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The Eight - Chapter 2, by Calcaneous
Disclaimer: Star Trek situations, characters, and name are all owned by Paramount.
Chapter 2: 1 of 8
It was a beautiful day in San Francisco - again. No wonder that everybody wanted to live there. Mellow weather, gorgeous landscape and a lot of personality. Despite the destruction the Xindi weapon had caused, people on Earth were happy. Many lives were lost but not forgotten. And people were moving forward.
The terrible bruise on Soval’s face was beginning to recede and his jaw was mending nicely. He had forgotten how hard the Klingons hit. Although his jaw wouldn’t have needed any medical attention has it not been for...his eyes narrowed slightly with annoyance...Ms. Cole. Although Ms. Cole has been in this century for none other but four days he was painfully aware of her presence already.
He was charged with the research as soon as they returned from the anomaly. He had high hopes all would proceed well and he would not need to interact with this impulsive being.
But, so far, it hasn’t gone well. On the contrary. He spent many an hour pondering how the humanity has changed in the last century. He had crisp recollections of the first time he visited Earth. It was close to 100 years ago and he was, to put it mildly...unprepared. Four days ago, his ancient recollections were refreshed while interviewing Ms. Cole.
Trip was sitting in a comfortable chair in the Starfleet Headquarters but that was as far as his comfort level rose for the past three days. This was a debriefing meeting and it has gone on and on asking the same questions over and over again.
No, there was nothing that could be done to change it.
This was a real mess. It didn’t look like it at first - while they were actually there, in the house, it seemed....to quote the Vulcans....like a logical and only choice. But now it looked really far fetched. If they left her there, the Klingons would have taken her for sure. Or worse yet, the meaning of the artifact would have been lost for good. Inside the body not meant to carry it’s message and buried in the past. So, this was the only choice they had. Though, of that Trip wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Trip, you did what you thought was necessary. It’s done now and over with. She’s here and can’t go back. The thing I want to know is how is the VHC going to deal with it. She is human and the cherry on top of the cake, she is from the past...” said Archer looking out the window.
Trip said: “They can’t get it out and she isn’t exactly cooperating either...who can blame her?”
He still had the mental polaroid of her initial reaction in his head. It was pretty intense and shocking but the memory of it was becoming less serious and more funny every day that passed.
She walked into a forest, beautiful and relaxing. It was the pine forest and as she lay down for a little while looking up into the tree tops that were gently moving from one side to another with the breeze. It was a bit odd the trees being blue and birds flying upside down, but she didn’t really care.
She loved the sound of the wind through the branches so much. She smiled as she thought about the most favorite sounds in the world with this one ranking 10 on the scale. Now, what was her least favorite sound. She thought about wind and than she inwardly rolled her eyes....1 being a loud fart and she started to laugh out loud. She had always had the most inappropriate thoughts in the most inappropriate moments.
It was coming closer and she was beginning to make out words...it said: “Yes, doctor, you may wake her now.”
Dr. Phlox was completely impartial about what happened on Earth and unlike everyone else around him was totally excited about seeing a human being from the 21st century. And, as an added bonus, it was a female. By his standards very attractive to look at. As the ship’s doctor, he had the responsibility, ehm...a pleasant responsibility...to do the assessment and the vital stats on the patient.
His report read: 27 year old female, blood pressure 90/60, non life threatening trauma to abdomen......etc etc. The REALLY interesting part was the green circle on her back that was split into 8 parts. When he looked closely and examined a sample, he noticed it’s DNA was different. She was still human, all right - but not just human anymore.
She was in a great shape - 5’8, 130 and lean and strong. She reminded him of his 5th wife and Phlox silently laughed. Good times. Phlox loved women. He wondered what this one’s stamina and temperament were like. Because if she was anything like his 5th wife, he was certain she would positively and definitely NOT be happy when she woke up.
“No Ambassador, you may not!” said Archer completely appalled.
Like it wasn’t enough Soval and Trip dragged this person on board of his ship, now Soval wanted to wake her up and see whether there is anything that may be of use. Frankly, they had no protocol available to deal with this kind of situation and Adm. Forest still didn’t get back with him on this. So, just like everybody else, Soval will have to wait.
“We haven’t even figured out what we are going to tell her and how, so let’s just wait till Dr. Phlox has finished up.”
“Captain”, Soval said in a rather patronizing tone, “I am not requesting a dissection of her brain. We simply want to have an examination performed by a Vulcan chief of medical staff here on Earth.” Soval spoke with a hint of sarcasm. “If it makes you...feel more comfortable, Dr. Phlox will be welcome to join our team.”
