Le Morte d'Spock, c. 247000:
Anon Dr. McCoy was led away from the Vulcan altars, and he did stumble between his Vulcan escorts. But though his face was lined with all his many years, he smiled at Captain Kirk, and Captain Kirk knew he was at peace.
Then did Sarek approach Captain Kirk, and in his once passionless Vulcan eyes there was gratitude. But before he tried to speak Captain Kirk asked after Mr. Spock.
"We will know in time, as with all things," said Sarek, and then continued with what he must say: "Captain Kirk, I thank you. What you have done for my son, I would not have asked, had I known first the cost to you."
"Had I not," said Captain Kirk, "my soul had been the cost. For ever has it been my Quest to conquer Death."
And a tall, lean figure shrouded in a hooded white robe was led by the Masters past them to the stairs. But before departing the shrouded figure hesitated, and then turned back toward the men from Earth, pulling the hood from his head until Mr. Spock's features were revealed.
Captain's log, supplemental: Acting as Deanna Troi's next-of-kin, Dr. Crusher and I have authorized the attempt to return her to life by the experimental process of Project Easter, which is derived from the Genesis project of James T. Kirk's day.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise is presumably still in pursuit of the Romulan warbird whose attack on Easter station cost Troi her life; I cannot know the ship's disposition because Easter station's long-range communications are still out.
The laboratory had mountains of duotronic banks and sensors all encircling two operating tables. At the moment Marcus and the Easter labtechs including Stark were concentrating on only one of these. This one had at either end of its long axis a large cone-shaped ray emitter. The lab was very brightly lit.
"Mr. Data, how have you and Mr. Beck been managing with the station's repairs?" Picard stood with his Away Team in one corner of the room, trying to keep out of the way.
"We were still running diagnostic programming when I left the control room to inform you of the Ferengi offer to purchase Project Easter, Captain. Presumably Mr. Beck has continued in my absence."
"Go see how he's doing and assist him."
"Aye sir." Data turned and left.
The Romulans had finished sealing their entry port through the dome wall. They had also doffed their spacesuits, to reveal not the usual glittery quilted Romulan spacefleet uniforms, but skintight black commando outfits.
"The dome wall is sealed, our force field off," reported the subleader.
The leader turned to the commando who carried the large device on his back. "Have the humans detected us?"
After consulting a sensor readout wired to his backpack, the commando replied, "No. In containing the atmosphere of the dome we have succeeded in escaping their notice."
"Very well. If our information is accurate, the room with the data we need is this way." The leader pointed down the passageway, toward the center of the base. "Let us move slowly and cautiously to preserve our advantage."
The Romulans began to move in the indicated direction. Suddenly Beck entered the passageway.
"Who are -" Beck started to say, but the subleader leapt forward and struck him. Beck fell.
"Hide him," ordered the leader. To the commando with the sensors, he added, "Do not allow us to be surprised again."
"You look apprehensive."
Picard didn't respond to Crusher's comment.
"Surely you don't doubt that we're doing the right thing."
"I do doubt. Beverly, there are larger questions here than just whether the process works and whether the Federation should share the process with other powers. By what right may one person say that another deserves to be returned to life? Who decides? By what criteria? Who decides the criteria? Which of us has not wished to return a loved one to life - and would all of those loved ones have been grateful for it?" For a moment the spectre of Jack Crusher hung between them.
Crusher was favoring him again with the bemused look she'd had in the conference room, when he'd suggested that he might not have agreed. "You don't doubt Stark's word that Deanna wanted this?"
"No, I don't. But I wonder whether I ought to have agreed to this had I not possessed that information. And I wonder whether I wouldn't have agreed anyway. And I am Starfleet-trained to ignore my own temptations for the greater good - how would the next person react to the same decision? This quest of Kirk's has aspects of Pandora's box to it."
"You can't close Pandora's box."
"Can't we," Picard murmured.
Crusher was distracted from Picard's reply when Marcus approached the Away Team, carrying a test tube.
