Star Traks: The Vexed Generation was created by Anthony Butler. It's based on Alan Decker's Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Paramount and Viacom, their dark masters, own everything, even though they aren't omnipotent, judging by the performance of UPN. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, better hit the "Back" button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Anthony Butler
Copyright: 2001

With additional reporting by Jake Sisko


Author’s Note: It would be helpful, but somewhat time consuming, to read Star Traks: The Vexed Generation “All’s Well That Ends” before reading this story.


For her.


FROM THE FEDERATION NEWS AUGUST 2384


What you leave behind is not nearly as important as who.

Take, for example, Doctor Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Doctor Crusher lost her son several years ago thanks to a menace that has become more and more of a plague to peoples across the Federation in recent years.

Omnipotence.

While visiting a world in the Cardassian demilitarized zone, Wesley Crusher, a Starfleet Academy dropout, was summarily yanked away from his mother by an entity known as “The Traveler” and forced to go through the universe exploring the meaning of existence.

Not surprisingly, that left a very distraught Doctor Crusher.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Dr. Crusher said in a recent interview. Sitting across from me at her desk on the Enterprise, Crusher looked like a woman who still hadn’t come to terms with the loss of her son, even though he’d been lost for eleven years. “All I did,” Crusher went on, “was cry for the first few days. It still hurts, you know?”

Not exactly a very omnipotent thing for Wesley Crusher to do, leaving his mother like that.

“No goodbye note,” Crusher told me. “Not a letter or a visit since then. Nothing. It’s as if I don’t exist to him anymore.”

Dr. Crusher isn’t the only victim of omnipotence. Another victim is Kasidy Yates, a freighter captain, wife of former Starfleet Captain Benjamin Sisko [Benjamin Sisko is the reporter’s father–Editor]. Shortly after the Federation victory at the Battle of Cardassia, ending the long war with the Dominion, Sisko took a trip down to Bajor after experiencing some “visions.” He was never heard from again.

Except by Yates.

“I was sitting there with Worf and Kira, as they told me what was being done to find Ben,” Yates said. “And suddenly I was in this infinite white…space. And [Captain Sisko] was there. Ben told me not to worry, that he was all right, but that the Prophets had more tasks for him to do. I asked when he would come back. He said maybe a week, maybe a year. He was really vague, you know? Well, it’s been six years and guess what? No Benjamin.”

No Benjamin. No Wesley. And can you blame them? They’ve gone on to a lavish, omnipotent lifestyle, leaving countless loved ones behind.

This awful trend goes all the way to the highest levels of power. Federation President Bradley Dillon knew a woman named Leximas, a member of a species unknown to the Federation. Thought to be killed in an explosion, Leximas reappeared shortly afterwards to assist Dillon and Waystation Captain Lisa Beck with a station emergency.

Leximas then bid Bradley Dillon goodbye. You can guess what came next.

“I’m still looking for her,” the President told me in an exclusive subspace conversation. “I’ve devoted countless resources to finding her somewhere in time-space. I’ve got the best minds in the Federation working on it.”

That’s not all President Dillon did. He also founded “OmniFriend,” or “Friends of Omniscient People and Things.”

OmniFriend is an organization dedicated to supporting people who have lost loved ones to omnipotence, through friendship and sharing.

But while Beverly Crusher, Kasidy Yates, and Bradley Dillon are all card-carying members of OmniFriend, that alone does nothing to fill the huge void in their lives.

Next week, we will look at other Federation citizens whose lives have been turned upside down by the plague of omnipotence.

If you, or someone you know, has been affected by omnipotence, contact Jake Sisko at the Federation News Service immediately.


RIGEL FOUR


“Are you sure this is such a good idea?”

“I need to do this, Mirk.”

“This could make the whole disappearance thing sting even more. Maybe you just need to make a clean break.”

“There’s something you need to understand about humans, Mirk. We need closure. It’s in our nature to seek an end to things.”

“I think things were wrapped up quite nicely.”

“Well, I disagree. And whose last name is whose?”

“I guess you’re right.”

“Then make us appear already.”

“Okay, honey. I hope you’re right about this.”

And then, suddenly, Megan Hartley and Mirk Hartley stepped out of a yawning white gape in space and onto the front lawn of a wood-built seaside house on the sandy side of Rigel Four. Mirk could spot boats of all sizes bobbing in the water behind the house, reaching out a great distance to the horizon. The Hartleys had fished the Rigellian oceans for decades.

