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|February 8 2012, 09:49 PM||#31|
Location: Between the candle and the flame
|February 9 2012, 05:50 PM||#32|
Fumes. Smoke. Polluted. Awful.
He fought off sneezing. Sneezing in a dream? He pondered that for a split second. No stranger than anything else that had happened during the past week or so.
He walked through white fog and shadows. "I can't find you." he finally said, in exasperation.
"I can't find you." came her voice.
"Talk to me!" he yelled joyfully. "Talk!"
"Yes, talk. Tell me about, about pasta and, and Titan and blue dresses and baseball. Just, just talk to me and let me find you!"
"Yes! Just speak, babble, it doesn't even have to be coherent." he could tell he was closer but something was off.
"Bab, babble, she said cautiously. "I, I, Yipran."
It was less foggy, and less white. It was ... silvery.
"Hmm? One more sentence. A few more steps."
"Awake. Four. Friend."
"No, you're sleeping, he said, reaching a silvery shape. It was a curtain. He parted it.
She was at least, it seemed to be her lying in a bed. Large tubes in both arms. Unfamiliar monitoring equipment behind her. Arms were, strange, wearing long patterned sleeves.
"Sleeping?" she asked.
"Yes, Lili. You may not believe it, but you are sleeping." he came closer.
"Believe, she said tentatively, then looked at him quizzically. "Who who are you?"
Treve really didn't want to be there alone, late at night, babysitting a hazardous alien. Still, he had his studies with him. Might as well be productive. History. Philosophy. Nothing too exciting but not too bad. The life of a future diplomat, he thought to himself. A diplomat to inferiors.
The alien stirred.
"Oh, you're up, he said.
"Up." she parroted.
"Yes." he came closer for a look. "You must be very old. Your hair is so long. And no calloo any more, too, just bare extremities when we plucked you."
"Yes, calloo. It's what those patterns on your arms and legs are called. Once they're gone, you're close to dying. Doesn't matter what from you're ancient if you have no calloo."
"Yes. Like you. You're very old. But still strong. Odd, he said, coming even closer.
She grabbed at him, which surprised him. "Old?" she asked.
"Yes. You. You are old, he said, but he didn't make a move to take her hand away.
She smiled at him. "Not. Not old."
"Hmm. Maybe not. I don't even know if you humans have calloo. Doesn't matter. I wonder what else is true of your anatomy, he said, beginning to enjoy her grip on him.
"Anatomy, she said, smiling. She pulled her thin hospital shift up.
"Oh, he said, looking down at her. "You may not be able to speak much, but you don't seem to have forgotten this." he bent over for a closer inspection. She then grabbed his bald head and kissed him.
"What?" she asked.
"What do I want to do? Is that what you are asking?"
"I," he smiled, "I am a bit flattered, I admit. I have not been with a woman. Not an alien and not a Calafan. And I'm tempted to find out just what sex with you would be like."
"Sex, she said, licking her lips. "Like."
This time he initiated the kiss. "I, I should tell you. When we, we Calafans, uh, mate "
"Yes, when we, when we mate, my, uh, my climax, it takes a while. Everything swells up so that I can release as much, uh, sperm as possible. Things might be at least that is my understanding might become sticky. Or, or tight."
"Tight, she said, hands all over him now, clutching at his clothes to get them off.
Doug was stricken. "It's, it's me. It's Doug. Your Doug."
He was very close, and reached for her. She shrank back.
MacKenzie was ambling through the halls. Sure the Empress wanted him in for repair work. Ugh. How dull.
He spied a lone female. "Haddon!"
"Everyone's busy. I'm just getting off shift, finally." she complained.
"Wanna get off another way?"
"I'm with Masterson." she pointed out.
"Haddon, until Crossman is back, you'll be, uh, otherwise engaged every night. Up for it?"
She looked around and weighed her options, then followed him to his quarters.
"Don't, don't be afraid of me. Please, please, don't be afraid, Doug said.
"I, I don't, don't ..." her voice trailed off.
"I don't know what's happening with you, he said gently. "You, you seem sick or hurt somehow. You're in some sort of a hospital, I think. And you don't seem to know me. But I know you. And, and, I will not harm you."
"I, I don't know you, she said, voice trembling.
"And you don't seem to know yourself, either. You, you are Lili O'Day. You can cook and you can laugh and you are, you are, uh, responsible for me becoming, well, becoming sane, he said.
"Let me, let me touch you, he said softly. "Just, please. I've waited so long."
She closed her eyes and braced herself. "God," he said, "what did they do to you?" He reached closer. Several centimeters away, a spark leapt from his hand to her arm. She jumped and cried out incoherently. "Oh my God. I am so, so sorry. I, God, I've made a mess of it. I, I never, never meant to hurt you."
She looked up. "Like, like stones."
"You, you remember something, he said quietly.
"Yep." he took her hand and the sparking stopped. "I'm going to get you out of here."
Treve and the alien woman were done and he was contemplating another round. "That was delicious, he said to her.
"Yes, well, I wish I knew your real name, but I'm afraid I don't. And I can't go around calling you by my own mother's name, even if everyone else is going to."
"Yes. You, you have a name. And so does everything else. Like, like here." he pointed to her left hand. "Correct hand. And the other one is the incorrect hand."
"Yes. Correct and incorrect, both sides. And here," he took her hand. "Thumb." he kissed it. "Ub finger." he kissed her index finger. "Fep finger." he kissed the middle finger. "Abic finger." he kissed her ring finger. "And Lo finger." he kissed her pinky.
She leaned over and kissed his arm. "Calloo."
"Yes, that's right. But I don't really have much in the way of calloo yet. I wish I could ask you how old you are. I suspect you're younger than you appear to be, but there's no way of confirming that, not really." He touched her lips and she smiled at him.
"You are a naughty alien, he said, I have no basis of comparison, of course. I, I, one thing that can happen when we Calafans mate is, we pair bond very strongly. I didn't think that was possible with an alien. It's not supposed to be."
"Bond, she said, Pair."
"Do you want to have another go?"
"Yes!" she said.
While they were kissing, the door opened.
"How?" she asked.
"That's, uh, to be determined."
She shook her head, shaking off cobwebs. "I, oh, where am I?"
"I wish I knew, Doug said, You'll need to gather the clues yourself. I can only see whatever you can see."
She looked at him intently. "I, I think I may know you. But I can't place you."
"Treve!" It was Dr. Baden.
"Oh, my!" Treve sprang to his feet. He covered himself with his right hand.
"Incorrect hand!" the alien woman pointed and giggled.
"What have you done?" Baden asked.
"I, I, isn't it obvious?"
"Yes, but with an inferior? Treve, this is an old military tactic. It's a weapon in an arsenal."
"It was what we both wanted, Treve said.
"Inferiors don't give consent. They can't. Their minds can't wrap around it. Get dressed."
Treve didn't have to be told twice. "Doctor, uh, doctor, I'm so sorry. Please, please don't tell my father or Polloria. Please."
"Allow me to explain this to you." The doctor said, once Treve was dressed. "Actually, not in here. Come with me." They walked into the next room. "Treve, that is an alien. They are no more sentient than the animals in the streams and the fields, that we use for our food. You cannot do such things and not expect there to be consequences."