Archer looked at Soval and couldn’t figure out if that was a joke or if Soval was dead serious...damn Vulcans thought Archer and out loud said: “I seriously doubt she will feel comfortable with you...no offense...or any other Vulcan asking questions after yesterday. I am sorry, Ambassador, you will have to wait.”
Dr. Phlox was generally a very happy and go with the flow person. Even when things didn’t go his way, even when his 8th wife got married again and their mating season was interrupted, even when a part of Earth was blown away by the Xindi weapon. He had the singular quality to absorb, digest and accept things with an ease and grace rarely observed.
He has been reasoning with Captain Archer, Adm. Forest and Ambassador Soval for the past hour and a half about the necessity to be careful about the introduction of Ms. Cole to the 22nd century. Where and how...and most importantly who. He explained over and over again that the results of this interview may not be as positive as the Vulcans were hoping for. In fact, he knew THAT for certain - but that he didn’t share during the session. He knew it, because he had a great instinct for women. He was 89 years old and had 47 wifes. He knew she would adjust eventually. It wasn’t life threatening intervention...it was ‘an inquiry’ as stated by the Vulcans. And he couldn’t argue with that.
There were the five of them standing around her bed in the sick bay. Dr. Phlox holding the hypospray in his right hand looking over at the Ambassador.
“Ready?” chirped Phlox.
Capt. Archer and Adm. Forest were standing at the foot of the bed. Trip was leaning on a bulkhead few feet away. Soval stood next to him. This was a very serious moment.
Then Tina started to laugh...at first her lips twitched, then they opened up in a big smile and closed again and she started to draw the ever so familiar sounds of hilarious laugh. The roar of the laughter came through her nose and her mouth opened again and she was laughing in the most unladylike manner. In irregular succession of snorts, squeaks and syllables.
At first they all tensed up, including Phlox, but in about 5 seconds the most contagious illness on the planet Earth spread around the sick bay. All the humans and one Denobulan were desperately trying to suppress their own ‘attack’. Trip was not leaning on the bulkhead anymore, he was looking at Captain Archer with a red face and glazed eyes trying to stop this - but Archer and Forest weren’t doing any better either. Forest’s forehead was covered with sweat as he was laboring to grab a hold of himself.
“Perhaps...” hissed Archer in between breaths, “we may begin?”
Soval’s face grew rigid and stern. This was outrageous. Childish even by human standards. His eyes snapped to the Denobulan biting his lip and snobily said: “Yes, doctor, you may wake her now.”
Tina heard the remnants of the laugher in the room as she was waking up and felt the relaxing feeling of the endorphins released by her own entertained body during the last couple of minutes.
She was fully alert now though her eyes were refusing to open. She just didn’t want to wake up yet...it couldn’t be more than 6 AM. Then she realized she wasn’t alone in the room and heard a noise that reminded her of her grandmother’s refrigerator that she almost inherited a couple of years ago. She didn’t...thank god for small favors. She still had a smile on her face when the memory of last night made it back.
She gasped in the silent fit of fear and opened her eyes. Her grayish gaze landed on Soval. He was looking at her with the same expression he granted the doctor. She recognized him immediately...you could hardly miss the bright cheek. Without any warning or hesitation she coiled her right knee to her throat and before he was able to make a move, kicked at him with the heel of her foot. The attack was so unexpected that the Vulcan landed on Phlox’s chair half stunned.
Tina rolled off the bed and snatched something that looked like a TV remote that fell out of Forest’s belt as he broke the Vulcan’s fall. She was hoping it was a knife or a pen and pushed a button on top of it. A bright orangy beam of light came out of the ‘remote’ and disappeared in the wall behind the screens with some medical files. She could smell the burning metal and another smile came up her face. Her chin came defiantly out as she deliberately and slowly pointed the ‘remote’ at the rest of the people in the sick bay.
Everyone froze. Though they knew that she knew what the weapon did, they were certain she was not aware how much damage it could do. They didn’t feel like giving her the opportunity to check.
“Alrighty...”, she finally said with a look on her face that was very similar to the look on anyone’s face seeing the theory of relativity written out on a wall, “will someone, PLEASE, tell me why am I standing here naked, holding a remote and have a splitting headache?”
T’Pao was not at all intrigued to be responsible for Tina Cole’s needs while on Enterprise. There were substantially more important tasks she should be attending to.
