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Chapter Notes:

Alex Chilton and the Boxtops - Cry Like a Baby


Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn


- Manfred Mann (The Mighty Quinn)

=/=



Polly arrived the next day. The boss, Carmen Calavicci, came over to greet her personally, “Are all of your other obligations squared away?”

“Yes,” Polly said, “I am free and clear.”

“Excellent. You’ll need surgeries. We’ve got lots of exciting things to do to you, to make you faster and smarter and all that. Will your part-Betazoid heritage pose any problems, do you think?”

“I doubt it. I suppose your department’s doctor would know more.”

“You’ve met Boris, right?”

“I have,” Polly said, “His wife and I know each other socially.”

Carmen sent Boris a PADD message, summoning him, “I know you’ll want to walk around a bit. But you should talk about the medical procedures a little. And here are both of our doctors!” She enthused, as Boris and Marisol both arrived.

“Ah, Darragh will be so pleased you are joining us,” Boris said, referring to his wife, “Allow me to introduce Doctor Marisol Castillo.”

Polly shook Marisol’s hand and sensed … something. Something was not quite right.

=/=



The Perfectionists sent two operatives on their mission. Generally, the plan was for only one operative to go on any given mission. Such was also the case with the Temporal Integrity Commission. However, this specific mission needed two people - an actor and a recorder. Sure, the actor - in this case, actress - could have used a PADD to take photographs. But the angles would be better, the pictures would be more believable, and everything would look better if the snapshots really were taken by a Polaroid camera with real Kodak film.

Plus, there would be negatives.

=/=



Crystal clicked around on her PADD. She was the least-educated person in the department - just a stint in beauty school for her - and she was far from being a cryptographer. Still, the Manifesto file intrigued her, and now she was captivated by its siren song.

She had messed up a few times, with incorrect guesses. They had been stabs in the dark, really, and so the file had more or less punished her by iterating through different coding algorithms even faster than it had been doing so before.

She then remembered something that Kevin had done earlier, with the first paragraph, and to great success. He had, quite literally, taken snapshots.

She did not realize that he had used a second PADD for his photos. Instead, Crystal used the same PADD, and so the file penalized her and the pictures, despite her adjustments to the focus, all came out a bit blurry.

It was possible to tell, though, that there was a series of pictographs, at least in the iteration she had just captured. The graphic elements seemed to have been grabbed from a children’s novel - if she squinted she could tell that there was a picture of a monkey, a donut, a tree, a boat and other basic shapes.

“Are you letters, or are you words? You have no separators,” she said to herself as she worked. She was in the Temporal Integrity Commission’s cafeteria, and so she was not alone. An untouched Caesar salad sat on her table. A Ferengi engineer came over. Noticing a shadow, she looked up, “Uh, hiya, Von.”

“How goes the battle?” he asked.

“Well enough, I suppose. Got any idea what turtle-eyeball-cherry-boat might mean?”

“I do not,” he said, “Have you been busy?”

“Not too much. Our department recently took care of some archaeologists who wanted to watch Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address. I had to make a hoop skirt.”

“It sounds complicated.”

“Oh, it was. It was 1863, right smack dab in the middle of the American Civil War. It had to be fairly fancy - the kind of thing a woman would wear to church - but not in very good shape, like she hadn’t had a chance to repair it or replace any of its older details to keep up with the fashions.”

“That is a delicate balancing act, to be sure. But a profitable one,” Unlike the other member species of the Temporal Integrity Commission, like the Aenar, both kinds of Calafans, the Trill, the Klingons, the Cardassians and the five species of Xindi - and many more - the Ferengi still had a money-based system, and even received salaries for their labors. Their language remained salted with financial metaphors.

“I suppose. Damn! Monkey-apple-basket! It doesn’t seem to mean anything!”

Deirdre came over, “Got the Penar up and running?” she asked Von.

“Almost,” he replied, “There are still a few battered bits. Our agents really should treat our ships better. Have you finished the Flux Capacitor?”

“We have.”

“Tell me, what does that name mean?” Von asked.

“It’s from an old science fiction series of films on time travel, called Back to the Future. The Flux Capacitor is the name for their fictitious technology,” Deirdre explained.

“Why not name your ships after great humans, or places that are important to you?”

“It’s more fun this way,” Deirdre said, “Except for Audrey II, they’re all named for old time travel fiction. HG Wells, Jack Finney and Audrey Niffenegger were all authors. Fluxy I just told you about, and the Elise McKenna, whenever we get a chance to build her, will be named for the heroine of Somewhere in Time.”

“And Audrey II?” Von asked, “Aside from being a successor to the Audrey Niffenegger, I suppose.”

“It’s a man-eating plant from outer space from the movie Little Shop of Horrors,” Deirdre explained.

“Plants eating humans,” Von shook his head, “Good thing your salads don’t normally attack you.”

=/=



Polly and Carmen sat in Carmen’s office, “We haven’t had too much lately,” Carmen admitted, “But I still want to get you in, and up to speed. With Otra gone, I’m dependent upon Marisol to track temporal alternatives.”

“What about the computers?”

“They work just fine, but Otra was faster. I’m hoping for similar performance out of Marisol.”

“And from me?”

Carmen smiled, “This other group, this other side - they seem dangerous. I need a calming influence, and I may need for you to do some negotiations. I’m still hopeful about Otra.”

“Do you think anyone else will be grabbed?”

“Only, possibly, Marisol. So we’re keeping an eye on her. I’m not so sure she likes that. But, for now, she will be staying at the Commission unless she’s at home. No traveling for her, for the time being.”

=/=



When I think about the good love you gave me
I cry like a baby (cry like a baby)
Livin' without you is drivin' me crazy
I cry like a baby (cry like a baby)
I know now that you're not a plaything
Not a toy or a puppet on a string


- Alex Chilton and the Box Tops (Cry Like a Baby)



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