"I, I know. I don't know what came over me."
"The Festival of Ub and Fep is tomorrow. No time to really do anything about this until after that. And the alien will be eliminated by then, Baden said.
"Don't tell me you've pair bonded."
"You'd best not have. Polloria doesn't want any complications."
Doug smiled at her. "That's something, at least. I, I don't want to give you too much, too soon."
"Is there, is there a lot?"
"Yes, he said, thumb caressing her fingers. "There is a lot. There's everything."
"Are we, uh, are we together?"
"Kind of. It's a lot to explain." He sat down on the side of her bed. "You and I aren't even awake right now, which is even crazier. But you and I, we, uh, it's very special."
"Are you in the room with me?"
"No, not, not really. And I don't even know where the room is. Do you, do you have any clues?"
"There is a doctor. At least I think he is one. And children."
"Yes. They are, they are my children."
"No. They aren't. You're being sold a bill of goods."
"A, a what?"
"Um, you're being lied to, Doug said, Anything else?"
"It smells bad. Like cleaning solution, I think. And there is, there is my, he says he is, my, my husband. Am I, uh, having an affair with you?"
Doug smiled. "It's not like that." He felt the tug of morning. "I'm going to wake up soon. And the connection will be broken until we both fall asleep again. I know that makes no sense and I don't have the time to explain it right now. I can tell you're recovering but I think you'd better make it look like you aren't. I think if they think you're a lot better, they'll try to figure out why. And then they might cut this connection off again somehow."
"I, I can't pretend to understand, she said, I'm not even sure I can trust you, but you seem warm and, and I don't know. There is just something."
"Yes, there is definitely something, he said, I would like to kiss you but I don't want to alarm or upset you in any way. But I can't help telling you that that's what I want to do."
She smiled at him. "I, I feel like I barely know myself. But I feel I am a loyal person. Whether I am loyal to this, to my husband, or to you, I cannot tell."
"You'll need to be careful, remember that. Please don't let them think you're more recovered. You've got to go back to just saying a few random words." He kissed her hand. "The best hand. I couldn't resist." He got up.
"Will you be back?"
"Count on it."
He disappeared into the mist and, before he awoke, he typed out his findings.
|February 10 2012, 02:31 PM||#33|
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.
"Tell him, 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.
|February 13 2012, 04:00 PM||#34|
"Oh?" she arched an eyebrow.
"Yes. It's your son. He shredded my Derellian bat with that knife of his."
"And you're actually complaining to me?"
"Well, it was a lot to clean up." Morgan pulled back. "I like a clean Sick Bay."
"Yes, well, you know that Jun has to practice and become skillful. Or would you prefer that he practiced on his sitter?"
"That would be even messier. But the bat, you see. It makes a certain enzyme. Very helpful for treating infections. I won't be able to get another one until we leave this wretched system."
"Can't you just put bandages on everything? Really, Morgan, you know that science bores me." The Empress said, Ah, the gang's all here."
Doug got to his station, where MacKenzie was standing. "Dismissed, he said to Aidan.
"No. Keep him here. And you two, stay." Hoshi indicated Haddon and Delacroix. "I have good news. Or, rather, Commander Tucker does."
"Uh, yes." Tripp said, We can get a shuttle bay open."
"There, Baden said, Almost like your mother in her prime." He stood back to admire his work. Jennifer was dressed in a floor-length copper gown with no sleeves and a huge slit going down the front, stopping just before her navel and then starting up again below her knees.
"I wish we had a mirror; you should see yourself. You look good, Treve said.
"Mirror, Jennifer said, Treve."
She touched his face. "Good."
Baden became angry. "Treve, you must control her. Nothing can go wrong today."
"Yes, yes, of course, Treve said, Here, sit down, he said to Jennifer. "We'll leave soon."
"Soon, she said.
"What are you doing?" demanded one of the doctors in front of Room 116.
Lili blanched. "Doing?" she parroted carefully.
"She must've gotten lost, Dr. Baden said, Here, come back with me. Slowly, let's not reopen the arm wounds. You should not go running off like that." he scolded Lili.
"Running off, she said quietly.
"No. You should not be doing that. You need to rest. You are not well." he shepherded her back to her room, where Chawev, Polloria, Treve and the children were waiting.
"What happened?" Chawev asked, a little alarmed.
"Exploring, I think, Baden said, The festival could not have come at a better time. We are losing the connection."
"You sure about that?" Captain Archer asked Commander Tucker.
"Yeah, Cap'n." Tucker said via communicator. "I got a shuttle bay good to go. Can maneuver 'em both out, the way I see it."
"Thanks. Get up here. Archer out, Jonathan returned to the Bridge.
"Sir, take a look, Hoshi said, pointing to the screen.
"That's a lot of ships, Jonathan said.
"They all seem to be going to the second-largest planet, Travis stated.
"And look over there, Malcolm said, Sodium vapor flares are increasing between the two smallest stars."
Hoshi listened in. "Wait, wait a second. I think repairs are working. I've got, wait, wait."
"Can you get a message out?" T'Pol asked.
"I, I think we can listen but not speak, Hoshi said.
"On screen, said Jonathan.
"Greetings, Calafans!" It was Chawev, who appeared to be alone on a huge podium. "Welcome to the Festival of Lo and Abic."
"Malcolm, assemble a strike team, Jonathan said, Travis, you'll pilot." he clicked open a communicator. "Dr. Phlox, I have an assignment for you."
"Oh?" came Phlox's voice.
"Yes. You, Tripp and T'Pol are off to a hospital."
"Very well, sir."
"Hayes, put together an assault team." Hoshi commanded.
"Delacroix, Haddon," he called. "And, uh, Mac."
"Sir, someone has to man the Tactical Station." MacKenzie pointed out.
"Mac, are you afraid?" Doug asked pointedly.
"Uh, no sir."
"Good. I'll get someone else up here, Doug thought for a second. "I need a pilot. Can I take Travis?"
"Yes, yes, of course." she took the Communications controls from Haddon. "Gimme those." She fiddled with them for a moment. "Hang on, I've got coordinates. Second-largest planet. A place called Point Abic."
Morgan stood up. He was a thin man who was mostly nose. "I'll be in Sick Bay. Unless you think for some reason I should run the Tactical Station." he sniffed haughtily.
"No. Empress, Cutler can do it, Doug said.
"Yes, Cutler can. She can bring Jun here and he can watch his first assault, Doug said.
"Good idea. Always thinking, aren't you, Hayes?" she smiled. "Now get down there and get my Second Engineer back."
Jennifer fidgeted. The gown's fabric was itchy. She grabbed Treve's knee once and he looked at her in terror. "Don't do that." he whispered. They were in the fourth row and probably no one could see, but he couldn't be sure.
"Tre-eve." she smiled at him. "When will this be over?"
He got even more scared. So far as he knew, no one had said the word 'over' to her. The connection was fading and she was fully recovering. And could become very, very dangerous.
Tripp and T'Pol piloted the shuttle while Phlox sat behind them. "I wonder if either of you have any ideas about something I found." Tripp said.
