Dox's Final Leap: Victory - Part 9 of 12
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: The Multiverse, the USS Victory
Timeline: 2397, 2286
The very pregnant captain stood, surreptitiously leaning on a railing, trying to make it look as though she were not supporting her weight on it, still struggling to appear as the invincible captain, despite the weight she bore in her belly.
“Miss Dox.... I’m surprised he talked you into it. Most people are not that fond of Mr. Carlow’s site to site beaming. Thank you Mr. Carlow- that’ll be all,” the pointy-eared captain offered a nod and a smile, and the odd human officer smiled and nodded back, a silent communication having passed between them. Apparently living for a day in one another’s bodies had created a unique connection between the two very polar opposite people.
“Well, in my defense, I had no idea people weren’t fond of it.” Dox said with a light smile. “Besides, you trust him, so that was enough for me.”
“So…” the time tossed pilot said as she looked around. “Mr. Carlow said this was your… pet project? Where are we?”
“Main engineering, the broom closet, as I like to refer to it,” Charybdis opened the hatch into a locker room of assorted cleaning supplies. Stepping into it, she motioned for Dox to follow, and the two stood together in the crowded compartment as Charybdis addressed the overhead.
“Computer, this is Captain Charybdis. Unseal hatch 329B9, authorization Charybdis McGregor, aethhon Vorta’Vor, irrhaimehn 2387.” At that, scanner beams crisscrossed the two women, then the wall slid down, into the deck, revealing a functional and active cloaking device.
“Tlhei…” Dox muttered the Romulan equivalent of “oh my” as she stepped closer to the device, next to Char. She, of course, recognized the passwords as well as Char had referred to herself first as the craftsman of paradise and then its reckoning. Heavy words, considering what Dox knew of the woman’s destiny. A destiny that went unfulfilled in her timeline, but was still a possibility here.
“I… know this model. Much more advanced than what I grew up with on the smuggling ship I grew up on. Except.” Dox squinted slightly at the housing assembly of the device that was illegal on a Federation Starship in her time and noticed something. “Except for the power couplings there. That… looks like one of advancements my mother developed when I was younger.”
As the chamber sealed behind them, the device flickered and reappeared where a control console had stood a moment before. In its current configuration, it was wedged between two transporter pads, however. Clearly a failsafe, in addition to the holographic failsafe.
“The Victory, in point of fact, has three hearts. This is her third heart... the Phantom Drive. Its interphasic transformational field enables her to pass through solid matter and energy. It is far and away my greatest achievement. Captain James T. Kirk, of the starship Enterprise snuck across the Neutral Zone to outwit a Romulan commander who was fascinated by his first officer, Spock. Kirk made off with the cloaking device, which Montgomery Scott hotwired to work once, then he burnt out the quadraphonic stabilizers, so the shield harmonics could no longer wavemap the hull.”
“It was... a matter of family honor. This is the device he stole, the very one taken from the Honor’s Wing, that cast my mother into shame within the Star Empire. I have made it infamous... but it has yet to truly have its moment.” With an upraised eyebrow and a half smile, the cheshire captain smirked at the Romulan officer. “I thought you would appreciate seeing it, as I happen to know your background, as it were.”
“I know a bit about your history here as well, along with your Mother’s.” Dox said, returning a smirk of her own. “But it’s… amazing to see it for myself. Thank… wait.”
Pausing slightly, Dox looked at the assembly with curiosity and a raised eyebrow as she tilted her head to look at how the device was hard wired into the Victory herself. More than that, she could feel something through the deckplates and hear that familiar hum ever so slightly. “This… has its own independent singularity drive, doesn’t it? It’s own power supply. And its…”
Following the wiring with her eyes, the former smuggler found it more than a little familiar. While she was, at best, a tinkerer more than an engineer, she commented on what she was sussing out. “You… the way this is hardwired, you could power the entire ship on this if you had to, couldn’t you?”
“Three hearts. One never knows where the universe may take you. I have taken pains to prevent it from being located, so... should the day ever come where I need for her to spring to life, she will offer... Redemption. That’s what I named her. Have you ever noticed, there is no word in our language for ‘redemption,’, Miss Dox?” The traitor to the Star Empire patted the singularity fondly. “If my plan succeeds, I will save our people... to light their darkest hour. To break the patterns of force. The balance of terror that has made us weak, snivelling cowards, the laughing stock of the galaxy. I would see us better than that. I would see us restore honor to our people once more... Mnhei’sahe.”
