Le Morte d'Spock, c. 247000:
In Captain Kirk's mind Sarek saw that when Mr. Spock was dying he was inside the engine chamber, that he could not touch Captain Kirk's mind for the wall between them. And Sarek grieved, for ever was the Vulcan way to touch the mind of the closest one at one's death, to pass on one's own spirit to be carried to one's family castle. But Mr. Spock had been unable to do this, and therefore his spirit was lost forever.
And Sarek explained this to Captain Kirk, and rose in grief for his son to depart.
But Captain Kirk's mind was ever working, and he knew this true of Mr. Spock too. And he stopped Sarek from departing, and said to him, "Mayhap Spock passed his spirit to someone else."
Captain's log, supplemental: A Romulan attack on the top-secret Project Easter station and the Enterprise during our beam-down to the station has left dead Counselor Deanna Troi, an accomplished Starfleet officer - and a good friend. Yet there is no time for grief at the moment.
"Main power restored," reported Data, as he and Beck replaced the panel on the wall circuitry.
"Some systems are still down," Beck amplified. "Must be damage to the individual circuitry."
"Which systems?" Dr. David asked.
"Long-range communications," Beck said, "internal security sensors ... replicators, other secondary and tertiary systems."
"Mr. Data, please assist Mr. Beck with station repairs," Picard ordered.
"Thank you, Captain." David's gratitude seemed sincere - though she had been little else in the short time Picard had dealt with her, she had been civil. "There were no fatalities amongst my people." Did Picard hear a faint pause in the sentence, as if it had originally been only four words long? "I hope your ship is all right."
"I hope so too, Doctor. We won't know until we have communications back. But pursuing a desperate Romulan cruiser is never an exactly tenable position, and the commander of this particular ship is an old sparring partner of ours."
"Status of the Romulan," called Riker from the command chair.
"Warp power almost depleted," reported Worf with evident satisfaction.
"Tomalak's going to make it hard for us," Riker mused. "What's he going to do?"
"He can't do much with that power curve," offered Chief Engineer LaForge, now at his bridge post. "He can't even blow himself up to preserve his Romulan honor."
"Romulans have no honor." Worf's tone suggested he was stating a law of nature.
LaForge chuckled ruefully. "That's a matter of opinion, my friend."
"Geordi," said Riker, "have you come up with anything on that mu radiation Wesley spotted?"
"Nothing, Commander. It means something's screwy over there. But I can't even tell you what's generating it, which is screwy in itself."
"Commander," Worf broke in, "the Romulan is scanning the solar system ahead."
"He's changing course, Commander," said Wesley. "Heading for the system."
"Match course and speed, Wesley. He can't get away from us now."
Picard was staring out a viewport, grieving - Thorpe standing watch, less affected - when Crusher had finished with the red tape and storage detail. She joined him at the viewport. Neither looked at the other.
"Captain?" she said finally.
"Are you all right?" Her voice was not as steady as his.
He sighed. "No. ...And you?"
They still had not faced each other.
"It's too sudden," she said. "No farewell; just an emptiness where there used to be a person. Like when Jack died."
Picard didn't answer for a moment. "I wish I could say the same." When she didn't respond he elaborated. "I knew Jack intimately. Perhaps as intimately as you did, in my way. And Deanna knew me intimately - it was her job as ship's counselor to listen to me as my hardest questions of myself; but it was also her talent, with her empathic skills, to know what the answers were when I didn't. Yet I feel as if I hardly knew her."
"Deanna knew you valued her," she said, "as she knew your other feelings. And even I have regrets of things left undone, as close as we were."
"I grieve the loss of any crewmate," he said. "I value every person who serves under me. But I worked with Deanna Troi as closely as I did with anyone, and it takes an effort of will to speak of her by name rather than title. As if she were only a job to me, not a person. And now it's too late."
Vulnerable, still turned toward the window rather than him, she said, "It's not too late for us ... Jean-Luc."
It was just then that they were interupted by Data.
Data had been per Captain Picard's orders assisting Beck with station repairs, although, given his android capabilities, Data thought it might be more accurate to say that Beck was assisting him. Data found it difficult to deal with Beck's low rate of task completion; it was considerably below what Data had learned to consider normal while living among Starfleet personnel, though presumably less than representative of Beck's norm because of the unusual circumstances. Data had taken to what a human being would have recognized as daydreaming merely to keep his computer mind occupied. Data had just been considering the desirability of an impossibility - specifically communications contact with the Enterprise while the station's long-range communications were still out - when the comm board signaled an incoming message.
After shooting a confused look at Data, Beck looked over at the control room's sensor station. "There's a scout-class vessel in orbit. It's broadcasting a message loop."
This explained the communication board's behavior; despite the damage, it was receiving a short-range communication. The explanation, however, gave rise to more questions. Data moved to the sensors to discover the answers. "It is a Ferengi trader-scout."
"Ferengi in our space now too!" Beck was clearly approaching his tolerance limit for unexpected events.
