Lorraine J. Anderson 1541 Words
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SING A SONG
By Lorraine J. Anderson
"So, Captain," Malcolm Reed said reflectively, "Are you a Tenor or a Baritone?"
The bridge crew whipped around to look at him, then at Archer for his answer.
Archer was staring at the viewscreen as if he expected the alien leader to reappear. "Didn't we already do this one last year?" he said plaintively. "What is it about aliens? We have to have a 'signature' song? A common song for our people?"
T'Pol looked suddenly up from her console. "As I recall, the Vulcan commander was quite discomfited by your Mr. Cochrane's offer of a handshake, but he shook hands, nonetheless."
"But the handshake is an old Earth tradition, and Zefram wouldn't have known that the Vulcan's didn't shake hands." She looked at him steadily. "You're trying to say that this is the Lamyk version of the handshake." He shook his head. "Still, Zefram didn't threaten to shoot if they didn't shake hands."
"Perhaps singing a greeting song is their way of showing good intentions."
"And not singing one is showing your bad intentions."
She stared at Archer. "Either way, you will not be able to open negotiations until you prepare a song."
"Why can't aliens meet us on our terms for once?" muttered Archer.
"Captain?" T'Pol cocked her head.
"You heard me. Never mind." Archer stood up. "I want the bridge crew to be thinking of suggestions. Hoshi, Malcolm, you're with me.
"Me?" Malcolm yelped.
"You opened your mouth." He toggled the ships comm. "Archer to Tucker."
"Meet us in my room."
"I'll brief you when you get there."
Trip sounded doubtful. "Aye, sir."
Archer looked at the planet filling the viewscreen. "If we didn't need the trillium -" He shook his head. "This could get rather tricky."
He turned on the viewscreen in his room. "I get the feeling that anything we choose is a kind of a test. The song should demonstrate our good intentions while illuminating something of our character."
"So - anything from that Don Quixote movie is out?" Trip said, almost smiling.
"The story of a mad man tilting at windmills?" Archer's eyes crinkled. "It may be appropriate, but no."
"At least one of the songs wasn't bad."
Archer winced. "Maybe something a bit newer?"
"Well," said Trip. "That eliminates that dirty little ditty I heard about the Vulcan's first landing."
"I heard that one. From the author himself."
"Zefram? Really?" Trip looked impressed.
"I suppose that eliminates Gilbert and Sullivan, too." Malcolm muttered.
Archer stared at Malcolm. "I don't think I want to know what song you were thinking of."
They sat silent for a moment. "We could have a ship-wide suggestion box," Hoshi said.
Archer opened his mouth.
"Phlox to Captain Archer."
Archer gulped back his comment. "Yes, Doctor."
"I heard of your dilemma, Captain. I believe I have a Denobulan song that he may consider."
Archer glared at the group.
"Hey, I've been with you ever since I head about it," Trip said.
"As have I," Malcolm said.
Hoshi shook her head at Archer's stare.
Archer closed his eyes. "Ok, let us hear it, Doctor."
"Well, the song roughly translates as 'We are the Explorers.' But it would, of course, be best sung in the original Denobulan. May I sing it?"
A whining noise came over the communicator, followed by a pop. Hoshi listened intently. Malcolm had his hands over his ears, and Tucker's expression was unreadable.
"Doctor, I'm not sure I can sing in Denobulan," Archer said. "And the Lamyks expect me to sing."
"No, of course not. But I'm sure Hoshi could translate."
Archer looked at the others. "I'm thinking, though, Doctor, that we should keep your suggestion in reserve. The crew is mostly human. We should probably pick a Terran song."
"And probably," Trip said, "a song that the Captain is fairly familiar with."
"All right," the doctor said cheerfully. "Thank you for listening to me. Phlox out."
Archer turned towards the group and opened his mouth. "Mayweather to Archer."
Archer sat up straighter. "Yes, Travis?"
Travis' voice seemed hesitant. "Captain, may I suggest a song?"
Archer sat back and rolled his eyes. "Travis, we're coming back to the bridge."
They rode silently back to the bridge and dispersed to their stations.
"Hoshi, put me on ship-wide intercom." Hoshi flipped a switch, then nodded. "This is Archer. As most of you probably know by now," because gossip travels faster than Warp speed, he thought, "The Lamyks are requiring that I perform… " murder comes to mind "… a song representative of our planetary culture. I am asking that you forward suggestions to… your department heads."