“Quaint,” Mirk said, glancing around.

“You’re overdressed,” Hartley said, glancing at Mirk’s white tuxedo the same one he’d worn when he appeared to whisk her away into omnipotence two days prior.

She glanced down at her own Starfleet uniform. “I’m overdressed myself. Can you do something about this?”

“I can’t wait until you develop powers of your own,” Mirk sighed, then pointed at Hartley, and then himself. In a flash of purple light the pair were suddenly outfitted in khaki shorts and flowered shirts.

“Much better,” Hartley said.

“And very Maloxian,” Mirk said approvingly, straightening his shirt, then giving a tug on Hartley’s. “Let’s meet the parents, then.”

Hartley led Mirk up the walk to the big, rustic-looking fishing cottage. “I can’t believe we never got around to coming out here together.”

“Yes, I would have liked that,” Mirk said. “At least your parents know me.”

“‘Know’ in the loosest sense of the word,” Hartley muttered. “They saw you at our wedding and then last year when they visited for Lobstraxian ‘Kumquat Days…’”

“That was fun,” Mirk said.

“I’m sure they remember it fondly,” Hartley said, and clanged the heavy metal clanger on her large, wooden door.

After a few moments, the door was opened by an older woman about Hartley’s height. She had dark hair as opposed to Hartley’s light brown, but there was no mistaking that she was Hartley’s mother.

“Mom!” Hartley exclaimed, throwing her arms around the woman, whose eyes were wide with shock.

Mirk stared at his shoes, then looked sheepishly at the woman. “Hi, Mrs. Hartley.”

“Don’t go calling me Mrs. Hartley,” the woman sighed. “You’re my son-in-law. Call me…”

“Mom?” Mirk offered.

“Denise,” she corrected. “But thanks for the sentiment.” She stared at Hartley. “Well, now, what brings you here? Did that idiot ship of yours finally blow up?”

“Not yet,” Hartley said. “I’m actually…well, sort of…”

“On leave,” Mirk said helpfully.

“On an extended leave of absence,” Hartley said, looking at her mother with a smile.

“And your first thought was to visit your parents,” Denise said, nodding with satisfaction. “Well, it’s nice to know you’ve still got some sense after bouncing around in that engine room for so many years.” She gestured Mirk and Hartley in and called out to the house. “Bob! Bobby! Megan’s home!”

“Did that ship finally blow up?” came the gruff voice of Bob Hartley.

“No, for the umpteenth time,” Hartley sighed as she and Mirk walked in. As the tall, angular Bob Hartley, and the 8-year-old Bobby came down the steps, Hartley looked around at the empty, relatively quiet house. “Where the hell is everybody?”

Bobby ran to hug Hartley’s legs. “Megan! You’re back! Did your ship blow up?”

“No,” Hartley muttered, ruffling Bobby’s blond hair. “So…where are Lisa and Eric?”

“Fishing, where else?” Denise sighed.

“You wouldn’t believe who’s out on the boat with them,” Bob said, exchanging a nervous glance with Denise.

“Who?” Mirk asked, wanting to be included in the conversation.

“Well…” Denise began.

“Will HE be glad to see you,” Bob said.

“He’ll be thrilled,” Denise agreed.

Hartley glanced from Bob to Denise, then nodded recognition. “Oh, no. Brian.”

“Who’s Brian?” Mirk asked, looking at Hartley.

“You never told him about Brian Adler?”

“He never asked.”

“How long have you two been together…five years?” asked Bob.

“Give or take,” Mirk shrugged.

“And you never told him about Brian Adler.” Bob shook his head.

Mirk considered his patience to be infinite, but he was losing it rather quickly. “So who’s Brian Adler?”

Sighing, Hartley took him by the hand. “Why don’t you just come out and meet him..”


The “Mermaid IV,” one of the Hartley family’s four fishing vessels, was trolling about three kilometers off the beach.

Hartley led Mirk out the back door of her house and down the steps to the dock, where a small sea skiff was anchored. Bobby begged to go along, and Bob and Denise grudgingly allowed him.

“Be careful!” Denise called after the group as they set off on the high-speed skiff.

Hartley held Bobby on her lap as the wind whipped through her hair. Her hand gently tapped the controls, guiding the skiff out to where the narrow, v-hulled fishing ship was trolling.

