Remnants-a redux post

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Mistral, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame


    The desert sun beat down intensely, so intensely the heat felt like a physical pressure. His sweat dripping down his face, Jean-Luc patiently brushed away layers of dirt from a small spot on the cavern entrance. Stopping from time to time to sip from his canteen, he slowly revealed a dull gray metal plate about the size of his hand. As the symbols engraved in it became clear he allowed himself a satisfied smile. He carefully, lovingly, cleaned the plate clear and then captured its features with a holorecorder. Gathering his tools and equipment, he triggered the com badge on his chest.
    “Picard to Artemis,” he said, “One to beam up.”
    The scintillation of the transporter was washed out by the desert glare.

    Vash was waiting for him as he re-appeared aboard the small scout vessel. She stood with her arms crossed, fighting to suppress any hint of eagerness.
    “Did you find it?” she demanded.

    “I have the images right here,” Picard replied, holding up the holorecorder. “But first, I think a shower would be in order.”
    Vash wrinkled her nose, causing the freckles there to stand out. “You’ve got that right,” she said, and then smiled. “Well, hurry up. I’m just dying to see what we’ve found.” Picard was grinning as he made his way to the sonic shower.


    Joe Smith walked through the ruins. Pieces of concrete impeded his way. “900 years,” he thought. “Is that all it took for all of this to go away? What of the dreams we had? Where is our Federation now?” In the distance, a trilling noise answered him, some bird that heard his anguish. San Francisco Bay lay beyond the hill he stood on, it’s blue waters so pristine they made the heart ache. Joe turned back towards the view inland and scanned the rubble that had once been Starfleet Headquarters. His tricorder gave him nothing he couldn’t see with his own eyes.

    His voice broke the song of nature’s melody and the creatures near him grew silent.
    “What happened? Where is everyone?” There was a pause, and then crickets chirped and squirrels argued once again. They had little experience with Humanity and decided that the Doctor, Mr. Joe Smith, was of little consequence. Joe thought the same thing.


    “Commander Riker, I know you think this is a ‘milk run’ better suited to a cargo vessel. However, with nearly a quarter of Enterprise’s crew on leave, including her captain, I’m not about to send her out to the edge of explored space or into the middle of a major crisis. Enterprise will proceed to Betazed with the relief supplies as ordered! Do we understand each other?” Admiral Nychayev scowled out at him from the communications station viewscreen. At least, Riker assumed it was a scowl. With the Admiral it was hard to tell, since her normal expressions could freeze water, but considering how much he had protested the Enterprise’s current assignment he had to believe it was an actual scowl.

    “Yes, sir, Admiral!” he barked, resisting the urge to salute. She would probably flay him alive if he did. “Nychayev out,” she responded. The viewscreen showed the Starfleet logo as Riker turned away. “Mr. Tel, set course for Betazed, warp four. We’ve just joined the Intergalactic Red Cross,” he said through gritted teeth. The Andorian helmsman entered the commands into his console and the stars on the main viewscreen began to Doppler shift. Everyone on the bridge was careful to stay busy and look anywhere else but at Riker as he flopped himself into the Captain’s chair. Only Deanna risked his wrath with one of her gentle smiles. When he caught it out of the corner of his eye, Riker sighed , then began to grin himself.

    “I know it’s important work, Deanna, but it still makes me feel like we are wasting our time and talents.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Well, at least you get to visit your mother, the famous Resistance leader!”

    She smiled again at him but it was a smile that never reached her eyes. “I lost a lot of friends and family when the Dominion occupied Betazed.” she said softly, “It won’t be that much of a happy homecoming.”

    Riker gave her a stricken look. “Deanna, I’m sorry...”

    With a wistful expression she turned back to the viewscreen to watch the elongated stars. “At least we are going there to help.”
    Riker nodded in agreement.


    The rubble was stupendous in its reach and breadth. The complex had obviously grown past the programmed memories he had from the 24th century. Joe walked through the ruins, sidestepping individual rocks and chunks of concrete. He paused when a piece of light-reflecting material caught his eye. Bending over, he pulled what looked like a tricorder from the mess at his feet. The controls took him a moment to work. Obviously, Federation technology had advanced beyond his database. He brushed the dust off of the padd and tapped the recall button. Power systems had also moved beyond his own era’s capability. The unit switched on. A voice began to speak.

    “Mother, I wanted to let you know we still are holding out hope. There is a chance that the Enterprise can find the solution before it’s too-“static overtook the padd for a moment. “We are still holding out here and since you are on Betazed, I’m fairly certain you have nothing to worry about.” The padd freaked out in Joe’s hand and began emitting sparks. Joe dropped it instinctively, and wiped his hand on his pants. After a moment the arcing stopped and Joe picked the padd back up. It lay in his hand, dormant and dead, the power source burnt out. He flipped it aside and searched through the ruins some more. Lifting a chunk of concrete, he found another padd clenched tightly in a skeleton’s hand.

    “This might be important,” he said, and the birds and such stopped their noise for another moment after he spoke. Not even realizing he was holding a breath that, on one level, he never had, he pressed the playback button.

    “The Iconians are unbelievable. The things they can do, *cough*, we’re hard pressed to give them any kind of a fight. *cough, hack*, they’ve torn us apart. We never knew they survived. Picard made a mess of things when he activated their Gate system. It woke them up. I think*cough* that they look on us as-*bzzzt* -my dear, if I can’t make it back, I hope you at least get word. The Demons of Air and Darkness-they didn’t call them that for nothing.” The padd’s power source failed sadly, and Joe set it down on a near-bye rock.

    “Iconians? But they’re extinct. Had been, anyway. How did Picard wake them up?” Joe rubbed his forehead. “This doesn’t make sense. How could something Picard did in my time with Starfleet have wiped out the Federation years later. It’s pretty obvious that advances were made, growth and expansion.” He waved at the ruins angrily. “What did Picard do?”

