Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: WAYSTATION
“Just Undo It”
By Alan Decker
“Good morning, everybody,” Captain Lisa Beck said as she entered the Ops conference room and took her seat at the head of the table. Her gathered command crew returned a few grunts and half-hearted good mornings, but generally just sat staring at their own hands. “Let’s get this over with,” she said, keeping her own eyes locked on the padd she’d brought in. “Operations.”
“Nothing to report,” Lieutenant Commander Craig Porter said.
No response. Beck looked up and realized that Dr. Diantha was not there yet. If the last few staff briefings were any indication, the Keetooan doctor might not show up at all. She seemed to have taken the view that she didn’t need to be there unless there was a medical situation to bring to Beck’s attention. It was something Beck needed to discuss with her. Diantha was part of the command crew and required to attend briefings…even if Beck couldn’t really blame her for not wanting to be around the rest of said command crew right now. Ever since the lockdown, Beck didn’t even want to be around them. And that was the problem really. None of them wanted to be around the others. Best to just move things along for now. She’d worry about Diantha later.
“There was a minor disturbance on Deck 78 last night,” Lieutenant Commander Sean Russell reported. “Two Rigellans…”
The doors to the briefing room suddenly slid open, but instead of admitting a tall avian medical officer, as Beck was expecting, Federation President Bradley Dillon strode in, followed by Agent Anderson of his Special Secret Section.
“Good morning, all!” Bradley boomed jovially as he took up a position at the opposite end of the table from Beck. “And how is our intrepid command crew?”
Tepid was more like it, considering the less than enthusiastic response his greeting received. Bradley’s smile never wavered as he turned his attention to Yeoman Tina Jones. “I think you need to start serving stronger coffee, Tina,” he said with a wink.
“We’re in the middle of a briefing, Mister President. Is there something in particular we can help you with?” Beck asked. It was bad enough that Bradley had decided to drop by. That sort of thing was never a good sign. But with him this happy, there had to be…
“I need your staff to organize an event for me,” Bradley said.
An event? Were they party planners now, too?
But before Beck could begin what was going to be a very emphatic protest, Bradley said, “I would have had my people handle it, but it’s really a Starfleet event. I’m just appearing.”
“Wait. It’s a Starfleet event? And it’s going to be here?” Beck asked.
“Yes. I actually had hoped that Fleet Admiral Ra’al had contacted you about it already. I was giving you a chance to impress me by letting me know that things were well underway. I’m guessing from the shocked look on your face…well all of your faces really, that the Fleet Admiral has not said anything to you as yet.”
“No, she hasn’t,” Beck said flatly. And she probably wouldn’t have until the day before the event considering that Ra’al was not what you’d call a big fan of Beck. “Thank you for letting me know,” she continued. “What sort of event are we supposed to be planning?”
“I’ll be awarding the Presidential Starfleet Medal of Service and Valor to Jean-Luc Picard. It’s one of those medals honoring a distinguished career, lifetime of service, and that sort of thing.”
“I know what it is,” Beck said, nearly choking even though there was nothing in her mouth. “But Picard is coming HERE?”
“This is where I have my offices,” Bradley replied smiling. “Now we need something formal and stately, but not boring. And, unfortunately, due to conflict of interest laws and the like, we can’t hold the ceremony at the Starfleet Suites. You’ll have to do your best with some other facility on board. I’m sure Yeoman Jones will do a spectacular job, though.”
“How long do we have?” Jones asked, her eyes meeting Bradley’s. She expected to see some antagonism toward her there. She had turned him down, after all…his job offer, that is. She wasn’t even really sure why she’d done so. After the lockdown, all she wanted was to get away from everyone, particularly Commander Walter Morales, but somehow she couldn’t bring herself to do it. And so she’d told Bradley thanks, but no. He’d expressed a little disappointment, but that was all, saying “Another time, then.”
Speaking of time… “You’ve got loads of time,” Bradley replied to Jones’s actual question, “Picard isn’t scheduled to arrive until 57988.”
“Three weeks,” Jones muttered.
“Like I said, loads of time. I have complete faith that this team will put a fantastic show together. But that’s it from me. I’ll let you get back to your briefing. Good day, all.” Bradley took another look around the table, patted Commander Walter Morales on the shoulder amiably, then made his exit.
The room was silent for a few moments, then Russell started talking again, “Two Rigellans were reported banging on doors demanding to know where ‘Booglinookle’ was…”
Beck leaned back in her chair and stifled a sigh. Oh yeah. This would go well.
“Captain’s Log. Stardate 57985.6. We are three days away from the ceremony honoring the accomplishments of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and our preparations are moving according to schedule. Everything will be ready when the big day arrives.”
“Personal Log. Stardate 57985.6. I just made yet another log entry that has no basis in reality. Well, the three days away part is real enough, but our preparations for his ceremony have descended into chaos. Thanks to an ever-growing guest list, a list that now includes Fleet Admiral Ra’al (as if there was any doubt that she’d miss this), we’ve had to move the site of the ceremony four times. We’re now having it in the arboretum, which is actually something of an improvement over our last site, The Gravity Well. Yes, the Well has lots of space, but it just seemed inappropriate somehow to have a ceremony like this inside a night club.
