Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by jespah, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    It was a large room, and it reeked of synthbeer and pretzels, spiked with a little vomit.

    "Down in front!" someone yelled behind Lili. She ducked.

    "I said, 'down in front'!" the person yelled again.

    "I already ducked!" she yelled back, then turned around and was face to face with a familiar man. He looked like, who was he? The picture on Jenny's desk. Her fiancé. "Frank Ramirez?" she asked.

    Ramirez didn't hear her. "C'mon, Dr. Morgan!"

    Morgan turned. "Very well. Cretins." he departed.

    Lili looked around. Drunks everywhere. Men groping various women. Strange uniforms. Dim lighting. No one seemed to notice her.

    There was a communications chime, and she awoke.


    The main conference room was filled with Executive level personnel. Lili arrived last, still tired, uniform on. It was only fifteen hundred hours, but she wasn't hungry and wasn't sure she could function.

    "Ah, good." Captain Archer said when he saw her. "On screen."

    Hoshi fiddled with some controls. Treve and Chawev's faces filled the room's screen.

    "So you have a proposal for us?" Jonathan asked.

    "Yes. We have – I will come clean with you, Captain." Chawev said, “By doing this, we are hoping for a decreased punishment from our government."

    "Well, the motivation is immaterial so far as I'm concerned,” Jonathan said.

    "Captain, we have made, we have made contact with our counterparts." Treve explained. "It is, this is a rare thing. We consider it to be a form of, of incest."

    "But we have news, and we believe it may be good news." Chawev added. "Treve's counterpart is with a female human. An engineer. And she believes that, in particular due to a boost from the sodium vapor flares between Ub and Fep, this will work."

    "An engineer?" asked Tripp.

    "Yes. She said her name was Jennifer,” Treve said, “She seems to be a rather old woman."

    Lili smiled slightly. "Jenny's a lot of things but old is not one of them."

    "Be that as it may," Chawev said, "she is familiar with both your style of ship and hers. And thinks that a crossing-over is possible."

    "A crossing over?" asked Malcolm.

    "Yes,” Treve said, “We think it may be possible – with enough power from your ship, the night side's ship, the stellar sodium vapor flares and our resources on the surface, to bring a night person over to your side. Permanently."


    "Permanent?" Doug asked quietly. "How so?"

    "Here's the plan." Tripp said, steering Doug into an unoccupied conference room. "We set the transporter to go to the planet. I don't really care where so long as we don't land in two meters of water or anything like that. Beth and I transport down. You lay charges on the coordinate computer and the transporter pads – any of the pads we don't occupy – and, once you've confirmed we're safely down, you set 'em off. Even though the coordinates are recorded elsewhere on the ship, they'll be in such a panic they won't notice that for a while as they'll be busy putting out a large fire. And shuttles are slower than transporting, so even if they get a shuttle out and pointed in the right direction, we're gone from our landing coordinates. And with most sensors down, and the two most senior engineers gone, no one's gonna be too good at determining where two humans are in a sea of Calafans, who have fairly similar physiology. Blend in with the locals as best we can, you can probably guess the rest."

    "And my benefit in all this?" Doug asked. "Other than giving the Empress what-for?"

    "Well, I figure you can shove MacKenzie off to Engineering if you like. They'll be shorthanded there. Or send over anyone else you don't like. Build your team with any new lackeys you want."

    "No. I got a better idea. I go down too and we set the charges to go off on a timer,” Doug counteroffered.

    "Or that." Tripp said, “There's no confirmation that way. Plus little cover. With my plan, Beth and me, we get some cover."

    "You're asking a lot of me and not providing a lot of benefit,” Doug pointed out. "I mean, what makes you think I don't want to be gone, too?"


    "What are the specifics?" T'Pol asked.

    "The process is three steps." Treve explained. "At least that is how Jennifer sees it, and I think she is correct. The first is collection, the second is amplification and the third is transmission. The collection portion is performed on her ship – which she estimates has about two to three times the power of your own. The, the subject reconfigures the transportation device to accept considerably more power than usual. And then sets coordinates – which we will provide – placing him in the midst of the thickest placement of dishes on Point Abic. Transportation would take longer than usual as there is no room for error and the touchdown has to be perfectly precise."

    "How long are we talkin'? More than a few seconds in a transporter stream is pretty torturous." Tripp said. Hoshi nodded.

    "About an hour, but it must be this way." Chawev said, “This is no mere transport; it is moving this man over to the other side of the septum between the two planes. It is going to take some time."

    "He's a soldier,” Lili said, “And strong."

    "What's the amplification piece?" Jonathan asked.

    "The dishes will pick up the signal. For the subject, it shouldn't feel any different. The dishes will then project the signal to its final destination, which is your ship." Chawev explained.

    "How long does that part take?" Travis asked.

    "Much less time. A few minutes at best,” Treve said, “But it's the final piece, transmission, that will take the longest."

    "Getting the subject from our surface to your ship – I assume to your transportation pad – will take the better part of a day." Chawev said, “Your ship has less power than the other one and, well, as I said, this is no mere transport."

    "That kind of waiting will be bad." Tripp advised. "I don't think anyone's been in a transporter stream that long without suffering from pattern degradation."

    "We don't believe that will happen,” Treve said, “But of course we cannot be certain."

    "Did you – have you spoken to Doug about this? What does he think?" Lili asked, daring to hope a little.

    "Oh, we didn't know which human male he was." Chawev said, “Didn't want to target the wrong one, you know."

    "So he doesn't know?" Hoshi asked.

    "Not yet. We will need to make contact and inform him, also give him the specifics,” Treve said.

    "Can't we just give him a PADD with the info?" Tripp asked, indicating his own PADD, which was on the table in front of him. "I mean, you want to see him and all, Ensign, but he should have this info in writing."

    "You cannot truly just leave equipment on the other side,” Treve said, “He would be able to type on the device and read it but not move it anywhere. And the preparation will take a little while and movement to a few places. Plus, of course, we must be certain that the right person knows what to do. And that person needs to have it impressed upon him that time is of the essence. The sodium vapor flares provide enough of a boost to make this scenario possible at all. And they are fading. Starting the process tonight – giving him perhaps an hour to prepare and reconfigure the vessel – is our best possible shot."

    "I don't know if I can make contact properly anymore,” Lili said, “I was just there, before this meeting, and didn't see him and no one could hear me."

    "It's gone asynchronous,” Treve said, “Which happens when a less skilled contactor is asleep and the subject is awake. You'll need a bridge over the septum. I can, my father and I, we can do that, through meditation."

    "I'm no engineer,” Lili said, “I don't know if I'd be able to explain what needed to be done. And, I admit, I'll probably be distracted."

    "Can, um, can you take a passenger with you when you make contact?" Malcolm asked. "That seems to be what Ensign Crossman was, on the other side. Is that correct?"

    "Yes. She was a passenger. She isn't a contactor at all. She was making physical contact with my counterpart at all times,” Treve said, “A passenger on your side – particularly one who stayed awake – would absolutely need to maintain physical touching with the contactor."

    "I volunteer." Tripp said. Malcolm gave him the slightest of looks but it was gone in less than a second.

    "Commander?" Lili asked.

    "Yes. I volunteer. You said it yourself, you can't explain the nuances. But I can. That all right with you, Cap'n?"

    "We need to discuss this. Stand by." Captain Archer said. The screen darkened for a moment. "Impressions? And make them quick."

    Travis said, "I don't pretend to know a lot about this, but I think people should be happy."

    "He did help us find Lili." Hoshi pointed out. "I think we owe him."

    "There may be a tactical advantage to bringing Major Hayes here,” Malcolm said.

    "The Major could be a dangerous individual, possibly a criminal." T'Pol said, “And this course of action is risky and unproven, and could damage the ship."

    "Even if the Major himself is no threat, he could be carrying any manner of microbes that we would have no immunity to. It could be like European settlers bringing smallpox to the Earth's New World,” Phlox stated.

    "You all know my position,” Lili said.

    "I agree that we're risking damage to the ship." Tripp said, “But we're here to explore and to, to take risks. And I don't think this is a foolish one."

    "Give me a moment to think, then get them back on, Hoshi,” Jonathan said.


    "So you'll do it the way I like?" Doug asked.

    "All right." Tripp said, “You got an hour to get ready and pack whatever you want. We gotta take advantage of most of 'em being too drunk to care. And don't forget to pick up the charges."

    "'Course not, I'm a professional."

    "Yeah, I know, Old Man." Tripp said.


    "Objections are duly noted,” Jonathan said, “And we will make sure that Hayes goes to Quarantine immediately upon arrival. No reunions, no talking, no detours. He runs to Quarantine, with Tripp here running the transporter. Tripp will get Hayes to Quarantine as fast as possible. And the Ensign, too, of course."

    "Thank you, sir. I don't know what to say,” Lili said.

    "Well, we don't know if this will work at all,” Malcolm said.

    "True. But for now, there's but one thing to do,” Lili agreed. "Commander Tucker, let's go to bed."
  2. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    There was the barest blip, slightest register of an eyebrow very, very slightly arching, and it was gone in a split second. If Lili hadn't been looking directly at T'Pol, she would have missed it completely. Lili tried not to listen to gossip. She had no idea that that particular rumor had been true.

    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."

    "Ladies first."


    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."

    "Oh, sorry."


    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'

    Next one.

    '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."
  3. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "It's like looking in a funhouse mirror,” said the Tripp holding Lili's hand. "I'm tempted to ask you how you got that facial scar, but we don't exactly have time for pleasantries."

    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."

    "Uh, okay."

    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?"
  4. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    And it all comes together...
  5. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    ... and ....
  6. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Small movements.

    The mouse darted around corners. Jun followed, squealing and lunging, knife at the ready.


    "Here, hand me that spanner." Tripp said to Jenny.

    "So, it's agreed. I'll take the first part, where our end begins, and you get the last part, where Hayes arrives?" she asked.

    "That's the plan." Tucker said, concentrating on his work. "If Hayes is harboring any kind of virus or whatever, I may hit the floor before we even get to Quarantine."

    "Hmm. Seems like it would be monumentally unfair if that were to happen."

    "No one ever said this would be fair. Check those levels, okay?"


    "Oh, where has that child gone to?" Morgan asked.

    Torres looked at him from a bed. "Uh, wha'?"

    "You're useless." the doctor said, “That damned spoiled brat! I am not responsible for him."

    The door opened, but Morgan didn't hear it.

    "Uh, what, Doc?" Torres asked, still drunk, still holding his jaw.

    "I said – as if it mattered to you in any way – that spoiled brat is nowhere to be found. That child needs a good whacking."

    "Did you just call my son spoiled?"


    Pork loin. Side of cauliflower with a light cheese sauce. Bulgur with mushrooms.

    Lili showed Brian how to make the sauce. "And not too high a flame."

    "Why not? It'll cook faster,” he said.

    "It'll also burn faster, and it'll get gummy." she explained.

    "Uh, thank you for teaching me this. Do you, do you think – there are rumors – you're going to leave the Enterprise?"

    "That depends how today and tomorrow work out,” she said, “Right now, I need to concentrate on working. Take my mind off things I'm really worrying about. Okay?"


    Tripp hoisted himself into a Jeffries tube. He began rerouting wires and was busy enough with it to not hear Ramirez. He did find something interesting, though.

    When Tripp jumped out, there was Ramirez. "Sir, may I ask just what it is you're doing?"


    "Doctor, are you ready?" Captain Archer asked through a communicator.

    "As prepared as is possible. The pathway to Quarantine will be clear and the door, of course, will be open for the Major's arrival. I have everything ready, including tricoulamine."

    "Tricoulamine? Isn't that a neurotoxin?" Jonathan asked.

    "Yes,” said the doctor. "In case of, well, of Commander Tucker or Ensign O'Day becoming painfully ill. Or of Hayes becoming violent. We are still not confirmed that he will be able to even tolerate the Quarantine delay. A man with such high levels of testosterone is bound to be impatient at best. If he tries to take his frustrations out on, say, Commander Tucker, then I feel we should be prepared."


    Doug looked around the transporter room. He was about all set to just lay charges on the pads when he looked more closely. "Ah, yes,” he said to himself. "These will do nicely." he laid three charges on the coordinate computer podium area and the other seven went behind the raised pads. "Yeah. These pads are gonna make excellent shrapnel."


    "Do you think it will really work?" Treve asked.

    "I cannot say." Chawev said, “But our government supports it. It looks as if our punishments will be diminished, due to our efforts. That is something at least."


    "This," Tripp said, handing Ramirez a cracked sensor that he had found, "is why we don't have working sensors. At least it explains some of them."

    "But sir, I have readings that indicate that power is being rerouted." Ramirez said.

    "Huh, well, we don't have real working sensors, Crewman."

    "Sir, I must insist."

    "Look, Ramirez, are you lookin' for a commendation or somethin'? 'Cause I don't hand 'em out and I don't have the time. Uh, get this analyzed. Figure out why it cracked. See if we got others like this."


    "You got orders." Tucker departed.

    "Okay." Ramirez said to no one. "But I still think it's not just some cracked sensors."


    "Doctor, you don't make these kinds of decisions,” Jonathan said.

    "I am well aware of that, Captain,” Phlox said, “But I want it to be noted that while everyone else is busying themselves with trying to welcome this man, I want it to be understood that we may be unleashing a monster, and wedging open a doorway through which many more could cross over. This could be an elaborate means of beginning an invasion that we could be powerless to stop."

    "Duly noted."


    "Empress!" Dr. Morgan said, pasting on a fake smile. "Didn't see you come in."

    Despite his broken jaw, Torres chuckled a little, then winced.

    "Of course you didn't. What the hell happened to him?" she asked.

    "I'll have to wire his jaw." Morgan said, “He won't be able to talk and won't be able to eat anything solid for a while."

    "There's almost nothing solid to eat here, anyway." The Empress said, “So, tell me about my son being a brat again."

    "Well." Morgan said, working on Torres while talking. "If I may speak a bit freely, it's just that he is undisciplined. I feel that Cutler indulges him too much."

    "Cutler does what I tell her to do,” Hoshi said, “At least, most of the time. In any event, that's why I'm here. Have you seen her, or Jun? I can't find either of them, and it's time for Jun to have some supper. You need to come with me and look."


    "Yimar, your judgment is simply not well developed,” Polloria said.

    "No, I think it's very well developed." the young girl said.

    "Yimar, you are, you have been rejecting all advice." Chawev pointed out.

    "Yes,” she said, “Mother is dead and I am the High Priestess. I may be young, still, but you will do as I say. I support this, this plan. And my decision is, for the second piece, for amplification, when it comes through our dishes – my decision is to throw open the doors and, and to let anyone come and go as they wish, at any time."


    Cutler came into the transporter Room. "I've got the Tactical targeting array rerouted completely. Should be a lot of power. Where are the charges?" she asked Doug.