"Oh? You don't want to concentrate on this mission?" T'Pol inquired.
"Well, I think it's a little related." Tripp explained. "Plus we got a few minutes."
"Oh? I am as ready as I suppose I can be, Phlox said, So, what is your question?"
"I found I was looking in the Ensign's bed and also in the beds in storage. Even Hayes, Daniels and Cutler's old beds. And a lot of them had these, these metal discs in them. Just sewn up at the bottom of the mattress. I looked and I didn't have one, and Ensign Crossman and I didn't see one in her bed, either. So I think they weren't put there by the Calafans. But, strange."
"I fail to see how that's in any way related." T'Pol said.
"Actually, Commander, were any of the discs, were they coins?" Phlox asked.
"Yes." Tripp said, One of them, I think it was an old Greek drachma from Earth. Kinda rubbed down, hard to really tell. That mean anything to you?"
"Absolutely, Phlox smiled. "It's an old Denobulan tradition. A coin is placed in a bed in order to induce profitable dreaming."
"Profitable? You mean like, to make money?" asked Tripp.
"No, profitable in the sense of, well, more like productive. Solving problems and all. Perhaps some of the Enterprise's beds were produced in a Denobulan factory."
"Maybe." T'Pol allowed. "And the relation is?"
"Well, I was thinkin'." Tripp said, What if the coins are somehow magnifying what's happening to Ensign O'Day? I mean, no one else had wacky, vivid dreams, right? But she's sleeping on top of a, an amplifier of some sort. Don't know if Hayes is on his side, but if he is, that might be a reason why they were thrown together."
"Fascinating." T'Pol said, There is the Main Hospital."
"We can't be certain it's the right one, Phlox pointed out.
"Let's give it a try." Tucker said.
"And now my son, Treve, will tell the story of Lo and Abic." Chawev said. There was thunderous applause.
Treve got up. Lili had been sitting between him and Baden. "Now, you must be very quiet." Baden whispered to her.
"Quiet, she said.
|February 13 2012, 09:31 PM||#36|
Location: Between the candle and the flame
|February 14 2012, 03:21 PM||#38|
Lili was hot. It was stifling on Point Abic.
Treve continued. "But they did not know, that they lived at a crossroads, and that there were others. Night people."
Now Lili pricked her ears up.
"At night, Lo thought she was with Abic. And Abic, he thought he was with Lo. But Abic was with Ub. And Lo was with Fep. From dusk until dawn, Abic thought he was loving Lo, pleasing her, being one with her. But it was tricky Ub instead."
"And it came time and Ub and Lo both became heavy with child. After they gave birth, it was clear that Abic and Fep were not the fathers they thought themselves to be. They made sure the next time, and Ub and Lo became pregnant again. Those four children were banished to the stars by their parents, and we see them today in our sky, Treve said.
"Let us pray, Treve said. The entire audience became silent.
Lili was nodding off. It was just too hot.
Doug was sitting in the back of the shuttle with Deb Haddon and Brian Delacroix. Travis and MacKenzie were piloting the shuttle.
Doug was beat. Double shifts were doing him in. He closed his eyes for just a moment.
"You're back!" Lili called out.
"You couldn't hear me last time, when you were in the room with that, that sick woman, Doug said, taking her hand in his.
"Doug, I was awake then. Strange. Doug, I think the connection is unraveling."
"Yes, I think you're right. Where are you?"
"On the summit of a place called Point Abic. I'm supposed to point to a woman named Polloria when I get a cue."
"Hmm. Do you think this is the final connection?"
"Yes, Lili looked at him with shining eyes.
"Regrets?" he asked her.
"None from my time with you, she said, I feel I should be telling you something strategic, but all I want to do is kiss you."
Doug only hesitated for a moment. "Lili, I love you." He then kissed her more forcefully than either of them expected.
"Wake up, Old Man!" Deb shoved him in the shoulder, hard.
"Ha, Old Man, are you crying?" Delacroix asked mockingly.
"No, 'course not. Just allergic to something. Probably MacKenzie's aftershave. You're not supposed to bathe in it, Mac."
"Someone likes it that way." MacKenzie said.
"Almost there, Travis said.
"Well, here it is. Room 116." Tripp said, pushing the door open.
"There is no indication of a human in the area." T'Pol said.
"That's definitely not the Ensign, Phlox said, I, I wonder what we are supposed to be doing here." he clicked open a communicator and contacted Captain Archer.
"Well, interesting, Jonathan said.
"Captain, I don't believe it would be ethical for me to treat this woman. So, what should I do instead?"
"I think, Phlox," Jonathan said, "that instead you need to diagnose her. Archer out."
"Very well, Phlox said, But I am beginning to feel this is like Fenna all over again."
"What's Fenna?" Tripp asked.
"Fenna is not a what. Fenna is a who. Or, at least, she was, Phlox explained. "Commander, kindly investigate what those tubes are for while I examine the, the patient."
T'Pol did as instructed and began tapping on her PADD.
"Here, set down here, Doug commanded, indicating a small clearing.
"No, here, Travis said, bringing the shuttle down in a more forested area.
"Whatever, Doug muttered quietly under his breath.
"And now we will contact the others." Chawev announced to the crowd. "Be with who you desire."
Lili could hear people whispering and murmuring around her, and they were mainly answering, "Be with who you desire."
Everyone but Lili closed their eyes. She could suddenly hear not one, not two, but thousands of voices. She looked around. No one's mouth was moving. Their eyes and lips were closed, yet she could hear them. Yimar's voice: "Grandfather, I miss you." Baden's: "Come to me, Miva. It has been too long." Chawev's: "It is time."
Then Lili noticed that Treve didn't have his eyes closed. Her eyes met his briefly and then he stared straight ahead, avoiding her gaze.
The murmuring became a louder buzz, and Lili noticed that Baden appeared to be aroused. A quick glance confirmed that a lot although not all of the men were in a similar condition. The buzzing became louder and lost all coherence until it was one long shriek of undefined noise. She covered her ears and could not block it out. It stopped suddenly. "Group sex?" she asked Treve quietly.
"Not exactly." he whispered. "Can't explain right now."
"And now, Calafans!" Chawev called out. "Yipran is back! And she is here to designate her successor!"
"You'll need to stand up now, Treve said to Lili, helping her up.
Jennifer looked around the packed venue. "I choose, hmm, Treve!" she called out, giggling.
"You can't choose him. It has to be a woman!" Polloria was seething.
"Oh. Well, Jennifer spun around and pointed. "Her."
It was slow going in the dense forest. Doug and Deb Haddon were in front, followed by MacKenzie and Travis. Brian Delacroix was bringing up the rear.
Large animals trotted all around them. "Looks like game to me." MacKenzie aimed his phase rifle.
"Focus, Mac. Our objective is the summit, Doug said.
"How do you know where to go, Old Man?" Deb asked.
"I just, I just know. C'mon."
There was the softest of clicks. The sound of a safety catch coming off. Doug had a split second to hit the ground.