“The arboretum is the biggest space we have, though, so this is it. If the guest list grows beyond its capacity, we’ll have to seat people outside…the station. I’ll start with Fleet Admiral Ra’al.
“Otherwise, my officers are making preparations for the event in a professional manner. And that’s really the problem. That ‘team’ idea Bradley mentioned a few weeks ago is just laughable. We used to be a team, a good team. Now it’s gone. Yes, everyone is doing their jobs, but that spark of life is gone. The bouncing things off of each other that leads to better solutions. The worst part is that I’m just as guilty as they are. Did we really say anything that hurtful while we were in lockdown? It’s doesn’t seem like we could have, but…
“It’d be nice if I could just order everyone to get over it. Starting with me. It’s been a few months since Craig and I…yeah. We’ve even talked about it and tried to put it in the past. It hasn’t worked really. We’re not avoiding each other so much anymore, but things definitely aren’t the way they used to be. It just doesn’t work that way. I can’t force this. After what happened between me and Craig, maybe a little professionalism is in order anyway.
“Even if it means this ceremony is a miserable failure.”
“And the podium will be right here,” Yeoman Jones said, standing on a patch of grass in the Waystation arboretum. “But higher, since the stage will be here as well. Does anyone have a problem with that?”
Morales, Porter, and Russell didn’t answer, which Jones took to mean “no.”
“Then once the ceremony is over, we’ll need to get the chairs out of here and bring in the food for the reception.”
“Operations can handle most of that with the transporters,” Porter said.
“No, they can’t,” Russell said. “That’s a security violation. The protocol for this kind of event is clear.”
“The President’s Special Secret Section probably wouldn’t allow it, either,” Morales said.
“We’ll find a way to work within the regulations, sir,” Porter said.
Captain Beck emerged from the tree-lined path leading from the arboretum entrance into the main gardens where her officers were gathered. “How are we doing?” she asked.
“The details are coming together,” Morales said.
“The stage and podium will be here,” Jones said, not moving from her position in the grassy area just outside one of the flower beds.
“And you can get enough chairs in, even with the flowers?”
“I have a diagram.”
“Good. What other decorations are you planning?”
“Do we need any more?” Morales asked. “This is an arboretum.”
“Get a couple of Federation flags or something. Just to spruce it up a bit.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jones said, making a note on her padd.
“All of the security measures have been dealt with,” Russell said. “I don’t think I need to be here to talk about what color the ruffle around the stage is going to be.”
“And I should get back to Ops,” Morales said. He turned to Jones. “Do you need us anymore?”
“No,” she said a little too pointedly. “Feel free to go.”
Morales and Russell departed without another word. “One big happy…” Porter remarked, once they were gone.
“Are you getting the help you need?” Beck asked Jones, ignoring Porter.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m even managing to study for my exams.”
“Don’t let that slip,” Beck said. “You’re doing good work…on all of it.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Jones said, sounding tired, dejected, or both.
Ignoring it, as she had just about everything personal reaction from her crew of late, Beck spun on her heel and headed toward the exit. It took her several steps before she realized she was being followed. “Did you need something, Porter?” she asked, turning to face her Science and Operations officer.
Porter looked at her for a few moments then said, “You were just heading my way.” Beck had known him long enough to guess that wasn’t the first thought on his mind, but she had no desire to pursue whatever his original statement was going to be. Professionalism. That was the way to go. Especially since she was still getting flashes of memory every once in a while from the drunken night they shared. She’d had ex-boyfriends before. Why was this so hard?
Because Porter was never her boyfriend. He was a friend. A very close friend. Closer in many ways than most of her exes had ever been. In some strange way, he knew her too well to be intimate with her. But they had been, and now…
“I enjoyed having sex with you,” Porter said suddenly.
Beck about toppled over as her feet stopped of their own volition. “What?” she blurted out.
“We tried the denial thing. It’s not working. So I’m switching to the confronting it head on approach,” Porter said. “I remember sleeping with you. It was good. And that’s the end of it. Now I want my friend back, if that’s okay.”
Beck stared at him for a few moments, then grabbed him into a hug. “It’s more than okay, Craig. And it was fun.”
“Good. Now maybe we can move past the awkward phase into the inappropriate sex humor phase.”
“That does sound better than my doing nothing plan we were trying.”
“Which was failing miserably.”
“You already mentioned that,” Beck said.
“Just thought I’d emphasize the point.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“Sure I did,” Porter said grinning. “Well, that’s us two down. Three angry people to go.”
“Think the others will be that easy?”
“Absolutely. We just have to get them drunk first.”
Beck’s laugh was interrupted by Commander Morales’s voice. “Morales to Captain Beck.”
“Go ahead, Commander,” she said, still chuckling.
“Ops just contacted me. They have detected an unknown vessel heading our way from Federation space. The captain has commed and is insisting on docking and speaking with you in person.”
“Have them tell whoever it is that I don’t work that way. If they want to go through proper channels, maybe I could…”
“Captain, it’s your sister.”
Beck’s smile vanished. “Give her docking clearance and tell me where she’s landing.”
“Acknowledged. Morales out.”
“What the hell is she doing back here?” Beck said, charging out of the arboretum with Porter in stride beside her.
“Morales to Beck,” Waystation’s First Officer’s voice said before Porter could respond.
