When Lili looked up, Beth was standing over the pale Polloria, with a weapon pointed at the Calafan. Jennifer was in a similar stance with the ruddy Polloria, who spoke. "What a rough bit of business it must be for you boys!" she exclaimed. "Watching your women take charge like that. Letting them do your work for you."
"This one," the pale Polloria said, "just treats the sick and injured, a nursemaid and nothing more. This one allows his woman and it's either, or both of them, I can't be bothered to know which one it is, to do the job while he sits back and trembles, scarred face and all."
"And that one, said the ruddy Polloria, indicating Doug. "He's no snarling beast and certainly no soldier, not any more. A mere family, ha, man. A poor choice on our part. We should do better next time."
"We should get a Klingon next time." the pale one said, They don't allow themselves to be shackled and collared."
"What makes you think you'll have another chance?" said Beth. "You know, I have no idea what this weapon is set on. It would be a pity if it was set high. Now, let's see. We can see what happens when it's pointed at an arm. What if I point it at your suede head and let it fly?"
"Or that, said the red one. "But your kind are weak."
"I don't see you holding any cards, Jennifer said.
"We're under the Calafan system of laws, not yours." the pale one said, Killing us just means that you're now subject to our jurisdictions as well. And most of you are already on Lafa II on one side or the other. You'll confess in your dreams. And when you do, you'll be disposed of."
"You're lying, said Lili, finding her voice. "Yimar said you don't have the death penalty."
"For our people, no. But for other species, well. Despite how satisfying it may be to slay us, it merely means you'll be slaying yourselves, said the darker one. "And that one," she indicated Doug, "he's got it in his fool head to stop killing, although it's in his nature. You do have a tight leash upon him! What is it you do, that he is countering his very nature? What kind of pleasures do you offer?"
"They're just trying to get us all angry so we'll make mistakes, Doug said quietly, standing up and helping Lili up as well. "And then they'll try to take advantage. Don't fall for it."
"You, Miva said, indicating the pale one. She had been silently weeping over Baden's body but rose and seemed to be gathering her strength. "You are going to lose your dreams. You'll be pumped up with so much potassium it may even end your miserable existence. You forget that their side knows exactly where you are. You're already rotting in a prison cell."
"And me." The red one smiled sinisterly. "I'm as free as a beast of the air. You see, you stay here," she gestured in the direction of Doug and Lili, "and I go. And no one need be the wiser."
"Lili, wake up!" Doug said.
"I can't." she tried. "I just can't. Phlox?"
He shook his head. "It seems we are being held here involuntarily."
"Yes, now aren't you sad that you didn't do things the way we asked?" said the pale one. "If you had, Douglas, you could be awake when you wished, and enjoying a regular life, such as it would be. But now, so sorry, but you're here to stay. You can't see or hear the waking world now."
Lili dropped Doug's hand and went over to the pale Polloria. "And if we kill you here?"
"We're holding the keys to the prison we've placed you into. Tell you what," said the dark one, "you allow us out, and we'll drop a key for you."
"Or you," Lili said, addressing the pale one, "you go. Only you. But before you do, you tell us where your counterpart is."
"You won't turn us that easily, said the red one.
The silvery one said, "Why should I do that?"
"Because they may not figure out the details, but we'll be searched for. And someone is going to find Baden's body. Isn't he in the same prison as you are?" Doug asked.
"Ye-es, she said cautiously.
"And he's got a large hole in his torso, right?" Miva asked. "Oh, my poor Baden."
"Be tough for them to miss that." Tucker pointed out.
"And if you tell us where she is," Jennifer said, "maybe at least you will be able to keep your nighttime life. What I've learned from Treve is, you're all dependent on it. Not having it hurts you like a death hurts you, because it is a death to you. They could intervene with the government and get you a bit of leniency."
"We could do that, Lili said.
"Don't listen." the ruddy one said.
"I'd say it's your best option, said Beth. "Death here, dream death there, or maybe you get to at least maintain your status quo. Not that that's so wonderful, but right now it's all that you've got."
"Point Abic. The, the dishes." the pale one said quietly.
"It's crowded there, no one will see me, said the red one, beginning to disappear.
Beth just moved her arm over and down and shot. There was a shriek and some drops of blood when the ruddy Polloria had completely departed. "I, uh, don't think they'll miss an ankle injury, she said.
"You said there could be leniency." the pale one said, shaking a little but maintaining her hold.
"Yes, Doug said, And I promise that we will try."
"Dr. Phlox! Dr. Phlox!" came a voice from far away.