    Kicking at the rubble, he turned his face towards the ruins of the city. Off to the left, as he walked, hundreds of pigeons sat on the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge. He could hear their unmusical cries echoing off of the shattered skyscrapers. The dissonance seemed to fit his mood. Passing Enrique’s coffee house, Joe paused for a moment to look at the collapsed building. He remembered young Ensign Kim talking about it with Mr. Paris sometimes in the lounge over drinks. Everyone aboard Voyager had experienced their times, those instances when their personal walls dropped and they reminisced about Earth. This pile of rubble had been important to Mr. Kim. Joe hoped he’d had the chance to return to it on some golden morning. Sighing, he moved on.



    Jean-Luc and Vash peered intently at the tabletop holo-display of the re-created image of the metal plaque. Referencing a padd in his left hand, Picard said, “Those are very similar to the symbols recorded by Spock nearly a century ago on that asteroid defense system. I should hazard a guess that they are very likely the same language.”

    Vash rolled her eyes. “C’mon, Jean Luc, just admit it! We’ve just found a Preserver relic!”

    Jean Luc turned to her calmly. “I would hate to jump to conclusions, Vash, however,” and here he permitted a small grin to creep in, “I think you are right. We will have to return to the surface and explore that cave more thoroughly after a good night’s sleep.”

    Vash’s answering smile was full of anticipation. “Well, Jean-Luc, what do you say we eat something and get to bed. The sooner we rest, the sooner we can return to the planet.”

    Picard nodded in agreement. “I will prepare dinner if you would like,” he said. “

    Without a replicator we’re stuck eating standard rations, so what’s to prepare?” Vash replied.

    “That is true, I suppose. I can, however, open the ration packs for you if you would like.”

    The hint of amusement in Jean-Luc’s voice brought a broad smile to Vash’s face. “Always the gentleman, Jean-Luc. By all means, garcon, go right ahead!” They shared a brief chuckle together as the stars twinkled through the Artemis’s viewport.


    At first, he didn’t know what he was looking for-some bit of evidence that explained what had happened, perhaps a hint of Voyager’s fate, maybe a clue to his counterpart’s final resting place or disposition. He knew that if Voyager had made it back there had been a version of him that had survived (probably) and if that man had made it back he would have lived here in the heart of Starfleet-he knew this because it was the decision he would have made.

    He eventually pushed his way through the rubble to find a house, nearly intact, with a fine brick wall around it and the overgrown remains of what, once, might have been a beautiful garden. It was the house he’d planned to acquire back when he’d been on Voyager, back when they’d still dreamed of a lost Earth. For him, hundreds of years had passed since those days, yet here sat the very same house, more or less. From the front entryway you could look up and see McKinley station in geosynchronous orbit-but now it failed to form a perfect tetrahedron. Instead, it looked like a natural, orbiting body, irregular and with a variable albedo.

    Joe walked into the kitchen and wondered at the few remaining, rotting pictures he saw on the wall. A vision of Talaxia painted by a passionate hand, a view of the Alpha Quadrant from the outside looking in, a beautiful blonde woman laying nude across a divan. Joe inspected each carefully. He slowly, carefully, traced the strokes of the paintbrush, comparing them to the movements of his own hand. The sun passed easily from early to late afternoon. As it dipped beneath the horizon, he was finally satisfied. This was where his counterpart had lived. He was home.

    He walked beyond the front room into a hallway. The entranceways into most of the rooms were collapsed. One room allowed access. Joe stepped in hesitantly. There was a bed, protected by what remained of the ceiling. The rest of the room lay in ruins. On the bed, stretched out in a natural manner, lay the bones of a woman. Traces of blonde hair still remained on her skull. Her right arm lay, extended, across the other side of the bed, as though reaching for a lost lover. Beneath the bones of her arm lay a disk of metal with faint, barely glowing lights on it. Joe looked at the Independent Holographic Projector strapped to his arm, and then at the disk on the bed. The similarities were uncanny. He peered carefully at the disk. It had read-outs so very much like his own IHP. With a tentative finger he poked at what he thought was the activation switch.

    “Please state the nature-oh, crap, you’d think that after two hundred and thirty-one years I could override that damned programming.” The figure in front of Joe was a familiar one, in fact identical to the one that he woke up to in the mirror every morning, so to speak. This hologram, however, flickered and faded, only to come back into solidity again.

    He looked down at the bed. “What happened to my wife?” The anguish in his voice tore at Joe’s heart. Looking up at Joe’s face, he said, “Who the hell are you? Wha-“ the power flickered again and the hologram of Joe’s counterpart disappeared for a moment. Joe tapped the disk and the mirror image of himself re-appeared. “Please state-oh, crap!” Focusing on Joe he said, “Who are you? My Joy, what happened…” The hologram of Joe’s double disappeared again. Joe sighed and began to examine the unit. The night was dark, the dark of a wilderness. No artificial lighting helped him as he looked over the disk, not unless the glimmer of McKinley Station counted.

    The dawn broke over the ruins of San Francisco. Joe Smith wandered out into the garden, still tinkering with the disk. Occasional sputters of light jumped out of it but Joe never got anything more than, “Please-“before his counterpart disappeared again. Disgusted, Joe put the disk into his sample pouch and looked at the plants he’d been stepping on in his distraction.


    “Damage report!” Riker barked, gripping the arms of the Captain’s chair to brace himself against the secondary explosions that continued to rock the Enterprise. Deanna Troi jumped up from where she had been attending to Tactical Officer Ganesh, injured in the first explosion, to take his station.

    “Commander, we have a hull breach on Deck One, secondary explosions reported on decks 2-4, and an EPS conduit has ruptured just outside Engineering. The emergency force field is holding on Deck One, emergency crews are heading for the other affected decks and Geordi says he has the conduit shut down with minimal plasma leakage. Sick Bay is reporting 3 dead and 11 injured, mostly from detonations on Deck 3.”

    Riker frowned as yet another explosion shook the ship. “What the hell is causing that? Did we hit something?”

    Deanna worked the tactical board for a moment. “Sir, we seem to be under attack from an outside source.”

    Riker looked momentarily stunned. “Under attack? We’re in the Betazed system!” Fire suppression crews began working on the various control board overloads around the smoke-filled bridge as he spoke. A medical team came off of the turbolift and knelt by Ensign Ganesh’s still form.

