A Friendly Catch-Up
Location: USS Poseidon; Officers' Lounge, Deck 3
Timeline: Day 1 - 1630 Hours
"Coffee, black. Make it strong." Freya felt a load off her shoulders as she finally sat down with her drink. She had returned to duty after the conversation with the Commander over breakfast, and after the tragic events of the previous day, the mood on the bridge had been quite solemn. But interestingly enough, nobody on the bridge had commented on her changed appearance — not a single word.
Taking a big sip from her coffee, Freya looked around the mess hall. It was unusually quiet for this hour, but then many of the crew were busy with the investigation into the previous day's events and getting the ship ready for its proper departure.
With a sigh, Freya pulled out a PADD and continued her reading on the history of the Federation. She was fascinated by the parallels between this universe and her own - and she wanted to know more.
"Blue really is your color." The softness of Canaan's voice pulled Freye's attention from her reading. In his unassuming presence, it was as if the Science Officer had appeared out of nowhere. He stood opposite the Lieutenant, long fingers gently gripping the curved edge of the chair back. There was a kindness that relaxed his delicate, handsome features, which betrayed nothing more than the subtlest of smiles. "How are you, Freya?" There was an evident sincerity in the question. Canaan wasn't asking it for the sake of making small-talk, he was asking it because of genuine interest.
Freya looked up at the Chief Science Officer and smiled. "Well, congratulations on being the first person to actually say something about my change in attire, Lieutenant Serine." She laughed and pointed at the chair opposite. "Do take a seat."
As she waited for the Lieutenant to sit, Freya quickly bookmarked her page and put down the PADD, which still displayed the title of the book she had been reading - Federation History - An Introduction. When he had sat, she continued. "As for how I am, thank you for asking. I am getting there. Yesterday held a few shocks. But I had a long conversation with Commodore Paladin, and we were able to clear things up. So that's one less thing on my mind."
She smiled and took another sip. "Do you know that feeling when you are being forced to be someone you are not, and then one day you just throw caution in the wind and embrace yourself anyway?"
Canaan took the proffered seat; his posture relaxed as he considered Freya's question, cautious of its intent. A furrowed forehead cast a pensive expression as the white-haired Lieutenant slowly nodded his head. "I suppose so." He replied quietly, "In a way, I think we all wear a mask to a certain degree, some more than others." His eyes searched hers, the color of either iris a cloudy-grey. "Isn't it when one drops all pretense that we're finally accepting who were are in the moment?" He countered, slowly drumming fingertips against the cold surface of the tabletop. "When we let go of the preconceived notions of what others may think of us?"
Canaan's eyes glanced at Freya's data PADD. Even with the screen dimmed, the Science Officer could easily read the bold title of the device's contents. Without evident protest from the Poseidon's lead pilot, Canaan retrieved the device and scanned the opening paragraph with apparent interest. "I've not read this since my first year at the Academy." He handled the device in such a way to emphasize his remark. "Doctor Cummings was a genuine historophile; she had an uncanny way of immersing her students in the past, and exploring the ripple effects of historical events on the present," He surmised, thinking fondly of how the Commander had shaped his mind to think on the future implications of historical events. "Did you enjoy your time with her as well?" He wondered. Despite her older age, Doctor Cummings remained an instructor to this day. Freya was several years his youth, yet Canaan held no doubt that she'd have attended the Commander's An Introduction to Federation History in her first year at the Academy.
Ah. Freya was in a pickle - but luckily, the name of the history lecturer at the Terran Academy had also been one Doctor Cummings, whose lectures had indeed been rather enjoyable. "Ah, yes, Doctor Cummings. I remember her well." She smiled and waved the PADD. "My culture likes to learn from 'the Ancestors'. Not to give too long of a speech on our religion, but my people believe in the spirits of the wild, each of whom embodies a certain virtue. My patron spirit is Raven - the spirit of learning. I've always loved the study of history and different cultures. I've recently come across some interesting theories."
She paused and took a sip from her coffee and opened another book on her PADD. "Have you read this, by any chance?" She pushed it over to Canaan to let him read the title: A Brief History of the Terran Empire
Canaan's brow furrowed with visible interest, "No, no, not at all." He eagerly scanned the introduction and the book's table of contents before returning the device to Freya with some reluctance. "I once wrote a paper on the space-time causality relative to an alternate universe or dimensional accessibility via an artificially generated energy pattern sustained singularity. Although my theory was relatively well-received within the scientific community, it failed to garner any traction aside from a passing interest." He explained before pointing to the device, "Is that a work of fiction? How'd you find such a book?" The Lieutenant hadn't read any literature about a Terran Empire of any kind. To say he held an adamant interest would've been an understatement.
