Mission To Oz
Code: Archer, T'Pol, Tucker, Reed
Spoilers: Minor for Unexpected and Cogenitor
Archive: Warp 5 complex, anyone else please ask first.
Beta: None, so all suggestions and comments welcolmed.
Summary: Archer finds himself learning an important lesson about the burden's of leadership from the oddly familiar inhabitants of Oz.
A/N: It's Easter weekend and as such my thoughts drift to all the old movies the PTB clog the TV schedules with. Actually, The Wizard of Oz is not on this year (although the disturbing Disney sequel is) but I did see the Futurama parody episode yesterday.
Disclaimer: As usual. I still don't own Enterprise but seeing as the big companies don't want it I will play with it to my heart's content, so nyah! I also don't own the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, or the 1939 Judy Garland movie which is sort of mentioned in my fic. No profit is being made, yadda, yadda, this is all for my own peculiar enjoyment.
Part One: Not In Kansas
Doctor Phlox pressed the hypospray into Captain Jonathan Archer's neck and discharged it. Archer sighed gratefully as his headache receded and his sore muscles relaxed.
Sometimes it was so very hard being the captain. The weight of literally the whole world was on his shoulders, after all if Enterprise made a bad impression on a newly contacted species that would be how Earth and all the Humans on it would be perceived. As Enterprise and all her crew were ultimately the captain's responsibility it was something of a burden.
Not that he'd give it up of course. Enterprise was part of his blood and had been since he was a little boy learning about warp theory at the knee of his father. It bothered him occasionally when he wondered if Henry Archer would have been more proud of Starfleet's engineers getting the ship flying or his son for commanding her. It was when such thoughts troubled him that he pushed himself just that little bit harder to be the very best there was.
Take today for instance. He'd headed up the away team to attempt a dramatic rescue of group of Xyrillian scientists who'd been bordered by some distinctly unpleasant Trogdion pirates. He'd had to plan it himself as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, the Tactical Officer, had put forward a plan that seemed to involve far to much 'wait and see' for his liking. T'Pol, as ever, had failed to grasp the humanitarian aspect of the mission and argued rather forcefully (for a Vulcan) in favour of Reed's plan. Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker, on the other hand, had agreed with Archer. He'd also added a few choice words of wisdom on subject of Xyrillians, being the only member of the crew to meet one face to face before. Archer listened half-interestedly; after all, he was hardly likely to follow in his Chief Engineer's footsteps and get himself impregnated with an alien foetus. Jonathan Archer was not that stupid. Besides they'd gone over in EV suits to avoid the prolonged decompression necessary and if that didn't count as protection, nothing did.
The mission had been successful. Archer, Reed and Tucker, along with a couple of Enterprise's security detail had kicked some serious Trogdion butt, saved the Xyrillians and returned home heroes. Well, sort of. Archer had received a nasty blow to the head when he charged into the fray and had to be half carried back, suffering a concussion.
"All done, Captain," Phlox said as he tidied away his instruments.
Archer stood, a little unsteadily. "Thanks, Doctor."
"Ah, now, where do you think you're going, hm?" Phlox asked, getting in the way of Archer's exit and smiling far too much about it. "You, sir, have a concussion and that means a night here in sickbay under observation."
"But I feel fine! Really, Phlox. And I have plenty of stuff to do, a whole ship to look after..."
"Captain, I have before withstood a two-pronged attack of stubborness, reasoning, veiled threats and - hmm, what was that delightful term? Ah, yes, puppy-dog eyes - from the very persistent Lieutenant Reed and Commander Tucker. Do you think I won't stand up to you?"
The brief surge of sympathy for Phlox in having to deal with an injured, cranky Malcolm and Trip together was ruthlessly crushed under the general irritation he felt at being kept in sickbay. "I am the captain," he said petulantly.
"Which means absolutely nothing in here. You let me do my job and tomorrow you can go back to yours." Phlox's smile got ridiculously larger as he motioned for Archer to lie back on the biobed. "In the meantime I'm sure the crew can handle running the ship."
