"Roomie! Roomie! You up?" Jennifer asked.
"Huh, uh, yeah, I guess so, Lili blinked a few times. The alarm was going off. She turned it off.
"What's, um, what's happening?"
"I got a note from Fra-ank!" Jenny exclaimed.
"Oh. The hot planetary geologist?"
"The very same."
"So, how's life on Enceladus?"
"Oh, not the same without me, he's so sweet! He said he sees Saturn's rings every morning."
"Well, I imagine he would, Jenny, seeing as Enceladus is a moon of Saturn."
"Yeah, well, it got him thinking. And he said the ring made him realize he wanted to give me a ring! Roomie, I'm engaged!"
"Ha, that's fantastic, Jenny!"
Jenny lunged at Lili to hug her. Lili had never felt that close to her, but smiled and hugged her back. "Oh, you know, I feel just a tiny bit bad, Jenny said.
"Bad? How's that possible?"
"Well, you don't have anyone. I don't want to make you feel bad or anything."
"That's, that's kind of you. But I'm all right."
"Lili, I know you and I aren't close, but I still don't want you to be depressed. And as I plan the wedding, it might feel like I'm rubbing your nose in things."
"You're not and you won't. It's fine, Lili started to put on her chef's whites.
"Hmm, I should fix you up with someone. Before I become Mrs. Frank Ramirez and all, Jenny thought for a while. "How about MacKenzie? He's kinda smokin'."
"I am old enough to be his mother, Lili said, rolling her eyes.
"And I bet you could teach him a thing or two. Really, it'll be fun, we'll go to Movie Night, and we'll sit together, and then I'll just say I have a headache or something and oops! Suddenly, you're alone with The Mad Scotsman."
"You have been planning this, I see."
"Oh, c'mon, it'll be fun. They're gonna show this movie called Gaslight
. It's supposed to be about this guy trying to convince his wife that she's going crazy. It's, uh, mid-twentieth century. I think it's even in black and white."
"No. Thank you. I have to go anyway, Lili checked messages quickly. "Ah, another dinner, I see. I have to plan this today. I can't be thinking about Scottish guys in the Tactical Department."
"Not even just one?" Jennifer teased.
"No. Besides, what if he has Mommy issues?" Lili leaped out before Jennifer could answer.
Doug got to the Bridge right on time. Commander Tucker was talking to the Empress. "Ah, good, you can get in on this." Tucker said, by way of greeting.
"We got sensor problems. Lots of 'em. I am thinkin' at least half of the ones we thought were barely passable aren't any more. We probably stressed 'em too much." Tucker said.
"Can we move them around? Make do, and just not have working sensors in some less critical part of the ship?" the Empress asked.
"We'll need them for targeting, Doug said, Can't have any halfway measures there."
"Agreed, said the Empress. "Surely there's somewhere that we can borrow from?"
"Huh. We can probably get rid of a few of the redundant sensors in Life Support." Tucker said.
"Is that wise?" Doug asked.
"Well, I don't see any other option, Old Man." Tucker said.
"Can't you fix some of them?" Mayweather asked.
"Travis!" the Empress exclaimed. "I am working."
"Actually, can't you fix some of them?" asked Doug.
"A few. Maybe. We have no schematics, nothing we haven't sketched ourselves. This ship didn't exactly come with an Instruction Manual."
"Are we gonna have enough to fly the ship and shoot phasers? That's all I care about. Everything else, we can be blind for all I care." the Empress said.
"Yeah, I think so." Tucker said, But no shooting for at least a few days. We gotta go through all of 'em, see just how bad it all is. So, um, stay out of a war for a little while, okay?"
"Sure." the Empress said, How are your bluffing skills, Old Man?"
"Okay, I guess, Doug said.
Lili got through the breakfast rush unscathed. French toast for almost ninety people and one curious beagle. She'd have maybe a half an hour before the lunch rush would begin. At least the Executive dinner that night would be far less elaborate. She started up her PADD and typed. 'Service record: Jay Hayes
The computer pulled up a picture.
"There you are." she whispered. "But you're a little greyer now, and your hair's parted on the side."
Chef was coming back into the kitchen. She quickly turned off the PADD.
"That ship is hailing us, First Minister."
"All right. Let us begin."
"This is Captain Jonathan Archer of the Starship Enterprise."
"I am First Minister Chawev. May the light of Lo shine upon you."
The Captain gestured to cut sound for a moment. "How do I answer that?" he glanced over at Hoshi.
"Say something about there being not a lot of light from Ub."
"Okay, sound back on, please." He cleared his throat a little. "And may the light of Ub be diminished."
"That is our wish as well. We are called Calafans, the people of Lafa. I recognize the Vulcan female or rather her species. They have been here before and our memories of them are good ones. You are?"
"We are called humans, Jonathan said, We are from a planet called Earth. We are here to explore and establish peaceful relations."
"And, I suppose, gain a small strategic advantage from our position." The First Minister smiled. He was milky white in color, including long, flowing white-blond hair, with crystal blue eyes and silvery scrollwork markings up and down both arms.
"I am sorry. We are used to plain speaking here. I must show better manners. I would invite you down, but my wife is very ill."
"Maybe we can help. We have a skilled doctor on board, Jonathan offered.
"It is, it is our way to have our people treated by our own. But we appreciate your kind offer. May I speak with you tomorrow? I am also caring for my children while my wife is being treated."
"It must be a lot to do, Jonathan said, Tomorrow is, is good." He cut the communications line. "What was that all about?"
"Maybe he had to go pick up his kids from Little League, Travis said.
"Hopefully tomorrow his schedule won't be quite so full, Jonathan said.
"That ship has been in range for over a day. What are they waiting for, First Minister?"