“Docking Bay Three.”
“I’m on my way. Beck out.” She glanced over at Porter, who was still with her. “Craig, I really need to see her alone.”
Porter took a deep breath as the pair approached a turbolift. “Morales said she’s in a vessel of an unknown design.”
“Yeah. So?” Beck said, stepping into the turbolift. “She works for Astro-Tech. They design new ships all the time.”
“There’s something I need to tell you,” Porter replied as the turbolift doors closed.
“A TIME SHIP!” Beck exclaimed as they exited the turbolift into the corridor outside of Docking Bay Three. “And you didn’t think you should have told me this sooner?”
“Honestly, I didn’t think she’d pull it off,” Porter replied. “And I didn’t want to upset you about something that was never going to happen. Looks like I may have miscalculated that never a little bit. Maybe. Of course, we don’t know what it is that she’s got in there.”
They entered the docking bay where a chunky craft covered in midnight blue translucent panels was coming to a rest. Beneath each panel, Porter and Beck could see the swirls of some kind of energy.
“What do you think?” Beck asked.
“Umm…could be a timeship,” Porter said with a weak smile. The ship’s hatch began to open. “Do you want me to get out of here?”
“No. Stick around. If this is what you think it is, I want you to take a look inside.”
“I’d love to. Kathy may have other ideas.”
Dr. Kathy Beck appeared in the ship’s doorway at that moment and began descending the stairs that had folded out to the deck of the docking bay, eyeing Porter all the while.
“Kathy,” Beck said. “This is a surprise.”
“I needed to see you,” Kathy replied.
“Really? The last time you were here you left me with the impression that you had no interest in seeing me…ever.”
“Things have changed.”
“They do that sometimes. Is that a time ship?”
Kathy’s eyes narrowed at Porter.
“I just told her,” Porter said, holding his hands up defensively. “I kind of had to.”
“Yes,” Kathy said to Beck. “It’s a time ship. Did Craig also tell you why I built it?”
“He didn’t have to,” Beck said, the displeasure evident in her voice. “You want to go back and save them.”
“Have you tested it?” Beck asked, dodging the question.
“I’d like Porter to take a look at it.”
“I don’t think so,” Kathy said. “This ship is the property of Astro-Tech, and the technology within is proprietary. I can’t allow any snooping, even by Starfleet.”
“That’s funny considering you’re about to use Astro-Tech’s property to commit some serious temporal violations for your own personal reasons,” Porter said.
“This is between me and Lisa,” Kathy said.
“And Astro-Tech’s lawyers,” Porter added.
“I’ll take it from here, Porter,” Beck said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Porter said with a nod before heading out the door.
“You’ve got him well trained,” Kathy said once Porter was gone.
“He’s a Starfleet officer. I’m his captain. What’s he supposed to do?” Beck said, forcing herself to ignore the memories of things really outside his officer duties that he had done with her a few months prior. Okay. So those memories were always going to be there, but for the first time since the incident she found them…funny. Not that the sex had been funny. It’s was just that somehow it had instantly become a private joke between the two of them. Well, maybe it wasn’t so private considering that the rest of the command staff knew about it by this point, but no one else did. Nor would they.
“Why are you here?” Beck asked getting the conversational topic away from her relationships with her subordinates.
“I want you to come with me.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Beck snapped reflexively. She caught herself and calmed down. “You’re talking about tampering with the flow of history, Kathy. Do you have any idea how serious this is?”
“I’m talking about saving our parents’ lives.”
“They’re already dead.”
“But they don’t have to be. Lisa, if we have the power to stop this, which we do, how can we just stand by and let it happen?”
“It already happened!” Beck said.
“That doesn’t matter anymore. Nothing has to happen unless we want it to. Leaving Mom and Dad to die when we can go back prevent it…it’s practically murder.”
“Why am I guessing that argument doesn’t hold for every other person in history who died before their time?”
“It’s Mom and Dad, Lisa! Why are you even fighting me on this? I know you love them as much as I do.”
“Of course I do!” Beck said. “But this is wrong! I don’t know how to put it any plainer than that. We cannot start messing around with the past because we don’t like how something turned out. You have no idea what ramifications it could have on the present.”
“Saving Mom and Dad isn’t going to destroy the fabric of the universe. I’m not talking about stopping the Gorkon assassination here.”
“You don’t know that. What if…what if we find out that they had to die in order to prevent something horrible from happening.”
“Oh don’t even pull out the Edith Keeler defense on me,” Kathy said. “I didn’t have to come here. I could have gone by myself, but I wanted you to be a part of this.”
“You’re their daughter, too. You should want to do this.”
“Is this my penance to you? I help you, and suddenly I’m absolved?”
“Are you going to help me?” Kathy asked.
“I thought you could do it alone.”
“I…it would be easier with…someone with your training. I don’t know what else might come up.”
“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said since you got here.” Beck watched her sister’s face darken. “I’m sorry. That was out of line. I know this is important to you.”
“So you’re going to come.”
“I don’t know, Kathy. I want them back. I really do. But there are reasons why this sort of thing is illegal.”
“That didn’t stop the president.”
“I don’t think we want to use him as our example for this one.”
“Give me until tomorrow,” Beck said. “I need to think.”