“Is there anything else you require, Ms. Cole?” inquired T’Pao flatly.
“I’ll let you know...oh yeah...take me BACK!” Tina smarted off.
“I am afraid that will not be possible. The time travel...is not possible.” said T’Pao.
Tina’s eyes opened wide and her eyebrows matched T’Pao’s arc, she tilted her head down and sideways and her mouth opened in an attempt to start with “w’ sound. She looked over at Phlox who shrugged his shoulders. Tina decided this led to nowhere.
“I have taken the liberty of providing you with a set of garments you can wear. Size...6 I believe?” said T’Pao.
“Right”, Tina said as she unpacked the box full of what looked like tights, “this is what you may feel comfy in but I will need a pair of Levi jeans, DocMartens ankle boots size 7M...preferably brown, Lemon Tree shirt and the iconic jacket...you know...NORMAL things to wear? This place is absolutely freezing. I really hoped that by the 22nd century you would have worked the AC thing out.”
She thought about the Texas summers when she had to wear sweater to work in 100 degrees heat. That thought brought a singeing pain to her chest and stomach. They were all gone...oh my god.
T’Pao looked at Tina with an expression of disbelief and contempt. How did humans survive? She was well aware of Vulcan’s own history as violent and uncivilized but this female was unsuited for what was ahead of her to such a degree she decided to speak to the Ambassador. She will insist on reconsideration of the mission. There is no possibility of success.
Tina turned away and no longer regretted kicking the...what did Trip call them...oh yes...a “Vulcan”. Well, excuse me! There was no doubt in her mind he fully deserved it, in fact she felt like kicking another one again. Instead, she just needled a little more.
“Did I mention my iPod? Do you have some songs from the 20th or 21st century? Being you are so......” Tina made boogie boogie fingers and wide eyes, “advanced these days.”
“I am not sure what do you want me to do, Ambassador. Ms. Cole is a free person and we can not hold her here against her will. We can not make her ‘see your point’ either. This is her choice. We have already discussed the situation with her before but she is not interested. She made it perfectly clear that her plans are didn’t include trip to Vulcan.” Archer smoothed out papers on his desk.
He reflected on what Tina said exactly...but that wasn’t anything he could repeat in this room. It made him smile.
Soval drew in a breath and impatiently said: “The device merged with her integumentary, circulatory and nerves systems. There are traces of DNA in the bloodstream from several different species. Including the Vulcans, Klingons, Denobulans, Andorians and samples of DNA that we are not familiar with at all. She must be aware of that. It is for her own safety.”
“Ambassador, we have been over this. We explained that to her. She knows that she may be a target once the news spread but she wants to spend some time on Earth first.” Archer said and then added: “Perhaps YOU would like to persuade her to change her mind?”
The new NY landscape. It was too overwhelming and she’s had enough for the day but she played nice, “I knew they were going to come up with something else, but this?”
“Yea...it took a while before it was finished, but it looks great. What took the longest was to figure out how to construct the balls and get them to the top. They finally assembled parts of it in Maryland and after they worked out the problems with transporters they beamed it up on top of the supporting struts.” Trip was still smiling about that - he couldn’t actually believe that the city went for this design, but being this planet is pretty much made of it. Oh well.
The designers made a proposal not so long after NY was destroyed by the hurricane and the H2O illustration won. If was different but looked surprisingly becoming and timeless.
Tina was wiped out. All the news she had to go over, all the information...her family. She was so overwhelmed with all that was going on she found herself strangely detached and distant. She was sitting here with this cute guy and usually she would be pretty raunchy, but she just sat there feeling empty and running on empty. She has been here since 2 weeks ago, but really....it wasn’t 2 weeks. It was more like one hundred and fifty years...
She just couldn’t swallow this pill up. Every time she thought about this she would get stuck...what was first egg or the chicken? On top of it, she hasn’t felt like herself. She noticed some changes in her body...nothing hurt, she wasn’t sick...just different. And the green stuff. She was completely uninterested in discussing that with anyone. After the initial lab works Phlox and the Vulcan medical stuff did she said enough. I’ll let you know if anything changes, she said...but stubbornly she didn’t.
In the last two weeks the Vulcans finally left her alone. When Trip asked how it went, she didn’t have much to say. Gawd, she was so depressed. It was hard to relate. She was still in the US, but it was without meaning.
“You know, the Vulcans aren’t so bad...they just take a longer time to get used to. They are patronizing and so damn self-righteous, but they’ve been looking out for us when it counted.” said Trip. “How did it go with their doc?”