"This is a cell sample taken from Counselor Troi's body," Marcus said. "Ordinary cloning processes could not produce a living organism from this."
"True, Captain," said Crusher. "Even reconstituting a dead person with the transporter trace of that person when alive won't work. It's been tried."
"Please proceed, Dr. Marcus," said Picard.
"Certainly, Captain." She moved to the active operating table and held the test tube over it. "Activate support field," she called.
At the flip of a switch a glow appeared around Marcus's hand that held the tube. She removed her hand and the tube remained suspended above the table. Marcus moved to a console herself. "Activate containment field." Another forcefield sprang up, this one around the entire table.
"Containment of what?" Picard asked Crusher.
"Radiation, I expect." They were both whispering; Thorpe - Picard's security escort - with the wisdom of junior officers through time, merely watched and listened. "I've studied some of the theory that went into the Genesis project. Some very bad things could happen to the people in this room during the formation of the matrix if there were no shielding."
"Activate the operational matrix," Marcus ordered.
A beam flashed between the two cones at either end of the table, capturing the tube between them. The lights dimmed. Picard and Crusher fell silent. A sphere of light grew around the tube, growing in diameter until, when it was about a meter across, it disappeared and the tube seemed to implode with a thud.
"Revitalization successful," Marcus called, reading her console. "Fetal growth commencing."
"It happens that simply ..." Crusher whispered in awe.
"What happens to the test tube?" Picard wondered aloud. "Is it removed somehow?"
"Its matter is probably reorganized to become part of the body," Crusher suggested. "It'll hardly be enough to matter to build a whole adult body though. I wonder what they'll do for the rest they need."
"Look at the readings on their power guages," Picard said. "It looks to me like they're manufacturing the matter out of pure energy with a modified transporter process."
The object in the matrix rays was now recognizably a late-term humanoid fetus.
"Induce birth trauma," Marcus called, "- now!" A labtech behind her hit a switch. In the matrix a baby cried out.
Picard and Thorpe jumped, though Crusher didn't. "What was that for?" Picard asked.
"Gets the lungs working." Crusher might have been explaining cooking to a child. In the matrix, the baby - quiet now - grew into Deanna Troi as she was when the Away Team last saw her in a matter of seconds. "Oh, gods in heaven, it's her."
"Deactivate operational matrix." At Marcus' command the field between the cones faded and the lights came back up full. "Deactivate the containment field. Deactivate the suspension field." As all the visual effects of the process faded, Troi's body slowly sank through the air onto the table surface.
"Dr. Crusher," said Marcus with evident satisfaction, "if you would please verify the body's status?"
Behind her Stark shut down his console and moved toward Picard as Crusher took out her tricorder and approached Troi.
"It's Deanna," Crusher said, reading her tricorder. "I'd know her half-Betazoid biometry anywhere. Except -" Her voice became troubled. "- no EEG, no alpha waves, no - almost no brain activity at all."
"You knew there would not be, Dr. Crusher," Stark said at Picard's side. "I have not yet fulfilled my portion of the task. Captain, I must ask you to leave the laboratory with Dr. Marcus and her crew for the next stage of the process. A certain psychic stillness must be maintained."
"I'd like to stay," Crusher said.
Stark nodded. "I anticipated your desire. But you must remain entirely calm during the ritual."
Crusher nodded. She had expected such a response; but her studies had included a variety of esoteric medicine, unconventional by Terran standards, and she was familiar with meditation methods of several worlds besides Earth - though not as familiar as a natural telepath would be through his or her studies. "I'll need some time to prepare."
"So shall we all."
"Doctor," Picard nodded. "Healer." The labtechs had started filing out and Picard and Thorpe joined the line, falling in behind Dr. Marcus. Meanwhile the telepaths had been filing in. They were of several different Federation peoples, mostly Vulcans of course - but Crusher's eye was drawn to one, an elderly woman with a regal bearing. Her blue skin and antennae showed she was an Andorian.
