'd gotten off the COMM with ADMIRAL HARKER, looking like my FACE was trying to CRAWL OFF INTO MY HAIR!"

Trip made a sound that defied description, and managed to squeak out a, "Permission to be dismissed. Sir."

Archer growled something that might have been affirmative. It better have been, because the crew was already in retreat.

Behind them, Phlox's delighted voice continued, "How amazing, I didn't think it had progressed to symbols..."

"Phlox..."

"At this rate, it could reach a form of somatic communication.."

"Phlox please stop waving in my face..."

"Hello little one! Aren't you the cleverest..."

"PHLOX!"

Outside, the crew scattered to dry off and to finish laughing somewhere safe.

"THAT was a prank to end all pranks, my friend." Pratchett clapped Mark on the back. "Don't know how you two managed it, but..."

"Jeez, what's the matter with you?" Mark looked around to make sure the Captain hadn't come through the door. "Do NOT pin this one on us."

"Oh come on, I thought that was what you were both raiding sick-bay for last night."

At the mention of sickbay, Eric wrung some of the water out of his shirt, muttering about how he'd already HAD two showers today.

"Not us," Mark insisted. "Deb and Melody had something in the works though. Maybe they did it."

"Did not! We were just going to short-sheet the Captain's bed."

The words "Captain's bed" happened to fall in one of those odd quiet moments in a conversation. Everyone turned to stare. Melody blushed furiously and ducked down a side hallway.

Hoshi and Trip, killing time until the mess hall was safe to go in again, wandered one of the nearby corridors.

Trip glanced over at Hoshi, then looked at her harder.

"You know who did it!" he blurted.

"Weeellll, I have an idea.."

"No, you know! Spill."

"It's just a guess..." Trip glared at her, and Hoshi continued quickly, "Well, think about it. The atomic number for iron is, what, 23? 24?"

"26" Trip said instantly. Hoshi stared at him, and he shrugged. "Engineer. What'd you expect?"

"Okaaay, and the atomic number for rhubidium?"

"37." Hoshi didn't say anything. "Aaaaand?"

"What's a metal heavier than iron and lighter than rhubidium?"

"Well, there's nickel and cobalt and zinc and.." he got it. "No. You've gotta be kidding me. Copper?"

"Bingo."

"Holy crap on a cracker. COPPER??"

"It likes iron but rhubidium kills it, so copper would be just about right to stun it."

"And if it's stunned you can carry it around and...you're tellin' me this was T'POL's prank?"

"She's got a lot more copper than iron in her blood. AND she knows the Captain's schedule backwards and forwards, who else could've had the trap at exactly the right place and time?"

"Well I dunno, maybe it was meant for someone else."

Hoshi gave him a pointed stare.

"Yeah," Trip agreed. "Tailor-made for the Captain, no doubt about it. But geez, why in the WORLD?"

"She's probably been trying to get him to put a stop to this from the beginning. And he's sure put a stop to it now. It's almost.." she grinned. "Logical."

He grinned back at her. "When I tell everybody about this one.."

"Ohhhh no you don't. This stays between you and me."

"WHAT?"

"We're lucky she didn't turn on US, after the whole screaming-padd thing."

"Yeah but.."

"And she's BOUND to have figured out which engineer got into her personal transmission to chef."

"Hey that was a joint effort you.."

"And she's smart enough to know who cut off gravity in the shuttlebay.."

"I.."

"And hid the door latches on deck six.."

"...but.."

"AND glued shut a certain person's communicator.."

"..ouch.."

"All in all," Hoshi said, smiling sweetly. "I think it's in somebody's best interest to keep this one quiet."

Trip grumbled under his breath, then thought it over. "I guess it's all speculation anyway, I mean, we don't know for SURE she did it, do we?"

T'pol, of course, chose that moment to walk by. She stopped, and looked at them.

Trip was staring, openly curious.

Hoshi was grinning like anything.

After a moment, T'pol continued down the corridor. But not before Trip caught sight of what could possibly, maybe, could be the tiniest, barest, hint..

..of a smile.

Hoshi laughed, and tugged on his arm. "C'mon, Chef'll have opened the kitchen again, you can buy me dinner."

Trip stared, open-mouthed, for a moment, then shook his head, and followed Hoshi through the now-quiet corridors of Enterprise.