    Deanna looked up from her board. “Will, we were hit with a photon torpedo that originated from somewhere on the third moon of Prius” Prius was the fifth planet out from Betazed’s sun, a gas giant much like Jupiter. “Analysis shows a Dominion signature to the weapon.”

    “Activate shields,” he said, gazing out through the hull breach in the command deck at the moon in question. “Any ships detected?”

    Deanna looked back at her board. “No ships, but a faint energy signature is coming from a cave on Breelon’s surface.”

    “Breelon?” asked Riker.

    “That’s the name of the moon,” Deanna replied. Nodding acknowledgement , he began to stroke his beard thoughtfully.“ Let’s get a team down there to find out what’s in that cave. Full security personnel with armor. And ask our passenger if she’d like to join them.” Deanna smiled back at Riker, knowing full well Seven of Nine would jump at the chance to solve the mystery. Emergency repair teams began to flood the bridge, joined by reliefs coming to take the place of injured crewmen. “Mr. Tel, bring us within transporter range of Breelon, please.” The Andorian twitched his antennae in affirmation and began inputting the course correction. A Bolian ensign relieved Deanna at Tactical and she resumed her usual place next to the Captain’s chair. Riker cleared his throat. “Ensign Singo, send a report of our current status to Starfleet Command Betazed and let them know we are investigating the cause of the attack. Warn them to re-route traffic at least 10,000 kilometers away from Prius and its satellites.”

    The blue-faced ensign said, “Yes,sir,” and bent to the task.

    “Deanna, do you sense any life forms coming from Breelon?”

    Deanna looked thoughtful for a moment and then turned towards Riker. “I can’t detect anything living coming from the moon’s surface, Will.” Riker frowned, brooding in his seat.


    Although grown to a state of wilderness, Joe knew what he was walking through.
    “I planted the roses!” he exclaimed. The rosebush had taken over the right side of the ruins of the house. “I always wanted roses!” As he stood there looking over what had once been a well-tended hedge he heard a sound. It had been many years, many centuries, since he had heard it so it took time to make the connection, time to recall the sound of a Federation transporter. He dashed around the side of the house to the front where the sound had come from.

    Two Klingons dressed in skintight grey jumpsuits were standing next to a Vulcan in white ceremonial robes. The Klingons had weapons both bladed and energy-based on them while the Vulcan had only sandals to go with his robe. They had appeared in the street facing away from the house and were already walking in the general direction of Starfleet Headquarters. Joe almost called out to them but something in their demeanor stopped him. Instead, he adjusted his IHP so that he didn’t actually touch the ground as he moved, thereby avoiding any tell-tale sounds that might alert them to his presence. Carefully staying to the shadows, he followed the unusual party.

    They walked the thoroughfare in a dignified manner, the Klingons keeping a cursory view of their surroundings while the Vulcan remained ensconced in his robe, his head bowed. Joe trailed along, trying to determine what they were doing. When they finally reached the ruins of Starfleet HQ the Vulcan pointed off to the left and began striding with more determination. The Klingons were pressed to keep up. Joe melted through the rubble, careful not to be seen. The three people pushed past some of the collapsed buildings into a more open area. Checking his programmed memories, Joe identified the path they took as one that had once meandered through the park that Starfleet Headquarters and the Starfleet Academy both shared. Now it bore a closer resemblance to a jungle. The plant life, some native to Earth and some from distant worlds, had thrived in Humanity’s absence and much that had been laid out with order now lacked it. The two Klingons took out their bat’leths and were enthusiastically cutting back the vegetation where it overhung or even invaded the old path. Several times, the little party had to wait in place as massive branches were chopped away. Joe kept his distance and observed.

    The overgrowth delayed the progress into the former garden and it was nearly noon before the Klingons and Vulcan reached their destination. Upon breaking through a particularly dense bit of vegetation, the Klingons stopped their relentless advance and began clearing a circular path, one going left and the other going right. The Vulcan waited at the point of the circle until they were done. It took over an hour for the two behemoths to expose their goal and Joe began growing impatient with the various mosquitoes and flies that buzzed around his face. He finally dimmed his solidity to the point where the insects failed to recognize him as a legitimate target. When the Klingons finished a statue sat, exposed to the sunlight for the first time in what must have been centuries.

    Joe watched as the Klingons stepped aside in a deferential manner and allowed the Vulcan to approach the statue. He couldn’t see the figure portrayed through the foliage. The Vulcan walked up to the image and bowed deeply. From somewhere in his robes he drew a pendant, a statuette encased in a block of Lucite or transparent aluminum. Setting it at the feet of the figure the Klingons had cleared, he said,

    “That which was yours is yours again. We ask you to restore it to its full glory. In the name of the Federation, I request this favor!” Birds flew out of nearby trees at the volume of his voice. Joe peered through leaves, straining to make out the image in the little block. Even with his variable vision settings he could not make out what it was the Vulcan had set down. The Klingons kneeled on either side of the Vulcan, their heads bowed in supplication. The little group held this pose for at least an hour. Joe shifted from one foot to the other, eager to move closer yet afraid he would be detected if he did. Finally, the Vulcan gestured at the Klingons and said,

    “This time is not ours.” Carefully collecting the pendant, he reached once again into his robe. “Three to beam up.” They disappeared into collimating beams of light.

    Joe shook his head, confused by what he had seen. After waiting a few minutes to make sure the unusual party didn’t return he walked up the cleared path towards the statue. It was a heroic figure, casting one hand to the stars and holding the other to his feet, as though combining the earth and the heavens above. Joe had dabbled in art at times in his long existence, sometimes creating minor noteworthy pieces. He knew that the sculptor of this work had found a way to make a statue seem to breathe. The little curl
    in his hairline looked like it had just slipped over his forehead.

    Joe looked at the plaque embedded in the pedestal below the statue and read the faded words written upon it.


    in memorium

    James Tiberius Kirk

    “Kirk? What in God’s name were they doing? It looked almost like a religious ceremony.” Joe shook his head, more puzzled now than before. He continued on towards the Academy, occasionally changing his solidity to the edge of immaterial to avoid the heavier sections of overgrowth.