“Tomorrow then,” Kathy said.
Beck turned to go, then stopped and looked back at her sister. “Kathy?”
“Since you’re here, do you want…to have dinner?”
“I’m asking too much, huh?”
“Tomorrow,” Kathy said, climbing back into her ship.
“Yeah. Tomorrow,” Beck said then headed out of the docking bay.
“So she’s back, huh?” Marine Lieutenant Stephanie Hodges said, then took a sip of her coffee and leaned back on the sofa in Beck’s living area.
“That she is,” Beck replied from the chair opposite her. “On the bright side, she’s speaking to me this time, which is becoming something of a rarity around here.”
“They’ll all get over it.”
“Is Walter over it?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure what he even has to get over,” Hodges said. “He hasn’t really talked much about the whole lockdown thing.”
“Ahh. He’s into the usual male moody and distant phase then?”
“No. Not at all. He’s been great. We’re still having a good time together. He’s just talking about work a lot less than he used to. Either that or I’m spending more time talking about my work.”
“So you’re still tormenting Lazlo.”
“Yeah,” Hodges grinned. “Being shot in the back was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“There’s something you don’t hear every day.”
“I wonder if I could get a promotion out of this.”
“Out of blackmailing him?”
“Hello? Shot in the back. By my own colonel. That’s against a whole bunch of marine regs. I could end his career if I wanted to.”
“Do you want to?”
“No,” Hodges said, shaking her head. “This is more fun. And I’m certainly finding it more satisfying. I was this close to quitting the corps after I came to, but I am not about to throw away everything I’ve worked for because Lazlo is an ass. I much prefer him kissing mine. It won’t last forever, but I’ll take a few more weeks of special treatment.”
“You earned it,” Beck said.
“Damn right I did.” Hodges took another drink of her coffee. “We’re not talking about Kathy.”
“You noticed that, huh?”
“Yeah. She tell you why she had the sudden change of heart?”
“Well?” Hodges asked expectantly.
“She wants me to go back in time with her and stop Mom and Dad from dying.”
Hodges about choked on her coffee. “What? Are you serious?”
“She’s got a time ship,” Beck said with a shrug.
“A time… Can she do that?”
“Legally, no. Physically, it’s possible. That’s why she wanted to meet with Porter the last time she was here. She wanted his expertise.”
“And he gave it to her?”
“No. Obviously she overcame that little obstacle, though.”
“I guess so,” Hodges said. She watched Beck for a few moments. “You’re thinking about doing it, aren’t you?”
“How could I not? It’s my parents.”
“But the timeline and…”
“I know all of it, Steph. Starfleet has some very clear opinions about this sort of thing, and none of them are positive. But still…”
“It’s your parents.”
“Yeah. And Kathy wants me to go with her.”
“Maybe it’s her way to asking you again to set things right when you wouldn’t back then…from her point of view.”
“Maybe.” Beck was quiet for a second. “What if we pull this off? It would literally change everything. Mom and Dad would still be around. Kathy and I would never have fought. My whole life would be different.”
“You might not be here.”
“I’ve thought about that.”
“And it’s Mom and Dad.”
Steph nodded silently. “I could go with you,” she said finally.
“Thanks, but this should just be me and Kathy.”
Beck chuckled. “I guess I have a big day tomorrow.”
“Yeah. This would qualify. I just hope Kathy knows what she’s doing.”
“As badly as she wants this? She knows what she’s doing. I’m just going to be a little nervous on that ship tomorrow until she proves it.”
“I’m guessing Kathy will be feeling the same way. If I were her, I’d be out getting drunk tonight.”
“Now there’s a comforting thought.”
Porter wasn’t sure how long he’d been staring blankly at the padd in front of him, but as the sound of his door chime pulled him out of his semi-trance-like state, he realized it was way too long. Rubbing his eyes, he got up and answered the door.
“Were you asleep?” Dr. Kathy Beck asked surprised.
“I was reading,” Porter replied. It was almost the truth. He decided he was better off not telling the full truth, which was that he was looking through scans of Kathy’s ship taken by Waystation’s internal sensors. “What are you doing here?”
“That’s a heck of a greeting.”
“It’s still a bit friendlier than the goodbye you gave me.”
“You’re the one who got rid of me.”
“And you were less than thrilled about it.”
“Can you give me a break here, Craig? I’m testing a time ship tomorrow, which might not work. I don’t know anyone here except you, and I enjoyed our time together last time I was here…before you kicked me out. I just need someone to be with tonight to calm me down.”
“Um…there’s this sister of yours…”
“Not good for my nerves.”
“I guess I can understand that,” Porter said, letting Kathy inside his quarters. “So can I get you a drink?”
“That’s a start.”
Porter noticed the glint in her eye. “What’d you have in mind for a finish?” he asked hesitantly.
“We’ll just have to see how relaxing you are.”
“Oh I can be very relaxing, but not with you.”
“Why not?” Kathy said, putting her hands on her hips.
“You’re my captain’s sister.”
“She doesn’t own me or you. You got a better excuse handy?”
Actually, he did, but he wasn’t about to use it. Instead he said, “This is starting to feel like coercion.”
“I just said we’d see where things go. Now shut up and get me a drink.”
