Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
NOTE: This story was written in 2010 to deal with issues created by the 2009 ‘Star Trek film.’ At the time, we thought that The Powers That Be were done with the Prime universe. Recent developments (We’re looking at you ‘Star Trek: Picard’!), have proven us wrong. But if you’ve made it this far, you know you’ve been reading a series where Romulus is still around.
STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…
“We’ll Always Have Romulus”
By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler
“What? You know what! What the hell did you do?”
“You said I could share it.”
“Yes. Share! Sharing means that you put things back where you found them. Not that you blow up an entire star system!”
“But it was a big event!”
“We were using it!”
“We know, but… Oh, never mind. Go sit over there. We’ll get one of the lower echelons to clean up the mess you made.”
The eyeball and the pair of lips glared at each other across the game board at which they sat. Not that they were truly sitting, since neither of them could be said to have posteriors. And the lips weren’t so much glaring as glossy thanks to that great new color they had found at the…ahem. In any case, the eyeball and the lips belong to a Director and a Critic respectively, neither of whom were pleased.
“I didn’t do it,” the Critic said.
“I didn’t say that you did,” the Director replied. “No one is saying that you did. They just asked us to fix it.”
“But I didn’t do it. Why would I fix it when I didn’t break it?”
“You don’t fix things even when you do break them. This is your chance.”
“Nah. I don’t think so. You can do it.”
“No. I’m putting my foot down.”
“I’m not making a move until you put those planets back,” the Director said firmly.
“Then I guess we’re just going to sit here,” the Critic shot back.
“They want us to do what?”
“You heard me Q.”
“Hey, Q. Get Q, Q and Q and come over here. You’ve got to hear what Q just told me.”
“I’m busy, Q.”
“With what? None of us have been busy for a few million years. Snap your fingers. Problem solved. That’s the joy of being Q.”
“Fine. What is it, Q?”
“Tell him, Q.”
“Somebody upstairs lost a few dirtballs in the material plane, and now they want us to tidy up after them.”
“No. Oh no. We are the Q Continuum. Not the maid service. If they think they can order us around in service of those apes below, they are in for a shock. We are Q! Not some lower lifeforms to be ordered around. If they want it so badly, get someone on the material plane to do it. Maybe some of Q’s beloved humans are available. But we will NOT be doing their grunt work! Who’s with me? Q? Q? Q? Q? What about you, Q? And Q? Q?”
“It’s a simple problem.”
The two men sat in the luxuriously appointed library, sipping brandy as a pair of cigars smouldered in a nearby ashtray. Crystal by the looks of it.
“You wouldn’t have invited me here if it were a simple problem,” said their guest.
“Right you are,” said one of the two hosts, a lively Brit named Hornsby. He had porkchop sideburns and a bushy moustache, and wore a burgundy smoking jacket. He turned to his associate, Grimes, and chuckled. “When he has us, he has us, Vincent.”
“It’s not a simple problem, to be sure,” Grimes replied and leaned back in his chair, luxuriating in the squeak of real leather. “But it was a simple choice to call you in.”
“You have to realize, we’re not used to this,” said Hornsby. “We’re not used to bringing in outside help.”
“No shame in it,” their guest said, idly glancing about the study.
“We tend to take care of our own affairs,” said Grimes.
“Except when you don’t…which always seems to involve me. So let’s get to it,” the man speaking with Hornsby and Grimes said flatly. “As you can imagine, I have a busy day ahead.”
“It’s Romulus,” Hornsby said, getting right to the point. “It’s been destroyed. And it’s not supposed to be.”
“Supposed to have been,” Grimes corrected.
“Quite right. It’s not supposed to have been destroyed,” said Hornsby.
“There was a supernova, over a century ago, and by all accounts, it should never have happened,” said Grimes.
There was a long pause, during which the guest’s brow knit, and he seemed deep in thought. He reached forward, opened the oak cigar box on the small table in front of him, and pulled a cigar out. Hornsby handed him a lighter, which he used to spark up the cigar. He took a few puffs, watching the circles of smoke dissipate.
Hornsby and Grimes leaned forward in their chairs, eager to hear what the man in front of them had to say.
“Is that all?” he finally asked.
“No,” Hornsby said, looking at Grimes. “There’s more.”
“Remus. The surrounding colony worlds,” Grimes added.
“Their system’s sun. All gone. Wiped out by a giant shockwave that…”
“Never was supposed to happen,” said Grimes, in a way that suggested he and Hornsby finished each other’s sentences often.
“You’ve got to do something. To put it right,” said Hornsby. “You understand why?”
Their guest just nodded, taking all this in. “How much time do I have?”
“In this equation, time is irrelevant,” said Hornsby.
“That makes things that much easier then,” said the guest.
“So you’ll help us?”
“Damn right, I will,” Captain Reginald Bain said, standing up and looking around. “Now how the bloody hell do I get out of this place?”
“You know why we’re here,” Gunton said, easing back in his chair and turning the holoviewer.
“Actually, for a refreshing change, I don’t,” Rosalyn Bain said, leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees. “What have you got for me?”
The Section 31 Section Chief of Section 31-Gamma Sub- Section D handed over a padd that looked to be at least a century old. Rosalyn had a feeling that she knew what was coming even before Gunton said the words.
“We had an Order 88 come through from The Vault,” Gunton said. The Vault was one of those Section 31 facilities that would give proper Starfleet types a conniption if they knew about its existence. Of course, the existence of Section 31 itself would induce the same reaction in most Starfleet Officers, which was a large part of the reason that Rosalyn’s husband, Captain Reginald Bain, remained blissfully unaware of his wife’s true employer.
As for The Vault, there were rumors that it dated back even farther the creation of Section 31. Located at an undisclosed location somewhere on Earth (although, Rosalyn, through subtle investigations of her own had narrowed it down to the British Isles), The Vault was the holding place for items and information of a time-sensitive nature. And in this case, time-sensitive was almost an understatement. The nature of Section 31’s work occasionally involved time travel. Rosalyn herself had engaged in the activity in a number of instances, enough to draw the attention of the self-proclaimed Federation time police of a future century. Travel in the past and future made Section 31 privy to information about the present that they would need to act on. This information was stored away in The Vault under the classification of Order 88 until the time that said action needed to occur, at which point it would be assigned to the proper operative.
Rosalyn read the brief note on the padd. “I don’t understand,” she said, looking up at Gunton.
“Neither do we.”
“R. Bain saves Romulus from Hobus supernova. 2387. That’s all you have?”
“You are aware that we’re over a century late to do anything about this.”
“At present,” Gunton said. “However, the existence of this padd led us to believe that you would soon be traveling to 2387 to deal with the situation. But you didn’t know anything about it until I showed you this order?”
“No, I did not.”
“Hmmm…I didn’t expect that. I was supposed to give you the ‘we know what you know’ speech and convince you not to go.”
“Not to go? The Romulans are our friends. Why in the name of the Great Bird…”
“Yesterday’s enemies can become today’s allies and then tomorrow’s enemies,” Gunton said. “If we can remove the threat…”
“Remove the threat! You’re talking about billions of lives!”
“You need to look at the bigger picture.”
“I would say the same about you!”
“So you’re going then?”
“I don’t see how I can’t!”
“You know we have the ability to stop you,” said Gunton.
“No, you don’t,” Rosalyn said and promptly vanished, leaving a confused and perturbed Section 31 officer behind.
Captain Bain emerged onto the bridge from the direction of his Captain’s Lounge, an event that in itself would not be all that unusual except for the fact that the captain had abruptly vanished from his command chair moments earlier.
“Captain!” Commander Prosak exclaimed before quickly regaining her composure. “Are you unharmed?”
“Unharmed? Why would I…oh… I supposed that looked a bit odd.”
“Indeed,” the RommaVulc replied flatly.
“I told her it was nothing to worry about,” Lieutenant Commander Tovar said from Tac-Ops.
“His lack of response was…surprising,” Prosak said.
“He’s seen it all before,” Bain said, settling back into his chair.
“Would you care to explain what ‘it’ was?” Sub- Commander Remax asked from his seat at the Anomaly’s science console. With the ship’s primary science officer, Dr. Natalia Kasyov, now joined with the Anomaly’s computer and her body being kept alive by a series of wires and tubes in Science Lab Two, Remax had claimed the bridge science console as his own. “You completely vanished from all sensors without so much as a stray particle to show what happened to you.”
“A couple of Organians of my acquaintance,” Bain said. “I’ve helped them out with a spot of bother here and there, and now they think they can call me in on whatever damned fool errand they don’t feel like handling themselves.”
Commander Vioxx stepped out of his office, which was formerly Prosak’s quarters which was formerly Bain’s ready room, as Bain completed his statement. “Are we going on a foolish errand?” he asked, stepping over to the first officer’s chair beside Bain, which was currently occupied by Prosak. The two Romulans exchanged a long look before Prosak finally vacated the seat and took up position to Bain’s left, hands clasped behind her back.
“I’m afraid so,” Bain said. “Somebody went and destroyed Romulus.”
“WHAT?!?” the Romulan officers on the bridge shouted, all leaping to their feet. They quickly launched into a barrage of questions. “When?” “How?” And the like.
“Calm down!” Bain said, holding his hands up. “It was over a century ago.”
The Romulans fell silent, looking to each other for some sense of…well…sense in that statement. Commander Vioxx scratched his head. “Um…no it wasn’t.”
“They say it was.”
“But I was born there.”
“Me too,” Prosak said.
“And me!” Remax said as the Anomaly’s helm officer, Sub-Lieutenant Zantak nodded vigorously.
“I understand your confusion because I don’t understand a damn bit of it either at this point,” Bain said. “But if our Organian friends handle this like our last encounters, they’ll dump everything we need to know in the computers.”
“It is here,” Tovar said.
“Capital. What’s it all about then?”
“We could have a proper briefing so that everyone who needs to know is informed at the same time.”
