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A Belated Birthday

Posted on Sun Aug 2nd, 2020 @ 12:39pm by Captain Enalia Telvan & Lieutenant Mona Gonadie & Death & Kodria Mizu & Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox & Lieutenant Commander Thex sh'Zoarhi & Lieutenant Commander Sonak & Lieutenant Samuel Clemens XV & Lieutenant JG Tovanna Mah & Ensign Briaar Gavarus & Ensign Fiona O'Dell & Petty Officer 3rd Class S'Rina Wil'I'Ams & Petty Officer 3rd Class V'Nus Wil'I'Ams & Jaeih Dox-t'Aan
Edited on on Wed Aug 19th, 2020 @ 9:48pm

Mission: The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Crew Quarters, Deck 8
Timeline: 2397

Celebrating things like a birthday was often difficult on a Starship. And on the U.S.S. Hera, it was particularly tricky when missions often cut into personal time more often than not.

In this case, the crew of the mighty Starship had been engaged in a secret and covert mission to uncover the hidden truths behind the origins of her Chief Engineer, Thex. And after a harrowing mission to the Andorian’s homeworld that revealed a complex conspiracy of cloning and ancient horrors that had lain buried on that icy moon, the crew was welcoming a little time off while the ship warped through the black void of the heavens.

That travel time gave the crew the time to exhale for a few days and unwind from the stress of their mission. And Commander Rita Paris and Lieutenant Mona Gonadie had decided to conspire with a plan of their own. Gonadie’s wife, the skilled pilot and Chief Flight Officer of the Hera, Lieutenant Commander Mnhei’sahe Dox, had turned 33 while they were on Andoria. But that hadn’t stopped the ship's first officer and the head of R&D from planning a surprise party.

After all,” Rita had posited with that million-watt smile of hers, “What’s more surprising than a surprise birthday party when it’s NOT your birthday? Now here’s a silly hat...

The crew of the Hera was a tight-knit group, and it wasn’t hard to recruit some of her officers and personnel to help pull together the event, which was planned in the couple's expansive, double-sized family quarters that had been expanded with the birth of their triplets not long ago.

A good portion of the ships command crew had been in attendance as Dox arrived home at the end of her shift, and the surprise was quite the success... even if Dox had almost punched Ensign Briaar Gavarus in the throat during the initial ‘SURPRISE’.

Along with Gavarus was her pint-sized life-partner, Ensign Fiona O’Dell and their adopted Minotaur child, Minerva, who spent most of the night playing with Mnhei’sahe and Mona’s daughters, Hlai’vana, Tala, and Amihan in the kid’s playroom on the other side of the split quarters.

The Klingon security sisters, V’Nus and S’Rina came for a while with a fairly large bottle of Bloodwine as a gift. Lieutenant Sam Clemens, the ship’s Intel Chief, made a rare appearance for a while and disappeared just as quickly, leaving a box of cigars in his wake. Yeoman Ila Dedjoy came for a bit as well, as did a few other crew members from the flight deck that weren’t on duty, to congratulate their chief. Doctor Power dropped by, and Maica was seen mingling with Kodria.

For a brief few minutes, while Dox was taking a moment to recharge from the excess of attention in the refresher, even Masato Rei had popped in with her spectral horse, Taxes, to wish Dox well on her way to work. It was a moment that, as it usually did, caught the young Romulan off guard, as spectral horse heads passing through refresher doors without warning tended to do. Apparently there was a particularly virulent plague in the Delta Quadrant, and for the woman who was the embodiment of Death, work was an ever-present responsibility.

Being something of a party planner and chef, Mona had prepared a LARGE spread that had occupied much of the surface area of their larger-than-not kitchen unit, filled with foods from a few planets. And after a few hours of talking, laughing, and much-needed relaxation, the larger party had all but ended. Sonak, of course, was in attendance, as he was curious about the Godox triplets and he was usually game for rituals of other cultures such as this one. And where Rita went socially, one could expect Sonak. Gavarus and O’Dell had made their way to the new pub they were working on opening soon. The Klingon sisters were on night duty and who remained, were a select few of the folks that Dox knew the best.