"Fenna is, was, well, there really isn't an equivalent human word for it. She was not my daughter and not my niece. She was my wife Feezal 's child but not mine, not biologically. But I cared about her, of course. She was family. She was very young and very, very foolish, Phlox began.
"Lots of young people are." Tripp pointed out.
"To be sure, Phlox agreed. "She met a man who was thoroughly inappropriate for her. And, and it did not turn out well at all."
"It is my understanding that Denobulans wed three persons, not one." T'Pol said.
"That's almost always the case. But in very, very rare instances, a one-to-one bond is formed. That would not have mattered so much, except that Zoph turned out to be violent, Dr. Phlox said, Here, let's take this tube off the patient's leg for a moment while I get a reading. Zoph, well, he beat Fenna. He beat her so severely that she ended up precisely this way: in a persistent vegetative state. Feezal agonized over the decision for years. And Zoph didn't make it any easier for her, and blocked her at every turn. We finally ended up taking him to court for control over Fenna's medical future. We, fortunately, we won our case and Fenna was taken off life support machinery. She died peacefully or as peacefully as is possibly, given the circumstances. But Zoph. I am not, I like to think I am not a vengeful person. But ...."
"But you can't help being angry that it's him who's alive and not her." Tripp said.
"Precisely, Phlox said, Hand me the scanner, please."
Lili stood and blinked a few times in the heat. "I, I don't understand. Why does there have to be only one High Priestess?" she asked. "Why can't every woman be a High Priestess?"
"Because it's not done that way!" Polloria was apoplectic.
"Wait, wait." Chawev said, The, the government will debate this important question. We are, we are adjourned."
"How very interesting. And disturbing, Phlox said.
"Yes." T'Pol added.
"Wanna clue me in?" Tripp asked.
"These tubes are delivering almost 100% pure potassium to the patient." T'Pol said.
"Well, isn't that a good thing? It's like food, isn't it?" Tripp asked.
"In smaller doses, yes. And I don't pretend to know Calafan physiology that well, Phlox said.
"But?" Tripp prompted.
"I would say, in my considered medical opinion, that the excessive amounts indicate a far different motivation. Do you concur?" he asked T'Pol.
"I do, she said.
"And ...?" asked Tripp.
Dr. Phlox said, "I believe this patient is being poisoned."
"Father, what shall I do?" Yimar asked. Jennifer was still pointing at her.
"Uh, stand up. Let the people see you. Acknowledge them, and see if they will accept you."
"It's not supposed to be a child!" Polloria yelled.
Yimar got up and the crowd roared.
"What does that mean?" she asked, a little shakily.
A shot was fired.
Doug knew not to get up, but he did have to lift his head in order to see what was going on. A hand shoved him down again for an instant, and another shot was fired.
He raised his weapon.
"Don't bother, Old Man. I took care of it." Haddon said, putting her weapon back.
It was Delacroix. She'd blown away most of his face. He was writhing on the ground, clearly incapable of recovery.
Doug looked at Delacroix. "Fifteen, he said, and prepared to fire.
"No. Allow me, Travis was grinning and, before Doug could stop him, he had dispatched Delacroix, by grinding his boot onto what was left of the injured man's neck.
Doug winced and looked away for a second.
"I get to move up, right?" Deb asked.
"Yeah, Doug said grimly. "That's the rule."
"Good!" she chirped.
"Hey, Haddon, Travis said, coming over, not even bothering to wipe off his bloodied boot. "I got a job for you." He licked his lips.
"Oh?" she asked.
"Yeah. Gotta have it right after. This won't take long, Travis said, reaching for her.
"We're on a mission, remember?" Doug bristled. "Have your fun later. The Empress will oblige, I'm sure."
"Since when are you so formal?" MacKenzie said, I'm sure she'll do you, too, Old Man. That is, if you're capable."
"We don't have the time, Doug spat out. "Oh and when we're done, and we've got Crossman back, do me a favor? I figure you owe me, Travis, for letting you finish Delacroix off, like I know you like to do."
"Depends what it is, Travis said, annoyed that his fun had been spoiled, but recognizing that he did owe a small favor.
"Yeah." Haddon said.
"Let me stay out here on this rock. Tell the Empress you fragged me. That way, you can get a promotion, too, Mac. No muss, no fuss. You can even tell her I cried for mercy and anything else that gets you your jollies. But me? I'm stayin' here."
Calafans were pouring down the hillsides. Malcolm and his team couldn't make any headway. "Let's rendezvous with the other shuttle." he suggested. "We're too outnumbered to do anything here."
|February 15 2012, 05:23 PM||#39|
Four Calafans came in. "What are you doing to this patient?" asked one of them.
"I could ask the same of you, Phlox said, Do you know that this patient is here because of a crime?"
The ride back to the hospital was slow and torturous. Treve sat with Jennifer. She sat close to him, looked him up and down constantly.
"Get that beast back now." Polloria had commanded. Now she was silently angry.
"Polloria," Chawev began, "perhaps there is a way out of this. After all, Yimar is still a young girl. She will need guidance. Which she can get from you."
"I have been waiting for years for this. And this inferior just, just, I can't speak, Polloria said.
"Five years or so." Chawev said.
"Eight." Polloria corrected him.
"Eight?" he asked. "Where are you getting eight from?"
"Oh, don't be a fool, Baden said, The foundation was laid before, oh, forget it."
"Foundation for what?" asked Jennifer.
"For today. For what you completely messed up, Polloria said.
"Wait, wait, what foundation?" Treve asked.
It was a slow ride back. Treve sat with Lili. "Can you tell me now?" she asked quietly.
He nodded. "The meditation you saw, the group meditation. We do it every year. Actually, we do it every night, but as a group a few times per year. Today, for the festival, was one of those times. We, we make contact with the night people. Did you see those big dishes on the side of Point Abic?"
"Those are amplifiers. The night people, they can be seen any night, but it's when we all get together and are near the amplifiers that we get a truly clear picture."
"Who are you contacting?"
"Lovers, mostly. I don't have a lover, so I kind of bowed out. Of course a child like Yimar wants to talk to her grandmother or someone like that. And Chelben doesn't even know anyone; he is a bit too young to really be able to act as a conduit."
"Wait, did you say you have nighttime lovers?" Lili asked.
"Quiet over there! I have a headache!" Polloria snarled.
"Treve, I have one, too, a lover in the night, Lili said softly.
He was caught up short. "That's that's not supposed to be possible among inf uh, other species."
"A crime?" asked one of the Calafan doctors.
"Yes." T'Pol said, showing him her PADD.
"There are tens of thousands of milligrams of potassium being pumped into this patient." The doctor read off. "No wonder she is comatose."
"Captain, I have a reading, Jenny communicated to the Bridge.
"Go ahead, said Jonathan.
"Those dishes all dotting up and down that hillside? They're all, they're made from the same alloy as the disc Commander Tucker and I found in Lili's bed."
"Is it exact?" he asked.
"Almost, she said.
Back at the hospital, Chawev, Treve and Polloria held Jennifer down while Baden held a weapon to her head. "There. That oughta keep you, beast, Baden said.
Polloria paced furiously. She took off a little jacket she'd been wearing and threw it on a chair. "Get those children out of here. There's been a change of plans."
