Dox's Final Leap: Victory - Part 6 of 12
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: The Multiverse, the USS Victory
Timeline: 2397, 2286
Thinking of everything said and everything shared, Dox couldn’t help but be glad for every extra minute that fate had chosen to give her with the woman who had meant so much to her in her life. And now, she would try and figure out how to make thighs right with her counterpart here on the Victory.
After a few hours of much needed sleep, and a bite to eat first. I wonder if that meal is just sitting there at the Captain’s table, still? She thought as she took her leave of the Romulan Starship captain.
In point of fact, most of it still was.
As was Siivas Mackenzie, Qurka Qurg and Andurean, all having raktajinos and chatting, all three looking up in surprise at the entrance of the extradimensional guest.
Even the windserpent around Andurean seemed a bit surprised by Dox arriving as the Romulan pilot smiled, her eyes still a bit red from the earlier tears. “Uh… pardon me. I was… just hoping there was still some food. I haven’t actually eaten anything in… a while. I didn’t mean to intrude.”
The emotional conversation with Charybdis had drained a good amount of what was left of the traveler’s energy, and her more professional demeanor and defenses were fairly down all around as she stood there nervously.
“Oh for the sake of all that’s holy, come in, sit down and eat something. Eat everything, hell... it’s all going back into the processor,” Siivas gestured broadly. “We can leave if you’d prefer privacy, or you can grab and go, or come join us. Entirely your choice. After all, you are our guest.”
Looking at them, it was easy to remember when she had first seen all three for the first time. Not on a starship, or even in Char’s pictures, but for real. When Char’s time traveling granddaughter Liviana McCray brought them back to the Christmas party at Eilean Donan. The party that, in this reality, would have been roughly a year ago.
“No, please. I… would actually prefer the company… if you wouldn’t mind.” Dox said as she prepared a plate from the still-warm options. Settling on a particularly good smelling tray of what looked to be some kind of roast with potatoes and some mixed vegetables, she grabbed a cup of rakrajino and took a seat, this time ACROSS from Qurka Qurg and one down from Andurean. Occassionally, even an introvert doesn't want to be alone.
Taking a seat quietly, Dox knew she was exhausted and probably all but projecting her thoughts to the thoughtful Delatan Doctor. The doctor who, in a different timeline, was able to detect her mind and consciousness even cloaked in that happy castle back on Earth where Char would meet her great love. But at that moment, she was unconcerned with such things. She chose to trust Siivas then, and did so now. And as much as Qurka Qurg had been pushing her buttons here, she was still a bizarrely familiar face, as was the Orion assassin next to her.
In the moment, as this version of Dox sat and began to eat quietly, it was perhaps the most that she had truly not just looked, but felt like the woman all three had come to know quite well here on the Victory. It turned out that exhaustion and opening her mind up to Char had loosened that proverbial stick in her ample posterior.
“So, that’s why I believe that the single electron theory cannot hold. It’s just too preposterous to even contemplate. Now,” Siivas continued the conversation, trying to normalize the room and not make Dox the topic of conversation. “How do you feel the diplomatic relations are going with Q’onos, Qurka? At this rate you are liable to be the first commissioned Klingon officer in Starfleet before they finally admit that the strip-mining they are doing is going to create a catastrophe. It’ll probably take some sort of disaster to bring them to the table, don’t you think?”
While history wasn’t exactly Dox’s top course at the Academy, having just eavesdropped on a conversation with one of the Admirals who would eventually try and take advantage of the destruction of the Klingon moon of Praxis, the topic of the future of the Klingon Empire was fresh in her memory. As such, she gulped hard on a fork full of roast and choked slightly as she did.
Coughing just a little, she washed it down with a sip of her coffee awkwardly. “Pardon me. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” Avoiding eye contact, Dox tried to go back to eating hoping she hadn’t just derailed the conversation.
“In any universe, you are a delight. Mnhei’sahe,” Siivas sighed, delicately sipping his raktajino, pinky extended. His chair was turned sideways, and he had one leg draped across Andurean’s lap. He looked casual and relaxed, despite the stimulant. “You two are quite the pair, here. Charybdis’s all fiery passion... she’s the Flamebird, you see. She rises again and again, from the flames of ruin, stronger each time. You’re supposed to be the Warbird, but here... you’re the Dove. You temper her, remind her of her gentler nature. Remind her what she’s striving to uphold, to preserve for future generations. T’vyn is a good balance for her, but you challenge her. You won’t let her be less than her best, and it gives her cause to rise.”
Grinning playfully at the newcomer, Siivas MacKenzie cocked his head in her direction, the teardrop-shaped emerald upon his brow held there by a latinum chain about his crown catching the eye- the same emerald color of his eyes, and the skin of his lover, she noted in a flash of insight.
