Dox's Final Leap: Victory - Part 8 of 12
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: The Multiverse, the USS Victory
Timeline: 2397, 2286
Stepping out of the starboard side Turbolift onto the bridge, the Hera’s Dox adjusted her crimson tunic slightly almost out of habit. The cool black railing and the rotunda of screens blinking surrounded the bridge, with workstations busy everywhere. To her right was the viewscreen, which was a good degree smaller than what she was used to. In front of her was the long, curved double workstation facing the main viewer where helm and tactical were positioned.
Closest to her at the tactical station, Lieutenant Jessica Valin went out of her way to not look as she stepped into the doorway of the turbolift. Next to Valin, at the helm, was her own counterpart in that uncomfortable looking turtleneck uniform, who spared her the quickest of glances before returning her focus to her workstation.
Looking behind them, sat Captain Charybdis MacGregor, looking quite commanding and confident, in spite of her late-stage pregnancy. “Permission to board the bridge, Captain?” Dox asked.
Spinning the command chair about precisely, Charybdis regarded the somewhat rested and refreshed officer, whose travels through space and time were coming to an end. Nodding her approval, Charybdis indicated one of the auxiliary stations, next to Science. “Permission granted, Lieutenant Commander. Pull up a station and you’re welcome to watch us at warp.”
“Thank you Captain.” Dox replied with a nod as she stepped over to the indicated station with a slight smile. Logging in, she naturally tapped in her login, then her password was rejected, and a signal came up on the helm control panel. The local Dox sideyed the visitor, who logged in as ‘guest’ and the panel brought up a basic level 1 guest access to the ship’s computer. A minor, but still slightly embarrassing mistake.
As the Victory sped toward her rescue efforts, Lieutenant Tivri spoke up from comms. “Captain, I’m receiving a message... it’s been bounced by some satellites to keep it repeating.”
“Onscreen,” Captain Charybdis ordered, sweeping the holographic displays she was working with off to her starboard side, as a hay communication came through, of an austere humanoid male, with a stenorous voice, in a staticky transmission.
"This is... President of... Grave Warning: Do not approach Planet
Earth... To all Starships, repeat, do not approach!”
A hash of static interrupted the transmission, as all on the bridge leaned forward, listening intently.
“... Orbiting Probe... emits transmissions on energy wave unknown
to us... Wave, directed at our oceans... Ionized our atmosphere...
All power sources have failed.
Starships are powerless...”
A burst of static cut through the transmission, and it appeared to be lost. Tivri didn’t bother to try to boost the signal- this far out, this was an echo of the original transmission. She could no sooner tune it in that she could enhance the video quality.
“... A cloud envelope has enveloped the Planet. Heavy rain and flooding. Temperature dropping to critical level. Planet cannot survive unless Probe is responded to... Probe transmissions dominate all standard channels. Communications may not be possible... Save yourselves. Avoid the Planet Earth... Farewell."
There was silence on the bridge of the Victory, as everyone reacted to the news in their own way, Earth, the seat of the Federation, the heart of Starfleet... was lost.
The reactions were solem and concerned, except for the two Doxes, who remembered their history well enough to know the outcome of the scenario. Silently, the two women looked at each other with pursed lips as the Hera’s Dox mouthed the words, We… can’t say anything about this, can we?
NO, we can’t. I’m not going to say anything. The Victory’s Dox replied, mouthing the words to her counterpart without actually speaking before realizing how obvious they were being in this otherwise solemn moment.
Which was when both women noticed Charybdis, watching both of them with a bemused air.
“Would you care to share with the rest of the bridge, Miss Dox?” she asked, looking first at the visitor, then at the local.
Pursing her lips slightly, the Victory’s Dox nodded slightly as she considered just how big of an alteration this would be to history. When she was interrogated by Admiral Jones, she had to give up a few key historical facts to the man so plans could be enacted to be prepared for the fallout of said events. But here, as she thought about it, she considered that Char knowing what she knew would likely have no real outcome to the current events, depending on what they do.
In point of fact, she knew Char well enough that the woman of action might very well choose to do something different that WOULD alter the history she knew if she didn’t speak. So, as with many of the decisions she had made since joining the Victory, she followed her heart and trusted her intuition.