Sitting around the table, alcoholic beverages (or Syntholholic, in Rita Paris’ case) had been replaced with various teas and coffees as Dox sat at the table with her wife, Mona, leaning against her arm. Across from them, Rita was finishing up a story, while Thex was nursing a drink quietly. Captain Enalia Telvan was pouring cups of tea she had brought for herself and Mona, listening with Maica at hand.

The ship's Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Tovanna Mah, was looking over the spread with hungry, and curious eyes in the kitchen, listening as well. Doctor Power was shadowing her, observing his chief to learn a bit about her El Aurian behavior.

Still in her uniform, as was common for the workaholic Romulan, Dox took a sip of the bitter, black Romulan coffee she preferred and chuckled at the familiar story of her own disastrous onboarding nearly two years ago. “I knew the layout of the ship, Rita. I wasn’t LOST, I just didn’t understand why you were leading me back around in circles, is all.”

Dox looked over at Mona, who as a Miradonian, was a living lie detector whose large, amber eyes could see the biological fluctuations associated with telling untruths. The brightly feathered woman raised an eyebrow and smirked at her wife, who sighed dramatically for effect. “Was that even a little convincing? Okay, fine. I was so nervous that I barely remembered my name. I was... very intimidated, Rita.”

“I get that one a lot. Which means that I’m doing my job,” Rita admitted breezily. “It’s your first impression on the first officer, and it is most definitely always an interview. I need to know who you are, why you’re here, if you are a joke or a threat. If you have the potential for greatness, or if you’re a defective cog that’s liable to blow us all to smithereens. That onboarding is a test of character, and a setting of expectations for the command.”

“I maintain its importance, and I will tell the story of walking the new onboarding officer around in a circle back to the flight deck until long after I am retired. And I don’t plan to retire,” Rita teased Dox. “However, I solemnly swear not to admit that it was you. If they guess, that’s not on me.”

Blushing a faint shade of green, Dox smiled a little awkwardly and laughed at the light ribbing.

“Speaking of which,” Rita hastily changed the subject rather obviously as she fished out a gym bag and handed it to Dox- a gym bag which was black, with the bright canary yellow of a bygone age, and a delta on the rounded ends that bespoke of that bygone age all the same.

Looking quizzically at the bag, Dox slowly unzipped it and inspected its contents. Pulling what was inside out, she revealed a gold Starfleet tunic that was, by design, quite old. “This is… the 2250’s Starfleet uniform. From… after they shifted from the dark blue tunics to the older department colors?”

“2255,” Rita noted. This was, after all, history she knew.

Holding up the yellow tunic with the black collar, it had a curved, gold Starfleet delta on its chest and was a bit more goldenrod than the mustard minidress that Rita herself was wearing. Glancing from where they were sitting, Dox looked over to the wall to the left of the main door to her and Mona’s quarters. On display in two diamond-shaped frames were two folded uniforms. The first was Dox’s first Starfleet uniform. The black and charcoal gray jumpsuit with the crimson collar and her Lieutenant Junior Grade pips on the collar. Next to that, was the mustard gold, velour minidress uniform that she had worn in a holodeck simulation nearly two years prior where she, Rita and the ship’s former CMO, Asa Dael, had been trapped in a simulation pulled from Rita’s own memories and the holodeck physically converted her normal uniform into a perfect replica of the one from Rita’s own timeline. But this new one was different.

A series of four piping lines up each shoulder and the flared, diamond collar was distinct and vibrant, and she knew her history well enough to recognize it well. But she was still a little bit confused. “Uh… are we… are we changing our uniforms back to this design? There’s not a skirt in here, is there?”

That earned her a peal of musical laughter as Rita genuinely belly laughed at that. “Oh Mnhei’sahe, have I not met you, ever? Please. That uniform had either option, and of course, I got you the slacks, and the boots as well. Mine was a window of extreme sexism in Starfleet, and there’s a reason it didn’t last long. I would never give you a gift designed to embarrass you- you’d never wear it! This is a memento of an earlier age, yes... but one with a little dignity and romance to it, no?”

