Chapter Four

The next sensation Lisa was aware of was warmth. The air around her was humid and it smelled of horses and ozone. There were noises: voices chattering, horses whickering, people laughing. She opened her eyes and smiled. She’d made it! At least…it looked like she’d made it. She’d need to find something with the date on it, not to mention hoping that she’d arrived in the same part of town Data had.

She looked around. She was in a nondescript alley with old style garbage cans, a cobblestone street surface and brick wall buildings. When she stepped out onto the street, she saw a firehouse, saloon, locksmith, barber, a “drug broker” and a pest control office amongst other businesses and buildings. There were some people around tending horses and more people around cleaning up after the animals. Despite the situation, she had to smile. The horses reminded her a little of Alnilam.

Steeling herself, she took in the surroundings, opening her mind a little; she also opened her parasol to stave off the sunlight. She remembered, once upon a time, commenting to herself on how boring the thoughts of the nineteenth century were, lacking the flavor and spice of those from the twenty-fourth century. It was all jobs and housework and children. Now, though, she was glad of it. If anyone had seen Data, then that would more than likely be the upmost thing on their mind.

She walked down the street, listening. There were a few snippets about “the pale Frenchman” that piqued her interest. Even more so were the bits about “the albino”. Jackpot! Lisa looked around, hoping to maybe just see him on the street and avoiding talking to the locals altogether, but she had no such luck. Sighing, she spotted a bellboy loading some bags into a horse and carriage outside of what she supposed was a very nice hotel for the time: the Hotel Brian. He had an air of “I know things, ask me anything” about him.

She started to jog up to him but he went back inside the hotel before she could catch him. Mentally cursing her luck, she started to look for someone else, but she didn’t have to. Walking up the street was a pale man dressed smartly in nineteenth century clothes, cutting quite the dashing figure. A grin split her face and she ran towards him, hitching up her skirt.

“Data!” she cried, gasping from the effort of running in a corset. “Data!” Not caring who saw, she threw her arms around his neck. “Oh, Data…I’ve found you…”

She felt the android’s arms go awkwardly around her as he realized who it was. “Lisa?”

She broke away, smiling. “Yep.” And that’s when she noticed Captain Picard standing next to him. “Er…Captain…” Blinking, she realized that the Captain, too, was completely decked out in period clothing. She looked at them both. “Wait…you were still on the Enterprise when I left. I was supposed to arrive on August 13th.”

Picard and Data exchanged a glance and gently explained to her that she’d missed her destination by days. Lisa swore under her breath and kicked at a pebble on the street, sighing.

“Well, at least I made it before…” Her hearts twisted at the thought and she broke off, clearing her throat. “Where are you going?”

They gestured to the hotel building beside them and led her inside. She thought the hotel was a decent size and well decorated by nineteenth century standards. They were going to Data’s room, which was not too far from the entrance.

Inside, a woman was pacing. She was dressed in a beautiful nineteenth century dress with exotic touches as though she were royalty from a far-flung island. Though five hundred years younger, Guinan looked no different now than she did in the twenty-fourth century.

Not knowing either Lisa or Picard, she went straight to Data as soon as they walked in. “You’re back. I have wonderful news. I’ve found a way to get under the Presidio and into the mine shaft.” Her voice trailed off when she noticed Picard, suddenly guarded.

“It is all right,” said Data.

The Captain smiled at the sight of her, removing his hat. Guinan regarded him curiously. “Do you know me?”

“Very well.”

She waited a beat before asking, “Do I know you?”

“Not yet,” he replied. “But you will.”

The…well, you couldn’t call it a reunion when one of the parties hadn’t met the other yet. Whatever it was, it was short-lived as they had to quickly gather the rest of the crew, get to the Presidio and through the mine shaft. Guinan didn’t really specify how she’d managed to persuade the army base to let them through, but it didn’t really matter.

During the journey, Lisa found out that, along with Captain Picard, Riker, Geordi, Troi and Dr. Crusher had stepped into the nineteenth century by following the original aliens through a kind of time vortex. She also found out that an “ophidian” was another word for “snake” – the aliens, in their human guise, were carrying a snake-shaped cane that was actually a creature capable of piercing the time-space continuum and opening the vortex. They’d tried to do so using their phasers earlier that day, but the distortions had only lasted for a few seconds. Whatever was in the cavern most likely amplified the effect.