  2. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame

    Jean-Luc awoke to find Vash standing over him dressed in bush garb and festooned with canteens and archeology tools. “C’mon, sleepyhead, I’m ready to go,” she said, grinning.

    Jean-Luc rubbed the sleep from his eyes and sat up. He grinned back at her and reached for his khakis and jacket. “I’ll be ready in a moment. I’m as eager as you to see what’s in that cave, you know.”

    Not too much later they both stood outside the egress, flashlights in hand. Vash ran her hand over the metal plaque absent-mindedly and turned to Picard. “Jean-Luc, would you like to do the honors?” Picard nodded to her and stepped into the gloom, Vash following. Although the entrance had been a mere crevice the cavern opened up into a deep room, easily ten meters in height and a good fourteen or fifteen in width. It continued far enough back to swallow their light beams. Slowly, they walked forward until a bend in the cave brought them to a symbol-covered wall about 40 meters back. Vash looked rueful in the glow of her flash as she said, “This turned out to be a lot briefer exploration than I expected.” Picard only lifted an eyebrow in response and took a Padd from his belt pouch to consult.

    “Ambassador Spock determined that the Preserver obelisk found by the Enterprise crew responded to harmonic tones. I took the liberty of downloading his report before I left my ship to join you, Vash. I believe that we can use the same harmonic tones to reproduce the Preserver phrase for ‘Open Sesame’, if you will.”

    “Well, don’t let me stop you,” Vash replied. Picard fiddled with the padd a moment more and then the cavern was filled with the long-dead voice of Captain James T. Kirk.

    “Kirk to Enterprise. Scotty, one to beam up.”
    There was a faint rumbling as some of the symbols on the wall began to phosphoresce and a seam appeared to cleave the wall in half. With a smoothness that belied their massive size, the two doors retracted into the cave walls. Picard turned to Vash and smiled as she clapped her hands and gave a little squeal of delight.


    The winding path took him to a fork eventually, one that was not in his diagrams of the Academy grounds. The records stored in his memory said the path should still have been singular at this point, bearing slightly right. Curious, he took the left fork. It meandered in a semi-circular fashion, shifting back to the right after a few hundred meters. At the point of the directional change there was a stone bench and Joe paused here. A rude pile of bones sat on the path just in front of the bench. Close to one side of the bench sat another jumble of bones. Joe’s trained eye told him that one belonged to a female and the other to a male. He hesitated, trying to picture the young couple (for the bones were not those of mature adults) spending their last moments on this bench. “Perhaps they had held hands at the last,” he thought, “Or kissed one last kiss.” He squatted and examined the remains but could not determine the cause of death by solely visual means. Sighing, he continued on his way. The offshoot eventually reconnected with the main route that was stored in his memory. The Academy ruins lay before him. He walked on.

    As he approached the Tucker Engineering School he surveyed the campus. Some of the buildings were more or less intact. Trying to get a better view, he stepped onto a gazebo located on a rise near the fringe of the garden. The ancient wood creaked under his minimal weight. Glancing around, he noticed a duranium marker in a cluster of flowers that might have once been a cultivated bed. His thirst for knowledge, his curiosity, wouldn’t let him walk away without reading the epitaph on it. A tombstone on Academy grounds was unusual. He stepped down off of the gazebo and strolled through the flowers, a piece of his mind noting the foliage was from the core worlds of the Federation, blooms from Vulcan, Tellar, Andor and Earth. There were orchids and mums, t’clayas and be’seems. He even detected a patch of mint. Although they had run amuck in the absence of a proper gardener, they still betrayed their artificial origins. When he reached the marker, Joe Smith couldn’t help but smile sadly. A version of “him” had met a version of this man once, a very long time ago. Joe had memories of enjoying his interactions with this man, or at least a reasonable simulacrum of him.

    “He understood the cycle of life.”

    Beneath the Standard words was a tiny Vulcan engraving. Joe ran through his memory banks until he found the translation. “A Friend.” He wondered who had carved it. Walking back to the gazebo, Joe looked out and saw that the Academy Library was more or less intact. The path to it was overgrown but still discernable. Sighing, he began to push his way through the wild plants.


    Seven of Nine had mixed feelings about wearing Starfleet protective armor. On the one hand, it helped ensure her safety in hostile environments. On the other hand, it often reminded her of the Borg implants she had borne most of her life. With a practicality most Vulcans would admire, she dismissed the thought as she took her place with the other members of the away team on the transporter. In moments the six-man team was on the surface of Breelon. Seven and Lt. Adams, the two science specialists, immediately began scanning the area. Lt. Halish, the Harkonnen in charge of the security contingent, deployed the other three members in a half-circle around the two of them. Seven found energy emission readings coming from the cavern directly ahead of the team almost at once. Gesturing, she began to walk towards it, the security guards keeping a moving picket around her and the two lieutenants. Lt. Adams abruptly halted.
    “Hold on, I think there’s,” he started to say but before he could finish the thought the guard on point was ripped to shreds by a detonation underfoot. The entire away team froze in place, staring at the tattered remains of his EVA suit. “Mines in front of us.” Lt. Adams lamely finished.

    “I am detecting Jem H’adar phased disruption mines in a grid pattern between us and the base. Lt. Adams, do you concur?” Seven asked.

    “Affirmative,” said Adams, “How do you want to handle it?”

    “I propose we retreat to a safe distance and project a variable E-M field with our tricorders to detonate the mines. That is the procedure Starfleet ground forces developed during the war.”

    “Sounds good to me,” Adams agreed, and the entire Away team carefully began backing towards their original beam-in point.

    After covering about a hundred meters Seven said, “This should suffice. Lt. Adams, match your emission pattern to mine and begin broadcasting the signal.” The two scientists held their tricorders out at arm’s length and after a moment silent geysers of unchecked energy erupted from the moon’s surface.

    “Riker to Away team, we are detecting a series of explosions down there. What the hell is going on? Is anyone hurt?”