“We never anticipated you. Her we knew would come along. I saved her, in a singularity that killed three-quarters of the crew. I befriended her and saved her, and that was the only reason she didn’t fly the USS Bonne Chance to Romulus, where she would have brought about the end of the Federation and dominance over the alpha and beta quadrants to the Star Empire.” Wiggling his toed against the waist of his lover, Siivas wiggled his eyebrows.
“Never underestimate the power of compassion,” Qurka raised a glass of wine, downed it, and went back for another, pouring one for herself before considering, and extending the pitcher in Dox’s direction. “Bloodwine? It’s no great vintage, but it’s the stuff.”
Tired enough to let a smile out, Dox nodded towards Qurka. “I could actually use a bit. Thank you.”
Standing, Qurka used her height advantage, snagged a water glass from one of the other settings, tossed the water on the carpeted deck, then filled the tumbler with bloodwine. Leaning over the table to hand her the drink offered Dox quite the view of scantily clad mocha cleavage- lace bra, she noted with a blink- but Qurka wasn’t vamping, this was just a state of being for her.
Then, raising an eyebrow, the time-displaced Romulan woman looked down for a moment as she spoke, half to herself, “Okhala'dhael u’ Akh’dhael.” The Rihan terms for the Flamebird and the Warbird. “What do you mean, that I’m... she’s supposed to… or was supposed to be the ‘Warbird’?”
“A catalyst is supposed to arise, which is the same generation as our Scylla. Romulus generated a great number of wild talents in their eugenics program, and some of them not only survived but thrived. All of them are as exceptional as our beloved Captain, in their own way. And many of their gifts are surprisingly powerful... and they, unlike our Firebird, tend not to be rash. Polite and calculating and precise are our opponents.” Siivas could have been speaking in theoreticals, but it didn’t really sound like it.
“As she arms for war against her own, because that is her purpose- she is the cleansing fire, and she heralds the end of all that is corrupt and honorless in the Star Empire. She arrived once on Risa, the planet made peaceful by her murder. She arrived once over Earth, for she adopted it as her home to defend. And she will arrive once on Romulus, heralding its end.” The mood in the room had somehow grown electric, and everyone felt it. Seldom had Siivas ever laid out this much of the grand design, and never to a stranger. But he was, and both Anduran and Qurka sat somewhat spellbound by the Deltan doctor’s tale.
“The Warbird is the warrior aspect of the Firebird, as she foments dissent amongst the armies and divides them, sowing chaos. Somehow I never expected the dove of peace, but... her role remains to be seen. She may yet fulfil her destiny in that particular prophecy. What I can say, in the here and now, is that... she’s good for Char. T’vyn holds her accountable and watches out for her, but she accommodates her. Dox challenges her to be better.”
As the recognition of the phrase flashed across this Dox’s face, he nodded. “I lied to her, and told her I’d never met such a woman on the beach on Risa. But she was there... your bombshell. Back when we were all vacationing there on shore leave from the Bonne Chance, I met your friend Rita. I taught her my philosophy while we were waiting in line for an ice cream cone.”
At that revelation, Dox’s jaw fell open. She knew that in her own timeline, there WAS a Rita Paris. A woman who had also been believed lost in a transporter accident, but one that had never been found or reconstituted like the Rita from the so-called Kelvin Timeline had been on the Hera.
Nodding at the stunned expression, the Deltan doctor pressed on. “Reconstituted from a warp ghost, with a bloody handsome Vulcan and a starship captain both around her finger. I changed her files here, and Andurean stays a step ahead of our Dox’s research. I lie to her because the truth would haunt her. But, we’re keeping tabs on her, my family and our friends. Rest assured, if your Miss Paris does show up in space at some particular coordinates at a particular time, there will be a Deltan cruiser there waiting to find her, I assure you.”
“That’s what we do- we safeguard the future, while we’re living in the present, and remembering the past.” Touching the gem on his forehead meaningfully, Siivas sat back to let Dox digest all of that.
The digestions did not take long as Dox replied quickly and energetically. "You changed Rita's… wait… She's… I'M investigating Rita disappearance here from the Victory?"
Then the overtired officer rambled under her breath for a moment, "Of course she is. I would in the same… wait."
Shaking her head, Dox took a big swig of her bloodwine and took a moment. "Okay. Imirrhlhhse… You need to tell her the truth, Siivas. We… Hnaev… we grew in different ways. I understand that. We're not the same woman anymore. But she at least still was me, and the way we've been snipping at each other all day tells me she's still enough… ME… that she's haunted regardless."
"She's happy here. She's… and…" Dox took another swig, and a combination of exhaustion and alcohol intensified the effect just a bit more that it normally would have. "And… maybe I'm… maybe I'm a little jealous... Jealous of her. Of myself. But if you aren't truthful with her, then that happiness is kreldanni SHAILL'Hnaev!"
