"Hmph. And you think I'm paranoid"
"It's not paranoia Malcolm, it's..." Captain Archer paused, hunting for a word that appeared to be lurking under the table somewhere. "...tradition." he concluded, triumphantly.
"Ah. Like burning witches and such. I see."
"Malcolm, Doctor Phlox has tested the drug and he says it's perfectly safe."
"No offense to the doctor, but he's only had a couple of hours - how can he be certain there won't be side effects? And besides, what about the security implications - how do we know the Pentherians won't be able to acquire all sorts of classified information from us?"
"According to the Vulcan database this is a standard procedure for the Pentherians and they have never been known to take unfair advantage of it. They are a peaceful and curious people who only wish to ensure that all their visitors are well-intentioned toward them." T'Pol put in.
Malcolm still wasn't happy about it, but he could see his objections were going to be ignored as usual. Some days he wondered why they didn't just hang a sign on the front of Enterprise reading "Naive Explorers from Galactic Backwater. Please Exploit, Attack or Kidnap at your convenience."
He sighed resignedly. "Could we at least leave one senior officer on the ship this time, sir?" he asked plaintively, recalling with some embarrassment how Crewman Cutler and Chef had had to rescue them from the Brassicans a few weeks previously.
"Oh, all right Malcolm." Archer agreed wearily, as if making a huge concession. "Trip, you stay here and make sure no evil aliens take over the ship, OK?"
"Sure thing Cap'n." Trip grinned. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do, Malcolm."
Malcolm lifted one eyebrow in a passable impression of T'Pol.
"If it's all the same to you, Commander, I think I'll try to avoid some of the things you would do as well. Getting pregnant, for instance." He smiled just enough to take the sting out of his words.
And it was words he was mainly worried about. The Pentherians had insisted that the humans take a truth drug on their first visit to the planet, in order, allegedly, to make sure that their intentions were peaceable. You didn't have to be paranoid to see half a dozen pitfalls in that. Unless you were Jonathan Archer, apparently.
The meeting with the Pentherians actually went surprisingly well. No one blurted out any top secret plans or embarrassing comments about the Pentherians' triple barrelled noses, and the aliens were happy to allow shore leave for the crew and to discuss possible trade with Earth at a later meeting. Malcolm sighed with relief as they boarded the shuttlepod.
"See Malcolm?" Archer beamed at him. "Nothing to worry about after all!"
"But there *might* have been," Malcolm heard himself saying as though from a gradually increasing distance. "They could have injected us with a fast-acting poison instead of the truth drug. Or a slow acting poison. Or a tranquilliser, so they could interrogate us at leisure. Or cook us for dinner. Or tea, brunch or supper come to that. They might have wanted us immobile but alive to host their offspring until they were ready to hatch and eat us from the inside, or..."
"Malcolm?" Archer interrupted. "Are you feeling OK? You look a little pale. And you're babbling."
"I'm fine. But why are there two of you? And why are both of you purple?" Malcolm retorted, just before the deck treacherously rose up and hit him in the face.
"It seems that Lieutenant Reed was right to be apprehensive about the truth drug Captain."
Archer opened his mouth to speak, but Dr Phlox raised a hand to forestall him.
"No, no. It was perfectly safe for the rest of you. However, it seems to have reacted adversely with something in Mr Reed's system - I suspect the bromalin injections actually - and it hasn't dissipated as it should. In fact it appears to be somehow replicating itself and working rather too well. Mr Reed is currently, as I believe you say on Earth, telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
"But you don't pass out from an excess of telling the truth, surely?"
Phlox rolled his eyes. "I suspect that was caused partly by reaction to the chemical changes as the drug began to replicate in his system, but I imagine that the fact that he hasn't eaten since lunchtime yesterday might be related also. I should be able to manufacture a counter agent for the drug in a few hours. In the meantime Mr Reed should be safe enough if he stays here and rests."
"...and mild cheddar cheese. That's something I've never understood. Why on earth would anyone want to eat the stuff? It doesn't taste of anything for goodness sake - you might as well eat a lump of rubber for all the flavour it has...."
Malcolm's inner self was groaning in embarrassment and frustration. He could hear the words coming out of his mouth, but he could no more influence or stop them than he could reverse the flow of blood through his veins. He'd managed to ask Phlox if he could be sedated to stem the flow of words, but the Doctor thought it inadvisable to add any more chemicals to the cocktail already in circulation. Crewman Kelly had already stormed off after he'd told her that yes, her bum did look big in that, actually, and he'd regaled a fascinated Doctor Phlox with an unexpurgated version of what he'd done on his last leave before joining Enterprise. At this rate, Malcolm thought, there soon won't be a single person on the ship I'll be able to look in the eye. If only Trip doesn't come to visit... oh. Bugger.
"Hey Malcolm, how ya doin'?"
"I haven't had so much fun since I was shot by shapechanging aliens and left in a cellar tied up in my underwear. Which was completely your fault, by the way."
"Of course it was. I shoulda listened to you when you told me not to go into dark cellars with strange alien women, right?" Trip grinned, that particular incident having paled enough in memory to be funny in retrospect. Then he frowned slightly. "Although maybe the Captain shoulda listened to you today."
"He never bloody does though, does he? He just goes traipsing off to unexplored alien planets as though he's taking Porthos for a walk in the park. Honestly, he can be such a flaming ninny! Nice arse though. You can forgive a lot for an arse like that..."
At this point Malcolm's inner self started looking for a nice solid wall to bash its head against.
Trip looked somewhat bemused. "I thought it was T'Pol you thought had a nice "bum"?"
"Well, yes, hers is nice too - but the Captain's is better. Neither of them a patch on yours of course. Bloody shame the uniform doesn't show it off better. Who designed the damned thing anyway? Someone who never goes to the loo I should think. I mean it's bad enough for us blokes, but it must be a flaming nuisance for the women having to get practically undressed every time they have to go for a...."
"Whoa. Back up there a bit Malcolm. You've been ogling my ass?"
Malcolm's inner self was wondering where it had left that phase pistol.
"Well not only your arse of course. The rest of you's well worth looking at too - it's just that your backside is easier to look at without you noticing, and if you noticed I was ogling you, you'd probably never speak to me again, which would be bloody awful. I mean, you drive me daft at times, but you're probably the best friend I've ever had."
Trip's expression had gone past "bemused" and was headed for "brain gone on vacation".
"Damn. Now I've gone and bloody done it, haven't I? Sodding aliens and their thrice-damned truth drug..."
Trio shook himself slightly as though waking up.
"It's OK Malcolm." he said kindly. " But I think you really need to stop talking for a while."
"Chance'd be a fine thing." Malcolm replied, miserably. " I can't seem to stop myself babbling away like a blithering idiot about anything and everything."
And then he found the flow of words suddenly blocked, it being quite difficult to speak at all while being very thoroughly kissed by a rather enthusiastic engineer.
It was some considerable while later before either of them achieved intelligible speech again, but that didn’t matter. Some things really don’t need words, after all.