Location: Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
Baden's dream was its usual beauty.
"Miva!" he called out.
"That's Doctor Miva to you, she said, kissing him. They were a tangle of arms, his silvery scrollwork complementing her coppery arms.
"I know that, he said, And that isn't exactly news."
"Yes, well, I should be treated with respect."
"I treat you with plenty of respect, my love."
"That's true." she agreed. "We have been together a good forty years."
"Do you remember how we met?" he asked, hands around her waist.
"Of course. We were at the Abic Festival. And everyone was meditating and I was sitting with Ennewev and they were all droning on and on."
"And you were listing the bones of the hand in your head."
"I had exams coming up, she said.
"Me, too. And so I answered you you were stuck on the bones of the Fep finger."
"That's right." she kissed him. "I can't stay long; I'm dozing off in a patient's room. A human male."
"I love you most of all, he said, Even more than my daylight wife, when I had her. I know that's not supposed to be, but it's true. You and I are better suited for one another."
"I love you almost the same as Ennewev, she said, Almost."
"I can accept that, he said.
Doug toweled off. There was a communications chime. He covered himself and then answered it.
It was Hoshi. "There's going to be an Exec level meeting in two hours. Can you come?"
"Sure, but I don't work for the Enterprise."
"Captain Archer says it concerns you. It's about when we're leaving the Lafa System."
"I'll be out of uniform, he said.
"Doesn't matter. Main Conference Room. See you then. Sato out."
Doug dressed and then thought better of adding the shirt and jacket. Just the tee. "You're gonna get sick of this outfit, Lili, he said to the empty room.
He picked out clothes for her. Jeans. Socks. Sneakers. A grey Mars Culinary Institute hoodie. Turquoise tee shirt. Plain lingerie. "You don't have a lot of sexy things." he mused. "So that'll be one Christmas present."
Phlox was waiting in Sick Bay. "She's very groggy."
He was right. She perked up when she saw him. "Hey, you."
He bent over and kissed her, then sat on a stool next to the bed. "I brought you clothes for when he springs you."
"Not the turquoise hoodie, though. You were, um, you were wearing that when you thought you were gonna break up with me."
"That's right, she said weakly. "We should give it to the poor."
He took her hand. "Whatever you want."
Phlox parted the curtain and came into the bed area. "Lieutenant, ah, I see the problem."
"Problem?" Doug asked.
"Heart rate is up, so is respiration. Maybe, uh, give her some time right now. Hold hands later."
"Okay, Doug said, dropping Lili's hand gently onto the bed. "I'll be back later."
"All right, she said, and closed her eyes.
"Doc, are you still handing out naming rights for the operation?" he asked.
"I suppose so."
"Name it after her, if it works."
"The O'Day Procedure
"The O'Day Reversal
, Doug corrected.
"It's not exactly a re that word means a lot to you, doesn't it?"
"Yes. It's about turning everything around, Doug explained.
"The O'Day Reversal
it is, Phlox said, walking back to another part of Sick Bay.
Doug sat back and looked at her, watching her falling asleep. He had not slept for the entire time she'd been in danger. It was all too much, and his head tipped back. He was sawing logs soon.
There were two women, identical but for the color of their arms. They were each holding a weapon.
"Who are you?" Doug asked.
"We are both called Polloria, said the silvery one. "And it's good that we're finally able to have this meeting."
"We've been waiting, said the coppery one.
"Oh?" he looked around the room but it was bare. It looked like the inside of the Calafan Main Hospital and smelled of the same cleaning solution. He could not yet see where he could gain an advantage or escape.
"Oh, yes, said the coppery, ruddy one. "While you've been busily attending to your lady love, there have been many, many plans made."
"And you're going to be right at the centerpiece." agreed the pale one.
"Yes, Douglas. Oh, don't look so shocked that we know you, said the coppery one. "When we brought the human female down on my side, and we scraped her brain, we found a great deal of information about you. And that was interesting, and I filed it away mentally, wondering when and how I would use it."