The next morning, with everything as in order as it could be on short notice, Beck closed the comm channel on her desk console and headed out of her office into Ops. The last bit of business, leaving a message for President Dillon that she’d be ducking out briefly (very briefly if everything went right), had been dealt with, leaving her ready to head for Docking Bay Three.
“You have the station, Commander,” she said to Morales as she stepped toward the Ops turbolift. “If I’m not back, I’m sure you can handle the last details of the ceremony.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Morales said in a tone that could only be described as professional. “Everything has been taken care of, and we have another status meeting later today.”
“Thank you. See you soon…I hope.”
“Mind if I walk down with you?” Porter asked, jogging out from behind his console and into the turbolift with Beck. The doors closed a moment later, and Beck ordered the turbolift to the docking bay where her sister’s time ship was waiting.
“Did you learn anything?” Beck asked once they were alone.
“The ship is putting off some serious power readings. Serious enough that I couldn’t get any clear scans of it. I could detect a few chroniton traces, but that’s about it.”
“So you have no idea if it’s going to work or not?”
“Honestly, I don’t know if I would have been able to tell even with clear readings. I have no idea what approach she’s taken to solving the time drive issues. I’d practically need to get in there and start taking the thing apart.”
“Somehow I don’t think she’d go for that.”
“I guess I’m just going to have to see how it goes.”
“That approach works sometimes,” Porter replied.
“What’s that look?”
“The ‘you’re not telling me something’ look.”
“That look isn’t even in my repertoire.”
“Didn’t we just go through a big thing about not telling me stuff? Are you not telling me something?”
“Yes, but I will tell you later. After you get back. It has no bearing on what you’re about to do, so I don’t want you thinking about it.”
“I’m not sure that’s helping,” Beck said.
A transporter beam suddenly began to coalesce in the turbolift, forming itself into President Bradley Dillon. “What do you mean you’re leaving?” he demanded to Beck. “The ceremony is in two days! You can’t leave!”
“The preparations are well in hand, and I’m coming right back,” Beck replied. “There’s nothing to get worked up about. And certainly nothing to warrant an unauthorized transport into our turbolift.”
“It’s cramped in here,” Porter said. “What if we’d put a hand through you?”
“Don’t change the subject,” Bradley snapped.
“There is no subject!” Beck yelled.
“This ceremony is very important, Captain.”
“I’m aware of that. I also trust my people. Everything will be fine. If you’d like, you could always ask Yeoman Jones for details. She’s been more in charge of the event planning than I have.”
“I’ll do that,” Bradley said, reaching for a small device in the inside pocket of his sportcoat. “Oh. I hope whatever this incredibly important trip is for is successful.”
“If I could tell you, you’d understand,” Beck replied. “But thanks for the sentiment.”
Bradley nodded, then vanished in the cascade of a transporter beam. A second later, the turbolift slowed to a halt at Beck and Porter’s destination. They walked across the corridor into Docking Bay Three, where Kathy was doing a last pre-flight check of the exterior of the time ship.
“You’re late,” Kathy said.
“I have responsibilities here, so, oddly I can’t just pick up and go,” Beck replied. “What’s the rush? Are you having second thoughts?”
“No,” Kathy said, a bit more hesitantly than Porter was comfortable with. Time travel was not the easiest thing to pull off, and this was untested technology. If she wasn’t sure…
“Do you want any help checking over the systems?” Porter asked.
“I’ve got it,” Kathy said. “We can leave any time.”
“No pun intended,” Beck said giving her sister a smile that she hoped would help ease the tension between them somewhat.
“Right,” Kathy replied, forcing a weak smile. “Are you ready?”
“I think so,” Beck said.
“Good luck. To both of you,” Porter said.
“Thanks,” Beck said. “Be right back.”
“We’ll be waiting,” Porter said, looking to Kathy, but Beck’s sister had already turned away and was heading into the ship. So much for the heartfelt goodbye. Or any goodbye at all. Porter had bigger concerns, though. He quickly jogged over to the small docking bay control booth and pulled up the external sensor readings. If he wasn’t able to go along for the ride, he was at least going to get as much information about the trip as he could.
Inside the time ship, Beck settled into the co-pilot’s chair as Kathy took the pilot’s controls. Really there wasn’t much else to see inside the ship. Beyond continuing the midnight blue motif from the exterior, the cockpit area looked like a runabout more than anything else, with two additional seats placed behind the pilot and co-pilot’s chairs and a small hatch leading deeper into the ship. There wasn’t much else in the way of space to move around, but, considering the purpose of this trip, it wasn’t really needed.
Kathy opened a small compartment below the pilot’s console, pulled out a hypospray, and injected herself in the arm. “You’ll need this,” she said, replacing the empty vial on the hypo with a new dose.
“What is it?”
“My experiments indicated that the temporal shift can have some adverse effects on biological organisms. This should counteract those effects.”
“Adverse effects? What the hell does that mean?”
“You’ll throw up. Okay? This is anti-nausea medication, but if you don’t want it, you can ride by the toilet. Through the hatch across the from transporter alcove. Have fun.”
“Give me that,” Beck said, snatching the hypospray away from Kathy and giving herself the injection. “I’d hate to ruin the new starship smell.”
