“Otra!! Can you hear me? Otra?” Dr. Boris Yarin shook the half-Witannen’s shoulder gently. “Come back to us. Otra!”
Admiral Carmen Calavicci rushed into the Temporal Integrity Commission’s Mess Hall, where the incident was unfolding. She looked into Boris’s dark eyes. “What the devil is happening?”
He shook his head for a second, light glinting briefly off his cranial ridges. The human-Klingon-Xindi sloth hybrid looked very, very concerned. He tapped his own left ear, twice, in order to engage an implanted communicator. “Yimiva? Come, and contact Doctor Chelenska as well. You and I may need to perform surgery on Otra. Chelenska may as well observe.”
The Calafan doctor simply replied, “Understood, Yimiva out.”
“Answer me, Boris,” Carmen insisted, hovering. Behind her was Levi Cavendish, who had been having lunch with Otra. His head twitched a little, and he seemed to want to be asking the same questions as Carmen was, but he kept silent. He was just as concerned as she was.
“I think this vision is too much for Otra. If Yimiva and I cannot rouse her, we may need to remove her implants.”
“What the devil good will that do?”
“Buy us some time. I, I think.”
It was less than a minute later, and alarms began to go off throughout the USS Adrenaline, the headquarters of the Temporal Integrity Commission.
Carmen heard a trill in her own left ear. “Yes, go ahead.”
“My computers’re goin’ nuts here,” Chief Engineer Kevin O’Connor complained.
“Do you know what the changes are?” Carmen inquired.
“I was hopin’ to ask Otra,” he replied.
Carmen rubbed her own temples. “She’s, she’s somewhat overcome. This vision of a temporal alternative must have been enormous.” Nearby, Yimiva and Boris transported with a still-prone Otra to Boris’s Sick Bay as Carmen and Levi watched and fretted.
Rick Daniels and Milena Chelenska beamed in as quickly as possible. “I am still not used to that infernal machine,” she complained. Her vowels were shifted, even with the Universal Translators built into everyone’s implanted communicators. Infernal sounded like infairnull, a product of her Czech accent and the fact that she often peppered her Czech speech with Yiddish, a habit that sometimes stumped the translation matrix.
“You get used to it,” assured Yimiva. She was an older Calafan, with hair. With long sleeves covering the naturally-occurring coppery scrollwork on her arms, she seemed fully human. Boris, on the other hand, did not appear human at all.
“There is much,” motch, “for me to get used to,” Milena stated, frowning, “and I don’t know what I can do for the patient. She is not a human, no? I, up until recently, it was 1969 for me, and I did not so much as know that there were others, that there was alien life on other worlds.” Milena paused. “I just realized, the term, alien, is it an insult to you?”
“It is not,” Boris assured her, “but I trust you know that, on Tellar and Cait and Dawitan and the like, it is you who are the alien.”
“What’s wrong with Otra?” Rick asked, cutting to the chase.
“We don’t really know,” Yimiva admitted. She led them to a bio bed where Otra was strapped in.
“Is the patient,” pehshent, “a danger to others?”
“Probably not,” Boris explained, “we only want to assure that she doesn’t fall out of the bed. See,” he added, “Otra is half-human, and half-Witannen. There aren’t too many people like her.”
“What are the, the flowers?” Milena gestured at her own head.
“Those are called chavecoi,” explained Yimiva. “They’re not really a part of Otra. At least, they aren’t in the conventional sense. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The chavecoi get a place to root and, in exchange, they can photosynthesize in the event of a drought.”
“So their movements, they are unaffected by her condition?” Milena inquired.
“Far as we know, that’s correct,” Yimiva agreed. “And as you can see, they move and change color, even though Otra herself is more or less unresponsive.”
“She sees temporal alternatives,” Rick said, “She’s faster than Kevin’s computers, and that’s saying a lot. There is, by definition, some sort of change in time.”
“Right,” Milena replied absently, “is it normal for her to remain this way, eh, in the midst of, it’s, eh, visions?”
“Yes, she calls them visions,” Boris confirmed, “but they seem to be more than that now. She seems to be wholly immersed, if I had to hazard my own guess.”