Listening, Dox looked over at the very pregnant woman she had first met as an elderly Admiral and was struck by the weight of her words. And in those words, she could hear in her memory, the echo of her Charybdis. Not the old woman, but the revitalized spirit of the woman herself, who came to Dox upon the birth of her children from the beyond.
“I understand what you’re trying to achieve. You know I do.” Dox said, a bit of hesitance in her voice as she worked up the nerve to speak. “But… there was something else. Another time that we talked, and what you told me… I need to tell you now.”
“We spoke last… on the day of my children’s birth. When you told me…” Dox paused for a moment, struggling to remember the words. “You said… ‘all that glorious cosmic adventuring can turn to dust. What really matters is family, friends, and the lives that you touch’.”
“Your children… because of your genetic makeup… will grow up fast. In my timeline, you were struggling with this purpose, and you missed their childhood.” Dox said, a bit more confidence in her voice as she remembered that night and Char’s own words, “THAT was your regret, Char. That was what haunted you more than the fate of our homeword, or your place in galactic history. You regretted not being there for them when they needed you the most.”
“I don’t know what you can do with that information, but it was important enough for you to come to tell me that… after you were dead, an aehallh.” Dox smiled a bit nervously as she spoke, using the Romulan word for 'ghost'. “The least I can do is return that favor here, in the living years, when it can still do you some good.”
The captain’s expression became one of consideration. Then she spoke, as she tended to do- directly. “Dox has hinted there is a confluence of forces which will tilt galactic history in the near future. How long do I have to be able to possess at least a year to prepare to move and be prepared to act?”
Remembering Char’s earlier conversation with Admiral Cartwright, she began working out the details in her head. “Presuming I’m thinking about the same event your version of me hinted at, that would occur in… about 6 years. 2293. So… to be prepared to act, 2292 is your answer.”
That eyebrow rose a little higher, and Charybdis shook her head slightly as she paced slowly. “You would violate the laws of space and time all because of a kinship you felt to a woman who was me in another lifetime.” Pausing, she turned, the true emotion of the situation betrayed in those odd violet eyes of her. While her stoic captain facade had slipped, because the truth was evident to her.
Looking at the nebulae eyed woman standing before her, Dox held up her fingers, one at a time as she spoke with a warm smile. "Prioritize. Number one, stay alive. Number two, your partner, Number three, your family. Number four, the job. Your words. Good words."
“I... hope that I can live up to this old woman you met, Miss Dox. I hope... I can perhaps learn from her mistakes, and perhaps... perhaps there are things more important than I may have previously thought. A wise man once told me in this universe there are always... possibilities.” Charybdis smiled at the visitor from another reality, who had brought quite a new reality with her.
“Come on. It’s time for you to go, and it’s time for us to see you off.” Placing her hand on the scanner, the retinal scan searched Charybdis’ eye, then she called out ‘Immerse ahram dread’, and the door slid open.
“The transporter pads start if the door mechanism isn’t properly disarmed. I am currently laboring under the fervent hope that will never come into play,” the captain explained as they made their way back into main engineering.
The two women crossed the busy engineering section somewhat quietly. Looking up at the pulsing, twin columns that powered the incredible vessel, Dox couldn't help but smile a bit. To her, the Victory had been part of an incredible story shared with her by the elder Charybdis, a universe away. Yet here she was, standing in her hearts where a part of her would now live out her own life. It was staggering to contemplate.
As they made their way through engineering, some of the crew members could be seen watching her. This woman that, to them, was both alien and familiar at the same time.
Following the Victory's Captain, Dox was silent. There was a weight to the moment the young officer didn't quite understand, but she respected nonetheless. The little timer in her pocket said she had only about ten more minutes before she would be removed from this time and place by the volatile particles swirling inside of her. But as they rounded the corridor and entered the portside torpedo bay, Dox's heart jumped into her chest.
There was a botswain's whistle announcing their arrival into the blue metaled chamber. A long corridor with metal gratings covering the track for photon torpedoes to be loaded during combat. Standing at attention along both sides of the track, stood the command crew of the U.S.S. Victory..
Closest to her, was the relentless and intoxicating Qurka Qurg, who winked conspiratorially at her. Then the young and enthusiastic Andorian clone, Lieutenant Tivri. As Dox's eyes bounced back and forth, she hopscotched across the queue as she instinctively came to attention for what she realized was a disembarking line. An ancient Earth Military tradition, and an honor for any officer.