"And then the doorway between the sides was shoved open." added the silvery one. "It provided an ideal opportunity. For being High Priestess was a nice idea and all, but it was a small ambition. Now, our ambitions can become considerably, ha, larger." her eyes lingered over a meter lower than his own. Even though he was fully clothed, he involuntarily covered himself for a second.
The ruddy one smiled. "Well, there's that. The female did mention where and how well you'd spread your seed. But also how you'd spread weapons fire. And that was more impressive. One hundred forty-six dead by your own hands! Let's see, fourteen humans, eighty-six Denobulans and most of them in one day! How efficient!"
"Eleven Andorians. Two Vulcans. One Xrillian. Four Kreetassans. Two Suliban. Oh and twenty-six Klingons! Most impressive. They are big, powerful beasts." added the pale one. "And that's just the ones you got in person. When we count you pressing a lever or pushing a button and using a Tactical station on any ship, well, the figure jumps to the thousands if not tens of thousands."
The ruddy one said, And I'm we're sure there's more where that came from."
"I don't do that anymore, Doug said.
"You will, said the ruddy one.
"Not so fast. You see, we're in your head. And we can get into anyone's head, including your lady love's, said the pale one. "That's one thing no one's told you about these connections Calafans can alter them as desired, and we can go where we like and see whoever we wish."
"And most of them, foolish, lovesick ones, they waste their time on sex and socializing." added the red one. "But there's more to it than that. For an inferior species such as yourself, we can control your thoughts. Move you in any direction, lead you around by your noses and pull your strings."
"I'll still refuse."
"Oh? These aren't just dreams. You should have figured that out by now. These weapons we are holding they can still harm you, said the pale one, shooting.
She hit him in the left arm, just above the elbow. Involuntarily, he made a noise and covered his bleeding arm. The wound was painful but didn't seem to be down to the bone. Still, he was bleeding a lot. He applied pressure.
"You really won't like it if I aim about a half a meter down and to my left." the red one said, Although it would be a pity to lose that."
"Now, you will begin to understand, said the pale one. "We can do this to you. And we can do this to her."
"It's not a real wound, he said.
"Oh, but it is. Just like you can release seed over from one side to the other, we can release firepower. And, you see, at any time, we can invade your woman's dreams, said the pale one.
"And aim this at her head, said the red one. "Or oh, this would be delicious how 'bout if it's aimed farther down? When she's carrying your child, let's say? A shot straight to the abdomen will dispatch both."
"Oh, you know how I prefer efficiency." agreed the pale one.
"What do you want from me?"
"Something rather simple. You go in there. Room 116 of the Main Hospital. And all you need to do is, kill the woman in the bed. It's easy. You've done it dozens of times before. Smother her with a pillow, strangle her, bend your knee over her collarbone and snap it, oh, use your imagination, said the red one.
"I can't get there, even if I wanted to."
"Oh, but you're there already, said the red one. "This is a dream, remember? We can get you anywhere. So go and do away with the High Priestess."
"You said that wasn't a big enough ambition for you, Doug said, trying to think of a way to buy time.
"We did. But this is not so much to take care of her although it is a nice bonus, said the pale one. "Rather, it's to cement our new partnership. And get you back into the swing of killings. After all, it's been a few years. So a simple assignment to start, and then we'll work our way up."
"What's your what's your bigger scheme?" he asked.
"You. You're going to be our virus. You see, you take care of Yipran. And that will turn you the way we like, said the ruddy one. "And we'll be able to manipulate you as we ... desire." she grinned at him. "And any human you touch and come in contact with awake or asleep will pick up on it. Your lady love you won't be able to avoid touching her for long. Your doctor. Your friends. Everyone from the captain of the vessel to the girl who cleans the carpets. And that vessel will return to your own space, and spread the infection. It'll go to your home world, to your government and wherever your species is. It'll cross over and affect other inferior species, like Denobulans, as well."
