“Do you have all that?” Lili asked.
“I don't know. You're right; I'll need a PADD next time,” Yimar admitted.
“We managed to use a spoon all by ourselves yesterday,” Yimar explained.
“You did?!” Lili broadly smiled, addressing her son, “You're such a big boy now!” She paused for a second, “I'm missing that.”
“Just keep working on what you've been doing. I'm sure you'll be able to get back here soon. And, uh, Lili, can I ask you a question?”
“It's totally off-topic. And I mean totally,” said the teenager.
“Uh, all right.”
“Do you know why Brian doesn't like me?”
“He, like, totally blows me off sometimes. And he's not always nice to Chip, either!”
“Actually, Yimar, I think he likes you. A lot.”
“Yes,” Lili chuckled a little, “He's just shy. And he doesn't have a lot of experience around girls of, of any species. And I think he thinks you're too young.”
“For humans, you are. You're supposed to be eighteen. I mean, you could kiss, but you shouldn't be, um, Yimar, you should be having this conversation with your mother.”
“I can't talk to my mother like I can talk to you. She can barely string three words together.”
“Yimar, your mother's been through a lot. She's been very ill.”
“I know. But I need to talk to a Mom.”
“If – uh, when – I get back, we can have a long talk, okay?”
“Okay. I bet you didn't have these problems when you were sixteen.”
“No, I had other problems. I played baseball so the boys all thought of me as one of the guys. But that was a long time ago,” Lili smiled, and then felt the tug of morning.
Yimar felt it, too, “Gonna wake up soon. I'll tell T'Pol everything I remember.”
“Don't forget the PADD tomorrow,” Lili said, then addressed Joss, “Be a good boy for Yimar. I love you.”
Malcolm knew she was talking in her sleep, and not saying those three little words to him, but it was still a rush to hear them, in her soft voice.
Exercise, that day, was less eventful. Jennifer walked around with the others, compliant, bowed, a little broken, perhaps.
On the men's side, Doug walked behind a Vulcan, “Do you have any idea what's gonna happen to my kid?” he asked.
“We do not have that information.”
“But, I mean, are they, Gawd, are they served up as filets or something?” he asked anxiously.
“Quiet!” yelled an Imvari guard.
“That's hardly logical,” said the Vulcan, “There is an enormous amount of effort and care being taken to assure that they are being born alive and healthy.”
“Hmm,” Doug thought for a moment, “Then, uh, is this for some sort of an alien pet store? Are they puppies, wagging their tails, licking hands and hoping to be adopted by kindly families with boisterous alien children?” his voice was rising.
“Becoming overly emotional will not answer your questions,” The Vulcan chided him.
“How many have you lost to the Witannen?”
“Two,” The Vulcan admitted, “Going through a form of pon farr every single night is ... difficult,” he stated, “It is not what we would choose for ourselves.”
“Yeah, I hear that. What's your theory on what happens to them?”
“Speculation is useless. But this ship is large and fast-moving. Perhaps they are being kept as eventual replacements for all of us, the ones you see before you.”
“Mr. Masterson, work with Yimar on what she has to tell us.”
“Yes, Commander. C'mon,” he said to Yimar, who was holding Joss, “Let’s go look at the database.”
“Okay. Now, I only know what I can remember.”
“Understood,” he said, punching a few buttons to get the screen to light up. Start talking.”
“Lili said there's five species there. Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Andorians and, um, Xindi.”
“Know what kind of Xindi?”
“I forget,” Yimar said.
“That's okay. What else?” he was tapping away, quickly.
“Cookie,” Joss said.
“We'll get a cookie later. Um, the Xindi were picked up, uh, three years ago. I think it's called Beta Colony,” she adjusted the child in her arms.
“Hmm. Looks like there's no Beta Colony. I think it's Betar. Yeah, that should be it. So, huh, that was 2156. Here, let's map that. And here's where our people were grabbed, about a week and a half ago. What about the others?”
“She said the Andorians were there the longest.”
“Yeah, we got that, it was almost ten years ago, on a ship, uh, here,” he added the data to the map, “Who else?”
“Klingons were somewhere in between. I forget when. And the Vulcans were the most recent – two years ago.”
“Got any information on where the Klingons and Vulcans were grabbed from?” Chip asked.
“No. Oh, and Lili said they were replacing the Kreetassans.”
“So they were picked up, huh, let's assume it's not the exact same time as the others were yanked. And, here, let's put these up tentatively – Klingon and Vulcan home systems, Kreetassan home system, too. I'll use orange to show those, green for the ones we're surer about,” he finished tapping in the coordinates and stopped to admire his work for a second.
“Cookie?” Joss asked again.
“No, cookie later, okay?” she said.
“Will you look at that,” Chip said, whistling slightly through his teeth, “I do believe we have something. Commander, can you come here a sec?”
Deb followed a Klingon, “Do you, uh, do you think the guards are corruptible?”
“Corruptible? What would you propose to bribe one with?” asked the Klingon, laughing a little to herself.
“Uh, I dunno. Sex, I guess,” she hadn't really thought that one through.
“An Imvari would bust you in two. I imagine they're even bigger than my Kolos,” she pointed, “The greybeard. He was a political prisoner when we were picked up – as we all were.”
“Oh. Huh. Just a thought.”
“Griud over there – he likes the ladies,” she said, indicating one of the Imvari, “But, like I said, I hardly think you have what it takes.”
“Hmm. Thanks. I think.”
“Are these coordinates and dates correct?” T'Pol asked.