Smiling, Dox took the gift in. As usual, Rita had a powerful gift when it came to gifts, knowing the red-headed Romulan's interest in the eras that had preceded her. The uniforms, history, and technology of those ships fascinated her to the degree of having spent more than a little free time practicing on flight sims for many vintage Starship designs just for fun. “This is really wonderful, Rita. Thank you so much. I see some holodeck sim time wearing this for sure.”

“I will join you for that!” Rita declared with a smile. “I never met Christopher Pike, but I heard he commanded a fine starship...”

Mona cleared her throat, pulling a clothing box into her own lap and running her hand across the top of it a moment as she didn’t want to interrupt, but she also wanted to give her Minay something dear to her.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed the box in front of her wife and slowly let it out. “This is for you. It’s a traditional Miradonian dress suit for mothers. I... I wasn’t sure what you’d like... But I figured since you had similar coloration to my mother... You might look good in it. She was a northern snow Miradonian and had white and olive feathers.”

Holding up the outfit, which seemed to be made of a thick but silky fabric cut not dissimilar to a Kimona, Dox took in the vibrant colors and the fine pattern of birds in flight crisscrossing the material. As she looked at it, she couldn’t help but think of that first gift that Mona had given her. The stunning, green and purple, Miradonian feathered dress that she had been given the day she was promoted to full Lieutenant. The day she began to realize that her affection for the woman that was now her wife and bond-mate was more than simply friendship.

“Oh, Jhu Dhael… it’s lovely. It really… thank you.” Dox said, blushing a light bit of green as she used the Romulan term for ‘Angel Bird’ that she generally reserved for when the two were alone.

“When we were back home, I tried to find the right pattern and coloration and it took a while so I just ordered it. Thankfully it was delivered before we left. I’m just glad you like it,” Mona was thrumming softly as a soft smile spread across her face and the feather coloration on her face brightened slightly.

Enalia chuckled and motioned to her own wife, who set a small gift basket in front of Dox. “Perhaps we should have gone with clothing as well?”

That garnered a shoulder slap from the holographic Maica. “I think the cooking wine set we got you is more than enough. We were able to get bottles from Romulus, Miradon, Cardassia, Earth... There’s even a bottle of Tulaberry oil from the Gamma quadrant.”

“Well… I think Mona... you might get more use out of this than me. Heh” Dox chuckled pulling one of the bottles out of the basket with a dark, red oil in it. “I can barely boil water on my own in the kitchen. Is this?”

Pulling the glass stopper out of the top of the bottle, the redheaded Romulan took a whiff as she bit her bottom lip. “It IS<. Tlhei dignair'le… this is sserayl oil. I… Captain. Maica. How did you? Outside of Romulus itself, the only colony world that presses this that I know of is Mol Krunchi?”

Dox looked in mild astonishment at the bottle in her hand that somehow came from the colony planet that she was born on. “Even when mother and I were smugglers, we only came across bottles of this… maybe twice in… sixteen years. You can make the most amazing breads.”

The former pirate queen tapped her chin thoughtfully a moment before replying. “Some years ago Seinae was able to get her hands on a full case of it and I was able to claim a few bottles for a rainy day.”

Mona was also busy digging in the basket, humming at the various bottles. “Miradon golif juice? I can make some amazing cookies with this but... Golif fruit went extinct almost two generations ago. And this olive oil from Earth. The bottle says 2230 and is still sealed.”

“We really don’t have anything sentimental to give you, so we wanted to make sure you’d have something you could enjoy,” Maica added, her bright and cheerful smile on full display.

“They’re wonderful.” Dox said, clearly more than a little embarrassed by the attention. “They’re ALL wonderful. Thank you all.”

Sonak then approached her with a small metal box, made of what appeared to be tarnished bronze.