“Help me steer, Bobby,” Hartley said, pointing to the thrust control, which Bobby gladly tapped.

“There she is,” Mirk said, pointing at the 30-meter Mermaid IV, gripping for dear life on one of the rivets along the skiff’s deck. He was never a big fan of water, which was a bit of an oddity, considering his home world of Maalox was essentially nothing but islands.

Hartley steered the skiff toward the fishing boat. Unlike Mermaids I through III, the IV was strictly a private fishing boat. The others took out charter groups, since there were some people in the Federation, reactionaries, eccentric VIP’s and oddballs, mostly, who still liked to catch their own food. Some did it for the novelty or the adventure, some did it for the beautiful weather and stillness of the Rigellian water, which was a beautiful shade of velvety purple.

“MEGAN!” came a cry from a boy, looking about 17, dangling his legs over the side of the boat. He pointed, standing up, nearly slipping on the deck but somehow maintaining his footing. “Lisa, Brian! Megan’s here!”

Hartley pulled the skiff up next to the Mermaid and lashed a rope from the skiff up around one of the fishing boat’s cleats. She climbed a ladder up onto the Mermaid’s deck and wrapped her arms around Eric. “Well, it looks like Mom put you on the stretcher. You grew what, a meter?”

“Point five meters,” Eric laughed. “Very funny.”

A lithe, blonde girl who looked strikingly similar to Hartley, however a bit younger, about 24, stepped out from the cabin belowdecks. “Well, it’s about time,” she grinned, tossing a padd she’d been reading to the deck. Mirk was amazed at how much Lisa Hartley looked like Megan. Younger, yes, but also without the edgy, bitter demeanor he’d come to know and love in Hartley.

“Won’t Brian be glad to see you,” Lisa said, wrapping an arm around Hartley. “Oh, Brian…”

A large man, about Hartley’s age, with a beard and fishing cap, shorts and t-shirt, peered up from behind a bulkhead. He wore sunglasses, and as soon as he saw Burley, he pushed them up on his forehead. “M….Megan?”

Hartley smiled. “I’m sure as hell not a Rigellian sand shark.”

Mirk blinked at her. “Huh?”

She playfully punched Mirk in the arm. “So…Brian…what are you doing here?”

“Just taking Lisa and Eric out fishing. In case you’d forgotten, it’s summer on Rigel, and I take them fishing every summer.”

Hartley folded her arms. “Just like a good fake brother should.”

“It’s more than their real sister has done lately.”

“Don’t you two start again,” Lisa sighed.

“Yeah, really,” said Eric. “It’s been so long since we’ve all been together.”

“That it has,” Hartley says. “And I wonder why that is.”

“I can’t help it that your family loves me,” Brian said. “I take out some commercial fishing boats for them when I’m not working at the Rigellian government office. I don’t see why I can’t be a close friend of the family just because you’re not around anymore.” He glanced at Mirk, as if this was the first he’d seen him. “And who might this be? Oh, wait…let me guess. It’s that husband I’ve been hearing about.”

“Yes, that…husband…” Mirk said sheepishly, extending a hand. “I’ve heard quite a bit about you in the last ten minutes, Brian.”

“I’ve heard about you too,” Brian said, staring at Mirk with narrowed eyes. “Did Meg tell you about me?”

“I can’t say that she went into a whole lot of detail.”

Brian laughed. “Figures.”

“It’s almost lunch time,” Lisa broke in.

“Well, then we’ll just head back and have a nice long talk about it over lunch,” Brian said. “And then maybe you’ll tell us what brings you back home, Meg. Did that ship of yours finally blow up?”

“For the last f***ing time, NO!” Hartley grumbled, wondering why she’d even bothered coming home.


“He took you to prom,” Mirk said, trying to keep his smile plastered on as Denise slapped a fillet of fish onto his plate.

Hartley nodded, staring at her plate as she ate. “Yeah. And he’s hung around the house ever since.”

“You…hang out with her family?” Mirk asked, still trying to keep the smile on.

“We have a very special relationship with Brian,” Denise said. “We like to think of him as part of the family.”

“Uncle Brian is fun,” Bobby said, forking fish and freshly cut tomatoes into his mouth.

“‘Uncle Brian’ wanted to marry me,” Hartley explained, rather bluntly, to Mirk. “Let’s just say things never worked out.”

