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Doppelgangers and Cookies

Department of Temporal Investigations: Temporal Incident Log

[Stardate: 57722 | Deck 9 | USS Theurgy (NX-79854) | Qo'nos]
[Stardate: 67365 | Deck 11 | USS Pandora (NCC-80114) | Inconnu Corridor]

It was a rare quiet day aboard the USS Theurgy. Orbiting Qo’nos and protected by a dozen Klingon warships, the renegade dreadnought and her crew were experiencing a rare moment of security, safe from the ever-present threat of Starfleet. While many of the crew took the opportunity for some shoreleave, yet others (mostly those who had taken their shoreleave on Aldea) took the opportunity to do some non mission-critical work.

Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt was one of them. He had taken some time off to recover from his nightmarish trip to the future, but he couldn’t stay restful for long. Eventually, inevitably, he was drawn back to the job; more specifically, to the Theurgy’s temporal lab. The place was one of the most mysterious and exciting rooms on the entire starship, and while Alistair tempered his excitement, he was very much like a kid in a candy shop.

The focus of his efforts that day was a large circular pad laid out in the center of the room. It looked very much like a transporter pad, and apparently, it was. One day, quite randomly, Captain Ducane had appeared on the Bridge, talked briefly with Captain Ives, and dropped off some futuristic technology before promptly vanishing with little explanation. Alistair had been given the job of figuring the device out. In theory, it would allow stable transport between the Relativity and the Theurgy despite the numerous centuries between the two vessels.

In theory.

In practice, Alistair was flummoxed. He was reluctant to bring in an engineer, knowing how overworked they were fixing the Theurgy’s battle damage, and just a little, Alistair was downright annoyed. Would it have been so hard to include an instruction manual?

…Okay, it would’ve been a technical violation of the Temporal Prime Directive, but still!

“Hang on,” Alistair muttered to himself as he worked a console. “That’s…that’s a sensor! I knew it! Yes! So…uh…okay, now, begin test cycle.” The transporter pad lit up, and Alistair did a quick fist pump of celebration. “Oh hell yes! Now, uh, what-”

Before he could say anything else, the console lit up, the computer giving Alistair a long list of complex technical terms that flashed by too fast for him to comprehend. “Shit shit shit!” he swore, frantically trying to stop whatever was happening as the transporter pad began making  loud buzzing noise, and Alistair’s hands flew over the console with wild abandon, desperately trying to find the right control. “Shitting fucking shit fuck fuck FUCKKKKKK!”

The buzz grew to its crescendo, and with a yelp, Alistair ducked behind his console…only to feel like a complete idiot as the buzz changed into the very familiar hum of a transporter beam. Alistair stood back up to see a figure begin to materialise on the pad…no, two figures, one much smaller than the other.

Then the beam finished its cycle, and the new arrival looked around with obvious confusion, as did the small person next to him. Alistair, for his part, just stared, mouth open.

“Oh shit,” he said with a wince.

The other person, a man, heard the curse and fixed Alistair with a hard glare. The glare rapidly turned to shock, then a few moments later, back to an even more intense glare.

“What the hell is happening here?” the man said sternly, his voice as hard as his eyes.

Alistair winced as, in that moment, he looked upon someone who, for all intents and purposes, was his double. They had the same face, the eyes, the same sharp jaw, the same height, even a similar build. The other man wore a Starfleet uniform as well, although his collar bore the extra hollow pip of a lieutenant commander.

The child next to him couldn’t be more than five years old. She clung to the man’s hand, as if using him for support, her fox-like ears twitching nervously and her bushy tail curled in defensively. She looked between the two duplicates, equally mystified, and so said the first thing that came to mind.

“Oh shit,” she squeaked, hiding behind the man’s legs.

Even despite the severity of the situation, Alistair couldn’t help but laugh, although his mirth was quickly doused by the lethal glare from his doppelganger. They weren’t identical; Alistair’s scalp was shaved, but the other man had short black hair, and the difference was enough for Alistair to quail slightly.