“Aye, Captain. In my timeline, history has very detailed accounts of this event, as it’s considered a key point in galactic affairs. While the true nature of this probe is never determined, the crew of the former Enterprise… currently in possession of a captured Klingon Bird of Prey redubbed….” The Victory’s Dox paused for a moment, trying to remember the specifics of the lesson she had learned years ago at the academy.
The Hera’s Dox interjected, having brushed up on her history on the actions on the Enterprise crew during this period of history when she was studying diplomacy in preparation for her role as a mediator between the Romulan Senate and their reunification colonies. “The Bounty. They called her the Bounty. 18th century historical and literary reference.”
“Thank you,” Dox’s counterpart offered as she continued. “Then Admiral Kirk and his crew have… as we stand… already performed a successful slingshot maneuver around Sol in order to procure the solution to the scenario. They believed that the Probe’s destructive effects might have been incidental, and possibly even unknown to them as they were attempting to communicate with an extinct species of… whales, I believe. The Bounty’s crew recover two of the animals and return them to this time and avert the crisis. Something that would be occurring very shortly.”
“As such, I believe we can do the most good staying our course and helping the ships that had been left stranded, Captain.” Dox concluded.
The eyebrow rose, and a smile settled onto the face of the pointy-eared captain. Looking from one Dox to the other she nodded, holding her hands aloft to clap politely. “Weighed against our participation in events, level of disturbance determined, risk assessed and decision arrived. With the results of the decision being... trust. Bravo, Miss Dox. It appears in any age, your character is a constant. That’s rather reassuring, somehow.”
“Thank you, Captain.” came the reply in unison from both Dox’s at the same time, which caused them both to blush that specific shade of green that Qurga Qurg liked to see so much.
“Uh… sorry.” The Hera’s Dox said, as her local counterpart finished the thought, “That was... weird.”
The helmsman of the Victory pursed her lips for a moment, as she looked over to the tactical station. She knew Jessica Valin hated all of this. She knew the woman she had grown to love in this time and place couldn’t wait until the alternate version of Dox was simply gone, and a memory to be put aside. And those feelings had no place to go here on the bridge, while on duty, which must’ve been maddening to the tall, dark haired tactician.
It will be okay. I promise., the Victory’s Dox silently mouthed, much more subtly, to her partner. Unlike Mona’s predilection toward public displays of affection with HER Dox back on the Hera, Mnhei’sahe and Valin worked very hard to maintain their professionalism on duty.
The frustrated fighter nodded slightly, practicing her breathing exercises and reviewing a few of her loading drill results of the day, distracting herself from her emotional difficulties with duty. A trait both women shared, and a common ground for them both.
At the command chair, Charybdis tapped the sensors, using them to look for the lone Caitian lifesign on the Victory. Logged in and on duty, Lieutenant Commander Selune was currently sleeping in shuttlecraft 2, the Luna. Her particular favorite, it was parked on the shuttle bay undergoing a level 1 diagnostic of the ship’s main computers, which was to be observed and supervised. But, of course, the process required no input, so it just took 6.2 hours of boredom... which the solitary Caitian used for an excuse for a catnap in a shuttlecraft.
Some things never changed.
Some experimental shield modulations from the Vulcan Science Academy were providing some interesting results on the Bulukiya Flu model Siivas had constructed, indicating the stakes and drawing in resources from across Starfleet to help. The last ditch resort would be to sacrifice Spotty to the heart of a sun. But if there was any way to save the brilliant Trill engineer whose structural integrity forcefields had already revolutionized starship design, the crew of the Victory would find it.
The children within her would be born on Earth, and be legitimate citizens of the Federation. No one would be able to take that away from them, and Romulus would have no claim upon them. If she accomplished nothing else, she was determined in this. Now she had a fighting chance to have Siivas there to help her through it, and her mind and heart would both be greatly at ease.
Entering the bridge from the turbolift, a white-haired human with a somewhat trimmed beard and white hair slicked back into a ponytail bearing a Lieutenant’s insignia moved to relieve the officer at the science station, then stopped, the other officer from leaving.
“Hold up, I’m not relieving you yet, dude. You, you’re her, the other Dox, right? From an alternate dimension?” The blue eyes of the blue-turtlenecked science officer seemed a bit manic to the eyes of the one-time smuggler as he looked between the one sitting beside the science station in a very different uniform, then back to the one at the helm. Then back and forth again about six times, each more slowly than the last.