    "Over here. And twice as many over there. When they blow, the transporter pads will stay intact, at least for a while. Each one'll whip through the air like a discus. Should be able to do even more damage that way."

    "Good thinkin', Old Man."

    He opened his bag and emptied it, then started to remove his uniform.

    "Don't tell me you're –" she said.

    "No, no. Just changing,” he said. He stripped to his underthings and threw his uniform onto the pads. He put on a blue shirt and a dark jacket, and jeans, and stuffed a few changes of underwear and socks into his pockets.

    "You look really twentieth century,” she said, “Why are you out of uniform?"

    Tripp came in. "Time's a-wastin', kids. Hayes, what are you wearing?"

    "These are the only really nice civvies I've got, even though they're hopelessly out of style,” Doug explained. "And here." he gave his phase rifle to Cutler. "I don't want this."

    "Don't want it?" she asked.

    "No. And here." He handed over the dagger to Tucker, then took the extra knife out of his boot. "You'll need these where you're going. When you meet up with Jennifer down on the surface, these should be of help to you."

    "Don't you need these?" Tripp asked. "I mean, c'mon. At least keep the knife. You don't know anything about where you're going."

    "No, I suppose not,” Doug admitted. "But I just, I don't want to make war anymore."


    "Do you think propping open this doorway will have consequences? Unexpected ones, I mean,” Treve said.

    "Naturally." Chawev said, “But I think it will all be very good for us. And the government agrees with me. Our lives are about to change."


    "All right." Tripp took a deep breath. "First coordinates are laid in. Just push down on the levers. Once we're gone and you've confirmed that, change the coordinates to the second predefined and set to auto. When are the charges set for?"

    "Seventy minutes from now,” Doug said.

    "I hope for your sake it's enough time." Tucker said, “Bye, Old Man."

    They shook hands. "Make sure she gets enough to eat,” Doug said. He came over to Beth and kissed her on her right cheek. "Don't get another shiner, okay? And, uh, there's a hospital there. Get him there, maybe they can do something."

    "You know he'll never go on his own,” she said.

    "Well, just try."

    Doug returned to the coordinating computer as Tripp and Beth stepped onto pads. "Let's go." Tripp said, and Doug pressed down the levers.


    "It's like waiting for a show to begin,” Malcolm said to Hoshi over dinner.

    "Except we don't know if it'll turn out to be a comedy or a tragedy,” she said.

    "Or a horror film,” Phlox said, “Is this seat taken?"


    Auto. Check. Coordinates. Check. Check coordinates again. Timer. Check. Check timer again. Sweat sprang from Doug's palms as he confirmed things yet again. He looked around one last time. "I won't miss a thing,” he said, stepping onto a pad and waiting for the transporter to send him away.


    "Captain, there's been increased activity around the second-largest planet." T'Pol reported.


    "More ships are coming,” Travis pointed out. "It's even more than were here for the festival the other day."


    Doug was, he was somewhere.

    Grey. A little warm. Not falling but not really standing. He stood, as best he could, at attention. But that wasn't truly possible, and it was dull. His mind wandered.

    He thought of Ganymede, and of being a child. He thought of Kathy Norris. You show me yours, I'll show you mine. Oh, yeah. He had been four years old at the time.

    Then Darareaksmey Preap, the Cambodian bar girl who'd tolerated – albeit just barely – a young officer in Basic Training. She had taught him a few things, but almost no words of Khmer, except for the meaning of her first name: bright star.

    He thought of Susan Cheshire, probably the closest he'd come to a real relationship while in his thirties. They had been together for four months when he'd started to realize just how dependent she was on synthbeer to get through her days.

    Then Jennifer, sunbathing on Risa. They hadn't been together yet – it was just a tease on her part. And she'd gotten badly sunburned. He'd rubbed a salve on her back and that had turned into something far different.

    That image was interrupted by his hands around Lucas Donnelly's neck. Then a phaser shot to Ethan Shapiro's belly. And on and on, to knifing Geming Sulu in the gut.

    There was a voice. "Funny, you can't remember all the lays but you do remember all the kills."

    Doug was nonplussed for a second. "Jay?"


    "You will live with the consequences, Yimar,” Polloria said, “I cannot help you anymore."

    "Good,” said the young girl. "I never asked for that. Nor did I ask to be the High Priestess. But I am now. And you and Baden have been without justice. If our side will not do it, their side might."


    "C'mon, let's go do it on the transporter pad." Deb took Aidan's hand and led him to the transporter Room.

    "Huh, there's laundry here,” Aidan said.

    "It's the Old Man's uni,” she said, reading off the name on an arm patch. "I bet he's wandering around the halls in his undershorts, drooling."

    "C'mon. Get your things off and you'll see drool,” Aidan said.


    "You really do have rocks in your head,” said the voice. "Jay's dead."

    "I know that. And I'm thinking you're not, well, not something supernatural."

    "No." the voice laughed a little. "Don't you know what I am?"

    The imagery appeared again. Donnelly, Shapiro, Harris, and on and on to Sulu. Surprised or angry, bloody or clean, all at the moments of their deaths. At Doug's own hands.

    "How are you going to do it, Doug?" asked the voice. "How are you going to be there, live under their laws? How are you going to take what they might dish out, without exploding? Your track record, it's not so good."

    "I'll manage,” Doug said.

    "And when will you tell her, about the Denobulan village? You know, eighty-six dead Denobulans. Want to see them, too? I've got them all here,” said the voice. "And so do you."

    "I know what you are."


    "Yes,” Doug said, “You're the, the ultimate sign of weakness. I had thought it was other things. But it's not being sick or hurt and seeking treatment. And it's not apologizing. And it's not even admitting that you love someone. No. The ultimate sign of weakness is, it's having a conscience. It's feeling guilt."

    "Yes,” said the voice. "And you do feel it."

    "I do,” Doug said, “This is, it's a new start. And a shot at redemption. And I know that apologizing to all of those families, and her forgiving me, I know that it's not all of it. I know that, now, I know that it's, that I will hold this guilt in me."

    "And what will you do with it?" asked the voice.

    "Lead a better life,” Doug said.

    The bottom dropped out.


    Jun banged on the door to the transporter Room. The mouse was somewhere nearby. He didn't know it was the transporter Room – he couldn't read – but the mouse was, maybe, in there.

    "Go check on that." Deb said, “I'll still be here." she was lying back on the pad.

    "This better not take too long,” Aidan said, pulling on briefs.


    "Looks like we're in Act II." Tripp said, communicating to Jennifer.

    "Okay, I'm coming." she arrived quickly. "I'll hold down the fort for a while."

    "All right. You call me if it gets, er, hairy. I'll be back at oh nine hundred to relieve you."


    The Empress and Dr. Morgan saw Jun enter the transporter Room. "See, he has no discipline. Doesn't even come back when you call him." Morgan said.

    "He's my son, not a Rottweiler,” Hoshi said.


    It was a crossroads. Thousands, perhaps millions, of Calafans. Red and white, intermingling. Doug watched them passing back and forth for a few minutes. Then the scene changed again.


    There was the faintest of clicks as Aidan leaned over to grab Jun by the scruff of his neck. The last thing he needed was the kid when he was all ready to go. He barely heard the click.

    Hoshi looked up to see him lifting up a struggling Jun just as the first of the charges went off.


    It was the Enterprise. 2:19 AM read a clock. Then over and over again, the same clock. Doug tried to move, but he was brought back to 2:19 over and over again. Finally he was able to move past it briefly. The time between resets got longer and longer. He could wait for about a minute, then everything would be reset to his arrival time. "Must be some time loop or something." he muttered.


    The transporter Room was in flames. More charges went off, and a transporter pad whizzed by their heads. Aidan did the only thing that training required – he pushed down on top of Hoshi and Jun. A boot flew past.

    "Is there anyone else in there?" yelled Morgan over the din.

    "H-Haddon!" yelled Aidan, cowering.

    Morgan made his way in and found her body, or at least most of it.


    Doug found he could wander as soon as time began to stretch. No one could see or hear him. He could see people going about their days, then everything would reset and he'd be back at Square One at 2:19 and could start all over again. Lili was sleeping, and her breathing was quiet and she seemed to be in a dreamless state. Jennifer was monitoring the transporter. T'Pol was on the Bridge.

    People walked around, talked a little. Night shift. Two male crew members were in the Observation Lounge. Doug stopped observing them when he realized they were on a date.

    The Enterprise went about its nighttime business as he watched.


    "Sir, the cross-over seems to be going smoothly,” Jennifer said when Tripp relieved her. "I think we're close to being done; we're starting to get different readings."

    "All right. Stand down, Ensign. And tell your roommate."

    Tripp checked the settings again as Lili arrived. "Ready?"

    "Yes." she smiled. "Just got breakfast done. I hope he doesn't mind I'm wearing chef's whites."

    "I don't think he's gonna mind." Tripp said, “Here we go."

    Doug materialized and staggered a little. He looked up, and this is what Lili saw:


    "Can you run?" Tripp asked. Doug nodded and looked at Lili quizzically.

    "Let's go,” she said, taking his hand.
  7. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy

    The run was quick and hot and all three of them were panting by the time they got into Quarantine and Dr. Phlox had sealed the door behind them.

    Doug stood in front of the little bench and bent over, panting.
    Lili sat down, put down her PADD and held her side. Tripp shook it off by walking around a little.

    "Everyone accounted for?" Phlox asked through the intercom.

    "Yeah, Doc." Tripp said, “I don't think I've ever sprinted quite that quick before."

    Doug and Lili looked at each other. She trembled a little. "You, you look different from what I thought,” she said.

    "Hopelessly ugly?" he asked.

    "No. Just, just not exactly the same. Like you're taller, and I thought you'd be greyer."

    "I am going grey." his eyes flashed downward.

    "Oh. Me, too,” she said, smiling a little.

    He sat down next to her on the bench. "You're different, too."

    "Hopelessly ugly, am I?"

    "Of course not. A bit shorter. And definitely curvier."

    "I, I'm in Food Service. Most of us are carrying around about nine kilos we can never seem to lose."

    "Well, it doesn't look like it's in any bad places,” he said, “And even if it is, so what."

    "Your voice is the same. And your eyes are, too."

    "Yours, too,” he said, “I wonder why we didn't have perfect matching. You'd think we would."

    "Maybe – if I may –" Tripp interjected, "maybe you kinda idealized yourselves. Or maybe you idealized each other. You know, eye of the beholder and all o' that."

    "Possibly,” Doug said, “I, um, I gotta thank you, Tucker. But I think you'll understand why I'm not so thrilled to have a chaperone right now."

    "Feels like taking my Prom Date home to meet my grandfather,” Lili added.

    Dr. Phlox waved from the other side of a window in the wall. He spoke into the intercom. "Stay where I can observe you."

    "And then there's him." Tripp said, facing Doug and Lili, and away from Phlox.

    "Gawd." she giggled nervously and touched Doug's hand.

    He looked at her intently. "The best hand,” he said quietly.

    "Hang on. And don't say I never do anythin' for you." Tripp said. He turned to face the window and got right in front of it. He flipped on the intercom. "Doc, I was thinkin', while I got you here. I got this kinda, it's a little bit of a pain and a clicking sound on the right side of my jaw. See it, here?" he opened his mouth wide and did his best to block the window.

    Lili said, "Y'know, we never actually had a proper first kiss. Where you don't know which side to put your nose on and you're afraid that the kiss won't be welcome or you'll click teeth or something."

    "That's true,” Doug said, “Well, no time like the present." He put his hand on her back and drew her closer.

    Her breathing got faster. She looked down for a second and then put her hand on his face.

    It started off close-mouthed. Eyes open. A peck on the lips. Soft. Warm. Light.

    They opened their mouths tentatively and she looked into his eyes, then closed hers, and he closed his. He drew her in nearer. She moved her hand from his face to the back of his neck. His free hand touched her side very lightly. Breathing was hot, breath to breath, tasting, touching, no more difference from one mouth to the other. She made a slight noise. He countered by pushing in harder, his mouth covering hers.

    "And I get it mostly when I talk too much." Tripp said to Dr. Phlox.

    "Commander Tucker, I can see what you are trying to do, but really. I have to observe them. It is for yours and the Ensign's own safety and well-being. Now, step aside."

    Tripp cleared his throat, then cleared it louder.

    Doug opened his eyes and pulled back. He blinked a few times and drew a deep breath.

    Lili looked up, face flushed.

    "What's that?" Phlox asked. "On the side of the Ensign's mouth."


    "Are you seeing consequences of propping open the doorway?" Yimar asked.

    "Yes." her father replied. "Polloria and Baden have crossed over. Perhaps you are right. Maybe they will face punishment on that side."


    Doug touched Lili's mouth. "It's, it's blood,” he said.

    "It doesn't hurt,” she said.

    "Still, this may be a symptom,” Dr. Phlox said, “You need to stay in my line of sight throughout the remainder of Quarantine."

    "Doc, I think it's just overzealous kissin'." Tripp said.

    "That may very well be the case." the doctor admitted. "But I refuse to throw caution to the wind."

    "It's, it's all right,” Lili said, wiping the trace of blood from the side of her mouth. More later?" she said softly to Doug.

    "Yes." he whispered to her and took her hand again. "I, uh, I wonder why we didn't spark that time, when I arrived and we touched."

    "Well, that was the dream. This is the real part,” she said.

    "This part's better,” he said, smiling at her.

    "How long we got, Doc?" Tripp asked.

    "If there are no further symptoms, I estimate about an hour for you and the Ensign, and another hour or so for the Major."

    "Major?" Doug asked. "I haven't been a Major in quite a while."

    "I guess we've been sayin' that, and thinking about Jay when we've been saying it." Tripp explained. "And you're not him, of course."

    "No more than you are the guy on the other side with the scar on his face,” Doug said, “He, uh, he made this possible. And you have, too. Thank you."

    "Ah, I'm a sucker for these things." Tucker admitted. "Just don't tell anyone, all right?"

    Lili turned to Doug. "You, um, you said I was the second woman you ever trusted. May I ask who the first one was? Was it Jennifer?"

    "No, no,” Doug smiled. "It was my mother."

    "Oh. Well, um, since we'll be here a while, what do you think – because we don't know this at all – can we talk about our childhoods? You, too, Commander, if you'd like,” she said.

    "Uh, that's all right. But you two go ahead if you want to." Tripp said.

    "Well, I don't know if there's a lot to tell, although I get the feeling we don't have the same kind of system you've got,” Doug said.

    "System?" Lili asked.

    "You live with your folks until you're seven years old. They home school you in things like reading and basic math. Then you get sent to a day school for seven years. Then a high school or academy for, you guessed it, another seven. I was born on Ganymede."

    "That's a moon of Jupiter, right?" she asked.

