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Zhēnxiàng (Truth)

Posted on Sat May 23rd, 2020 @ 5:28pm by Commander Christine Descharmes-Barnes Ph.D & Captain Mei Xiang Sun

Mission: At the Hour of Sanctification
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: current (during Impossibilities, Part One)

Christine had followed Mei across the bridge to the ready room, trailing a couple of steps behind her. The second the door hissed shut behind her, she stopped walking and placed her hands on her hips. She gave the other woman a smirk as her eyes continued to follow her. "And to what do I owe this?" she asked, tilting her head curiously.

"Alright," Mei said as the ship rocked slightly. "I've been trying to figure you out since you got here," She spun about on her heel. "I didn't know if you were just an alt timeline Descharmes with a bit of a bite, or what. So let's cut the bullshit charade and figure this out. You aren't this timeline's Descharmes, that's obvious. So, who am I dealing with?" She held up a hand, revealing the palmed type one phaser she had pulled off her captain's chair before they came in here, "And take note that I'm talking. I'd prefer to keep it that way."

Christine raised an eyebrow, her gaze dropping to the phaser Mei held. She eyed it for a moment, her hands still on her hips. "Hmm," she said and looked back up to the other woman, contemplating something and gave a little wave towards the weapon. "I think I like you like this, too," she smirked again."But it wouldn't be the first time someone's threatened me with a weapon from a few paces away."

"Hopefully, it won't be the last either," Mei said firmly. "I can only deduce that you're after something, and I don't know what - but right now I have another goal and I feel like mine and yours may align. If you want something out of this, I may have a deal for you." She offered, not necessarily lowering her weapon but at least relaxing her stance slightly.

The smirk she had worn since she first stepped into the ready room faded, replaced by a hardened scowl. "Fine," Christine said. Her demeanor changed with the dropping of the façade she had worn over the last few days, even if it was only here and in this room. She glanced over Mei again with an impassive, expressionless face. "So," she said, breaking the silence. "You figured it out, did you? You're a smart woman, then. Almost on par with the Empress Zhen Ci."

"But you're not the only one either, are you? Oh, so did your Intel officer. Pretty quick too, I might add." She tilted her head as the corners of her lips upturned into a smile. "I wonder what his wife will think of our little dalliance in his office. On duty as well, I might add." At the thought, she licked her lips; a slight flick of her tongue in an almost unseen gesture. "Then again, I know what he likes. The James on the other side does have an unnatural obsession with me."

Christine sighed, a barely audible breath escaping. "Oh, Mei," she said, a nearly chastising tone. It was definitely one that would have cost her life in her own universe had she the gall to speak it to Zhen Ci. "Odd you're so worried about my presence here, no one thought to ask what happened to your Christine?"

"Oh, so Ci is behind this non-sense. That was what James argued, but I'll admit I didn't believe him," She shook her head. "I should have known she would find some way to get out of that trouble we put her in..." She sighed, "To be clear, all I've thought about is what happened to my Christine. Now, I have some evidence she's alive - and I assume she's some sort of leverage. But, there's a change of plan," She twisted her head to one side, "Computer, secure channel for the mercenary, please." Her eyes narrowed on Christine, "I don't have time to deal with you or your mistress. Call her, let me hear what she wants, and you get Christine back here safe, and I'll get you what she wants. Presumably, you have a way to communicate with her..."

"Should have known he'd come to you. Your James is far too..noble. Very unlike the one I deal with," Christine let out a long sigh. "As for your Christine...I don't know where she is," she answered flatly, speaking the truth probably for the first time since she came on board. "I saw her. Once. But in a strange place. But I don't know where she ended up. She and that unborn child of hers. Had I been around longer I would have used her as leverage for myself."

"And considering I came into some personal information on my own that will prove very useful should I return to my own universe, I should at least make sure I have the chance to use it. There's a score I need to settle," she said. She looked Mei up and down. She admired the woman, something that carried over from her own universe. "This...thing. Gargantua. Or whatever it is. We have it too. And it's tearing our universe apart. Just like yours. Everything Zhen Ci has worked so hard to build up." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small device. "It was scrambled when it came through but one of your engineers fixed it for me." She smiled. "It didn't take much. A few coy smiles here and there. We can bounce the signal off of one of the probes and with the right frequency, connect to Zhen Ci's flagship. But I suppose you still want to hear all that I told you from her yourself."

"You're also going to pick up something. It's going to come across as background noise so to speak, but I've been using someone's credentials to download certain files in different locations. Sinclair, for one. I was going for only the data on the phenomenon. But there is so much more available that the Empress will be interested in," Christine said, smirking again.

"I can work with that. I feel as if this threatens more than one timeline, and as such has to be repaired," She paused for a moment and thought, "I'm less worried about your Empress destroying anything than this thing. So," She said, "I'll work with you," Each word was staccato, quick and to the point. She took a breath, trying to give herself a moment to reconsider, but she didn't see another path. "What is it you need?"