    “ Lt. Adams, here, Commander. We stumbled into a Jem H’adar minefield. Crewman T’Varek is dead. We appear to have detonated the remaining mines successfully.”

    “Any sign of Jem H’adar troops?”

    “No, sir, so far all we’ve found are the mines,” Adams responded.

    “Very well, proceed with caution. We will be transporting Crewman T’Varek’s remains back aboard. If you feel you need further personnel let me know. Riker out.”
    The Away team began advancing carefully towards the cavern once again.



    Walking past the remains of the Communications Center on the cracked but still intact sidewalk, Joe caught a glimpse of movement from within the building. He struggled through the giant-sized, torn slabs of concrete that blocked the approach until he reached a hole that led into the building proper. Adjusting his ocular perception for thermal and infrared, he peered into the dark chasm that had once been filled with eager students. He detected nothing at first and was about to turn away when a humanoid shape darted from behind one piece of rubble deep within and hid itself again behind the ruins of a desk-like structure.

    “Hello!” he called out. Phaser fire lanced out in his direction, passing through his photonic body and scorching the rocks outside. “I’m sorry, but that has no effect on me. Besides, I mean you no harm.” He paused, exasperated. “Won’t you come out and talk to me?” More phaser fire hit the arch of the opening where he stood, bringing down a cloud of dust and debris. When the air had cleared enough for his vision to perceive anything there was nothing to be seen. He would have wondered if he’d seen anything at all even remotely human if it hadn’t been for the weapon discharges. Joe waited a bit to see if his mysterious attacker would return or, even, fire again, but all that happened was the passing of time. After a while he climbed back out of the ruined building and resumed his trek towards the Library.


    When the doors stopped moving Picard turned to Vash and said, “I believe we should explore slowly until we have a better idea of what we are dealing with. There may be automated defenses we know nothing about.”

    Vash gave him a bemused look. “Jean-Luc, you are such a fuddy-duddy!” she said, stepping into the vast chamber beyond the entrance.

    Picard was nonplussed. “Fuddy-duddy?” he muttered, and then followed her in.
    The room was huge, more than equal in height to the great doors and extending dozens of meters into the distance. The floor, the ceiling, and the surrounding walls were all a pristine white, and the only features were the archways set into the walls every twenty or so meters along the perimeter of the room. Vash immediately made a bee-line for the nearest one on the right. “Vash, wait!” Picard called. She skidded to a stop in front of the arch.

    “Jean-Luc, you have to see this,” she exclaimed, her eyes wondrous. Picard hurried over to her, only to halt speechless at her side.


    The lobby of the Library was smashed to rubble but Joe managed to make his way in. He strode past the destruction, climbing piles of broken marble at times, and entered the first data recall station. Although bits of debris littered the floor the chair was still in front of the computer interface. Joe gently brushed away the layers of dust as he sat down. He tabbed the power button and the interface began to glow with power. The controls were unfamiliar to him. He thought for a moment and then said,


    A voice echoed through the booth. “Privacy shields are inoperative. Please refrain from utilizing voice commands.” Joe frowned. He began to study the manual interface. Time passed, but Joe had learned patience on the long voyage home. He’d also learned every system aboard his ship and had repaired most of the computer systems a dozen times or more over the years. Eventually, he felt confident enough to push another button.

    The same voice as before echoed around him. “The privacy shield is malfunctioning, please notify Library operations personnel.” Joe shook his head, softly swearing to himself. He crawled under the interface console and opened the maintenance hatch. A number of removable chips, looking very similar to the isolinear chips that Joe was familiar with, rested in a circuitry cradle. One of them was dark. Joe memorized its location and carefully removed it. Faint serial numbers were visible at one end of the chip. Pushing his way over the rubble outside the booth, he slid and stumbled towards the next kiosk. The maintenance hatch at the second console was wedged shut by a large piece of marble. Pursing his lips, Joe began the trek to the third kiosk. Outside, the sun was making its slow way towards the horizon. In the third kiosk Joe found a skeleton. A cursory examination identified it as Vulcan.

    “Only a Vulcan would die in a library during an attack,” Joe muttered sarcastically to himself. From outside came the scream of some animal. Joe twitched slightly. “Mustn’t let the current situation get to me,” he said. He pried at the maintenance hatch, careful not to disturb the remains. It took a little doing, and in the process the Vulcan lost his left foot, but eventually the hatch opened. Joe whispered, “Sorry,” and began checking the chips. Finding the one he was looking for, he held it to the waning light. It seemed fine. Backing out carefully, he scrambled back over the rubble towards the first kiosk. Again he heard the howl of a wild animal, somewhat closer this time. The sun threatened to leave altogether by the time he reached his goal.

    Exchanging the chips wasn’t too hard, but the encroaching darkness did cause some delay. While enhanced, his original vision matrix was based on human median abilities. He suffered a bit from the lack of proper lighting because of this. After dropping the replacement into the dust two or three times he managed to slip it into the cradle. Easing the panel door shut, he swiped at the dust on his hands. It was a fine powder, though, and wouldn’t come off. Exasperated, he adjusted his IHP until he had dematerialized enough for the dust to drop from his nearly insubstantial body. It was only then that he realized it had clung so fiercely because it was largely composed of bone, a substance that could penetrate or stick to even the finest filters ever invented. As it fell away he gave an involuntary shudder. Whatever had tried to kill Earth had made a mess of its inhabitants.


    Approaching the cavern mouth, Lt. Adams held his arm up to signal a halt. “Judging by the plasma traces, the torpedo exited the mouth of the cave. The launcher should be just ahead.”

    Seven of Nine’s voiced came through his speaker, “Lieutenant Halish, the energy signature indicates the launcher should be 5.4 meters beyond the opening. Any traps left by the Jem H’adar are likely to be between here and there.”

    “Crewman Ipsita,” Halish said, “You are our nasty tricks expert. See what you can find.” The security guard in question, a dimunitive Human female, handed her rifle to her commander and got down on all fours, a tricorder waving through the space in front of her. She slowly began crawing forward as the rest of the Away team looked on. Seven waited impatiently, knowing that to rush into the cave would be foolish, possibly suicidally so, but wanting to enter and see what could be learned anyway. She discreetly shifted her center of gravity and breathed deeper as Ipsita broke the plane of the cave.

