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Impressions in Technicolour
The theories involving technicolour try to modify the Standard Model in a minimal way by introducing a new QCD-like interaction. This means one adds a new theory of so-called Techniquarks, interacting via so called Technigluons. The main idea is that the Higgs-Boson is not an elementary particle but a bound state of these objects.
With most of the away team focused on making contact with the natives, Marielle was able to slip away and meander silently through the quaint settlement. The buildings were built out of clay and wood, painted with soothing colours rich in natural hues. The air was crisp from the surrounding forest and just a touch nippy with a biting chill. The engineer pulled the cloak tighter around her neck and adjusted the woollen fabric over her shoulders as she stared through the display window to study the timepieces of the shoppe.
~I feel you, Mariëlle. Can you sense me as I you?~ His baritone voice had become an ever-present sound that filled her ears. He whispered sweet nothings into her ear.
She pinched the bridge of her nose as the pounding in her head increased. It vibrated against her skull with violent strength, almost to the point it took the very breath from her lungs. “Please,” she whispered softly. “A moment. Give me a moment.” There was a pause in the declarations of love and the engineer disappeared into the shoppe to distract her from the pounding in her head. It was easier to hide her shame and frustrations from her fellow crewmates by simply escaping into solitude.
For a small while, Marielle would not feel the presence of the taller female native lookalike nearby. She had been keeping her distance, but seeing how much time had gone by, Riley had hoped that there might be a chance she could talk to Marielle where intense emotions weren’t heavily involved. Part of it was that she’d wanted to make amends for before - smacking a superior officer was rarely ever considered a good thing - and the other part was the desire to keep an eye on her. Another outburst of hysteria could either make the natives unpredictable towards that behavior, or it might blow their cover entirely.
~Our joining is quickly approaching. Soon, we will be together, my love.~
The engineer sighed softly as she pinched the bridge of her nose when Dylan’s voice yet again interrupted her thoughts. “I’m here,” she murmured softly, her tone all too telling of her exasperation and desire to be done with the madness. “So why won’t you make an appearance already?” There was a pause and a groan of complaint when she received nothing but the familiar vague answers.
From the distance it was impossible to make out the words, but Riley had a feeling that something was still going on. A peek into her knapsack at the active tricorder only confirmed that the stimulus to her brain was still active. Nonchalantly she slipped in, standing nearby to look at the similar pieces that Marielle was studying. The silence was a fair bit off putting. “How are you feeling?” she asked simply and in a soft tone.
She blinked and turned up at the Amazonian. There had been a lingering reflection in the glass panel of the grandfather clock she was studying so she hadn’t been surprised. From the corner of her eye, she could see the security detail - one Lieutenant junior grade Ryan Winnetka - lurking just beyond the shoppe’s display window. It took all her effort not to scream at the junior security officer. Undoubtedly, Gideon had told the Chicago native to stick by her side. Marielle wrinkled nose only lingered briefly, the motion barely noticeable thanks to the prosthetics that made her look like one of the natives. “I feel like I’ve got a splitting headache,” the engineer answered flatly as she turned her attention to the timepieces on the wall.
Riley’s eyes followed to look in a similar direction, spotting a piece that was bound in a smooth leather hide of some creature, patterned in near perfect tessellating scales. So much so, it almost appeared artificial. Casually, Riley stepped over to pick it up and examine it. Standing close to a pedestal that hung a variety of pendants, the doctor failed to notice as a few of the more grey and shiny metallic pendants began to appear to be pulling in the direction of her prosthetic leg. “Once we’re away from here, I can give you some medicine to help you.”
Marielle watched the new medic carefully. Ever so observant, vibrant and flawless emerald hues settled on the pendants that desperately pulled towards Riley’s direction. “Well. That’s interesting,” she murmured softly under her breath. Her head leaned to one side, her headache and her frustration with Dylan and Gideon seemingly forgotten.
Riley turned her head to look at Marielle. “Hrmm?” Then her eyes followed and noticed. Moving her leg away as though she were about to turn to look at anything else, the pendants that were reaching could no longer keep their hold as her leg moved away from the magnetic field. They swayed harmlessly and gently for a few moments before they would eventually come to a natural stop.
Briefly, Marielle turned her head to see if the shopkeeper had noticed. Thankfully, the alien was busy tinkering with what appeared to be a pocket watch while he sat behind the counter. She was sure that whatever the young ensign was hiding under her leg would have garnered some attention, and the engineer was simply too preoccupied to properly think of an excuse had the shopkeeper taken note. “What are you hiding under there, hmm?” the diminutive woman asked with a raised brow as her attention returned to Riley. The headache was ignored, replaced with the ever present curiosity that drove the engineer. Her eyes fell to the leg that had caused such a reaction from the metal pendants.