“Ok.” Tina said. She figured she must have been expecting the week long monthly episode because her hormones were acting up. Though...on second thought, I may have had my menopause already. That thought cracked her up.
“Are you thinking about givin’ hand to the Vulcans? Eventually, you’ll have to do something with it.” Trip tested.
Tina looked at him with tired expression: “I don’t know, I need a little more time to just take it all in. But right now, they can kiss my cheeks. Apparently, I have a whole bunch of DNA in my system. Maybe I can work something out with......some other species.” she grinned.
Her eyes haven’t stopped burning in the last week. She also noticed that she was running a little warm and then there was the green stuff. It was spreading in an elaborate designs over her body. Each piece of the green circle on her back sprouted a line that wrapped around her stomach and together the lines made eight different pictures.
She was eating lunch with Phlox who seemed to have insatiable need for information about...what did he call it? Oh yea...a mating rituals of the 20th/21st century humans. She wasn’t shy, in fact she enjoyed this though she sourly realized that this alien is the closest to a human being when it came down to carnal interests. But this down to earth, normal chat between a woman and a - male was relaxing.
So, she said: “Doctor, one of the pieces on my back doesn’t look like a pie anymore. It looks different now. And there is something new on my stomach now. It looks like lines of print.” her lips were tight and she was worried.
Phlox scanned the glowing images and magnified them on the screen of his wall monitor. They looked at each other in confusion. The two shapes were obviously meant as one design but the symbols now enlarged on the screen, made no sense to either of them. Tina took the data disc and went home - maybe, if she stared at it long enough, she would figure it out.
“Trip, do you have a boat?!” Tina’s voice was cracking with excitement, “we gotta fish to catch and it’s a big one.”
Trip definitely pulled this one off nicely, thought Tina. This was a serious boat, 40 footer with twin engines - though she had no clue what the engines were running on. There was a blue exhaust light coming up behind them and immediately turning up into water. They were very close to the point according to the tracking system. It reminded her of the GPS devices of her day, but this was slightly different. Well, no so slightly - obviously 150 years passed since her GPS. With this tracking they could find the spot she was looking for to the dot.
She figured it out (well, figure out was probably a stretch) last night as she was staring at the symbols on the wall. She was eating a sandwich and looking it over. The hieroglyphs made no sense but looked so familiar. She knew that feeling and she knew that it meant she wasn’t looking right. There may be just a little detail that she is missing to make a point of it.
She was craving a pancake, like the ones she used to eat at IHOP. Oh gosh, what she wouldn’t give for a pancake now. She put her sandwich down, leaned back and glanced to the wall. Wait a minute. She recalled the 3-D pictures that used to hang on the walls of IHOP - these were all three dees. She shifted the depth perception of her lenses and the numbers started to pop up one after another.
When she was done sorting and counting, the solution came out to be:=32
Which could mean only one thing.
Soval was pacing. There was no doubt about it. He was definitely pacing.
Over all, he could not safely determine whether the humans have advanced or whether he simply became used to their loud, obnoxious and arrogant customs.
He decided to turn against his better judgment and pressed the comms link.
Tina was sitting on the sofa with her eyes closed trying to do some yoga meditation. Shockingly, it was working. She never really got the whole ‘watch me, I’m standing on one foot’ philosophy but concentration and her oldies (she still chuckled at the thought that Britney Spears was dead...) relieved some of the wildly racing thoughts from her head.
The door beeped and she yelled: “The door is open. Come in!” She turned down the music - she was listening to Tchaikovsky this last day...and realized she must have been going through some pathetic self pity.
Mr. Pointy Ears himself walked in. She never really got a chance to actually look him over. He was about 6’1 tall, actually fairly well built - wearing the dress again. Robe...as Trip pointed out. Whatever. Tina pursed her lips not to smile.
She felt excited to see him standing there because she had good news. She was sure that even a Vulcan will enjoy good news.
“How is your chin?” she said playfully and with another wave of gratification she realized she scored bull’s eye with this one. She thought...Tina one, Vulcan none.
Soval decided that any conversation with this human is going to be a challenge. He raised his left eyebrow as he drew a breath and answered: “Very well, Ms. Cole. I appreciate your concern.”
“Take a seat, can I get you something to drink?” she inquired.
“You appear to have lost weight. Your body temperature is elevated.” he observed.
“Well, isn’t that just lovely? Yours will be too, when I tell you about ‘what I did at work yesterday’.” she grinned from ear to ear.