Archer wasn't entirely sure about that, he would much rather have overseen it all himself.
"You do trust them, Captain?"
"Of course," Archer replied perfunctorily. "You know you're making me miss movie night," he grumbled, changing tact, even as he lay down and let Phlox cover his long frame with a blanket.
"I wasn't under the impression that you enjoyed movie night. I'm not sure I have ever seen you attend...?"
Archer wriggled a little, trying to get comfortable. "I don't usually, but Trip says that tonight they're playing a classic. I can't remember what it's called now, but everyone seems to have seen it before - except me, that is - and they've all been very excited. I, um, didn't want to miss out."
"Well, if it's an Earth classic I doubt very much that I've seen it. I can set up a monitor here and we can watch it together. How does that sound?"
Archer yawned. Whatever medication Phlox had dosed him with was doing it's job and the warm drowsy feeling was pulling him under. "Sounds good," he said sleepily and relaxed against his pillows as the doctor bustled about fixing up a monitor and cueing the movie to play.
His quarters shook violently and started to spin. Archer bolted to a sitting position in bed, gripping his bedclothes tight enough to make his fingers hurt as the room twisted dizzily. When the initial shock of being woken up in such a manner had dwindled the deep-seated panic kicked in.
The ship was under attack, that was the only explanation.
He released his grip on the sheets and reached for the comm. panel above the bed. "Archer to the bridge." No answer. "Archer to engineering?" Still nothing but the slight static of an open comm. channel. "Archer to anyone?"
Focused on what he was doing he surprised when Porthos barrelled into him, whimpering and pawing at his master in a little Beagle frenzy.
"I don't know, boy," Archer said in answer to the obvious but unspoken question. He tried to stand but the room lurched sickeningly and he fell back against the bed, Porthos clutched to his chest.
The almighty crash came as something of a relief after the spinning. Archer was flung from the bunk and landed in an ungainly heap on top of his dog, who scrabbled his way out from under the man and yelped affrontedly a couple of times in Archer's face.
"Sorry," Archer mumbled, picking himself up and straightening his Starfleet issue skivvies. His wardrobe door hung open and he grabbed a fresh uniform off it's hanger and quickly pulled it on. "You seen my boots?" he asked Porthos. The animal failed to reply and merely cocked his head enquiringly. "Well, you're no help."
It seemed pointless to spend time searching for footwear when who knew what was going on outside, so scooping his pet into his arms Archer pressed the door release and stepped out...
Confused, he glanced behind him once more and saw his disarrayed quarters, complete with window looking out onto the black vastness of space. But when he looked ahead he saw a bright warm day on an Earth-like plant, although he'd never seen any place on Earth quite so brightly coloured.
The sky was vivid blue and cloudless, the grass of the surrounding hills lush and verdant and the courtyard he'd 'landed' in was paved with shiny yellow flagstones. The squat buildings surrounding the yard were painted in every colour of the rainbow, and a few Archer wasn't sure he'd ever even seen before.
"What the hell?"
Porthos yipped in agreement and squirmed his way out of Archer's arms, leaping to the ground and sniffing everything excitedly.
"This has to be a dream. Has to be..." He pinched at the sensitive skin on the back of his hand: the accepted method of waking yourself from a dream. Nothing happened. "Maybe not...? A hallucination?" Well, if it was a hallucination he'd just have to ride it out, he supposed.
Archer stepped out of his quarters; the sun heated flagstones almost unbearably hot on the soles of his feet. He hopped awkwardly a few times trying to get used to the sensation before spotting a large pair of bright red boots lying just next to the wall of his cabin.
"Strange... but, hey, never look a gift horse..." He went to pick up the boots but found them to be attached to feet; feet that were poking straight out from under the bizarrely landed chunk of Enterprise. Archer gagged and turned away, only to find himself face to face with a childlike creature with enormous blue eyes and dazzlingly patterned overalls.
"Maffuse ola, w'atibi uc opidopi," the stranger said, with feeling. Though what that feeling was, Archer couldn't quite make out.
The creature pointed at the dismembered feet, and bounced up and down as he spoke again, "Uc opidopi lodf. Toko h'yu. Toko!"
"I'm sorry, really, I certainly had no intention of hurting anyone," Archer tried, just in case this strange little man could understand him.
"He's not angry, he's thanking you."
Archer started and looked up at the sound of the familiar voice, "Hoshi?" However the woman hovering above the ground by a good ten centimetres was Hoshi like he'd never seen her before.
Hoshi fluttered her sparkly pink wings and smiled benignly. "I am Hoshi, the Good Witch. That," she pointed a long silver wand at the unfortunate feet, "Was The Wicked Witch of the East. The Munchkin was thanking you for, er, dispatching her. They've been wanting to do that for years."
"Witch? Munchkin? Ensign, what the hell is happening here!"
Tutting, Hoshi flitted forward so that she was nose to nose with Archer and fixed him with a glare. "You aren't listening. I'm not an ensign I'm the Good Witch, okay?"
"Witch, right. Okay. I'm hallucinating that Hoshi's a witch." It didn't feel like a hallucination, but then perhaps that was a feature of hallucinations? Archer hadn't really had that much experience in the area. He decided he would much rather it be a dream, less chance of him being genuinely crazy if it was a dream.
Hoshi was still fluttering angrily, her pretty features twisted into an unnerving scowl. "A Good Witch, buster!"
Archer scrubbed a hand across his face. "Right. Good Witch. Got it."
"Maffuse jse q'op tiki lodf!" The little creature interjected, tugging on the hem of Hoshi's gown and making her list oddly to one side.
"Yes, yes, my dear." She smiled benevolently at him before turning back to Archer. "He says you should take the boots. They're very special, very powerful, and as you defeated The Wicked Witch you should take them. Besides," she leaned in close the captain's left ear and he caught the faint scent of sherbet from her as she whispered, "They're really pretty."
"I don't know..." He grimaced at the thought.
"Okay, okay, this is one weirdass dream." Gingerly he eased the boots from their previous owner's stockinged feet and pulled them on his own. They fitted snuggly, instantly comfortable.
"Very good," Hoshi said, floating back in order to get the full effect of Starfleet uniform matched with spangley, ruby coloured boots. "Now is there anything more you wish to ask?"
"Plenty. Like, where am I? And, what's going on? And, how can I stop dreaming and wake up back home?" He watched her hopefully as she reiterated his questions to the Munchkin and waited patiently as the Munchkin replied.
"Well... You're in Muchkin Town, Oz; you're here to help the people of Oz against The Wicked Witch, or so he thinks, judging by your entrance. And as for getting home, he thinks you should probably ask The Wizard."
"Wait, you said that I'd already killed The Wicked Witch?"
"The Wicked Witch of the East, silly. The Wicked Witch of the West is still around and even more frightening. The Munchkin thinks that you're definitely the man to do it, seeing as how you got rid of her so easily. Besides The Wicked Witch of the West will probably try to steal the Ruby Boots right from off your feet. You are the clever, compassionate, brave Captain Archer, aren't you?"
Archer nodded, standing up a little straighter, glowing with pride and trying not to think about boot stealing witches.
"And this wizard?"
"Just follow the yellow brick road."
"Follow the yellow brick road?"
"Yes, follow the yellow brick road."
"To go to see The Wizard?"
"The Wonderful Wizard Called Phlox."
Archer shook his head, and pinched the back of his hand again very tightly. "Ouch. Damn, still here."
"Off you go then," Hoshi said, pointing at the start of the road with her wand and shimmering in anticipation. "Oh, and be careful of The Wicked Witch!"
"Won't I need a weapon if I'm to defeat someone?"
"A weapon?" Hoshi laughed, a sound like tiny bells chiming, "You'll have your brain, your heart and your courage, what more do you need?"
But before he could answer she had disappearing leaving only a wisp of smoke behind.
"Well, Porthos, old buddy, looks like we've got a road to follow."
And off they went.