Putting down what might have been equivalent to a watch, Riley smiled gently, almost sheepishly. “It’s… Well, honestly, nothing.” She reached down and gave a gentle tap to where her thigh would be, creating a sound that didn’t come from a natural flesh and bone body part. Rather, it sounded as a solid surface.
Marielle’s eyes narrowed before they widened. The engineer immediately reached out for the leg but stopped when she realized that what she was about to do would have caused far too much of a commotion. For as much as she wanted to find the source of her physical headache and the voice that filled her ears, she knew all too well what it meant to be surrounded by non-space faring aliens. It was a delicate situation. “Of all the times to find out!” she whined softly to herself.
“It’s just a prosthetic. There are many in the Fe- Erh, many that have such things. Growing up though made-”
~You are near, my love. Your presence calms me. Come to me and we will be together.~
The engineer frowned as she ignored the baritone voice that invaded her mind. It honeyed tone rang like against her eardrums and sent an uncomfortable shiver down her spine. “We’ll have plenty of time to be together. Let me focus!” she hissed under her breath as she spoke to Dylan. Marielle shook her head and took a breath. Her eyes drifted to the shopkeeper once more and found him still behind the counter tinkering with his timepiece.
“Nothing,” she muttered with a staggered sigh. Pushing away the unpleasant emotions that had her wanting to isolate herself, her voice brightened at her command. The engineer attempted to inject some of her usual bubbliness into her interaction with the newest member to their crew. “I was just thinking that given your height, your artificial leg can’t simply be a prosthetic. It doesn’t sound like it’s made with a typical polymer alloy. It sings differently.” Marielle paused briefly and closed her eyes. It was hard to focus with all the distractions - with the ticking timepieces and the constant baritone that spoke to her - that surrounded her, but she could swear she could hear it - the soft hum that came with the miniscule vibrations. It sounded like what she imagined the slight numbing of the skin would sound like in the cold.
“Titanium base. Not your typical plastics and polymers. Older style connections to,” she looked around for a moment to make sure there weren’t any ears listening in, before turning back to the smaller engineer. “Connections to nerves and signals for movement and function. Modifications over the years and upgrades to the materials does have modern components, but the construction does make it more a pain to perform in depth repair, but it does make self maintenance significantly simpler, as well as interchanges between servos and some of the wiring.”
Her eyes widened. “So- It’s a completely custom fabricated definitive orthosis?” she asked.
“How did your doctors overcome the dystrophy around the connection point?”
“Well I do have to-”
“Is it the full leg? Full hip disarticulation? Do you have the schematics for the endoskeletal design? Where did you have it fabricated?” The engineer released a mess of questions, never really giving the young doctor to answer. “How did you compensate for the natural gait difference? Is it mechanically calculated or must you become aware of it at-”
Finally, she held her hand up to nonverbally ask her to stop for a moment. When Marielle fell silent, Riley smiled and began to answer. “Yes, it’s custom. I undergo regular physical therapy, so I work out a fair bit. Full leg, up to the hip. My father helped design the original piece. I’ve worked with him over the years to fit my needs. Gait difference… you get used to it. The build does have come calculations to height and weight, as well as some auto-momentum mechanisms that help movement for proximity to objects. I do have full control over it as a fully articulated leg and foot with toes, but a new adjustment to some of the mechanisms and servos do tend to make me walk funny for about a week.”
Marielle’s eyes settled on the leg as she hummed softly. Her arm came up to settle under her bust and the elbow of her other arm settled in her hand, the finger tapping lightly against her chin. She considered the answers Riley gave her.
“I don’t have the schematics for it’s current state. The original, I’d have to speak to my father. Anymore, a good part of it is my own design.”
“How did you compensate for the bio-degradation?” she finally asked as her emerald lifted to meet Riley’s brown and hazel.
“Well, simply put, a medical grade silicate base seal around connection points, and weekly complete detachment for cleaning.”
“I’ll have to take a look at it when we’re not- Well, trolls. But, I’m assuming that with the near flawless range and gait, you’ve been able to connect a few of the nerve endings to synthetic ones.” The engineer’s head leaned to one side. “It’s the only way you could pull it off a near normal stride. There’s no way to hide it completely.”
“Yes! Though the process of connecting my nerves to the synthetic ones is something I need another doctor for. I actually took a few electives for that at the academy. An associates in Engineering and Robotics for Bioelectronics to help in the systems we use in the Sickbays, as well as maintenance to said equipment… I felt it would be helpful in this line of work. After a while, I realized I could apply it to what I already knew due to growing up with a prosthetic, and began to experiment a bit. May father wasn’t very happy when I actually destroyed my first leg. Or my second and third ones.”