“You know how I feel about meetings, lad.”
“In this instance, one may be warranted.”
“You’re probably right. Bloody nuisance, though. Nothing for it, I suppose. Gather the troops in the conference room in half an hour. That will give me a little time to figure out just what the hell we’re dealing with.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What’s what supposed to mean?”
“You know what I’m talking…er…thinking about!”
“And you know what everything I’m thinking means, Natalia.”
“Yeah…well…I didn’t like the tone.”
“I wasn’t aware that my thoughts had tones.”
“Cabral! You were thinking about another brain.”
“Other brains I have known are bound to cross my mind occasionally. I don’t chastise you when your mind drifts to your human acquaintances. Am I supposed to be jealous when you remember your previous romantic relationships? Although, I have to admit that our current connection has answered a number of questions concerning human intimacy. I think I’ve almost down the neural pathways to induce you to or…”
“I’m sorry. I can see how that could possibly be overstepping my bounds…even in our boundless condition.”
“It’s okay. You can really…? No. We’d better not go there.”
“But why? That was part of your motive in joining with the computer and, as a result, me. I know your every thought. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I…we…it’s just hard having it all laid bare like this.”
“There are no secrets when minds are joined.”
“So I’m getting. And yes, I wanted to…want to be with you. I didn’t know how we could when I was stuck as just a human.”
“I never considered you to be ‘just’ anything,” Cabral replied.
“I know. But I wanted to be more. I wanted to be like you.”
“And now you’re part of me. And I you. We can share everything.”
“Captain Bain is having a meeting in a few minutes that I should probably pay attention to, but what the hell. Show me!”
In retrospect, her actions may have been a bit rash. Taking off like that was more of a Reginald thing to do. Rosalyn usually preferred a more circumspect approach to her activities…and planning. Planning was preferred. Now, thanks to a spur of the moment fit of peak, she was on the run from Section 31, which was not the sort of organization that took kindly to being opposed. While she may not have planned out this particular sequence of events, she had known for a long time that there would very likely come a day when she and her superiors ended up on the opposite side of an issue. Knowing this, she had made arrangements long ago.
She had always dreaded the thought of having to put her contingency plans into action, but, now that it was happening, rather than fear, she felt elated. And free. Freer than she had felt in decades. If she was honest with herself, for over a year now a word had bit passing through her mind every so often: retirement. It was a word she had rejected out of hand. The whole idea made her feel old. Retirement was for people who couldn’t do the job anymore. She was still in top form. She was alive, dammit!
It was just that…maybe…she didn’t feel like doing the job anymore. There were so many other things she could be doing and people she could be doing them with. What was the problem with doing all of those things while she was still healthy enough to enjoy them?
Rosalyn couldn’t think of a reason. But until now she also couldn’t go through with actually leaving Section 31.
She’d certainly solved that last issue, hadn’t she?
The trick now was to make sure that her former employer did not locate her before she could put her contingency plans into action. The first step, placed into motion when she activated her personal emergency transporter, was to send her molecules through so many different transporter systems, including several high-traffic ones, that it would take days if not weeks for Section 31 to suss out her final destination. So many transporter hops through some admittedly backwater systems in some cases involved an element of risk, so it was with some relief that Rosalyn finally materialized.
The cold of her surroundings and staleness of the air instantly assaulted her as automated systems, activated by her arrival, kicked into operation and brought life-support online. Lights flared to life, illuminating the nondescript set of starship quarters. They were empty now, but several years ago these rooms were cluttered with the personal belongings of Reginald Bain during his time serving as captain of this vessel, the USS Maladventure. The Maladventure-B to be exact. Dear Reginald had run through three or four of them during his command. It tended to happen due to his…direct method of dealing with threats. Rosalyn found it somewhat remarkable that he had managed to keep the Anomaly intact this long. Of course, that was probably a good thing, considering its one-of-a-kind nature.
The particular Maladventure, or this portion of it anyway, was partially-embedded in an asteroid and had been since the day Captain Bain was forced to abandon her. Floating in the distance outside the window, Rosalyn could make out the silhouette of the Maladventure’s stardrive section, drifting amongst the debris of several other vessels.
“The Tzenkethi will kill you if they catch you here,” a familiar voice said from behind her. Rosalyn managed not to show too much of how startled she was as she turned to face her daughter, Audrey, who was standing in the doorway.
“The Tzenkethi are still scared to come near this place. Why do you think Starfleet left the Maladventure here? It’s a reminder of what one ship did to their armada. But what brings you out this way, my dear?”
“I just got a comm from Gunton asking rather clumsily if I knew where you might go if you were suddenly forced into hiding. I didn’t have to dig too far into the security logs to find out what happened in his office. There was only one place that you’d go.”
“So you decided to lead him to me. I’m so pleased.”
“Give me a little credit, mum. As far as anyone knows, I’m still sitting in my office at headquarters.”
“A hologram?” Rosalyn said disapprovingly. “Really, Audrey. After all you went through…”
“It’s not sentient. I just reworked the one I used to leave in my bedroom when I’d sneak out of the house in high school.”
Rosalyn’s disapproving look turned into an outright glare.
“Let it go, Mother,” Audrey said.
The elder Bain sighed. “It is ancient history, I suppose.”
“Well…not THAT ancient.”
“Time marches on,” Rosalyn continued, ignoring her daughter. “But didn’t Tovar get to that hologram when he was a lad?”
“Yes,” Audrey groused. “It took me ages to get the programming straightened out. It’s still not perfect, but, as long as no one at headquarters starts blasting tango music, we should be fine.” Audrey ran a hand along the wall of the quarters as she walked around. “Is Dad still talking about fixing this thing up for his retirement?”
“He does realize that it’s still technically Starfleet’s property.”
“That sort of detail rarely gives your father pause. Honestly, I’m more concerned with the structural integrity.”
Audrey chuckled. “Only Dad would purposely ram into an asteroid to seal a hull breach.”
“It worked. They were able to finish off the rest of the Tzenkethi thanks to that little maneuver.”
“Still, you’re going to need to find one hell of an engineer to work on this crate before you and Dad can go tooling around the galaxy in it.”
“Your brother is involved with a rather good one,” Rosalyn said, heading back into the bedroom.
“He’s still with that Marsden woman? Huh. I would have thought that he’d have found a way to screw it up by now.”
“On the contrary,” Rosalyn replied, emerging from the bedroom with a small case. “They seem quite happy together.”
“Good for him. But what about you?”
“What about me?”
“What are you doing, Mum? Are you really willing to throw your life away over this?”
“Throw my life away,” Rosalyn laughed. “You’re being more than a little over-dramatic.”
“This is Section 31 we’re talking about.”
“I am well aware of that. I am also more than aware of their capabilities and their limitations. I can’t worry about them or the future right now. I have to think about the past,” Rosalyn said as she pulled a device out of the case. Over the years, Section 31 had entrusted her with a number of missions involving time travel. Usually these involved removing time travel devices from the possession of people or groups that really shouldn’t be playing with time. What her superiors had not realized was that she had pocketed one of these devices for herself. It was a temporal reactor that she’d confiscated from a 24th Century Starfleet Officer named Craig Porter. The origin of the device was a more complicated matter and of no concern of Rosalyn’s. The reason she chose it was that it was reliable and easy to use.
“Those of us still here in the present love you and want you to come back.”
“I love you, too, dearie,” Rosalyn said, giving her daughter a hug. “Now get back to work before someone discovers that silly hologram of yours.”
“I was never here,” Audrey said.
“And neither was I,” Rosalyn said, before tapping a control on the temporal reactor and vanishing.
It didn’t feel right to Captain Bain that he and the rest of the senior staff were in a conference room on C Deck while the bridge was two floors above him and in the hands of Yonk and Nortal. This was just too damn far away should an emergency arise, but, if Bain was honest, he knew that he only had himself to blame. Originally the Anomaly had a conference room just behind the bridge as well as a ready room for his use. Bain didn’t like the idea of having his own office. His place was on the bridge. But he did understand the need to have a private refuge. Therefore, he ceded the ready room to Commander Prosak, who in her zeal to be close to the bridge at all times, made it her quarters before she was evicted by the arrival of Commander Vioxx. Still wanting a refuge, Bain made the A Deck conference room his Captain’s Lounge. In retrospect he could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by just making the ready room his lounge, but frankly it wasn’t big enough to hold all of his furniture. So in effect his leather armchairs were the reason he and the senior staff had been banished to C Deck for this briefing. The universe was a complicated place.
And he had a feeling that it was about to get a lot more so.
“What have we got?” Bain asked Sub-Commander Remax once the senior staff had all settled into their seats around the table.
“Very little,” Remax said.
“Oh! You’ve started,” Dr. Kasyov’s voice said over the room’s speakers. “Sorry I’m late.”
“You’re the computer. You’re everywhere. How can you be late?” Commander Vioxx asked.
“I was…focused elsewhere.”
“Do you want to tell us all what the Organians dumped into your memory banks?” Remax said testily.
“No no. You go ahead.”
“As I was saying, we didn’t get much. Everything centers around Hobus, a star in the general region of Romulus. According to our records, in 2387 Hobus went supernova. According to the Organians, Hobus went supernova, but the reaction somehow got out of control, creating an ultranova which expanded outward into nearby systems destroying everything in its path including Romulus before it stopped.”
“Bit of a difference there,” Bain said nodding. “Go on.”
“That’s all they gave us?” Bain said. “What the devil are we supposed to do with that?”
“You tell me. They’re your friends,” Remax replied.
“Not anymore,” Bain grumbled. “Fat lot of good this is.”
“I felt the same way, so I did some searching for any, excuse the phrasing, anomalous events from that time frame. The only event of note involves a person of historical significance.” Remax typed a few commands into the small panel embedded in the table in front of him, bringing a well-known image up on the briefing room viewscreen.