While she was yelling a bit, spouting a Rihan curse equivalent to the English expletives of 'effing Horse excrement', it was clear Dox was angry more at HERSELF than anything else as she flumped back in her chair. "She trusts you, Siivas. I trust you. Ever since the castle, I have. She deserves the truth. Please."
Wiping her tired eyes, Dox's voice dipped as she repeated Siivas's words from earlier. "Hmm...'As she foments dissent amongst the armies and divides them, sowing chaos.' Akh’dhael. The Warbird. Sounds more like me here and now. I shouldn't be here. I'll just… hurt her more."
“Or you’ll give her closure,” Andurean added quietly. “She has always wondered ‘what if’, even as she made her life here. You ARE that ‘what if’ made flesh. Perhaps knowing what you see here and hearing such envy from your own lips might mean the world to her.”
Reaching over to pat the knee of the uniformed officer, the officer in the medical jumpsuit sighed. “I don’t love him just for the sex.”
“Mostly the sex, but I do have my moments,” Andurean added dryly, a bemused smile settling on his face.
“Dissent? What dissent? We’re not fighting, I didn’t see Char running you off, and even your counterpart gave you the tour. What makes you think you’re dividing anyone?” Qurka Qurg asked, then leaned in, a surprisingly serpentine tongue tracing her full, thick, painted lips. “Although if you DO get to urge to divide someone...”
“The only reason she says such things is because you blush a delightful shade of mint when she does, you know,” Siivas rolled his eyes overhead, shaking his head before pointing to her. “You... have a point, and as you know yourself, and our Dox, rather well, that’s food for thought. If you think the truth will set her free, I will share it with her. Seems only fair given that, as I understand it, we are all slated to die by fire in the immediate future? Well, not you, obviously...”
At that, Dox's eyes narrowed just a bit and she pursed her lips slightly. "Right. I suppose Char already filled you in on what I showed her. Makes sense."
“Of course she did,” Siivas explained gently. ”If she hadn’t, I still would have heard her distress at learning the news... you frightened her, and that’s not an easy task. Our captain... does not deal well with loss. In this lifetime, she has had few who were precious to her, and she tends to hold rather tightly to them. The concept of losing so many of us at once was beyond devastating for her, so of course I ‘heard’.
Thinking about how the two had been clearly communicating telepathically earlier, Dox figured out what must have happened already. Putting her now empty glass down, upside down on the table so as to not give Qurka the opportunity to loosen her up any further with more Bloodwine, the red-headed Romulan looked out the windows as the stars streaked by for just a moment before she replied.
When she did reply, it was with a story of her own. “One of my other… leaps... before coming here… was to Romulus. To the sewers beneath the city of Iuruth. When I was there, I met a version of myself that was… a very different woman. She was scarred and in so many ways, broken. She called herself Min t’Aan. A fake name... my mother's house name... she had assumed to hide from the Tal’Shiar over the course of the months that she had been on the run. We… talked for hours. In those hours, I learned something specific.”
Taking a bite of her dwindling plate, she chewed as she talked through her story. “That was supposed to be me. That was the future that I had once been… slated for.”
“Well over a year and a half ago, our ship rescued a young girl. An android named Kodria, from our future. An android that knew many of us on the Hera very well.” There was a brief pause as Dox took a moment to finish chewing before continuing.
“She called me… Aunt Dox. And she tried very hard to not say or do anything to change history. To undo her own existence. But her mind was very young, like a child, and she slipped. She let us know certain things. She told her AUNT Rita that our Captain, her grandmother was going to kill her own mother in a blood duel. And that one act would end up destroying her. Leaving Enalia Telvan a broken and changed woman who would eventually commit a form of suicide.”
“But that was changed. During that duel, Rita Paris intervened. She inadvertently killed the Captain’s mother with a phaser set on maximum, stopping the woman from throwing herself on her own sword, which the captain was holding. That sword… was a form of ancient technology that would have swapped the two women’s minds. That was what was supposed to happen.”
“Rita changed that because of Kodi’s warning.” Dox said, looking at Siivas with a bit of a smile. “And because of that, my Captain was still HERSELF, when I was kidnapped months later by the Tal’Shiar. When I was slated to be left there on Romulus where I would have spent years on the run before finally escaping to be left with no career options left in Starfleet. Where I would have become the drunk pirate Captain that Kodi remembered growing up.”
“But now… I had my real Captain in control of her own mind. And she and Rita did what wouldn’t have originally happened. They were there to rescue me where I wasn’t supposed to be rescued. They changed my fate.” Dox finished with a nod, taking a sip of her coffee as she did.
“Fate is a thing, but it isn’t set in stone. We CAN change our fate. And you have two things that the version of you that died in my timeline didn’t. You know what happened to that Siivas. And you have her. ME. To always be a… what’s the phrase... a monkey wrench.”