    "It's the biggest one." he confirmed. "I'm an only child. And then I was sent to Triton Day School. Lemme tell ya, Triton is always cold."

    "When did you see your parents?" she asked.

    "We have a one-week holiday every season. Everything shuts down. So I saw them during winter week break, that kinda thing. Took a series of tests at the end – everyone does. Maybe five percent become, like, elites, doctors, artists and the like. Another ten percent become engineers. And then the other eighty, eighty-five percent of all of us? We become soldiers,” Doug paused for a breath. "Guess where I placed?"

    Lili smiled. "So you were fourteen and they had your life all planned out?"

    "More or less. High school was on Terra. I had scored really well so I went to West Point."

    "What's Terra?" Tripp asked. "Er, sorry to eavesdrop, but it's gonna be inevitable while we're in here."

    "It's okay,” Doug said, “Terra is the home world. You know, third planet from the sun?"

    "Ohhhh,” Lili said, “We call it Earth."

    "Odd,” Doug said, “Anyway, finished West Point and went to basic in Cambodia, which I've told you about. I was there for around four years, waiting for an assignment. Then I just went wherever, did whatever. Did freighter defense to start, and then moved up to the MACOs."

    Lili shuddered when he mentioned moving up. "I see,” she said quietly.

    Doug pressed on her hand a little. "Yeah, it was like that." he admitted. "Took off for wars whenever they intervened. Went to war on his planet, actually." he nodded in the direction of Phlox.

    "What about the Xindi War? Didja have that?" Tripp asked.

    "Yes. I fought in the Battle of Azati Prime."

    "You don't have to talk about that. Not today,” Lili said, “How 'bout if I go? Seeing as you only know about the big trauma in my childhood, maybe I should fill you in on a few of the other details."

    "All right,” Doug smiled at her.

    "Y'know, you mainly smile with your mouth closed." she observed.

    "My teeth are a little crooked,” he said, “I guess I got self-conscious when I was a teenager and that never really went away."

    "Oh." she squeezed his hand. "Anyway. My life. I was born on Titan. And our lives are very different, as you have surmised. Went to school and all. I'm also an only. And when I was nine years old, well, you know what happened."

    "And?" Dr. Phlox asked. "I don't mean to pry, but this is interesting if you don't mind telling."

    "It's all right. I, my parents were killed in a house fire and I was sent to live with my mother's parents, in New France on Titan."

    "That have anything to do with you becoming a chef?" Tripp asked.

    "Yes,” she said, “The way I processed it all was to become a master of fire. Went to Titan High School, didn't do so well and was probably going to be all set for a thrilling career washing dishes when I got an opportunity to cook for the head of the Mars Culinary Institute."

    "What did you make?" Doug asked.

    She smiled. "You knew I would know this. It was Lobster en Croute. It's a strained bisque – that's a kind of soup – in puff pastry. I guess I impressed her and ended up being admitted to the MCI. Finished up when I was twenty and first worked at the Tethys Tavern. I didn't just cook there, I tended bar sometimes, too. Went through a bunch of restaurants and opened Voracious on Earth a little over five years ago. Then when the Xindi War broke out, I was drafted and here I am."

    "So you can make a good martini, Ensign?" Phlox asked. "Perhaps I will ask you to show me that when I am next off-duty."

    "I also know the proper way to pour a Guinness,” she said.

    "What's that?" asked Doug.

    "It's an Irish dry stout." she explained.

    "Ensign, you and Commander Tucker are free to go,” Dr. Phlox said.

    She got up. "Stay,” Doug said.

    "I have to go slave over a hot stove,” she said, “Something about a very special lunch for a certain weary traveler."

    "Oh?" Doug asked, mouth corners turned up a little.

    "Yes. And I have to supervise and change and get it all ready because it's got to be perfect."

    "I, I hope you don't serve that traveler like an Emperor. I think he can make his own plate."

    She smiled. "I'll be off-duty when that lunch starts. So I'll be a guest, too. See you there. Oh, and here." she handed him the PADD. "Something to do to pass the time." She and Tucker left.

    Doug sighed. "All right. Uh, Doc, if you don't mind, I'll just read."

    "Very well,” Dr. Phlox said, “I am right here if you have any difficulties."

    Doug clicked on the PADD and started it up again. He read her letter to him and smiled, then started looking at Jay's service record. "December 5th, huh? Strange. I'm two days older than you." he murmured to himself.


    "I understand you think you'll continue to evade punishment by being here, Baden,” Treve said.

    "It was all her idea." A ruddy Baden said, “We did not want to kill your mother, but it was necessary. Polloria insisted."

    "My mother is alive on this side,” Treve said, “But no matter. You're both still responsible. I'll contact my counterpart. Your free days are coming to an end.”


    "You look good, Roomie,” Jennifer said as she and Lili stood outside the Main Conference Room.

    "I feel a little like my boyfriend's meeting my grandparents for the first time."

    "Well, he kind of is,” Jenny said, “It'll all go fine. Oh, and I wanted you to know – I'm staying with Hoshi for the next few days."

    "You don't know how grateful I am,” Lili whispered.

    "I can guess,” Jenny said.

    They walked in. Lili sat down with Jenny. Malcolm smiled at her and took a seat one away from her. "Where's the guest of honor?" he asked.

    "They're on their way,” Hoshi said, checking. "That's a pretty dress, Lili."

    "Thanks. I feel like a teenager."

    The door opened and Phlox and Doug walked in. She nodded her head to Doug, who came over and sat between her and Malcolm. "You look beautiful,” he said softly. "I remember that blue dress."

    She smiled. "Do you, do you know everyone?" Introductions were made. When she got to Jenny, Lili said, "This is Jenny Crossman. She's, uh, she's one of my very best friends."

    Brian Delacroix walked in with a huge tray. Doug swallowed hard when he saw him. Brian said, "We, um, Ensign O'Day designed the menu. And she insisted that the portions be small because there are a lot of different things. And, um, a heavy lunch would make everybody nap afterwards anyway."

    "I don't want to be asleep." she whispered to him. He squeezed her knee slightly and she jumped a little.

    "First we have a salad. On, um ..,” Brian said.

    "A bed of mixed greens,” Lili prompted.

    "Um, yes. And with Mandarin oranges and slivered almonds. Enjoy,” Brian set out the plates.

    Doug whispered to Lili, "Oranges?"

    "Yes,” she said quietly, reddening a tiny bit.

    He sat there for a while. Everyone stared. "Huh?" he asked.

    "They're being really polite and waiting for you to start,” Lili explained.

    "Oh, well, on, um, on the other side of the pond, you wait for your superior officer to eat first. So I guess I'm waiting for the Captain, Commander T'Pol and Commander Tucker. Lieutenant Reed and I are the same, so I don't have to wait for him."

    "Well, we don't stand on ceremony like that,” said Jonathan. "But I'll start anyway." he smiled.

    "Something to drink, sir?" asked Brian.

    "Uh, water, I guess,” Doug said, “Or show me where to get it."

    "I don't mind serving, sir."

    "We have other things to drink,” Lili said, “There's fruit juice and soft drinks. And we have coffee and tea."

    "Wait, you have real coffee?"

    "Yes, of course. How do you take it, sir?"

    "Uh, black, I guess. I don't want too many overindulgences."

    "What was the transference like?" Travis asked, between bites. "What's everybody looking at me for? Isn't anyone else curious?"

    "A long transport is not fun,” Hoshi said, “But you were in way longer than I was that one time."

    "Oh, Emp– uh, Ensign. Yeah, it's, well, you're kind of alone with your thoughts,” Doug said, cleaning his plate.

    "Next course,” Lili prompted.

    "We have a filet mignon with roasted potatoes and a side of spinach with, uh, with Vidalia onions and Wisconsin cheddar and, um, sea salt from, er ..,” Brian said.

    "Proteus,” Lili said, “The, uh, you have the one that's cooked rare?"

    "Yes, this one,” Brian produced the plate and put it in front of Doug.

    "You remembered everything,” he said.

    "All I want to do is please you,” she said softly.

    He squeezed her knee again, and she put her hand on top of his, under the table.

    "There's no steak knife,” he said.

    "You don't need one,” she said.

    "Hayes, do you have plans?" Captain Archer asked.

    "I, um, it depends on a lot of things, I guess. A lot to think about right now. I might just retire. I don't know."

    "Well, you don't have to decide everything right now,” Jenny said.

    "Lots of time,” he said, eating the last of his steak.

    "Still hungry?" she asked.

    "Yes,” he said quietly, looking at her intently.

    "We have chocolate chunk cookies!" Brian announced with a flourish.

    "I remember the last time you made those,” Doug said.

    "Well, I don't think it'll end the same way,” Lili said.

    "Better not,” Doug whispered.

    "Uh, Captain?" Lili asked, blood rushing to her face. "Can we, uh, get these to go?"

    Captain Archer smiled broadly. "Yes, of course. We've made you sit here long enough."

    "Thank you, Captain,” Doug said, getting up. He looked at her. She was grabbing two cookies and putting them into a napkin.

    "Thank you all,” she said, straightening up.

    Once they got out of the Conference Room, they ran to Lili's quarters.
  8. Sandoval

    Sandoval Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 21, 2010
  9. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    His story, his affectation.

    Good job so far-now to see how it all wraps....
  10. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "That's enough running for one day,” she said, opening up the door.

    "Different physical things,” he said, taking his jacket off. "This your desk?"

    "Isn't it obvious? The other one has that huge picture of Jenny's fiancé."

    Doug looked. "That's Ramirez. He's in Engineering here, too?"

    "No. He's on one of Saturn's moons. I forget which one,” she said, “I'm not so sure Jenny's quite got it figured out where they'll live when they get married."

    "Well, she can probably be an engineer anywhere,” he said, kissing her cheek and placing his jacket on her desk chair.

    "I, uh, can we talk just a tiny bit?" she scratched her hand, which was still covered with intricate silvery scrollwork.

    "Of course."

    "It's, just, I feel like we kind of skipped over some things. Things that may be more important than we realize."

    "Yes." he agreed. "Seems like jumping into bed right now, this very minute might not be the best of ideas. Despite our desires."

    "I, uh, I wanted to tell you. I spoke with Treve yesterday."

    "Treve? And?"

    "Well, I asked him if his people ever go to places and eat food that other people have prepared. He said they do it all the time, and it's a very, I guess the word is fashionable, thing to do."

    "That bodes well,” he said, “Is there a location you, um, have in mind?"

    "Yes. Or, rather, it was Treve's idea. Fep City. It's one of the smaller cities on the second-largest planet but it's where the artists and musicians and the tastemakers hang out. Plus there are other ships coming in all the time – Klingons, Orions, Andorians and others. He said he doesn't have much of a diplomatic career any more but might want to work with me."

    "So, you don't need a business partner?" Doug asked, looking at her a little worriedly.

    "Oh, I definitely do!" she touched his face. "But it pays to have someone else who knows the space and the clientele. I think it could really work."

    "I'm in,” he said, “If you'll have me."

    She kissed him softly. "Of course. You know I love you. I can send this now." she opened up her computer.

    "What's that?"

    "My resignation."

    "Oh, um, Lili?"


    "I think we should talk a little more. You need to really know what you're getting yourself into. Not just for the place. But with, with me."


    "I have things I need to confess to you. And then you should decide, well, decide if it's all worth it. And I'm excited about this, about all of it, but I'll abide by whatever you want."

    "What kinds of things?" she asked.

    "Dark things. Things you won't like,” he said.

    "Listen,” she said, cupping his face in her hands. "I know this much. I know you're a killer, multiple times over. I know that you lived under a moral code that was different – no, nonexistent – versus the one here. I know that you've got a past. But I think you – we – have got a future."

    "These are what you'd think of as atrocities,” he said, swallowing hard. "I mean, fourteen is not the number. Not really. The real number is a lot higher."

    "More humans?"

    "Denobulans. Xindi. Klingons."

    "You went to war a lot, Doug."

    "I killed Denobulan children,” he said, “And I got a medal for that."

    She trembled a little. "Did you bring it with you?"

    "No. It was the first thing I put into the disposer yesterday. I, um, this is all I brought." he emptied his pockets onto her desk, next to her communicator. A few changes of underclothes and socks. "I have, I have nothing else."

    "Don't you have a knife in your left boot?"

    "No. I gave it to Tripp Tucker before I left. I didn't want to have any of that with me. I don't want to feel like I need it."

    She nodded. "These are –" she took his hands in hers "– as clean as I suppose you can make your hands. It is, that is all in the past and over on the other side of the pond. And so long as it doesn't come here, as long as you're done with all of that, it's, it's going to be all right."

    "I, my temper, Lili. I might not be able to control it."

    "Well, we're gonna fight sometimes, Doug."

    "Yes, I know."

    "Would you, would you ever hit me?"

    "No. Gawd, no. I never did that. There were fellows who did on my, uh, side. That always sickened me. I intervened whenever I could. But no, I draw a line. I don't hit women. Neither did Tucker. But others certainly did." he shook his head.

    "I think you'll be all right,” she said, “I think we will be more than a little bit all right."

    "I don't deserve you,” he said, sitting on a nearby chair and running his hands through his hair, parting it over to the side unevenly. He folded his arms behind his head and looked up at her standing in front of him.

    "Don't say that,” she said, “Let me look at you."


    He smiled slightly. "I also want to thank you for the best meal I have ever, ever had."

    "Well, they're not all like that. I think Brian Delacroix is making dinner."

    "What makes you think we'll be leaving here for dinner?" he asked. "If you, um, if you'll still have me."

    "Yes, I will,” she said, getting onto his lap. "So we'll save those cookies for later. A little, um, fortification."

    "Crumbs in the sheets,” he said, “Or maybe I'll just use your body as a table."

    "I was thinking."


    "I'd like to, um, do it the way we did it the first time. You remember?"

    "Of course. I was just sleeping, minding my own business, when I get pushed into this wall. So I push back and this girl is kissing me, so I kiss her back and then suddenly we're naked and it is hotter than anything."

    "You kissed back? I kissed back. You kissed first."

    "Ha, it's like you thinking I'm shorter and I thought you were taller. I guess we both wanted it to be equal."

    "I still do,” she said, “So no more about who deserves whom, or what."

    "All right. But I still say you kissed first,” he said, kissing her gently. "Hmm, our clothes aren't going to just magically come off. You'd better take off the dress so it doesn't get messed up."

    "Okay." She got up and pulled her dress off.

    He said, “You still have those markings on your arms and legs that the Calafans gave you."

    "Yeah. Phlox says he can remove them whenever I want. Do they bother you?"

    "Hell no. It's a road map." He smiled, taking his shirt off, revealing a grey tee. "Ha, what's this?" he said, and reached for one of her baseball caps. He put it on. "I could play fourth base, eh?"


    "There is no fourth base. It's home plate, silly." she knocked the hat off his head. "Focus, Doug."

