Telvan's Leap 9: Stuck in the Mudd
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Artan Orbital Fortress
This time, when the captain of the USS Hera popped into existence with a blue sparkle, she found herself once more in the Artan fortress. Thankfully, she recognized the decor at least, with its sweeping arches and ornate, Art Nouveau fixtures. Even under the bizarre circumstances, there was a moment of comfort for the world she had left behind to be a Starfleet captain. A world she missed a bit, as she looked around to take in her surroundings. She was in one of the mid-level libraries dedicated to the history of sciences. Was her counterpart here a scientist or...
As she turned around to survey her surroundings further, she realized that she was likely in one of what was going to be her least favorite timelines yet as she heard the echo of unfriendly but familiar voices nearby. Her heart sank as she glanced over at the window to the next chamber. Immediately, she recognized the faces of the three occupants: Davo Mudd, Cleo Mudd, and her mother’s smirk... on her own face. Thankfully, they were in one of the side offices of the library discussing something she couldn’t hear so she ducked out of view behind one of the bookshelves and hoped they hadn’t seen her.
“I take it in this timeline, the Tribunal didn’t go well for me.” Enalia muttered, hoping they hadn’t noticed her at all. Either way, it would only be a matter of time before the security logs and the holo-maids reported her. After all, none of them were in Starfleet uniforms, and hers had her sticking out like a sore thumb. She’d have to try and change. On the bright side, she’d lost her comm badge and rank pips in the last leap so there was no need to dispose of them. She just had to avoid those three for... What? Two hours and a few minutes?
This was going to get complicated.
Taking a quick glance back at the trio, she made a point of memorizing what her mother was wearing in her body - a retro red and gold skin tight number that seemed to show off enough skin to qualify as a bikini, yet still had all the entrapments of the station.
Shaking her head at the indignity of it, she just made her way to the nearest exit and the nearest clothing replicator so she could get changed, avoiding any views of the office windows and any of the holo-maids in the process.
Once she was out of there and had her new outfit on, she grimaced at how skimpy it really was. At least it was easy to find in the pattern buffer, but it was chilly and it showed off way too much. It had to have been more to Davo’s tastes than her mother’s. Still, she had to pretend to be her for a couple hours at the very least so she put on airs as best she could and walked out of the restroom as if she owned the place, taking the lift to a remote part of the fortress - one that she was pretty sure her mother would never visit.
But first, she’d have to take one of the large transparisteel lifts down almost to the bottom of the internal castle without being spotted.
Thankfully, she made it to the lift, but when the doors opened there was someone else inside also riding it down. Without hesitation, she stepped inside and punched in the code for the arboretum, flat out ignoring the woman on the other side of the lift as if they were nothing to her - an act that she often saw her mother do to those around her but now she had to do as well.
Standing on the far side of the lift, the woman was young and appeared to maybe be a records clerk from the stacks of papers in her arms. Trade contracts that needed to be filed, from the looks of them. In the enclosed space, as they traveled, Enalia’s glances over had been noticed and the young woman was beginning to look nervous. Beads of sweat were forming upon her slightly furrowed brow as she clutched the papers a little tighter.
This all but confirmed what she had seen in that smaller room off of the library. She had strove to be a fair and kind woman in her dealings, but this was absolutely how people cowered in the presence of her mother and seeing someone behave that way to her made her stomach tighten.
Thankfully, the woman’s level came quickly and she rushed out fearfully, leaving Enalia alone in the lift for the last few levels to the arboretum.
It was normally carefully stocked with plants, birds, and small wildlife from Trill. However it seemed that upkeep had been lacking since management had changed hands and several parts of the grounds had been torn up. Regardless, it was proof that few came here so Enalia felt safe in her sanctuary and grabbed some tools so she could do a little gardening.
What she didn’t realize was that after only a short while, one of the holo-maids came by to water the plants and saw her repairing the gardens. There was a long pause for a moment as the holo-maid acknowledged her with an official and preprogrammed bow. Behind those eyes, however, Enalia could imagine that holographic mind processing the station's security feeds and data. That holo-maid then reported her location.
