Twenty-First Century Earth. 2007, to be exact.

Eli Jannis was an orphan. A nearly eighteen-years-old orphan in the United States, which is the worst kind because nobody adopted older children and nobody in the U.S. of A adopted children from their own country, anyway. It was always some kid from Cambodia, or Sudan, or Tezekbekhistan, if that existed. She had long, dark hair that was often pulled up in a ponytail, showing every centimeter of her defiant face. Her shortish stature was solid, and she had worked to become strong and street-smart. She knew that soon, she would be out on the street with non one's mercy, and physical strength was the only thing that could keep things working to her advantage. (She demands of me a short description of herself, and will not let me go into detail about her life at this point or points previous. For, as she cleverly points out, this part of life would soon end.)

One day, as Eli walked down a side street of her native New York City, going back to the orphanage from school, she spotted a flash of yellow-black out of the corner of her eye, as if a giant wasp were running down one of the alleys. Despite her fear of giant wasps, Eli was interested, and backed up so she was level with the alley again, peering down it.

There was a woman on the ground, and she didn't look like she was going to be standing any time soon.

Within a flash, Eli was at the woman's side. Kneeling down, she saw that the woman was holding a shoulder that was getting bloodier and bloodier, and there was a bandage across the bridge of her nose, as if she had been in a fight before this one. And the teen could see why: from her right ear hung an ornate earring, with a cool little chain looped up to the crest of her ear. It was handmade, to boot, and she gave a low whistle as she estimated the price. There were several people in Hell's Kitchen who would pay a fortune for such a pretty earring.

Just then, the woman looked up into Eli's eyes, locking them with her own brown ones. Giggling, she said, "Your ogles are pretty."

Eli realized that this was probably Midwest speak for eyes. "You're in shock, you know."
Eli did not consider her green-dark gray eyes to be pretty, even though she had been always told they were very striking. "What happened?"

The woman giggled again. "They wanted to take my earring. Couldn't let them take it. Can't take my Prophets away, no sir. Especially not since my Prophets are so very far away now…"

Eli was surprised. Prophets? That sounded…pagan. Which was kind of weird in this day and age. In fact, she had rank insignia: there was one little button-thing on the lapel of her strange jumpsuit. And there was that pin, which had a military-like arrowhead insignia. It looked valuable and a good steal as well, come to think of it.

"Shhhh," Eli soothed. "They didn't get any Prophets. Now, why don't you tell me all about these Prophets, huh, while we get you to the hospital, okay?"

Shock or no shock, the woman became very clear at the word "hospital," and the suggestion of her Prophets went clear over her head. Attempting to get up, then gasping and sliding back down again, she protested, "No…I've got a ship…waiting for me."

"Hmm." Eli considered the options for a moment. She'd rather not leave this woman all alone, and then spend a few nights tortured in her dreams about it. "Wait. I've got an idea!" she cried, rooting around in her backpack, and pulling out a cell phone. "We can call your ship and ask. But," she warned, dangling it, "You have to promise first that you won't tell anyone that I stole it, or it's to the hospital with you. And if you're just calling your gang buddies, then I'll hold you hostage. I've got a knife in my backpack." Eli meant what she said about the hostage part.

The woman, sweating slightly, gave a faint nod. "Fine…fine."

Damn. The woman obviously had something bad going on inside, or else she wouldn't be sweating over a wound that wasn't to her vital parts. She needed that help, and quick.

"Okay…tell me the number to call."

The woman's eyes fluttered wide, and for a moment Eli was scared that she'd forgotten it. Then, the woman said an odd thing: "Pull off my pin."

Eli goggled. "What??"

"Just do it." There was an ice to her voice that made Eli acquiesce. "Now…place it on the broadcasting part of the phone."

"…Why do I need to place a pin on the antenna?"

"Because I said so. And once it is, press it." Once again, ice made Eli cooperate, pressing the pin down. Almost immediately, the little pin emitted a sound that was between a beep and a click.

Eli decided that this was her signal to start speaking. "Hey! Anyone there. I'm Eli Jannis, and I;m here with someone called—What's your name?"

"Ensign Gildar."

"—Ensign Gildar. She's hurt bad. Got a stab to her shoulder, she's sweating…probably internal bleeding or something like that. She won't go to the hospital, but she says you've got help on your ship, so…oh, and hurry, please? I'm no doctor, I just found her in an alley and offered up my phone."

A male voice came back over, crackly like static, which was strange for a state-of-the-art cell phone. "Acknowledged. We'll…be sending some assistance. Inform Ensign Gildar to hold on. Ship out." The crackling ended.

Eli relaxed her hold, allowing the pin to slip away from the antenna. Good. She'd rather not have anyone die next to her in an alleyway. Never looked good to the CSI people.

But just then, the parameters of her adventurous sidetrack changed, dramatically, and all thoughts of the CSI flew right out with the garbage. At the opposite end of the alleyway from her, a man with a gun strode into view. Even from this distance, Eli could see the bright green sash tied around his arm. "Crap!"

"Wa…izzit th' help?" The woman was slurring words, her head nodding, and she looked like she would pass out any moment.

"That's a member of the gang Wolf Twenty-five!" Wolf Twenty-five was the local boss gang. Although they didn't have a particularly large territory, they were a very violent and very angry gang. If these were the ones who…

"Dey…dey said dat were who dey wazz. Th' people who were gonna steal my earrin'." Just then, the man, with a cry, pointed towards them, giving out a cry. Behind him other men, also with the gang armband, quickly came into view, and they all started trotting towards Eli and the woman.