    “Nothing electronic coming up on scans. Let me check for mechanicals,” the crewman said, “I’d hate to get blown up by an old fashioned tripwire or pressure mine.” She began poking into the dirt floor at the entrance way with a combat knife drawn from a sheath on her thigh, methodically working her way forward.

  3. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame

    Picard stepped into the chamber, his mouth open. “My God, Vash. It looks like Iconian technology!”

    Vash nodded her head but it went unnoticed. “Jean-Luc, if it is, then we’ve found the motherlode! There is no Iconian technology, there are no artifacts left intact.” She stepped into the room and stopped behind him. “Can you imagine the looks on those stuffed shirts at the Daystrom Institute when an amateur archeologist and, well, me, we reveal the first working piece of Iconian tech ever found? They will crap their pants.”

    Picard pulled his eyes away from the tall crystal pylon in the center of the room long enough to glance at Vash, a smile on his lips. “I am far more interested in what we might learn about their culture from this. I will leave it to you to rub the stodgy noses into the muck.”

    Vash grinned back at him, her hands gently rubbing his shoulders. “That’s why I keep coming back to you, Jean-Luc. I love your sense of perspective.”

    He patted her hand. “I have to see what this is.” His voice was absent-minded at best. Vash just smiled as he walked forward.


    Riker was fretting and he knew it. The away team had found several booby traps as they entered the cave and each one they reported made him wince. They had already lost one member of their team. Seven was finding the more advanced devices and Ipsita had dug a number of mechanical tricks out. Lt. Adams reported in and let Riker know they could see the launcher. He advised them needlessly to proceed with caution.

    As Ipsita crawled the last few meters she caught a glimmer of light, a mere flash or reflection, coming from the back of the cave behind the launcher. She paused, poised and ready, but nothing happened. Inching forward, her knife probing the dirt in front of her the whole time, she crawled to the launcher. Sweat was beading on her face as she checked for traps around the launcher itself. She was completely startled when a voice behind the launcher said,

    “Hi. What year is this?”


    Picard examined the console interface around the crystalline tower that lifted upwards towards the ceiling of the chamber. As time passed, Vash began to wander around the room, obviously bored.

    “Are you going to be much longer, Jean-Luc?” she asked.

    “Please, Vash, this isn’t something you just walk up to and read. You should know that.” Picard answered the question, but he was very obviously distracted.

    “Well, I’m going to see what’s in the other chambers!” her tone was a bit petulant, but Picard never noticed.

    “Yes, yes, by all means,” he murmured. Vash waited a moment to see if he had anything more to say and when he didn’t she flounced out of the room. He barely paid attention.

    She wandered back into the main hall and headed for the next chamber, her eyes darting left and right as she walked. As she entered a dim light gave way to further brightness. “This technology is amazing,” she mumbled to herself. Then her eyes took in the contents of the second chamber and she stopped, stunned. When the shock had passed she spun on her heel and raced back to Picard.

    “Jean-Luc, you need to see this!” Picard was bent over the Iconian apparatus, carefully examining the controls or interface or whatever it was. He half glanced up at her as she re-appeared, more than a bit distracted.

    “What?” he asked.

    Vash looked exasperated. “Jean-Luc, you’d better see this. I found humans!-well, sort of.” Intrigued, Picard followed her over to the next chamber. There were several rows of glass tanks within. Snapping open his tricorder, Picard began walking along the lines of what seemed to be-

    “Human embryos. The tricorder confirms it. These are some kind of suspension apparatus. The contents are being held in a form of stasis.”

    Vash rolled her eyes. “I got that, Jean-Luc. The question is-Why are they here?”

    Picard stared down at his tricorder for a moment longer and then raised his head in surprise. “My God, Vash! These embryos, I’ve scanned the DNA and checked them against the records in my tricorder. These aren’t natural human embryos. These are augments.” He looked at her in amazement. “Vash, if my scans are correct, these are embryos dating from the Eugenics War era! They are perfectly preserved and I believe they are even more advanced than the Children of Shiva.”

    Vash looked at him peculiarly. “The Children of Shiva? I know quite a bit about ancient history on many worlds but recent Earth history doesn’t do much for me. What were they?”

    “The Children of Shiva was the name of the follow-up to the program that produced Khan and the others that came to power in the years leading up to the Eugenics War. I’ve studied the biological files and these embryos are far beyond what was developed back then. They are at least a generation more advanced.” Picard glanced at Vash curiously. “Why do you suppose the Preservers have these here?” Vash just shrugged and headed out to the main chamber. Picard continued to record information on the augmented embryos. A few moments later Vash reappeared with a very confused look on her face.

    “Jean-Luc, if you think this is weird, well, you’d better come see this.” Something in her tone made Picard look at her with what she privately thought of as his “on duty” face. Without asking any questions he followed her out of the side chamber. She led him to the next chamber in line and stopped outside of it, her arm pointing inwards. Picard noticed a slight tremble in her demeanor. He walked in and was greeted by another set of embryo containers. Scanning, he walked inside.

    “Klingon-Human augments. I’ve read the files on these. Mid twenty-second century. A medical solution gone wrong. But once again, they are a bit more advanced than the originals.” He looked up from the tricorder at Vash. “What have we found?” She shrugged and walked to the fourth chamber. Picard followed her, curious.

    They entered the fourth chamber side by side. Picard held his tricorder at arm’s length. Again, the room was lined with glass stasis chambers. Each one held an embryo.

    Vash looked at Picard. “What are they, Jean-Luc?” Picard studied his read-outs.

    “Romulan Sophonts. Just like Earth, Romulus had a rather,” Picard struggled for the right words, “dark period in regards to genetic experimentation.” Vash watched his face. He seemed to be straining to explain. Vash wondered what interest in the Romulans held Picard’s fascination. “The Sophonts were designed to be advanced versions of Romulans. They had many of the mental abilities of the Vulcan root stock. Sadly, the majority went insane after a few years. Most failed to survive childhood, and even those that did were operating,” he sighed, “in an unstable manner later in life.”