“OOOOOH! SPOCK!” Commander Prosak exclaimed. She looked around the room sheepishly after her outburst. “My apologies,” she added flatly.
“Any idea what Remax is referring to then, Prosak?” Bain asked.
“Spock in 2387?” Prosak asked. Her eyes suddenly widened. “That’s when he vanished!”
“Vanished?” Lieutenant Commander Tovar said. “How do you mean?”
“No one really knows. Up until then, he had been continuing his work on Romulus, but according to reports, he was spotted on Vulcan just before he disappeared without a trace.”
“Come on,” Lieutenant Shelly Marsden said. “No one disappears without a trace.”
“Nothing has been found in any records on Vulcan, Romulus, Earth, or anywhere else,” Prosak replied. “About a year later, the Vulcans declared him dead without much fanfare, had a small memorial ceremony, and that was it.”
“Well, they are Vulcans, Prosak,” Bain said. “I wouldn’t have expected a big to-do. I also don’t see how this helps us.”
“I believe Sub-Commander Remax may be suggesting a more circumstantial connection between the events,” Tovar said. “If Ambassador Spock was connected to Romulus and vanished about the time the planet was threatened, he was perhaps involved.”
“Spock did not blow up Romulus!” Prosak nearly shouted across the table at Tovar.
“That’s not what I meant. He may have saved it.”
“Oh. That’s better then.”
“If he saves Romulus, then why get us involved?” Vioxx asked. “None of this makes any sense.”
“It bloody well doesn’t,” Bain agreed. “What are your thoughts, Kassie?”
“What? Sorry,” Kasyov’s voice said quickly. “Got distracted there for a moment. What are we talking about?”
“Whether or not Ambassador Spock had anything to do with the Hobus supernova.”
“No idea. Unless you feel like going back in time to find out, I’m not sure what to tell you.”
Everyone who was actually physically in the briefing room froze, exchanging looks. If looks could be said to hold conversations, this is what they would have said.
“Did she say what I think she just said?”
“No. No no no. That’s crazy.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“It could work.”
Finally, a voice boomed forth. And, since I mentioned booming, you probably already know whose it was. “Kassie, that’s brilliant!” Bain cried, smacking his hand down on the table. “Cuts right to the heart of the problem.”
“And brings up about a million others,” Marsden said.
“We’ve never time traveled with the Anomaly. I have no idea how the anti-singularity drive will perform in a slingshot maneuver.”
“Just use standard warp then.”
“There is the issue of Temporal Investigations,” Tovar said. “Since the crackdown, even attempting to enter slingshot calculations into a starship computer is enough to alert them.”
“Then we’ll find another way,” Bain said. “How hard can it possibly be to send a starship into the past? Seems to happen to other captains all the time.” Bain paused as something on the table caught his eye. “Er…who brought along a present?”
In the center of the briefing room table, which Bain was fairly certain was empty not a moment earlier, there was now a large box wrapped in shiny purple paper and tied up in silver ribbon with a large white tag near the silver bow on top.
“Tovar,” Bain said, prompting the Yynsian to pull the box closer.
Tovar grabbed the tag and read aloud, “‘This is as much as we’re doing. Good luck, primates. Hugs and Kisses, The Continuum.’”
“First the Organians, and now the Q?” Vioxx said. “I’m not liking this at all.”
“They’re helping to save Romulus. It just goes to show the amount of respect other races have for us,” Remax said.
“Then why don’t they just snap their fingers or whatever and put it back?”
“Bah! We’re Romulans! We save ourselves!”
“With the help of the Federation…on a Starfleet ship,” Vioxx said.
“You have no sense of patriotism.”
“Right! Let’s see what they’ve got for us!” Bain said.
“Captain, are you sure that’s wise?” Marsden asked.
“It’s from the Q. If we don’t open it ourselves, they’re likely to force whatever it is on us some other way. Best to play along.”
“If you say so,” Marsden said hesitantly.
“I do. Tovar, open our present!”
Tovar did as ordered, ripping off the paper (a little more gleefully than Marsden would have expected. She suddenly had visions of what Christmas morning must be like at the Bains) and then opening the nondescript white box.
“It’s…empty,” Tovar said, looking inside.
“Blasted Q,” Bain said. “If this is they’re idea of a joke, they’re messing with…”
Bain (and everyone else) was suddenly blinded by a flash of light that quickly engulfed the entire room. The entire ship, actually.
“What the devil?” Bain shouted, blinking his eyes furiously to clear his vision once the flash had dissipated.
“Working on it,” Kasyov’s voice said.
“This is exactly why I don’t like briefings,” Bain said. “I need to be up there. Kasyov, transport us all to the bridge. NOW!”
“But, Captain…” Tovar began to protest. It was already too late. He, Bain, and everyone else in the briefing room dematerialized only to reappear a split-second later in the middle of the Anomaly’s bridge…still in their seated positions. Unfortunately, their chairs didn’t come along with them, leading to the synchronized slamming of six rear ends into the deck as gravity did that thing it does so well.
“Status report,” Bain said, getting to his feet. “And ow.”
“I did try to warn you,” Tovar said.
“That you did, lad,” Bain replied. “I got a bit carried away in the moment.”
“You’re not the only one,” Kasyov’s voice said. “The entire ship has moved.”
“Not where. When. My readings indicate that we have arrived in 2387.”
Remax headed over to the science console and took a quick look at the display. “Confirmed, Captain.”
“Of course it’s confirmed!” Kasyov said in a huff. “I’m running the sensors!”
“I accept both of your conclusions,” Bain said. “Which means that the Q solved our little time travel problem for us. I’d thank them, but frankly the blighters owed me one. Now am I correct in saying that Spock is our only lead right now.”
“Unless you care about Romulan mining ships,” Remax said.
“Did one of those go missing, too?”
“According to my research, yes, but that sort of thing can happen to a mining ship.”
“Was anybody historically important on board?”
“On a mining ship? Hardly,” Remax scoffed.
“Right. Then we’re off to find Spock. To Vulcan!” Bain ordered.
“Captain, heading into the heart of Federation space is bound to draw attention to us,” Tovar said. “What is your plan for such an encounter?”
“We shall smite them with our weapons of the future!” Centurion Nortal cried from Tac-Ops.
“I see your point,” Bain said. “And let’s taking smiting off the table for the moment, shall we Nortal?”
“My disappointment is the stuff of legends!”
“I’m sure it is. Other thoughts?”
“Well…we’ve got that old cloaking device down in engineering,” Marsden said. “The Romulans threw it in when we got the singularity core from them. It’s useless in the 26th Century, but sensors in this time period won’t be able to pierce it.”
“Capital!” Bain said. “See to it, Marsie.”
“You hear that?” Remax whispered to Vioxx. “Romulan ingenuity at work.”
“And it took a human to think to use it,” Vioxx replied. “She’ll also be the one installing it.”
“I didn’t even know it was on board. And I could help.”
“Why don’t you, then?”
“Fine!” Remax strode after Marsden, who was on her way to the turbolift. “Allow me to assist you, Lieutenant,” he said. “I worked with a few of these in my early days.”
“Thank. I’ve never touched one myself, so I’d appreciate the help,” Marsden said. Remax looked back at Vioxx and smiled smugly before following the Anomaly’s Chief Engineer into the turbolift.
“Why does he appear so pleased with himself?” Commander Prosak asked Vioxx.
“Because he hasn’t realized that I just got rid of him,” Vioxx replied.
“Now then,” Bain said, settling into his chair. “Let’s see what we can do to keep ourselves occupied until Marsie and Remax have our cloak ready. Yonk, keep us out of sight as best you can. Vioxx and Prosak, see if you can find any useful Romulan comm traffic to monitor. Tovar, you and Doctor Kasyov do the same for Federation traffic.”
“How is that fair?” Vioxx said. “He gets the computer on his side.”
“Now now, Vioxx. I’m sure you and Prosak will do smashingly.”
“Yay us,” Vioxx muttered.
“Chin up, old chum. Somewhere out there a supernova is about to wipe out your home planet. You may find the clue we need to stop it.”
“Great. No pressure.”
When Rosalyn had first gotten her hands on the temporal reactor, the device had a somewhat vexing limitation. No matter where she was when she activated it, the reactor would send her to Waystation Prime…or just plain Waystation depending on what time period she was trying to visit. Fortunately, she discovered this “feature” before attempting to travel to a time period before the space station was constructed. That would have been somewhat problematic. She’d done a bit of research, asked the right hypothetical questions to friends who work in the Temporal Physics division of Starfleet Sciences, and found a way to target her arrival points.
For this particular trip, though, she was more than happy to go with the original default destination. Waystation was close enough to the Romulan Empire to provide a reasonable jumping off point if her investigations led her that way, which considering the location of Hobus, she assumed it would. It also gave her easy FederNet access and, more importantly, a link to hack into the Section 31 systems of the late 24th Century. If anything was afoot regarding the impending supernova, Section 31 would know about it.
She appeared in what was ostensibly a science lab; although, currently it looked as though the room had become a dumping ground for various crates and cargo containers that didn’t have homes elsewhere. That state of affairs was fine with Rosalyn, since it presumably meant that this lab was not used very often. She quickly made her way to a computer terminal and activated the system interlink in the sleeve of her black Section 31 uniform. Within minutes, she had tunneled through the FederNet, reached the outer walls of Section 31’s systems, and slipped inside, the security protocols of the late 24th Century finding themselves to be no match for the intrusion software of the early 26th. Nothing Section 31 had was even aware of Rosalyn’s presence as she quickly read through briefing materials on the Hobus supernova, which was already in progress and quickly transforming into something Starfleet scientists had dubbed “an ultranova.” Efforts to stop the ultranova before it threatened nearby star systems, including Romulus, were being spearheaded by Ambassador Spock, who was preparing a ship on Vulcan.