Scrabbling desperately, Eli attempted to connect pin to antenna. For a moment, she just couldn't do it, and panic nearly flooded her. But then she pressed down, heard the beep-click, and almost before it could stop sounding she said, "Whoever you are, get us out of here, NOW! There are three gangmen, I repeat, three very angry gangmembers, jogging toward us, and oh, they're in for the kill. One's got a dagger, another's got a club…oh, that's a rifle, and the other's got a pistol. We need to get out, now!!!!"

Crackling came over and the male voice yelled "Grab Ensign Gildar NOW, and prepare for emergency rescue!"

Eli obeyed, putting a firm arm around the ensign's waist, and looping her backpack around the right arm, which was holding the phone-pin contraption. "Okay, you can rescue us now…"

Almost before she got the words out, Eli felt a tingle in her molecules, and the color blue seemed to fill every part of her body as she disappeared into a ray of energy. She didn't know it yet, but she had been beamed up.

All of a sudden, Eli felt like she was existing, as if for the very first time. The blue and its tingling faded from her, dissipating as quickly as it had come, leaving her alone to take in a rather fascinating sight.

Eli was sitting on a platform, illuminated from underneath by round lights, and by similar lights above. It was set in an alcove of a small room, it only other distinguishing feature a console, where another person stood, pressing buttons and informing someone or other that they had arrived. Then, what she had thought was a wall panel opened, and a pack of people with the color blue on their shoulders rushed in, waving small grey suitcases with the authority only doctors exude. The wall-panel-door swished just behind them, or would've if they weren't already at Ensign Gildar's side.

The leader of the pack, a woman with a rather unsightly black bowl cut, waved a shiny round thing over the ensign, that lit up and beeped. Looking down at what looked a lot like a very primitive Palmpilot, she proclaimed, "internal bleeding, severe blood loss, collar bone broken in several places." She turned her head to the person at the console. "Transport her to a biobed in the medical bay. The chief doctor can take over from there."

It was at this point that Eli noticed that this bowl-cut, woman doctor in blue had pointed ears. Pointed. Like an elf's. And, she noticed that they had ripped the tape off of Ensign Gildar's nose. She hadn't been in any fight. Her nose had ridges. It was crinkled, like the dead leaf of a tropical houseplant.

Eli's autonomic response was to knock herself out, and spare herself the shock until someone was capable of explaining the situation to her.

Eli awoke on top of a small, comfortable but terribly uncomfy bed. At first she thought she wasin the orphanage, and turned her head to the right to tell Jenna to stop reading that magazine and turn the damned light off.

But the person to her right wasn't Jenna. It was Ensign Gildar, unconscious but otherwise looking quite well for someone who just had internal bleeding when she last knew it.

Eli quit quickly recollected what had happened before. Hoever, this time she was able to pull herself together and control herself before she went unconscious again. However, she was on the edge of panic, and a panel showing her health stats on the wall behind her started beeping more frequently as her heart started shooting up by a couple dozen beats a minute.

Eli's panic only rose when another blue-shouldered doctor-person came into the room, which was empty otherwise, except for a few more of these strange beds. Eli's heart, however, settled somewhat when she saw that this person didn't seem to have any alien characteristics. At least, none that she could see, but it still allowed her to calm herself.

The doctor glared at her. "What are you doing, standing up on that bed and turning your heart upside down?"

I'm standing on the bed? Eli looked down to see that she was. She must've done it when she panicked. Feeling more than a bit sheepish, she sat down. "Well…er, you aren't an alien, are you?"

The doctor cocked his head, and seemed curious. With a little half-smile, he said, "How do you know that I'm not a facet of your imagination?"

Eli made a rather loud phhhhpht. "I'm not this-" she sweeped her arm to include the entire room, "-imaginative. That's why I read books, to feed off of the imagination of people who have too much."

The doctor smiled, and conceded, "Yes, I'm real."

"Are you…alien?"

The doctor scratched the back of his head. "Well…sort of. I'm human, but it's…there's a REALLY long story involved."

Eli smiled, in a creepy way that could shatter glass. "Would you please explain? If you don't, I will start panicking and destroying things."

The doctor, highly unnerved, wisely decided to tell her about it. "Well…we're from the future."

Eli nodded. "Okay. Not outrageous so far. Continue."

"We came here by pure accident. In fact, we're still not entirely sure how we got here, but we did. And, naturally, we sent a team down to reconnaissance. Make sure that this was Earth, the genuine article. We've met quite a few similar worlds in our travels, and it always helps to be sure."

"Like Star Trek…" Eli murmured. Then, out loud: "So, some of your people got into trouble?"

The doctor nodded his head. "We didn't anticipate gang violence in the area where we transported the ensign. Took us completely by surprise."

Eli asked, quite naturally, "How could you not know? If this is you planet, then you should know this place isn't exactly the world's finest right now. I bet it's still a slum in your time."

"Well…no. New York City dropped into the ocean during the Third World War."

"The so-called 'capital of the world' sank?!" Eli could hardly believe this.

"Err…yeah. Sorry. But," the doctor added, lifting up a finger, "by my time, we've eliminated poverty, so they wouldn't be slums anyway. And the capital of the Federation, at least, whic includes the world, is Paris, France."


The Doctor brightened. "Yup. The United Federation of Planets, with the founding beliefs of having a say, enlightenment, and exploration."

Suddenly, Eli was struck with the significance of the situation. "Ummm…I don't think you're quite home yet."