“You didn’t even try,” Brian muttered, poking at his food.

“We were friends, that’s it. We went to prom as friends.”

“And had a beautiful time,” Denise broke in.

Bob, who Mirk came to realize didn’t say a whole lot, nodded and said “Yep.”

“And…how long ago was this?” Mirk asked, scratching his head.

“Well…” Denise said, looking at Bob.

“Um…” Bob said.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” muttered Brian.

“Eighteen years,” said Eric. “But it’s okay that it didn’t work out. Brian is still our friend. Right, Brian?”

“Right.”

“This is…” Mirk said, wanting to say “absurd.” He looked at the fish on his fork. “Terrific.”

“Kind of like Earth trout,” Denise pointed out.

“Watch for the bones,” Brian said lightly as he ate.

“So…if not an exploding starship,” Denise said with a half-choke, “then what does bring you here?”

“Not that we’re not happy to see you,” Bob broke in.

“Of course,” said Denise, sipping from her glass of bubbling spring water.

“We’re omnipotent,” Hartley said flatly, and Denise spewed her water out all over the table in a geyser that sprayed everyone across from her–Mirk, Hartley, Lisa.

“You…you both?” Denise asked, blinking.

“We’d heard about some of Mirk’s…unique abilities…” Lisa said.

“But you both?” Bob added. “You both are…”

“Yes,” Mirk said. “Going off to be…you know…omnipotent. We have to go explore existence and whatnot. Your daughter thought it might be nice if she dropped in and, you know, said good-bye.”

Bob suddenly coughed, then pounded his chest a bit. “Ahem…must’ve got a bone.”

Brian just stared at Hartley, his eyes looking both angry and sad. “It’s been lovely. I have to go.”

“Mister Drama, as usual,” Hartley sighed as Brian stormed out of the room, then looked around at the stone faces of her family. “What?”

Eric finally broke the silence. “I think it’s cool!”


That night, Mirk and Hartley slept in the moonlit guest room that overlooked the ocean, the room that had once belonged to Hartley.

She had her hands behind her head, staring up at the ceiling.

Mirk was in the guest bathroom, gargling.

“You know, you probably don’t need to worry about germs and morning breath,” Hartley called after him. “You’re omnipotent now, you know.”

“I know,” Mirk called from the bathroom. “But this is my last chance to experience the mundane little details of life. I figured I might as well take advantage of the opportunity.”

“Good thinking,” Hartley said, as Mirk shuffled in wearing pineapple pajamas (which he’d zapped on using his powers). Mirk climbed into bed next to her. “You look thoughtful.”

“Pending omnipotence tends to do that to a person.”

“You think we could have found a better way to break it to your parents?”

“Well, you’re omnipotent, and I’m halfway there. You’d think between us we could have found a way to do it that would have end up with less…hurt feelings and confusion.”

“Your mom and dad seemed to take it well,” Mirk said. “Your brothers even think it’s cool.”

“Yeah, but not everybody took it well.”

“Since when do you care, anyway?”

Hartley rolled over to face Mirk. “You know, contrary to popular belief, I’m not a complete hard-ass. I happen to be really bothered by the fact that Brian can’t let go of me. It’s sad.”

“I totally agree. But I honestly don’t see what you can do about it.”

“You’d think, in all your omnipotence, you’d come up with a solution.”

“Hey, give me a chance. I haven’t been omnipotent for THAT long.”


“I love her. No, correction. I’m IN love with her,” Brian said into his mug of beer, as he and his longtime fishing pal Derek Akers sat at the bar in one of Rigel Four’s more remote and barnacle-decorated locales, “The Sea Shanty.”

Derek looked at Brian Adler with narrowed eyes. “It’s been eighteen years, Brian. Get over it.”

“You wouldn’t be saying that if you had any idea how I feel, Derek. But nooooooo, you’re married. You have a wife, and the potential for a family. You have a future. I have none of that, and never will.”

“Never will with Megan, maybe, but it’s not as if she destroyed your whole future.”

“She might as well have.”

“Snap out of it, Brian.”

“You just don’t understand.”

“Tell me this.” Derek took a long sip of his drink and turned toward Brian. “You two… you never even, you know…”

“Kissed?”

“Well, I was thinking of something else but…”

“No, we didn’t do anything like that. I wanted to. She may have even thought about it, but it would have been for all the wrong reasons.”