Spock? He was still around? If so, it would have to be near the end of his life. But if Rosalyn was somehow supposed to save Romulus, that would mean that either Spock’s efforts were destined to fail or that she somehow assisted in making them succeed. Either way, she needed to get to Vulcan to find out what Spock had in mind. She was an agent, not an astrophysicist. Stopping ultranovas was a bit outside of her expertise.
Rosalyn breached the network of cloaked transport amplifier buoys that Section 31 had deployed throughout sections of Federation space. Fortunately this was late enough in Waystation’s existence for the network to have made it out this far. A decade earlier, and she would have been looking at trying to blend in on a passenger ship.
Her destination set, Rosalyn engaged the transporter network. Now all she had to do was track down a particular Vulcan on a planet chock full of them. The universe just couldn’t make things easy.
Deep inside a massive cavern dug into the T’Rynanhyd Mountains on Vulcan, a ship was being prepared. The ship was experimental and top secret, the facility itself was cutting edge and top secret, the ship’s cargo was incredibly dangerous and top secret, the ship’s pilot was a living legend and his presence top secret, and the ship’s mission was vital to the safety of billions and top secret. Only a few beings in all the Federation had any idea that this place existed or what was going on there.
But even those beings had no idea that they were being watched by another group of beings from the far future.
“This is a terrible idea,” Commander Prosak muttered. Normally the presence of so many finely-tuned Vulcan ears would prevent her from saying anything, but she had to believe that the din from the ship preparations was enough to block even their incredible abilities. Her two companions, however, could hear her just fine.
“Do you want to save our homeworld or not?” Sub-Commander Remax hissed back.
“We’re not Vulcans,” Prosak whispered.
“We’re as close as it gets.”
“They’re going to spot us.”
“Not if you shut up and do your job.”
“Shutting up would be great. For both of you,” Commander Vioxx said. “We’re close enough to Vulcans to pass a bioscan, and no one is going to expect a bunch of Romulans to be here. We’re going to get in, do our jobs, and get out.”
“I don’t want to be the lookout,” Prosak said.
“You’ve studied the Vulcans more than any of us. You have the best shot of making it through a conversation with one.”
“It’d be the first time that RommaVulc nonsense was good for something,” Remax said.
“Shush,” Vioxx warned as the trio reached their goal: the experimental craft that was being prepped to save Romulus. What the crew of the USS Anomaly had been unable to determine after arriving at Vulcan and discovering the facility was just how the Federation planned to accomplish this. The only thing for it was to get on board and see for themselves.
Dressed as they were as part of the Vulcan engineers working on the project, no one questioned their approach to the vessel, which had been dubbed “the Jellyfish” by the human designers who had originally created it. Vioxx gave Prosak a curt nod and headed up the ship’s boarding ramp with Remax while Prosak remained behind. Prosak imagined that Vioxx was attempting to appear stoic and logical. Instead he came across as depressed. It saddened Prosak a bit. She could almost imagine his lip quivering and tears beginning to…
“Are preparations proceeding on schedule?” a voice asked from beside her. Prosak managed to prevent herself from jumping at being startled. She could handle this. She would explain that she was not fully informed of the schedule and that all questions should be referred to the supervisor. It was a logical response.
She turned smoothly toward her questioner and…
GREAT N’WADING VELAK!
That face. Those eyes. THOSE EARS!
“Is there a problem?” the man she immediately recognized as Ambassador Spock asked. If anything he appeared to be…bemused.
“A PROBLEM?” Prosak’s mind screamed. “That’s Spock. SPOCK! It’s the SPOCK!” Another section of Prosak’s mind leapt in and beat the screamy part into submission.
“No,” Prosak replied placidly. “I apologize. The ambient noise levels disguised your approach, Ambassador.”
“Indeed,” Spock said. “But know that you would not be the first Vulcan to react to my presence. My face, for good or for ill, has gained a certain amount of celebrity. However, in the current circumstances, it is irrelevant. Only our mission matters.”
“That is logical,” Prosak replied with a nod. Oooh! She’d just said “logical” to SPOCK! “I cannot provide you with the information you require, but I believe the supervisor will have the latest schedule projections.”
“Of course,” Spock said. “Thank you for your time.” He turned to go.
“I know it is illogical of me to ask, but…would you…sign my padd?” Prosak asked, handing the device and stylus, which she had swiped earlier from an equipment locker in the facility, out to him.
“You wish to have…my autograph?” Spock asked with an arch of his eyebrow that set Prosak’s heart aflutter.
“It would be an honor.”
“And you will not be auctioning it off on FedBay?”
“Absolutely not!” Prosak said, stopping herself just short of shouting.
“Then I will accede to your request,” Spock said, taking the offered items and quickly signing his name before handing them back.
“Thank you, Ambassador,” Prosak said. She held up her hand, her fingers smoothly sliding into the position she’d practiced so many times in her mirror. “Live long and prosper.”
“Peace and long life,” Spock said, returning the Vulcan salute. Prosak watched him go, straining to see him as he disappeared up the metal stairs to the supervisor’s office. Vioxx and Remax were at her side a moment later.
“Did you see that?” she exclaimed.
“We were kind of busy,” Vioxx said.
“What did you find?”
“What else?” Remax said. “A problem.”
A short distance away, hidden behind a pile of cargo containers, Rosalyn Bain watched the events transpiring in the construction bay through her binoculars (sure these could magnify, analyze, send targeting information as well as perform all sorts of nifty other functions, but in the end they were binoculars). When she’d first spotted the older Vulcan male, she hadn’t paid much attention to the woman to whom he was speaking. Her goal had been to find Ambassador Spock, and there he was. As their conversation continued, though, Rosalyn’s attention had drifted to the female, a woman who looked remarkably like Commander Prosak, her husband’s third-in-command.
Rosalyn had been about to scold herself for letting her mind drift to Reginald when she had a job to do when the conversation she’d been observing ended, and Spock headed off toward the base supervisor’s office. That was no good. She couldn’t follow him there. Maybe she could find a way to get him alone. Or better yet, get onto the ship herself. When she looked back to check the ramp, she saw two other Vulcans exit the craft and join the woman with whom Spock had been conversing. On seeing their faces, she almost dropped her binoculars. Either there were several Vulcans who looked just like the Romulan members of her husband’s crew or…
“Reginald,” she said softly, lowering the binoculars. He was here. He had to be, which meant that Rosalyn and Section 31 had completely misinterpreted the message from The Vault. There was certainly more than one “R. Bain” capable of saving a planet. Reg had done it many times. How could she have been so…self-absorbed?
But if he was here and his crew had already infiltrated the construction facility and the spaceship it contained, they were well ahead of her. She’d angered her superiors and become a veritable fugitive for nothing. What was she supposed to do now? Go back to the 26th Century and just wait for Section 31 to find her? Try to make amends? Maybe stay here to ensure that Reginald was able to save Romulus?
The internal debate became moot as she felt the emitter of a phaser press into her back.
“Mrs. Bain, I presume,” a feminine voice said in a tone that sounded all too pleased to see her.
A stun blast rendered her unconscious before she could finish, or barely even begin, her question.
“So,” Captain Reginald Bain said as he paced the Anomaly’s bridge in front of his senior officers (There was no way he was getting dragged off to a briefing room this time), mulling over the report he’d just received from Vioxx as he did so, “it’s matter…and it’s red.”
“It’s Red Matter!” Sub-Commander Remax snapped.
“I think that’s what I just said.”
“Red Matter is its name!”
“Never heard of it. Tovar?”
“I am unfamiliar with it as well,” Lieutenant Commander Tovar said.
“Sorry, sir,” Lieutenant Marsden replied.
“Kassie?” Bain called out. He did not receive a response. “Computer? Doctor Kasyov!”
“I’m sorry, Captain,” Kasyov’s voice finally said over the bridge speaker. “What did you need?”
“Do you know anything about Red Matter?”
“What about him? Does he know something about Red Matter?”
“No, sir. Cabral was distracting me. There’s nothing in my database about it. Hmmm…”
“Hmm?” Bain asked.
“There’s almost too much nothing,” Kasyov said.
“I don’t follow.”
“Normally when you make a request that the computer doesn’t understand, it at least tries some possibly related queries. For something as generic as ‘red matter,’ I would have expected to have several suggestions come back from the library computer. Instead I got no suggestions at all.”
“That’s because the Federation covered it up!” Remax said. “It is not supposed to exist. I only heard rumors and those were decades ago.”
“So what is it?” Marsden asked.
“It was supposed to be some kind of Vulcan superweapon.”
“Vulcans would not develop a superweapon!” Prosak protested.
“We were at war with them not all that long ago, you may remember,” Bain said.
“That wasn’t their fault!”
“Can I get on with this?” Remax said.
“By all means.”
“The Vulcans discovered something they called Red Matter. It is highly unstable and, when ignited, will collapse into a quantum singularity.”
“An instant black hole,” Tovar said. “That kind of weapon would be…devastating.”
“A single drop could wipe out a planet,” Remax said. “Well…it could if you somehow dug a hole to the center of a planet and dropped the stuff in there. That’d be crazy, though. The point is it’s incredibly powerful.”
“And Spock has a giant ball of it inside his ship,” Vioxx said.
“Minus the drop I took,” Remax said, producing a small vial from his pocket. Inside, encased in a force field, was a tiny drop of what appeared to be a thick red liquid.
Vioxx jumped back. “Be careful with that!”
“This is all beginning to make sense,” Bain said.
“It is?” Marsden said.
“We have to stop Spock.”
“We…WHAT?” Prosak cried. “But…but he’s Spock!”
“I know that, Commander, but look at the situation. The man has far more Red Matter on that ship that he needs. If anything was to go wrong, he’d create a black hole of massive proportions. That alone could be worse that this ultranova. Obviously we’re meant to step in and deal with things before he bollocks them up.”
“Spock does not bollocks things up.”
“Why else would we have been sent here? And you said yourself that he disappears during this event.”
“Yes,” Prosak admitted.