"That sounds like Hoshi, Lili said.
"We can hear the outside world, Doug said, Thank you, he said to Polloria.
"You owe me." she replied
"Doctor! Doctor!" Hoshi called through the Sick Bay intercom.
"Y-yes?" Phlox shook himself awake. "What seems to be the trouble?"
"You and Doug are late for that meeting. I'll patch you through now."
"Oh, uh, all right, Phlox said, Hayes!"
"Uh, yes?" Doug shook off the cobwebs.
"We can take it here. Let the Ensign rest a bit. Without dreaming, hopefully." The two of them went through the parted curtain to a different part of Sick Bay. "Ah, Captain!" Phlox said, once he'd gotten the communication to display on a little screen. He took a look at Doug's arm. The bleeding had stopped.
"Good to see you. Just about ready to start, Jonathan said.
"Actually, Captain, we need to contact the surface first, Doug said, They should check the dishes area. I think they'll find their escaped criminal. And she won't get too far her ankle is hurt."
"Hoshi, can you send out a message?"
"Yes, of course." Hoshi left the conference room briefly to do as was requested.
"Now, we are meeting in order to assess our condition. Tripp?"
"Everything's workin' except for communications outside the Lafa System itself. I figger it is the sodium vapors that are continuing to give us a hard time. We get past those, I think we'll be good to go."
"Good, Jonathan said, Doctor, Hayes, I asked you to participate because of Ensign O'Day. How long until everything is, uh, resolved?"
Doug looked at Phlox. "Your call, Doc."
"A little less than two days from now, he said.
"Do you and she still want to settle here?" Jonathan asked.
"Yes, Doug said, More than ever."
"Seems foolish to just leave and come back." Tripp pointed out.
"A logical course of action would be delaying for two more days." T'Pol said, We can continue to take readings on the effects of the quadruple star system."
Hoshi came back in. "It's done. And, Captain, once we have communication back with Starfleet, I imagine there will be a lot of letters and reports. We should stagger them a bit."
"Reports? Oh, man, I had forgotten, Doug admitted. "I, uh, Captain?"
"Can I ask a, a small favor?"
"Looking at Jay's records, I know that his, his next of kin was a sister, he had a sister, Laura. I would like very much for her to not find out about me through some press release or other means, other than me just telling her. She doesn't deserve to be traumatized by seeing my face on her view screen, looking for all the world like Jay's back from the grave."
"How do you imagine we'll explain any of this?" Malcolm asked.
"If you want to talk about multiverses and the Calafans, I won't stop you. And I don't want you to lie to Starfleet. Just, um, if you can tell them that there was just this human male, if you have to mention me at all, that he was just here. This system is a crossroads. It's not an impossibility that someone could end up here, Doug said, I haven't really thought this through, but I think that Laura Hayes maybe shouldn't have to get all the gory details, not just yet, and I know that your regulations would require Starfleet to inform her of, of something if I made it into the official report."
"I'll sleep on it, Jonathan said, Oh, and Hayes?"
"Since we have a little more time together, we'd like to do a debriefing with you tomorrow. Can you would you tell us everything you remember about the Defiant
"I, huh, I was thinking about that, if I owed them any loyalty whatsoever, Doug admitted. "I'm thinking that I don't. They never really did anything for me while I was there. I'll tell you what I know."
"Tomorrow, then. Archer out."
The Sick Bay doors opened. It was Brian Delacroix, holding a large bag. "Doc, where do you want this?"
"It rather depends what that is."
"It's your dinner, sir. And the Ensign's, too."
"I didn't ask for ah, please tell Chef that I appreciate the kind gesture. And you were very thoughtful as well."
"Sir, Chef didn't think of doing this. Lieutenant Commander Hayes did."
"Oh, well, uh, thank you, Phlox said. Brian left. "Hayes," Phlox said, "you did not have to do this."
"I don't have a lot, Doug said, But I do have my gratitude for what you've been doing. And she needs to eat, right?"
"Something easy, Phlox said, looking in the bag. "Ah, soup for her. Good idea. And a turkey sandwich for me. I don't imagine you knew that I like them. Did the Ensign tell you?"
"No, actually. I didn't think of this until Reed and I were at the gym. I asked Del to just pick out something you liked."
"Let's see if she's up for it." The doctor said.
Lili was. "Ah, chicken noodle. Chef made this a few months ago. Nothing says love like leftovers. It's still warm."
"Here, let me help you, Doug said.
"No, it's okay. I can feed myself."
"You can do a lot of things but right now I think you're very tired. Let me." he insisted.