The man crouched down to the child, and his tone entirely changed. “Eva,” he said softly, “that’s a bad word, and I know you know that’s a bad word. I don’t want to hear it again, okay?” Eva looked somewhat annoyed, pouting as she pointed at Alistair. “Yes little one, I know he did it too. That’s because he’s a dumb dumb. He shouldn’t have said it, and neither should you, okay?”

Eva considered for a moment before reluctantly nodding, and the man picked her up, turning to look back at Alistair. “I’m Lieutenant Commander Cailus Griffin,” he said sternly, his voice carrying the bark of command. “Explain. Now.”

“Yeah, okay,” Alistair said hesitantly. “Erm…okay, this is awkward. So, uh…sorry Commander, I made a slight mistake while adjusting the temporal transporter that you’re on.”

“Slight?” Callus repeated in askance, his eyebrow raised in the Vulcan fashion.

Alistair laughed nervously. “Uh…yeah, fair enough. More than slight. I’m Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt, and you’re onboard the USS Theurgy.”

Callus rolled his eyes, stepping off the pad and walking towards Alistair, a baffled Eva still cradled comfortably in one of his arms. “Since I’ve never heard of a starship by that name, we’re wearing the same uniform and we look so alike, I’m guessing that you just yanked me into an alternate timeline.”

Alistair shrugged helplessly. “Well, from my perspective, I just yanked you from an alternate timeline.” At the unimpressed reaction from Cailus, Alistair sighed. “Sorry. It was a complete accident, I’m afraid.”

Cailus frowned. “You can get us back, right? I was walking right next to my wife and son when you pulled us out.”

“Oh yeah,” Alistair said with far more confidence than he felt, refocusing on the pad. “It’ll…uh…take a few minutes for the capacitor to recharge, though. Sorry, not much I can do about that.”

“Hmph,” Callus grunted irritably. He glanced around the lab before refocusing his penetrating glare on Alistair, who winced and looked away. Before either man could say anything else, a voice sounded from Alistair’s combadge.

“Bridge to Temporal Lab,” a woman’s voice said. “We’ve detected an abnormal temporal signature in your location and we’re seeing two additional lifesigns. What’s your status?”

Alistair facepalmed before answering. “Bridge, Leavitt. We had a minor malfunction, but everything’s perfectly alright now,  we’re fine, we’re all fine here now…how are you?” He paled at that. “No, sorry, cancel my last. I’ll write a full report later, Commander, sorry for the mix-up. The additional lifesigns are people I accidentally beamed aboard, but they should be headed home soon. In a few minutes.”

A few moments of silence passed, Callus rolling his eyes while Eva giggled at Alistair’s plight. She was used to seeing her Papa being serious, loving or (when it was just her, Mama and Eoin) cheerful, but she’d never seen her Papa (or someone who looked like Papa) be so embarrassed.

“Acknowledged Mister Leavitt,” came the weary reply. “Report to the Bridge directly as soon as the problem is rectified, and call immediately if you require assistance. Bridge out.”

Alistair sighed. “I am in such deep-” He was stopped by Cailus’s sharp grunt and pointed look at Eva. “-uh, trouble,” Alistair finished lamely. “So. Kids, huh? And a wife? I haven’t done that yet.”

Finally, Callus’s harsh facade seemed to relax, if only fractionally. “I gather that there are many differences between us. My wife is the scientist, not me, so I don’t know much about temporal mechanics, but…” He frowned, thinking. “Mars. Harriet. Churchill. Victoire. Menelax. 87 year stasis. Shae. Aoife.  Eva. Eoin.” Callus glanced at Eva with amusement. “Cookies.”

The little girl’s eyes lit up, tail whishing happily, and she looked between her Papa and Alistair expectantly. Fortunately, Alistair was quick on the draw, and he promptly headed to a replicator. Moments later, he returned with a plate of warm cookies. He had barely stepped into range before Eva grabbed one, beginning a merciless assault.