Geordi and Riker scanned the cavern with their tricorders and compared the readings with those they’d gotten from the cavern back in the twenty-fourth century. “The triolic waves are just as high as they were on Devidia II,” said the latter, “but there’s no indication of a control mechanism.”

“I’m not so sure,” Geordi said from the other side of the cave. “My VISOR is picking up crystalline fractures. These cavern walls have undergone some kind of selective molecular polarization. In fact, if I’m right this entire cavern has been configured to focus the space-time distortion. Just like a lens. Captain – ” He and Riker came over to where Picard was standing with Guinan, Data, Lisa, Troi and Crusher. “We think we might be onto something. The cavern itself seems to be acting as a focusing mechanism. I’m willing to bet that it’s the same at their habitat back on Devidia II.”

“If we can get back there and destroy that site it might put an end to their time traveling.”

“We have the ophidian,” said Riker.

“Truthfully,” said Geordi, “I don’t know that we can get back. The aliens use triolic energy as a power source. The energy that our phasers generate may not be entirely compatible.”

“We have no choice but to try,” was the Captain’s decision.

While they were talking, Lisa felt an odd prickle in the back of her mind. It wasn’t Jamie pulling at her; that was a constant, regular feeling. This was…bristling and hostile. Had they been followed? She found that the cavern slightly inhibited her sense of what was going on on the surface, but this…this wasn’t coming from the surface. This was closer.

She didn’t like this. They were about to be ambushed and she had no way of preventing it. Instinctively moving nearer to Data, she watched the staircase where they had entered the cavern and saw a man in a white suit with even whiter hair and bushy mustache stalk down holding a gun in one hand and a cigar in the other.

“An event I most certainly would enjoy witnessing!” The man’s voice was harsh with a Southern drawl. He held the gun on them. “However, I will regretfully waive that opportunity for the privilege of taking you all into the authorities.”

Data strode forward. “Mr. Clemens, it is imperative that we continue our mission.”

Clemens? As in Mark Twain? Wait, wasn’t he touring Europe during this time period? Lisa decided that she wasn’t going to think about it right now. There were much bigger problems to worry about.

“Mr. Data, I have listened to your stories and your excuses and your evasions and I will listen no longer! It is my moral duty to protect mankind from whatever devious plan you have in mind. Now, move along.” He shook the gun, indicating Data should step aside. “I suspect that even time travelers are vulnerable to the Colt .45. Now, let’s go. I made a young fellow a promise – ” He put his cigar into his mouth and checked his watch.  “ – and I don’t want to be late.”

What happened next happened so quickly that they barely had any time to react. The two human-disguised Devidians phased in and snatched the cane from Troi’s hands. They activated it but didn’t have a chance to use it before Data grabbed it, knocking the male Devidian across the cave. Without thinking, Lisa grabbed for Data’s arm and she felt tingling as energy crackled through the two of them. There was a sonic boom and a hole of blinding white light began to form…right through Data’s body. Lisa cried out as the shock ran through her but she wasn’t able to watch the horrible moment when his head left his body. She was thrown away from the android and struck her head, stunning her for a good few minutes until the wound healed.

She was vaguely aware of the flashing portal a few yards away. Dimly she saw someone – the male Devidian? – come through it and then disappear. Moments after, four more figures appeared and a fifth tumbled through before the portal closed. There was heated conversation but she was still too dazed to make out the words. Another voice was resonating inside her head but that was too painful to decipher as well. A blurry someone came towards her and she knew they were talking to her but her head hadn’t cleared enough to process it.

After a few minutes her senses began to defog, but she still didn’t acknowledge who was standing beside her. Her eyes fell upon the sad sight of Data’s headless body lying near her, stiff and still holding the ophidian, now back in its snake form. Lisa squeaked out a little “no” and ran to her fallen friend, unsuccessfully holding back the tears.

She supposed that the rest of the crew had come over and that someone had ordered a transport because the next thing she knew she was back onboard the Enterprise. Again, there were conversations but she paid no attention; her hearts were breaking. She leaned over Data’s body, sobbing quietly.

“…reattach the head we found.”

It came through like a beacon in the fog. She finally looked up, swiping at the tears. Did she dare hope?

“Geordi,” said Dr. Crusher, “that head is over five hundred years old.”

Maybe not…

He stood up; he’d been kneeling beside Lisa and the body. “Yeah, but it’s the best chance we got.”

“Can I come?” Lisa asked in a small voice, tears still streaming.