    "I can't stop focusing,” he said. He stared at her for a moment. "More beautiful than I thought."

    He pulled her in close and pushed her into the wall.

    "Ow!" she cried out.

    "Oh, sorry,” he said, “Here, maybe, uh, let's get into bed."

    She threw the blanket off and got on top of the top sheet. He lay down next to her and kissed her. "I, Lili, I want to take you there first."

    "Doug, you don't have to."

    "Yes. I don't, I don't kid myself. I know that women don't always get there. And I don't want you to feel you need to spare my feelings if it doesn't happen for you. So let me do this for you."

    "All I, all I want to do is please you."

    "You already do. Put your hands up a sec,” he said and, when she had done so, he lifted the camisole off, and then took off his tee shirt. "That's what I want,” he said, “That skin to my skin."

    "Even though this skin, is perhaps, a little older than you thought it was?" she asked.

    "Doesn't matter,” he said, “What matters is, it is yours.”

    He concentrated. Touching, tasting, caressing. She gasped and moaned so much that she became hoarse. And then became giddy, giggling and trembling, body jumping.

    "Now,” he said, and took off his boxers. She looked at him and gasped. "What's the matter?" he asked.

    "It's, uh, it's like good news and bad news."


    "The good news, Doug, is, the proportions. The, uh, bad news is also the proportions. Frankly, I'm a little afraid of you."

    "I'll, uh, I'll be careful,” he said, “Hold back if I have to." He kissed her neck. "Are you ready?"

    "Yes." she whispered hoarsely.

    When it was all over, he lay there, panting. "Huh. Are you, how do you, how do you feel?" he asked, once he had some semblance of his voice again. She felt incredibly hot.

    "It's a little," she gasped, "It’s like my first time all over again."

    "Are you, how do you feel?" he repeated.

    "I feel," she said, and trembled a little, "a little like I got hit with a phase cannon."

    He smiled down at her. "Lili, you're so –" he didn't finish the sentence as she suddenly looked strange.

    He looked down and she backed away slightly and sat up. They could both see it – a dark, purplish-red, rapidly spreading J-shaped stain on the top sheet.

    "That's not, uh?" he asked.

    She shook her head. "Call Dr. Phlox,” she said weakly. "I think I'm hemorrhaging."
  11. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    It was a blur.

    Doug was well-trained for emergencies, but this was the first time he'd ever been so truly emotionally invested. Not even the first time Susan had had a blackout had he felt this.

    So he had no idea how he'd had the presence of mind to pull boxers on, wrap Lili in the top sheet, throw the blanket over her and even open her communicator and scream for Phlox. He barely remembered picking her up, holding her limp body and running in the hallway to Sick Bay.

    He was somehow sitting on one of Phlox's stools, next to some experiment or another, while a bat squealed occasionally in a nearby cage and Phlox was behind a sheet with Lili and all Doug could do was sit there and stare at the floor and repeat to himself, over and over again, "That's never happened before. That's never happened before. That's never happened before." And on and on and on and on, again and again, the same four-word mantra.

    Phlox finally came out from behind the sheet. "Doc?" Doug asked weakly, looking up.

    "She is stable for the moment. But I will have to perform microsurgery, and I will have to do it soon. All of her inferior and superior vessicles are shredded. There's no other way to describe what I'm seeing. These are, these are the blood vessels in the pelvis, just past the uterus."

    "But you can, you can, she's, uh ...?"

    "There are no guarantees,” Phlox said, “Her chance of survival is not good. She is in shock."

    Doug stared into space, starting the mantra all over again.

    Phlox ignored him and opened his communicator. "Phlox to the Captain. Yes, Captain. Major, uh, Lieutenant Commander Hayes is here at Sick Bay. He should be confined to quarters, at the very least."

    "What's going on?" Jonathan asked.

    "He has critically injured Ensign O'Day. She may not survive. It is, it is my understanding that, if she were not to survive, that you would need to get him to the nearest Starbase to face charges."

    "I'm on my way with a security team. Archer out."

    Doug kept repeating the mantra.

    "Look, Hayes," Phlox said, “I don't give a damn whether it was intended." This got Doug to stop, and he looked up and listened. "And it doesn't matter anyway, not so much, not with second or third degree homicide."


    "Yes. If she dies, you will be thrown into the Brig and we will detour in order to bring you to justice, Zoph."


    "Uh, Hayes. Do you – do you know what I found? I mean really, really found?" Phlox's voice was rising and a vein was standing out on his neck.

    Doug shook his head silently, feeling sick.

    "It's not just the vessicles,” Phlox explained. "There is blood on both sides of her mouth. Her throat is rubbed raw."

    "Throat? We didn't, uh, oh, never mind,” Doug interjected.

    "Yes, her throat. And I found fluid where it's not supposed to go, farther back in the abdominal cavity than a human woman's body can allow. There's blood on your shorts, there's blood under your fingernails,” Doug looked in both places. It was true. "I don't know what, what you do, although I can guess, how you, you get your pleasure. But you have wrung her out like a rag."

    "Doctor ...."

    "No. You will listen. Human women aren't shaped that way. Neither are Denobulan women, or Andorian women, or Vulcan women. Klingon women are. You could, you should just take up with a Klingon woman. She would be better shaped to, to accommodate you. This is assuming that you ever get out of custody."

    "Gawd. That never happened on, on the other side of the pond."

    "Pond?! That's all quaint and cute but it was no pond that you crossed! It wasn't just some hop, skip and jump to a new playground. You crossed a barrier. It was supposed to be a significant barrier. There was a reason it existed, and breaching it wasn't easy for a reason. You and her are barely the same species. It is all out of proportion. These, the species, they should not be mixing this way. I don't, I don't see it as being possible or being at all worth it."

    "You're Denobulan, doc!" Doug said, “It's the planet where everyone's on the make. Where there's love and sex everywhere. It's one huge party."

    "Yes. But we don't go around harming the ones we love. I mean, is it a thrill for you? Does a snapping bone get you excited? Do screams of pain make you climax?"

    "Doctor," Doug said, rising and finding his voice a little, "I know that many years ago, humans didn't see it as being worth it to mix races. I mean, it was about twenty years ago, I would walk around the streets of Titania with Susan, my girl at the time. And people still stared. But most of them didn't. Most of them were okay with seeing a couple where the races were mixed. And, and I think it's going to be that way with species, too. Maybe not right now, but some time. This is going to come up again. We're not the first, and we won't be the last."

    "Then if this procedure works, I will name it after you."

    "Me? I don't need that kind of glory."

    "I'm not speaking of glory, Zoph. Uh, Hayes. It is to serve as a warning to all human females, and Denobulans, and Andorians and Vulcans and Xindi sloth women and Orion women and any others who might benefit, to, to warn them away. From you."

    Doug balled his fists and then closed his eyes. Bad idea. Bad idea, he thought to himself. "Mark of Cain?"

    Dr. Phlox didn't get a chance to answer as Captain Archer came in with Deb Haddon and Chip Masterson.

    "What's the news?" Jonathan asked.

    "I will have to perform extensive microsurgery,” Phlox explained. "And survival is far from guaranteed. I cannot have this man in here. I need to concentrate."

    "Understood. Doctor, go do what you need to. We will get Hayes back to his, uh, her quarters,” Jonathan said. Dr. Phlox left.

    Jonathan sat down on a stool. "Hayes, sit."

    "Yes, sir,” Doug said softly, sitting.

    "We'll probably have to explain your rights to you, if, if, well, I hope it doesn't come to that,” Jonathan said, “Let's, uh, let's try to think positively."

    "Positively, sir?"

    "Yes. Think about what will happen if – when – she recovers. When."

    "Sir, I've made up my mind. If she recovers, I'd like permission to, to leave Starfleet. And just, just get on one of these ships and leave."

    "With the Ensign?"

    "No. Just me,” Doug said.


    "I hate the fact that he'll have a cast on his arm." The Empress complained.

    "Well, I agree that it doesn't look good, but the child does have a broken wrist. It was a lot easier for you to take MacKenzie falling on you than for Jun to take it,” said Dr. Morgan.

    "Still. Well, and these cuts I've got. There won't be any permanent scarring?" she asked, looking at her cut face in a small hand mirror.

    "I don't believe so, Empress."

    Masterson came in, holding something small. "Empress, we have some more findings from the investigation."

    "Oh?" Hoshi asked.

    He presented the item to her. "D. Hayes." she read off a piece of cloth. "So he's our bomber. Did you find his DNA at the site?"

    "On what was left of the uni, yes. Still no sign of Tucker and Cutler, but we have evidence that the transporter was run at least once."

    "Keep checking. I don't think we'll head to the surface to look for them. This ship needs repairs, not a wild goose chase, not even for a competent Engineer,” Hoshi said.

    "Yes, Empress,” said Masterson.

    "Oh, and Masterson?"


    "You're promoted to run Tactical."

    "Uh, thank you, Empress, but won't MacKenzie hate that? He's in line before me."

    "I have other things in mind for him,” she said, “Dismissed."


    "I came as soon as I heard." It was Jenny. "How is she?"

    "Not so good,” Doug said.

    She put her hand on his. "It's, Phlox will do whatever he can."

    "Look, can you stay with her?" he asked. "I, uh, I'm being confined to quarters."

    She nodded. "Captain, Commander Tucker knows I'm here."

    "Okay,” Jonathan said, “Come along, Hayes."


    "Why should I listen to anything you say?" Treve asked the ruddy Baden.

    "I don't suppose I have much credibility with you or anyone else on this side. Still, it's time, I think. On the other side, the system is weak and, and, well, your mother's counterpart is dead. I gave the injection of tricoulamine. I should be held accountable. And, and Polloria. It was, it was her idea. She is here. Your authorities need to find her."

    "So you're turning yourself in?" asked Treve.

    "Yes. I can no longer live with this. That is why, that is why I am here, on this side. But she, she's here because she doesn't want anyone to hold her, ever. If she can't be in control on our side, she'll try to be on yours, and become the High Priestess here."

    "We don't – well, the government is still debating it. We might scrap the whole idea of a High Priestess altogether." Treve explained.

    "Still, your mother remains the High Priestess for now?" Baden asked. Treve nodded. Baden continued. "I don't imagine your mother is safe."

    "My mother is still comatose."

    "Doesn't matter,” said Baden. "Polloria will make sure that your Yipran, on this side, is dead, too."


    Doug was back in Lili's quarters. He grabbed the stained bottom sheet and threw it into the laundry. And then got into the shower, bloodied boxers and all, and started sobbing.


    Lili saw a familiar face. "Treve?"

    "Yes,” he said, coming closer, coppery arms exposed. "It is agreeable to see you again."

    "I don't know if I'm asleep. I guess I am."

    "You must be."

    "I spoke with your counterpart."


    "And he said," Lili stated, "that your, er, his, mother is improving. He also said he knew that your criminals had escaped over here."

    "Well, I wouldn't exactly call it an escape,” Treve said, “My sister is in charge of things now. You remember her, yes? She's just not strong enough, so nothing was really done and there were no real consequences for Polloria and Baden."

    "So why would they come here?"

    "For Polloria, since she's not the High Priestess here, I imagine she will try to fulfill that role there. As for Baden, he's a weasel and probably followed her to be a part of all that."

    "Treve, er, the other Treve, he said their counterparts were in custody on his side. I don't think they're going to be able to do what they're planning."

    "I don't know,” said the ruddy Treve. "Our people are filing back and forth every night, it seems, and I don't believe that kind of exchange will end soon, if ever. Anyone can move freely, or somewhat freely. It's not exactly chaotic but it is throwing our society into a bit of a tizzy. Details are going to be forgotten or glossed over, and a little matter of confining a criminal just might not happen. I am thinking that that is a part of Polloria's strategy – to continue to sow this kind of discomfort until it morphs into out and out chaos."

    "I hope it's not too chaotic,” Lili said, “I'm thinking of retiring from Starfleet and settling here."

    "Oh,” Treve said, “How very interesting. And it does," he smiled, "make this idea I've had kicking about a bit, it's making that idea all the more plausible."


    "Oh, yes. Would you consent to be my nighttime lover?"


    Doug got dressed again, sat in Lili's quarters and pulled out her PADD. There was a file he hadn't noticed before. He opened it. It read:

    'Dear Doug,

    I'd like for you to know exactly what you're getting yourself into. These are links and passwords to every financial account I've got.



    He peeked at her finances. She had had a modest salary but had saved most of it. There were few big trips and no extravagances or expensive luxuries. And no gifts for anyone for years. "I think you need to be more aggressive with your investments,” he said softly. "Assuming you'll be able to actually enjoy them."

    The door chimed.

    "Uh, come in."

    It was Malcolm. "Hayes, I don't know very much about what happened as that is to protect the Ensign's privacy. But I want you to know that, if it ends badly, you won't be around long enough to get to the Brig. I'll do it myself."

    "Reed, look, you don't wanna do that."

    "No?" Malcolm's voice was rising.

    "No. You don't want to become a killer of men. Not for this,” Doug was surprisingly calm.

    "Don't be so sure. And don't try to get out of it."'

    "Reed, man, I gotta tell ya."

    "Tell me what?" Malcolm was livid.

    "Tell you that I won't stay with her. That this is enough, it's, it's more than enough. I can't do this to her again."

    "So you would abandon her if she could no longer give you what you, what you wanted? You're despicable."

    "No, no. It's that, she's a very passionate woman. I wouldn't want her to be obligated, if we could, could no longer, you know. I would, I would set her free. I mean, you're sweet on her."

    "I –? Hayes, it's not that."

    "No. It is. She said she thought you were hitting on her."

    "It was," Malcolm was considerably calmer, "it was that I finally noticed her."

    "Noticed? How could you not notice her?"

    "It's that," Malcolm sat down in Jennifer's desk chair, "it's that women in love are just, they're so much more beautiful."

    "They're even more beautiful when it's you they're in love with."

    "I, I wouldn't know."

    "Oh, c'mon, Malcolm."

    "No. I don't." Reed admitted. "But you did not see what we did, at luncheon today. The way she looked at you. And, I have to admit, the way you look at her. I, I know that, that whatever this all is, that you, at least I don't think, that it all went very pear-shaped but that you didn't mean to harm her."

    "I didn't. Gawd, there's nothing I wanted less than that,” Doug ran his fingers through his hair and looked down.

    "I can, I think I can see that. But leaving her? Surely that would be another horrible blow to her."

    "How can I stay?" Doug asked. "I don't want that part of her life to suddenly be switched off. And to not be able to really touch her. My God, that would be torture."

    "You'll see what, what the doctor says,” Malcolm said.

    "He's about as angry with me as you are."


    Lili laughed. "Treve! I am a lot older than you probably think. And you have Jennifer. And I'm, I can tell I'm badly hurt."

