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Between Two Janes

Posted on Sun Nov 15th, 2020 @ 4:22pm by Commodore Juliet St. Clair & Ensign Jane Sinclair

Mission: Between the Pages
Timeline: After "An Offer and a Request"

ON:

CO Ready Room, USS Saturn

“You asked to see me, ma’am?”

Lieutenant Jane Sinclair stood tall, hands behind her back, in front of the Commodore’s desk. Moments earlier, her shift at the helm of the Ambassador-class USS Saturn had ended, and as she relinquished her station to her Beta Shift relief, her name came over the comm system, summoning her to the Ready Room. Commander Thariss, the Andorian XO who presently had command of the bridge, gave her a quiet nod, and she departed the bridge to meet her Commanding Officer without a word.

“Take a seat, please, Lieutenant.”

Commodore Juliet St. Clair had only been in command of the Saturn for a handful of months, but her crew was already meshing together properly. She had worked with Jane before, back on Devron Fleet Yards, back when Juliet helped run the Task Force and Jane was Assistant Director of air traffic for the system and when necessary the Commodore’s personal chauffeur. When the Commodore was given her own command ship, there was no one she trusted more than Jane to fly it.

And so she felt it necessary to deliver this very strange news personally.

Jane took the offered seat but remained silent.

“I’ve never had this exact conversation with anyone, Lieutenant, so you’ll need to bear with me as I choose my words.” The Commodore had delivered bad news countless times. It never got easier, so the difficulty was to be expected. But this news was not bad. It was simply...strange. “What do you remember of the USS Shanghai? The Vesta you served on?”

It had been a while since Jane had thought of her time on the Shanghai. Straight from the Academy, Captain Sun chose her to be her Chief Flight Control Officer. Sun Mei Xiang saw something in Jane, and Jane got the best mentor she could have ever received as a junior officer.

“Vesta-class, as you said. Had a crisis involving time travel just before I arrived. I served aboard her for two years, until she ship was damaged beyond repair during Gatecrasher almost eight years ago. I’ve not stayed in touch with anyone, though you and I saw Captain Sun just before the new Shanghai launched two years ago. Commodore, what is this about?”

Juliet turned her computer screen around so her pilot could see it. “Do you remember this?”

Jane looked closely. It was familiar. The gravitational patterns were unique, and she remembered having encountered them a decade earlier. “A temporal anomaly of some kind that the old Shanghai encountered. We never figured out what it was; we had pressing matters to attend to so we left it alone. I assumed a science vessel would study it later.”

"That's right," replied Juliet. "Something of a crisis has occurred and I regret you're directly involved. The specifics, however, are classified beyond Top Secret by the Department of Temporal Investigations.”

“I’m not sure I’m cleared for this, Commodore...” Jane said, shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

“You have a stake, I’m afraid,” Juliet told her. “I’ve cleared you, and the general aspects of the situation will be unclassified. I’ll tell you what will be public and what won’t be. But please understand that revealing the fine details of what I’m going to tell you is punishable by a loss of your commission and a prison term of up to ten years.”

***

On their respective Holodecks, Lieutenant Jane Sinclair stood face to face with Ensign Jane Sinclair.

Commodore St. Clair stood off to the side, and if she hadn’t known better, she would have guessed she was seeing Jane and her twin sister. The elder Jane took good care of herself, and so she looked virtually identical to her younger doppelgänger, aside from their uniforms. The younger one wore an unfamiliar uniform, which Juliet assumed was typical of the other timeline. Satisfied that the system worked, she nodded to her helmswoman and left them alone.

“So,” began the Lieutenant, “they tell me that you’re me.”

“They tell me the same thing,” the Ensign quipped back.

The elder recognized the defense mechanism for what it was. “You alright?”

Ensign Jane stood in silence a moment, and then took a deep breath. "Captain Sun tells me I'm going to be allowed to speak to mum and the rest of the family. That I’ll be allowed to visit home again, when my duties let me go that way." She spoke calmly at first, but then agitation started seeping in. "But I've been cut off from my life. My mum will never see me again. She's going to be told that the Shanghai was lost with all hands. She doesn't even have a body to bury. And that's the best case scenario. It's also possible my timeline doesn't exist at all anymore. Meanwhile my girlfriend is struggling to keep herself together because in this timeline she was never even born. Oh and my best friend barely remembers me, because apparently she wasn't your best friend. How do you think I feel?!"

“Okay,” Jane Sr. said, her tone trying to calm her counterpart. “I’m sorry. I know this must be tough. I can’t imagine.” She gestured for Ensign Jane to come in for a hug. The younger one began to cry as she was held by someone who might functionally be a big sister now.

"Let's not mince words," the older Jane continued. "Your life is different from mine. Mum never lost me, so while you're allowed to talk to her and meet her, it's not like she's spent years wondering where you've been. I'm sure she'll invite you into our home -- sorry, that 'our' includes you -- but it will be different. And it will be a shock to her, I'm sure. It was to me."

"I don't plan to trample your life," said the younger Jane, her wet eyes dampening the other's uniform sleeve. "I had plans of my own in my universe that I think were different from yours. I'm going to try make them work for me." She pulled away from the other Jane, wiped her eyes, and took a deep breath. "Captain Sun offered me the position of Chief Flight Control Officer on her ship again. She remembers that I was a great pilot, and apparently I saved the life of her late husband's symbiont."

"I remember." It was a dark day when Ersin Ryl died, but eight years ago Jane's quick acting, and violation of orders, helped save something of him. That day earned her a medal and contributed to her first promotion.

"She, Captain Sun I mean, was telling me about the Trill rules on associating with the lives of former hosts," young Jane said. "That maybe they should apply here, and that I should leave you and mum and the others well enough alone. She wasn't telling me to do that, but implied it might be a good idea. For my sake and yours too."

Lieutenant Jane's expression became stern and authoritative. "Jane, you need to look at me and listen. Are you listening?" The Ensign nodded. "Fuck those rules. You're a member of the family, and I'll be damned if anyone tells you you should leave us alone."

Seeing her younger self smile, older Jane ordered the holodeck produce two comfortable chairs, a table between them, and replicate two glasses of synthehol wine. She sat, invited young Jane to sit with her, and grinned. "Now. You buried the lead earlier. Tell me about this 'girlfriend'."

:OFF

 

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