Author: Commander Kira Markos
Date: April 6, 2384
Location: Bridge / Sick Bay

"Could you repeat that last remark, Lieutenant?" asked a slightly nervous Ryan Evans of his Medical Officer.

Jodana Jin turned to Kira Markos, gave him a knowing look and repeated her last statement. "There aren't just two cats, there are two Torasus'."

That apparently wasn't what Evan's wanted to hear. He rolled his head back and let out a long, forlorn sigh. "Does anyone know why we have two of them?" said Evans in a terse, frustrated tone.

"Neither Jodana nor I have had the chance to examine the cats yet, Sir. However, the computer is recognizing both of them as Torasus." Said Kira in his calmest tone possible.

"The only way that the computer would recognize both cats as Torasus is if they are identical. Remember, the computer was programmed to keep track of Torasus' life signs while on board the ship. Something must have happed to create two of him while the internal sensors were malfunctioning." Replied Jodana shortly after Kira finished speaking.

To this Ryan sneezed once again. "This is not what I need right now." Said Evans as he rummaged around his desk for something to wipe his nose with. Realizing that he didn't have anything readily available, he stood up and walked over to the replicator located nearby. "Computer, one box of Kleenex." Said Evans in an inpatient tone. The replicator activated, displaying a gold-tone swirl of light that intensified, then subdued in the small space, leaving a full box of Kleenex in its place.

Evans picked up the box of Kleenex, and turned and walked back to his office chair. As he sat down, he took one of the small, thin, folds of soft tissue and blew his now stuffed-up nose with it.

"Sir, we need to figure out how, and why, there are now two identical cats on board. I suggest that you let Dr. Jin and I return to sickbay. Lt. Commander Tyran should have brought his Torasus to the medical bay by now. Hopefully, we'll be able to find out what is going on from there." Said Kira as Evans sneezed yet another time. "We should also be able to give you a shot of anti-histamine while we're down there."

"Ugh." Was the only thing that Evans was able to say as he nodded his approval to the plan.

Minutes later Kira, Nige, Jodana and Evans were in sickbay examining the two cats. Evans was still rubbing his neck from the hypospray that Jodana had given him moments ago after entering sickbay.

Nige was sitting on top of one of the bio beds holding the Torasus that had wandered its way on the bridge, while Kira was scanning the Torasus that had managed to get into sickbay.

"That's odd." Said Kira as he looked at the readings he was getting from the tricorder scan.

"What's odd, Commander." Asked Jodana as she looked up from a nearby console.

"Well, although the two cats are genetically identical, they aren't molecularly identical." Said Kira as he tapped some of the buttons on his tricorder, and picked up his medical tricorder and began scanning the "sickbay" Torasus with it.

"What? Could you be a little more cryptic, Commander?" asked Evans.

"Sorry, Sir." Said Kira as he downloaded the data from the two instruments into the computer's main medical console. "How well do you understand particle physics, Sir?"

"I never did well in theoretical physics, Commander." Replied Evans.

"Well, the only way to tell these two cats apart is to look at them on a sub-atomic level. Thanks to my 'time-off' a couple of years ago with Starfleet Medical and the group of theoretical physicists that worked with me I've had ample opportunity to be exposed to the various niceties of cosmic string theory and particle physics." Kira looked up from his scans to see three very confused faces in front of him. "I'll try to explain without all the technobabble." He said with an apologetic tone.

"Please do." Said Jin as she finished her work at the nearby console.

"All matter in the universe has both particle and wave-like characteristics. Although we observe matter on a particle level, i.e. atoms, molecules, and objects, each of these particles vibrates with a specific frequency, called a 'quantum signature.' It was postulated by physicists in the mid 21st century that different dimensions had different frequencies of vibration in their matter."

"I see where you are going with this, Commander." Said Nige as he continued to stroke the Torasus that wandered on to the bridge. "Naturally formed matter has a specific frequency of vibration, but matter that is created from energy, like by a replicator, will have a slightly different quantum signature to it. It's usually very hard to detect the difference in frequency, because the difference is miniscule."

"And, with any matter that is created from energy, like a replicator does, the vibrations of that matter will soon align themselves with our universe's quantum signature. But, a residual difference in vibration will be able to be detected for a little while after the transformation."

"So what you are saying is that one of these cats has been replicated." Said Evans, in a more interested tone.

"That's not all, Sir." Said Jodana as she passed a PADD to Kira that contained the information that she was gathering moments ago. "Genetically the cats are identical, however, their neurological patterns are extremely different."

"This can't be right, can it?" said Kira as he scanned the data before him. "If Torasus were 'replicated,' for lack of a better word, the replica would have an identical neurologic scan. Even if the two cats were only separated for a couple of days, their scans would still resemble each other, and all our data says that they've been separated for only a couple of hours. But, for some reason, one of the cats has a drastically different neurological exam. While both contain similar memory engrams, one of them has much more of them."

"I'm not sure why that is either, Captain. But, after looking at Kira's data and comparing it with mine, we can safely say that the cat that entered the bridge is definitely not Torasus." Said Jodana with a very certain note to her voice.

"Then where did you come from, you nosy little thing!" said Nige as he continued to stroke the imposter Torasus.

Both cats were happy to have the attention of so many humans. They also seemed not too concerned with what the humans were saying at the moment, and both decided that it was time for a nap.

"Well, I guess we just better watch and see what happens to this version of Torasus for the time being. However, we must find a way to know which one is which." Said Evans as he came to the realization that there were now two animals aboard his ship.

"One word, Sir. Collars." Suggested Kira. "Differing colors for each cat. Also, we can attach bio monitors to the collars in order to monitor what is happening to each animal."

"Agreed, just keep the things out of my way, will you please." Said Evans as he turned away from the animals and headed for the exit from the Infirmary to go back to the Bridge. "Lieutenant Nige, would you walk with me, please?"

"Of course, Sir." Replied Nige as he put down the second Torasus and wiped his uniform clean from the residual cat hair.

Once the two were outside of the Infirmary and in a quiet section of hallway on the ship, Evans redirected his position to arrive at Cargo Bay 2. "I think I know how we have two cats, Lieutenant, if you catch my meaning." Said Evans in a low, annoyed voice.

"I understand, Sir. But how could have he got in there in the first place?" said Tyran with a confused look on his face as he and Evans approached the doors to Cargo Bay 2.

Evans keyed a few numbers into the security lock next to the cargo bay doors, which caused the doors to open. As the two officers crossed the short distance to the device on the table Evans looked around for signs of intrusion.

Nige looked over the device and noticed one of Torasus' black hairs on the table beside the small work area. "Yup, he got in here somehow, Sir." Said Nige as he showed the hair to Evans.

With a look of disgust on his face, Evans looked at the alien device before him. "What I wonder is how that mangy animal managed to activate the device and replicate himself."