    "Well, being hurt does not matter. This is a dream. You can fly and sing and make love all you like. And, huh, your age. Jennifer is older than I am and that part's all right."

    "You're being ridiculous. I'm just not wired that way. And I don't think she is, either." she inadvertently touched his hand, and there was a small spark. "Huh, that's odd. I wonder what it means."

    "That happens all the time with contact from one side to the other. No real meaning."

    "Even so," she said, "I am not looking for anyone. We humans just aren't wired this way. And how can you be thinking of betraying Jennifer like this?"

    "Betraying? Oh, dear, is that what you humans think our nighttime relations are?"

    "Well, yes."

    "Well, no. We all know about it, and we all do it. And we do it in order to keep our daylight relationships together. You see, the nighttime one – that person is subordinate. And they know they are. They aren't jealous; it's simply the nature of things. So they act as supporters, helpers, champions, if you will, of the main daylight relationship. You would, I would come to you if I had problems with Jennifer, get your advice and the like. You'd come to me with your issues with your man, whatever they were. Of course, there would be times when we would be doing far more than simply talking. But I think that, since I am with a human woman, it would be most beneficial for me to get this, this advice," he looked her up and down, "from a human woman such as yourself. And, I have to admit, I enjoy her attentions so I do wonder about whether other human woman are similarly, uh, gifted."

    "Treve. I, I'm flattered. But my conscience, it just doesn't bend that way. I would consider it to be disloyalty. And I think, I heard the doctor say – I may be, I may be dying. Or I may not recover much. Or not able to, to be with Doug again. Not that way."

    "Not have physical relations?" Treve asked. Lili nodded. "Well," he said, "surely there must be some way for things to be repaired and improved."

    "But –"

    "But nothing. Your doctor exists to serve you. If there's anything I know of Baden, it's that he lived to serve, although not for the best of motives from the best of masters. Still, cannot you speak with your doctor about somehow, I don't know, altering you? Making it possible?"

    "I don't know. I think right now the plan is to make sure I live at all."

    "Very well,” Treve said, “You may find the idea of a lover in the night to be very attractive yet."

    "You're still trying. Please, uh, stop trying. I can't think of that right now."

    "My apologies. I do, ah, yes. I believe you may be pulling toward wakefulness now. Let me know if you change your mind."

    He vanished.


    "Come with me,” Malcolm said.

    "I'm supposed to be confined to quarters."

    "I know. I can override that so long as I escort you." he opened the door. "Haddon, Masterson, you come with us."

    He took Doug back to Sick Bay, where Jennifer was still waiting.

    "Doctor," Malcolm said, "we will stay out of your way. And if things go very wrong, we will of course escort Lieutenant Hayes to the Brig. But right now, his place is here."

    "Your timing is impeccable,” Phlox said, “I finished up about an hour ago. She should be coming out of the anesthesia soon."
  12. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    That was a bit off the wall. Were you insinuating that his romance was more than she could handle, physically? Are the Mirror men that different physically? Some explanation might be in order...
  13. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    It's a few things - they aren't the same, plus he's a lot stronger than she is.

    Anyway - more to be revealed -
  14. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "Medical Log, Dr. Miva. Today, we got a very interesting new patient in the Main Hospital. The patient is a human male. Age unknown. Says his name is," the doctor, a female Calafan, read off a chart, "Charles Tucker. Came in with two human females, one has false calloo on her extremities. Also arrived with the elder brother of the High Priestess. Treve has been taken into custody." she paused to clear her throat.

    "Now for information on the patient. Patient presents with severe, extensive radiation poisoning and a facial scar approximately four centimeters in length. Radiation poisoning is being treated with Cledden in injectable form. Patient is responding well to treatments. Note: patient may be slightly delusional, as per the human female who does not display false calloo. According to that female, the patient has been incorrectly referring to her as his wife."


    Doug and Malcolm waited in Sick Bay. Doug stood over Lili's bed. She opened her eyes tentatively, and smiled at him weakly. "You know, your eyes are still like stones."

    "Yes,” he said, letting out a breath in relief. He came closer to her. She reached out and touched his hand. He bent over her and she touched his face and kissed him.

    "I missed you,” she said.

    "Did you dream?" he asked. She nodded. "See anyone I know?" he asked.

    "Yes. Treve."

    "Treve? And how's he doing?"

    "He propositioned me, actually."

    Doug smiled. "So, uh, what did you tell him?"

    "Douglas!" she gasped in mock indignation.

    "Hayes, I suspect you're in trouble if she uses your full name,” Malcolm said, hanging back.

    "Malcolm?" she asked. "Come here a second. I have a secret to tell you."

    Doug straightened up and switched places with Malcolm who said to him, "Do you know anything about this?"


    Malcolm came closer and bent over Lili. "Yes?" he asked.

    She brought her lips to his ear and whispered, "Thank you for everything you have said, and done, and everything you haven't said. And," she paused, "when it happens for you, I know it will be just as epic." She kissed him on the cheek, close to his mouth, brushing his lips slightly at the opposite corner. He shut his eyes tightly and kissed her back on her cheek, close to her mouth, and for a split second he could tell himself that his mouth was really two and a half centimeters to the left and was really squarely on hers. He put his hand behind her back and lifted her off the bed slightly in a hug.

    She broke the embrace first and fell back a bit onto the hospital bed. "Doug?" she asked.


    "Am I all right? When can we be together again, and try again?"

    "We can't,” he said, as Malcolm walked back and lightly pushed him back to her. "We just, we can't."

    "Where's Dr. Phlox?" she asked.

    "I am right here,” Phlox said, parting the curtain in order to join them.

    "I'll just. Here,” Malcolm said, parting the curtain and leaving the little bed area. "Masterson, Haddon, you too, Jennifer. Let's wait outside." They followed him to the hallway in front of Sick Bay.

    "Doctor, I understand what's happened. That the parts just don't, they don't fit. But what does this mean?" she asked.

    "I have repaired your inferior and superior vessicles. Or, rather, I have repaired some of them while most were fused together or rerouted. There was also a hole in the back of the uterine wall. That's been repaired. The cervix is all right but had an abrasion. I also cleared your pelvic cavity of foreign fluid in order to prevent peritonitis."

    "Thank you. And?" she asked.

    "And that is a great deal of work. Lieutenant Commander Hayes may not be able to get here in time again, if there is another time. It is your prerogative – you are both consenting adults – but I would advise you, as your personal physician, that it would be an exceptionally foolish course of action."

    "Doctor, I have a question. And, and, please bear with me because I don't know the anatomical terms and I'm sure my analogy is faulty. But, let's say I was stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey. I would gut it, remove the giblets, that sort of thing. And then I'd have all sorts of room to play around with. Add a cut up lemon or rosemary twigs or whatever."

    "I'm not following you,” Dr. Phlox said.

    "Well, what if you took out something I, I wasn't really, well, using. Then would there be enough room?"

    "You don't exactly have spare organs to just toss out. And that kind of butchery went out over a hundred years ago,” Phlox said.

    "No. There's one. Doctor, what if you gave me a hysterectomy?"

    "Ensign, your uterus is, despite the repairs I have just made, perfectly serviceable. I can't condone just removing it."

    "Well, I mean, I'm forty-eight years old. I won't be able to have children for more than maybe three years from now, at best. I'm already perimenopausal. If you take out my womb, well, doesn't that just kick off menopause and then it's over and done with? And then you'd have room?"

    "Lili, maybe you shouldn't be talking this way,” Doug said, “Don't go under the knife on my account."

    "It wouldn't matter any way,” Dr. Phlox said, “The cervix would still be in the way."

    "Couldn't you just, I don't know, push it up and tie it off or something?" she asked.

    "No, it's a part of the uterus itself,” Phlox said, “Let me think about this." He went through the curtain and walked to a different part of Sick Bay.

    "Lili, this is crazy,” Doug said, “And I'm not going to be all right with you just tossing aside childbearing."

    "I don't have children,” she said, “I never, we never really talked about this. Is that something that you, you want?"

    "I don't know,” he said, “I never had a future before. It's hard for me to think in these terms. But – no matter what – I don't want you to just give all of that up, even to give up the possibility."

    "I have an idea,” Phlox said, returning. "In anyone else it would be more complicated, but since your inferior and superior vessicles have already been altered, well, that's why I am entertaining this idea at all."

    "Go on,” she said.

    "I can deliberately prolapse the uterus. Bring it farther in front than normal, and up, not down. Then, as you suggested, pull the cervix up and secure it with an organic mesh. You'd probably feel a bit more bladder pressure at times, but otherwise you should barely notice it, I am thinking,” Phlox said, “It is an interesting medical challenge."

    "What if, Doc, what if she got pregnant?" Doug asked.

    "Well, that's the truly tricky part. An embryo would implant in about twenty-four hours. And the uterus and cervix would have to be restored to their original positions in order to allow for proper fetal development. Or to terminate the pregnancy, if that was preferred. Therefore, you'd need to know if the Ensign were pregnant within a day or so of fertilization."

    "I'd have to go to a doctor and get a pregnancy test every time we made love?" Lili asked.

    "No,” Dr. Phlox smiled. "You'd only have to test once per day. And there are home kits you could use. If the test were positive, you'd visit your doctor immediately. The Calafans have advanced medical technology. With your records and anatomical information supplied by me, they could reverse the procedure, and reinstate it after childbirth."

    "That's a lot of tests,” Doug said, “We'd, um, we'd buy them in bulk."

    Lili smiled at him. "Yes. Doctor, do you think a pregnancy is even possible?"

    "Yes. I'd say it's more of a certainty in this instance. Even with the birth control shot. When I, Hayes, when I had a chance to investigate a previous, er, sample, I tested its durability. Everything is rather resilient."

    "Doctor, I never fathered a child on the other side of the, uh, in the other place."

    "Circumstances are different there,” Phlox said, “The birth control shot, I estimate, will have an efficacy of perhaps sixty percent, versus nearly one hundred percent in the usual scenario. Assuming that this all works, of course."

    "And if it doesn't, we'll try a hysterectomy?" Lili asked.

    "That would be the next logical course of action."

    "And if that didn't work?" Doug asked.

    "Then I'm afraid we're out of options,” Dr. Phlox said.

    "No, Doc. We're not,” Doug said.


    "MacKenzie! Wait up!" Hoshi called out, following Aidan in the hall near Sick Bay.

    "Oh, yes. Empress!" he waited for her.

    "I was thinking,” she said to him. "You know I don't have a sitter anymore."

    He motioned to walk a bit but she stopped him. "Uh, Empress? Can't one of the women –?"

    "No,” Hoshi said, “I need someone with a firm," she began to touch the outside front of his uniform and work her way downward, "hand." She smiled, seeing he was getting aroused.

    "Empress, I'm, uh, no good with, with children."

    "That's all right,” she said, unbuckling his belt and then reaching in. "Oh, how very interesting."

    "Emp –"

    "Call me Hoshi,” she said.

    "Ho-Ho-Hoshi," he could not get the word out, "I, uh, Tactical?" his voice rose as she played with short hairs.

    "You may have heard that I'm looking for a father for my next child. Jun's just got to have a little brother. So when you landed on me that got me to thinking. And while you're a coward, you've still got good ... genes. So that's my, huh, proposition to you. Babysitter and father to my next son, or ..." she paused for a second and squeezed him hard, "or we leave you on one of the rocks in this system. What's it gonna be?"


    "I'll take that as a yes." she began to get to work while crew members stared.

    "Uh, Emp, uh, Hoshi?" His voice squeaked high. "Please don't, um, huh, squeeze quite so much."

    "I'm the Empress. I'll do what I like."


    "Why not, uh, handle the problem from, uh, the other end? From, from my end,” Doug said.

    "Hayes, she won't really feel much of a difference. But for you it would be a significant loss of sensitivity. And it would be as difficult to condone as a hysterectomy."

    "Doc, I don't, uh, I don't volunteer this lightly. And a lot of me is screaming to take it back."

    "Doug, really, I don't think you'll have to,” Lili said.

    "I don't want your, your body taking all of it,” Doug said, “This is my fault, not yours."

    "It's not fault,” she said.

    "Well, this is all a moot point if the initial proposed procedure works,” Phlox said, “Perhaps it will, and we are speculating fruitlessly."

    "How will you, uh, know how far to move everything?" Lili asked.

    "I know the answer to that one,” Doug said, “Take measurements."

    "Measure twice, cut once,” she said.

    "Yes. So before I proceed, you would need to, Hayes, you'd need to become fully aroused. I will, uh, wait outside." He parted the curtain again.

    Doug began to grab at himself.

    "No, wait,” Lili said, “Let me help you."

    "You don't have to."

    "I want to,” she said.

    "You really want to do that?" he asked.

    "Yes,” she said, “I love you. I want to please you. And I want to be a part of you feeling good."

    "I'm used to – except in our dreams – I'm used to women using that act as, well, as currency."

    "They shouldn't,” she said, “I don't want to do it out of a sense of any sort of obligation, or to try to entice you to do the same for me later. I just want to do this, right now, for you."

    "Here,” he said, guiding her. It took a few minutes. "I, um, I'm ready now, Doc."

    Phlox came back in. "I see we're ready." he took measurements. "Hayes, you can, uh, finish up. There's a room over there. I will prepare her for surgery now."

    Doug was about to go when Phlox added, "I'd like for you to provide a sample while I've got you here. But Hayes, do try not to break the beaker."

    When it was just the two of them, Lili looked up at Phlox. "I know you don't approve of this."

    "I, well, I've been unfair,” he said, “And have been treating you as if you were barely out of childhood when that is not the case. And I, I spoke with Hayes. He mentioned that there are going to be other couples with this kind of mismatch in the future. He is absolutely right."

    "Then let this experiment – for that's what it is, I don't kid myself – be a first step to bringing all of them together."

    Doug returned. "I, uh, left it in ...."

    "Yes, yes, of course. Now I really would like to work alone,” Phlox said.

    "When will you be done?" Doug asked.

    "About two or three hours, I suspect. The worst part is done. Microsurgery was the most difficult part, and it's already been accomplished."

    "And when can we, can we try again?" Lili asked.

    "Forty-eight hours. And not a second sooner. Now, it's time. Hayes, I will contact you. Ensign, start counting backwards from one hundred, by threes."

    "One hundred. Ninety-seven. Ninety-four..."
  15. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "I've made a mess of things." A young girl said, solid copper arms folded in front of her.

    "You're, I think, you're Treve's little sister, aren't you?" Lili asked. "Yimar, right?"

    "Yes. And you are a human, right? He's, the authorities have him. They, they explained to me. He's taken up with a human."

    "I know her,” Lili said.

    "I don't even know why he's in custody." the girl said.

    "Well, Yimar, I can't begin to tell you,” Lili said.

    "But you're a grownup." Yimar sighed. "I never wanted this. I am just a kid! But that, that human, she pointed to me at the festival and I ended up in, in charge."