“You say that I’M good for Char. The version of me that’s a part of your crew. But so are you, Siivas. And I know what happened to my Char after she lost you. But that’s an entirely different timeline. What happens in THIS timeline is entirely up to you. To ALL of you. You can make it better.”
“Well, and there’s that whole ‘I have no desire to sacrifice my life for the greater good if it can be avoided’ thing. Selfish, I know, but that’s just me,” Siivas grinned, then his mein became more serious. “You have done a great service to me and mine, Mnhe’sahe Dox of another universe, another time, another place. Although you may never be able to collect on it, the Deltan people owe you a great debt. I will take steps to ensure that Sickbay need not die by fire, and every day that passes after that, will be a gift from you. I will never forget this gift you have given us, and I swear to make the most of it.”
While the paternally smiling bald-pated physician’s tone was often light, almost flippant, in this case, his sincerity was genuine, and his words carried the gravitas of one to whom such proclamations were quite serious indeed.
“Well…” Dox replied with a bit of a smile, feeling a bit better for the talk and the meal, “If the Deltan people ever feel the need to pay on that debt in any way, you have your own Dox that can accept it for me.”
“But in all seriousness…” she continued, fidgeting slightly with her coffee as she looked down for a moment. “It means… maybe more than I can express in words to be able to do anything for you all here. I… may only have known my Charybdis for a short while, but… what she means to me I cannot explain, really. So, you are very welcome, Siivas.”
“The fact that a version of me ended up here, by her side, means something. Of that, I have no doubt.” And… maybe I need to tell her all of this. Clear the air before my time here is up.”
The look on the telepathic physician’s face was clear- he didn’t have to say a word. Of course you do. She needs to know as much as you need to tell her. Aloud, he spoke softly.
“Charybdis is a unique being... an aggregate of three different women who came together to form a cohesive whole, driven by more willpower than I have seen in multiple generations.” Having said that, the wily wiseman wiggled his eyebrows at Dox playfully. “You know her fate, don’t you? You know what she plans to do, and what her place in history is destined to be, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Dox said, taking on a solemn tone as she thought of Char’s parting gift to her that she kept in her quarters back on the Hera. “In my time… it was undone. Romulus is still whole physically, but… perhaps more broken than ever.”
“The Firebird will reignite the Romulan people, and they will reclaim their honor amongst the stars. She’ll likely be old and canny by then, but I know she’ll be up for the task. And, fates willing, we will have prepared her for it. I know I will do my part.” Rising from his chair, the Deltan doctor stifled a yawn and patted his lover on the shoulder. “Let’s get off to bed, and let our guest do the same. I believe Qurka is about to offer you some company so you needn’t toss and turn alone,” Siivas said as Qurka shot him a dirty look.
“You ruin all my best fun, old man,” the Klingon glamazon pouted comically.
“Just the moments at other’s expense, dear Qurka. Come, t’lann of mine... let’s adjourn and leave Qurka one last chance for harassment, shall we?” As Andurean rose, both men, in unison, bowed deeply as the emerald-skinned Kolari intoned in his deep and resonant voice.
“You have done a great service for clan Velth, and we never forget such things, Should you ever have need, invoke my name and inform the party involved that you are owed a blood debt by Andurean Velth, and they will honor that debt. It is a life for a life, bear in mind. But should you have need, it is mine to give, to honor your gift of life to myself... and those for whom I care.”
“My own honor would demand no less, Andurean. Thank you.” Dox said, standing to offer the Orion man a deep and respectful bow. “Thank you all, really.”
Then, she sighed and let out another yawn. “And I think… I will be heading to bed. Once I find out from Lieutenant Tivri where it is.”
It was alarming how quickly Qurka Qurg was on her feet and had an arm through that of the shorter woman. “I’ll take you!”
Rolling her eyes, Dox hung her head slightly, too tired to fight at this point and desperately hoping the amorous Klingon temptress was still just messing with her, as she replied with a light smirk. “MY quarters, Qurka. Not yours. Where I really need to actually sleep.”
“That’s what I meant, silly,” Qurka responded, moving toward the door and somewhat dragging the smaller woman along as if she were not resisting. Or weighing any noticeable amount, for that matter. “I’ll take you to the VIP guest quarters down on Deck 8 where Char put you up right next door to me. So I’d be right nearby should you get cold or lonely,”
“Of course. Right next to your quarters. I’ll have to thank Char for that.” Dox said, shaking her head and blushing that particular shade of green that Qurka apparently found intriguing.
“And thank you.” she finished, wishing she had skipped that glass of bloodwine as there was a small part of her lonely enough and tired enough to half want to take Qurka up on her challenge. It was a small enough part to be noticeable, and Dox felt more than a little shame for the thought.
Leaning down to put her head on top of the short Romulan girls crimson curls, Qurka Qurg sighed.
“I’d break you.”
To Be Continued…