    “None of these genetic types seemed to work well-why would the Preservers, well, preserve them?” Vash was genuinely puzzled.

    “I don’t know,” Picard replied. “Let’s see what’s in the last chamber.” He gestured towards the final doorway. Vash walked towards it hesitantly.

    “Jean-Luc, this is really strange. Why would the Preservers save failed experiments?”

    Picard paused a moment in the outer chamber. “They may have seen these as alternatives if the original seed race was destroyed. Or perhaps they had some other motive. I really couldn’t say for sure.”

    They stepped into the fifth side chamber. Picard held his tricorder up. “How odd,” he said, “These are normal Vulcan embryos.” Vash glanced at him in surprise.

    “Why would they put unaltered Vulcan embryos with these, these, well, freaks?” Vash didn’t even notice Picard’s faint wince.

    “I don’t know,” he declared, “but I intend to figure this out.” Vash sighed.

    “Of course you do, Jean-Luc.”



    The console powered up again with little trouble. Joe pressed the control labeled “Privacy Shield” and the voice once again spoke.

    “Privacy shield established.” A glow emanated from a small diadem near the top edge of the control board. A flickering image, three dimensional, formed in the air above it. Joe looked at it in astonishment. It was a shoulders-and-head image of Data, the android Starfleet officer, although it was attired in what could only be described as a robe or toga.

    “What is the nature of your inquiry?” it asked in Federation standard. The voice was soft and caring, resonating in frequencies that most humanoid species found comforting and non-threatening. Its effect was lost on Joe, only being of interest on an intellectual level.

    “Please describe the circumstances leading to the devastation of Earth.” Joe figured he might as well start in a general fashion and narrow his questions as he learned more.

    The image of Data seemed to peer at him a moment. “The Earth is currently a viable Class-M planet supporting three billion humans and a varying population of other Federation member species numbering approximately two hundred thousand.”

    Joe shook his head and thought for a moment. “Please recite the final or most recent entry made into the library records.” Data’s image was replaced with that of a Vulcan male’s. The man had dried blood along one side of his face and his clothing was dirty and torn.

    “My name is Suvon. I am the Head Librarian. The stardate is…” For a moment his voice trailed off. “Due to the cranial injury I have suffered I am unable to state the date. The Iconians are attacking Earth as I speak. I will attempt to record this message on as many of the library kiosks as possible in the hopes of preserving my knowledge. If you are seeing this, ask the kiosk to open file M-47 Suvon for a full explanation of recent events and background information on the unfortunate choices that led to the current state of affairs.” The image vanished, replaced once more with that of the android’s. Joe thought about the Vulcan skeleton he had found in the third kiosk.

    “Computer,” Joe said, “Please open file M-47 Suvon.”

    “Would you like the data relayed verbally or on screen?”

    Joe paused for a second. “On screen,” he replied, “At decispeed if you are capable of that.” The file opened and words flowed at a rapid rate. Joe bent over to read the Head Librarian’s information file on the end of the Earth as Joe had known it. It was a lengthy entry and darkness had long since fallen when Joe was finished.

    Joe lifted his view from the console. The only illumination was that coming from the hologram of Data and the kiosk control board so it took a moment before Joe caught movement off in the darkness. Adjusting his vision frequencies, he peered out into the lobby and was startled to realize a semi-circle of humanoid figures was formed just beyond the edge of the kiosk’s lighting. He refined his perception and made out what looked like humans, most of whom were dressed in one-piece clothing.

    “Hello,” he said. Unsure of where to go from there he hesitated. The figures edged backwards away from the light a few feet. A low moan came from them. Joe stood up and they all jerked back into the darkness. Joe shifted to straight infrared vision and made out a few of the faces. They were all human. Their hair was unkempt and their clothing, although obviously some derivative of a Starfleet uniform in general design, was generally torn and frayed, patched with simple fabrics like wool and cotton. “Hello,” Joe said again. He was met with a babble of voices out of the dark but he could not make out what they were saying. As he stood there in the kiosk, bathed in the light of the console, the words washed over him. His processors took a while to filter what he was hearing. It was only when his language subroutines kicked in that he realized they were trying to communicate with him but they were using a mélange of languages without rhyme or reason. Vulcan, Standard, Chinese, Klingon and dozens of other languages washed over him. He stared at them for several minutes until it hit him like a blast of cold water over the head. They couldn’t speak just one language. After centuries of living in a world where the universal translator was commonplace, the people had absorbed the words but not the individual language. Their minds, as children, had picked up random words in a multitude of languages, understanding only because of the translators. Then, after the translators had gone away, the survivors had used what their ears had heard, what their brains had recorded. Civilization hadn’t died with the Iconian attack here on Earth-it had died when the translators had failed and created a true state of Babel. Those who survived probably couldn’t speak to one another. Only now, after centuries of evolution, were they evolving a common means of communication. Joe stood and let his processors do their work. The translation took time and Joe felt almost foolish as he stood waiting. Eventually the words came.


    “Take away the Demons! Help us warp to the stars! Banish the Demons of Air and Darkness! Bring back the Makers of food!” The pleas for help rose in volume and the people grew bolder, moving closer to Joe. He started feeling hemmed in. “The Holy Fleet shall prevail! Are you the Captain?” Joe grew more uncomfortable. Hands began tugging at his shirt and pant legs. “Where are the Vulcans? They will save us!” Joe began edging backwards. “Has the ship been restored? Are you the Captain?” Joe pulled himself free and, dodging and twisting, fled the building. Their cries echoed in his auditory processors. The night hid him from the desperate creatures that pursued and he eventually scrambled through the Science Museum entrance and crouched behind the remains of the ancient Mercury Seven capsule. The howling mob flowed past the building. Joe waited a few minutes to make sure there weren’t any stragglers before he stood up. He began looking around the main floor.