    "Then if you're in charge, you can pardon him, right?"

    "I don't know. I barely even know what he's done. Polloria had said he had broken laws, but I'm confused. I know that she did. I know that Father did. But Treve? All he did was get away."

    "I don't think Polloria exactly has a reputation for truthfulness,” Lili pointed out. "Do you?"

    "No, I don't suppose she does. And now she's on your side, anyway. I don't suppose what she says should continue to hold any water. Still, I hate that these things are my decision. I feel so unprepared."

    "On the other side," Lili said, "my understanding is that it's more like a constitutional monarchy. The High Priestess is more of a figurehead. So they still find it odd that I suggested a multitude of priestesses, but the reality is, the High Priestess isn't a lawmaker at all."

    "Huh. There is a government panel here, but I'm supposed to be running it. And I'd rather just be, well, doing anything else. And I'm being approached by men and boys."

    "Oh? I think you're a little young for that."

    "I know I am." Yimar agreed. "Telling me I'm pretty, when I know I'm not. I'm just a mass of arms and legs, I feel. I bump into things all the time. My mother was, she was graceful and lovely and I'm not that at all."

    "I bet she was just as awkward when she was your age."

    "You're kind,” Yimar said, “I know that Treve had a part in the human woman coming here. But that is our way – plus, I don't think the human woman is too upset about it now. Father, well, Father and Baden, they were a part of harming Mother. Baden is gone to your side as well. It seems that only Father is accepting his punishment."

    "They'll be punished on the other side, I'm sure. It's a lot for you to worry about. Maybe trust in the other side's, my side's, system of laws and justice."

    "They should dole out the worst punishment to Polloria. I should have done it from the beginning, but I didn't really understand it. I think I understand it now."

    "What's your worst punishment? Is it the death penalty?"

    "No,” Yimar said, “We have, it's funny. When my mother was first being, well, let's call it what it was, poisoned, once the potassium got to a certain level, it had this effect: it cut her off from the night people. We speak to any and all on the night side. As a High Priestess, we often don't have someone special. I think it's that men can be a bit, well, star struck."

    "You're famous."

    "Yes. I can barely imagine what it was like for her. Do you have famous, famous humans? The kind that you have crushes on and sigh about and think are wonderful but don't know you exist?"

    "Sure we do. Artists, baseball players, that kind of thing. About ten years ago, I met Lefty Robinson at a ballgame. I was looking for his autograph. He looked at me with these big, green eyes and asked me who to write the autograph to. And I babbled and by the time I was able to take a look at the autograph, I realized he'd made it out to 'Lisa' and not Lili." she smiled. "He was far younger than I am and definitely not someone I would have enjoyed really spending a lot of time with, but it didn't matter."

    "Well, I suddenly am one of those,” Yimar said, “It's a lot to take, and a cacophony of noise most of the time. I, I don't really have anyone to help me. At least, no one I can really trust, and my little brother is too young."

    "What about Treve?"

    "Maybe. But I think he's got his own concerns now, with the human woman."

    "New couples can be so into each other that it's to the exclusion of almost everything else,” Lili explained.

    "I suppose I should find a way to, to pardon him,” Yimar said, “I just need to be able to tell the government panel that Baden and Polloria will be punished on the other side, and know it for certain."


    There was a communications chime.

    "Come in,” Doug said, turning off Lili's PADD.

    It was Malcolm, carrying a pair of sweatpants. "These are courtesy of Crewman Torres, who says you can keep them."

    "Oh. Huh, College of William and Mary,” Doug read off the front. "Off to the gym, are we?"

    "Yes. Thought it would do us both some good. Waiting around can't be pleasant."

    "That's very thoughtful of you,” Doug said, changing and combing his hair back.

    The gym was not too crowded. Hoshi was jogging on a treadmill. Brian Delacroix was pulling on resistance bands.

    "Fancy some boxing?" Malcolm asked.

    "Hmm. Let me start smaller. Got a speed bag?"


    "Over there,” Hoshi said, pointing during cool down.

    "Thanks,” Doug just thought about everything that had been happening. Every time he'd listened to someone yell at him and took it, every time he'd swallowed his thoughts, every time he'd been worried and hadn't shown it. All of this poured into punching. Over and over and over again, faster and faster. Connecting felt good, like he was flooding it out of himself. On and on, blurry hands hitting the bag, knuckles bleeding a little. He finally heard a loud pop and stepped back, shaking his head to break himself out of the trancelike pattern he'd been in.

    The bag was shredded.

    "Huh, that's never happ –" he started to say, then stopped.

    "You don't know your own strength,” Hoshi said.

    "Or you can't really control it." Malcolm added.

    "I can, I can sometimes control it,” Doug said, “It's hard to do that all the time. Uh, sorry I broke it."

    "There's another one in the back, I'm sure,” Malcolm said, “Have you, have you ever thought of training cadets in hand to hand?"

    "Reed, did you not just witness this demonstration?" Doug said, “What if that was someone's face?"

    "Then you could demonstrate on a heavy bag." Malcolm pointed out. "You have talent. You could probably fell a Klingon or a Vulcan."

    "Vulcans, yes. Klingons are wilier, at least on the other side,” Doug admitted. "But, Reed, the thing of it is, I don't want to do this anymore."

    "Do what?" Brian came over closer, eavesdropping.

    Doug positioned himself between Brian and Hoshi and glared at the smaller man. "Uh, man, I don't think she's –"

    "Hayes. Hayes." It was Hoshi.

    "Huh – huh?" Mental cobwebs again.

    "You were saying before?"

    "Oh, yes, uh, hi Del. Um, well, I just don't want to do this anymore,” Doug relaxed a little.

    "If you ever reconsider," Malcolm said, "I think you could have quite a career doing that."

    "No." Hoshi smiled. "I think that now Doug wants to be a lover, not a fighter."

    "Yeah,” Doug said, “The rewards are a lot better. But, huh, I'll think about it. Maybe it could be something I do sometimes."

    "Your counterpart taught hand to hand, and marksmanship." Malcolm pointed out. "I was, I was not so receptive to his instructions."

    "Jay was a good teacher." Hoshi agreed.

    "Wasn't that, um, Reed, Jay's service record – it's got a warning in it. He was reprimanded for hitting a fellow officer,” Doug said, “Someone you know?"

    "Yes. That would be me,” Malcolm said, “Not our finest hours."


    The dream changed. "Treve?"

    "Ah, you've returned."

    "I can't really control where I go,” Lili said.

    "Oh, well, then I shan't flatter myself with thinking you're here because you're looking upon my proposal with favor."

    "No, sorry. I saw your sister."

    "Then you know that my daylight self is in a prison. Although at this point that seems hardly fair. Still, being warehoused here isn't so bad. At least no potassium injections. Shutting off the night is a horrific punishment, to make it so that one cannot even dream a prison cell away."

    "I talked to Yimar about pardoning you."

    "Well, that was good of you, but I do hope they don't want me back and trying for a diplomatic career. I'm finding I rather enjoy living out in the open and bringing down food with my bare hands and a knife. I should tell you, I am here because we brought the human male in for treatment. He was becoming difficult and a burden, and slowing us down, actually. Rather worrisome, that. They let Jennifer see me sometimes – albeit not for very long – and she tells me he is making progress but is still a tad delusional, poor fellow."

    "Well, at least he's being treated."

    "Yes, that's good. I – the real problem is Polloria and Baden on your side of things. She, at the very least, will be plotting something. I do hope my counterpart is prepared."


    The wall communicator at the gym chimed. Hoshi answered it. "Doug, it's Dr. Phlox."


    "Just about finished here,” said the doctor.

    "I'll be there soon. Hayes out." he closed the comm link. "Del, can I ask you to do something?"
  16. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Baden's dream was its usual beauty.

    "Miva!" he called out.

    "That's Doctor Miva to you,” she said, kissing him. They were a tangle of arms, his silvery scrollwork complementing her coppery arms.

    "I know that,” he said, “And that isn't exactly news."

    "Yes, well, I should be treated with respect."

    "I treat you with plenty of respect, my love."

    "That's true." she agreed. "We have been together a good forty years."

    "Do you remember how we met?" he asked, hands around her waist.

    "Of course. We were at the Abic Festival. And everyone was meditating and I was sitting with Ennewev and they were all droning on and on."

    "And you were listing the bones of the hand in your head."

    "I had exams coming up,” she said.

    "Me, too. And so I answered you – you were stuck on the bones of the Fep finger."

    "That's right." she kissed him. "I can't stay long; I'm dozing off in a patient's room. A human male."

    "I love you most of all,” he said, “Even more than my daylight wife, when I had her. I know that's not supposed to be, but it's true. You and I are better suited for one another."

    "I love you almost the same as Ennewev,” she said, “Almost."

    "I can accept that,” he said.


    Doug toweled off. There was a communications chime. He covered himself and then answered it.

    It was Hoshi. "There's going to be an Exec level meeting in two hours. Can you come?"

    "Sure, but I don't work for the Enterprise."

    "Captain Archer says it concerns you. It's about when we're leaving the Lafa System."

    "I'll be out of uniform,” he said.

    "Doesn't matter. Main Conference Room. See you then. Sato out."

    Doug dressed and then thought better of adding the shirt and jacket. Just the tee. "You're gonna get sick of this outfit, Lili,” he said to the empty room.

    He picked out clothes for her. Jeans. Socks. Sneakers. A grey Mars Culinary Institute hoodie. Turquoise tee shirt. Plain lingerie. "You don't have a lot of sexy things." he mused. "So that'll be one Christmas present."

    Phlox was waiting in Sick Bay. "She's very groggy."

    He was right. She perked up when she saw him. "Hey, you."

    He bent over and kissed her, then sat on a stool next to the bed. "I brought you clothes for when he springs you."

    "Oh, good."

    "Not the turquoise hoodie, though. You were, um, you were wearing that when you thought you were gonna break up with me."

    "That's right,” she said weakly. "We should give it to the poor."

    He took her hand. "Whatever you want."

    Phlox parted the curtain and came into the bed area. "Lieutenant, ah, I see the problem."

    "Problem?" Doug asked.

    "Heart rate is up, so is respiration. Maybe, uh, give her some time right now. Hold hands later."

    "Okay,” Doug said, dropping Lili's hand gently onto the bed. "I'll be back later."

    "All right,” she said, and closed her eyes.

    "Doc, are you still handing out naming rights for the operation?" he asked.

    "I suppose so."

    "Name it after her, if it works."

    "The O'Day Procedure?"

    "The O'Day Reversal,” Doug corrected.

    "It's not exactly a re– that word means a lot to you, doesn't it?"

    "Yes. It's about turning everything around,” Doug explained.

    "The O'Day Reversal it is,” Phlox said, walking back to another part of Sick Bay.

    Doug sat back and looked at her, watching her falling asleep. He had not slept for the entire time she'd been in danger. It was all too much, and his head tipped back. He was sawing logs soon.


    There were two women, identical but for the color of their arms. They were each holding a weapon.

    "Who are you?" Doug asked.

    "We are both called Polloria,” said the silvery one. "And it's good that we're finally able to have this meeting."

    "We've been waiting,” said the coppery one.

    "Oh?" he looked around the room but it was bare. It looked like the inside of the Calafan Main Hospital and smelled of the same cleaning solution. He could not yet see where he could gain an advantage or escape.

    "Oh, yes,” said the coppery, ruddy one. "While you've been busily attending to your lady love, there have been many, many plans made."

    "And you're going to be right at the centerpiece." agreed the pale one.


    "Yes, Douglas. Oh, don't look so shocked that we know you,” said the coppery one. "When we brought the human female down on my side, and we scraped her brain, we found a great deal of information about you. And that was interesting, and I filed it away mentally, wondering when and how I would use it."

    "And then the doorway between the sides was shoved open." added the silvery one. "It provided an ideal opportunity. For being High Priestess was a nice idea and all, but it was a small ambition. Now, our ambitions can become considerably, ha, larger." her eyes lingered over a meter lower than his own. Even though he was fully clothed, he involuntarily covered himself for a second.

    The ruddy one smiled. "Well, there's that. The female did mention where and how well you'd spread your seed. But also how you'd spread weapons fire. And that was more impressive. One hundred forty-six dead by your own hands! Let's see, fourteen humans, eighty-six Denobulans – and most of them in one day! How efficient!"

    "Eleven Andorians. Two Vulcans. One Xrillian. Four Kreetassans. Two Suliban. Oh and twenty-six Klingons! Most impressive. They are big, powerful beasts." added the pale one. "And that's just the ones you got in person. When we count you pressing a lever or pushing a button and using a Tactical station on any ship, well, the figure jumps to the thousands if not tens of thousands."

    The ruddy one said, “And I'm – we're – sure there's more where that came from."

    "I don't do that anymore,” Doug said.

    "You will,” said the ruddy one.

    "I'll refuse."

    "Not so fast. You see, we're in your head. And we can get into anyone's head, including your lady love's,” said the pale one. "That's one thing no one's told you about these connections – Calafans can alter them as desired, and we can go where we like and see whoever we wish."

    "And most of them, foolish, lovesick ones, they waste their time on sex and socializing." added the red one. "But there's more to it than that. For an inferior species such as yourself, we can control your thoughts. Move you in any direction, lead you around by your noses and pull your strings."

    "I'll still refuse."

    "Oh? These aren't just dreams. You should have figured that out by now. These weapons we are holding – they can still harm you,” said the pale one, shooting.

    She hit him in the left arm, just above the elbow. Involuntarily, he made a noise and covered his bleeding arm. The wound was painful but didn't seem to be down to the bone. Still, he was bleeding a lot. He applied pressure.

    "You really won't like it if I aim about a half a meter down and to my left." the red one said, “Although it would be a pity to lose that."

    "Now, you will begin to understand,” said the pale one. "We can do this to you. And we can do this to her."

    "It's not a real wound,” he said.

    "Oh, but it is. Just like you can release seed over from one side to the other, we can release firepower. And, you see, at any time, we can invade your woman's dreams,” said the pale one.

    "And aim this at her head,” said the red one. "Or – oh, this would be delicious – how 'bout if it's aimed farther down? When she's carrying your child, let's say? A shot straight to the abdomen will dispatch both."

    "Oh, you know how I prefer efficiency." agreed the pale one.

    "What do you want from me?"

    "Something rather simple. You go in there. Room 116 of the Main Hospital. And all you need to do is, kill the woman in the bed. It's easy. You've done it dozens of times before. Smother her with a pillow, strangle her, bend your knee over her collarbone and snap it, oh, use your imagination,” said the red one.

    "I can't get there, even if I wanted to."

    "Oh, but you're there already,” said the red one. "This is a dream, remember? We can get you anywhere. So go and do away with the High Priestess."