When the system saw that there were two of the same person on the fortress… and not just any person, but the Queen herself, a silent alert was sounded and the local Telvan was alerted to her presence via security datapad.
From where she was, she could hear the door to the arboretum seal with a light hiss as the eyes of the holo-maid performed a more detailed security scan of Enalia. Then, it’s pleasant eyes snapped to a stark red glow as a security protocol had been activated.
Looking up from the planter she’d been working on in surprise, Enalia saw the holo-maid in security mode and realized she’d been sealed in. “I guess I should have been more careful...” she muttered as she stood and brushed herself off, wishing she had kept her uniform handy - or at least something that wasn’t so revealing or chilly.
“Alright then, you found me. What will you do next?” Enalia put on her most queenly airs just in case and waited.
That was when the clouds of knockout gas, invisible to the naked eye, finally took hold, and Enalia’s world went dark.
When she came to, she was strapped to a table, set on an incline so that she was not quite upright but not quite lying flat, either. Propped at an angle, her wrists were secured in some rather comprehensive high-tech mittens that would render her hands useless as anything but clubs even if she could move them from the tabletop, which she could not. Similar bowling ball booties encased her feet, and that seemed to be all she was wearing.
“...coming around now. The brainwave scans are conclusive- physically this is the same model, but this is Enalia Telvan,” Davo Mudd declared, studying the readings as he paced over to hand the tablet to the Queen of the Artans. Mudd was clad in a white rubber doctor’s labcoat that was clearly capable of extending into a full biohazard suit, as was Cleopatra, who seemed to be prepping a torture/interrogation/kinky sex device of some sort. She spared Enalia a wide toothy grin before testing the small electrocution probes, which arced to her satisfaction.
“Well well well, hello there,” purred Enalia’s body, with the mannerisms of her dead mother Arenara Artan. “According to Mudd, you’re not a clone or a robot, but you do have a varied vibrational frequency that indicates that you don’t belong here, but it seems you are emulating our vibrational frequency with a fascinating radioactive particle that has permeated your cells. Want to tell me all about it, or are you going to be the stoic and noble... are you even a queen where you come from?”
“I named a successor and she’s...” Enalia began as her head cleared and realized she was still in the same universe and regained her ‘stoic and noble’ composure, even trapped on a table as she was. “But that’s not important right now, is it? No, that’s not really one of the answers you’re looking for. You’re far more interested in that particle.”
“Well, I’ll be happy to tell you everything I know about it,” Enalia added as a bluff. In all honesty she barely knew anything about it, which meant she really couldn’t tell them much of anything in the first place. Just from Mudd’s scans, he could probably tell her far more.
“Pffft. Like you’d know anything about science,” Cleopatra Mudd laughed, and the assemblage joined in.
“Named a successor? Interesting. Still in command of your own faculties, bebopping thorough what, alternate dimensions, Davo? Now here you are. How much time do we have left before she vanishes, Mudd?” Arenara asked, talking about Enalia without actually including her in the conversation- an old tactic that Enalia had forgotten about, which her mother often employed to dehumanize others.
“Hard to say...” Mudd replied, then he noticed the sharp look from his Mistress, and he amended his reply. “What I mean to say is, as I haven’t got any frame of reference, I can’t determine when the breakdown of particles will result in her...”
Again, the cold stare was getting colder, and both Mudds reacted the same way- with an edge of fear. Apparently handing Arenara Artan the Agonizer technology hadn’t worked out entirely in Mudd’s favor.
“Ahhhhhh...” Mudd consulted his readings, then stepped over to murmur with Cleopatra as Arenara in Enalia’s body looked her up and down, then studied her face, particularly her eyes. “You think you know who I am, but you really don’t. That’s entertaining to me. Maybe I’ll hold off on the dissection if we have time just so I can give you a real portrait of just who you are where you’ve had the misfortune to land. Mudd, can you stop her from vanishing?”
Back at the interrogation machine controls, the Mudds both looked up in unison. “We’re, ah, working on it, my Queen. It’s a new particle, one I’ve never encountered before, and it is behaving rather strangely-” Davo Mudd offered before she cut him off.