“Go on, you were saying something,” Rick encouraged.
“Yes, these visions,” Milena continued, “does Otra stay in them until the timeline is fully repaired?” Repurred.
“No,” Boris explained, “this is not normal. And I don’t even know if removing her implants will help in any way. But right now, that’s all I can think of doing.”
Yimiva shook her head. “I’m out of ideas, too. No one wants her to remain so, so stuck as this.”
“Perhaps,” pareheps, “we should wait. After all, if this vision is a detailed one, maybe we simply need to wait until it is finished. It is not 1969. It is what, 3111? So maybe I am a horrible primitive compared to the both of you. But my medical training is telling me to, to wait a bit.”
Yimiva looked at Boris. “We can always take out the implants later, if it comes to that, right?”
“True enough,” he agreed. “Do we know how today is affected by whatever is happening?”
Rick clicked around on his PADD until he found something. “Here’s a news broadcast from today.” He hit a few keys and it was projected onto a blank wall in Boris’s Sick Bay.
The Emperor Philip the Forty-Fifth today commanded an additional 11% in annual tribute from Andoria, in the form of iron ore. Trellium-D production was down at Ceti Alpha V as workers threatened to strike. The Emperor’s Police Force assures us that the situation is well in hand, and that the rebels will receive swift and certain punishment. The phaser firing squads will see some action! In sports, the Emperor’s own Conquistadors team crushed the Terran Mobsters, 14 – 6. And Empress Consort Darragh, when asked about starving rioters on New Xindus, replied, ‘Let them eat olowa!’ And now for the weather ….
Rick turned off the broadcast. Boris looked pained. “My wife, it seems, is suddenly the Empress Consort. She’s, eh, once the line is fully restored, I should give her a biography of Marie Antoinette, I think.”
“What is this Emperor?” Milena asked. “Richard,” Reesherd, “I thought you said you had a Federation, and it was a form of a democracy.”
“Mirror universe,” Rick explained, “there are, well, there are probably an infinite number of universes. Some of the differences are profound, like the Big Bang doesn’t happen the way we feel is correct. In others, the differences are more subtle. Here, our universe vibrates on a 21 centimeter radiation band; it’s what’s called the hydrogen line.”
“The music of the spheres, eh?” Milena quipped.
“Sort of,” Yimiva concurred, “and the Mirror is at 20 centimeters. My people, we can naturally shuttle back and forth. Other species need help. But, be that as it may, the Mirror is different. They call your Earth Terra. And they had an Empire.”
“But that Empire,” Boris added, “it ended in the 24th century. And there was no Emperor Philip the Forty-fifth, or at least I don’t recall one. For there to be forty-five of them with the one name, that is a lot.”
Rick clicked around a bit. “There were, in the original history, four emperors called Philip. The first was the counterpart to our Colonel Philip Green, from the early part of the twenty-first century. The fourth one was assassinated by the woman who then became the Empress Hoshi Sato. She started her own dynasty; she was succeeded by two of her sons and then they were succeeded by a grand-nephew, the Emperor Charles I. There are, uh, six emperors named Charles.”
“So, no more Philips?” Feelips.
“None,” Rick confirmed. “I’m guessing the blood line goes all the way back to Green now.”
“With forty-five of them,” Milena speculated, “Their generations must be rather short. It seems as if they come to an age,” edge, “and then more or less immediately seize power.”
“And somehow they’re in control of our universe, our side of the pond, too,” Boris added. “The divergence is at the lifetime of Empress Hoshi, I am sure.”
“Look, I’ll talk to Carmen about what we’ll do in order to restore the line,” Rick offered. “But until then, I hope you can do something for Otra.” He pressed Milena’s hand and then took his leave.
“I cannot do much,” Milena stated truthfully. “Twentieth century medical training does not cover such things,” sings, “But I can be here.” Boris brought over a chair and placed it next to the bio bed. “Thank you.” She sat down and took Otra’s hand. “Can you hear me?”
The contact helped and, suddenly, Otra was able to see the first point of divergence, from all points of view, and a second divergence as well, as if she were watching a film on the viewer.