"Tell your shadow to back off," Christine snapped. "You know the one I mean. The white-haired one. The mindreader. Sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong. I can't imagine I like her in any universe I end up in. How you managed to keep her around when she legitimately has no position onboard your ship, I'll never understand. That being said-" her tone softened and she smiled, though it never fully reached her eyes. "-you'll let me finish downloading the data and any relevant files. Mostly, the ones relating to your temporal adventures. And I'll take information on the tech. No interference from your crew. From now until I am back where I need to be. Because. It seems Zhen Ci has a spy in her court and I need to see how that plays out." There was another reason she needed to be back. Her mind thought to him, the child. The half-Klingon. Just as quickly, she shut him out of her mind. She made that mistake once already and now he was used as leverage against her.

Christine's eyes wandered over Mei. "You can put that phaser away now, I'm not going to do anything stupid. As for the rest of the negotiations--I'm sure Her Majesty would like to speak to you personally. We should be in range." She thumbed a sequence onto the device she held. And then another. It hadn't worked since she stepped over onto this universe but if that engineer had done her job, it would work now. A bit of static, but bouncing the signal off of one of the probes would mean that her message would get through. "This is Christine. Put me through to Empress Zhen Ci. I have something she would like to know."

There was a pause in the communication before a second Sun appeared in the room, with the Captain just out of sight, "It's about damn time," Zhen Ci said quietly from the darkened room she was in. "What is it with you Descharmes and keeping me waiting?" The sound was not as crisp as it should have been, but that was part of bouncing signals through, "I hope you have good news." She almost hissed, likely unhappy with her current state.

She hated that name, she hadn't used it since she was a child. It was a constant reminder of her Terran nature. But as she considered herself affiliated with no one, strongly discouraged the use of it. "Oh, I have news, Your Emminence," Christine said, her attitude changed almost immediately with the sound of her mistress' voice into one of deference and subservience. Her eyes shifted towards where Mei lurked just out of the peripheral. "I have the files. You were right as you always are, Empress. I've downloaded the ones that are relevant, plus a few extras you'll find most useful. But it seems-" she said, glancing once again over at Mei, her gaze lingering longer this time, "-that Captain Sun's spymaster has revealed who I truly am. She has a request, Empress."

"She has a request?" The Empress spoke quietly, a curious look on her face. "Very well. I'll entertain the request, what is it that she wants?" She twisted her head a bit seemingly suspicious. "And speak your thoughts on it freely. I'd rather know what you really think of her request - since you seem to have some autonomy there."

"They want to work together. How? I don't know. They're trying to stop whatever it is out there and I'm trying to get these back to you. I can't transmit them remotely and the closer we get, the more interference we have. The files we need risk getting corrupted. I can't explain it, I'm not a scientist," she answered with a shrug. "But she-" Christine looked over to Mei and gestured with a wave, "-wants a guarantee. And I would rather not be stuck in this universe indefinitely."

"I'd rather not have the universe torn asunder by this alien abomination as much as her, I would assume," Zhen laughed and shook her head. "I'll grant it. If she gets you back with that information, we shall help how we can. She has my word as Empress - from one Terran to another." She smirked, "Though, she should know that after that, we are even - and I will look forward to crushing her underfoot should we cross paths again." She paused, "Anything else? Or shall I deal with your duplicate and her insistence on pushing my nerves?"

The words seemed to make Mei tense, a quick glance to the mirror duplicate in her office to push the topic from her own side, wanting some assurance that wasn't a violent inclination.

So that's where she is. Christine was surprised at the news, evident in the way her eyes flickered as she glanced at Mei, and met her gaze briefly. After a tense moment, she gave the other woman a slight nod before she turned back to the holographic projection. It was an understanding, somewhat mutual. Captain Sun needed a guarantee that Zhen Ci wasn't going to renege on her end of this deal and the Empress probably would like the same.

"I know you'd prefer to have your fun with her," Christine said, giving her Empress an amused smile. "But the dear Captain here would prefer that her pet remain unharmed. If she is -" at that, she glanced again at Mei, "-then the deal's off and you won't get your information." She, of course, had every intention of making her escape when the opportunity arose, deal or not. "For that matter, she would like to see her. A guarantee that she is alive, unharmed and in reasonable condition."

"Well, I would gladly show you," Zhen said quietly, "But she is not here currently. I can assure your captain that she is unharmed, and being looked after by our own Barnes," She paused a moment and shook her head, "Were you not likely in a hurry, I could call her back. Hiro would be happy to drag her up here for me again and erase my memory of her failure to do so expediently in the past. The version of me there will just have to trust that I've had no reason to injure the woman. She would not be a good bargaining chip if she was a corpse - and if you failed, I saw no reason not to try to get her assistance. So, she is safe - but for the time being she will be insurance, in case that Mei decides to try anything unnecessarily heroic."

"Very well," Christine said, nodding once. She turned her head to where Mei stood and directed her next words to her. "There you have it. You'll just have to take our word for it. Your Christine is safe..for the moment. Help me get the information back. And you'll get her back. My only other request is that I'm free to go where I please. It wouldn't do very well for your crew if they try to play the hero."

"Fine," Mei said softly. "We have work to do, and I don't have time to push it." She took a long break and shook her head. "I'll agree."

"There we go," Christine said as a smirk formed. She tilted her head to one side as she studied Mei. "Let's get to work then."

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