“Yyyyyeeees, I’m her.” The Hera’s Dox said with a slightly confused smirk. “Can… I help you?”
“Oh man, yeah!” the excitable human, who stood nearly a head taller than Dox, was clearly flabbergasted by her lack of comprehension of events. “We gotta get some, like detailed scans of you and stuff. Yeah, I know Sickbay got scans, but like, these are some deep scans looking for particular stuff, y’know? Hey captain, can I, like, make off with our visitor for some scans in lab 13? Might be a good idea, y’know?”
Between the odd, seemingly absent-minded demeanor and the somewhat manic delivery, Dox was wondering what this character was doing on the starship at all, forget about on the bridge. So it was quite a surprise when Charybdis nodded in their direction.
“Good idea, Mr. Carlow. Coordinate with sickbay to establish your baseline data and interface with the Bulukiya Flu issue.. If Miss Dox can help us solve that while she’s here as well, I wouldn’t object.” The Cheschire Captain lived up to her name, a wide and toothy smile settling onto her face. Above all, at least for Dox, was the trust that the woman effortlessly placed in the man, who seemingly was the last one you’d expect.
More than a bit confused, the Hera’s Dox at least understood the importance of solving the issue of the Bulukiya Flu issue that, in her own timeline, led to the death’s of the Victory’s entire medical team. And as she thought about it, she realized that she herself still had those particles running throughout her and didn’t want to risk bringing anything back to the Hera if and when she returned home. “Very well. Lead the way then, Mr. Carlow.”
“Right... yeah, cool.” the white-haired Lieutenant stared at her for a few seconds, whether lost in thought or in a fugue state Dox couldn’t be certain, then his fingers raced across the science station panel, programming or activating systems. In truth, it would be hard to tell if she got a good look at it. Technology this old wasn’t always intuitive, after all.
“So, like, don’t move, okay?” Carlow said as the transporter effect began to take hold, and Dox was surprised at how long she saw the shimmer of blue before she rematerialized in the same sparkle shower, but in a seat about an inch from her ass, which the gravity plane of the starship provided for her.
Looking around, they appeared to be in a conspiracy theorist slash inventor’s hidey hole. Shelves lined the room, covered in various half-assembled or disassembled projects. A whiteboard covered in scribbles on one wall seemed to be somewhat functional, as well as an actual chalkboard, which was an odd anachronism to found, complete with chalk. But apparently the Victory had a mad scientist, and he had just site to site transported them from the bridge to his laboratory.
“Cool, right? See, I use the ship’s internal sensors to scan the person or object, then beam them, not to the pad, but to a secondary location while they’re still in the buffer! Chief Fingerman hates when I do it, but we can, so why don’t we, right?” Suddenly realizing introductions were in order, he held out his hand, and in a surprisingly familiar Romulan dialect said, “I’m Fred Carlow, of Earth, 20th century. Jolan tru.”
Of course, site to site transports were commonplace in her own time, but in the here and now, it was a much more elaborate procedure and it would have been rude and dismissive to make a point of that. But that was secondary to how well he had just spoken her mother tongue.
Returning the handshake, Dox nodded and replied. “Jolan tru. My name is Mnhei’sahe Dox. From about a year removed, from when the Dox of this ship arrived in this time.”
Then, the redheaded Romulan, still speaking her own language, raised an eyebrow as she processed the rest of what Carlow had just said. “Wait… you’re from… the 20th century?”
“Yeah, it was really cool. I was an astronaut in a private R&D project, and they shot me into space because I’m inventive and adaptable, yannow? Gamer,” The human had switched back to Federation standard quite smoothly, and was picking up a multicolored cube whose components rotated, and he began absently twisting and changing the faces in his hands as he spoke. “My ship veered off course, I put myself into cryo and when they found me and woke me up... Buck Rogers, amirite?” The human with the blue eyes and the unfocused gaze looked up at Dox with a smile she now recognized as nervous. The smile of someone who understands concepts most don’t, but to whom people would forever be a mystery.
