They couldn't pick a better time as that in life
It ain't too early and it ain't too late
Startin' as a farmer with a brand new wife
Soon'll be livin' in a brand new state
- The Company (Oklahoma)
The docent at the Temporal Museum on Lafa II was a beautiful, elegant, slender blonde. The name patch on the left arm of her museum uniform read E. Daniels. Her skirt was modest museum attire, revealing two bands of color on her left ankle. The silver band was closer to her foot than the copper one was.
She also had an intriguing cuff bracelet on her left wrist, in a dull grey with intricate, complicated scrollwork. A portion of the cuff was uneven and the metal appeared softened and the pattern was faded and shallower, as if thousands of hands had touched it, in worshipful reverence or supplication.
She spoke. "And now we come to the Mirror exhibit portion of our tour. Or, to be more precise, this is the section devoted to the earliest crossovers between our universe and the one that we call the mirror."
"Why is it called the mirror? Aren't there several other universes?" asked a Tellarite woman.
"There are, we believe, an infinite number of universes. What is most intriguing about the mirror is how very close it is to our own. We have a kinship with the mirror that we simply don't have with any of the others."
"Is that due to the radiation bands?" a Klingon man asked.
"It is," the docent replied, "we are, well, our universe vibrates on a twenty-one centimeter radiation band. And the mirror vibrated at twenty centimeters."
"Is there a twenty-two? Shouldn't we be close to them, as well? Or, at least, shouldn't you humans?" asked a Tandaran man.
"There is, most assuredly, a twenty-two," the docent said, "but the dinosaurs never died out there. So, as you can imagine, things are a little bit different there."
Her tour, a mixed group of about twenty people of various ages and species, chuckled at that. She continued, "Up until 2157, no one knew about any mirrors. That is, no one but the Calafans. So I'll start with them."
"Several thousand years ago," she continued, "Calafans traveled between the two universes. Most of them were, undoubtedly, unaware that they were doing so. They would simply move from place to place, and would meet what they thought of as twins, but we would refer to these persons as counterparts."
"But aren't purebred Calafans silver on our side, and copper over there? Wouldn't they know?" asked the same Tandaran man.
"At the time," the docent said, "they were all of a kind of yellow, brassy color. And then a biological event known as speciation began. Calafans began to show up as either copper or silver, at birth. This would have all been perfectly fine, but there were two royal children – daughters – who showed up that way, one of each color. It turned out that both Calafan queens – here and in the mirror – had been unfaithful, and with the kings on the other side."
She took a breath. "As you can imagine, this was rather alarming on both sides. Add to this the fact that crossing from universe to universe was becoming rather unruly. So both sides decided to erect a barrier, which was achieved by the application of regular bursts of ionizing radiation. They built huge metallic dishes, and if you look out that window over there, you can see them on Point Abic."
She waited for everyone to return before continuing. "As a bit of a sop to the masses, contact was allowed to continue, so long as it was confined to the subconscious level. And so the Calafan people – who had, as a species, always been rather psionically gifted – began to have dreams and visitations from what they called night people."
"Aren't these lovers?" asked the Tellarite woman.
"For adults, yes, they often are. But children generally just visit with a beloved relative's counterpart or the like. We'll discuss more of the details later in our tour. Now, let's talk about human crossover contact."
A man arrived late, and joined the tour. He was fully human and had a military bearing.
"Back in 2157 – so that's nearly a millennium ago – the NX-01 came around. And the sous-chef, Lili O'Day, had a tiny Ensign's bed in which a small Calafan coin had been sewn into the bottom of the mattress. Does anyone know why?"
A Denobulan man spoke up. "Ah, that's what my people do. A coin is sewn into the underside of a mattress in order to induce profitable dreaming."
"Precisely," said the docent, "and, interestingly enough, that very same bed was repurposed and used on the USS Defiant. The Defiant was thrown back in time – it was from 2267 – and into the mirror, due to a spatial interphase. In the mirror, the interphase was caused by Tholians who created the interphasic rift by detonating a tri-cobalt warhead within the gravity well of a dead star. Jonathan Archer – and yes, he was the counterpart to the Archer we all know – found out about the Defiant and stole it. But that Archer's days were numbered, and he was murdered by his lover, who became the Empress Hoshi Sato."
"I go to Archer Elementary School!" a young human girl exclaimed.
"That's wonderful," the docent said, bending over to speak to the child, "which one?"
"The one on Vulcan," said the little girl.
"As I was saying," the docent straightened up and saw the military man in the back of the tour group, and smiled, "Empress Hoshi had the Defiant. And that same exact bed, still sporting its Calafan coin, was being used there. It was in Tactical Officer Lieutenant Commander Douglas Jay Hayes's quarters. The Defiant was also in the area, but in the mirror. And so Lili and Doug both began to experience rather vivid dreams."
"What were their dreams about?" the little girl asked.
"Well," the docent said, "it was, uh, very grown-up things. But they saw each other, and they fell in love. The Calafans attempted to use Lili for their own purposes, but they were thwarted. As an apology, and in order to get onto the right foot with humans, the Calafans worked to bring Doug over so that he could be with Lili."
"Did they succeed?" asked a Xyrillian woman.
"They did. Now, you remember the radiation bands I spoke of? Well, Doug was able to pass them along to the five children he fathered. All of them had a twenty and one-half centimeter radiation band. Only two of those had children, and their children had a twenty and three-quarters band, and so on and so forth."
She took another breath. "The next crossover was in 2267, during the actual era of the Defiant. But no children were conceived. And then there were more crossovers in the late 2300s. As it became safer, easier and more reliable, more people crossed over, and in 2762, pulse shots were perfected and crossing over becomes common, and children began to be conceived."
