Lucy was terrified.
She'd left her baby behind with Freddy to come here.
She had no idea why she'd thought she could do this.
It was one thing to argue with someone at Aug Soc or to present to a small group on the Bakerstreet, but this was the Andorian Biological Symposium. This was a major scientific conference that would be reported on across the Federation.
What was she doing there? She was a botanist. She studied plants.
She knew all about plants. The greater Xenobian fern produced three times as much oxygen as a lesser Xenobian fern. Cavandian brambles were biologically successful, because they produced their seeds through their roots.
Botanist. Not an exo biologist.
She had a suddenly brilliant plan. "You do it," she told Sherlock. "It's as much your research as mine."
He gave her the sort of look that made her wonder how exactly she'd survived this much time alone with him.
Then he pulled on one of those utterly fake smiles that made it seem as if he'd never even seen a real person smile for the first few years of his life and said. "You'll do fine."
She didn't feel like she was going to do fine. She was going to do terribly.
John, who'd come along for moral support and no one wanted to be on a shuttle with Sherlock without him said, "It's not about picking perfect words. You've got a powerful story here. A way to keep a species alive. Tell that story."
"So, even if it's bad, it'll be fine," clarified Lucy.
"Yeah, that. Pretty much that," was the firm response from John. Not exactly thrilling encouragement, but better than nothing.
The organizer of the conference said from the stage, "And now presenting some exciting work from the USS Bakerstreet, Lieutenant Lucy Hebron and Commander Sherlock Holmes." They walked on stage and began their presentation. She'd have thought that the large audience would be intimidating, but she couldn't actually see them with the bright lights shining in her face and the audience in darkness.
After she introduced the key concepts, she said, "Let's dim the stage lights a bit and bring out the real stars of the moment." The lights dimmed and there was a loud rustling mummer as Bihr, Khel, Ishros, and Shroleb came on stage. Each of them carrying a sleeping child. Four children for a bonded quartet.
There were actual gasps from the primarily Andorra audience.
When they were seated and comfortable, she gave her presentation on the discovery of the Ceti Sexus Pollinus. The effects of Berthold radiation on the development of the Ceti Sexus Pollinus. The effects of both on the viability of fertilization and successful cell division of Andorians zygotes into blastocysts and fetuses. All of it.
Interspersed by Thil waking and needing a feeding, which woke his twin, Shor, which woke newborn, Shrilaas.
Keraass, capable of sleeping through a meteor storm, slept on.
Ishros leaned into his microphone and said, "As you can see, there are some challenges to a large family. But at least there are four of us and four of them."
The audience erupted into laughter, which turned into spontaneous applause.
When it died down, Sherlock took over his portion of the preso.
He called the Andorians idiots. Morons. Responsible for their own dire fate and parsed the various genomic issues that had been causing the reproductive problems in the first place. He described several in vitro techniques, still using the Ceti Sexus Pollinus, to ensure successful fertilization and cell replication. Of course, being Sherlock, there was the purely theoretical rant-o-thon where he speculated that future advancements would enable gestation outside of in vivo.
They opened the presentation up to questions from the audience.
No one challenged Sherlock to an honor duel. No one called Lucy an idiot. There were good question after question. Many of them were directed to Bihr and her bondmates. Surprisingly, no one asked any questions about the ethics of experimenting on a sentient species or such a small sample size. Then again, it was pretty much an open secret that the Andorians were on the cliff edge of an extinction event if they couldn't get their reproductive rates up within the next generation.
As soon as the presentation was over, Lucy was besieged by Andorians. People with doctorates. The administrators of gestation clinics. There was an invitation to meet the Chancellor.
Of one of the founding planets.
Her, Lucy Hebron. The girl in a bubble. The girl with the yellow mask. The girl who had been hidden away by her mother.
Before she could change her mind, she sent her grandmother a message telling her about Eva and sending a dozen pictures. She didn't tell Starfleet, because one presentation didn't mean she could bend the rules.