“And I don’t clean up puke,” Kathy said as she lifted the time ship up from the docking bay floor and steered it out into space beyond Waystation.
Porter watched the time ship sail out of the docking bay, then began poring over the readings coming from the sensors. A short distance away from the station, the time ship came to a full stop, and the power readings increased to even higher levels. Finally, there was a quick surge of chronitons, and then the craft was gone. Porter said another silent “good luck” then made his way to Ops.
With the show over, Kathy looked over at the unconscious form of her sister in the co-pilot’s seat. The drugs in the vial she’d handed to Beck had acted as quickly as her benefactors had promised, and the “time travel” had gone off without a hitch. Now it was time to fulfil her end of the bargain.
“No seconds thoughts,” she told herself, turning the ship toward their destination.
It would all be fine in the end. No matter what she had to do now, it would all be fine in the end.
Commander Morales looked up from his post at the docking control console as Porter exited the turbolift back into Ops.
“Did everything go okay?” Morales asked.
“As far as I could tell.”
Morales focused his attention back on his console as Porter briefly made eye contact with Lieutenant Commander Russell, who immediately looked away, then returned to his own station at the Operations/Science console.
“Did she say any more about when she’d be back?” Morales asked after a long silence. “Or anything about where she’s going?”
“He knows where she’s going,” Russell said accusingly.
“It’s personal,” Porter replied.
“Of course it is,” Russell shot back.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that she’s with her own sister, so of course it’s personal.”
“Oh. Right. Yeah. So it’s personal.”
“But you know where she went,” Morales said.
“Not specifically. But I know that if everything goes well, she’ll be back before we know it.”
“Can you at least explain how their ship vanished off of my board?” Morales asked.
“And off of the tactical display,” Russell added. “Why am I even bothering? You aren’t going to tell us a thing.”
“Not when just knowing what I know could get the two of you into trouble,” Porter snapped, storming toward Russell’s console.
“Fine. Keep your secret. See if I care.”
“You want something you’ll care about? How about this? I slept with Kathy last night! How’s that?”
“You did?” Russell exclaimed suddenly excited. “You’ve had both Beck sisters? You’re kidding! Which one’s better?”
“Why did I just tell you that?”
“Too late. You already did so… No. You know what? I don’t care about that either,” Russell harumphed. I don’t care about anything you have to say.”
“This afternoon’s status meeting is going to be soooo much fun,” Morales muttered under his breath.
Years of Starfleet experience alerted Beck to the fact that she was in deep trouble even before she’d completely regained consciousness. Noticing that she was evidently bound in some kind of chair kind of tipped her off to that one.
“She’s coming around,” an unfamiliar voice said. The complete lack of concern in said voice was another clue that she wasn’t exactly among friends.
Beck slowly opened her eyes, blinking several times to clear her vision and adjust to the lights of the room. The face of the person standing in front of her gradually sharpened revealing Romulan features. Two other Romulans, a male and a female, were standing a short distance away, observing her.
So we were 0 for 3 on good signs.
“Hello, Captain Beck,” the Romulan said, clearly enjoying the position of power in which he found himself. “It’s been a long time.”
Long time? Did she know this guy? A vague memory stirred of having aimed a phaser at someone who looked a lot like him once.
“Tarmak,” the Romulan said with a slight bow. “You might remember me from…”
“You tried to trick President Dillon to sign a treaty that would have given Earth to the Romulans. If you wanted to talk to me, Minister, you could have arranged an appointment.”
“It’s Governor now,” Tarmak replied. “Oh pardon me. Welcome to Zycam.”
“Zycam? That’s the Romulan colony near us. You’re the governor?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Isn’t that kind of a step down from Foreign Minister?”
Tarmak forced a smile. “Yes,” he said through gritted teeth. “And that’s what I brought you here to talk about.”
“Well, that’s nice and all, but we won’t be doing any more talking until you tell me what the hell you’ve done with my sister!”
“She’s perfectly fine.”
“Then let me see her. If you’ve hurt her…”
“Hurt her?” Tarmak exclaimed. “Why on Romulus would we do that?” His eyes widened suddenly and he started to chuckle. “Oh! You haven’t… Captain, I’m afraid you’ve missed a rather important detail concerning how you came to be here.”
“I don’t know how I came to be here,” Beck snapped. “I was on my sister’s ship, and the next thing I knew I was waking up here. I didn’t see…” She trailed off, the missing piece locking into place. “The hypo,” she said softly. “Kathy…”
“We have an arrangement with Doctor Beck,” Tarmak said. “In exchange for delivering you, we promised to provide her with technical assistance. To be honest, I wasn’t certain that a human, an untrained human at that, could pull it off, but here you are.”
“What do you want?” Beck spat. She knew that Kathy was angry with her. Hell, Kathy hated her, but to betray her to the Romulans? What was she thinking? Stupid question. Beck knew what she was thinking. She was thinking about saving their parents. Betraying Beck was probably just an added bonus in her mind.
“I want revenge, Captain,” Tarmak replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the universe.
“Against me? What for? We barely spoke when you were on Waystation before. Yes, I jammed a phaser in your face, but is that worth all this?”
Tarmak laughed again, a sound that Beck was really starting to despise. “I don’t care a bit about you, Captain. Bradley Dillon, however, is another story. He humiliated me.”