"What about the Calafans?" asked the Klingon man.
"The act of bringing Doug over also opened the septum between the two universes. The mirror High Priestess, Yimar, decided to keep the gateway open permanently, but only Calafans could physically cross, and only near the dishes on Point Abic."
"Did that have consequences?" asked the Xyrillian.
"Of course," replied the docent, "but I want to talk about Doug's family some more. Up until 2765, if you had a radiation band that was slightly less than twenty-one centimeters, then by definition you were one of Doug's descendants. But the family is also recognizable by their use of names. For men, the following names – among others – repeat throughout the generations: Douglas, Kevin, Richard, Steven with a V, Thomas, Jay, Malcolm and Stuart. For women, the following names – among many others – repeat throughout history: Charlotte, Jia, Lilienne, Melissa, Ines and Susan. And then there's Leonora, which, through the years, has become shortened down to my first name, Eleanor. I suppose someone wanted to save a syllable."
"A lot of those are fairly common names," said the little human girl's mother.
"To be sure," admitted Eleanor, "being named Douglas or Ines – or even having one of the repeating surnames, such as Beckett, Hayes, Delacroix, Masterson, Madden or Reed – is no guarantee that you're one of Doug's own. Furthermore, since we've had more recent crossings from one side of the proverbial pond to the other and back again, it's harder to tell. You need both a DNA test and a radiation band test."
"What's a radiation band test?" asked the little human girl. "Does it hurt?"
"Not at all," Eleanor replied, "and actually, we have an old tester." She located a wand in a display case. "If anyone would like, I can test you right now. And if you provide your DNA profile – which will be erased from our records the moment we get the results – we can see if you're one of Doug's descendants. Here, I'll demonstrate."
She turned on the wand and ran it over herself, and then clicked her PADD next to a desktop station at the museum. In less than a minute, the results came up: 18% Calafan, 4% mirror Calafan, 13% descendant of Neil Digiorno-Madden, 41% descendant of Joss Beckett, 11% human, 5% other mirror human, 8% Vulcan. "So that's me. Anyone else want to have a go? Neil and Joss were, of course, the two of Doug's children who became parents. Perhaps someone here is a long-lost cousin of mine."
Most of the adults demurred, but the little human girl insisted: 63% human, 14% mirror human, 23% descendant of Joss Beckett. "Are we cousins?" she asked Eleanor.
"We are. We are both related to this man," she showed a picture of a tall, handsome man with bluish-greenish-greyish eyes who was standing in front of an old-style building. A sign in the front of the building said Beckett Veterinary Hospital.
"I'd like to be tested," the military man said, speaking in a soft Southern drawl that betrayed an origin on Titania or one of the Carolinas on Earth. He was 14% human, 17% other mirror human, 36% descendant of Joss Beckett, 33% descendant of Neil Digiorno-Madden.
"I guess this means we're kissing cousins, Tom," Eleanor said to him softly.
Senior Temporal Agent Richard Malcolm Daniels stared out the window of his office at the Temporal Integrity Commission. He had a glorious view of the Milky Way galaxy, for the Commission wasn't located on a planet at all but, rather, was on a ship that patrolled just outside the galactic barrier: the USS Adrenaline.
There had been a few months of quiet, and that had helped. His last assignment hadn't been dangerous or intellectually difficult, but emotionally, it had torn at him. Alone in his office, he decided to check one thing. "Computer, pull up records for Prague, year 2000, from the master time file."
"Locate a name in the Census – Milena Chelenska."
"There is no such name in the database."
"Hmm. Locate another name – Noemy Chelenska."
"There is no such name in the database."
"Pawel, Pawel, what the hell is your last name? Uh, computer, locate all couples in Prague, in 2000, where the husband is named Pawel and the wife is named Noemy."
"There are four such records."
"Display all available photographs," he said. "Ah, that one, Balcescu. Display address for this couple."
"Twelve Bilkova Street."
"So you didn't move," he said, "Computer, name all the residents of that address, as of January first, year 2000."
"Pawel Balcescu, Noemy Balcescu, Milena Balcescu and Abraham Balcescu."
"Ages by the end of 2000?" he asked.
"Seventy-five, seventy, twenty-two and eighteen."
"What? That can't be right. When was Milena born?"
"February eighteenth, 1978."
He sighed. He had a nagging feeling about what this meant. Milena – the one named Chelenska, and not the one named Balcescu – had been born in 1928. Fifty years earlier. He had met her on his last temporal mission, to put back the events of Prague Spring to what they were supposed to be.
There had been something about her.
But now the records were all wrong.
"Computer, for Jews in Prague, do they name after family members?"
"Ashkenazi Jews in any country traditionally name their children for deceased relatives. Sephardic Jews often name their children after living relatives."
"I see. Computer, check 1970 Census for Prague, and locate the name, Milena Chelenska."
"There is no such name in the database."
"Dammit. Check for the Balcescu name."
"Pawel and Noemy Balcescu, located at Twelve Bilkova Street."
"Computer, end search."
He sighed again. "I'll get the details later," he said to himself, "I had no idea you wouldn't make it to 1970. I, I miss you."
Brand new state!
Brand new state, gonna treat you great!
Gonna give you barley, carrots and potatoes,
Pasture fer the cattle,
Spinach and tomatoes!
Flowers on the prairie where the June bugs zoom,
Plenty of air and plenty of room,
Plenty of room to swing a rope!
Plenty of heart and plenty of hope.
- The Company (Oklahoma)