Treve shepherded his little sister and brother out of the room.
"Tell me about the eight years, Polloria." Chawev insisted.
"Eight, Polloria said, counting them on her fingers. "Three to get things started and prime you. Five with Yipran in that bed downstairs."
"Primed?" asked Chawev.
"Listen," Jennifer said, I may not know you people much at all, but I can recognize a scam when I see one. She came on to you, right? Shook her tail at you or whatever it took. You weren't doing so hot with your wife then and so you went along with it, and you ended up bonding, which really threw a wrench into things at home. You're doing her and you're keeping it from your wife, who's getting sick and nobody can explain it. Am I right?"
"More or less." Baden admitted.
"And you even make it look good by having another kid. But it goes haywire when your wife gets really sick. And you're incapable of just doing the deed and finishing her off, so the wife lingers. On and on and on that's your five years, right? But those previous three or so? That was this one, and this one," Jennifer nodded first to Polloria, and then to Baden, "getting everything ready. Some kind of slow method, something no one would notice or detect. Your wife would probably just look tired. Which makes this one," she nodded again to Polloria, "even more attractive to you. After all, your wife is getting older looking, and your girl just looks hotter and is gonna do you even more, 'cause your wife can't any more. Right?"
Chawev looked ill. "You said Yipran would be able to live."
"It's your indecision that has created this situation, Chawev, Baden said, An injection of tricoulamine would end everything and would possibly be considered merciful under the circumstances."
"You said there would be chaos." Chawev pointed out.
"I did, Baden said, But this stringing it all along is not much better. It was your idea to pull in the alien and have it all tie to the festival. It is your responsibility that the alien wasn't as, as pliable as expected."
"What should we do?" Chawev moaned.
"This situation cannot be sustained, Polloria said, But dispatching this one in public is not gonna happen; there's no time. It'll have to be done today. Then you'll bring Yimar in front of the people and we'll, we'll take her under our wing. Nurture and guide her and tell her what to do."
"Your regular life is over, Chawev, said Baden. "You'd best go along with this or we will speak with the government. You'll be removed as First Minister and your little ones taken from you."
"So, so we should, should get rid of this one now?" Chawev asked.
"Yes. And the person to do it is Treve, Polloria said.
"There's too many of them!" Travis yelled.
"We're outnumbered. Fall back!" Doug answered.
"To where?" Haddon asked.
"There's a building back there. The Main Hospital, Doug said, We'll go there."
"How do you know about that, Old Man?" asked MacKenzie.
"I just do. Now, quick march!" Doug commanded.
"So we are in agreement?" Polloria asked Baden and Chawev.
"Yes. I will get my son back in here to do the deed. I am," he said to Lili, "I guess I am sorry you were caught in this. But, you see, you cannot be kept alive. You know too much about this. You are proof that this happened. The rest of it, I will fix somehow, get the government to reject your proposal of having virtually infinite priestesses."
"It doesn't have to be this way, Lili said.
"Yes, it does, Polloria said while Chawev left the room.
Treve was left alone with Jennifer once he'd shown he would hold the weapon at her head. "I, I'm not a killer."
"I know, Jennifer said, But I am."
Malcolm clicked his communicator closed. "Room 116, he said, Looks to be this way."
"Treve, I don't think this is in your make up, Lili said.
"It's, it's not. But you can read between the lines here. This is going to unravel my family."
"What about your mother?"
"My mother? She has been effectively dead for half a decade. No matter what the reason is, she's just gone."
"Who's been treating her? Other than Baden?" Lili asked.
"N-no one." The light dawned. "Do you think another doctor could ...?"
"It's worth a try, isn't it?" Lili said, Haven't he and Polloria been lying to you and your Dad all along? Why wouldn't your mother's prognosis be a lie as well?"
"J-Jennifer," Treve said, "that is your name, yes?"
"I have an idea. Can you, do you think you can run?"
"Only without this heavy gown on. There's the hospital shift. I could run in that." She dropped her dress to the floor.
"I, huh, I'd best focus, Treve said, Here, you can put this on, too." he gave her Polloria's jacket.
"A little large, Jennifer said, Now what?"
"This wall is an outside wall, he said, Once I'm done, you shoot straight through it. This is the second story. You can jump down, probably not injure yourself. And just get to the forest. You'd have to live there for, well, until further notice."
"What about you?"
"I said you do this after I'm done. So, this first." he pointed the weapon at his own head.
A doctor looked over the patient. "This is, I could swear this is the High Priestess. Even though we saw her this morning. But, but, this woman, I think this is really her."
"An imposter?" asked another doctor.
"Yes," said the first, "perhaps to assure proper succession. That would be my guess."
"Then the First Minister is ...?" asked a third doctor.
There was a sound at the door.
"What's taking so long in there?" Polloria demanded from outside the room.
"Just a, just a moment, Treve said.
"My ship is out there. They're looking for me, Lili said.
"Get on with it, Treve!" Polloria yelled.
Jennifer got up and approached Treve. "Don't do that, she said, Come with me."
"But, I am no good at such things, he said, Blood sickens me. I can't hunt, and I'm barely in any shape to run."
"Doesn't matter, she said.
"Do you, do you care for me? Are you, is there a bonding?"
"I, I don't know yet, she said, But I do know that something in here," she tapped her temple, "has changed. Maybe the way your doctors fixed me up, maybe it's more permanent than it's supposed to be."
"I'll only slow you down." he insisted.
"Then I'll speed you up, she said. Her hand on his, they pointed the weapon at the hospital wall and fired.
"What was that?" MacKenzie asked.
"Sounded like weapons fire. Over there, Doug pointed with his phase rifle. "Fire over there."
"That's where we're going, isn't it, Old Man?" Haddon asked.
"What's this?" asked the Calafan doctor.
"Lieutenant, good to see you, said Dr. Phlox. "Have you found the Ensign yet?"
"No, we were hoping she would be with you."
There was the sound of a weapon being discharged.
"Up one flight, Malcolm said, running toward it with Travis, Haddon and MacKenzie right behind him.
The hospital wall was in flames. "You could go through there, go to freedom. I suspect we could give you asylum for saving me, Lili said.
"My, my sister and my brother. I don't think they're safe. I don't trust Polloria at all, and I scarcely trust Father with them now."
Polloria, Chawev and Baden burst into the room. "What's going on?" Polloria demanded.
"She gets to leave." Treve announced. "Either through there or the door. Doesn't matter much, although through there will help you to save face." He indicated the now-absent wall.
"You can't do anything right!" Polloria complained.
"Now, now." Chawev said.
Yimar came in with her brother. "We heard shouting, she said, What's going on?"
"Your, your brother is, ...." Polloria began.
"Coming to his senses." Chawev said, As am I."
"The people will be told. You will go to prison for sure, both of you." Baden threatened.
"Father?" asked Yimar. "For what?"
"For harming a lady downstairs, I'd guess, Malcolm said, coming in with his team.
Chawev snapped back. "What?"
"Yes, Phlox said, breathless, behind Malcolm and with the Calafan doctors trailing him closely. "For the potassium poisoning of a woman who has been identified to me as being the High Priestess of this system."
