It was a large room, and it reeked of synthbeer and pretzels, spiked with a little vomit.
"Down in front!" someone yelled behind Lili. She ducked.
"I said, 'down in front'!" the person yelled again.
"I already ducked!" she yelled back, then turned around and was face to face with a familiar man. He looked like, who was he? The picture on Jenny's desk. Her fiancé. "Frank Ramirez?" she asked.
Ramirez didn't hear her. "C'mon, Dr. Morgan!"
Morgan turned. "Very well. Cretins." he departed.
Lili looked around. Drunks everywhere. Men groping various women. Strange uniforms. Dim lighting. No one seemed to notice her.
There was a communications chime, and she awoke.
The main conference room was filled with Executive level personnel. Lili arrived last, still tired, uniform on. It was only fifteen hundred hours, but she wasn't hungry and wasn't sure she could function.
"Ah, good." Captain Archer said when he saw her. "On screen."
Hoshi fiddled with some controls. Treve and Chawev's faces filled the room's screen.
"So you have a proposal for us?" Jonathan asked.
"Yes. We have – I will come clean with you, Captain." Chawev said, “By doing this, we are hoping for a decreased punishment from our government."
"Well, the motivation is immaterial so far as I'm concerned,” Jonathan said.
"Captain, we have made, we have made contact with our counterparts." Treve explained. "It is, this is a rare thing. We consider it to be a form of, of incest."
"But we have news, and we believe it may be good news." Chawev added. "Treve's counterpart is with a female human. An engineer. And she believes that, in particular due to a boost from the sodium vapor flares between Ub and Fep, this will work."
"An engineer?" asked Tripp.
"Yes. She said her name was Jennifer,” Treve said, “She seems to be a rather old woman."
Lili smiled slightly. "Jenny's a lot of things but old is not one of them."
"Be that as it may," Chawev said, "she is familiar with both your style of ship and hers. And thinks that a crossing-over is possible."
"A crossing over?" asked Malcolm.
"Yes,” Treve said, “We think it may be possible – with enough power from your ship, the night side's ship, the stellar sodium vapor flares and our resources on the surface, to bring a night person over to your side. Permanently."
"Permanent?" Doug asked quietly. "How so?"
"Here's the plan." Tripp said, steering Doug into an unoccupied conference room. "We set the transporter to go to the planet. I don't really care where so long as we don't land in two meters of water or anything like that. Beth and I transport down. You lay charges on the coordinate computer and the transporter pads – any of the pads we don't occupy – and, once you've confirmed we're safely down, you set 'em off. Even though the coordinates are recorded elsewhere on the ship, they'll be in such a panic they won't notice that for a while as they'll be busy putting out a large fire. And shuttles are slower than transporting, so even if they get a shuttle out and pointed in the right direction, we're gone from our landing coordinates. And with most sensors down, and the two most senior engineers gone, no one's gonna be too good at determining where two humans are in a sea of Calafans, who have fairly similar physiology. Blend in with the locals as best we can, you can probably guess the rest."
"And my benefit in all this?" Doug asked. "Other than giving the Empress what-for?"
"Well, I figure you can shove MacKenzie off to Engineering if you like. They'll be shorthanded there. Or send over anyone else you don't like. Build your team with any new lackeys you want."
"No. I got a better idea. I go down too and we set the charges to go off on a timer,” Doug counteroffered.
"Or that." Tripp said, “There's no confirmation that way. Plus little cover. With my plan, Beth and me, we get some cover."
"You're asking a lot of me and not providing a lot of benefit,” Doug pointed out. "I mean, what makes you think I don't want to be gone, too?"
"What are the specifics?" T'Pol asked.
"The process is three steps." Treve explained. "At least that is how Jennifer sees it, and I think she is correct. The first is collection, the second is amplification and the third is transmission. The collection portion is performed on her ship – which she estimates has about two to three times the power of your own. The, the subject reconfigures the transportation device to accept considerably more power than usual. And then sets coordinates – which we will provide – placing him in the midst of the thickest placement of dishes on Point Abic. Transportation would take longer than usual as there is no room for error and the touchdown has to be perfectly precise."
"How long are we talkin'? More than a few seconds in a transporter stream is pretty torturous." Tripp said. Hoshi nodded.
"About an hour, but it must be this way." Chawev said, “This is no mere transport; it is moving this man over to the other side of the septum between the two planes. It is going to take some time."
"He's a soldier,” Lili said, “And strong."