Soval leaned back and didn’t say a word.
“Alright,” Tina disregarded his stance and continued rapidly, “few days back I started to notice some changes on the green tattoo I have all ove me. One part of the pie on my back changed shape and connected with another piece of pie on my stomach. When Phlox and myself put the pieces together, we couldn’t quiet figure it out. Two nights ago I made an interesting find. It said 32 north and 64 west.”
“Yes?” came deliberate answer.
“So, we took a little ride with Commander Tucker out to the Atlantic....just a few hours each way from the west coast of Florida. And this is what I have now.”
She took her shirt off and was standing in front of him in her bra. On her stomach was a perfect sphere, blue in color. She quickly turned around and Soval noticed one of the pie pieces was missing.
“Now, watch this,” she turned on the projector and triumphantly glanced over to him, “what do you think about this?!”
Soval recognized it immediately. These were coordinates on the southern hemisphere around one of the largest cities on Vulcan. The city of Patar. His eyebrows slowly rose and he shifted in his seat.
“Ms. Cole, this is....”
“Yeah, I KNOW!”
Tina already knew it, too. She really enjoyed the computer that she could speak to instead of having to use the Google search. And she loved the look on the Vulcan’s face. His eyes grew a little wider.
“Ok, Ambassador, I let you see mine, it’s your turn now. What is this thing? Or at least tell me your guess...”
Tina was staring at him quizzically and after several minutes of silence, finally said with the twist of her head: “Oh...I see. So you are hoping for me to go on some bizzaro ‘pilgrimage’ on Vulcan with YOU while I know toss about anything that’s going on. You know what? This was an idiotic idea - trust me, against my better judgment - to ‘hear’ you out.........” she was still sore from the way the nice blue sphere fried itself to her skin and now this pompous attitude.
“Ms. Cole,” Soval interrupted the word fall from Tina, “Vulcans do not guess. This is what I know. There is a legend on Vulcan. The legend speaks of a map. This map contains 8 locations in the quadrant. The legend says that 15000 years ago, during a rise of T’Seth dynasty on Vulcan, an unidentified being hid a device somewhere in the quadrant. This device some believe able of bending time and space, some that it is the most powerful weapon ever known yet others that it contains the spiritual enlightenment. After the device was hidden, a star chart was created. The map was divided into,” Soval’s eyebrow came up and his head bowed, “8 organic parts and merged with eight members of different species who dispersed and began occupying the known universe.” Soval stopped speaking, weighing the impact his words had so far.
“Go on...?” Tina prompted. She was thrilled - this was very dangerous and frightening but way too exciting.
“As you may imagine, Ms. Cole, over time the pieces disappeared. Until 10000 years ago. The samples of the DNAs of the direct descendants of the map bearers were collected, the map reassembled and stored in a casing capable of subspace distortion. Every 2000 years the casing activates and allows for the map to reappear again. In the process, distortions in space and time occur and remain for the period of 14.5 days. The casing is capable of warping 4 times before it returns to the subspace....and is lost for another two millennia.”
“So, what you are saying is that the ‘object’ warped to Earth and you followed it there?” Tina slowly said. Soval nodded once.
“Nothing, Ms. Cole” Soval exhaled and folded his arms in the edges of his robe. “As the time of exit nears, the object will emit delta particles requiring carbon based life form to...attach it’s contents to. It appears you were....”
“At the wrong place at the wrong time.......” finished Tina.
“Not necessarily.” Soval countered and carefully offered, “perhaps you could be persuaded to join Vulcans in seeking out the device?”
“Perhaps I could be and perhaps I couldn’t.” Tina rubbed her face with both hands. Did people actually TALK like this these days? She was still getting over the universal translator. She noticed it gave Soval an interesting accent.
“Did you say the ‘whatchmacallit’ can bend time and space? As in...if I could leave Earth I could eventually go back? Given that’s what the thing is meant to do?”
“Yes. If the device is capable of creating spacial anomalies, you will be able to return to Earth.” Soval confirmed. He knew he chose to deceive her but he was never the one to volunteer information.
“Look, I am not happy with what you did. I don’t like people making decisions for others when it suits their purpose. If this is going to work, we must do it together and try to trust each other. This looks like something really important for all of us, so let’s do this. I”, and she laughed out, “AM the treasure map and we are going on a treasure hunt. First stop, Vulcan?”
“Yes.” Soval nodded.
And in the end, Tina, never a stranger to challenge, answered: