An Unpleasant Encounter

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They were crowded into a small ship, and docked with the Defiant. And then there was another round of processing for Lili and the Xindi and the remainder of the alien line.

There was a wand passed over her, and the clerk holding it yelled, "Twenty-one!"

Two guards grabbed her until yet another part-Asian teenaged boy came over, "That one's a Calafan, you idiots," he had said, "The silver ones are from the other side of the pond. The copper ones are from here. By definition, she's on the twenty-one centimeter radiation band. You don't scan the Calafans because we allow them to shuttle back and forth. Just the others."

"Yes, Lefty," had said one of the clerks, as the guards dropped her arms. She looked behind her and the Xindi sloth woman was scanned, and found to be a twenty-one as well. She wasn't so lucky, and was shot by a guard at close range. Without so much as a shriek, she collapsed and died in a matter of milliseconds.

Lili turned away.

"Name," another clerk demanded.

"Uh, Yilben," she said.

"Age."

"Sixty-nine." Well, not quite. Not even close – she was really fifty-two, but with her hair and the sinuous false calloo tattoos on her arms, she could definitely pass for an older Calafan.

"We have any open bunks?" asked a clerk.

"Yes. Teacher doesn't have a roommate. You better not mind rooming with an alky," it was Lefty again.

"N-no, sir."

"B deck, room 116," said the clerk, and she was permitted onto the ship.

=/\=

Doug was also scanned – for him, it was his second time.

"Twenty," said the clerk on his line, which was shorter, "Pass."

"These are amazing," another clerk said, turning the wand over in his hands, "Just three settings. Twenty for anyone who belongs here, twenty-one for anyone from the other side, and twenty and a half for the cross-breeds the Empress adopted over ten years ago. It's Stoney's great invention."

"Cross-breeds?" Doug asked.

"Three more kids. You don't pay attention to the news enough, Major. Their exploits are in the rags every day, it seems. Empy's all over the fashion pages, Joss's batting average, that kinda thing," said the clerk.

"Oh. I pay attention to my recruits," Doug said.

"You'd better. You'll be bunking with them. Barracks are on C deck."

"Understood."

He walked along and cringed a little, remembering how much he had hated the Defiant, and how the starship hallways were a source of paranoia. There was always someone out to knife you. As a Major, he wasn't as attractive a target as when he'd been a Lieutenant Commander. And for Lili, he knew that no one would be out to knife a slave. But she wasn't out of the woods – he knew that anyone could, potentially, want to molest her. And he wasn't exactly safe as a kitten, either.

"Hayes!"

He turned around, and there she was.

Older, to be sure. Forty-nine, and the years had not been kind, but over two decades of despotic rule – not to mention five pregnancies in rapid succession – will do that to a gal, even one as captivating as Empress Hoshi Sato, "How the hell did you escape death?" She had a phase pistol pointed at him.

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