"Thure, this is Dr. Crusher, Troi's physician," Stark said. "Dr. Crusher, this is Thure. Being the keeper of the katra I of course may not perform the re-fusion ritual, the fal-tor-pan. Thure will perform it."
"How do you do," Crusher said.
"Victory in your struggles," Thure said, the Andorian greeting.
"And in yours," Crusher said.
"Congratulations, Dr. David," Picard said, once he, Thorpe and the project leader were out of the lab. "Pardon me - Dr. Marcus."
"Either is fine - I answer to both, now. Federation Security made me change my name when Easter was started."
"Federation Security had a galactic controversy on their hands in those days. Now that the Romulans have found out about Easter, it may start all over."
Marcus led them to into a small lounge area, empty of any station personnel. "At least I have no son left, to lose to the Romulans," she said as she and Picard sat and Thorpe had assumed a post near the door.
The bitter edge that Picard had noted during the conference was back in her voice. "Tell me something," he said, "if I may ask." She looked up. "You seem bitter about your son's death. Do you blame Kirk for it?"
"Blame him? No. I tried for a time. I had always wanted David in my world, and I had always been afraid that David would follow Jim into his. I finally realized that it was coincidence that Jim came back into David's life just before he was killed by the Klingons on Genesis. Then I spent several years getting over the idea that David wouldn't have been killed if Jim had got to Genesis sooner. By the time I was over that the bitterness had become a habit," she apologized.
"I've seen the log tapes of the Enterprise's last mission," Picard offered tenatively. When Marcus said nothing he went on. "In all the Enterprise logs I reviewed while I was at the Academy, I never saw James T. Kirk falter in a command situation - except once: when the Klingons killed your son. His son."
"Thank you," Marcus said. "It's good to hear that. Jim gave up trying to call me before I gave up trying to blame him. I suppose it meant he'd found his peace; but I never saw him again. Even what small part of David that Jim might have provided me was denied me, and that was my own fault.
"That's why I took on Easter, when Genesis failed. It was all there was left me of David. And," she added, with a little more energy, "I wanted there to be people saved from the sort of loss I went through. I wanted to be able to recreate life for other people, since it was too late for the life I really wanted saved. And since it was a natural extension of my work on Genesis, I didn't examine my motivations as closely as I might have."
"The secret of life," Picard murmured. "It's an exclusive fellowship you seek - Gilgamesh, Frankenstein ... They each paid high prices, for only limited success."
"So have I," said Marcus. "First David's life - and then my own. All I have left is Easter. And now it's done."
She fell silent. Picard waited uncomfortably until he was certain she was done, rose quietly, and with his shadow left.
The lights in the laboratory were turned down, though not so low that Beverly couldn't see the principals of the ritual. Troi was still in the operating table, now draped with a sheet; Stark was on the second table. Between the tables there was just enough room for Thure to stand. The other telepaths and Crusher were gathered in a circle around them, seated on the floor, holding hands. Another off to the side struck a small gong.
"Ben vall navum," Thure intoned, softly yet clearly enough for Crusher to hear. She folded her hands for a moment. She put one hand on Troi's forehead. She put the other on Stark's. She bowed her head and became motionless.
"There is no indication how the power returned to the Romulan ship after we had captured it in the tractor beam," said Worf, pointing at the defense station display. He looked like he was threatening it.
"Maybe they repaired the engines while they were hidden," Wesley suggested, "like you said before."
LaForge let them argue, waiting for them to wind down.
"Then why did the power levels retain their low curve," Worf replied, "after the ship was dragged from hiding until just before their escape?"
"Maybe they didn't power the engines back up until then."
"Perhaps. But it would be foolhardy for Tomalak to have attempted that escape with engines that were so freshly energized."
Wesley smiled. "Worf, are you admitting that Romulans aren't foolhardy?"
Worf frowned at that, heightening his naturally ferocious looks. "Klingons do not have foolhardy enemies."
Wesley was taken aback enough to allow LaForge to break in. "Boys, we're getting nowhere discussing Romulan psychology. We haven't got any instruments for measuring it."