“As correct as I can make them so far, Commander,” Chip said. He traced the arc on the screen, “So we have a segment of an ellipse, it kinda looks like, going from this part of Andorian space, to possibly the Kreetassan home system, through to the Klingon home world, maybe, then to the Xindi Betar Colony. Then it doubles back to Vulcan and, eventually, to the spot near the Lafa System where our people were grabbed. So it's not a perfect arc. They might have, I dunno, picked up supplies as they went along,” he speculated.
“And the continuing course?” she asked.
“Looks like it heads past the Solar System and then, if we take it to its, heh, logical conclusion, right outta the galaxy,” he said.
Travis walked in front of an Andorian, “Can I ask you a question?”
“I suppose. But I was raised with manners in the Diplomatic Corps. I am called Serin.”
“Oh. I'm Travis. Do you think there's any way to resist the effects of the gas?”
“Hmm. I'm not sure,” Serin said, “But satisfaction can calm the urges. Just as it does when there is no gas, of course. You have noticed this, no?”
“I guess a little.”
“Do you think the people who were grabbed from each species, do they have purposes? Other than the obvious,” Hoshi asked a Xindi.
“Hmm. We have a government worker and a student. But also a pilot, two weapons officers, uh, four engineers and, I think we have a Communications person but he and I have not been together yet.”
“We have, uh, two pilots,” Hoshi ticked off using her fingers, “an Armory officer and a former one, two Engineers, me, I'm in Comms, a Security crew member, our Captain and a Chef.”
“We also have an Armory officer,” interjected the Klingon who was walking behind her, “Three pilots. Two in Communications. I am the only Engineer. Plus an advocate and a Captain. The last one, I do not know.”
“Hmm. So we might all have at least one pilot, one Communications person, one Engineer and one Armory officer. Might or might not have a Captain as well. Then the others are mixed. They don't seem to matter quite so much, I guess,” Hoshi concluded.
“Plus every species is warp-capable,” The Klingon said, “The Kreetassans were here before you. And, before the Vulcans, there were Calafans. I don't know about earlier.”
“Thanks,” Hoshi said, “This was really helpful. I think.”
“So, thanks for the cookies,” Yimar said to Brian later, in the cafeteria, “I think Joss really liked the square one. What did you call that again?”
“A brownie,” he said.
“They're really nice,” she said, “Like someone I know.”
He reddened. She had to mean Chip Masterson. Of course.
Back in the cells, Doug and Melissa sat together, eating, “So who do you like in the preseason?” he asked.
“Hmm. That new quarterback from Brandeis looks promising. What's his name?”
“Culp,” he said.
“Y'know, Doug, at some point we should probably have some sort of a serious discussion.”
“Yeah, I guess so. I'm just not sure what I'd say.”
“Me neither,” Melissa admitted.
“I love my wife,” he said, “I do. But I'm also getting, I'm getting confused. I don't like being confused, and I don't like sitting around and doing nothing.”
“Understood,” she said, “And I love Norri. And I respect your marriage.”
“Yeah. Whatever shape it's in now.”
“Do you think you could stand on my shoulders and reach the panel?” Tripp asked.
“Didn't someone else try that?”
“Yeah. But we got a little while before we get, uh, all happy and stuff. I won't let you fall, I swear.”
“You better not. How tall are we together?” she asked nervously as she stepped onto his interlaced fingers.
“Over three meters, I'm sure. Maybe close to three and a third, three and a half. Okay, now, step up. Stay steady.”
“Uhhh. I hate this.”
“If you're scared, I'll letcha down. But I won't letcha fall.”
Hoshi reached up and touched the panel, “I think I can get my fingers into the grid.”
“Is it fastened with anything you can recognize?”
“There are round holes. Not too deep. I'm guessing the fasteners are in there somehow,” she leaned back a little and swayed, “Okay, that's enough. Please let me down.”
“All right,” he said, letting her down and holding her until she calmed down a bit, “See, I didn't letcha fall. Hmm. I bet we can work with that. Now, let's think. What's round?”
He hadn't done it with her without the assistance of the gas before. It felt pretty good. She was attractive, and more than willing. He made sure that she enjoyed herself, and did his best to please her. When they were done, he said, “Deb, give it to me straight.”
“Really good. And that's not just the crush talking, Jonathan.”
“You make me feel like I'm younger than I am, like I don't always have to be so responsible all the time.”
“Well, you're still in control, you know.”
“Just, let it be a bit more equal,” he said, “That's the problem with relationships like ours. They're too unequal. I can decide to fire you at any time if it doesn't work out. And that's just too shaky for anything, you know, lasting.”
“We'd never be together without this all happening,” she said, “I know they didn't know that when they decided to pair us up. But it's almost like it was designed to make me never want to leave this place.”
“It's a gilded cage,” he said, “But it's still a cage.”
She grabbed his hands and kissed him the moment she saw him.
“Uh, what's this?” Malcolm asked, aroused but also a bit amused.
“I just want to do it before they help us along chemically,” Lili said.
“Oh. Well, I believe I can accommodate that,” he smiled at her, “You make me incredibly happy.”
They kissed, and she took off his shirt slowly, “Just right,” she said.
“All right, Goldilocks,” he said.
“I know,” she said, “that I've been all over the place emotionally. Pregnancy will definitely do that. But this is different. It's more,” They kissed deeply.
He swallowed a little and looked her in the eye before he kissed her again. It was what he wanted. Exactly, precisely, no argument, no deviation
There was a hissing sound, and they both looked up.
“Right on schedule,” he said.
“It feels wonderful,” she said, “Just right. Together.”