The Engineer looked at her sympathetically. He nodded. “Yeah, sure you can.” He helped her to her feet and patted her back. “Why don’t you change your clothes first?” he suggested. “Judging by Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi’s expressions when we were back in the nineteenth century, those things aren’t comfortable.”

She started to protest but her corset had shifted in the fall from where it was supposed to be and thus was now squeezing her uncomfortably. She also felt a tug on her mind, realizing Jamie had been trying to contact her since she’d arrived back in the twenty-fourth century.

Come back and tell me what happened! the flit demanded.

Lisa nodded her acquiescence and left for her quarters. Jamie pulled at her again and she used that grounding to teleport directly there. Jamie met her and he waited patiently as she brought him up into her arms to sob into his scales.

He patted her gently with his claws. All’s not lost, Lisa. Geordi said he was going to reattach the head they found. There’s still hope.

She wanted to believe it, she really did. After changing out of her period dress, relieved to finally be out of that blasted corset, she folded her blue wings, put on her normal clothes and started out the door when Jamie stopped her.

This time I’m coming with you. He glided over and landed on her shoulder. She rubbed her head up against him and together they made their way to the Science Lab where they’d taken Data’s body.

When she entered, she saw that Geordi had already reattached the head and was fiddling with Data’s inner workings. Counselor Troi and Samuel Clemens, who had been that fifth person that had come through the portal, had arrived before them and, judging by their demeanor, Geordi had had bad news.

Clemens started at the sight of her wings. “First a werewolf and now an angel?”

Lisa didn’t even have the energy to give him the line. She walked up to Data’s still body and looked into the blank eyes, leaving Deanna to explain that, no, Lisa was not an angel. She ran her hand down Data’s arm and to his hand; his body was stiff so that she couldn’t lift his hand but that didn’t stop her from trying to hold it. Jamie gently wiped the tears that were falling down her cheeks.

Deanna ushered Clemens out of the Lab leaving Geordi and Lisa alone with Data’s deactivated form. Lisa stood out of the Engineer’s way as he did what he could to repair their friend. He had a panel in Data’s head open and was working at the circuits with his tools. He picked up a PADD off the desk and addressed the computer.

“Computer…initialize the reload circuits.”

“Reload circuits are initializing.”

“Okay.” He put the PADD down and came over to stand beside the android’s body. “Data…this ought to do it.” Lisa held her breath while Geordi activated the tool against the circuits in Data’s head, but they both visibly deflated when he remained as dead as ever. “Oh, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why this isn’t working.” Geordi picked up the PADD again, tapping the controls, and sighed. “Computer…” He scratched the back of his head. “Run me a diagnostic on the input polarizers.”

“There is intermittent contact in the input polarizers.”

Geordi was confused. “Intermittent?” He put the PADD down and went back to Data’s side.

“That kind of means like a bad signal, right?” Lisa asked. She’d been very quiet while Geordi worked, not wanting to interrupt him, plus she was afraid she would start crying again if she tried to speak. She sniffled and wiped her eyes.

“Yeah,” said Geordi. He lifted a panel on the back of Data’s head and inspected the circuits within. “What…?” He picked up a different instrument and used it to pull out some kind of tiny particles. Lisa and Jamie didn’t know what it was until Geordi did. “An iron filing. How’d that get in there?” He turned back to the head and made some adjustments in the circuits and made sure there were no more bits of iron blocking things. Finally he said, “Computer, run another diagnostic on the input polarizers.”

“Polarizer circuits are functioning.”

“Well, then, that ought to do it.” Again Lisa held her breath as he activated the tool in his hand. This time, the circuits in Data’s head lit up like a Christmas tree. Lisa held the bars of the stand Data was on tightly, hoping. Geordi chuckled and put down the instrument. “Okay, Data, come on now.” He put his hand on Data’s back and pressed the switch.

Immediately Data jerked, grasping at the bars. Geordi, Lisa and Jamie all looked elated. In fact, the blue in Lisa’s wings faded instantly and their normal golden color shone as bright as a sun.

Data turned towards the Engineer behind him and spoke haltingly. “Torpedoes…phasing…alien…” He put his hand to the back of his head and clicked the open panel back into place. “I am processing a binary message entered into my static memory by Captain Picard. Geordi, are we planning to fire on the alien habitat?”

“Yeah,” he answered, nodding, “but…”

“It is imperative that we do not. I will explain later.”

Geordi tapped his comm. badge. “La Forge to Riker. Hold your fire!”

End chapter four.

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