"I cannot say." The First Minister scratched his arm. It was reddish brown and covered with coppery scrollwork markings.
"Ready?" Doug asked the Empress.
"Let's do this, she said. He opened the Hailing Frequency for her. "This is the Defiant, flagship of the Terran Empire."
"I am First Minister Chawev." came the reply. "May the light of Ub shine upon you."
"Surrender now and avoid damage." the Empress threatened.
"What if my people refuse?" asked Chawev.
"Then we will start destroying your cities, one by one. You have four " the Empress glanced over at Doug who gestured for five. " five days before we start shooting. Out."
"That went well, she said, Travis, you're gonna be busy for a while. Doug, no interruptions unless they surrender."
"Of course, Empress."
Lili wheeled the cart back into the main conference room. Now it was the entire Executive group, including Tucker and Reed. She began handing out sandwiches. "Tuna melt for you, Ensign. Pastrami for the Captain, uh, Ham and Swiss on unseeded rye for Lieutenant Reed. Turkey for the doctor, seitan in a pita for Commander T'Pol, Philly Cheesesteak for Ensign Mayweather and a chicken salad on a croissant for Commander Tucker. Salads, too, help yourselves. It's family style, she said, grabbing her grilled cheese on a bagel and sitting down.
"Ensign, we are back here because of not only what we were talking about yesterday, but we feel this may be becoming a tactical issue." The Captain said, not even waiting for everyone to finish eating.
"Well, sir, I would ask that not everyone on the ship be informed of what's going on. I mean, it's my private life."
"True, but we are concerned." T'Pol said, It is not logical that Major Hayes would be back from the dead."
"No, it's not, Lili allowed. "He tells me he's from another universe."
"That is one possible explanation." T'Pol said, But there are other explanations."
"We don't think it's a time shift, Jonathan said, At least, I don't think it is, because of the, of the doctor's findings."
"Let's not get into too many specifics, okay?" Lili asked. "Brownie, anyone?"
"Oh, those do look good." Lieutenant Reed said, It is, well, there's a possibility that it's an attempt to get some sort of information out of you. I, I don't mean to be indelicate, but by creating a reasonable facsimile of the Major a familiar person making him interested in you and then you could very well be putty in his hands. Or at least that would be the plan, I suppose. Oh, this is rather good. Did you make these, Ensign?"
"Yes, I did. And, um, he hasn't asked me anything tactical. I mean, what would I know anyway? All I do is cook."
"Even if he just asked you where the ship is going, or how fast it's going, those could give him an advantage. We don't know much about the Calafans." Tucker said.
"The very high presence of testosterone seems to indicate that this facsimile may have been created by somehow altering Klingon DNA, Phlox offered.
"You've already decided that Doug is a facsimile?"
"Who's Doug?" Hoshi asked.
"The Major's name was not Doug, it was Jay." Reed said.
"Doug is him. He is Doug. And he looks like, like Major Hayes, because in another universe, he is Hayes. But there are differences. And the name is one of them."
Hoshi typed away on her PADD. "Wait a second, she said. She pulled up Hayes's service record and read from the PADD. "Jay Douglas Hayes. Born December 5th, 2102. There's a lot more of course."
"He said his middle name was Jay. So he's Douglas Jay, and the one from here, he was Jay Douglas, Lili pointed out.
"Ensign, are you being asked to provide compromising information?" T'Pol asked, point blank.
"No. No, I'm not. We don't talk about work. He asks me what food I make, sometimes, to make conversation. And he tells me about his work sometimes. He says they're having problems with their sensors. But I don't know anything else."
"Are you absolutely certain?" Jonathan asked. "I this is an awkward situation. No one here wants to judge. And this is all going to stay completely confidential. We just worry that you're being fed a line of bull."
"I see you're all terribly concerned about me, Lili said, rising.
"No, it's not just for tactical reasons that we are concerned." Reed said, If you were my sister, I would not want you to be hurt. Hayes was he and I were not friends. But we gained a grudging respect for one another, and he died a hero. I know that Jay Hayes would not try to hurt you."
"But nobody knows who or what Doug Hayes is, Jonathan said, This might be as romantic and beautiful as you believe it is. I hope that it is, for your sake."
"Th-thank you, Lili said, looking down. "You, you don't understand. We have a real connection. He is Doug is I can't explain. Not without just spilling everything. And I won't do that unless you can come to me with conclusive proof that he is some, some facsimile, and this is only being done to gain some sort of a tactical or negotiating foothold. And, by the way, if that were the case, why exactly was I targeted? Why not pick even my roommate? I don't run the ship, I don't service Life Support, I don't pilot, I don't fire the weapons or anything. If someone's trying to gain an advantage, they made an awful decision as to who to target, yes?"
While the Empress and Mayweather were otherwise occupied, Doug surreptitiously opened a PADD at his console. He typed: 'Service Record: Lili O'Day'. Nothing. 'Service Record: Charlotte O'Day'. Nothing. 'Service Record: Lilienne O'Day.' Nothing. Hmm. 'All Records: O'Day'. Approximately 77,000 hits. 'All Records: O'Day, last fifty years.' Approximately 53,000 hits. 'All Records: O'Day, last fifty years. House fire.' One record. Cautiously, he opened it. There were pictures of a destroyed home. And the news report was a grim one. 'Titan: June 12, 2118. Four members of a family were killed today when a kitchen fire went out of control. The dead are Peter O'Day, his wife, Marie Helκne Ducasse O'Day, and their two children, Declan, aged 7 and Charlotte Lilienne, aged 9.' He clicked on a picture:
"Oh, you, he said softly, and closed the PADD before anyone else could see what he was doing.