Unfamiliar with the reference, Dox nonetheless understood the core idea and nodded as she returned to Federation standard. “Of all the ways to end up in a different era, that’s probably the more normal I’ve come across. How… if you don’t mind my asking… did you end up here on the Hera?”
“Hera?” He turned his head to the side like a cocker spaniel, then shook his head. “No, dude, this is the USS Victory. We’re in the year 2286. It’s cool to be disoriented and junk with all the bopping around you’ve been doing. It’s wild, isn’t it? I saw myself in a bunch of my old haunts in Ybor and one where I was a caregiver for my mom, and in one I was in a biker gang. That was a cool dude, that Fat Freddie.”
With that, Carlow began nodding, staring off into space, clearly lost in reverie.
For a moment, Dox was legitimately embarrassed by her mistake, but in truth, Carlow was right regarding just how disorienting her experiences had been. “You’re right, of course. I apologize. I’ve… not had a full nights sleep until last night. I tried to nap in one timeline but leapt as I was falling asleep. And in one, I was knocked unconscious by a somewhat… disturbing version of me. I almost wish I could have functionally stayed awake this whole time as… waking up in the wrong timeline seems to make it more… confusing… overall.”
“So, this happened to a few of you here on the Victory?” Dox asked, figuring that the flighty human had either forgotten her earlier question or didn’t want to answer it. And as she wasn’t sure which, she didn’t press the issue.
“Oh yeah sure. Bulukiya himself did make it back- he was dead, but his corpse finished the trip. Cap’n was closest and she hopped through more than most of us, except maybe Valin. It was... it enlightened her, but she doesn’t talk about the last few jumps. They were... like, really hard for her, y’know?” In that moment Dox placed his Romulan accent- she spoke with the exact same dialect as Charybdis, and did it like a native.
“So hey, like, lemme take some readings, maybe we might learn somethin. I heard Sickbay might have a problem with the particle soon, so we better save Spotty, right?” the odd scientist- assuming he was a scientist- grabbed an old-style tricorder that was somewhere between the classic deco styling of Rita’s era and the modern bland esthetic and powered it on, a cheerful little tune greeting him from the device as he did so.
“Siivas scanned me pretty thoroughly in sickbay.” Dox said, starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. She trusted Char and if Char trusted Carlow, that should’ve been enough, but she had questions and she wasn’t asking them.
“So… earlier… I slipped up on the ship name, but the same basic question applies. How did you end up on the Victory? And… how is it you speak better Romulan than anyone I’ve even met not from the Hearthworlds. Hnave… you accent is cleaner than mine. Dartha provence… Just like Char.”
“Oh, that? We swapped bodies once for a day,” Carlow explained with a cheesy grin. that oddly did not have a lecherous component to it that one might expect. “While I was in there it was crazy. Like, I can recall everything that happened that day, like, perfectly. Plus the Captain’s super telepathic, right? So while we were asleep, we really learned a lot about each other. Once of the things I learned is Romulan, from her. So yeah, I probably sound like a local. Sorry, I thought talking to you in Romulan might make you less weirded out- my bad.” Carlow was looking at the readings, but continued talking as he did so.
“Well, I didn’t do so great at the Academy because I don’t, y’know, deal well with rules and structure and junk. So they were either going to keep me at Command or ship me off with somebody as a punishment to them.” Carlow made eye contact and grinned at that. “T’vyn was put here as a spy, still reports in. Tivri’s a clone, but don’t tell her, she doesn’t know. Siivas is a leader in a cabal straddling worlds that’s trying to save the future. Maur Weaver’s trying to drink himself to death off duty or work himself to death on duty. Andurean is still an assassin for the Velth tribe of the Orions, that call themselves the Kolari. Qurka used to be a man. We’re a ship of secrets, the Victory. We all came here different ways, for different reasons.”
A ship of secrets, crewed by a family built out of people that might not fit anywhere else. THAT certainly seems familiar. Dox thought as she listened with the hint of a smile on her face.
“Charybdis... the captain.... She’s like a lightning rod for stuff like this. My angel calls her ‘the coming storm’, because she says there’s this big thing Char’s supposed to do that’ll change everything, and she says I should trust her and help her. So far,” Carlow finished his scans and looked at them as he continued speaking, “she’s been right, of course. Me and Char don’t always see eye to eye and I frustrate her a lot, but I know she cares about me... about all of us. She thinks she’s here to protect the Federation and to bring honor back to her people somehow. I don’t know how she’ll do it... but like pretty much everybody else on this starship, I believe in her, yannow? She believes in the good in the universe, in what’s right. She’s proven she’ll do whatever it takes to protect us, and the Federation.”