"What do you suggest?" Worf had not yet retracted his frown.
"Let's look at the readings we do have." LaForge moved to a research station behind Worf's security board, calling up datafiles as he spoke. "Now, Wes and I have been trying to figure out why Tomalak's giving off mu waves, but we haven't been able to concentrate on it because too much else has been going on. I suggest we look at it now. We have at least until the warbird gets to the Neutral Zone."
"His power will run out before then," Wesley said.
"We thought his power had run out the last time," Worf retorted. "What do you expect to find?" he asked LaForge.
"Well, mu waves are associated with Romulan cloaking technology. Maybe they can cloak their engine output, obscure it, make us think they're running dry when they're not. If it's true, we should be able to figure it out if we go through all the readings we've taken since Tomalak decloaked at Sigma Delta V."
"Lies," Worf rumbled. "How like a Romulan."
Thure had not moved for more time than Crusher could track while entranced. But now Thure slowly withdrew her hands from the foreheads of Troi and Stark. Crusher, not daring to move yet, kept up her concentration. But Stark opened his eyes and sat up. Taking her cue from those around her, Crusher properly ended her trance and stood.
The other telepaths gathered around Troi, whose eyes were open also by now. Crusher went to Thure and Stark. "Are you well?" she asked Stark.
"Yes." Perhaps it was just standard Vulcan stoicism, but Stark seemed none the worse for wear. "I no longer hold the katra, and my own mind is intact."
"Did it work?" Crusher's next question was directed at both of them.
"The transfer was successful," Thure said. "Even so, Troi's memory will need considerable training before she will be able to function as in the past."
"But will she get all her memory back?"
"We assume so," Stark said. "Such was the case with Spock, whose initial katra transfer and final fal-tor-pan were fraught with more serious complications than we have had. Nevertheless, it will require time."
Crusher watched with Stark and Thure as the other telepaths assisted Troi off of the operating table. As they led Troi out, her eye caught Crusher. She hesitated, and the telepaths allowed her to move closer to Crusher. She looked at Crusher as if trying to place her.
"Yes?" Crusher answered, thinking she was being addressed. But confirmation of the name was all Troi needed. She smiled at Crusher, then allowed herself to be led off.
"She was not addressing you," Stark pointed out. "She was asking your name."
Crusher was momentarily disheartened; then she said brightly, "Well, she got it right."
This time when Data came for Picard, the captain was found in the station library, the ubiquitous Thorpe unobtrusive in a corner. Picard had gone looking for the first starship Enterprise's final log entries, which could be found in the library of any Federation government installation by anyone with Starfleet clearance.
Much to his surprise, upon reviewing them, he discovered that his belief that the tapes had been edited to conform to the official history was probably mistaken. The occurences recorded in those log entries that had piqued Picard's interest years before (such as McCoy, a medical officer, standing a watch at the science officer's station; Kirk's apparent surprise that Spock was alive in the Genesis planet with the Grissom science team; and the team's Lieutenant Saavik referring to Spock as "a Vulcan scientist of your [Kirk's] acquaintence" instead of by name) were all things that could easily be have been edited out. Moreover, they should have been, by a security commission bent on keeping questions arising about those events, precisely to forestall the sort of niggling curiosity that Picard had experienced when viewing the tapes at the Academy.
Picard knew that Starfleet hadn't been the same toward the end of Kirk's career as at the beginning, or as it was now; and inadvertently it had been Kirk's fault. The fantastic publicity that had accompanied Kirk's five-year mission on the first Enterprise had made Starfleet the popular place to be, the highlight of a political resume, the 23rd century fad. At the time of the Genesis controversy Admiral Nogura had been more than five years dead and the Admiralty had been half full of political timekeepers, CinC Admiral Morrow one of them. The Cartwright conspiracy, and the disastrous emergency rescue mission during the premature launch of the Enterprise-B which had cost Kirk his life, had shown the fleet up for what it'd become, and the Federation Council had turned it back around (it was sometimes argued that Kirk's last act had been to repair the damage he'd done). But today's Starfleet - or Christopher Pike's - would have found another way than to cooperate with a Security cover-up, to deal with the resurrection of Spock.
