NOTE: Because I couldn't find if strikethrough can be done here, I'm using underline to indicate it.
Jenny couldn't sleep. She got up and saw the flashing PADD. A message. Okay. But it was still early.
I know she's alive and in a hospital. She's got something wrong, it's like brain damage. I don't really know. She said there were children in the hospital. I think they may have been visiting her. And I am a little a lot concerned that the connection may be fading a bit. I think we need to work more quickly.
"What are you doing up, Doug?" she asked the empty room. "It's not time to get up yet."
There was a chime at the door. She threw a sweatshirt on over her sleeping clothes. "Uh, come on in."
"Oh, uh, Ensign. Sorry 'bout this." It was Tripp Tucker. "And I know it's the middle of the night and all, but I, I was thinking. Something isn't adding up here. Um, I can come back in the morning."
She yawned. "No, that's okay. Inspiration strikes when you least expect it. So, uh, what brings you here?"
"Well I was thinking. The connection always seems to happen when she's asleep. And when Hayes is asleep, too. So I'm thinking, there's possibly some place in this system where we are whenever the connection opens."
"Did you find it? And, uh, why are you here?" Jenny asked.
"I'm getting to that, sorry. Anyway, I found, we seem to hook around the second-largest planet right around bedtime for anyone on regular shift. 'Course people get into bed at different times, and they fall asleep whenever their bodies let them. But it seemed like too big of a coincidence to just dismiss it."
"And the other place is right here. It's her bed. She doesn't, um, sleep walk, does she? 'Cause if she does, my theory's shot to hell."
"No. Talking, not walking."
"Oh? Huh, interesting. Saut้ing instructions at night?"
Jenny smiled. "A bit, um, earthier than that usually."
"Oh, yes. Er, shouldn't have asked that." Tripp said, Moving right along. As you can see, what I have here is a sensor and a recorder. We'll stick 'em under and see what happens."
"Uh, that's all well and good, but he seems to think the connection is breaking." she showed him the PADD.
"Huh, well that's no good. We'll go Old School then, and just poke around." Tripp got down on all fours and looked around the bed.
Jenny followed suit, on the other side. "What are we looking for?"
"Anything, I dunno, weird."
"Well, the mattress is kinda hard." she pointed out.
"Hmm." he straightened up and sat down tentatively. "Harder side is the left. Huh." He grabbed at the sheets. "Help me with these."
They took the sheets off the bed and then lifted the mattress. "Well, will you look at that." Tripp said.
"What am I looking at?"
"Right there. There was a small hole. And it was filled and stitched up."
"Somebody came in here and did this? The Calafans?" Jenny asked.
"Probably not, but it's possible. Here, touch that." he indicated the filled hole.
"It's not fabric. It's, it's like metal."
"Yeah. It's like someone was too lazy or cheap to cut out a piece of an unused mattress so they just soldered something together, stuck it in, sewed over it and hoped no one would ever notice it."
"We need to tell the Captain, Jenny said.
, too." Tripp indicated the PADD.
A little pacing in his quarters was not calming Doug down. It was early. Why did the break happen early? "That's the second time this has happened. Am I losing contact?" he asked the room.
He put his face in his hands and rubbed his weary eyes. "Stones. Rocks in my head if I screw this up."
The bed seemed harder than usual. It was difficult to get comfortable. "The last thing I need is insomnia."
He lay back again and went through his usual pre-sleep calming ritual thinking of Ganymede, Springtime. Before he'd started school.
Lili laid in her bed at the hospital. It didn't feel right. The bed just seemed to be too soft. She got up tentatively. "These will have to go." she whispered, removing the big tubes from her arms. She bled a little bit it wasn't severe. "Don't suppose I can ask anyone around here for a bandage."
Cautiously, she opened the door. 208
. She made a mental note and started to walk down a corridor, hiding in doorways when anyone was coming.
She walked down a ramp and that seemed to move her down one story. Calafans were coming. She tried one door, then another. Finally, one worked. She pushed in.
