When the OC issued this challenge
, I couldn't think up a thing, after a few days the story below solidified in my mind:
With a fine embroidered linen napkin, King Philip II wiped the mutton grease from his hands as he surveyed the banquet hall before him. Having limited his drinking this evening, he viewed the party across the void that separates the drunk from the sober, and realized that tonight the royalty of his kingdom, the Dukes and Earls, had more in common with the serving staff, minstrels and jesters since they were all equally drunk.
It dawned on Philip that this is how God sees him when he sins. Isolated from his King, separated by an impassable void, equal with all other sinners and a shade of melancholy crossed his heart as he missed the company of the men who were there to serve him.
His left hand absentmindedly strayed to his Rosary as he began to pray, "Oh, Lord, I praythee thanks for your most gracious forgiveness, that this king's most humble repentance be as divinely acceptable as King David's sincere repentance. I thankthee for Your most holy example of King David's transgressions and Your majestic forgiveness, lest I fear myself to be lost, my position on Earth to great, my sins to vile to You to forgive. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven."
When rote memorization took over what had started as a heartfelt prayer, the prayer ended, but Philip II's right hand slid into a hidden pocket in his robe, the one with an instrument of his plan to unite the Church on Earth, as it is united in Heaven.
Upon the death of Henry of Portugal and the subsequent capture of the country, uniting all the Iberian Peninsula under a Christian king two years prior, Philip II believed himself to be the servant, sent by God himself, to unite all of Christendom.
A task in which his first step was one of humility. Not to force the Protestants to accept the calendar of the Catholic church, but to accept their Gregorian calendar, for Philip II understood that a calendar, any calendar, was a construct of man and therefore paled in value to the Kingdom of God. The Duke, thought sodden now, had made that clear to him months ago.
Therein was the purpose of the banquet. It was the impatient celebration of a victory, because today, October 4th, 1582 would be the last day of the Julian calendar and tomorrow, October 5th, would the first day Christ's church would be united under the same measure of time, the Gregorian calendar.
Philip II only had to silence one foe of this plan with the question "Can a house divided stand?" to put it into effect.
Rising from his seat, Philip II, beckoned his queen and she rose to follow, though she knew he was following his mystic's request to never be put in a compromising position, even one that could appear compromising, than out of respect for her.
The Queen rose with a smile, she too wanted to see the mystic deep in prayer, for one could often sense the presence of God in those times.
Commander Elliot Johnston had acquired the services of one 'consultant', though is staff could see no value in an obscure Italian artist. The second and final 'consultant's' services would be acquired as soon as engineering services had a forecasted success rate of 6 sigma on the tachyon vesicle focused on Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada.
Joachim P. Crittenden, Mission Integrity Specialist, was returning from the head (one of the few hard plumbed locations on the Vengeance), when a threat assessment and management panel on priority override manifested itself before him.
“Elliot” Joachim shouted in the empty corridor “The Ictharny’s found us.” In what was referred to as ‘ships telepathy’ the Vengeance rebroadcast Joachim’s shout to parties addressed and other parties with a high probability of ‘Need to Know’ while keeping a full record as an appendix to the ships log. “Incoming position ordnance!! Integrity override, Go! Go! Go!”
Without thought to the mission, Joachim’s intention was to save the Vengeance, the crew, and himself from an anti-matter implosion. The Vengeance knew better. For the first time in Fleet history, the mission had priority over the ship and crew. The ship ignored the command to flee to safety till the saint, or at least the time/space that enveloped the saint was safely on board.
As far as machines go, the Vengeance wasn’t that smart. It’s greatest AI strength was it was fast and disregarding the solution with the statistically highest success rate, “42”, as being to vague, she implemented the next, best solution and enlarged the tachyon vesicle surrounding the Saint while engaging the BANJO drive unit.
Louis Calderone, in engineering, heard the integrity override for a Panic Flee as he was overseeing the convoluted folding of time and space around Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada so she could be removed from an unmanipulated existence of time and space to the stable bubble of altered reality that enveloped the Vengeance. Unknowingly, Louis came to the same conclusion as the Vengeance, just a moment later, and as he went to sweep the slider on the holographic controls defining the magnitude of the vesicle that would transport the Saint onboard to maximum size, he saw the slider move ahead of his hand as the Vengeance resized the vesicle to maximize mission success while keeping historic interference at a minimum.
Locus error introduced to the vesicles centroid was less then the mean radial increase in the vesicle and the time and space occupied by Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was successfully stretched to a location onboard the Vengeance where it was forced into a semi-stable configuration. Also inside this displaced volume of space and time was the King of Spain and his Queen.
“How’d they find us?” Elliot asked out loud, knowing the Vengeance would route the question to someone with an answer, if there was one onboard.
“Guess they have similar ‘look ahead/go back’ transchronic tech to us.” Came Louis reply.
Elliot had been thinking the same thing, but the crew of the Vengeance often found themselves thinking out loud when alone, looking for an answer from someone to break the haunting feeling that they were the only person in existence that pervaded the Vengeance when the BANJO drive was engaged.
Moments later, the Vengeance was in the battle space where the overwhelming Ictharnian Fleet had begun their systematic destruction of all things human only to find the alien fleet had retreated to wherever they had come from.
“Seems they saw their destruction, same as we saw, with their ‘look ahead’ tech and decided to run and hide” said Elliot.
“Maybe they were destroyed” Louis added, “the Saint is still praying. Who knows what power she had access to.”
“Either way, it’s all the same. We won!” said Joachim as the network of ships telepathy broadcast the cheers and relief of all humanity as they celebrated their deliverance from certain destruction.
“Time to return the consultants” Louis said, to no one in particular, relieved that this mission was over.
“I’ll prepare the mindwipe” Joachim added, though all knew this was a requirement.
“Not so fast, guys. There’s one more thing.” Elliot replied. “I’m going to have my portrait painted before we return the consultants.”
Louis couldn’t help but shout “Elliot, was the artist in the authorized roster?” even though he knew the answer was ‘no’.
Joachim, the cold professional, had the solution. “I can mindwipe the collaterals that came with the Saint, but I can’t mindwipe one of your black projects without YOU risking the auditors find out. I can put some subconscious paranoid suggestions in the artist so he’ll hide everything he derives from his forward memories in obscure locations and through cryptic codes, but I can’t guarantee historic integrity.”
“Joe, that’ll be good enough.” came Elliot’s reply.
The Italian artist took eleven days to nearly create a conceptual portrait of Elliot. In this time, Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada died and the medical officer surmised it was of shock. Unknown to the crew, Philip II kept his Gregorian calendar up to date by marking off the days as they passed.
At the point where the fear line crossed the greed line, Elliot decided his portrait was complete (enough) and returned all the ‘consultants’ and collaterals to their proper locations and just a few hours forward in time, at a point in night where they’d be sleeping.
Thus it came to be that Commander Elliot Johnston had a portrait painted by Leonardo DaVinci that he kept hidden in his quarters and that that Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada died on the night that King Philip II of Spain decreed as being October 4th - 15th, 1582 though he never would figure out why 11 days passed in one night.