She took a moment to look back at the shopkeeper when he looked up at Riley’s exclamation. She gave him a chuckle and a smile, which seemed to ease the man’s surprise and curiosity. When he turned his attention back to the pocket watch in his hand, Marielle turned to the young ensign and chuckled softly. “That’s how we learn. Can’t progress without destruction.” The engineer shook her head. “I can’t tell you how many auto engines, replicators, tricorders- I even demolished a prototype engine once. Uh- My uncle wasn’t too pleased when I did that.”
“No, many things do come to harm in our dreams to grow and learn. That said, I hope I have not brought harm to growing to better terms with you. I am sorry about before.”
The engineer blinked at the transition. Her head leaned to one side as she looked up at the Amazonian-like woman. The joy at speaking about the technical side of the young doctor’s leg melted away to be replaced with a mild irritation. “You mean where you, a junior officer, slapped me, a senior officer, in front of several officers?” Marielle couldn’t help but raise a brow as she looked up at Riley. It was hard to play the part of the imposing senior officer when the junior officer so easily towered over her. It was just one of the many reminders of her diminutive stature.
“Exactly that. You ran risk of injuring the one who was there by your side since you initially passed out. I imagine he cares for you. You also ran risk of injuring yourself, and I was disallowed further sedatives by the Captain himself. In order to prevent further injury to yourself, your friend, or myself, I… well, I did what was needed.”
‘Have you seen Gideon? I’m pretty sure there’s no way I could damage him. He’s all muscle.’ Marielle raised a brow. “If you’re going to slap a superior officer, you should learn to own up to it without explanation. A simple ‘You were acting crazy, and you needed a good smack to get out of it’ would have sufficed.” The engineer waved her hand dismissively as a wry grin pulled at her lips.
“I will try to remember that. Tell you what. You forgive me for that, and I’ll let you fully disassemble my previous prosthetic. It also has a few of my own twists on--”
“Deal!” she immediately interrupted. “And I want a whack at your current one.” There was no room for debate. There was a tone of finality to her words.
Riley stared at the engineer, wide-eyed.
“Look, Doc,” Marielle began gently. “When I’ve got a broken arm, I go to a doctor. With my background, I tend to go to the best. You just happen to be stationed with one of the most creative engineers in the fleet. Trust me. You’ll want me to know everything I can about your prosthetic.”
“Miss Graves said something to that extent when she first met me. She’s… interesting. Poked at it incessantly.”
At the mention of the nurse, the engineer’s expression turned soft and affectionate. “Cana? Yeah. She’s a character. Harmless, but she likes getting her own way.”
“Yeeeeaaaahhhhh…. She’s… something else.”
~My love. My heart sings your praise.~
The engineer’s head tipped forward and she pinched the bridge of her nose. His voice brought her back to the present and her predicament came crashing against her skull in the most painful pounding headache yet. “Yes. I know. We’ll be together soon. You’ve told me,” she murmured. Her brows furrowed as she winced, her hand coming up to rest against the glass pane to steady herself. She took steadying breaths as a thin layer of sweat glistened against her temples.
Riley tilted her head gently, and waited. Once Marielle had stopped talking to herself, she beckoned to Marielle. “We’ve been in here for a while. Let’s get some fresh air.”
The engineer nodded and moved with the young doctor out of the shoppe. When the cool air touched her, she took in a deep breath. “Look, Doctor- What’s your name again?”
“Higgs. Riley Higgs.”
“Like Higgs boson,” she couldn’t help but laugh, the sound friendly and bright.
“Higgs… Oh! Wasn’t he that twentieth century fellow who discovered some things in...something.”
“That’d be Peter Higgs,” Marielle replied with a tired chuckle. “However, I was talking about the elementary particle in particle physics.”
“Aha. Not really my field.” She shrugged.
“Anyways, Higgs Boson. I need to walk a bit more. It helps with the headache. Why don’t you go get to know the rest of the away team?” The engineer pointed to Winnetka, who had moved from the display window to lurk at the corner of another building. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was sure Gideon had ordered the Chicago native to stalk her, Marielle would have thought it adorable. “I’ve got a security detail. I’ll be fine. I just need to be alone- With my thoughts.”
The tall woman nodded gently. “Please let me know if you need anything.” She began to trot off, paused for a moment to look back, and then went to join other members from the Aldrin.
Marielle watched the young doctor walk away, a tender smile gracing her lips. She could almost recall when she had been that new and inexperienced. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Her head pounded desperately against her skull. The familiar baritone filled her ears in song, a Gothic chant that she would have found beautiful had it not increased the sting against her skull. She whimpered softly as she stumbled towards the direction of the solitary building in the distance. ‘I just need to find him and this will be all over,’ she thought to herself.
Copyright 2017. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud and Riley Higgs, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its author. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.