"It is running Federation diplomatic immunity signals," Data continued. "Interesting. The Ferengi have never entered into diplomatic relations with the Federation before."
"Well, at least they're not shooting at us." Now Beck was engaging in "looking on the bright side".
Data felt obliged to constrain Beck's behavior as much as might be appropriate, given the evidence of instability due to strain which had been exhibited by Beck in Data's observation to date. "Still, it would be inconsistent with the security profile your station has been maintaining for you to respond to their hail."
"We can at least listen," suggested Beck, keying a touchpad on the comm console. Data found no objection to that.
On the console's main screen appeared the huge-eared, jagged-toothed countenance of a Ferengi. Data was not wholly conversant with Ferengi costuming convention, but this one appeared to be some high-ranking official. "Easter Station. This is Ferengi Ambassador to the Federation Gar aboard our vessel Dinoth. I have an offer for you. I am empowered by the Grand Nagus to honor whatever price you may ask for the data and materials of your project. I will await your response." With that he faded from the screen.
Beck took eight point two four times ten to the fourth milliseconds to process this information and to decide upon a course of action. "I guess I better tell Dr. David."
"And I," said Data, voicing his own conclusion, arrived at in only four point zero nine times ten to the second milliseconds, "Captain Picard."
"I beg your pardon," said Picard.
Data dutifully repeated his report, verbatim and with identical inflection.
"Sight unseen?" Picard was incredulous, as were Crusher and Thorpe. "The Ferengi are offering to pay any amount for something they haven't yet inspected with microsensors?"
"I thought that you would consider it uncharacteristic behavior," Data said.
Picard nodded. "I'd sooner espect to see you and Worf waltzing together on the bridge with flowers in your hair."
Data suffered another lapse. "Why would you 'expect' such a performance?"
"You took no action?"
"Other than to remind Mr. Beck of station security, no, sir. Our orders stated that we are to be at Project Easter's disposal, not vice versa."
Picard looked over his Away Team. What was left of it, he reminded himself. Even as he did so he turned his command eye on his actions. He had allowed his irritation at his enforced ignorance of Project Easter - his pride - to color his judgment in the decision to beam down to the station. The decision wasn't made from a balanced perspective. Troi's death, to that extent, was his personal responsibility - above and beyond the normal responsibility of a captain for the welfare of his crew. It was a responsibility he would have to deal with, consciously and with deliberation - but for now, he took a deep breath, centered himself, and led his Away Team back toward the Project Easter control room.
"I think it's time," he said, "that we discovered what we came here to discover."
Beck was standing against a door in the corridor just outside the control room when Picard and the Away Team passed by. Picard recalled that Beck had been going to report the Ferengi presence to Dr. David.
"Is Dr. David in there?" he asked Beck.
"Yes," said Beck, "but you can't go in ..."
Picard paid no heed, knocking only cursorily before leading his people inside. Beck hadn't even finished his sentence.
Behind the door there was a conference room, of the standard design used in government and Starfleet installations from time immemorial: table, seats for half a dozen or more, wall terminal. David and Stark were seated at the screen end of the table, looking up at the intrusion on their conference.
"Dr. David." Picard was calmly urbane. "The Ferengi wish to buy your project. The Romulans have attacked your project, killing one of my personal staff. I respectfully request that you tell me what this is all about." His tone was all the more forceful for carrying none of the forcefulness with which he had addressed the matter until now. But he was not smiling.
After a brief appraisal of Picard, David replied, "All right. Please sit down, all of you."
The Away Team sat down at the other, nearer end of the table, except Thorpe who took station at the door.
"I can't stress too much," David began," the security that must be maintained over what you are about to hear. The importance of the secrecy of this project to the Federation is exemplified by the fact that the project is over three quarters of a century old and only now have any of the other powers learned of it."
"Do you know how that happened?" Picard asked.
"Federation Security slipped up. They say there was a disgruntled former labtech from the station found in neutral space with a draft for five million credits in his pocket and a knife in his back. Actually, not a bad record for eighty-five years. But," said David, "let me start at the beginning.
"Spock of Vulcan died at the Battle of Mutara."
The Away Team was dumbstruck at this ludicrous statement. Data, with his superior reaction time, rallied first. "Pardon me, Doctor, but your statement is a direct contradiction of recorded history. Ambassador Spock was one of the most documented persons in the history of Starfleet. The events surrounding the Battle of Mutara, the detonation of the Genesis Device created by Drs. Carol and David Marcus, and the subsequent Battle of Genesis with a Klingon quote privateer unquote were the most documented of his career. The records show he survived the Battles of Mutara and Genesis, retired from Starfleet into the Vulcan Diplomatic Corps, served as Federation ambassador to -"
"His death was covered up," David interrupted, "and ever since has been the Federation's best-kept secret - until now." She waved her hand at the ceiling, or rather at the Romulans and Ferengi beyond it.