‘’Being among Humans and several other species for this long, I am aware of this gift-giving tradition, on one’s specific day of entering into life. Although I fail to see the emotions relating to it, it is nevertheless only logical to respect it; as it is of significant importance, to people for whom I have respect and admiration. So I believe the proper ritual is to say; Happy Birthday. May you continue to enjoy peace, and a long life.’’

He gave her the cassette. Inside was a small metal oil lamp that looked very old, engraved with ancient Vulcan sigil.

‘’This is not a replica. This has been in my family for sixty-two generations, and is one of the remaining artifacts of the revered ancient artisan Sinek, from the Time of Awakening. Surak himself owned one of those meditation lamps.” Sonak paused for effect at that, for he understood that emotional processing often overwhelmed the logical ability to process data. He chose to close with what his human bride would describe as philosophical poetry. “May it remind you that the fire of your Rihanssu heart was once lighted on Vulcan, and will now, like your people did, light the path of your life whichever path you will choose.’’

“Uh, mine’s a recreation...” Rita muttered.

‘’You know what is mine is yours,’’ her husband said to her with a slightly raised eyebrow. ‘’The replica you have is for traveling; like mine is. This one is from this universe’ Sonak heirloom I was entitled to when I went to Vulcan. Ours in our quarters is the original one I brought back from our own universe.’’

Looking at the lamp, Dox’s eyes went wide. Emotional displays were unnecessary with Sonak, but he understood their function, so the stunned young Romulan instead took a moment to collect her thoughts, something she was failing at. “Thank you very much, Sonak. This is… you’ll have to pardon me. After everything, I’m… at a loss for words.”

‘’Consider this a gesture towards our shared dream of Reunification,’’ the Kolinahr master added. ‘’May it’s light inspire us all.’’

Tovanna smiled at Dox enjoying her reaction and brought up a rectangular flat package wrapped artfully, "I am by no means as good as my mother but I studied by her side for decades, I hope you like it." Within was a life study of the crew surrounding Dox and her family in charcoal sealed within a frame. The piece caught the subtle nuance of love shared by Rita and Sonak that could be seen if one were to notice in small glimmers so rarely shown. There was Gavarus, Fiona, and Minerva with their lighthearted connection, yet each also showed an inner strength. Enalia was portrayed with her family in a beautifully soft manner not normally seen yet ever-present if one really looked at the beautiful Captain who took care of them all. Even Rei was there in her natural form for all to see with Taxes gently touching his muzzle. There was no one missing yet all were reflected in a manner that said more than a photo ever could about who they really were. Tova looked at Dox and the crew nervously hoping she did not insult anyone with her portrayal of them.

"It seemed fitting to remember this moment surrounded by those who hold you dearly, moments are what make life beautiful. A very wise woman taught me that." She nodded at Rita remembering looking at the stars and smiled at Dox. "Happy birthday"

"You... made this?" Dox said, marveling at it and showing it off to the table. "Tova, this is... beautiful. I can't believe it. All of this is so..." It was clear that Dox was well past the point of being more than a little overwhelmed. Looking at the illustration, she still had Rita's replica uniform folded in her lap as she lightly rubbed the chromed delta on its chest. While she had come a long way in her time on the Hera, she was still something on an introvert and was at a loss as to how to process everything.

"Khlinae arhem.... Thank you. I... I will treasure this. All of this, from all of you." Dox said, her voice cracking and her eyes tearing up a bit as she accidentally slipped into her native tongue for a moment. Before it could get any more awkward, however, the door to the second half of Dox and Mona's double-sized, family quarters opened and Jaeih Dox stepped out, looking ever so slightly frazzled.

"Ahhh. I hate to interrupt, however... Mona, dear. I am afraid that I must pull you away for a moment." The Romulan grandmother said, raising her finger. "It appears that with the reduced gravity settings in the children's rooms, they have decided in unison, that something has them worked up and they have proceeded to begin lightly flying about the room. I catch one, and the other two begin flying out of reach. I think this needs something of a mother's touch."

