The Pulse Shot

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"Did it work, Masterson?"

"I have to admit, Empress, I'm not sure," he said, looking over the readings at the Defiant's Tactical station.

"Not sure?"

"Well, it's like this. I know we got off the shot. And I know it was composed of pulsed light vibrating in a twenty-one centimeter radiation band. And I know it went straight into the thickest concentration of dishes on Lafa II, on a rise the natives call Point Abic," he replied.

"And?" she prompted, a little peeved, shifting in the command chair. She was getting huge again, and was less than comfortable.

"And then the shot just disappears. So I figure we've got two possible choices. One is that we've just broken the laws of physics. You know, matter and energy are interchangeable, they can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed, and now that shot's just gone completely," he explained.

"So you lost the shot?" Travis asked, looking up from piloting.

"Travis, I am working," The Empress said annoyedly, "Go on, Masterson."

"Very well. So yeah, the shot's lost. But I think it's lost in another universe. The one where the Defiant came from in the first place."

Science Officer Lucy Stone looked up from her instruments, "The energy is definitely lost ... somewhere."

"Well, that's not good enough," The Empress snapped, "I don't need someplace, somehow, some, uh, when," she smiled a little, pleased at coining a neologism. She still loved language, despite her status, "I need to be able to aim the energy pulse with the Defiant's phasers. You do realize that, don't you?"

"Yes, Empress, of course," Lucy said, a tad nervously.

"This is just the testing phase," Chip Masterson interjected, "We can test some more, see if we get some readings. The first one emitted the right frequency to generate a bit of a whistling sound, far as I could tell. Strange."

The Empress punched a few keys on the console on her chair, "Ramirez!"

"Yeah," he said, getting on the line, "Empress, my apologies, I was just running a sensor diagnostic."

"Stop with the damned diagnostics. What the hell happened with the pulse shot?"

"Well, I calibrated the main phaser to twenty-one centimeters just like Stoney said to. And then I turned it all over to Masterson."

"Did you get it right?" she demanded.

"'Course I did. If there's a failure, it happened further down the stream. I gotta work on sensor relays. Ramirez out."

"Well?" the Empress asked.

"According to the calculations the Vulcan slaves made," Lucy said, checking a PADD, "everything in our universe vibrates in a twenty centimeter radiation band. Except for the Defiant, and everything that came over from the other universe the other side of the pond with it. So we had Ramirez calibrate to twenty-one centimeters to match the Defiant."

"What about the time issue? I want to be getting into the Defiant's time period. I need more ships like this one. Worlds to conquer are great, but I need ships," The Empress said, shifting positions again.

"Are you comfortable?" Travis looked back, concerned. He came over and was solicitous.

"Get away from me," she seethed, "Rub my feet later."

"Empress, the slaves and I figure that the shifting of the pulse moves it through time. This is, like Masterson said, a test," Lucy said.

"When will we know results?" The Empress got up this time. Sitting was not working for her. Her ankles were killing her.

"Could be a few hours, or maybe even a few years. I dunno," Chip said, then immediately regretted letting that slip.

"Years? I do not have the time for that. I want this settled before this one," she patted her huge belly, "hits West Point."

"Empress, it looks like there's a communiqué coming in," Lucy said, looking over at the Communications station.

The Empress herself answered it, "It's an Andorian uprising. We will have to leave this little, heh, garden spot. But we're not done yet. We'll get back here, find out the results. Head to Andoria. Warp Seven."

Once he'd gotten everything going, Travis threw the ship onto auto and joined her in the Ready Room.

"Careful with the stressing," he said, "That's my kid in there," he bent down and started to rub her feet.


Lili felt a bit dejected. She'd seen Malcolm that night, and it was good, but she had to admit that being together in person was far preferable. Still, it was what they had. She didn't go straight home, and instead headed for the market. Even though Malcolm wouldn't be with them, everyone else would be, and she needed something to feed them with in case Melissa and Doug hadn't brought down any perrazin. She was picking up and squeezing olowa fruit when a Calafan workman came close and eyed her. He flicked his fingers twice. Calafans didn't whistle – she knew that – but the finger-flicking was the same sort of a signal. He had, essentially, just made a cat call at her.

She turned away, "Are you a human?" he asked. Completely bald, with solid silver arms, she estimated his age at less than twenty-five.

She rolled up a sleeve, revealing a sinuous silver tattoo on her arm, courtesy of the Calafans, "No. I'm one of you. And I'm way too old for you," she said, turning back, "And married."

"But maybe you need some nighttime spice," he persisted.

"I already have it," she said, annoyed, "And my husband and my lover are very jealous men."

"Oh. Didn't mean any disrespect," he said, and left her alone.

The encounter rattled her enough that she almost got into an accident on her way home. A little shaken, once she'd gotten the groceries in, she opened her Communicator, "Yimar."

"Yo," said the girl.

"Can you bring the kids home a day early? Please?"

"Oh, sure, they're getting kinda antsy anyway. Did uh, is something wrong?"

"Malcolm left early," Lili said.

"Did you two have a fight?"

"No. Enterprise business."

"Okay. We'll be there in a few hours. Sit tight. Yimar out."

While waiting – because Malcolm wasn't coming – she hauled out a bunch of dairy recipes, and ended up making a Boston Cream Pie.

Once it was cooling, she sat and cried just a little, then reached in and pulled out the key. That made her feel a bit better, "I bet this was made by a Calafan metalsmith," she said to herself, looking at it and turning it over in her hands. The shade of the metal matched her wedding ring, which was made of a Calafan alloy, "And a solid handle on the end – this was certainly made by someone who had never seen a skeleton key before. But I still love it. And the man who gave it to me."

She cried just a little bit more, stopping when she heard Yimar and the children outside, "Empanadas – I'll tell them we're making empanadas tonight. We'll make them extra spicy. And then they won't ask about why my eyes are red."

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