"Why?" Picard demanded. "How? Why would the Federation and Starfleet cover up his death and fake his continued existence for the past eighty-five years?"
"His continued existence was not faked."
"You just said he died at Mutara!" Crusher cried.
"Your statements are not only contradictory to recorded history," said Data, "but internally inconsistent."
David went on inexorably. "Spock died at the Battle of Mutara, of radiation poisoning. His body was buried in space by Admiral Kirk, but the photon tube landed on the planet formed by the Genesis device during the battle. It arrived during the operational stages of the matrix. It rejuvenated his body, which was rescued by Kirk during the Battle of Genesis. A Vulcan telepathic discipline allowed his mind to be preserved and transferred into the new body. In short, Captain Picard, Spock was resurrected from the dead."
For Crusher it was too much at once. Even Data wasn't commenting. "And Project Easter?" Picard asked.
"The purpose of Project Easter is to duplicate the process by which Spock was revived - without detonating another Genesis device. The Vulcans and the other telepathic specialists -" David indicated Stark. "- are working on the mental aspect of the process, and my responsibility is the modified Genesis process to be used to rejuvenate the body."
Data cocked his head to one side. "You are Dr. Carol Marcus," he said.
Crusher looked from Data to David with a stunned expression on her face. But Picard had let Data's revelation pass almost unnoticed. "So," he murmured, almost to himself, "James T. Kirk did after all complete his quest to cheat Death."
"He's heading toward that gas giant," Wesley reported.
The Enterprise had pursued the limping Romulan warbird toward the star system where Tomalak apparently believed he'd find shelter.
"The enemy is increasing speed!" called Worf from the tactical display.
"Stay with him, Wes!" said Riker.
"Yes, sir," Wesley answered absently, his attention focussed on precisely that. All eyes were on the main viewscreen as the Romulan ship shot over and behind the huge gas planet.
"Commander!" Surprise supplanted everything else in Worf's voice. "The enemy ship has disappeared from my screens."
Riker sat straight in the command chair. "Mr. Crusher?"
"Yes, sir." Wesley was sweeping his instrument panels with his eyes in vain hope of finding evidence of the chase. "He's gone."
"Impossible. He had no power." Worf was annoyed, possibly at having to give a negative report, possibly at having to repeat himself.
Riker eyed the viewscreen, watching the warbird stubbornly remain vanished. Then he sat back in the command chair. "All right," he said, calmly, as if to a classroom, "where is he?"
The others exchanged glances but did not respond.
"Mr. Crusher?" Riker prompted. "You've seen it before."
Wesley considered this; then light dawned. "He's stationed himself at the planet's magnetic pole to hide from our sensors!"
"That's why he chose such a large planet for his maneuver," Worf realized. "He wanted us to think he had cloaked, but he needed a large enough magnetic field to hide a warbird."
"Gold stars for you both," said Riker, smiling. Worf responded with less than enthusiasm. Riker left bridge center to join Worf at his board. "For the moment we'll let him think his trick worked. Mr. Crusher, standard orbit. Mr. Walters, sensors in standard search scan patterns. Mr. Worf, let us consider battle strategy. Then, Wesley, I want you and Geordi to unravel this puzzle with the sensor readings."
"Aye sir," Wesley called.
"Here is our tactical situation." Worf started the data running on his board, but momentarily noticed that Riker wasn't watching. "Commander?"
"Sorry." Riker had been staring off into space - which wasn't like him. "I've just got this feeling that there's something very wrong on the station." Riker pulled himself back to the bridge of the Enterprise. "Well, let's see what you've got."
Worf restarted his data readout.
A party of five space-suited humanoids approached the dome wall of Easter Station from outside. Each was carrying several devices hanging from equipment belts, but the last had a large complex machine strapped to his back.
At the wall the first consulted a sensor device, then signaled another. This second set a small device against the wall on the ground and activated, and a tentlike forcefield surrounded the party of five, also including a door sized portion of the dome wall. "Force field secure," the second figure reported. After another moment a light flashed on the forcefield generator. "Atmosphere pressurized."
The first humanoid removed his helmet. His features might have been a Vulcan's, but for the expression of triumphant satisfaction.
"Start cutting through the wall," he ordered.
"I can see now why your security is so strict," Picard said to David. "A process that can restore life lost. Aside from the monstrous practical ramifications, most of the known galaxy's religions would be set on their ears. In fact, I now wonder why it is that you gave in and told us just because I demanded it of you."
"There is something we wish to do that legally requires your permission." Stark spoke for the first time.
"Legally? My permission?"
"Yes. Yours and Dr. Crusher's."
"Our work to date," Dr. David - Dr. Marcus? - explained, "has been entirely theoretical. On paper, it looks good - the numbers all add up and the test animals survive. But we've never been in a position to test our process on a sapient being before now."
"'Before now.'" Now Picard knew what was coming.
"Deanna," Crusher said.
Stark nodded to her. "Captain, Doctor. We request your permission to attempt to regenerate Deanna Troi with the Easter process."
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