There was the Victory's chief engineer she had barely met, Commander Maur Weaver, who still stood at attention for the lower-ranking officer, his eyes clearly on other things, yet here he stood. The Kolari assassin, whom the Federation called Orions, Lieutenant Andurean Velth, standing next to his beloved, the Victory's chief medical officer, Dr. Siivas Mackenzie. Standing next to him was none other than Lieutenant Jessica Valin, who had made no bones about her feelings towards the time and dimension tossed Dox. Beside her stood Carlow, the odd anachronism who might just have given her the key to saving her own starship when she returned.
As she watched, Captain Charybdis made her way to the end and stood in the center, flanked by Lieutenant Commander T'Vyn on one side, and on the other side by her own counterpart. Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox, the second officer of the Victory.
Looking across at the people that had come to not only accept, but welcome her counterpart as family, it was difficult for the Hera's Dox to contain herself as Char spoke.
“It is naval tradition that when a crew member departs the ship, that they should be seen off with all honors, if honors they have earned. In your brief time on the Victory, Lieutenant Commander Mnhei’sahe Dox on temporary assignment from the USS Hera, you have saved a number of the lives, while serving honorably and ably. To you, we present our highest honor.”
Opening a box she had produced from somewhere, Charybdis produced a Starfleet insignia- the very one all of her officers wore upon their breast, including she herself. White bar with three gold lines, overlaid by a copper command delta not unlike Rita’s, but surrounded by a thin circle of copper. One that would be in use for decades of service, replaced when comm badges became the insignia on uniformed chests.
“As captain, it is my honor and privilege to welcome new crew, and rotate them on to other duty stations. As we see Lieutenant Commander Dox off to her transfer back to the USS Hera, we offer this- a memento of her membership in the crew of the USS Victory, her temporarily assigned duty station. In which she performed admirably and with honor, and will be added to the roll of the Victory crew past, so that history will reflect their deeds and heroism.”
At that, the odd botswain’s whistle sounded again, and the entire company came to attention, and saluted the visiting officer, who was now only seconds away from her extradimensional departure.
As with the other leaps, Dox could feel that energy beginning to build in her. But while she was still there, she walked past the assemblage of officers with pride welling up in her chest as she stood before Char and the others now, at full attention. Arms at her side and her head held tall with pride and just a few years in her eyes.
"Thank you, Captain. It is a great honor you grant me. And it was my honor to serve you all in my time here." Dox said, maintaining her military posture even though Char could see the emotions in her eyes. They were reflected back, as she heard the woman’s voice in her mind, for the first time.
May Al’thindor shade your path with their wings, and guide your way. Know that you have made a difference here, and comported yourself with honor. While I will ever be grateful that you are here serving beside me, in another reality, in another time, all that I ask is that you remember us, and think of us fondly. Because in a past not yours, in a universe not your own, you were a hero to me and mine. I owe you a debt of honor I shall never be able to repay... but know that I will de my best to live up to that image in your mind, of that remarkable woman who did not succeed.
Rest assured, Miss Dox... I will. Those oddly distracting nebulous violet eyes were penetrating, but in them Dox could see the genuine gratitude reflected. Her being here had made a difference, and it seemed, always would.
"I know you will." The Hera's Dox said as she looked at her counterpart with a smirk. "After all. I know that here… you'll have a little extra help."
Then, the Victory's second officer looked at her counterpart and smiled. "Indeed. You know I'll take care of them all. As for that badge, one is an arrow to point to us… to where you've been."
Then she held out a closed hand to the time displaced Romulan pilot who could feel those energies in her beginning to pulse to life again. Opening her hand, the Victory's Dox gently placed something in it. And when she pulled her hands back, the Hera's Dox looked down to see her counterpart’s commbadge from her time on the Hera.
"This one… the Admiral let me keep. A reminder from another time. I don't need it anymore… but I think you just might. As, perhaps, a compass... to help you find where you belong."
"Thank you for reminding me that I'm where I belong, Mnhei'sahe." The Victory counterpart said, as the particles began to move the Hera's Dox slightly out of phase, and she began leaping.
"Thank you… for doing the same." Came the reply, slightly echoing as the Hera's Dox shimmered and looked back at the Romulan Captain. "Fate keeps bringing us together, Char. For that, I will be eternally grateful. Jolan tru."
Raising her hand in the traditional Vulcan salute as the scene faded from her sight, Dox could have sworn she heard a smirking Charybdis’ reply with, “Live long and prosper, Rihannsu.”
To Be Continued...