    "You said that wasn't a big enough ambition for you,” Doug said, trying to think of a way to buy time.

    "We did. But this is not so much to take care of her – although it is a nice bonus,” said the pale one. "Rather, it's to cement our new partnership. And get you back into the swing of killings. After all, it's been a few years. So a simple assignment to start, and then we'll work our way up."

    "What's your – what's your bigger scheme?" he asked.

    "You. You're going to be our virus. You see, you take care of Yipran. And that will turn you the way we like,” said the ruddy one. "And we'll be able to manipulate you as we ... desire." she grinned at him. "And any human you touch and come in contact with – awake or asleep – will pick up on it. Your lady love – you won't be able to avoid touching her for long. Your doctor. Your friends. Everyone from the captain of the vessel to the girl who cleans the carpets. And that vessel will return to your own space, and spread the infection. It'll go to your home world, to your government and wherever your species is. It'll cross over and affect other inferior species, like Denobulans, as well."

    "Why me?"

    "You're an ideal vector. Strong and capable and with a difficult to control aggressive streak,” said the pale one. "And you're here permanently. See, Calafans can shuttle from one side to the other, but no one else can. You're here, and you're head and shoulders above everyone else. You're already a natural battlefield leader and you have a good level of access. And you will pass the connection on, from person to person, and they will pass it on."

    "Like a plague."

    "A gift." corrected the pale one.


    "I think Tripp's doctor is asleep,” Jennifer said to Beth. "I'll try to wake her."


    Lili could not stay awake. She drifted away.

    Dr. Phlox, not hearing noises, came to check. He saw Doug's bleeding arm and brought over a bandage, and touched Doug on the arm.


    Baden and Miva's dream was changing. They were in the hospital. And there were eight people in the room, plus the two of them.


    "My, this is a lively party." the ruddy Polloria said.

    Lili went over to Doug. Phlox followed. "You have the same injury in Sick Bay,” he said quietly.

    Doug swallowed hard. "You were going to tell me," he said, "what your greater goal is."

    "Oh, really. Humans are so stupid." the pale Polloria said, “Again. You do as we require. Whatever that is. And by turning you, we get to turn your entire species, in time. And you won't refuse us because we can get to this one at any time." She smiled. "Enough talk. Time for action."

    Doug stood at attention, emptying his mind. Lili stared at him. She could hear voices in her head – both Pollorias. They were debating exactly what to do once Doug was turned. Doug was silent.

    Lili looked around. Everyone else was being quiet and doing almost the same thing as Doug, with varying degrees of success. Tripp was holding on to Beth's arm. Jennifer was at attention. Phlox was applying pressure to Doug's arm. Baden was holding hands with Miva. No one seemed to be ... thinking.

    Wait, her mind said. Don't empty your mind. Fill it.

    Don't empty your mind. Fill it.

    She took Doug's hand and squeezed it. Don't empty your mind. Fill it.

    With what? he seemed to ask, in her head.

    Anything. It doesn't matter.

    She stared at the others. It doesn't matter. Just – anything. Anything at all.

    'The bones of a normal Calafan hand are as follows', Miva thought.

    'Once upon a time, there were three little pigs', thought Beth.

    Tripp thought, 'To achieve a stable warp field, you must first ....'

    Lili thought, 'Recipe for Rosemary-Walnut Focaccia Bread. First, combine two standard packages of quick-rise yeast with ....'

    'Long ago, when the universe was young, there was nothing but Lo.' Baden began to think.

    Jennifer's thoughts: 'My first boyfriend's name was Robbie Bashir. He kissed me and told me we'd get married. We were both six at the time. My next ....'

    Phlox began naming all of his relatives.

    Doug thought, 'How to field strip a phase rifle. The basic parts of a phase rifle are as follows: the trigger, the hand grip, the barrel, the sight ....'

    The Pollorias looked at each other. "Get them to stop!" called out the pale one.

    "It's a diversion!" yelled the red one. "Stay focused!"

    The thoughts accumulated to just so much buzzing. It was white noise, just like Lili had heard during the festival. She barely saw Jennifer moving to her right, slowly.

    Doug dropped her hand and moved to his left.

    'I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!'

    'The Fep finger has three bones ....'

    'Feezal 's children are Fenna, ...'

    'Bake for forty minutes or until the top is hard and makes a hollow sound if you rap on it with your knuckles.'

    'The intermix ratio should be ...'

    'David Stevens, then there was ....'

    'Those children can now be seen in our stars ...'

    'Place the bolt into the locked position ...'

    Doug ran at the pale one. Jennifer and Tripp ran at the red one. A shot was fired in the confusion.

    There was the sound of several kilos hitting the floor.

    "Help him!" came a woman's cry. Phlox ran over.

    "Oh, my love,” said the injured man. "If I cross over because of saving you, then it is all worthwhile."

    Hand held. Blood spilled. Life drained.

    Miva looked up, trembling. "He is lost."

    Lili felt an arm around her. It was bleeding at just above the elbow. She could feel a shoulder, a neck. She buried her head into the chest.

    "I'm here,” Doug whispered to her. "I'm here."
  17. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    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?"

    "I'm listening."

    "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?"

    "Yes, sir?"

    "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.
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Fascinating. Just fascinating.
  19. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "Oh, there you are,” Lili was considerably more alert. "I missed you last night."

    Doug kissed her. "Doc said you needed to sleep. And I kinda needed to sleep flat. I won't, uh, I don't like sleeping without you."

    She smiled and sat up. "Did you see anyone we know?"

    "Yes,” he said, “I had a dream about Miva."

    "Oh. Did you tell her how sorry we both are for her loss?"

    "Yes, of course. She said, and man, I don't know how they do it, but she said she's still got her husband and while it hurts her, she's still kind of covered. She said she knows her counterpart is also a doctor on this side."

    "Good to know,” Lili said, “I dreamed of Beth Cutler. She says Tripp, uh, she calls him Charles, she said he's getting better."

    "I have a debriefing I need to get to. Spill all about the Defiant. How do I, um, look? Keeping in mind you're probably already sick of this outfit."


    "Perfectly fine,” she said, “We should buy you more clothes."

    "And sexy things for you,” he said, “But I don't know how much of a budget we've got to work with. I, uh, I have an idea of how to help with that."


    "I don't want to say until I make a few inquiries, okay? You can handle a little surprise, right?"

    "Sure,” she said, “I'll be here; Jenny's going to come visit me and I'll probably also do a lot of sleeping. I love you."

    "And I love you,” he said, “Now, I'd better go." he kissed her face and departed.


    The Executive level staff were assembled in the Main Conference Room. Brian was setting out breakfast foods. "And, uh, we have two kinds of danish and there are muffins. Fruit over there, coffee and tea, and everything to go with it is over here."

    "Crewman, you seem to be enjoying your new role,” Malcolm said, grabbing a sesame bagel.

    "Yes, sir. I'm thinking of enrolling at the Mars Culinary Institute. I'm gonna ask Ensign O'Day to put in a word for me."

    "I'm sure she'll do that for you,” Malcolm said, smiling a little tightly.

    "All right," Jonathan said once everyone had sat down. "Hayes, you're on."

    "First, I want to reiterate that I'm no engineer,” Doug began. "And Tucker and Crossman can be reached, through either Lili or me, at any time. So you should talk to them, too, at some time. Tucker here, in particular, should talk to them."

    "You do realize how I made contact with you last time, right?" Tripp asked. "I, uh, she and I, we ...."

    "What Commander Tucker is trying to say is," Phlox said through the screen at Sick Bay, "that he and the Ensign crawled into her bed together."

    "It was the for the purpose of making contact." T'Pol clarified.

    "Uh, yeah." Tripp said.

    "I'm sure you were a gentleman,” Doug said, “I do trust her, you know."

    "Moving right along," Jonathan said, "the debriefing?"

    "Yes, of course,” Doug said, “The Defiant is around one hundred and fifty years later in design than the NX-01. The main difference is, it's loaded with sensors. They are everywhere, and they have to be maintained at a level that's just not done here. The entire hull is one huge sensor grid. Every system is sensor-dependent. So here's what that means. Let's look at Tactical, which of course I know the best. It means that targeting is better and more accurate. It means that targeting takes into account not only X, Y and Z space coordinates but also the speed, pitch and yaw of the ship in a way that I know you just don't do right now."

    "What sort of weapons does the Defiant have?" Malcolm asked.

    "Photon torpedoes, but way more banks than you've got. And phasers, not phase cannons. They're, um, phased energy rectification. They target and pinpoint synchronous light. I don't know all the physics of it – wish I did."

    "What about defenses?" Jonathan asked.

    "Shielding,” Doug replied. "Deflector shields, to be more precise. They work by returning energy to whatever blast you're receiving. Again, I don't know a lot of the specifics. They can and do fail, and more often than we'd like. Can't run the transporter while they're up, either."

    "Fascinating,” said T'Pol.

    "What about navigation?" Travis asked.

    "Again, it's related to all of those sensors,” Doug said, drinking some more coffee. "More sensors means you can maneuver through difficult terrain more effectively. The computer can make many more calculations per millisecond, so you can avoid hitting asteroids and whatnot. Speed is better, too. We – er, they – do Warp seven all the time, and can crank it up to Warp nine but that puts a big strain on things. I don't think Warp ten is possible as the technology stands."

    "And for fuel? What are they usin'?" Tripp asked.

    "Dilithium crystals,” Doug replied. "Some sort of a matrix."

    "What about communications?" Hoshi asked.

    "There are hand-held communicators. They flip open, just like yours do, but they're a bit bigger. Bigger ship communications are more powerful, more long-range. There's a, um, a thing that the Communications Officer sticks in her ear. Helps her hear better. Dunno what it's called."

    "Is there a lot of translating?" Hoshi asked.

    "Pretty much none, but it's possible that the Defiant's language database – the only part of the database that is really still fully intact – has most if not all of the languages in the area already programmed in. If they go outside of the immediate neighborhood, I imagine translating might become necessary again."

    "I guess I'm not obsolete yet,” Hoshi said.

    "Do you have information on the Science station?" T'Pol asked.

    "I don't know much. I'm sure having more sensors helps in all sorts of ways I can't begin to think of. I do know that it's possible to pick out a human biosign with a lot more accuracy than you've got, and from a longer range. That gets tied into communicators, usually; the signal is bounced off and a transporter lock can be established much more easily. Wish I could tell you more, sorry."

    "Do you have any information on medical?" Phlox asked.

    "Pretty much none. There's a lot of complicated-looking equipment but I'm sure that Morgan doesn't know how to use it properly."

    "Do you know anything about Command?" Jonathan asked.

    "Some. I got put in charge a lot. Captain's chair has more communications options and a sensor readout on the armrest. Oh, and tricorders. Captain's got one that's more complex than everyone else's. They're, um, they record all sorts of input, sort of like the PADDs you've got. Small screen at the top, dial in the middle right, buttons on the side. You can patch them into the ship's computer and have it analyze whatever you're recording. They are kind of like portable sensor banks, I guess."

    "Anything else you can tell us?" The Captain asked.

    "Mostly just superficial things. Uniforms are different. Ship is brighter, both inside and out. Hull is very clean-lined."


    "Hi, Jenny,” Lili smiled.

    "How you feeling?"

    "Better. A lot better. I think we'll be out of quarters by late tomorrow or so."

    "And then you're leaving,” Jenny said, “I'll miss you."

    "And my chatty dreaming?"

    "Yes, and your chatty dreaming. You seem, well, you seem really happy. Next time we get back to the Solar System, I'm gonna see Frank,” Jenny smiled. "He, uh, he's really the best thing that's ever happened to me. Yanno, I know why you fell so hard, and so fast."


    "It's 'cause, you just know."


    The meeting was finally breaking up. It had been going on for hours. "Reed, can I ask you something?" Doug said.

    "Certainly. Walk with me to the Bridge?"

    "Sure. Uh, you mentioned me teaching hand to hand. You still think that's a viable option?"

    "I don't see any reason why not. Brush off your marksmanship skills as well, I'd suggest."

    "You, um, do you think it's at all lucrative?"

    "You can check with Admiral Black, I suppose."

    "I, uh, I just want to provide for her,” Doug said.

    "I should tell you what she said to me when she hugged and kissed me."

    "I, you don't have to."

    "But, I do, Hayes. It was, she just wanted me to know that when I fall, it'll be like that. Like what, what you have."

    "I bet you fall hard,” Doug said, “It's like nothing else."


    "What is it now?" Travis rolled to the side as the Empress peevishly answered a communications chime.

    "We're free of the Lafa System." Ramirez said, “Warp drive is coming back on line."

    "Good. Now get to work on fixing the transporter. And get that rodent infestation out of there. I hate mice. Sato out."

    But she'd failed to fully close the link, so Frank Ramirez was treated to the sounds of Hoshi and Travis hitting it.


    "I'm sorry I was later than expected,” Doug said.

    "It's okay, you let me know. I mostly slept anyway. Dreamed of Jennifer. She said Treve was pardoned. Oh and I spoke with the other Treve, the one on our side,” Lili said.


    "We have a place to live, at least for a while. He says it's not very big."

    "All it needs is a bed," Doug smiled at her and kissed her, "a stove, and a desk."

    "A desk?"

    "Yes. You don't expect to go completely without outside communications, do you?"

    "I suppose not. Oh and a big wooden table. 'Cause, um, we need to serve food. And, uh, maybe use it for ....." she teased.

    "We'd better laminate it then."

    "It'll get slippery,” she said.

    "It's either that, or splinters. And you don't want splinters there."

    "This is what heavy tablecloths are for, Doug."

    He yawned a little. "It's not the company, it's the hour."

    "Here." she moved over a little in the small Sick Bay bed.

    "Uh, okay,” he said. He moved one of Phlox's stools over and drew the curtain around the bed. He took off everything but his tee and boxers. "Here, can you stand a sec?"

    "Sure." she got up tentatively.

    He got into bed and helped her in. "Here, put your head here." He kissed the top of her head.

    "This is very comfortable,” she said.

    Phlox came in. "I'm getting interesting readings – ah, that would be why. Lieutenant Commander, you do realize that you still have until tomorrow before you can attempt relations."

    "I know,” Doug said, “But can I stay with her? You won't be far away. I'll let you know if she's in any, uh, distress."

    "Very well,” Phlox said, departing and drawing the curtain again.

    "It is going to be odd," Doug said, "to lie here and not touch you, uh, that way."

    "Well if I get pregnant you know you'll have nine long months without anything, as the doctor will have to undo the whole thing for the sake of, of, you know."

    "Yeah,” he said, “We'd have to do a lot of math."

    "I'm not too good at that."

    "You do fine."

    "Well, I can see that there's room for improvement." she admitted.

    "You'll get better. Lili, do you think you'd ever take one of those nighttime, uh, lovers? Like the Calafans do."

