Paul Gadzikowski
scarfman@iglou.com

STAR TREK Fiction

The Legacy of Kirk

Prologue

Le Morte d'Spock, c. 247000:

Captain Kirk told Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy about the magic of Dr. Marcus, that would reform a world into a bountiful new one, replacing what was there. Dr. Marcus' magic was so new that she had gone to the world Regula to prove it in a cave, that she would know before Captain Terrell found a barren world whether the magic would work.

Mr. Spock admired Dr. Marcus' magic as a fellow scholar, but Dr. McCoy knew immediately how evil men would see in this magic a powerful weapon to destroy whole worlds and yet make them beautiful and useful to the evil conqueror.

*****

"Surely, Captain, you'll admit that there are some things Man wasn't meant to know."

The more complex the mind, it has been said, the greater the need for play. The exploration arm of the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets naturally flatters itself that it employs the most complex minds available, and designs its recreation facilities accordingly. The finest astrorecreologists in Starfleet, and the finest in the balance of known space that could be consulted, had contributed ideas to the plans of the rec lounge on Deck Ten, Forward of the Galaxy class USS Enterprise, to make it an optimal environment for social relaxation.

Of course, the more complex the mind, the more complex the play. And so Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise found himself, in one of his rare visits to Ten Forward, arguing a weighty philosophical question over lunch with his chief medical officer - a question on which Picard would have thought all Starfleet officers, all explorers, in accord. Beverly Crusher apparently had some deep reservations on the subject, however, for she usually addressed him by name when they were together socially. She had served with him for a year and a half now; and her late husband had for many years before that.

"I can't think of one," Picard replied mildly.

"What about the Borg?"

"What about them?"

"You admitted to Q that the Borg are something that Starfleet can't handle."

"At present they are," Picard admitted, as he had to Q. "But the existence of the Borg is hardly something we weren't meant to know; we would have encountered them sooner or later. In fact, Q arguably did us a favor by giving us warning that they will be encroaching on our space."

"Q also brought us to their attention." Crusher had forgotten all about her meal, the empty fork in her hand. "The Borg will find us sooner now than they would have if Q hadn't interfered."

"It cuts both ways. We're more likely to be prepared for the Borg now than we would have been had the Borg found us through the natural course of events."

Crusher set down the fork. "People will die now who wouldn't have."

Of course, Picard thought. Any philosophical argument with a Starfleet doctor will have the sanctity of life at its root. "And people who would have died, now won't. Perhaps fewer of them."

Inflamed incredulity scrinched up her face. "Are you saying that smaller numbers makes it better?"

Picard had followed her lead in the argument so far, simply for recreation, but now it was time to go on the offensive. "Beverly, if you truly believed this argument you're making, you wouldn't be in Starfleet."

After a moment Crusher dropped her gaze and picked up her fork. She couldn't deny it, but she wasn't willing to concede. "Sometimes the price of exploration is death. I don't like death."

"Exploration is growth. Growth is life. We're about life. And that's why you're here," Picard fired his parting shot, winning the argument for them both.

With grudging concession Crusher speared some food on her fork. "You should try that speech on Q," she said wryly.

Picard's communicator whistled the captain's hail. "Captain Picard to the bridge," came Riker's voice.

Picard tapped his breast insignia. "Picard here. What's up, Number One?"

"Code one emergency message from the Federation Council, Captain. New orders."

"On my way." A code one transmission was flag enough of a vital matter, but for it to come directly from the Council rather than through Starfleet channels spoke of frightful urgency. Picard rose from his half-finished lunch. "Apologies, Beverly."

*****

Riker was already rising from the command chair as Picard entered the bridge. "Number One," asked Picard, "what is this emergency that's so important that the Federation Council can't be bothered to use proper channels?"

Riker moved to his own chair, to the left of Picard's, but Picard didn't sit, so neither would Riker. "The Enterprise has been ordered to Sigma Delta V in the Mutara sector, to protect a research base there. Something called Project Easter."

"And what is Project Easter?"

"The message," reported Worf from tactical, "does not say."

Worf always spoke gravely, of course, but he was obviously as put out - in a Klingon way, of course - by this unusual state of affairs as Picard was taken aback. Maybe the Council thought the Enterprise crew would recognize the project name. "What do we have, Mr. Data?"

"Aside from the Biblical reference, sir, there is nothing in the Enterprise computer records."

"Nothing?" Picard was incredulous. A starship's computer files were required by regulations to be as up-to-date and complete as the vagaries of deep space duty allow; even top-secret data, with proper security safeguards, was kept on file. "Not even captain's eyes only?"

"No, sir."

Now Picard was nettled. After a long and distinguished career he was not accustomed to being kept in ignorance of the details of his assignments; although there was consolation in that the offense came not from his own superiors, who should know better, but theirs. "And from what are we supposed to be protecting this mysterious project?"

"Romulans, Captain," Riker replied. "A Romulan ship has been in the area, according to the station's sensors. Presumably only a malfunction in its cloaking device allowed it to be scanned at all."

This was serious. The Mutara sector was more than a hundred lightyears from any territory even claimed by the Romulans. "I don't like to think even a cloaked vessel could get that deeply into Federation space undetected," Picard murmured.

"It has been detected," Data pointed out.

It was a measure of Picard's mood that that he was annoyed by Data's lapse into literalness - annoyed enough that, after glancing sharply at Data, Picard noticed Counselor Troi, seated in her chair to the left of his, glancing sharply at him. Picard took a moment to steady himself while Riker continued his report.

"Federation Security believes that the Romulans may have discovered the nature of the project."

"They have, have they?" Picard mused. "Well, if we meet these Romulans, we can ask them what Project Easter is. Have you a course for Sigma Delta V?"

"Plotted and laid in, sir," reported Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher from the conn station.

"Engage." Picard gave Wesley the peculiar right-handed salute that always accompanied his orders for the ship's course. Then Picard finally sat, Riker consciously or unconsciously timing his movement so that he wasn't seated until Picard was.

"Aye aye, captain." Wesley executed the command.

Picard tugged his uniform jersey into place. "Let's go pay a visit to these researchers whose business everyone seems to know but us, shall we?"

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