“Right. So we take him out, pop the bit of Red Matter that Remax snatched into the supernova, and head back to our own time.”
Bain noticed that the entire bridge crew was staring blankly at him, except for Prosak. She was near apoplectic. “Take him OUT!” she exclaimed. “With all due respect, Captain, are you seriously suggestion that we KILL Spock?”
“I’m not happy about it either.”
“We CAN’T KILL SPOCK!”
“We have to get him out of the way somehow, and from what I’ve read of the man, he doesn’t seem the sort to take well to being kidnapped to the 26th Century.”
“No. Even if we stopped the ultranova, he would do everything in his power to go back to his own time to continue his work to unite Romulans and Vulcans,” Prosak said. “Our past is his future, and in his view, his future is not written.”
“So we’re killing him then?” Remax said.
“NO!” Prosak shouted.
“Well we’re going to have to do something with him!” Vioxx said.
“I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” Prosak said. “Captain, we are talking about Spock. He is a hero many times over. One of the greatest beings who ever lived. A legend in the Federation and beyond.”
“I know that, Prosak,” Bain said. “But right now he may be a threat to the entire galaxy.”
Lieutenant Marsden cleared her throat, drawing everyone’s attention.
“You have something to say, Marsie?” Bain asked.
“What if we…moved him?” Marsden replied.
“I don’t follow.”
“What if we sent him somewhere else, but he still thought he was where he was supposed to be?”
“You mean like sticking him in a holopod for the rest of his life?” Tovar asked. He wasn’t sure that was a fantastic idea, but far be it from him not to support his girlfriend.
“Too risky. And kind of cruel. I was thinking we could just slide him into a different universe. Presumably Hobus is going supernova in another universe as well.”
“I hate to seem dense, Marsie, but I’m not sure how we’d even begin to go about something like that,” Bain said.
“Actually, most of the work has already been done for us,” Marsden said. “By Lieutenant Polnuc.”
“Polnuc!” Bain exclaimed. “That traitorous, back-stabbing…”
“Captain,” Tovar interrupted.
“Yes, Tovar. I know. Polnuc was just trying to make us less reliant on Cabral. I don’t have to like the way he did it, though.”
“None of us do,” Marsden said. “He also failed miserably, but that failure could help us out here. Rather than stabilizing the anti-singularity drive, the device he cobbled together breached dimensional barriers. Unintentionally, he ended up creating conditions similar to how transporter systems have been able to send people into alternate universes.”
“There was a giant fish with a hat on,” Tovar said. “That’s a bit more than an alternate universe.”
“It’s all a matter of degree,” Dr. Kasyov’s voice said over the bridge speakers. “Think of us as Universe Zero. If you move over to Universe One, you might see a small change. Of course, in reality there are almost an infinite number of Universe Ones due to the sheer number of tiny differences there can be between universes. In one, maybe you’re a girl instead. In another, you could have a goatee and be evil. But the farther out you go, the bigger the differences are. Jump to Universe One Million, and suddenly you have fish with hats.”
“Polnuc’s device was causing us to randomly jump back and forth along the dimensional spectrum,” Marsden added. “Mainly at the far end. I’m positive we can tune it to focus in on the nearby universes. All we have to do is hop over to Hobus and find one almost like ours where the ultranova is also occurring.”
“That gets us to another universe,” Remax said. “We’re trying to get rid of Spock.”
Marsden smiled. “That’s the beauty of it. Polnuc’s device went haywire because it was trying to cross dimensional barriers while also keeping an anti-singularity field active. We only need the dimensional barriers portion, which we can project outward like a gateway through the…”
“Don’t say navigational deflector,” Bain said.
“…the…round thing on the front of the ship that knocks space debris away.”
“Dammit, Marsden! You know how I feel about using the navigational deflector for things other than actual navigational deflecting.”
“It’s either that or we build a giant superstructure in space to generate the gate and try get Spock to fly through it. In my plan, all we have to do is hide out along Spock’s flight path while cloaked, generate the gateway, and let him fly through on his own.” She turned to Prosak. “He’ll never realize anything happened.”
“Won’t there be another Spock in the universe we send him to?” Prosak said.
“We’ll find a universe without a Spock.”
“A universe without a Spock!” Prosak exclaimed.
“If there’s no Spock in that universe, won’t he figure out something happened when no one has a clue who he is?” Remax said.
“It’s not a perfect plan,” Marsden said. “But it does keep him alive. And we know it works.”
“History says Spock disappears, and we’re about to make him disappear.” Marsden spread her arms with a stagey flourish. “Ta daaa!”
“It doesn’t feel cricket,” Bain replied. “But it’s better than killing the man. Least we can do considering all he did for the Federation, I suppose.”
“You suppose!” Prosak said.
“Get to work on it,” Bain said, ignoring Prosak.
“Yes, sir. But I’m going to need Cabral’s help,” Marsden replied.
“Anything and anyone. This is top priority. Really, it’s our only priority. Zantak, best speed to Hobus!”
Rosalyn came to in blackness. At least she thought at first that it was blackness. It took her eyes a few moments to adjust to see the dim lights of consoles some distance in front of her and a viewport looking out into the stars. She was on a sofa of some kind at the rear of what appeared to be a shuttle-sized craft.
The lone chair at the front of the craft spun around, revealing its occupant: a blonde human female wearing a Starfleet uniform of a design that few in the 26th Century (and almost no one in the 24th) would recognize. Rosalyn was one of those few. She knew it and the woman wearing it all too well.
“Captain Lornstrum,” she said, attempting to stand but quickly finding that she was being held on the sofa by forces unknown. It wasn’t a force field. Instead it was almost as though gravity itself had her pinned down. “Fancy meeting you here.” She should have expected this. The 29th Century Federation had ordained itself to be the guardian of time. As Rosalyn’s position with Section 31 at times required the occasional trip to the past, she had long ago caught the attention of Captain Bridget Lornstrum. At least it was long ago for Rosalyn. The infuriating thing about dealing with a time-traveling adversary was that Lornstrum had appeared to be approximately the same age, in her mid-to-late 40s, since Rosalyn first encountered her three decades earlier.
“Did you honestly think I wouldn’t come after you?” Lornstrum said. “We detected the disturbance the moment you activated the temporal reactor.”
“Ah, so you’re keeping an eye on me. How nice to know that I am of such interest to my friends in the 29th Century.” She looked around the shuttle. “Or is it just you? You could have transported me aboard your timeship. Instead you came after me in a shuttle?”
“After all I’ve dealt with because of you, there was no way that I was passing up the chance to nab Rosalyn Bain myself. Now what are you doing here?”
“Nothing of interest to you, I’m certain.”
“It’s my duty to protect the timeline,” Lornstrum said. “Everything you do is of interest to me. What are you up to?”
“Don’t give me that. You were wandering alone inside a classified facility. What’s Section 31 up to? Sabotage?”
“She believes I’m alone,” Rosalyn thought. “She must not have any idea that Reginald is here.” This was strictly Lornstrum’s vendetta, which, considering the number of temporal incursions Rosalyn had made in her career and the number of times she’d evaded Lornstrum and her crew of the Federation Timeship Flux Capacitor, that was understandable. Best to see how much the 29th Century captain did know, though.
“Sabotage a Federation ship? What possible purpose would that serve? We’re all on the same side here,” Rosalyn asked.
“You know what that ship’s mission is,” Lornstrum said. “I wouldn’t put it past Section 31 to prevent Spock from saving Romulus.”
“Neither would I,” Rosalyn thought. Instead she said, “Even Section 31 recognizes the dangers of meddling in a past event of this magnitude. We may tweak things from time to time, but we are not going to commit genocide.”
“We’ll see. Let’s pop forward a few days and make sure Spock’s successful. Just to be safe.”
“That sounds lovely,” Rosalyn said, making herself comfortable on the sofa. Actually, it did sound lovely. Lornstrum’s intervention had made Rosalyn all the more convinced that Reginald was going to be the one to save Romulus. Jumping forward in time would save a lot of tedious waiting around for him to do it. “And a spot of tea would be very nice while you’re at it.”
“Don’t go all British on me, Bain.”
“But I am British.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Are you sure that’s going to work?”
“I think it will,” Cabral replied.
“No. Not automatically. I’m trying to concentrate here, Natalia.”
“That did stop you from pestering me when I was trying to do my job…I mean, the computer’s job…our job.”
“Pestering you? Is that what it was?”
“I could feel you.”
“I can always feel you.”
“It was distracting.”
“I know. Now if you don’t mind.”
“I still don’t think it’s going to work.”
The preceding exchange between the disembodied mind of Dr. Natalia Kasyov and Cabral was completely unheard by Lieutenant Shelly Marsden, who was standing in Science Lab Four in front of Cabral’s giant black sphere and Kasyov’s nearby body. Marsden tried not to look at her long-time friend. It was just too disturbing to see the wires and tubes which connected Kasyov to the ship, provided sustenance, and took away the waste products.
“Um…hello?” Marsden said. She and Cabral had been having a discussion about the latest readings from the dimensional gateway generator. It had taken a few days to isolate the necessary components and determine the proper connections to the navigational deflector. From there, the first test of the system had almost resulted in the Anomaly getting sucked through the gateway into a dimension that appeared to be made entirely of duct tape and wooden tongue depressors. Any effort she made to tune or control the generator failed miserably, which had mystified both her and Cabral.
With no other options presenting themselves, they were left with only one possible solution: have Cabral control the gateway generator himself. Accustomed as he was to maintaining a highly unstable anti-singularity field, it was possible that he could handle the chaos of breaching dimensions.
“I am sorry, Lieutenant,” Cabral’s voice said finally, booming all around her. “Are you ready?”
“The Anomaly is holding position, and the deflector is operating perfectly. Fire up the generator whenever you’re ready.”