The jump wasn't easy, but they both landed all right. Jennifer took Treve's hand. "Which way to water? We'll start with that."
"Uh, that way." he pointed. They started running. As Treve had said, he wasn't in much shape for running, and needed to rest after a while.
While they were sitting on a rock, Jennifer heard her name being called.
"You all right?" Tripp asked Lili.
"Yes, I think so, she said, Good to see the cavalry get here on time."
He clicked open a communicator. "Cap'n, we got her."
"What about Hayes?" asked Jonathan.
Lili shook her head.
"I don't, I don't think so." Tripp said.
"Return to the ship as soon as possible. Archer out."
"Will you release control of the ship?" T'Pol asked Chawev.
"It, the control can be released but there may be some small damage. Our, our method is to suppress memory. The, this woman's memory was, was suppressed, and so was your ship's. Your ship, essentially, forgot how to do some things. All to keep you here and let us do our work. We, our way is to study an individual and see how well that individual recovers from this kind of induced aphasia. Your systems should be similarly affected." he explained.
"And the rest of it?" Malcolm asked.
"That was extra, Treve said, To, to try to jerry-rig our politics. It, it did not work as expected."
"Ready to go?" asked Tripp.
"I won't see him again, my nighttime man, will I?" Lili asked Treve.
"Let me think about that, he said, And, Father, it may be best for you to think on that as well. If we can ever make amends to these people, perhaps that is what we need to understand."
"Aidan?" Jennifer asked.
Jennifer blinked several times. She and Treve were holding hands. Both of them were dirty from running through the forest. "These are your people. You should go with them, Treve said.
"No, she said, and turned to walk away.
"The Empress won't like this, Travis warned.
"The Empress can go to hell for all I care, Jennifer said, And you can quote me on that."
Haddon cocked her weapon and aimed it at Jennifer. Doug pushed her arm down. "No. Don't do that. We found her body in the forest. That's gonna be the story."
"Empress won't be happy, Travis repeated. "Delacroix down and no Crossman to boot."
"Yeah," Aidan said, So someone's gotta take the fall for that. It's not gonna be me." He pointed his weapon at Doug's head. "You're coming back with us, Old Man."
|February 16 2012, 05:36 PM||#40|
He offered her his handkerchief. "Here, keep it, he said.
"Come here, he said, and put an arm around her. He leaned in and briefly touched his lips to her hair, hoping she didn't feel it and no one had seen the gesture. "Just cry." he whispered.
"That was better than last time, Treve said.
"Yes. A lot less fumbling, Jennifer said, smiling. There was a small campfire burning nearby, lights flickering on their bodies.
"Did I, did I displease you last time?"
"No. But there's something to be said for experience."
"True. You know, Polloria and Baden are such hardliners. If their faction stays in control, we will probably be outlaws for the remainder of our days. However, however long yours are."
"Treve, you keep saying things like that. Just how old do you think I am?"
"I, I suspect that it would be foolish of me to, to answer that." he smiled. "But I think your signs of aging are different from ours."
"Treve, I'm only twenty-seven years old, Jennifer said.
"Oh. Well, that explains your, um, vigor." he kissed her. "Another round?"
"We should sleep, she said, Despite the fun, you and I need to find some place tomorrow, where we can stay a while, and set up a temporary shelter. Sleeping under the stars is no good when it's raining out."
"I'm glad you're here, he said, I may even love you a little bit."
"I may even love you a little bit, too, she said.
Jenny was waiting at the Shuttle Bay. She looked at Lili. "Oh, Roomie. How do you feel?"
"Like a shuttle hit me."
"I'll take her back to quarters, Jenny said.
"Very well." Malcolm replied, the shoulder of his uniform damp. "You'll let me know if, if anything, he said to Lili. "Although I know there's nothing that, that can be done."
Lili nodded and they departed.
The shuttle arrived in the bay. "C'mon, Old Man. Time to pay the piper, Travis said. MacKenzie kept his rifle pointed at Doug, but lowered it once the shuttle hatch was opened.
The Empress was waiting. "Huh. I see you failed, she said.
"She was dead when we got there, Doug lied. "Del was, uh, killed in action. Haddon here should move up a grade."
"Yes. We'll go in tomorrow for another strike. This time it'll be with both shuttles. We still don't have transporter capabilities." Hoshi commanded. "In the meantime, get to the Mess Hall and take control of Game Night. It's getting too rowdy and Jun can't sleep with all the racket."
"Empress, we really should talk about the mission." MacKenzie protested.
"You gonna keep me longer than I want to be here? Oh, that's not a good move, MacKenzie, she said, Travis, you're with me. Haddon, dismissed." She left with Travis, who followed eagerly.
"Babysitting drunken crewmen? Ha, that's almost as good a punishment as what I had in mind." MacKenzie said to Doug.
"Father, I think we need to make contact, Treve said, back at their home.
"Treve, we are going to be judged tomorrow, the next day at the latest." Chawev said, There's little sense in it."
"For a day, you and I are still free men." Treve replied. "Apologies mean nothing. We need to see if, if we can take any sort of action to rectify what we've done to these people. That woman she looked as if we had removed a planet from under her and she was falling in space."
"They are not our equals."
"No, Father, I respectfully disagree. And, and even if I am wrong, we still must try. The night people they mean something to us. But to them, to the humans, it seems, it means more to them if it's someone who's right there. We should determine if there is any way any way at all to bring the night here."
"There are legends." Chawev allowed. "Sketchy details. It's a part of why the dishes on Point Abic were constructed. That much I know."
"Then I know who we should contact, Treve said.
"All right." Chawev said, Let us try. Be with who you desire."
"Yes, Father. Be with who you desire."
Back in their quarters, Lili just sat and rocked and cried.
Jenny didn't know what to do. "I, I can't tell you to stop." she finally said, If I were you, I'd probably be bawling, too."
That made Lili stop for a moment. She dabbed her eyes with the saturated handkerchief. "It's, it's like this. It's like, I guess, like being a widow. Only there's no body. Except there was a body. It was, it was Jay's, and it was two years ago. So I've been through that part already, kinda. And now the real feeling of it all is smacking me."
"Just let it out."
"I, huh, it's not fair. I mean, we both knew this was coming. It was such a nutty thing. And, and it all happened so quickly. It hasn't even been two weeks and I'm just, I'm devastated. I, uh, I should get my, my mind off things. I should go to work."
"What, and cut your hand off with a knife? You're not in any condition to go back, Jenny said.
"But, but, no matter how I feel about things, people need to eat."
"They'll find someone to fill in. Delacroix's actually been doing pretty well."
"Del? Huh. Never pegged him as the cooking type."
"Well, he's not very creative, Jenny said, But what he does is adequate. Nobody's starving."
"I should thank him, maybe write him a little note that can go in his file."
"Lili, you, uh, there's stuff on your PADD. Don't know if you want to read it."
"Yes. We, um, he was able to read and write on it for a while. He, uh, he wrote you a letter. I'll, I'll leave you alone to read it."