    "No. I'm all set. You're my, my, uh, mine."

    "I thought you said not to say 'mine'." he pointed out.

    "Well I really believe it now."

    He turned her face back to him and kissed her carefully. "Oh, I have to tell you. My idea."


    "Yes. Reed says he thinks I can teach hand to hand for Starfleet. Marksmanship, too."

    "What would that entail?"

    "I checked. Two weeks in San Francisco, a few times a year."

    "I'd miss you."

    "You'd come with me,” Doug said.

    "What if the restaurant needed me?"

    "I, I think I'd need you more."


    "Medical log, Dr. Phlox,” Phlox dictated nearby.

    "Patient is a forty-eight year old human female. A pair of extensive procedures were performed in the pelvic region and on the reproductive organs in order to make intercourse with an unusually well-endowed human male possible. The implication is that, if the procedures are successful, that such a regimen could be duplicated in the case of human females desiring coitus with Klingon males and other larger and more powerful humanoid species, perhaps including Gorn. This procedure is not considered to be applicable to non-humanoid species." He paused and sipped some water.

    "Before discussing the technical aspects of the procedure, I'd like to add a personal note. It is not my intention to judge a patient's personal life or her choice of mate. Motivation can be difficult to determine but it should not be tainted with prejudgments about the rightness or wrongness of a particular union. I found that I was confusing this patient's circumstances with those of a family member, and the comparison was an unfair and inaccurate one. For the record, I would like to say that this patient is not entering into this procedure lightly. As for her, her significant other, while it is clear that such a procedure will be somewhat convenient for him if it is successful, I have also, I have, I don't believe I've seen such devotion."


    Doug was sawing logs already. Lili smiled and leaned against his chest. "Tomorrow." she whispered.


    It was a trial, that much Lili could tell.

    It was the end of it.

    "And you are hereby sentenced to potassium blockage." A judge on a five-Calafan panel said to the ruddy Polloria, who stood waiting for sentencing, leaning on a table as she took her weight off her injured ankle. "Do you have something to say?"

    "No,” Polloria said, “I'm done."

    The pale Polloria was then sentenced, to life in the prison.

    The rest of the dream was a blur of officials talking. Lili recognized Treve amidst the pale faces, sitting with his siblings and father in the audience. There was a hand on hers, thumb caressing her fingers. She turned and it was Doug, sitting with her. He smiled at her as they awoke.


    It was the morning already.

    Phlox stirred and came in to check on them. "You're free to go,” he said.

    Doug helped her up, then dressed and helped her to dress.

    "I will," Phlox said, "get some breakfast and then be back here in about an hour. So, um, take a little time before, er, diving back into things so that I can be prepared in case I am needed."

    "Thank you,” Lili said.

    "Let's go,” Doug said.

    "Yes, but slowly. I can't really run this time."

    "All right,” he said, holding her hand. "Walk with me in the halls, and I'll show you off."

    "I need a shower,” she said.

    "Me, too,” he said, “You, uh, owe me one."

    "One what?"

    "A shower,” he said.
  20. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jun 21, 2011
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    The hallways were strangely magical.

    Doug had never liked starship hallways. They had been places where someone would try to knife him. Or, at best, conduits between one assignment and another, or a gateway to an encounter, perhaps, but nothing more, nothing special.

    Yet there they were, holding hands like schoolchildren, smiling and laughing and talking to anyone who went by. Lili introduced him to, it seemed, everyone, and he was as gracious and polite as he could be, and they were all so very kind. People asked about their future plans, and he freely spoke of the restaurant and Lafa II and possibly doing some training for Starfleet. He felt young and alive – it was like walking in a garden. They stopped and he backed her into a wall and kissed her. She was a little surprised by that and said, "I thought you didn't like public displays."

    "I guess I do now. Changing my mind about lots of things." he took off his jacket and casually flung it over his shoulder, and looked over to her frequently as they strolled.

    "Oh, hi, Ethan." he heard her say.

    "Hiya, Lili. I hear you're leaving,” said a young Crewman.

    "Doug, this is ..."

    He didn't hear the rest of it. He knew who that was.

    It was like a crash, the end of the idyllic mood, replaced instantly by chaos and pain, fear and nausea. His thumb had been caressing her fingers. He stopped doing that, and instead pressed it into her palm.

    She glanced down, seemed to catch the signal. "Uh, we have to go, Ethan. I'll see you later." she smiled at Ethan Shapiro as he walked away.

    Doug steered her into a nearby empty lab.

    "What's the matter?" she asked quietly, as soon as the door had closed.

    He looked down. "That was Number Two." He was unsteady on his feet, reeling.

    "Ohhh,” she said, “When did, when did it happen?"

    "Thirty-two years ago. On the Vulcan home world. I phasered him in the belly,” Doug said, shaking.

    "No, wait, wait. I guarantee that that kid is at least a good five years younger than that,” Lili said, “So unless you got him in utero, that's not him."

    "The name is the same. It looks just, just like him."

    "No. It's the nephew of him. Or his son. Or some cousin or something."

    "The name ..."

    "The names don't have to match. And neither do a lot of things. You should know that better than anyone, Doug. You should know that this mirror is distorted. It is not him." she made as if to leave the lab.

    He put his hand out to stop her. "Lili, this is, I am so stupid. This is going to keep happening. There are a lot of people I can run into, and I know what I did – if not to them, then to their families."

    "You'll be on Lafa II."

    "And what about when the Enterprise comes back? Or I go and I do training? I am gonna see these, these ghosts over and over again. Did you know I almost popped Delacroix because he was in almost exactly a situation when I did that on the other side?"

    Lili shook her head. "But you didn't, right? Doug, you're right. This is going to keep happening."

    "Yes,” he said softly, trembling a little.

    "What did you, what did you expect? Doug, coming here, did you think it would all be gone? You would have escaped all of it?"

    "I, I don't know what I thought,” he said, voice breaking.

    "Because you, you can't escape it. You can't just reverse it away and pretend like it never happened."

    "I know,” he said, “It's shame. It's guilt. It's fear. I feel sick. I feel physically ill."

    "Why did you, why did you come here? Why did you come to this side?"

    "I, I wanted to be with you."

    "I know. But why else?"

    "It was, I, Gawd, I'm not making any sense. It was, I thought I could leave it all behind me. Achieve, maybe, some measure of forgiveness. But that's not the main reason. I came here because of you."

    "So the rest of it, it's secondary?" he nodded. She continued, "You came here for love?" her voice was rising.

    "Yes." his body shook.

    "Then prove it,” she said, almost shouting at him. "Love me. And that will be how you'll be forgiven."

    "I, I...."

    "Love me." she insisted sharply. "And love our home. And love our friends. And love everything we make together, whether it's a restaurant or a hand to hand class or a pumpkin pie or, or," her voice dropped to a whisper, "or a child."

    "Do you want that?"

    "I want whatever happens,” she said softly. "And if we don't become parents, then we don't, and we'll have happy lives together. And if we do, then we'll have a happy life to share with someone else. Who, who we haven't met yet."

    "A happy life?"

    "Yes. That is what I want. And I think we can have it. And you know what else I want?"

    "Tell me, and I will try to give it to you,” he said.

    "I want your playfulness. I want your spirit. I want your strength. I want your kindness – yes, you have it. I want your thoughtfulness. I want your risk-taking. I want your ambition. I want your joy. I want your, your everything. And in return I give you mine,” she said.

    "You said I gave you confidence."

    "You do."

    "No. You already have it. I get it from you,” he said.

    They left the lab and went back to quarters.

    He put his jacket down and looked at her.


    "I have to wash this all away,” he said, “I know it's not really gone, the guilt and all. But I want it to go away for a little while, and, and be with you, now."

    "Do you know what forgiveness does?"

    "Tell me."

    "It doesn't make it all go away. Not at all. It does, though, make it so that you can live with yourself a little easier, and a little better. And it makes it so that you can move forward."

    "I guess that's all I can, I can ask for."

    "Here,” she said, unbuttoning his shirt. "It's time to let it go. If only for a little while."

    He took off her hoodie. "It's the little whiles that matter."

    She stripped the rest of her clothes off, and he did the same, standing and staring at her. She checked her face in a mirror. "Gawd, I really need to wash my hair. It's a sweaty, sticky mess. Why didn't you tell me?"

    "I, I told you I was going to like you, almost no matter what you looked like."

    "What's this almost business?"

    "Well, I did want you to be humanoid. I mean, I do have standards and all." he smiled at her tentatively. "This is all I've got. What you see in front of you."

    "Coincidentally, that's all I want,” she said.

    He followed her into the little bathroom and she turned on the shower. "C'mere." she beckoned, getting in.

    There was a moment when getting clean turned into getting down and dirty. Their breath was fogging up the shower door when she finally switched off the water. "Here,” she said, handing him a towel.

    He rubbed her back. "Don't get too dry."

    She smiled. "Not a chance." She sat down on the bed and trembled a little.


    "No. Just realizing, remembering what, what happened the last time. A little scared."

    "I come in peace,” he said, kissing her.

    "You'd better."

    He lay her back and rolled her onto her right side. He put a pillow under her back.

    She brushed a damp strand of hair away from his face. "I remember this way."

    "Yes,” he said, and touched her, "Are you ...?"

    "Yes,” she said, teeth chattering a tiny bit.

    He kissed her deeply. "Tell me,” he said, “Tell me if anything is off. Anything at all."

    She nodded.


    They opened their eyes and looked at each other for a second. "Check! Check! We have to check!" she cried out.

    They sprang apart, both leaping out of bed to the left side of it. She put her hand down on herself. He inspected the sheets carefully. After a minute or so, they both looked up. "Did you find anything?" he asked.

    "N-no blood,” she said, “You?"

    "No blood." he dropped the top sheet onto the bed and approached her, enveloping her, arms around her arms, mouth on the top of her head. He whispered, over and over again, "We can do something. We can do something. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God."

    For her part, she was shaking. She put her head up. "Is this how it's gonna be?"

    "I don't, I don't know." he sat down on the bed, and she sat beside him. "I, uh, I can't do it the Tantric way every time. It's, it takes a lot outta me to hold back like that for a long time. Hard to stay patient and move slowly when it feels so good to move fast."

    "How, um, how often? Wait, I don't want to be selfish."

    "Only maybe once a week." he admitted. "Can you live with that? We could do math or something, right?"

    "Yes,” she said, and then thought better of it. "We should, we should try it the regular way."

    "You mean –?"

    "Yes, Doug. We need to know if we can, if we have options."

    "I don't want to harm you."

    "I know. But we need to test this. I mean, what if we forget one time? Or we just, we mess up?"

    "I can't, couldn't let it happen to you again."

    "This is the best opportunity,” she said, “Phlox is just a communicator call away, and he knows what we're up to. Keep what you need, uh, close. Shorts, communicator, anything else. Just in case."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yes. I want to be with you all the way, any way that we can." She kissed him.

    "Absolutely sure?"

    "Yes!" she said, a little more sharply than she'd intended.

    "Lili!" he exclaimed. "You've gotten, well, angry a bit lately. I suspect that underneath your chef's whites you're a bit of a spitfire when you get riled up. I think you may have a bit of a temper."

    "Hey, I'm half-Irish. Don't mess with me."

    "I will mess with you all I like,” he said, “But I am, you do recognize, I am scared that you'll, well ...."

    "Like I said, you'll be prepared and we'll see what happens."

    "Here goes nothing."

    "Here comes everything." she corrected him and touched him.

    "You have the right touch."

    "So do you." she panted.


    They were panting, asynchronously panting. He found his voice after maybe a minute. "We, we have to check,” he said.

    "Yes." she breathed.

    They got up again, and did as before. He was done checking first, and stared at her for a second. "If I didn't know why you were doing that, I'd swear you were ...."

    She smiled. "No blood,” she said, inspecting her fingers.

    "None here either, just evidence that we made love. I'll, um, I'll take that side."

    "You don't have to."

    "It's okay,” he said, clicking her communicator open. "Get me Doctor Phlox. It's, it's not an emergency."

    "Phlox here."

    "Doc, we're okay,” he said.

    "Might I suggest you make a second attempt?" Dr. Phlox asked. "Make certain before you declare yourselves fully fit and all."

    "We already did that,” Lili said.

    "Very well then. I will see you tonight for your farewell dinner, is that correct?" Phlox asked.

    "Yes. I'm making holiday foods, since I won't be here when they come around. Christmas ham, potato latkes and tabbouleh, salads, a vegetarian hoppin' John for those who keep kosher or halal and of course for Commander T'Pol."

    "Sounds marvelous. See you then. Phlox out."

    Doug put the communicator back on Lili's desk. "Lili," he said, "I swear to you that I will never leave you that fast again."

    "Doug, don't write checks with your mouth that maybe your body can't cash."

    "I, I know that eventually I'll get to the point where I can't just keep going. But until that happens, I'll stay right with you, keep it going, as long as you want it, whenever you want it. Because that's what I want, too."

    She kissed him. "And when we do sleep?"

    "I will hold you and keep you warm and smell your hair. I will never buy you perfume. I never want you to smell of anything but food and yourself."

    "What if I make something with sardines in it?"

    "Then we'll take another shower together,” he said.

    "And I promise that I will always let you know when things are right, and when things are wrong. If I'm tired or having PMS or whatever. I won't blindside you. And, and I want you to smell like you, too. Because that's how I was able, that's how I knew it was you, back when it was just dark and I didn't know your face."

    He kissed her deeply.

    "Lili, I was thinking. I, well, Jay had a sister. And it would be really bad if she were to find out about me by just stumbling upon me or something."


    "So I was thinking, I should change my name."

    "Change your name? But I love Doug and I love Douglas Jay and I love Douglas Jay Hayes,” she said.

    "Just a new last name. I'd stick it on the end."

    "Oh? Well, don't make it anything I can't spell, like Grabinsky, okay?"

    "Can you spell Beckett?"

    "One or two Ts?"

    "Two,” he said.

    "Where's Beckett coming from?"

    "It was my mother's maiden name."

    "Ah. Well that would honor her,” she said, “Hmm. Doug Beckett. Douglas Jay Beckett. DJ Beckett."

    "No, no, Hayes would still be in there. So it would be DJH Beckett."

    "Ah. Huh,” she said, “You know, I'm in love with this guy."


    "Yeah. He's thoughtful." she kissed him. "Strong." she kissed him. "Handsome."

    "You'd better get your beautiful crystal blue eyes checked."

    She smiled. "Sexy." she kissed him deeply. "And his name is Doug Beckett."

    They kissed and she touched him again.

    He smiled at her. "Definitely the best hand."

    He kissed her again, hand lightly tracing her face. "Lili?"

    "Yes?" she gasped.

    "I was thinking, you should really change your name, too."

    "Oh? To what?" she asked, looking deeply into his bluish-greenish-greyish eyes.


    The End