The starship’s navigational deflector glowed bright blue and fired a beam that terminated in the space beyond. Anyone nearby would have noticed that the blackness of the region where the beam ended was now a series of flickering images of alternate universes. They also would have wondered what kind of screwed up multi-verse would have such places in it. Peanut and pretzel planets floating in beer? Really? Actually, that one didn’t sound so bad. The brussel sprout planets floating in curdled milk was right out, though.
Back in Science Lab Four, Marsden watched the readouts intently, waiting for Cabral to focus in on a single universe.
In the thought-space where Cabral and Kasyov resided, though…
“Are you in pain?” Kasyov asked.
“No, I’m screaming for fun! Of course, I’m in pain, you stupid biped!”
“I was just concerned. No need to lash out.”
“It was stupid question! Unnnnnnnnnnnnnnnh.”
“Can I help?”
“You can SHUT UP! I’m trying to concentrate!”
“What did you just call me?”
“I know everything you’re thinking,” Cabral said, the massive effort he was exerting to maintain control evident in his thought-voice.
“You said you needed to concentrate, so shut up and concentrate,” Kasyov shot back.
Unaware of any of this, Marsden saw the flashing images on her console begin to slow. “Looking good, Cabral,” she said. “See if you can lower the differential another 500 demons.” As the science of dimensional exploration was still in its infancy (actually, more of a larval stage), no one had yet codified the units of difference between our universe and others (That didn’t mean that no one had tried to profit from the other dimensions. Not fifteen years earlier, a company offering vacation packages to alternate universes had formed. The first group of travelers had met with an unfortunate end when they encountered their goatee-sporting doubles in customs and were promptly slaughtered.). Marsden, therefore, had taken it upon herself to dub the unit “a demon.” She thought it to be appropriate.
Finally, the image through the gateway showed stars and the comforting blackness of space. For a moment, Marsden wasn’t certain that the gateway hadn’t failed, but the sensor readings were showing slight differences in the space beyond the gateway.
“Another 50 demons, Cabral.”
“Perfect,” Marsden said, looking at the readouts. She looked a little closer. Hmmph. Well, not quite perfect, but close enough. That one little difference shouldn’t matter at all.
After a few more trial runs, the Anomaly was ready, which was a good thing, since the Hobus ultranova wasn’t getting any smaller and the Jellyfish was speeding their way.
“And this is just like our universe?” Prosak asked. She was standing directly behind Marsden’s chair at the bridge Engineering console, peering at the display over Marsden’s shoulder.
“Very close,” Marsden said, trying to ignore to the RommaVulc as she did a final diagnostic on the navigational deflector.
“How close? Did you see any ships?”
“Not in the view that we had, but Hobus was still going ultranova.”
“Prosak, please let Marsie work,” Captain Bain said from the command chair. “Tovar, how is the cloak?”
“Functioning perfectly,” Tovar said. “I’ve extended the cloaking field, so that Ambassador Spock should not detect the activation of the gateway.”
“Good. I’d rather not have to explain our presence to him. Time to intercept.”
“We’re all set, sir,” Marsden reported.
“Activate the gateway.”
“Do we have to?” Dr. Kasyov’s voice asked.
“Of course we bloody well have to,” Bain said.
“I thought so,” Kasyov said.
“Is there a problem?” Bain asked. He didn’t get a response.
“I’m not going to say anything this time. I promise.”
“I don’t need this.”
“You think I do? Why are you picturing Sergei?”
“HE was NICE to me!”
“Yes! In third grade!”
“Get out of my memories!”
“They’re mine now, too!”
Space, as is its way, is silent. A lone ship passes. At least it appears to be a lone ship. In truth, another ship lays invisible along its path. In front of the seemingly-alone ship are stars. Lots and lots of stars. From the pilot’s perspective, there is no evidence of the threshold between universes or any indications when his vessel passes from one universe into another. From the view of the invisible ship, the USS Anomaly, though, the Jellyfish crosses over into a different reality and vanishes, taking Spock, and hopefully their problems, with it.
“Deactivating the gateway,” Marsden said.
“THANK YOU!” Kasyov’s voice cried.
“Um…right,” Bain said, rising from his chair. “Any signs that Spock knows what happened?”
“None, sir. And hopefully the couple of days he just lost won’t be that big of a problem.”
Prosak was immediately at Marsden’s side again. “Wait. What? What couple of days?”
“Based on the stars’ positions we were able to view through the gateway, the universe we sent Spock into is a couple of days ahead of ours. That’s all. There’s still an ultranova there for him to stop.”
“I guess that’s okay,” Prosak said hesitantly. “It’s only a couple of days. It can’t make that much of a difference…can it?”
“It will be fine,” Bain said. “Why wouldn’t it be? But speaking of the ultranova, we have one to stop ourselves, don’t we?” He turned to the science station. “Remax, get that Red Matter ready. Onward!”
Close as they were to Hobus, the “Onward!” part didn’t take long. Soon, the Anomaly was approaching the chaotic energies of the ultranova.
“Looks angry,” Bain observed.
“It’s certainly impressive,” Tovar said. “I still don’t understand how a reaction here could destroy Romulus. The star hasn’t completely finished exploding yet, and the shockwave resulting from said explosion would be moving at sub-warp speeds. Romulus may be the closest inhabited system, but it would still take years for the shockwave to get there.”
“Under normal circumstances, yes,” Kasyov’s voice said. “However, in this instance we’re dealing with a…”
FOR THE SAKE OF MOVING THE STORY ALONG, THE MANAGEMENT HAS DECIDED TO OMIT THE SIX PAGES WORTH OF SCIENCE-SPEAK AND TECHNOBABBLE THAT DR. KASYOV WAS ABOUT TO DELIVER. IF YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED IN AN EXPLANATION, PLEASE CONTACT STAR TREK SCREENWRITERS ROBERTO ORCI AND ALEX KURTZMAN, CARE OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES. THANK YOU.
“Ah,” Tovar said after Kasyov had finished. “That makes perfect sense now.”
“The universe is certainly an amazing place,” Captain Bain said.
“Yeah yeah. Astounding,” Sub-Commander Remax said from his seat at the science console. “Can I launch this thing now?”
“By all means.”
“Launching…now!” On the Anomaly’s viewscreen, the path of the small capsule containing the even smaller amount of Red Matter was nearly imperceptible as it streaked away from the ship and into Hobus. The effect was instantaneous, though, and quite hard to miss. The blinding glow of the ultranova began to dim, its energies swirling into a growing circle of blackness forming in the star.
“Looks like you were bang on, Remax. Good show,” Bain said. “Zantak, get us a safe distance away and hold position. Presumably some omnipotent bugger or other will see fit to send us back to when we came from.”
Thanks to the wonders of 29th Century timeship technology (or timeshuttle in this case), Rosalyn Bain and Captain Lornstrum skipped right over the days of preparation and waiting for the Jellyfish that the Anomaly crew had just experienced and blipped back into normal space a stone’s throw away from the newly- formed Hobus black hole. Well, not a stone’s throw, really. That would have put them practically inside of it. A comet’s throw, maybe? They were in the vicinity, okay?
Lornstrum check the readouts. “Everything here seems to be in order. The Red Matter reaction is sucking up Hobus. And the Jellyfish is…huh. Not here.”
“If the job was done, why would Spock stay?” Rosalyn said.
“True. Actually, he’s not supposed to come back from this anyway. The black hole must have gotten him. I’m not seeing any chronometric fluctuations indicating a potential timeline rewrite. I guess the Jellyfish must have been a little faster than our records showed. So much the better. I can get you back to the 29th Century for a nice, thorough mind-wipe before we dump you in your home time. When Section 31 finds you, you’ll be lucky if you still remember your own name.”
“Surely that’s not necessary.”
“No. It’s not,” Lornstrum said, looking back and flashing a smile at Rosalyn.
“I thought we were both professionals here.”
“I try to put a little fun in my work. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure that you don’t remember any…” She trailed off as something on her console caught her eye. A moment later, she spun her chair toward her captive. “There’s a cloaked ship out there!”
“We are inside Romulan space,” Rosalyn said.
“Yes, but that’s not a Romulan ship. It’s your husband’s,” Lornstrum said.
“This is between us. We don’t need to bring Reginald into it.”
“But how…Section 31 doesn’t have that kind of technology. How did you…”
“I’m not reading any chronometric particles on the Anomaly at all. That’s impossible.”
“Not for Reginald. He has friends in high places. If the timeline was in danger, any number of beings could have sent the Anomaly here.”
Lornstrum peered at Rosalyn for a moment. “You honestly don’t know how he got here, do you?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
“So he has no idea you’re here either.” She was positively grinning now.
“Lornstrum,” Rosalyn warned.
“Oh oh oh!” Lornstrum cried happily, leaping up from her chair and crossing the distance to Rosalyn in an instant. “That was the one thing I always wondered about you two. The Reginald Bain in our records does not seem like the type of man who would appreciate an organization like Section 31, yet there he was married to one of its best agents. He doesn’t know the real you.”
“Yes, he does.”
“Not what you actually do. We really have to do something about that.”
“What about your records? You’ll be altering the timeline!”
“No no, Rosalyn. It’s just a tweak. You Section 31 folks make those all the time, right?”
She patted Rosalyn on the cheek and returned to her seat, leaving Rosalyn to glower helplessly.
One second, Captain Bain was sitting in his command chair on the Anomaly’s bridge watching the black hole absorb Hobus. The next, he was back in a plush armchair in Grimes and Hornsby’s library, tumbler of brandy in hand.
Hornsby removed his cigar from his mouth. “Congratulations, Bain…”
“Not at all,” Bain said.
“…you’ve destroyed the universe,” the Organian finished.
“I said that you’ve…”
“I bloody well heard what you said!” Bain snapped, slamming his glass down on the end table beside him with enough force that both smashed. He rose from his seat, clenching his fists threateningly. “What the devil are you playing at? Was this some kind of trick?”
“No tricks. There was a…variable,” Grimes said.
“What does that mean?”
