It was the morning shift, next day.
Hoshi said, "Captain, there's a message coming in from Starfleet. It's Admiral Gardner."
"On screen,” said Jonathan Archer.
"Jonathan! Thank you for agreeing to host the Nereid Medical Academy's Immunology resident rotation on such short notice,” said the Admiral.
"Yes, well, Phlox was rather insistent that we help the program. I know he'd love to teach a bit, and never gets a chance to,” Jonathan said, “It's just a few students, right?"
"Five, plus their instructor will be with them, but only for the first week. For the other three weeks, you'll just have the residents."
"Very well. Names?" asked Jonathan.
"Students are," the Admiral paused to check a PADD, "Blair Claymore, Pamela Hudson, An Nguyen, Will Owen and Mark Stone. Instructor is Bernie Keating-Fong. Make sure to call them all 'Doctor'. Vulcan ship Ti’Mur
will rendezvous with you tomorrow."
"Very well,” said Jonathan.
"Oh and Jonathan, some sort of entertainment is customary."
"Entertainment? Isn't being on a starship entertainment enough?"
"This is a pilot program. Very high protocol, beloved by the Powers That Be. And Stone is the son of, well; I don't have to tell you who his mother is. So find some way of being extra accommodating. A party of some sort is good,” said the Admiral.
"I bet the Vulcans aren't throwing them a party." Travis said under his breath as he piloted the Enterprise
Jonathan smiled a little, “A party it is. We'll have Chef whip up something, uh, interesting and use the Observation Lounge. Thanks. Archer out."
Hoshi closed the communications link.
"Festivities?" T'Pol arched an eyebrow, “These are serious students."
"Phlox will run them ragged, I'm sure,” Jonathan said, “They'll probably need
a party. Travis, lay in an intercept course for the Ti’Mur
. Warp Two."
Later, Travis sat down with Malcolm and Tripp in the cafeteria, “Did you try the beets? Are they any good?" he asked Malcolm.
"A bit ... messy,” Malcolm said.
"Hmm. I'll pass. Y'know, I had an idea,” Travis said.
"That can be dangerous,” said Tripp, “Pass the salt, please."
"Those med school students? There are, I'm figuring, three of them,” Travis said.
"Didn't the Admiral say there were five students?" Malcolm asked.
"Yes," admitted Travis, "but three are women."
"And?" asked Tripp.
"So I was thinking. A little friendly competition. A game! There's three of them. And three of us,” Travis said.
"Go on,” Tripp prompted.
"I haven't looked at pictures. Has anyone?" Travis asked, breaking a breadstick. The others shook their heads, “Good. We draw straws. Uh, breadsticks. Short stick picks first. Then draw again, short stick picks second."
"What are we selecting?" Malcolm asked, dabbing his face with a napkin.
"Which lucky lady we go after,” Travis said, “There's An, Blair and Pamela."
"You said this was a game. Anything other than, ahem, connecting that would be what we'd, um, be striving for?" asked Tripp.
"Well, that's the bonus,” Travis said, “The objective is, whoever gets the girl first wins. And the prize is the other two cover for the winner whenever that's necessary, during these four weeks."
"Gets the girl?" Malcolm asked, “What sort of proof are you looking for? I mean, I think it's a bit more mature to be discreet about such things."
"Nothing graphic,” Travis stated, “Just a kiss will be fine. We'll take each other's word for it. Anything more and you're on your own."
"Hmm. Could be fun,” Tripp said, “These girls aren't too young, are they?"
"No, they're medical residents,” Malcolm said, “Mid-twenties or older, I suspect."
"Are we agreed?" Travis asked, grabbing breadsticks, “Draw first, Reed."
Malcolm took a stick, “Long one."
Tripp selected, “Ah, the short one."
"Looks like you get first dibs,” Travis said.
"Then I pick Pamela."
Travis took the short stick back and one of the long ones, “Fifty-fifty shot, Malcolm."
"I am unlucky in love,” Malcolm said, showing the long stick.
"Then I pick Blair,” Travis said, “Looks like you get An."
"Very well. And in the event of a tie?" asked Malcolm.
"I think we'll all be too, ahem, busy to worry about that,” Tripp said, “Oh, hi, Hoshi, wanna join us?"
The subject was quickly changed to Tripp talking about docking with the Ti’Mur