The Mess Hall lived up to its name. It was smelly and disorganized, and currently chock-filled with inebriated crewmen. The game was on the widescreen: the Ganymede Hunters versus the South American Pistoleros. The Pistoleros were at bat Ty Janeway and Lefty Robinson. The Hunter pitching was Aditya Balakrishnan and Amanda Cole. The windups were interrupted, and the batters charged the twin mounds.
"Boys and girls! Fight in the first ten minutes! Anyone who bet on that can go double or nothing!" Masterson yelled over the din.
It wasn't the only fistfight. Two crewman argued over a mug of synthbeer and ended up whacking each other in the jaw. Doug only intervened when the weapons came out. He went back into a corner. This was not a good place to spend time. He didn't want synthbeer, didn't want to watch the game and certainly didn't want to be around slobbery drunken people. He spent his time looking around the room.
Haddon and MacKenzie were in a different corner. He was grabbing her bottom. Masterson approached them. Someone turned the sound down on the widescreen. "This oughta be good." Ramirez yelled from the back.
It was a quick match. Masterson staggered and fell and became sick when MacKenzie hit him in the belly with a chair.
"I'm with Mas uh, MacKenzie now!" Haddon announced to the assembled mob.
The sound was turned back up on the widescreen. A commercial. "And this fight was brought to you by Picard Synthbeer." It switched to a slick ad. Ty Janeway in full uniform, with a stunning dark-skinned model wearing nothing but a pair of what looked like high-heeled cleats. Janeway addressed the camera. "Picard Synthbeer. It goes down ..." he smiled, "smooth." Back to the game. The Hunters were winning.
Doug got up. "Okay, okay, turn it down. Empress wants the kid to sleep. So either watch in your quarters or slap on earbuds. And that means everyone." He left.
Lili sat in bed, reading. "Forever, Douglas." she whispered softly.
She began to type.
I learned a long time ago that you never say mine when it comes to the people you love. It's been almost forty years but the lesson applies now more than ever, I think. I want you to know, though, if you can ever see this, that it is forever.
Spent, she put her head down on the pillow. "I'm afraid to sleep." she whispered to the empty room. "I'm afraid there will be nothing."
In the halls, Doug was heading back to his quarters. Tripp fell in with him. "Got a minute?"
"I, uh," he looked around furtively, "I got the transporter working again."
"That's not what the Empress said."
"No. Only three people know it's up. Tell me, what's that planet like?"
"Hot. There's game animals. Medical care. Don't know how the people are but there's a lot of forest. It seems sparsely populated so there's room. Planning on a little Shore Leave?"
"Planning on permanent Shore Leave." Tripp said, But I need some help."
|February 18 2012, 04:32 PM||#41|
"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 fianc้. "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."
|February 19 2012, 04:23 PM||#42|
T'Pol said, "This connection should be monitored. Commander Tucker has never experienced it before."
"I would suggest that I observe as well, Phlox said, If the Ensign cannot get to sleep, I can provide a mild sleeping aid, if necessary."
"Uh, you do realize I just have Ensign's quarters. There isn't going to be a lot of room, Lili pointed out.
"We'd better go now." Tripp said.
Beth Cutler took Jun's hand. "We're going to go play with the pretty knife again!" she exclaimed, trying to sound enthused.
"Knife! Knife!" Jun squealed, running down the hallway to Sick Bay.
Dr. Morgan was less than thrilled to see them. "I've lost six animals because of you."
"Tell it to the Empress." Beth said, It's time for him to practice, before dinner. Haven't you got something you feed to the snake?"
"Hmm. Yes. A mouse." he produced a cage with a small brown mouse in it. "Jun, my boy! Come here and play."
"Thank you, Doctor. I'll, uh, I'll be back later." Beth said.
"I'm not his sitter. You are." Morgan said, And I'll need to get new supplies soon. The number of experimental animals is not infinite, you know."
"Yes, of course. I'm, uh, I'm going to the Empress right now, and I'll request your new supplies personally, she said and ducked out before he could say anything more. In the hallways, she started down the way to the Empress's quarters and then turned once the door to Sick Bay was closed. Beth walked quickly to her true destinations: first the Mess Hall, then quarters. Then the place where she'd agreed to meet Tripp.
Tripp and Lili walked together as Phlox and T'Pol walked ahead of them. "Uh, I only have one of those really small beds, she said.
"Well, I'll probably have to go to sleep more or less right on top of you, Commander."
"Ensign," he said quietly, "uh, if I get, um, aroused in any way, you won't, uh, tell anyone, will ya?"
"I'll be discreet."
"Oh, thanks, he said.
"Do you have a sweetheart on the ship?" she asked.
"Not anymore, he said, looking straight ahead and with a tone that indicated she should drop the subject quickly.
"My fault for bringing it up, she said.
"It's nobody's fault." he grunted.
"You should, um, you should take the right side, Lili said, The left side of the mattress is harder."
"Did you know, Princess, you were sleeping on a pea?" he asked. "Or, well, more like a coin of some sort. We couldn't find it in the database, though."
"Hmm. Well, I've heard this system being referred to as a crossroads a few times, Lili said, Maybe it's like the ancient Phoenicians on Earth. They were traders, so their coins are found all over the place, in all sorts of unexpected locations. Ah, here we are."
Polloria paced around. "Yimar, you're not doing it right." she whined.
"I'm the High Priestess now, Yimar said, I'll do what I like."
"Okay, um, here, you lie here, Commander, Lili suggested.
"And, here, hang on, lemme move my arm." Tripp said, And you should call me Tripp. I, uh, I don't share a bed with anyone I'm not on a first names basis with."
"That seems wise, Phlox said, while T'Pol busied herself looking at the picture on Jennifer's desk.
"Okay, Lili said, Put your left arm here, around my shoulder. Other one in front, on my belly, I guess. That good?"
She turned her head back to him and kissed him on the cheek. "Good night, Tripper."
He kissed her back on her cheek. "It's just Tripp."
The Mess Hall was easy. Beth grabbed six vegetable paste tubes, and stuffed them into her pockets and sleeves. She tried not to attract attention while getting back to pick up her bag. The halls were mainly empty, due to the game being on. "Piece of carrot cake." she whispered to herself as she hustled to the rendezvous point.
Yimar sat on her mother's bed with Chelben. "I wish you could hear me, she said to Yipran. "I do miss you so."
Doug went through his things quickly, and packed the only things he wanted. Everything else, it was waste material, so far as he was concerned. The medal for strafing a Denobulan village by himself? Into the disposer. Ganymede Hunters paraphernalia? Trash. And uniforms? Except for the one he was wearing gone. He picked up his PADD and began to type.
'Dear Mrs. Donnelly,
I would like to apologize for causing the death of your son, Lucas, about thirty-five years ago. I realize that this apology comes very late but I did want to be sure you got it.
Lt. Cmdr. Douglas J. Hayes'
'Dear Mr. Shapiro,
I would like to apologize for causing the death of ....'
And on and on for fourteen letters. And then one more.
'Dear Mr. and Mrs. Delacroix,
I would like to apologize for the recent death of your son, Brian, while on a rescue mission. I was his commanding officer for that mission, and failed to prevent his death. Brian was a good security officer and had a promising future.
