Month 6 Day 26
Captain Jane Burke
S’thyme chuckled. “Isn’t that how this started? A surprise as you orbited our planet?”
Jane smiled. “True. Hopefully, we avoid repeating that event.”
“Maybe you should-“
Jane looked up, but MacDowell had stopped talking. “Did you have a suggestion, Lt?”
The girl sighed. “The bridge felt… crowded, as we left and when we returned. And our activities no doubt distracted the bridge crew. Maybe another room could be used?”
“Good idea,” Jane decided. “I’ll have a conference room cleared out.” She turned to S’thyme and Kolla. “Will there be any problems transporting that many people?”
“No, but we’ll have to let the machine ‘taste’ each of them, since their qorjah is not in our storage memory,” Kolla answered.
“Taste?” Smitty repeated.
MacDowell sighed. “We would say ‘sample’ or ‘register’. But the translation comes out as ‘taste’. Tasting isn’t intrusive, and doesn’t hurt. But it is necessary for the people to be correctly… reconstructed at the destination.”
“With that many new qorjahs,” S’thyme stated, “we would take 3 or 4 at a time. We can make several trips.”
“Good,” Jane announced. “Smitty, I’d like you to be the lead officer tomorrow. Winthrop’s second, uh…”
“Tall Bear,” MacDowell offered.
“I’d like him to go with you, if he’s not busy. The Yukosk have some powerful alcohol.” She sat back in her chair. “Now, while we are here, S’thyme and Kolla will stay aboard. Except for the parties. Today starts their official honeymoon-“ Kolla blushed a soft gray in her cheeks while S’thyme took her hand and smiled. “So, let’s not pester them too much while they’re our guests.”
“Yes, captain.” Smitty sighed, obviously disappointed.
“Smitty, would you show S’thyme to guest quarters 8A2? I want a brief talk with the ladies.”
Smitty gave her a look of surprise, quickly hidden. “Of course, captain.”
Still expected me to chew him out for not talking with MacDowell. Not tonight, Smitty, but soon. I need to think first. Jane watched the men leave and the hall door close. “How have you dealt with these shared memories so far?”
Kolla shrugged. “I know which is my husband. As for others, when I see one, I see them both, if I’ve met both, but in different colors. I pick the one I'm with, and I know which name to use. As for technology, ours is as readily available as it was before I… invaded. I don’t have to search for it. Your technology… Large chunks are available, but I have to reason it out. Sometimes, that takes a while, because I’ll try to use my knowledge instead of the Fleet’s. It’s there, but it won’t ruin my career. Or be a problem. In fact, S’thyme wants me to go through what we did ‘on the fly’ and write a paper about it.”
Jane turned to the communications officer. “Lt?”
“I’ve been sleeping a lot,” MacDowell stated. “And thinking. Not about extra memories in my head, which is what I should have been thinking about. I don’t always make the best choices.”
“No one does,” Jane replied. “We live with them and try to do better the next time. Would that method Kolla described help you figure out which person is which?”
“I’ll try it,” MacDowell answered. “Except for the odd moment like I had tonight, it won’t be a problem in the long run. I’ve only got to get through 3 weeks. And I can – at last – tell the difference between Smit and Stym.”
“What did you call him?” Kolla asked.
“Stym,” MacDowell answered with a blush. “I shorten everybody’s name. It’s just… something I do.”
That explains the ‘cap’ she used on me earlier.
“I like it,” Kolla stated.
“What about the technologies?” Jane asked.
“Our experiences are different,” MacDowell said. “Perhaps because it was my body we shared. We used our knowledge of the technologies at the same time, to figure out how to make them mesh. Her memories were impressed into my mind, easy to call up. So easy, I move from one to the other without realizing it.” She lowered her gaze to the floor. “So another month won’t do me any good.”
“Don’t give up!” Kolla told her. “You haven’t tried. We’ve got 21 days! Well, 20 days. We’ll review what we did. That should give you an idea what’s yours and what’s mine.”
“You’re on your honeymoon!” MacDowell protested. “And you have parties to attend every day.”
“Oh, intimacy is fun, but we can’t do it all the time,” Kolla returned. “Besides, I know Stym, and he’ll be seeking out your Smit to discuss engineering. He can’t get enough of it.”
“I thought we couldn’t share our technologies.”
“Negotiations are done,” Jane reminded MacDowell. “Now we can share, if we give as much as we receive. That’s the way I understand it. Knowing Smythe – and I assume that lends me some understanding of S’thyme – each has a keen interest in the method of transportation the other knows.”
“Yes,” Kolla agreed. “As for us, we have already shared technology, out of dire necessity, and can examine it as much as we want.”
“I like the idea, but I won’t ask either of you to forego your duties, your fun, or your needs.” Jane faced MacDowell directly. “Like sleep.”
“Bugs would kill me,” the girl muttered.
Doesn’t sound like Bugalu. “I’d like for you to write out the process. I’m sure such a document would be of interest to both our peoples.”
MacDowell shrugged. “We might as well.”
Jane leaned forward. “But don’t tell Smythe and S’thyme. They’d want to join you, and possibly write up other things about the 2 technologies, and that might ruin the honeymoon.”
“We’ll say we’re sorting the double memories.”
“Yes.” Jane turned to MacDowell. “Would you show Kolla to guest quarters 8A2? That will give you a chance to discuss how to approach your task. And thank you both for your support this evening. The translation machines still don’t know all the local idioms.”
“I’ll input them in my spare time.” Kolla stood up.
“I’ve done what I could,” MacDowell said as they headed for the door. “But I can’t speak in your frequency.” The door closed behind them.