Doug was in the hospital again, but by himself. "Is anybody there?" he called out.
"Anybody." came a woman's echoing voice. A familiar voice.
"And that's when we realized we'd better tell you." Tripp said. He and Jenny were in the Captain's Ready Room.
Jenny was glad that she'd gotten her uniform on at least. "Uh, what do you think about the possibility that we're under a time crunch now, sir?" she asked.
"Maybe so." Captain Archer allowed. "Delaying isn't getting us anywhere. So, Tripp, what say you?"
"I think we're going about it only partly right, Cap'n, if I may say so myself. Getting Communications up is fine, and it follows protocol. But we should be getting transport up as more of a priority. Because I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that she's on that second-biggest planet somewhere."
"They could have hundreds of hospitals. And the children? What of them?" Jonathan inquired.
"There are probably a few million children there, Jenny pointed out.
"Yes, but the First Minister didn't he say he had kids?" Tripp asked.
"To quote the Commander, 'That seems logical.'" Jenny said.
"Agreed. Now, here, one more message for our man inside, Jonathan took the PADD for a few minutes. "Get back here, early morning."
This hospital room was different. The walls were red, not white, but it still had the awful smell.
Doug walked in. "Jennifer. Jennifer."
"Who?" she asked. Her arms were covered with coppery scrollwork patterns.
"You. You're Jennifer, he said, Do you have any idea where this is?"
"Where this is." she parroted.
"You've got it worse than Lili does, Doug muttered under his breath. "Well, here goes nothing."
He took her hand. No spark. He dropped it quickly. "Anything?" he asked, searching her hazel eyes.
"Anything." she parroted, and then vanished.
"And I tell you, Treve, they are still our inferiors, Dr. Baden pointed out.
"Yes, yes, I know that, Treve said, But these are people with warp capabilities. Even if we allow for our own personal prejudices and thoughts, we also have to allow for them having technological intelligence."
"And other kinds of intelligence?" Baden asked. "Treve, I will not tell your father or Polloria and we will consider this matter closed. You are a young man and just trying to experience life. But it should have been with a Calafan woman." he scolded. They walked into Jennifer's room.
"Ah, you're awake. Big day today. Festival of Ub and Fep, Baden said.
"Treve!" she smiled. "I, I, I."
"See? Inferior, Baden said.
"What are you trying to say?" Treve asked.
"I wonder what that means, Treve said.
"Probably nothing." Baden replied. "Here, we will need to dress her for Point Abic today. You've seen her naked. You may as well assist."
Lili looked around the room. Tons of machinery, most of it very loud. And a shrunken woman in a bed. There were tubes in her arms and her legs, which were covered with fading silvery scrollwork.
Lili tentatively sat on the bed. There was no one else there. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to intrude. I, I know who I am. Or at least I think I do. I don't think you can say the same."
The woman in the bed said nothing.
Doug's dream was changing, the walls were changing, turning from red to white. "Lili!" he called out.
He was able to glide through halls and down a ramp, seeing unfamiliar parts of the hospital. There was an ajar door. He stopped in front of it. "116." he read.
He pushed in and saw Lili sitting at a bedside. He called her name again, but she didn't turn around. He came closer. "Can you hear me?"
There was no reaction. "God, don't let this be the last of it, he said. He put his hand out but couldn't make physical contact.
Independent of his touch, Lili got up. "I'd better go now, she said to the shrunken woman. She pushed open the door and was accosted by doctors.
Doug felt himself pulled away, almost waking. "Probably really waking up now." he whispered. There was the PADD, as expected. He clicked it on.
Check the second-largest planet. And the First Minister, assuming he has a counterpart on your side. Let us know what you get.
Doug typed back.
Things are changing. I don't know how long I can sustain this. It's a big hospital, looks to be state of the art. Morgan Phlox would know. It's not her room, but check this one anyway once you're here: 116. I'll help as long as I can.
The general alarm went off, and he woke that morning for good.