Derek nodded. “Meaning what?”

“Well, I wasn’t really experienced with dating. I think she kind of wanted to be my teacher.”

“But…?”

“We got to talking about it one night, and it seemed like something might actually have happened.”

“BUT…?”

“But she had a change of heart. Said it was a bad idea. That was the end of it. She went off to Starfleet Academy not long after that.”

Derek downed his drink. “Sad, man. Really sad.”

“Is that all you’ve got to say?”

“What else do you want me to say? It’s a beautiful day for fishing tomorrow. You should see if the Hartleys will let us take out their boat.”

“I’m sure they will.”

“Maybe we can find a nice mermaid out there for you.”

“Very funny.” Brian stared at his drink. “I’m pathetic, aren’t I, Derek?”

“It isn’t for me to say,” Derek said, standing up. “But yes.”

“I should get over this.”

“That’s the general idea.”

“But I just can’t. Just can’t let go.”

“If you ask me, I’d say you don’t have much choice,” Derek said, tossed some credits on the bar, and walked out.


“Well, now, I don’t care if you’re omnipotent or not. You need a breakfast,” Denise Hartley said, shoveling eggs onto Mirk and Hartley’s plates.

“So are you both immortal?” Eric asked with wide eyes, leaning over the table as Bobby looked on with even wider eyes.

“Yep,” Mirk said. “As far as I can figure, we will never die.”

“What will you two do for all that…eternal…time?” Bob asked, glancing over the padd that held the Federation News.

“Explore existence,” Mirk said. “At least, that’s what the brochures I looked over said.”

“There are brochures?” Lisa asked, chewing on her bagel.

“Well, the omnipotent equivalent,” Mirk explained, even though that didn’t explain anything.

“Sounds boring,” Eric said, then glanced at Bobby. “Let’s go outside and play taserball.”

“TASERBALL!” Bobby squealed, and darted out of the kitchen, Eric on his heels.

“The attention span of kids,” Mirk said with a giggle.

“You know, you’ve really hurt Brian,” Denise broke in.

Hartley stabbed at her egg. “He’s going to have to get over me eventually, Mom. If anything, this should help him. There’s not much of a way I could be any more unreachable to him now. I mean, after Mirk and I leave here, there’s a good chance we will never come back. We’re graduating to another plane of existence, here. That has got to erase any sliver of hope Brian may have had about me coming back here and getting together with him.”

“And you really think he will be able to understand all that?’

“Just because he’s never left Rigel doesn’t mean he’s stupid. He’ll understand. The guy’s not bad looking. He’ll find someone.”

“He doesn’t want anyone else but you.” Denise picked up Eric and Bobby’s dishes. “But you know that already.” She glanced at Mirk. “I’m sorry, Mirk. Bob and I think the world of you, and think you are terrific for Megan. I mean, you’ve gone and made her omnipotent. That’s more than most husbands do for their wives.”

“I try,” Mirk shrugged.

“But Brian…he loves Megan so much. To hear him talk about her when she was gone….to see the hurt in his eyes last night…” Denise grabbed a napkin and wiped her eyes. “I always thought that boy would be my son in law.”

“That’s enough, Mom.” Hartley shoved her plate away. “I’m not hungry anymore.”

“You need to find him and talk to him before you go,” Denise said, and Bob nodded assent.

“We can’t stay that long,” Hartley said. “Wouldn’t you rather us spend the time with you and the family?”

“He is family, whether you want to admit it or not,” Denise said. “And besides, it’s not as if you’ve left anything unsaid with your father and I.” She put a hand on Hartley’s shoulder. “You haven’t, have you?”

“Um…not that I can think of.”

“Why the rush, anyway?” asked Bob. “You’ve got eternity, after all.”

“He does have a point,” Mirk said. “Maybe you can reason with this Brian. Make him understand that there are other women in the world for him.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Or maybe I can have a man-to-man with him…”

“Yeah. A guy ten years younger than him, married to his first and only true love, who is from another part of the galaxy and omnipotent. You guys should be able to connect on SO many levels.” Hartley rolled her eyes.

“Hey,” Mirk said. “Anything’s worth a try.”

That’s when the door knocker clanged.

“Wonder who that could be,” Denise said, and walked out to the foyer.

Hartley was stewing on what to do about Brian when a lanky dark- skinned guy, not more than a few years older than Mirk stepped in behind Denise Hartley, who wore a scowl on her face.