"You're an ideal vector. Strong and capable and with a difficult to control aggressive streak, said the pale one. "And you're here permanently. See, Calafans can shuttle from one side to the other, but no one else can. You're here, and you're head and shoulders above everyone else. You're already a natural battlefield leader and you have a good level of access. And you will pass the connection on, from person to person, and they will pass it on."
"Like a plague."
"A gift." corrected the pale one.
"I think Tripp's doctor is asleep, Jennifer said to Beth. "I'll try to wake her."
Lili could not stay awake. She drifted away.
Dr. Phlox, not hearing noises, came to check. He saw Doug's bleeding arm and brought over a bandage, and touched Doug on the arm.
Baden and Miva's dream was changing. They were in the hospital. And there were eight people in the room, plus the two of them.
"My, this is a lively party." the ruddy Polloria said.
Lili went over to Doug. Phlox followed. "You have the same injury in Sick Bay, he said quietly.
Doug swallowed hard. "You were going to tell me," he said, "what your greater goal is."
"Oh, really. Humans are so stupid." the pale Polloria said, Again. You do as we require. Whatever that is. And by turning you, we get to turn your entire species, in time. And you won't refuse us because we can get to this one at any time." She smiled. "Enough talk. Time for action."
Doug stood at attention, emptying his mind. Lili stared at him. She could hear voices in her head both Pollorias. They were debating exactly what to do once Doug was turned. Doug was silent.
Lili looked around. Everyone else was being quiet and doing almost the same thing as Doug, with varying degrees of success. Tripp was holding on to Beth's arm. Jennifer was at attention. Phlox was applying pressure to Doug's arm. Baden was holding hands with Miva. No one seemed to be ... thinking.
Wait, her mind said. Don't empty your mind. Fill it.
Don't empty your mind. Fill it.
She took Doug's hand and squeezed it. Don't empty your mind. Fill it.
With what? he seemed to ask, in her head.
Anything. It doesn't matter.
She stared at the others. It doesn't matter. Just anything. Anything at all.
'The bones of a normal Calafan hand are as follows', Miva thought.
'Once upon a time, there were three little pigs', thought Beth.
Tripp thought, 'To achieve a stable warp field, you must first ....'
Lili thought, 'Recipe for Rosemary-Walnut Focaccia Bread. First, combine two standard packages of quick-rise yeast with ....'
'Long ago, when the universe was young, there was nothing but Lo.' Baden began to think.
Jennifer's thoughts: 'My first boyfriend's name was Robbie Bashir. He kissed me and told me we'd get married. We were both six at the time. My next ....'
Phlox began naming all of his relatives.
Doug thought, 'How to field strip a phase rifle. The basic parts of a phase rifle are as follows: the trigger, the hand grip, the barrel, the sight ....'
The Pollorias looked at each other. "Get them to stop!" called out the pale one.
"It's a diversion!" yelled the red one. "Stay focused!"
The thoughts accumulated to just so much buzzing. It was white noise, just like Lili had heard during the festival. She barely saw Jennifer moving to her right, slowly.
Doug dropped her hand and moved to his left.
'I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!'
'The Fep finger has three bones ....'
'Feezal 's children are Fenna, ...'
'Bake for forty minutes or until the top is hard and makes a hollow sound if you rap on it with your knuckles.'
'The intermix ratio should be ...'
'David Stevens, then there was ....'
'Those children can now be seen in our stars ...'
'Place the bolt into the locked position ...'
Doug ran at the pale one. Jennifer and Tripp ran at the red one. A shot was fired in the confusion.
There was the sound of several kilos hitting the floor.
"Help him!" came a woman's cry. Phlox ran over.
"Oh, my love, said the injured man. "If I cross over because of saving you, then it is all worthwhile."
Hand held. Blood spilled. Life drained.
Miva looked up, trembling. "He is lost."
Lili felt an arm around her. It was bleeding at just above the elbow. She could feel a shoulder, a neck. She buried her head into the chest.
"I'm here, Doug whispered to her. "I'm here."