A/N: So, after letting this story sit dormant for two years, I'm finally overhauling it. I've been editing it on and off on my PC but until now the updates haven't been uploaded here. Please read and review, I'm anxious to hear what people have to say about this story! I started writing it in 2006 (when I was still in highschool) and I only figured out how to end it this year. That'll teach me to write without an outline... Reconciling the changes in my writing style over the five intervening years was less daunting that I'd thought it would be, but with no Beta, the process has been slooow.
Ship's Armory, F Deck, 1320 hours, August 16 2151
"No, no, no, Ensign." Lieutenant Reed sighed, shaking his head at the young woman standing in front of him. He pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers, praying that he would be able to get through this training session without biting Jean's head off. She had asked him to train her in the proper use of their new side arms, the phase pistols, and he had been glad to do it. She was always an eager and quick student, but so far her usual aptitude for learning about the weapons systems had been oddly absent.
"I specifically instructed you to set the weapon to 'stun', but you had it on 'kill'. If those had been live rounds, Mr. Tucker and a repair team would need to spend a day down here replacing those shelving units."
Jean stared at the floor and tucked an errant wisp of hair behind her ear, shifting uncomfortably under her friend's disapproving gaze. "I'm sorry, sir."
Reed let out anouther breath, sounding less frustrated but still very unhappy. "You can drop the 'sir', Jean, I just want you to learn the proper way to use these weapons. You don't want to end up killing someone by mistake, do you?"
She looked up at him, chewing on her lip nervously. "No, of course not. I just… I'm having trouble remembering which setting is which."
Reed nodded, taking the pistol from her. She watched very closely as he opened it, checking the charge on the powercell, and then closed it again, setting the small knob on the weapon to point away from the end of the barrel.
"Alright, Jean, I've set it to stun. Lets try this again."
He handed the weapon back to her and she took it sheepishly, not meeting his gaze for too long.
"I don't know what's wrong with me today." She shrugged, sighting along the snubbed barrel of the pistol. "Maybe I've used up all the space in my head that's reserved for weapons and tactics."
Reed shook his head, smiling at her and admiring her firing stance. "Nonsense. You're just having an off day. It happens to the best of us."
She lowered the weapon slightly and grinned back at him, an evil glint in her eye. "At least we're not in a pod on the bottom of an alien lake."
He paused in the middle of activating the hovering holo-target to let his head drop back and emit a quiet groan. "That was no simple 'off day'. That was a disaster."
Jean chuckled. "But you came through." She stepped a bit closer to him, allowing the weapon to point at the floor so she wouldn't shoot him by accident, and tentatively rested a hand on his arm. "I've never been prouder of you."
Reed turned around partway to face her. She was standing mere inches away, her hand still softly grasping his arm. His breath caught for a moment, but before he could speak, a voice rang out from the comm. panel.
"Archer to Lieutenant Reed."
He swallowed, shooting her an apologetic look before reaching for the comm. "Reed here."
"We've just detected a planet along our present course, and we should be within scanning range by aproximately 1800 hours tonight. Since there may be sentient life and man-made satelites in the vicinity, I'd like you to come up to the bridge to monitor any vessels we might come across."
Reed nodded at the comm. panel, even though part of him knew that doing it was a useless gesture. After all, the captain could only hear and not see him. "Understood sir. On my way."
He closed the channel and turned back to Jean, regretting that the lesson and their brief moment of closeness had been cut short. "Would you mind if we rescheduled this for another time?"
She favored him with a grin, tapping a finger on her chin in mock-thoughtfulness. "I don't know, sir. My schedule is pretty full…"
He tried not to smirk at the gentle ribbing but couldn't help himself. "You are being awfully cheeky to your superior officer, Ensign."
Jean moved over to the weapons cabinet, removing the powercell from the pistol and putting both components away in their proper places. "My superior by virtue of rank, if nothing else."
Reed chuckled at the quote, shaking his head as he put away the holo-emitter. "I'll see you for a late dinner in the mess, say around 2100?"
"Sounds good," she nodded. "I'll see you then."
Bridge, A Deck, 1730 hours, August 16, 2151
T'pol looked up from her instruments. "It appears to be a Minshara class planet."
The captain swiveled his chair towards her, a large smile spreading across his face. "Lifesigns?"
T'pol inclined her head in confirmation. "Approximately 530 million."
Reed's hands flew over his console, adjusting various screens and taking note of scanner inputs. "There are a fair number of spacecraft and artificial satelites in orbit, but none of them have weapons which could do Enterprise any harm."
Archer inched forward to the edge of his chair, eyes dancing with delight. "What kind of transmissions are you picking up, Hoshi?"
The young comm. officer held one hand to her earpiece, a pleased smile steadily growing on her face. "Highband EM frequencies," her eyes went wide as she tied in the UT and one word suddenly translated into English. She turned to face the captain, blinking rapidly. "They're discussing warp technology."
Reed frowned slightly. "Odd…"
"What is it, Mr. Reed? Some kind of problem?" Archer sighed to himself, not terribly surprised that his Tactical Officer had found something to be concerned about.
"Oh," Reed looked up from his muttering, quickly shaking his head to dispell the captain's concern. "Nothing like that, sir, but I'm not detecting any launch platforms in orbit, and none of the ships within scanning range appear to have more than impulse drives."
Archer's brow furrowed. "That is odd."
He glanced across the bridge to where Sub-commander T'pol was checking her own readings. "My scans confirm Lieutenant Reed's findings." She looked up at the captain. "Based on the information I have gathered, I suspect that this civilization is in the process of deveolping warp drive. The energy signatures which I'm detecting indicate that they have the technology to contain and utilize anti-matter in small quantities… not unlike the amounts which would have been available on Earth shortly before Zephram Cochran launced the Phoenix."
Archer stood up, pacing forward to get a better look at the viewscreen. "Still, it would probably be better if we didn't announce ourselves." He spared a glance at Sub-commander T'pol. "Let's try to avoid cultural contamination. We'll send down a team of four; myself, Trip, and Malcolm. Mr. Reed, notify the quartermaster that we'll be needing four sets of clothing by morning. We'll pick them up first thing tomorrow, and then head down to Sickbay so Phlox can disguise the team as locals. Once you get to the launch bay, prep a shuttle pod."
Reed nodded, a smile creeping onto his face as an idea occurred to him. "With your permission, sir, I'd like to recommend Ensign Olenick for this mission."
The captain nodded, smiling a little. The fact that Reed and the ensign were close hadn't escaped him, and he idly wondered if she had put Reed up to making his recommendation. "Sounds reasonable. Besides, since we seem to be needing a medical officer more and more on our missions, she'll be good to have along. Just in case."
Beta shift took over bridge duties at 2000 hours, but Hoshi stayed on the bridge, fascinated by the myriad alien dialects the transciever was picking up. Every so often, she would press a hand to her earpiece, smile or take a sharp breath, and then hit a few buttons and repeat the process. T'pol stayed as well, dutifully performing detailed scans of the planet. Once Travis had put them into a high but stable orbit, the captain gave him permission to grab some dinner in the mess. Reed left his station soon after that, also with permission. Although his shift was over for the day, he might come back up to the bridge at some point, just to see if any new developments had come to light. The door to the turbo lift closed behind him and Reed grinned to himself as he hit the button which would take him to E Deck, which housed the mess hall. He couldn't wait to tell Jean the good news.