With a soft chuckle, the brightly plumed avian stood up and glanced around the room, her eyes falling upon her bond-mate. "I'm sure they're just sensing all the excitement and emotions from us. I shouldn't be long." With a squeeze of Dox's shoulder, Mona headed into the chicks' room with Jaeih to help calm them down.

In truth, Dox was grateful for the momentary distraction as she scooched her chair back a bit and started to collect the overwhelming gifts. "I should put these away in the room. Again, everyone, thank you so much."

Standing up, Dox was clearly a bit anxious as she fumbled a bit trying to grab all of the multiple items and blushed a light green. "I'll... be right back. One moment."

"Oh for pity's sake, Mnhei'sahe, let me give you a hand," Rita expressed, rising from her seat to take a few of the gifts from the overladen Romulan officer's arms. "C'mon, we've got this now..."

"Ahh. Thanks, Rita." Dox said as the pair carried the gifts back to the bedroom. As the door hissed shut behind them for a moment, Dox began putting the items gently on the bottom of the fairly large, round bed she shared with Mona, gesturing to Rita to do the same with a nod of her head.

"Thanks again. and thank you again for the wonderful gift. I really appreciate it." Dox said, a little bit of her anxiety starting to fade a bit as it was just the two of them alone in the bedroom for the moment.

"Ohhhh, I know how much you enjoy relics from the golden age," Rita jokes, as she herself WAS one of those relics from the golden age of Starfleet, as evidenced by her remarkably sexist uniform of the period, which she still proudly sported 125 years after it was phased out of service. "Christopher Pike used to wear one of those, as well as his first officer, Number One. It's not sexy like mine is, but those uniforms represented something, back in the day. Something special that those explorers embodied, I like to think. In the modern-day, you are certainly one of their descendants, and I wanted you to feel that connection to our past- Starfleet's past- as you move into the future."

"That... means a lot, Rita. It really does." Dox replied, picking up the golden uniform top before folding it up neatly, and putting it on the bed with a smile as they turned to head back to the main chamber and the others. "And I'll need to load up some ship sims into my library, but I am already looking forward for an excuse to wear it, to have some fun in the holodeck. The closest designs I have on file now are the original Constitution and the refit models. I enjoy flying those every now and again. Such a completely different interface, but still very tactile."

"Tactile is certainly a word for it. You could certainly feel the engines through the vibrations in the deckplates, and for the life of me, given how often the inertial dampeners shuddered, I will never understand why we didn't have seatbelts back then..." Rita recalled with a laugh.

As the two women passed through the doorway to the living room, smiling at their friends on the far end of the room, mid-conversation, they all felt what could best be described as a tingling sensation dancing across their skin. Like walking through a mild, electrical field, Rita and Dox felt the hairs on the back of their necks stand up as time seemed to slow down.

VERY slowly, the members of the crew still in the dining room began to turn towards the other side of the room where Rita and Dox were before the tingling sensation seemed to freeze them all in place. A purple shimmer encapsulated the room like a force field had been activated and, in the center, it was as if a tear began to form in the chamber right in front of Dox and Rita.

Frozen in place, no one there could move or speak, but they could all see and hear as, through the rift that had just cracked open in the air, a figure stepped out. 

Dressed head to toe in what appeared to be a suit of armor that was somehow both cobbled together, and beyond state-of-the-art, was the shape of a man, his face hidden behind a black, domed helmet. On the back of the suit, folding in, was some kind of mechanism that resembled warp nacelles mounted like wings that glowed with the same purple energy that surrounded the room and seemed to keep them all frozen in place.

"We-heh-ellll, if it isn't old home week," the figure declared as his helmet retracted into his armor, revealing the face of a teenager... with curly red hair, fair skin, somewhat pointed ears, and bright blue eyes. "Granny. Grandmother. I see you're having a little party- cute. Myst be Granny's idea- Grandmother never was much for celebrations. Wow, you two were something back in the day, weren't ya?"

Neither woman could move. Even their eyes were locked in the direction they were facing when the field enveloped them, but they were still seeing and hearing everything as their minds raced.