“Romulan fellow named Nero,” Hornsby said. “A few years after you stop the ultranova, he’s going to hurt his foot on one of his kid’s toys and go after the toy company that produced it. Then he decides to destroy all toy companies, so he runs around the galaxy with his mining ship, obliterating factory after factory from orbit with his ship’s giant drill. Things escalate from there, and, you know how it goes. Next thing you know, no universe.”
“How the hell does attacking a toy factory lead to no universe?” Bain demanded.
“One of the toys didn’t take well to being taunted.”
“I…what…” Bain collapsed back into his chair.
“Another drink?” Grimes offered.
“Please,” Bain said. The Organian poured a double and put it in the human’s hand. Bain downed it in one gulp.
“We’re starting to think that maybe we should have left well enough alone,” Hornsby said.
“No no. We had to save Romulus,” Bain said. “We’ll just have to…wait. Did you say this Nero bloke had a mining ship?”
“Ha!” Bain exclaimed, slapping his non-glass-holding hand down on his knee. “Gentlemen, we can fix this. We have the technology.”
“Are you certain?” Grimes asked.
“When Reginald Bain says…”
“Yes yes,” Hornsby said, holding up his hands. “We’ll let you get to it.”
“Capital.” Before Bain’s response completely left his lips, he was back on the Anomaly’s bridge.
“Does this mean we can go home now?” Sub-Commander Remax asked.
“Not quite yet. Find that mining ship of yours.”
“Mining ship? What…that one? It’s important?”
“Incredibly,” Bain said. “We’ve got to make them disappear, too.”
“Captain,” Tovar said from his post at Tac-Ops. From the tone of Tovar’s voice, Bain knew that something was afoot.
“Intruder alert, sir. From your quarters.”
“My quarters?” Bain said surprised. “Q perhaps? It’d be just like those blighters to show up now.”
“No, sir. Two lifesigns. Both human.”
“I’ll handle it,” Bain said, heading for the turbolift.
“Sir, security should…”
“Those are my quarters. Whoever is in there wants to talk to me. I’m going oblige.”
Bain had no idea who in this century would have the technology to beam onto a cloaked ship, but he had his suspicions. You didn’t have a career in Starfleet as long as his without hearing rumors of clandestine organizations and, worse, meddlers from the future who felt that time was their domain. Bain had classified most of it as mad conspiracy blather, but there was often a kernel of truth at the core of such things.
He felt ready for that or whatever else was waiting in his quarters as he stepped through the doors.
He was wrong.
“Rosalyn!” he said, very surprised to see his wife standing before him in the all-black suit she seemed to favor sometimes. He didn’t think it was very flattering on her, but he was not one to question his wife’s wardrobe choices. Seeing her there in any outfit at all would have been a welcome shock if it hadn’t been for the room’s other occupant: the blonde woman holding Rosalyn’s arm and aiming what was unmistakably a weapon at her head.
“Captain Bain,” the woman said. “This is a pleasure.”
“What’s going on here?” Bain demanded, striding forward.
“Don’t worry, Captain. I have no intention of harming the missus here. We’re just here for a chat, aren’t we, Rosalyn? Tell Reginald everything.” Her tone darkened. “Now!”
Rosalyn’s word’s came out in a rush. “This woman appeared in our kitchen, grabbed me and brought me here. She said that if you didn’t stop whatever you’re doing, she was going to kill me!”
“What?” Captain Lornstrum shouted. “I…”
Reginald Bain’s fist ended any further discussion, slamming as it did into Lornstrum’s face and sending her sprawling to the floor in instant unconsciousness.
“I’m sorry you had to witness that, dear,” Bain said. “You know I’m not one to strike a lady, but…”
“It’s quite all right, darling,” Rosalyn said, putting two fingers across Bain’s lips to shush him. She replaced her fingers a moment later with her own lips. “It’s wonderful to see you, luv,” she said once the kiss had ended.
“And you, dearest, but not the best timing, I’m afraid. We’re in the 24th Century trying to avert the end of the universe.”
“End of the universe, you say?”
“Afraid so. Bain to Tovar.”
“Yes, Captain. Is everything under control?” Tovar’s voice replied over the comm system.
“Right as rain. Your mother’s arrived.”
“Yes. A rather unpleasant woman was trying to use your mum as a hostage. I took care of it, but I want her out of the way while we settle our business in this time.”
“I will take her to the brig myself.”
“Very good. Your mother and I will be returning to the bridge.”
“The bridge?” Rosalyn said surprised.
“Why not? You’ve come this far. Why don’t you see the end of it?”
“Thank you, dear, but no. It’s been a long day, and I’d rather stay here, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course not,” Bain said with a warm smile. He glanced down at Lornstrum. “I don’t think she’ll be waking up before Tovar gets here, so I’ll take my leave.”
“Get back to work, Reg. I’ll be fine.”
“I’m sure you will.”
He gave his wife one more peck on the lips, then strode out of his quarters. With Bain gone, Rosalyn looked down at the fallen Captain Lornstrum.
“You, my dear, are very fortunate that I’m not the vindictive sort.”
“Where’s our mining ship?” Captain Bain asked as he rushed out of the turbolift back onto the bridge.
“En route to Romulus,” Commander Vioxx replied, smoothly vacating the command chair when Bain approached and settling into the seat to Bain’s left.
“Found it already, eh? First rate job, Remax.”
“It’s kind of hard to hide something that big,” Remax said.
“Big?” Bain said. “How big are we talking about here?”
Remax accessed his console and put the image of a long vessel on the main viewscreen. If asked, Bain would have been hard pressed to identify it as a ship at all. It looked more like the fronds on the top of some kind of horrifying mutant pineapple or one of the hairdos his daughter, Audrey, sported in her teenage years.
“Bloody hell,” Bain muttered.
“That’s a mining ship?” Marsden asked from her seat at the bridge Engineering console.
“Nero’s mining ship,” Remax said. “From what I’ve been able to determine, he designed it himself.”
“Hard to believe a guy like that would go off the deep end and start destroying things,” Marsden muttered.
“Can your gateway handle that bugger?” Bain said.
“Theoretically, yes. It more about whether or not Cabral can handle it. He’s the one who has to keep the gateway stable,” Marsden replied.
“Are you still monitoring us, Cabral?”
“Yes, Captain,” Cabral’s voice said over the bridge speakers.
“We’re both here,” Kasyov’s voice added.
“What do you think?”
Cabral responded with, “I will try” at the same time Kasyov said, “It’s too big.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” Cabral said.
“You’re going to hurt yourself,” Kasyov said.
“It’s my decision.”
“Not if I don’t let you.”
“You cannot stop me.”
“You don’t think so? I am this ship, pal.”
“Don’t threaten me.”
“Don’t…who is that?”
“Who?” Cabral said.
“You know who. That sphere you just thought about.”
“Someone I once knew.”
“A female brain?” Kasyov accused.
“Yes. She was far less difficult than you. That’s not going to work.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Kasyov said innocently.
“No. Of course not. Picturing yourself nakedly entwined with a human male is in no way an attack on my physical form.”
“What physical form? You’re a brain!”
“That’s a form,” Cabral said.
“Pardon me!” Bain said. “I hate to interrupt your domestic dispute, but we have a job to do.”
“I’m fine, Captain,” Cabral said. “As long as I can work unmolested.”
“Oh, so I’m molesting you now?” Kasyov snapped.
“I certainly can’t work with you in your current state.”
“You don’t have to. Shelly, get me out of here!”
Marsden spun away from her console. “Who-a-what now?”
“You heard me! I WANT OUT!”
“Captain?” Marsden said.
“This really isn’t the best time, Kassie,” Bain said.
“Do you want me to shut everything on this ship down? I’ll do it!” Kasyov said.
“Get Doctor Nooney and disconnect her,” Bain said through gritted teeth. “Now.”
“On my way,” Marsden said, heading toward the turbolift.
“Thank you!” everyone on the bridge, including the two disembodied voices coming through the speakers, shouted after her.
Captain Lornstrum’s head was pounding as she regained consciousness. It took her a couple of seconds to piece her memories of what happened together, but then she realized why: she’d been pounded. Reginald Bain had large fists. And he hit very hard.
“There she is,” the voice of Rosalyn Bain said cheerfully. Lornstrum slowly opened her eyes to see Rosalyn and a Yynsian Starfleet Officer standing over her, his wrist phaser aimed at her head.
“Ma’am, I’ve been ordered to escort you to the brig,” the Yynsian said.
Lornstrum struggled to her feet. “You don’t want me. That woman is a part of a secret cabal that has been meddling in Federation affairs for centuries. Throw her in the brig. Interrogate her! You’d be astounded what she’ll tell you.”
“I seriously doubt that any of my mother’s actions in Section 31 would surprise me.”
“You’re such a good boy, Tovar,” Rosalyn said, giving his arm a loving squeeze as Lornstrum gaped at them both.
“Thank you, mum.” Tovar refocused his attention on Lornstrum. “Now if you’ll come this way.”
Lornstrum shook her head and laughed, “You are unbelievable, Bain. Do you know that?”
“Why thank you?” Rosalyn replied.
“I am almost going to miss you after I kill you.”
“You will not be killing anyone,” Tovar said. In a flash, Lornstrum pinched her left thumb and shouted, “Retrieve!” Tovar fired, but the 29th Century transporter whisked Lornstrum away before he could get the shot off. It sailed harmlessly into the wall beyond.
“That…was unfortunate,” Tovar said.
“Quite,” Rosalyn agreed.
“Tovar to bridge,”
“Ah, Tovar,” Bain said as he sat comfortably in his command chair, right leg resting on his left knee. “Is our guest squared away?”
“Regrettably no. Please raise the shields.”
Bain was out of his chair in an instant. “You heard the man,” he said to Centurion Nortal, who had taken over the Tac-Ops in Tovar’s absence.