“She’s cute,” Alistair said, grinning as he watched her. “So, uh, none of that rings a bell. I was born on Khajit colony thirty eight years ago. No long spells in stasis for me, no wife, no…” He paused. “Those names you recited…?”

Callus raised an eyebrow. “Shae is my second wife,” he said evenly, “and I’ve had four children. Five if you count pocket universes.”

Alistair exhaled at length. “Wow. I mean, I’ve done some insane stuff, to be sure. Time travel into the apocalyptic future, see the fall of the Federation to the Borg, fight evil extra-dimensional monsters, stage an insurrection against Starfleet Command, all that. Having kids, though…that’s a whole different level.”

Callus, for his part, just stared in shock as Eva nibbled her cookie, blissfully unaware. “Are you serious? The fall of the Federation? Extra-dimensional monsters? A blasted insurrection?”

“Well, when you put it like that,” Alistair said awkwardly. “It, uh, makes more sense in our timeline. I’m sure that you won’t experience anything like that in your timeline. Probably.” At Cailus’ threatening stare, he rapidly backtracked. “Definitely. The extreme differences between us suggest enormous differences between our timelines. There’s probably a genetic link somewhere, like…I don’t know, we share great-grandparents, but in this timeline, they migrated to Khajit instead of staying on Mars.”

“Hm,” Callus grumbled, shifting Eva’s weight in his arms. “And you chose a different path to me, clearly.” He looked Alistair up and down before nodding gruffly. “Engineering?”

“Operations,” Alistair said, standing a little straighter and meeting Cailus’s hard brown eyes with his own resolve. “Department of Temporal Investigations. That’s why I was trusted with…uh, that.” He gestured limply at the temporal transporter pad.

Callus looked Alistair up and down before nodding gruffly. “Then you’re making something of your life. Building, adding to the universe. That’s commendable. People like me are the barbarians, necessary though we might be, but people like you make the future.”

It was Alistair’s turn to stare in shock. “Uh…I didn’t see that coming. I never expected to get complimented by my own doppelganger.”

A moment of silence hung between the two men, broken only by the sound of Eva’s chewing. Before either could say anything else, the silence was broken by the abrupt wail of alarms, red lights starting to flash around the lab. Alistair wasted no time, rushing to his console and working it fast.

“It’s Starfleet,” he said worriedly. “The Archeron has found us.” The deck shuddered under the unmistakable impact of weapons fire. “Shit, I need to get you both out of here. Uh, maybe if I…uh…we’re at red alert, so if I could siphon the extra power from the EPS…”

As Alistair worked, Callus simply waited patiently, holding Eva close. She was no stranger to the sound of alarms and flashing red lights, having experienced it often enough on the Pandora, and she clung to her Papa tightly. The deck shuddered again, and Cailus quietly moved closer to the console. It was still a standard primary control unit for the lab, no matter what timeline it was, and like all such control units, it had a tiny type-1 phaser stuck underneath. It was a weak weapon with only a few shots, and it could only stun, but Cailus had done more with less. He refused to be defenceless if the Theurgy was boarded, especially with Eva.

His caution proved unnecessary, though, as Alistair abruptly fist-pumped in triumph. “Okay, got it! Go, get on the pad!” Callus wasted no time, rushing directly there, Alistair working the console, the deck shuddering with increasing frequency. “Okay, ready for transport!” Alistair looked up from the console to Cailus, grinning. “It’s been a pleasure, Callus. An educational pleasure.”

Callus merely nodded back, although he allowed the tiniest of smiles as the transporter beam began to take hold. The beam was not quite fast enough, however, to stop Eva’s loud shout of “shit!”, nor was the beam fast enough to conceal Cailus’s subsequent murderous glare at Alistair.

Nevertheless, after a few moments, both Cailus and Eva were gone, The deck shuddered again, but Alistair gave himself a moment. He smirked.

“Well, that was fun,” he said merrily before jogging out of the lab, alert sirens still blaring.

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