In Picard's day Kirk was most commonly viewed as a maverick whose values only partly coincided with those of Starfleet, and whose ego had nearly destroyed it. But with this day's revelations Picard was beginning to wonder whether it wasn't Kirk's Starfleet, motivated by politics or simple jealousy, that had really been in the wrong over the Battle of Genesis - and maliciously responsible for Kirk's tarnished reputation since. He speculated, liking the idea, that the wholeness of these Enterprise logs was Kirk's doing, somehow maintained against the wishes of his superiors.
After reviewing the logs Picard had called up Halsted's The Quest to Cheat Death. But now Picard was looking over Data's shoulder at a board readout in the station's control room, brought there by Data's one-sentence report: "Captain, mu waves are being detected by the internal security sensors."
While Picard was looking at the readings himself, Crusher entered, all masks down as when she met Picard in the passageway. But her mood was diametrically opposed to that occasion. "Oh, Jean-Luc, it worked!"
At his name Picard straightened from the console, and Crusher threw her arms around him. Picard was not displeased but found it a distraction at this moment.
"She's alive!" Crusher continued. "Deanna's alive and she remembers my name."
"That's wonderful news, Doctor," Picard said, gently prying her loose, "but I think we may have trouble. Beck's disappeared."
"Disappeared? What could have happened to him?"
"The sensor readings point to intruders," Data said.
"There are too many people on the station?"
"There are one too few," Data said, "according to readings. Also, there is a human corpse in Corridor 1 East." Crusher visibly deflated, but Data went on. "Moreover, sensors have indicated minute traces of mu wave radiation, which is characteristic solely of the Romulan cloaking technology. I hypothesize a cloaking device designed to disguise the presence of a small number of Romulans."
Crusher was as bemused by the information as Picard had been. "How can they have such a thing? The direct square law has always made cloaking technology impractical for fields smaller than a scout class ship."
"Until recently the Romulans have kept themselves isolated from the Federation for approximately as long as Project Easter has existed. It is not unlikely that they have refined their cloaking technology a substantial amount."
"Practicality is in the eye of the beholder," Picard suggested grimly. "They were probably saving it against the day they came out of their system to declare war on us. Then they decided to risk tipping their hand for Project Easter. We've got a hot potato on our hands, Mr. Data."
"Indeed, sir." Data had heard hot potato before, Picard knew. "Do you wish me to attempt to locate the intruders? I can do so, but my actions would almost certainly disrupt their circumradiation field and alert them to our awareness of their presence."
"Do it. When there's a wasp in the room I like to know where it is."
Data keyed at the sensor console.
A buzzer sounded on the technician commando's backpack. The Romulans all halted while he checked his hand readout.
"Our advantage has been neutralized," he reported. "They know we are here."
"Abandon caution," ordered the leader. "Proceed directly to objective."
The Romulans set off with alacrity but not haste.
"I have them, sir, but they know it," Data reported. "On screen." The sensor viewscreen displayed a Romulan strike force moving through the passageways. "The uniforms are of the trihraka, the so-called 'Romulan ninjas'. They are genetically engineered guerilla soldiers. From the location of the body we deduce to be Mr. Beck's, and from their present location and direction of travel, I deduce their destination is the laboratory."
"Trihraka," Picard muttered. "And all I have to defend Project Easter against them is four Starfleet officers and a load of scientists."
Crusher was bewildered at his tone. "There are only five of them."
"Ten trihraka killed the five thousand colonists at Teriatis in a day in the Romulan war two hundred years ago. I've sworn to defend the Federation with my lives and the lives of my crew, and I'm willing to do so. But I'd rather not waste lives in a futile gesture."
Back to DOCTOR WHO/STAR TREK index
Back to Paul's index