“Captain?” said Cordelia. “I think we’ve found it.”
Captain Song turned around from where she was excavating a wall of the cave with her plasma arc. “Have we?"
She walked over to Cordelia, and Cordelia wondered once more just how she managed to do that in boots with heels two inches higher than regulation. But Captain Song somehow managed to not only stay upright, but move as if the universe was rearranging itself around her.
"Oh, well done!" Captain Song burst into a stunning smile. Feeling pleased with herself, Cordelia pulled out the large stone tablet she’d found behind a pile of rocks. She and Song both stared at it for a few moments. It was covered all over with strange carvings, pictures and symbols Cordelia couldn't read. "Excellent!" said Song. "Now we just have to get out of here before the Sontarans turn up."
Cordelia blinked at her. "Captain?" This classified mission was turning out a lot stranger than she’d bargained for. Everything had been going just fine, until Captain Mallory had been suddenly recalled to Beta leaving his ship to Cordelia, and two days later Captain Song had landed up with special orders from headquarters and taken over Cordelia’s ship.
Captain Song was not a normal survey captain. If it hadn't been for her documents from the High Command, Cordelia would have suspected her of not being a survey captain at all. Her entire crew’s psych evaluations had been screwed up in the first two days of Song's command, possibly beyond repair.
Song tapped the tablet with one long, polished fingernail. "The Myrican Stone of Eternal Knowledge," she murmured. "Made by a civilization older than time itself, and thrown into the Time Vortex by a certain renegade Time Lord.” She smiled. “It’s said that if it’s decoded, it’ll give the secret to immortality. No one knows what happened to the Myricans, of course. But the Sontarans would just love to create the immortal soldier...”
Out of all that, Cordelia could only make sense out of one thing. “Aliens?” she squeaked.
Captain Song looked up. “Oh, no, dear, I was only joking. This was probably left behind by some ship that stopped off here years before us. It looks like Old Earth work to me. Look here."
She pointed to a corner of the stone. It was unmistakably a human figure carved there, a tall man standing leaning against a strange-looking box. "Oh," said Cordelia, disappointed. She had hoped for aliens. Well, perhaps it would happen someday. "But it's precious, surely? Historically significant?"
Captain Song burst into another stunning smile. "Oh, yes. Very!"
Cordelia let out an undignified yelp as Captain Song lifted her plasma arc and fired it directly into the tablet.
Song’s plasma arc slowly moved down, carving strong sharp lines into the stone. Cordelia backed away into the cave wall. She needed to get Captain Song to a therapist at once, she was certain. The problem was, her ship's therapist already worshiped the ground the Captain's high-heeled boots walked on.
When she was done disfiguring a priceless historical artifact, Captain Song stepped back, put away the plasma arc, and pulled something out of her pocket. “Let’s see,” she muttered, leafing through the pages of a small blue diary. “Message, he said, that’s done… Sontarans, they’ll turn up later… what else did he say, now? Naismith!” She flipped back several pages. “Cordelia Naismith!”
She scanned the book. ‘Oh my. You’re going to enjoy this. And -” Her eyebrows flew up. “Interesting. I have to give you this.” She handed Cordelia a small object.
Cordelia glanced down at it. “Lipstick?” she said weakly. "It's against regulations..."
“This is highly classified, Lieutenant. You’re being issued with the High Command’s newest experimental weapon. It’s hallucinogenic. Now, here are your orders. You need to take this – “ Song dumped the heavy stone into Cordelia’s arms, and Cordelia staggered back. “And make sure it ends up in the basement of the Silica museum of galactic history exactly one year from now. If you don't, the entire universe will collapse on itself and the Doctor will be very upset. And I'll be angry if he's upset.”
"I don’t understand any of this," muttered Cordelia. "I just picked this ship because my lover was posted here."
"Oh?" said Captain Song. "That would be Lieutenant Osben in Engineering? Cute. Nice eyes. But drop him, Lieutenant. You’ll find someone better.” She leaned over to whisper in Cordelia’s ear. “A lot better.”
She turned and walked away. “Captain?” Cordelia called after her. "Where are you going?"
Song turned her head and gave Cordelia a bright wink. “Spoilers!” Then she pressed her wristcom and disappeared into thin air.
Cordelia stared for a long time. Then she looked down at the disfigured tablet the Captain had left behind. The plasma arc had burned deep lines into its surface, the shapes harsh but clearly recognizable.