Looking around the quarters, the young mischief-maker smiled. "Oh hey, that must be Tova, the El-Aurian doctor. Well, the second one, at least. Guessing that's gotta be Sonak... is that Queen Enalia in a Starfleet uniform? There's a rare sight. Oh, and Thex the 1st I'll bet. Isn't this just so nice, the whole gang all together on the Hera, back in the day. I can practically smell the nostalgia. SO," Rubbing his hands together briskly, the chronal intruder who has them all frozen in place tapped his temple.

"Ah ah. you taught me better than that, Grandpa. I should introduce myself- I'm Declan Dox. I'm your grandson... well, four of you, anyway," he waved in the direction of Rita and Dox, then continued. "See, you made me swear not to mess with the technology. But you told me the stories, so how could I not? All those years you just sat on the Bulukaya particle, and for what? Because you were afraid to investigate it? That's not how science works!"

Looking around the living room for a moment, the redheaded intruder's eyes glinted and a smug grin spread across his face as he looked at the shelf by the door to the quarters. Along the shelves were an assortment of some of Mnhei'sahe's personal effects from her own childhood, and he reached up and grabbed one in particular. A small, hand made model of a Romulan D'deridex-class Warbird that she had built as a child, and kept ever since.

Popping it off the little plastic base, he reached into a small hole in the underside of the model, the self-declared descendant of the crew pulled out a black crystal aloft with a gleam in his eye. "Yessss, here we go.... the key to the multiverse and Grandmama keeps it stashed in a toy. Real classy, Gran. So, I suppose I should explain for those of you who don't know, seeing as how I've got a captive audience here."

"You see," the armored teenager who seemed to have something of a mastery of time and space began as he paced slowly about the room, amongst the participants in the frozen tableau. "The Bulikaya Particle enables dimensional travel. Now, directed correctly, it can map the multiverse and enable actual dimensional travel. Or so it's theorized. But somebody got the research and sat on it for a century or so, until I found mention of it in one of her old logs. So I pestered and asked and got enough together to know what to expect when I went hopping through time and space to look for it. You see, by keying in the sequence, the particles can be released, and they'll send anyone exposed to them skipping through the dimensions, on their way back home. Quickly at first- 30-second hop, then a minute, then two, then four, then six. They say the closer you are to the source, the more jumps you'll take through the multiverse and the longer it'll take you to get back."

"Assuming you get back. Your corpse will, at any rate." The young man attempted to appear callous to that concept, but it was clear that the consequence hadn't occurred to him until now. Which in turn shook his confidence a bit, so he looked up and grinned, a surprisingly familiar expression often seen on the face of Rita Paris.

"So I'm thinking, what's the least responsible thing I could possibly do that would royally piss off the both of you?" the invader who had frozen them all in place turned to eye Rita and Dox, with a somewhat maniacal grin. It was clear he was acting out now, trying to get a rise out of them in a situation where possibly for the first time, he had power over them all.

Struggling to move, both women were still frozen as the teenager that claimed to be their grandchild held the data crystal up in front of them next to a customized port in the gauntlet of his right glove that seemed designed specifically for the crystal. In the rear of the room, Enalia, Sonak, Thex and Tova were all stuck, watching as helplessly as they all were. From the other side of the shimmering forcefield, they could hear banging as it appeared that everyone outside the room was free of the temporal bubble.

NO.This... this can't be happening. Mnhei'sahe thought, her mind racing. Months ago, Admiral Charybdis MacGregor had told her a bit about her experiences being pushed from timeline to timeline, and MacGregor's granddaughter Liviana McCray entrusted the data crystal to her for safekeeping. My... our... grandson?!

What are you doing? Dox thought, completely helpless.

We have GOT to teach our grandchildren to be more responsible with time travel, Rita thought to Sonak through their bond, reaching out to the smartest man in the room for answers. How is he keeping us all paralyzed here? If we can hear and think, it isn't stasis. What is he doing to us?