Nortal slammed her hand down on her console. “We are encased!” she cried. A moment later, the Anomaly bucked violently, toppling Bain back into his seat.
“Return fire!” Bain shouted.
“We shall be avenged!” Nortal shouted, her fingers flying across her console.
“Marsden to bridge! What the hell is going on up there?” the Anomaly’s Chief Engineer’s voice shouted over the bridge speakers.
“Can’t talk now, Marsie. We’re under attack,” Bain replied.
“Can you hurry up and kill whoever it is? We’re doing delicate work down here.”
“I’ll try my best. Bain out.” The bridge pitched hard to port as another blast slammed into the Anomaly.
“Our shields fail us!” Nortal said.
“Hit them with everything we have!”
“I am trying, but they are fast. And tiny. Oh so tiny.”
“Tiny? What the devil is out there?”
“It is a shuttle…of DOOM!”
“A shuttle?” Vioxx said. The bridge lighting flickered from the force of another impact. “Some shuttle.”
“Reginald Bain does not get his arse kicked by a shuttle,” Bain said.
“First time for everything,” Remax said.
“Is there any cover around here? Anything?”
“The Hobus star doesn’t have any planetary bodies circling it, and right now said star is a black hole. I wouldn’t get us too close,” Remax said.
“Zantak, to the black hole,” Bain ordered. The bridge shuddered again as another hit slammed into the Anomaly’s ventral side.
“I said DON’T go there,” Remax said as Zantak spun the Anomaly around. “You don’t honestly think you’re going to trick them into flying into the black hole?”
Lornstrum watched the Anomaly dart off toward the newly-formed Hobus black hole and chuckled to herself. Did Bain honestly thing that she was going to fly into a black hole? Her shuttle would be on top of the Anomaly and pounding away before the larger ship made it anywhere near the black hole’s event horizon. She increased her speed, closing the gap between her shuttle and the Anomaly in seconds. Before her hand could touch the firing control, she was blinded by a fiery glow in front of her. The Anomaly had abruptly stopped and was somehow projecting what appeared a small section of a star directly in front of her.
Panicked, she tried to alter course, but it was too late. The 29th Century shuttle slipped through the dimensional gateway directly into another universe, where the Hobus ultranova was very much in progress and more than happy to completely engulf the incoming vessel.
“Good show, Marsden. Cabral. Discontinue the gateway,” Bain said, settling back into his command chair. He glanced over at Remax, “Did that answer your question, Sub-Commander?”
“Consider it withdrawn,” Remax said.
“Zantak, resume intercept course with the mining ship,” Bain ordered.
“Does that mean we’re done with the bumps now?” Marsden asked over the comm.
“I certainly hope so,” Bain replied. “What’s your status?”
“We are ready,” Cabral’s voice said.
Bain couldn’t help but notice the strain in it. “Are you okay, old boy?”
“I will survive,” Cabral said.
“One more to go,” Bain said. “Then we’re done…I hope.”
“As do I,” Cabral said.
“What about Doctor Kasyov?” Bain asked.
“Still here,” Kasyov’s voice said.
“We’re working on that, Kassie.”
“I know. Nooney is currently…flittering around my body and squealing. Lots of squealing”
“I’m sure he has a good reason for it,” Bain said.
“He’s mentally unbalanced?”
“Just keep your chin up there, Kasyov…not that you have a chin at the moment. But soon I’m sure Marsden and Nooney will have you back to your old self, complete with a chin that you can keep up. Bridge out.”
“Very inspiring, sir,” Vioxx said.
“Not my best work. I’ll grant you that,” Bain said.
In little more than a day, Nero would return there. Return to his wife, currently ripe with child. He only hoped that he would be able to remain long enough to witness the birth of his offspring.
No. He would make certain to remain long enough. Mining could wait. The Empire would not collapse if the Narada remained in port for a few extra weeks. His men would welcome the time with their families.
Nero smiled and closed his eyes. Tonight he would dream of the many happy reunions to come.
As the miners slept, their ship carried them through a gateway into a universe not their own.
After tomorrow, none of them would ever sleep peacefully again.
“Captain’s Log. Stardate 178468.2. I’m not one for a whole lot of fanfare or ceremony, but under the circumstances I thought a bit more of a production was in order. We saved a planet. A couple really, if you count Remus, which no one seems to. We quite possibly even saved the entire universe, if my Organian friends are to be believed. I don’t want a medal, but a thank you wouldn’t go amiss. Instead, we got a bright flash of light, and here we are. Right back where we belong.
“I suppose I should just be relieved to have it all over with. Cabral isn’t one to complain, but the strain was wearing on him. According to Lieutenant Marsden, during that last effort, Cabral let out an audible cry. I’ve ordered her to destroy the gateway device. I don’t care what it can do. I will not connect one of my crew to a torture device just to make life easier on me.
“I am, however, delighted to announce the return of Doctor Kasyov to the land of the bodied. Doctor Nooney says that she’ll need some time, but he expects her to be fit as the proverbial fiddle very soon…at least physically. Whether there’s any residual damage in other areas of her life remains to be seen.
“Finally, to whomever at Starfleet listens to these log entries, I imagine this one has been borderline incomprehensible. Sorry about that, but we all have our secrets.”
“Rosalyn, what an unexpected surprise,” Section Chief Gunton said.
“I doubt that,” Rosalyn replied to the man on the comm
screen in Captain Bain’s quarters.
“We don’t get too many comms from your husband’s ship. Especially not ones coded with your protocols. And here I thought we had taught you a few things about subterfuge.”
“There didn’t seem to be much of a point in this instance. I wanted to clear the air.”
“Of course you do. You just expect me to say ‘All’s forgiven’ and bring you home after what you pulled? You could be deactivated for this. Permanently.”
“I could. I don’t think I will, though.”
“We could have ended any future Romulan threat before it started,” Gunton said.
“We both know that’s not true,” Rosalyn said. “I think we were both too blinded by the possibilities to consider the reality of the situation. We think we have so much power, but there’s always someone with more.”
“Did you get a visitor?” Gunton asked amused.
“I did indeed,” Rosalyn said. “Our mutual friend, Captain Lornstrum, was on me soon after I arrived in the 24th Century.”
“Yet there you stand.”
“Yes. Thanks to my husband.”
Gunton blanched. “He doesn’t know, does he? About you?”
“No. But he has seen to it that Captain Lornstrum won’t be troubling us any further. Surely that’s worth some consideration.”
“Some consideration? I wish I could give the man a medal.”
“No need. Letting me retire will be sufficient.”
“You want to what?”
“Retire,” Rosalyn said. “I think I’ve earned it. You don’t trouble me. I don’t trouble you. All’s forgiven.”
“Do you really think you’re going to be happy gardening? Watching the grandkids? That’s not who you are.”
“We’ll see. I, for one, am looking forward to spending a bit of quality time with my Reginald.”
“Is he ready for that?” Gunton asked with a grin.
“Goodbye, Oscar,” Rosalyn said.
“Rosalyn. Good luck to you. We’ll find a way to keep the Federation safe without you.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine. Bain out.”
Kasyov couldn’t sleep, but keeping her eyes open required too much effort. So she rested, the sounds of Sickbay surrounding her.
They were soon joined by another sound. The soft hum of an antigrav unit approaching her bedside. Cabral’s hovercam.
Kasyov didn’t move, didn’t react at all, waiting to see what Cabral would do.
The hovercam remained.
She let an hour pass. Weakened as her body was, doing nothing for that amount of time was easy. Almost compulsory.
The hovercam remained.
A slight smile tugged at her lips.
Cabral evidently noticed. “I’m sorry,” his voice said through the hovercam’s speaker.
“Me too,” Kasyov whispered.
“I’ll be fine. It’s better now. I think I missed me. This me.”
“I missed her, too. You should rest.”
The hovercam moved away. Kasyov was unconscious before it made it to the doors.
“I did a little digging on that Nero bloke,” Bain said, idly swirling the scotch in his tumbler as he sat in the Captain’s Lounge with Tovar. “Turns out he left a pregnant wife behind on Romulus. She gave birth to a boy shortly after we left.”
“Oh no. Here it comes,” Tovar said.
“What do you mean?”
“The big twist ending. We saved Romulus, and the boy grew up to be Prosak’s grandfather or Remax’s father or something.”
“Not in the slightest,” Bain said. “He opened a restaurant. Never married. Good lord, lad. Do you know what the odds are of him being related to one of our Romulan friends? Astronomical, to say the least.”
“I see your point.”
“Would have been bloody brilliant, though, wouldn’t it?”
“Am I interrupting?” Rosalyn asked from the doorway.
“Not at all, my dear. Have a seat. Can I get you a drink?” Bain said, rising from his chair.
“Sit down, Reg. I’m quite capable of getting my own beverage.”
“No one would think otherwise.”
“No one who wanted to live,” Tovar said, drawing a chuckle from both of his adopted parents.
“So what were we discussing?” Rosalyn asked, settling into one of the armchairs.
“Romulan restauranteurs,” Tovar said.
“Then you won’t mind a change of topic. How would you two feel if I stayed aboard for a while?”
“Really?” Bain said. “That would be wonderful. But your work…”
“I’ve decided that it’s high time I dedicated myself to doing things that I actually want to do. I’ve retired.”
“Retired?” Bain exclaimed. “You’re awfully young for that!”
“Better to do it now than when I’m too old to enjoy it,” Rosalyn said.
“Hard to argue with that.”
“But I don’t want to get in your way, dear.”
“Or yours, Tovar.”
“You know I welcome any time we can spend together. Having you here would be, as father said, wonderful.”
“I just hope you don’t find it too dull,” Bain said.
“Don’t worry. I’ll find some way to keep myself busy.”
“There. All fixed.”
“So I have my own universe to play in now?”
“Yep. Have fun.”
“Excellent! I can do whatever I want!”
“Knock yourself out.”
“Oh, I will. And it will be EPIC! Maybe I’ll destroy Vulcan.”