“I don’t let you live to make excuses, Mudd. I let you live because you produce results. So produce.” There was an inherent threat in the woman’s voice that Enalia knew well, even hearing it in her own voice. This was unmistakably her mother, masquerading as Enalia in a stolen body. Idly Enalia wondered if the Telvan symbiote inside her still carried her ghost, the memory of her essence- trapped as a prisoner in her own body, watching Arenara use and abuse it.
“I know you well enough. I know that you’ll do anything to get what you want, and I know many of your tricks and methods,” Enalia replied as she then turned to the Mudds. “As for a frame of reference, you can’t stop me from jumping. If you try, my remains, my clothing, anything you remove... It will all still jump. I’m pretty sure I can take small things with me, but I can’t leave anything behind.”
The Trill visitor was pretty sure that was a lie since she was pretty sure her badge and pips were lost forever in the last universe, but she pressed on anyway, replacing the name of the particle she knew with the name of an obscure article of Earth clothing. “That’s how the Balaclava particles work. You get radiated, you visit twelve random versions of yourself. First visit is thirty seconds and every visit after is twice the length of the last.”
“And if you can tell me how long I’ve been here, I can tell you how long before I leave,” Enalia added with a slight grin. She was fairly confident she knew how long she was in the arboretum, but she needed to know how long she’d been out. “And I might just give you a hint of where you might be able to find data on these particles.”
At that Cleopatra Mudd looked up, but was silenced by an upraised finger. “Nothing can stop you, hmmm? Mudd, draw the particles out of her. If we can’t stop her from leaving... which is a shame, as I can always use another body double... then let’s at least ensure we have the means to pursue her.”
“After all,” Areenara smiled, a cold, loveless affair that was more unsettling than anything else. “You seem to think I’m going to forget about this little intrusion and forgive it once you’re gone. That’s adorably naive. You invaded my home, impersonated me and represent an all new reality to plunder. Ohhh, you may think you’re going to escape me, but not for long, I assure you...”
The two Mudds were comparing notes and communicating in hushed whispers that Enalia recognized. They were the tones of people who could not satisfy the Bloody Queen of the Artans, and woe betide those who disappointed her.
The imprisoned Enalia sighed heavily, and bonked her head against the table she was on. “You were nowhere near this melodramatic in my universe... Seriously, the only thing you’re missing is creepy background music. This is why I left, you know. You did the whole ‘look at me, I’m an evil mastermind’ schtick while surrounding yourself with idiots that cowered before you.”
At that, both Mudds looked up, looked at one another, then back to Enalia.
“Now and then you found a few lackeys with some brains that would have been far better off captains of their own ships like these two, but you never realized one key thing that grandma and I tried to tell you over and over again,” Here, Enalia rolled her head over to Arenara with a dispassionate look on her face. “You catch more followers with honey than with stabbing them in the back.”
“How would you know? Yours are all dead-” Arenara began, but Enalia cut her off.
“Force me to stay here in this universe? You couldn’t force me to stay in your family,” Captain Telvan then looked over to Davo and Cleo meaningfully. “I don’t know if you know Az’Prel in this life, but in my reality her love of you two is far from a weakness. Nothing is more important than family and this woman... You’ve seen what she’s done to her own family, let alone those around her.”
“There will come a day when she’ll come for you two as well,” Enalia finished, her look deepening. “Because she can’t stand seeing family. That’s why she murdered her own husband.”
“Finally figured it out, or did someone tell you that?” Arenara muttered haughtily, stepping away from the table as she spoke. “You’re a weakling, Enalia, always have been...”
As the queen went on, the Mudds, working together, observed as the half-life of the rapidly decaying particles broke down and multiplied at an expanding rate. Raising his black rubber-clad hand to the queen, she held up her finger, indicating him to wait while she continued berating her daughter.
Enalia Telvan would be gone for 23 seconds before Arenara Artan, in her stolen body, would whirl dramatically to realize her audience was gone.
“You let her get away?!?” the Queen of the Artan Pirates roared, as a transporter beam engaged, and the two Mudds vanished.
“DAMN YOU ENALIA, YOU MISBEGOTTEN SOW! I’LL KILL YOU FOR THIS, I SWEAR IT!”
Arenara Artan roared her rage to the universe. The universe did not particularly seem to take notice.