There is no crew member by that name aboard the Perseus.
“Check again, computer.”
Working. Search failure confirmed. Commander Reginald Barclay is not assigned to the Perseus, and is not aboard ship.
Lieutenant Commander Nikhila Munich left her post at the malfunctioning bridge communications console and entered the darkened turbolift.
The earpiece of her Neural Encoder sounded: “Barclay to Commander Munich. Are you coming?”
“Be right there, Commander.”
The turbolift door closed.
The large holodeck doors whirred open and Nikhila took a moment to absorb the environment. It appeared as a large room of Federation design, with smooth, brightly-lit walls and bank of unoccupied conference tables along each side. The center of the carpet bore a large UFP seal emblazoned with a planetary symbol: Bajor.
Hope I don't regret this
, she told herself, and entered.
“Ah, Commander, welcome, welcome, glad you could make it; glad I could make it.” Commander Reginald Barclay descended from a communications mezzanine and straightened his yellow engineering coveralls. “That is, um, won't you? Care for, uh... something to drink?”
Nikhila smiled. “Thank you, no. Commander?”
“Barclay. Reginald? Barclay. I'm just...I hope you can just feel at ease,” he told her. “I'm here to deliver a message. Well. And maybe a bit more.”
“You're a hologram?” she asked.
“Yes! That's just it, you see. Oh, I knew you were always smart, but – well, I mean, that's why I chose to make contact with you, Commander Munich; not that I, I mean you, you're, I mean -”
“Computer, run a diagnostic of the holodeck safety protocols.” She regarded the Barclay hologram. “You understand.”
“Not at all, I mean – yes of course, please, do as you wish.” He opened his arms. “Computer, scan Barclay hologram for any glitches or signs of potential danger.”
Working. Holomatrix personality algorithms have degraded twenty-three percent from original parameters. Numerous cascading indexing errors have disrupted original matrix. Personality similitude falling below accuracy tolerance by fifty-three point two percent. Holodeck safety protocols maximized.
“You see? There's nothing – What
three percent! Computer, what happened to the missing data?”
“What are you?” Nikhila persisted.
“I'm Commander Barclay of Jupiter Station Holographic Design Lab. That is, I'm a message from him, the real Commander Barclay, who should be back in the Alpha Quadrant now, at least, I hope he is, though – there was that communique that -”
“The point, Mr Barclay?”
He sat at the conference table and invited her to do the same. “Commander Barclay compiled me as an interactive program. He loaded me as an emergency measure to observe and make contact should Perseus encounter any trouble beyond conventional communications distances. He programmed me to activate if I didn't receive his update after an established time frame. When activated I'm to work to establish communications with Jupiter Station, covertly if necessary. Just as a failsafe should the ship fall out of Starfleet control when beyond warp range.”
“A holographic dead man's switch. He's either a genius, or a crazy person. I knew I always liked him.”
“You...you know me? I mean him? I'm...well I'm honored. Right, uh, well, he designed me to be a backup in case of any Voyager-type long range scenarios, to observe, assess tactical conditions and report back, and if necessary – to interact with the crew.”
“I see. Sounds...like your average everyday breach in protocol. So my next question is - why now, exactly?”
“I've been biding my time in the system and evaluating the tactical situation, waiting for a communication update before revealing myself. But last night I received a security-encoded data burst from Commander Barclay. He had commandeered the Project Voyager laboratory long range communications array with an urgent message. However my further attempts to establish communications with Jupiter station have all failed. He's just not sending the transmission beam.”
were that two percent variance in signal output! I spent half my shift tracking that down!”
“I apologize, Commander, it's just that – I – I've brought myself up to date with all of the sensor records and ship status. I know what Commander – sorry, Captain Paris is hoping to achieve.”
“Sounds like the Barclay I've heard about. Brilliant, and borderline illegal.” For the moment, Nikhila relaxed from uttering the code word that would alert security and decompile the holodeck. “So why not reveal yourself to the Captain?”
“Oh, I will! I just...I just wanted to make first contact, as it were, with...with...well, to be honest, I, that is, Commander Barclay, has always wanted to meet you.”
“Well, you're Commander Nikhila Munich. Ensign Chief Communications Officer of the USS Centaur
; promoted to CCO Lieutenant JG aboard the Akira class Banshee
; promoted to CCO Full Lieutenant aboard the Excelsior USS Tecumseh
, where you served with distinction in the Federation-Klingon war and
the Dominion war. Chief Protocol Officer with official Federation envoy to Romulus and the Dominion. Currently CCO and Second Officer of Starfleet's newest NCV Quantum Class starship USS Perseus
. Starfleet's current record holder of Second Contact missions, at six hundred twelve
. Protocol expert, holding degrees in Exo-Psychology, Diplomatic Relations, Applied Sociological and Anthropological Sciences. Third Dan in Tiramisu Aikido, and all around alien expert.”
Aikido. Though I do enjoy a good italian confection,” she replied. “You recite my service record better than I do.”
The Barclay hologram smiled. “Tell me, is it really true you can speak eleven hundred
She tapped her earpiece. “Eleven hundred seventy-one and counting. It's true, give or take a few pidgin dialects. All with a little help from my Neural Encoder. If I can use this little baby in the initial stages, I can retain any language encoded for universal translation.”
“Ah, I've always wanted to see your...device. An enhanced universal translator that splits neurolingustic signal processing into the brain's language centers and hippocampal longterm memory storage. Right?”
“You've done your homework,” she answered, handing it to him.
He eagerly poured over it's design. “It utilizes neuroelectric impulse feeds?”
“That's right. Based on engrammatic encoding that embeds LCARS pattern recognition algorithms directly into the brain's semantic network. Actually, it can also store other types of data patterns. But I don't want to be a cyborg, I just use it for living language synsets, not soulless data.”
“Amazing. Absolutely – I'm sorry, amazing. I appreciate you showing it to me.”
“Well I ordinarily wouldn't, but – for Reginald Barclay? You know, I've always wanted to pick his brain, too. I'm kind of a fan.”
She leaned in. “Come on. He found Voyager
. Project Pathfinder? Project Voyager? Rescuer of the USS Yosemite
crew? First Contact with Cytheria
? Assisted rebuilding Zephram Cochrane's Phoenix
? The man is partly responsible for the Federation and the destruction of the Borg
. And his holoprograms are cult classics! He's always been a hero of mine.” She replaced the neural encoder, ignoring his mute surprise. “This is just technology. The real challenge lay in the cultural and physio-kinetic interpretation of intended and inferential meaning behind the messages. Wouldn't you agree?”
“I, um, that is, yes
, of course, I think -”
“Not to mention spotting lies. Now that's
a challenge. But I've gotten pretty good at it.” She gazed at him sidelong. “So tell me, Mr Barclay's hologram, why have you asked me here? This is the Federation embassy to Bajor, is it not?”
“You do your homework too, Commander.” He rose. “Please. There's something you should see.”
She stood. “After you.”
The Barclay hologram tapped his communicator. “Computer, two to transport.” He noticed something in her hand. “What's that?”
“Oh this? Just a little phase decompiler,” she said innocently, as they disappeared in a transporter beam.