Lt. Cmdr. Douglas J. Hayes'
He put the letters in the queue to go out whenever long-range communications were restored and took one last look at the picture of the nine-year-old Lili. Then he turned off the PADD for good and grabbed a small duffle and his phase rifle. The dagger was in the sheath at his side, and the smaller knife was in his boot. Ready.
The room was shadowy.
Lili and Tripp stood in the middle of it, holding hands. "Anybody there?" Tripp asked.
It was Treve. Or, rather, two Treves one was pale, the other ruddy. And Jennifer, who had complicated coppery scrollwork on her arms and was holding onto the ruddy Treve's arm. "My father, uh, our fathers, will be here soon. Then we can make contact." the pale Treve explained.
The weapons supply closet was not well-guarded. Torres was there, but hammered on synthbeer. "Old Man!" he slurred when he saw Doug.
"Uh, sure. Look, don't you wanna get a refill?" Doug asked.
"Refill? Oh, huh, s'posed to be here."
"No time to talk about this, Doug said, and punched Torres in the jaw. Torres was out. "Thanks, Doug said, helping himself to charges. He quick-marched it to the rendezvous point the Observation Lounge.
"Did she just move, Doctor?" Yimar asked hopefully.
"There are few miracles." the doctor explained. "But you can sit here and talk as long as you like. Perhaps she can hear you on some level."
"What took you so long?" asked Tripp.
"A short conversation and some correspondence, Doug explained. "Hiya, Cutler."
She smiled slightly. "I can't wait to leave here."
Doug was about to answer her when the room changed.
There were seven people in a shadowy room, but all Doug saw were crystal blue eyes. "Lili!" he exclaimed. "How? Uh, what's going on?"
Tripp answered, "Hayes," he indicated his hand on Lili's, "this is the only way I can talk to you."
"S'okay, Doug said, I trust her. Only the second woman I've ever trusted." He took Lili's free hand, his thumb rubbing her fingers.
"Aren't you gonna, like, kiss her?" Tripp asked. "Not that I'm a voyeur or anything."
"Tucker, do you realize how awkward it is to kiss your girl when she's not only holding some other guy's hand but your ex is also watching with her new fellow?"
"Hayes, my ex is busy observing this whole thing. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe it."
"We need to act quickly." The ruddy Treve said.
Tripp explained the situation to Doug. "Well, I'm no engineer, either, Doug said, I can try but I dunno if I can get this all to work as perfectly as it needs to."
"Hayes! Hayes! Snap outta it!" Tripp said.
"It's like he's in a trance or something." Beth said, We don't have time for this."
Tripp grabbed the Old Man's shoulder to shake him out of it, and the room changed.
"What the hell is going on here?" Tripp asked, blinking several times to get used to the shadows and wondering why he could no longer see Beth. He only recognized Hayes and Crossman out of a group of eight people.
"Holy cow, Lili said. She turned to the Tripp she was touching. "I do believe that's your counterpart. Tripp, say hi to, uh, Tripp."
|February 20 2012, 04:32 PM||#43|
The scarred Tripp scanned the room. "It's like the Red Queen and the White Queen in here, if you like chess. Crossman, what the devil is going on?"
"I it's a way to really, really screw the Empress." she explained.
"What's in it for them?" the scarred Tripp asked, indicating the two Treves and the two Chawevs.
"They get to do the right thing, Lili said.
"And there's gonna be an attack, Doug said, Tomorrow. What we were planning would've delayed it anyway, but doing more will make it pretty much impossible. The Defiant will limp out of Calafan space and you and Beth won't be bothered. They'll be lucky if they escape with only a few casualties."
"Where do I sign on?" asked the scarred Tripp.
"Oh Geez!" Beth said, Not you, too, Charles!" she put a hand on his arm and the fogged rolled in as the room changed.
"They get to do the right thing, Lili murmured in her sleep.
"Do you have a theory as to why this kind of a transference takes so much power?" Phlox asked T'Pol.
"It is unprecedented." T'Pol said. I have virtually nothing to compare it to."
"So you'll do it?" Lili asked.
"Sure." Beth said, I want the Empress and her son to really take a hit and if Charles and I can get away while doing so, that's all for the best. But we gotta hurry. There's just so long we'll have free access where we need to go."
"One thing you should be told," the ruddy Treve said, "there is a reason for the transference being so difficult. Beyond what you would expect."
"Yes, said the pale Chawev. "This barrier is not just a natural one. It was fortified by our ancestors. The night people are, as you can see, they are a distorted reflection of ourselves. And so a fence was erected to keep them on their side, and us on ours."
"What are going to be the consequences of breaching the fence, even temporarily?" Doug asked.
"The same as breaking any barrier." the ruddy Treve said, Anyone can go in or out. Fortunately, it will only be a few minutes the second piece of the experience. Then it will be done."
"Are you endangering yourselves?" Lili asked. "No matter how much I want this, I don't want you to be hurt by it."
"Both of our societies are in need of fresh blood and this, well, it may be a way to do that." the pale Treve said, Perhaps we can redeem ourselves for our wrongs."
"We better go, said the scarred Tripp. "Beth, you and I got work to do. Old Man, break the connection soon as you can and head back."
"Understood, Doug said.
"You don't need me, I'm a Fifth Wheel." the unscarred Tripp said, dropping Lili's hand.
"Treve," Lili said, "I'll, um, if it's all right, I'll contact you later. The conventional way."
"By all means, he said, and left with his father.
"It's good to see you happy, Jenn, Doug said.
"Thanks." she smiled and left with her Treve and his father.
"Just you and me, Doug said after kissing Lili.
"Yes. And tomorrow, that kiss will be real."
"Y'know, um, we've only been doing kissing lately. I, uh, I miss the rest of it." he pushed in nearer.
"Me, too, she said, Tomorrow."
They kissed again and awoke.
The mouse was out of its cage and Jun toddled after it.
"Sick Bay is not the place for this!" Dr. Morgan scolded. "Where the hell is Cutler?"
Torres staggered in. "Doc, I don't feel so good."
Taking advantage of the opened door, the mouse ran out and Jun awkwardly skipped after it.
Tripp got up. "That was ... strange. I got a lotta work to do." he clicked open a communicator. "Crossman, you're gonna be busy for a while. Tucker out."
Lili rubbed her eyes. "I, it's dinner time. I should go cook. And, do you think he'll be here for lunch tomorrow?"
"The timing indicates that that may be correct." T'Pol said.
"Oh! Then I have menu planning to do, if Chef will be okay with it, Lili said.
"Aiiiiiiiiidan!" Deb Haddon stretched his name out like a rubber band.
"Yeah?" MacKenzie was okay with her, but she wasn't as hot as Crossman and didn't have anywhere near the skills of the Orion girls he'd met in his travels.
"I wanna do something different."
She said, Let's do it somewhere else on the ship.
"Oh, for a different place, hmmm. You ever done it on a transporter pad?"
|February 20 2012, 09:28 PM||#44|
Location: Between the candle and the flame
|ent, fan fiction, in between days, rated pg-13|
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