“This…gentleman…claims to be from the Federation News Service.”

“Wow!” said Bob Hartley. “To what do we owe this…” He looked at Hartley and Mirk. “Oh. Right.”

Mirk stood up and looked at the newcomer. “Let me guess. You’re here to holograph Riegel’s largest eel.”

“No, actually, “ the man from the news service said to Mirk. He looked at Hartley. “I’m here to interview you. My name is Jake Sisko. I’m here to find out what made you decide to abandon mankind in favor of omnipotence.”

“I tried to tell you. We don’t know what you’re talking about,” Denise snapped.

“Who could have…” Hartley trailed off. Then it clicked. She sprung from his chair. “That. That…BASTARD!”

“I take it you’re Lieutenant Commander Hartley?” Jake asked, cocking his head quizzically as Hartley darted out the door.

Mirk stared after her. “She always did have a hard time managing her anger.” He looked at Jake. “Well, you’re here. I guess I might as well talk to you.”

“I’d appreciate your time. The people of the Federation are fascinated by omnipotence,” Jake said, withdrawing a padd from his jacket pocket. “Shall we get started?”

Mirk nodded. “Have at me.”


Brian Adler whistled a melancholy tune as he checked the tackle aboard the Mermaid IV. He heard foot clomps on the dock leading out to the Hartley Fishing Company’s ships and looked up. It was Megan Hartley.

He beamed. “Megan…I…was just about to meet Derek Akers for a fishing trip. Care to come along?”

Hartley hopped down onto the aft deck with Brian and shoved him bodily across the deck. “How DARE you!” she seethed.

“How dare I what?” Brian asked, dazed, stumbling against the side bulkhead.

“How dare you rat us out to the Federation News Service, ruining our last trip here, ever. Is that your way of getting revenge on me for not marrying you instead, huh?”

“Meg, I don’t…”

“Save your excuses!” Hartley railed, and shoved Brian over the side of the boat.

He fell four meters, arms pinwheeling, down into the water, with a splash that sent water up at Hartley as she leaned over the bulkhead, staring at the flailing Brian.

“What in the hell is wrong with you?” Brian yelled, coughing water. “I didn’t call the Federation News Service. Why would I do a thing like that?”

“That’s what I asked myself,” Hartley muttered.

“It wasn’t me,” Brian gasped as he treaded water. “Why would I lie to you?

Hartley rubbed her chin. “I don’t know.”

“Could you give me a hand?”

Hartley sighed, ducked into the side compartment inset into the bulkhead. She pulled out an old-fashioned rope ladder, hooked it to the cleats on the bulkhead and unrolled it. Brian lugged himself up along the side of the boat and climbed in, collapsing onto the deck beside Hartley.

“Well, I guess this is a fitting end to our relationship,” Brian coughed, yanking pink seaweed out of his hair.

Hartley knelt beside him. “What do you mean?”

Brian laughed nervously, sadly, angrily. “I’m all wet.”

“I don’t get it.”

Brian sat up, leaning against the bulkhead. “I guess I was all wet from the beginning. From the very moment I met you.”

“Listen, Brian,” Hartley said, moving to put a hand on his shoulder. “I never asked you to have these feelings for me.”

“I never asked to have them,” Brian said simply. “And I’d give anything to have them removed so I can live a normal life, without the thought of you creeping into everything I ever do. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

Honestly, Hartley didn’t. She watched Brian walk off.down the dock, toward shore.

“I don’t feel much like fishing anymore,” he called over his shoulder.”

Hartley sat there, leaning over the bulkhead, staring at the lapping water, alone with her thoughts.

She turned when she heard footsteps on the dock. Her shoulders fell when she realized it was only Derek Akers.

“You’re not Brian Adler,” he said with a smirk.

“And you’re not an inch taller than you were in high school,” Hartley smirked back.

“I take it you sent loverboy home crying,” Derek muttered, looking out at the water.

“Something like that.”

“I’ve tried to knock some sense over him. But old habits die hard.”

“I never asked to be his habit.”

“You think he’s happy about the situation?” Derek asked with a raised eyebrow. “Far be it from me to intrude, Megan, but from what I understand, you and your hubby have some pretty amazing powers. You’d think, with all that power, you’d be able to fix Brian.”