Freya smiled. "So you believe in alternate universes, Canaan?" She conspiratorily switched to using the science officer's first name. "I know for a fact that your theory is true. But these singularities need not always be artificial. Crossovers have happened before, caused by natural phenomena. Transporter use during an ion storm, for example, reportedly caused the Captain of the USS Enterprise to visit such an alternate dimension - the same, actually, as is described in this book. Captain Sisko of Deep Space Nine visited it repeatedly during the Dominion War. And that's not even mentioning the USS Discovery."
She chuckled. "Of course, all of this is based on rumor. The official logs proving the rumors true are highly classified, reportedly even beyond Section 31 clearance. So most people dismiss the whole thing as a conspiracy theory."
"I wouldn't go so far as to say that I 'believe', however, it's a strong theory, none-the-less." Canaan scrutinized Freya for a long moment. Her words were sincere, one as equally matched to a subdued excitement, which softened her tone. How could she know his theory was true? It had been all but dismissed by the scientific community, summed up as nothing more than an interesting hypothesis proposed by a young, inexperienced scientist with genuine promise, yet an overactive imagination. For all intents and purposes, Canaan still believed in the theory, albeit passively. However, Freya's statements infused a fever he'd not experience in many years, not since first exploring this very concept.
"I've heard of no such instances," said Canaan, eyebrow raised skeptically. "If this information is classified and protected at the highest levels of Starfleet Intelligence, how then did you come by it?"
Freya smirked conspiratorily, not directly answering the question. It's not as if he would believe it anyway. "If I am not mistaken, all matter in the universe resonates at the same quantum signature, does it not?"
Canaan hummed the affirmative, slowly nodding, "Indeed, that's the presiding theory." He drummed his fingertips against the tabletop, curious to know where Freya was taking this conversation.
Freya took a small tricorder from her utility belt, pressed a few buttons, and pointed it at the table, before placing it down for Canaan to read the display. "And if I am not mistaken, this would be that signature, no?"
The Science Officer leaned forward, intrigued by Freya's question, and more than willing to follow this particular rabbit. His eyes studied the pattern on display, immediately recognizing the crests and troughs of the signature. "Yes, that's the quantum signature, indeed." He replied the hairs on the back of his neck prickling with anticipation.
Without saying another word, Freya pointed the tricorder at herself, and initiated another scan, before replacing the scanner and waiting for Canaan's reaction.
Canaan watched as the wavelength of the quantum signature changed, its crests and troughs fluctuating in a way the Science Officer had never witnessed before. The realization of what this implied overwhelmed Canaan with shock and aw. He stood up quickly, the chair tumbling back as he pointed at the tricorder, mouth agape. "Wh-wh-what was that?!" Canaan's voice cracked, eyes scanning Freya with an insatiable scientific curiosity. "Are you telling me what I think you're telling me?!" He asked without regard to the scene he was causing. If Freya was about to confirm what he thought she was, Canaan was present for one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs this century.
Freya could not help but laugh. "That very much depends on what you think I am telling you, Canaan. Let me rephrase, slightly, my earlier statement. All matter that originates in this universe resonates with the same signature. A signature that is unique to each quantum universe, and indeed the only foolproof way to determine whether something - or someone - has crossed universes."
She picked up her PADD again and opened a different file, before handing it back to Canaan. On the screen was an essay, titled The Terran Empire and the United Federation of Planets: Parallels Observed in Quantum Universes. "I am sure you will find this essay rather fascinating, as I did. It was submitted as a doctorate thesis by a cadet a few years my senior. You might recognize the name."
Smirking, Freya pointed at the name written underneath the title - Cadet Canaan Serine.
Flabbergast, Canaan tried to swallow the dryness which coated his throat. In his stupor, he decided to make sense of all that had just been revealed without it overwhelming either. Although Freya outwardly appeared the epitome of calm and collected, he imagined she was feeling just as exhilarated as he at the moment. "Yo-you're quite far from home, aren't you?" He whispered, gaze softening with understanding. Canaan didn't expect an answer, not yet at least. That would come in time. However, what he'd witnessed in Freya's behavior and actions since first meeting the Pilot now made sense.
She was from a different universe.
Freya nodded slowly. "My presence here is not by choice. Another one of these instances where an ion storm got involved. My counterpart from this universe did not survive the storm." She paused for a moment before draining her coffee. "Who knows if I will ever be able to go back, or even contact home. Or if I even want to." She pointed at the PADD. "Enjoy the reading; it'll be rather eye-opening, I'm sure."
Canaan watched Freya leave, resisting an almost insatiable temptation to follow. He needed to read and process the information of Freya's gift, knowing it would help to organize his thoughts and more productively guide his intentions. He had thousands of questions for Freya, yet those had to wait. Now was the time to understand better the secret the Poseidon's Pilot had entrusted him to keep.
“There are many, many, many worlds branching out at each moment you become aware of your environment and then make a choice.”