"The MACO should love that," Malcolm muttered.
Archer glanced at him. "The MACO will report their suggestions to Mr. Reed."
"This should be done by 1800 hours. In addition, you may be required to sing a portion of your song. We will let you know by 1830 hours."
"What time is it?" Archer said to Trip.
"1930 hours," Trip said, his eyes closed.
"Does your head hurt just as bad as mine?"
Archer looked at the far end of the cafeteria, momentarily vacant. "I never knew what poor singers our crew people were."
"They weren't picked for their singing ability." Trip opened his eyes and looked at Archer. "Unless you had some hidden agenda I didn't know about."
Archer shrugged. "Callan McLeod was pretty good. Hoshi was great."
"Did you expect her not to be?"
"On the other hand, Major Hayes -"
"Don't remind me."
"'The Bowery'?" Trip opened his eyes and looked at Archer. "Where in the world did he come up with that one?"
Archer looked steadily at Trip and Trip looked away. "I- told you not to remind me."
Archer leaned back and looked at the ceiling. "I don't believe we have a signature song. We're all just too different."
"How can any planet have a signature song? Aren't they individuals?" He frowned. "On the other hand, nations used to have national songs."
Archer smiled. "I like 'The Star Spangled Banner'."
"Well, yeah, but…"
"Mayweather to Archer."
Archer continued to look at the ceiling. "Yes, Travis. Not another suggestion?"
"No, Captain. The Lamyk are powering weapons." He hesitated. "Or something."
Archer sat up. "Or something? Can you be more specific?"
Malcolm broke in. "I've been monitoring the situation, Captain, and I'm sorry, but I can't be more specific. All we can tell is that it's something of great power, and it seems to be pointed at us."
Trip looked at Archer. "I'll be in engineering, Captain."
"I'll be right up, Malcolm."
Archer strode off of the bridge, his headache forgotten. "Any change?"
He turned towards Hoshi. "Hail the planet."
Hoshi sat back. "They're hailing us."
Archer shrugged. "Put them on."
"And who am I talking to?"
"Ah, my apologies. I am Rotinom. I am the extraterrestrial diplomat for the Lamyks."
Archer raised his eyebrows. "I haven't talked to you before, have I?"
He could hear the smile through the audio transmission. "Alas, no."
"What may I do for you?"
Rotinom hesitated. "We set you a challenge. We were wondering whether you were ready."
Archer sighed and looked over at Malcolm, who raised his hands and shook his head. "I am afraid we cannot meet your challenge."
"You can't?" The diplomat sounded surprised, but Archer thought he heard a measure of satisfaction. "And why not?"
"I'm afraid we have no signature song we can offer you."
Archer looked at the viewscreen at the planet below. "Let me ask you, sir. Are your people all the same?"
The diplomat hesitated. "Many are."
Archer smiled. "We are all individuals. That is our strength. We are individuals working towards a common goal. But we did try to come up with something for you."
"I see." There was a long hesitation. "That's exactly what we wanted to hear."
"Huh?" Archer sat down in his chair. "I mean, excuse me?"
"Captain, the power source is fading." Malcolm reported.
"We didn't really want the song, we just wanted to know your answer."
"Then… what was the power source."
"Oh. That. That was our planetary defense system. You were taking so long, we were preparing ourselves for attack."
"But," Malcolm interjected, "Surely you could tell we were not prepared to wage war on a planetary scale."
There was another long hesitation. "I think they're telling the truth," they finally heard in the background. Mayweather looked around at Archer.
The diplomat came back on. "My apologies. A small difference of opinion." He hesitated again. "I regret we have a powerful weapon and great defenses, but a very poor detection system. We couldn't tell how powerful you were."
"We were worried about nothing?" Mayweather looked astonished.
Archer ignored Mayweather. "Perhaps we can help each other? May we meet?"
"We'd like that." He hesitated. "Perhaps you could tell us of your songs."
Archer shrugged. "I'll try."
"At least we got some trillium for you," Archer said to Trip, as they watched the planet retreat.
Trip smiled crookedly. "So, Captain, what did you finally sing for them?"
"You'll never believe it." Archer smiled.
Archer opened his mouth and sang -