“You’d think,” Hartley said, and climbed out of the boat, walking off down the dock, leaving Derek alone.


“…after the Starshine Kids were destroyed, I had to give up being a high priest of the Maloxitarian faith, which, if the truth be known, I was kind of annoyed about,” Mirk said, leaning over the kitchen table as Jake furiously scribbled notes on his padd. “You getting all this?”

“Yeah,” Jake said. “But you really haven’t said much about, you know, your powers.”

“I’m getting to that,” Mirk muttered. “I’m trying to give you a complete picture. So, anyway, the Explorer’s cafe had been turned into a nightclub, so I was constantly having to deal with noisy evenings and drunken customers, far much more so than when the lounge was more of a cafe…”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” Jake said boredly as he took notes.

Suddenly Mirk heard the front door slam. Hartley stormed in. Jake looked up from his padd eagerly.

“Ahh….Commander Hartley, maybe you can shed some light on this…”

“Get lost,” Hartley muttered without looking at Jake. “Where are my parents?”

“In town picking up some supplies. They want to have a barbecue. Isn’t that nice?”

“I’m invited,” Jake said by way of breaking the tension.

“I said get lost.” Hartley looked at Mirk. “We have to talk.”

“Okay.” Mirk snapped his fingers and Jake was gone in a flash of white light.

“Mirk…you didn’t….”

“I sent him to interview someone else about omnipotence.”

“Anyone I know?” Hartley asked.

“No,” Mirk said with a smile. “But it’s someone he knows. Okay, so anyway…you wanted to talk.”

Hartley nodded. “Yes. I want you to take away Brian’s pain.”

Mirk blinked. “Pardon?”

“Take away his pain. Take away his feelings for me.”

“I don’t think I follow.”

“Oh, come on. I know damn good and well it would be a simple matter for you.”

Mirk nodded. “Well, yes. I suppose so.”

“Then do it.”

“It’s not that easy.” Mirk paced the kitchen, stared out the window. He turned to look at Hartley. “Wouldn’t that violate the Prime Directive?”

“No.” Hartley shook her head. “The Prime Directive doesn’t apply to humans. Furthermore, we’re omnipotent. We can do whatever we want now. Besides, it’s the best thing for him.”

“It’s…unnatural.”

“So is stopping time to prevent us all from getting caught in an alternate universe, and preventing us from getting blown up with the Escort blew up in the Delta Quadrant.”

“Those are terrible examples,” Mirk muttered. “I was saving lives, or versions of lives.”

“And you’d be saving Brian’s life. As sure as if you were preventing him from death itself.”

“It’s not our responsibility to heal every broken heart in the quadrant. We’d never get a vacation if we tried.”

“I’m not asking you to heal every broken heart, Mirk,” Hartley said, stepping up next to Mirk, gripping his hand. “I’m just asking you to heal Brian’s.”

Mirk stared into her eyes. “Kumquat…this is really important to you, isn’t it?”

“I feel responsible.”

“Well, don’t. You can’t control another person’s feelings.”

Hartley arched an eyebrow. “But you can, Mirk. And you will.”

Mirk shook his head. “I’m omnipotent, and somehow I’m still powerless against you.”

Hartley grinned. “Don’t tell me you’re surprised.”


ONE MONTH LATER


A tanned Megan Hartley stepped out of the front door of her family home, arm in arm with an equally-tanned Mirk Hartley.

“It’s time,” Mirk said, and Hartley nodded.

“I know.”

Denise, Bob, Bobby, Lisa, and Eric Hartley filtered out after them, hugging and chattering about “the places you’ll see,” and “the places you’ll go,” and “don’t forget to visit the Horsehead Nebula” and “drop an omnipotent postcard now and then.”

Hartley turned around to face her family, smiling warmly. “It’s been a good time, guys. I don’t want to drag this out. I want to just say good- bye.”

There were nods around the group.

“I still don’t understand why we haven’t seen more of Brian,” Denise said, hands on hips. “He’s never gone a whole month without stopping by. You think he’s avoiding you, Megan?”

“I can say with a great deal of certainty that he isn’t,” Hartley said, bending to hug Bobby Hartley tightly. She rose to hug Eric and Lisa as one, and then Bob and Denise.

“I hear he’s got a girlfriend,” Eric giggled.

“No he doesn’t!” snapped Bobby. “That’s impossible!”

“Anything is possible, Bobby,” Hartley said.