"What's the amplification piece?" Jonathan asked.
"The dishes will pick up the signal. For the subject, it shouldn't feel any different. The dishes will then project the signal to its final destination, which is your ship." Chawev explained.
"How long does that part take?" Travis asked.
"Much less time. A few minutes at best,” Treve said, “But it's the final piece, transmission, that will take the longest."
"Getting the subject from our surface to your ship – I assume to your transportation pad – will take the better part of a day." Chawev said, “Your ship has less power than the other one and, well, as I said, this is no mere transport."
"That kind of waiting will be bad." Tripp advised. "I don't think anyone's been in a transporter stream that long without suffering from pattern degradation."
"We don't believe that will happen,” Treve said, “But of course we cannot be certain."
"Did you – have you spoken to Doug about this? What does he think?" Lili asked, daring to hope a little.
"Oh, we didn't know which human male he was." Chawev said, “Didn't want to target the wrong one, you know."
"So he doesn't know?" Hoshi asked.
"Not yet. We will need to make contact and inform him, also give him the specifics,” Treve said.
"Can't we just give him a PADD with the info?" Tripp asked, indicating his own PADD, which was on the table in front of him. "I mean, you want to see him and all, Ensign, but he should have this info in writing."
"You cannot truly just leave equipment on the other side,” Treve said, “He would be able to type on the device and read it but not move it anywhere. And the preparation will take a little while and movement to a few places. Plus, of course, we must be certain that the right person knows what to do. And that person needs to have it impressed upon him that time is of the essence. The sodium vapor flares provide enough of a boost to make this scenario possible at all. And they are fading. Starting the process tonight – giving him perhaps an hour to prepare and reconfigure the vessel – is our best possible shot."
"I don't know if I can make contact properly anymore,” Lili said, “I was just there, before this meeting, and didn't see him and no one could hear me."
"It's gone asynchronous,” Treve said, “Which happens when a less skilled contactor is asleep and the subject is awake. You'll need a bridge over the septum. I can, my father and I, we can do that, through meditation."
"I'm no engineer,” Lili said, “I don't know if I'd be able to explain what needed to be done. And, I admit, I'll probably be distracted."
"Can, um, can you take a passenger with you when you make contact?" Malcolm asked. "That seems to be what Ensign Crossman was, on the other side. Is that correct?"
"Yes. She was a passenger. She isn't a contactor at all. She was making physical contact with my counterpart at all times,” Treve said, “A passenger on your side – particularly one who stayed awake – would absolutely need to maintain physical touching with the contactor."
"I volunteer." Tripp said. Malcolm gave him the slightest of looks but it was gone in less than a second.
"Commander?" Lili asked.
"Yes. I volunteer. You said it yourself, you can't explain the nuances. But I can. That all right with you, Cap'n?"
"We need to discuss this. Stand by." Captain Archer said. The screen darkened for a moment. "Impressions? And make them quick."
Travis said, "I don't pretend to know a lot about this, but I think people should be happy."
"He did help us find Lili." Hoshi pointed out. "I think we owe him."
"There may be a tactical advantage to bringing Major Hayes here,” Malcolm said.
"The Major could be a dangerous individual, possibly a criminal." T'Pol said, “And this course of action is risky and unproven, and could damage the ship."
"Even if the Major himself is no threat, he could be carrying any manner of microbes that we would have no immunity to. It could be like European settlers bringing smallpox to the Earth's New World,” Phlox stated.
"You all know my position,” Lili said.
"I agree that we're risking damage to the ship." Tripp said, “But we're here to explore and to, to take risks. And I don't think this is a foolish one."
"Give me a moment to think, then get them back on, Hoshi,” Jonathan said.
"So you'll do it the way I like?" Doug asked.
"All right." Tripp said, “You got an hour to get ready and pack whatever you want. We gotta take advantage of most of 'em being too drunk to care. And don't forget to pick up the charges."
"'Course not, I'm a professional."
"Yeah, I know, Old Man." Tripp said.
"Objections are duly noted,” Jonathan said, “And we will make sure that Hayes goes to Quarantine immediately upon arrival. No reunions, no talking, no detours. He runs to Quarantine, with Tripp here running the transporter. Tripp will get Hayes to Quarantine as fast as possible. And the Ensign, too, of course."
"Thank you, sir. I don't know what to say,” Lili said.
"Well, we don't know if this will work at all,” Malcolm said.
"True. But for now, there's but one thing to do,” Lili agreed. "Commander Tucker, let's go to bed."