“Using me to get to him isn’t going to work.”
“It’s much more than that, Captain Beck. That one incident didn’t get me exiled out here. I had other plans after I left your station. I found a young man with ambition, and I knew he would someday lead the Empire. I sided with him when he assassinated our Senate and the Praetor.”
“Shinzon,” Beck said.
“Yes. But he couldn’t control himself. Instead of focusing on the good of Romulus, he just had to go after Jean-Luc Picard, the human he was cloned from. If history has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t mess around with ships named Enterprise, but did he get that pearl of wisdom into his inferior little brain? NO! Instead, he gets himself blown up along with a prototype ship that no one can seem to find the plans for now. And since I supported him, I was banished to this hell-hole!”
“I kind of like it here,” the Romulan woman standing to the side of the room said.
“Shut up, Brella!” Tarmak hissed at her.
Tarmak turned his attention back to Beck. “So you see. I have grievances that must be redressed, and fate has put the two men who ruined my life in the same place at the same time. Unfortunately I cannot just walk onto a Starfleet station to pursue my vengeance. That’s where you come in, Captain. Bradley Dillon and Jean-Luc Picard will suffer for what they’ve done to me. You’re going to ensure that.”
“I’m not sneaking you onto Waystation.”
“I can get onto the station; however, to stay there undetected, I’ll need information from you. Your command codes, to be precise.”
“My command… Pophlie! You put her up to coming after me!”
“The Multek woman? Yes, that was me. At the time, I didn’t realize President Dillon was missing. Imagine my alarm when I learned he’d been missing for months. Of course, by that time he was back, but still I had a few moments of panic that I’d almost missed my chance to get him myself. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. But the Multek failed miserably; however, the records from the equipment we gave her told us about your sister, who then refused to help us. And I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get to Picard. The whole thing was just a disaster.”
“I feel so bad for you,” Beck muttered.
“It’s okay. Everything soon started falling into place. Your sister came on board with us, and then we got word that Picard was visiting Waystation. I couldn’t have hoped for any more than this! I just need one last thing.”
“I’m not giving you my command codes.”
“That, Captain, remains to be seen,” Tarmak said, smiling an unsettling grin.
It wasn’t often during his seven or so years on Waystation that Porter ever found himself dreading the prospect of going to work, but this was one of those times. And it wasn’t even work really. It was a meeting. A meeting with people who until a few weeks ago were his closest friends. Yet this feeling of “I REALLY don’t want to do this” grew more and more with each passing step as he approached Holodeck Two, where Yeoman Jones had scheduled today’s status meeting for the Picard award ceremony.
Porter wasn’t sure why Jones had picked the holodeck as the site for the meeting, but that question was answered as soon as he entered the holodeck and found himself in an exact replica of the arboretum as it would appear on the day of the ceremony complete with chairs, the stage, and decor. He had to admit that it looked pretty good. Jones did nice work.
Russell, Morales and Jones were already there waiting, Russell stretched out between a couple of the chairs looking as though he was ready to take a nap. Morales was idly pacing the stage while Jones sat tensely in one of the VIP chairs behind the podium. As soon as she spotted Porter, Jones sprang to her feet.
“Okay. Let’s get started,” she said quickly. “This is what the arboretum is going to look like. Anybody have a comments.”
“No,” Morales said as Porter shook his head. Russell just let out a negative sounding grunt without opening his eyes.
“Good. Is everything else in order?”
“I believe we’re all set unless you have anything we need to know,” Morales said.
“I’m good. Security?”
Russell grunted again, this time more positively.
“We have a plan. It’s a good plan. It’s a plan so good that I don’t even need to run it. I can’t think of anything else to say,” Porter reported.
“All right then. I guess that’s it for the status meeting,” Jones said.
“Glad to hear it,” Russell said, slowly getting to his feet.
“Computer, execute Jones Plan C,” Jones called out suddenly. The arboretum vanished, replaced by an empty gray room.
“What the hell?” Russell shouted.
“We’re not done yet,” Jones said.
“Computer, exit!” Russell said. Nothing happened.
“The holodeck will only respond to my voice,” Jones explained. “We leave when I say we leave.”
“Yeoman,” Morales warned.
“Tina,” Jones said. “And you’re Walter and you’re Sean and you’re Craig. And we’re not getting out of here until we start acting like we’re more to each other than our ranks.”
Morales, Russell, and Porter just stood silently and looked at each other.
“Why are we even mad at each other?” Jones continued. “Was anything we said during lockdown really that hurtful?”
“I don’t know. Sean said some pretty nasty things about you,” Porter said.
“Thanks a hell of a lot,” Russell said.
“He thinks the captain is giving me special treatment. You know what? He’s right,” Jones said. “She recommended me for the Academy Annex, which means she thinks I can be an officer. I’m grateful for that, but when I get out and switch to Security, I’m still going to be answering to you, Sean.”
“You’re damn right you will,” Russell said.
“I’m not taking your job…at least not while you’re in it,” Jones said.
“So I’m sorry.”
“What do you have to be sorry for?” Russell asked. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry I said those things. It wasn’t fair, and I didn’t mean…”
“And I’m not really mad at you either,” Russell said, turning to Porter. “I can’t even remember why I was mad at you in the first place.”