“She killed other Romulans, didya know that?” Carlow’s tone dropped to a conspiratorial one. “Battle of Starbase 23, Klingon dagger in her heart and she saw three warbirds uncloaking. Didn’t even wait for Valin for firing resolutions- overrode and did it herself, blew two of them away before their shields could come online. That’s what they get for a showy decloaking, right? Talked smack to the surviving Romulan commander and sent her on her way, so she could tell the Hearthworld, tell them all what happened when you came after Char’s ship and crew. Not counting the assassins Andurean has caught trying to come aboard to kill her that he hasn’t told her about. Whoops- yeah, don’t mention that either, okay?”
“I… didn’t know about that. About the Battle of Starbase 23. But it explains a bit. That’s… a crime on the Hearthworld that… is not easily washed clean. If at all.” Dox said as she processed everything Carlow had said. “Along with a bit more about why she and my counterpart here connected so well. That… removal from our culture that can’t really be undone. Different reasons, but still.”
“As for the rest, I won’t be telling anything more. I think I’ve told enough secrets here, really.” Dox continued. “And… I apologize for my suspicion. I was… just a bit caught off guard.”
Then she switched back to her own, muddy-accented Romulan. “But I appreciate it. And you making that effort to help. Speaking of which, anything interesting in those readings?”
“Yeah, actually. I ran the particles against a known database of viruses and whatnot, and nothing really exotic popped up. But I had an old algorithm that I used to use to calculate fuel to drive ratio in my old Buick, that seems to be catching on. I shut it down before it got too far, but I'm thinkin maybe it’s not a biological virus, but a technovirus that mutates, like some kinda William Gibson junk, right? I’ll have to do some more experiments, but I’m bettin that’s it. Heh, she’s checkin’ my work. I swear, I know she doesn’t pry but she just KNOWS, y’know?” The unusual astronaut who didn’t belong here, yet somehow fit here perfectly, ran some projections in silence for a moment, apparently collaborating with the captain and Sickbay.
Doing her level best to make her way through Carlow’s eccentric speech patterns and dated references that she had no knowledge of, Dox raised an eyebrow and rubbed an ear as she replied. “So… this is a technovirus? Do you have any idea of how to counter it? I mean… not just for what is supposed to happen here. What I mean is, Is there any possibility that I might carry this thing with me when I return?”
“Sure, always a possibility. I guess just know what you’re looking for and that should help point you to finding a solution, right? That’s what T’vyn says, at least.” Carlow shrugged broadly. “I dunno. But your virus would be different based on the change in the quantum resonance of your reality instead of ours, so any data I’d give ya would be useless. But you got scientists too, right? A Vulcan? They’re so cool, aren’t they?”
“Well… at least I’ll know there’s something to look for.” Dox said, nodding and not feeling that much more comfortable. But Char was working with the seemingly flighty human, which helped a bit.
At that moment a long whistle keened through the compartment, and a cheerful, chipper voice could be heard. “Lieutenant Carlow, please escort our guest to Main Engineering immediately.”
“Oooh, I could beam us there!” Carlow started, excitedly grabbing his tricorder.
“Uh… I suppose. She did say ‘immediately’.” Dox said, somewhat hesitantly. She was never particularly nervous about transporters, but Carlow’s enthusiasm coupled with his seemingly flightly mentality put her a bit on edge in spite of herself.
Surprised by her compliance, he did have the foresight this time to ask her to stand. Scanning the starship for their destination, he programmed in the coordinates. Oh, cool, she’s gonna show you her pet project. She won’t let me near it because she says I’ll ‘human on it’. Okay, here we go- you should arrive facing her, if she’d stop pacing and turn... mnow!”
Before she had a chance to say anything else, Carlow activated the beaming sequence and the telltale shimmer of blue sparkles filled her field of vision and she was gone. It was just a bit slower than she was used to in her own time, but in a few seconds, the criss crossing lines of blue light parted again and she was, again, somewhere else.
To Be Continued...