Mirk shook hands quickly, nodding and grinning, complimenting Denise on her cooking, thanking Bob for the tacklebox (although he wasn’t sure if he’d really need it where he was going).

“Thanks for all your hospitality,” he said, and gently put his hands on Hartley’s shoulders. “Hon…”

Hartley closed her eyes, stared up at the sky and let out a long breath. “I’m ready.”

And the Hartleys looked on as Mirk and Megan disappeared in a nova of white light.


FROM THE FEDERATION NEWS SEPTEMBER 2384


Omniptence is a powerful tool, but don’t be fooled. The omnipotent have challenges as real as those that face you or me.

Take Mirk Hartley, and his wife, Megan Hartley. A more diametrically opposed couple you won’t find. He from the Delta Quadrant, she from the Alpha Quadrant. He the supposed godlike savior of his race, she a starship engineer. But they made it work.

And now, together, they’re somewhere out there living the good life. The omnipotent life.

But before they left, they did what some of the others we’ve reported about haven’t done. They said their goodbyes. They left with closure.

Like all those others, Mirk and Megan left behind people who love them very much. But in their own way, they made their peace and left without a single regret. There’s something very special about that.

You can be omnipotent and still be a nasty person (see “Q”). But, godlike or not, infinite power or not, Mirk and Megan Hartley are truly first-class citizens of the universe.

So it’s not about what you leave behind, after all. Or who you leave behind, for that matter. It’s how you leave.

Speaking of which, this author wishes to convey his thanks to Mirk for using his powers to briefly put him in contact with one of the missing omnipotents, a Captain Benjamin Sisko.

I’ll save the conversation I had with my Dad for another article, one that I probably won’t be able to write for months, if not years.

Additionally, I’ve been instructed by Bobby Hartley, Megan’s youngest brother, to convey his most sincere apologies for “ratting out” his big sister’s omnipotence to the Federation News Service.

Something tells me that, wherever she is, she forgives him.


EARTH


Former-Captain Andrew Baxter leaned over a bed of wilted petunias and grunted angrily. “Who was I kidding? It’s absurd to think a Starfleet captain can grow petunias…”

And then he disappeared.

“Huh?” he said, quite sincerely, and glanced around. He was in a white infinity, a boundless area of space outside the space-time continuum, of the type he’d heard that Q had taken weary Starfleet officers to, and the type the so-called “Prophets” used to speak to lowly humanoids.

And now he was there. But why?

His question was quickly answered when he turned to see Mirk and Megan Hartley, standing in front of him.

“Welcome, all of you,” Hartley said gently. “I suppose you wonder why I’ve brought you here.”

“All of us?” Baxter asked, then glanced to his left, and then his right. He was surrounded by his former command crew. Captain David Conway, Captain Christopher Richards, Commander Kristen Larkin, Lieutenant Commander J’hana, Ariel Tilleran, Lieutenant Commander Zachary Ford, Commander Nell Vansen, Doctor Janice Browning, and his own wife, Kelly Peterman. Baxter tried to say something, so many things, but found himself suddenly mute.

The others as well, were moving their mouths, but couldn’t seem to speak. Conway looked especially angry about that.

“Thanks for coming,” Mirk said. “Sorry we had to mute you. That was Megan’s idea. We have a lot of universe to explore, and are already running a bit behind schedule, and as much as we’d love to catch up with what each of you has been doing over the last month, there frankly just isn’t the time.”

“Besides, we know everything you’ve been up to already,” Hartley added with a wry grin. “What with the omnipotence and all. We’re here today to talk to you all, because, frankly, we forgot something kind of important.”

“We never got around to saying goodbye,” Mirk said.

“And we should have,” Hartley said. “You all are a big part of why we’re together, and why everything worked out the way it did. And we just want to thank you for that.”

“That’s about all,” Mirk said, as Kelly Peterman broke down into mute tears.

And with that, the whole group disappeared, leaving Mirk and Harltey alone in the infinite white space.

Mirk wrapped his arms around Hartley. “Anybody else you want to say goodbye to? We could rustle up your sixth grade plasma science teacher…”

“Nah…” Hartley said. “Let’s get on with this omnipotence thing. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.”

“I’ve never been able to say no to you…” Mirk said, and they both disappeared.


RIGEL FOUR


Brian Adler fished, alone and happy.


Tags: unleashed