Neuronal control field, came the reply, thanks to his reassessing telepathy. Theories in psionics establish that it would be possible for a mind powerful enough, disciplined enough and well-trained in applied neurology and physiology to take control of someone else's body; as precise as deactivating certain nerve clusters like locomotion while leaving others like sensory perception fully functional. Neuroscience and applied psionics open the possibilities of artificial means to achieve this selective telecontrol. Obviously this is the case here with this purple emission, using our optic nerve as a conduit.

All the while, Sonak was concentrating on taking back control of only one tiny muscle group in his own body; that of his eyelids. His natural inner eyelid was already protecting him from most of the glare, but not quite enough for him to regain full control of his neuromotor system. But if his hypothesis was right, and if he could just find enough neural energy to shut up his eyes completely, logic told him that he would break the effect.

But at the moment, dealing with those two ''ifs'' was like trying to arm wrestle a Gorn. Still, he concentrated.

"So," Declan Dox declared, inserting the crystal into a port in his wristguard and studying the hardlight readings he was getting off the unique black crystal, from the Dedjoy system. "The Bulkikaya particle is tied to your connection in that dimension- the version of you that exists there. You'll always appear within a few meters of yourself. It's too bad I can't send you back to meet yourselves as teenagers so you can see what it's like, but you're always chronally anchored to your local equivalent. At least, you will, with this version. For me, it's about to unlock the multiverse. All of space and time will be mine."

"Maybe I'll be a tourist. Maybe I'll rewrite history." Turning to the two women frozen in place, his eyes narrowed, and he looked to all the world like an angry child. "Nobody will be able to order me around, ever again!"

With those words spoken, the hum of building energy rose from the crystal embedded in his armor. His eyes alight, an expression of pure joy settled onto his face. "Here... we... go!"

Sonak managed to close his inner eyelid, and was already in motion when the explosion of particles burst throughout the room. Globules of ultraviolet energy exploded outward in clusters, in a five-meter radius. When the flare of the ultraviolet was gone, no one remained in the room, save Maica and Kodria, who were the only witnesses to what happened next.

Another crack opened in reality, and through it stepped a gold-clad armored figure, with a rather distinctive physique. The armor was polished and clearly advanced, if nothing else illustrated by the complex 'rack of blinds' wing assemblage that flexed from her back, coruscating with energy. The face shield of the helmet retracted, and a considerably older Rita Paris regarded the two holographic women.

"I'm too late, aren't I?" she asked, although clearly the question was rhetorical as she snapped shut her visor, the wings spread and hummed as they gathered energy, transmitting it to the wingtips. When she stepped back, the wings came together before her in cataclysmic clash of cosmic energies, and reality cracked- a fissure in space and time. Wordlessly the armored figure strode through, leaving the two women alone once more.

"Unfortunately..." Kodria muttered as a couple of her temporal prediction holos popped up and began scrolling through data. "It seems you couldn't have been on time anyway, what with the interference from his suit's power source. I'll just have to leave you hints for the back end of the trip later."

The rarest expression graced Maica's face as she glanced around the room - a frown. "If what he said was true, everyone should be back before long. I'll contact sickbay and have them prepare for... For quarantine." She didn't want to think of what else the stranger had said could be possible, especially with how other realities could have turned out for her wife, but for now she'd choose to remain hopeful. After all, Enalia was Enalia, in any reality.

An instant later, subroutines that Declan's future technology had laid down were finally cracked and the door to the nursery and the main chamber door wooshed open. At the main entrance, Petty Officer's S'Rina and V'Nus had phasers at the ready. From the nursery, Jaeih had an arm wrapped protectively around Mona who looked extremely distraught.

Behind them, from their cribs, all three girls were wailing in distress. All three, along with their mother, felt the exact instant that Mnhei'sahe had, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist for their empathic senses.

With a disturbingly calm voice, Jaeih turned to Kodria and asked, "What... happened?"

A few doors down, the namesake goddess of the starship turned the page on the book she was writing. "Off on yet another odyssey..."


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