“I couldn’t figure that part out either,” Porter said. “And I don’t think I was ever mad at Tina. People just stopped talking to each other, and I kind of went along with it.”
“Kind of?” Jones said.
“Fine. I completely went along with it,” Porter said.
“Walter?” Jones said.
“You weren’t really mad at me either?” Morales said.
“No. I was pissed as hell at you,” Jones said. “But I was pissed about something that wasn’t your fault. You can’t control your feelings for people. I think you know that more than any of us.”
“And I know how much it hurts when the other person doesn’t return them,” Morales said. “I’m sorry I never realized…”
“It’s okay,” Jones said quickly, cutting him off. “You and Stephanie are good together. I hope you know how good.”
“I do. No matter what I may have felt for Lisa, I wouldn’t give up what I have now for anything.”
“I’m happy for you. I mean that,” Jones said. “And I know you’re happy, which is really what I want for you. Besides, it’s not like I don’t have some possibilities of my own.” This was true. As more and more gifts had mysteriously appeared in the Welcome Center, Jones had become more and more certain that she had a secret admirer, which was certainly a tantalizing prospect.
“So is anybody still mad at anybody?” Russell asked.
“Before we have the group hug, can I say that you were a real jerk in lockdown?” Porter said.
“Yeah. I’ll give you that one. But I was hungry!”
“We all were,” Morales said.
“But you were still a jerk,” Jones said.
“All right! I said I’d give you that one,” Russell said. “I’m sorry!”
“I’m fine now,” Porter said.
“Me too,” Morales said.
“Are we really doing a group hug?” Russell asked.
“We could skip that part,” Morales said.
“Awww,” Porter said.
“Okay. We’re all friends again,” Russell said, turning on Porter. “Now answer the question.”
“What question?” Porter asked.
“Which one was better?” Russell demanded.
“What is he talking about?” Jones asked.
“Believe me,” Morales said. “You really don’t want to know.”
Kathy Beck wasn’t sure what sort of situation she’d be getting into when she arrived at the Zycam Colony, but spending several hours sitting in a waiting room had not crossed her mind. Yet here she was, sitting in a fairly nicely-appointed waiting area complete with an elderly Romulan woman sitting behind a reception desk. Kathy was the waiting area’s only occupant at the moment, so the receptionist was keeping herself busy knitting a pair of tiny pink ear covers that came up to the cutest little points.
Of course Tarmak was going to talk to Lisa first to see if she had whatever information it was that the Romulans wanted, but just sitting here like this was driving Kathy crazy. Tarmak had promised to give her access to years of Romulan research into time travel. If he would just hand that over so she could be on her way, she’d feel a hell of a lot better.
The doorway leading to the corridor the Romulans had taken Lisa’s unconscious body down when they’d first arrived on the planet opened, and Tarmak stepped into the waiting area. Spotting Kathy, he approached. She quickly stood up and shook his offered hand.
“Doctor Beck. What a pleasure to finally meet you in person,” Tarmak said. “I apologize for not being here to greet you upon your arrival, but I had a few last minute details to attend to.”
“Has Lisa talked to you?”
“Yes, we’ve had quite the conversation,” Tarmak said.
“All about how much she wants to kill me, I’m sure,” Kathy replied.
“I doubt that you’re her favorite person at the moment, but I have to admit I was surprised how long it took her to piece together what happened. When we first woke her, she demanded to see you to make sure that you hadn’t been hurt. It might have been touching if it wasn’t so funny in light of…you know…the truth.”
“Yeah. Funny,” Kathy said flatly. “When do I get my information?”
“When I get mine,” Tarmak replied. “Captain Beck has been quite uncooperative.”
“She likes to do things her way.”
“Well now she’s finding out about my way. I have to admit that she’s turning out to be tougher than I expected. It was obvious right away that the truth serums weren’t having any effect on her, so we moved up to the pain chair. I got all the way up to the highest setting on it, and she wouldn’t even scream. She just grunted a bit. So then I let a couple of centurions work her over. Still nothing. Now I was getting really frustrated, so I had her strung up from the ceiling and pulled out this Ferengi electro-whip I acquired recently. It took a three centurions and Brella and a few hundred lashes, but she started screaming all right. And then she passed out. Unbelievable. Oh well. I’ll give her a couple of minutes, then wake up to start again.”
Kathy’s eyes were wide with horror as her mouth gaped. “You…she…how…what…you…”
“I’m kidding!” Tarmak said breaking out into a laugh as he wrapped an arm around Kathy’s shoulders. “Do you really think I have time to torture the information out of your sister? Do you have any idea how long that can take? I’m on a schedule here!”
Kathy shook her head in confusion. “So she’s…”
“We haven’t touched her,” Tarmak said. “I was just waiting for a couple of independent contractors I hired to arrive. They’re here now, so the situation will be taken care of in no time. I’m sure of it.”
“Err…great. I’m so glad.”
From the confines of her seat, Beck almost had to crane her neck to see the faces of the two hulking Vulcans standing in front of her.
“All right. Who the hell are you two supposed to be?” she snapped.
“I am Spaanz.”
“And I am Taanz. And we are here to…”
To Be Continued…