    Phoenix hung from the ceiling, somehow spared during the Iconian attack. She looked much as she had centuries before, when Joe’s memory banks had been compiled. Most of the rest of the hanging displays had come crashing down over the years. The Delta Flyer(mock-up) was in pieces all across the lobby, the shuttle Enterprise dangled from a single wire, many of her heat tiles missing, the T’Chir had fallen and moldered since the attack and was barely recognizable amidst the chunks of roofing and churned-up floor. Joe was hardened to the general destruction and barely noticed as he climbed over the Thor capsule en route to the basement archives. That was where Suvon had suggested any possible solution to the current situation might lie. No turbolifts still held power but the Grand Staircase was clear enough of debris for Joe to proceed. He marched down into the darkness.

  4. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame

    Down at the end of the Grand Staircase, five levels below the streets, was a lobby unlike any other in any Federation building anywhere on Earth. Joe had heard stories about it back aboard Voyager, late at night when Captain Janeway and Chakotay were in the mess hall chatting. None of the other crew spoke of it and after a time Joe had realized that even Chakotay only knew of it in rumors. Janeway had admitted one night that she’d only gotten as far as the lobby, that she’d never actually passed through the doors that lined it. Few people in the Federation had. As he stepped foot onto the lobby floor he paused a moment so his vision could adjust to the lack of light. The lobby was round and there were doors every ten feet. Ten doors were visible in all and none of them held any identifying signs. The floor was black marble with the letters “SFTI” engraved in it in pure latinum. Time had coated it all with a patina of dust but the brilliant metal still held a glimmer of its true glory. Glass exhibit cases were interspersed between the doors. Joe wandered over to the first one on the left. Although the dust made it hard to see, Joe could make out a metallic, disc-like object about ten inches across. . There was no caption or explanation. Shrugging, Joe wandered over to the next case. It held a twenty-third century hypospray. Joe frowned at it and looked for more information but once again there was nothing. The third case held a twenty-first century identification wallet. The fourth had a piece of ablative armor from a Klingon Bird of Prey, circa 2280. Joe ignored the rest and headed for the sixth door, counting from left to right. He tapped in the code that Suvon had included in his file and the door opened with a depressurization sound. Joe swung it open the rest of the way and stepped in. If Suvon had been correct the means of saving Earth and the Federation lay within.


    “Lieutenant Adams to Enterprise.”

    “We’re still here, Lieutenant,” Rikers voice resonated in the away team’s helmets.

    “Commander, we have found the source of the attack. It was a Jem H’adar launcher set on automatic. It has been disabled.”

    “Very good, Lieutenant. Prepare to beam up.”

    “Ah, sir, there is a … complication.” Lieutenant Adams said.

    The brusqueness in Riker’s voice was evident when he responded. “What do you mean, a complication. Is the launcher disabled or not?”

    Seven spoke up before Adams could. “Commander, we have encountered a Mark I EMH. He claims to be from the future-and my past.” She gave Joe a dubious look through the faceplate of her suit.

    There was a lengthy silence before Riker spoke again. “Did he fire the torpedoes at us?”

    Joe activated his internal communicator. “I assure you, Commander, I did nothing of the sort. May I come aboard?”

    “Who am I speaking with?” Riker sounded startled.

    “I am Joe Smith. In a way, I am the Voyager’s EMH-at least, I was stored in one of his back-up nodes. It’s taken me over nine hundred years to get here-is it ok if I come aboard and explain?”

    “Seven,” Riker had re-directed his transmission, “Do you advise I allow this?”

    Seven peered again at Joe. “I think we should examine his story. The fact that he is here is enough to warrant an investigation. I am not yet certain as to the accuracy of his story but he knows certain…things, things that only the Doctor could know.”

    Everybody on the Away Team could hear Riker sigh over the intercom. “Very well, let’s get him up here and hear what he has to say. Do you utilize a normal transporter beam?”

    “I believe that if you beam Seven up first she will be able to adapt the transporter to the necessary settings,” Joe replied. Seven nodded in reply to his unspoken question.

    “Very well,” said Riker. “Transporter room, beam up the away team.” Seven and the others sparkled out of existence, leaving Joe standing on the surface of the barren moon, waiting. Then a tingle overtook him.



    The corridor was white, a pure white plastic on the floor, walls and ceilings. Unlike just about everything Joe had seen up to this time, there were standard lights still working here. As Joe walked his footsteps echoed in a muffled fashion. There was no apparent end to the corridor. Instead, a vague haze off in the distance about sixty meters away seemed to remain ahead of him as he continued on down the pristine corridor. He traveled for over ten minutes before the haze effect gave way to a door. This door had a knob and was obviously meant to be opened manually. Joe hesitated before turning the knob. “This is it,” he said aloud. Shrugging, he twisted the knob and stepped through.

    Beyond lay a standard-looking Federation laboratory with adjacent offices. Testing stations were scattered about the lab with various complicated, mysterious devices on them. The lights were out in all of the offices but one. Joe looked at the frosted glass windows and walked up to the door. He could make out a legend on the glass in the upper half of the door. It was a “D”. As he stepped up to it, it slid open with a “whoosh”. Not sure of exactly what he would find but curious nevertheless, he entered. The view was, for the most part, somewhat anti-climactic.

    It looked like any bureaucrat’s office from the 19th to the 24th century. There was a small set of shelves on the opposite wall containing various trinkets and statuettes. To the right was a “French press”-style, single cup coffee pot with desiccated sediment still in it, resting on a small file cabinet. There were two chairs carefully aligned to face the desk on the left with a small end table between them. Two coasters sat on the table, one by each chair. The desk itself was somewhat noteworthy. It was oak, and of a design that harkened back to the late 19th or early 20th centuries. On it sat a typical Everlite lamp, the style of which hadn’t changed much since its invention in the late 21st century. The green lampshade echoed an even earlier era. Rotting papers rested in the center of the desk. “How fitting,” Joe said aloud, “They match the owner.” In the chair behind the desk was a skeleton dressed in a charcoal-grey jumpsuit. The insignia on his wrist indicated that he had once been a commander and the tarnished gold triangle on his left breast was very similar to the com badges that Joe remembered from his days on Voyager, although not quite the same. Wisps of dark hair still clung to the skull, and the leathery remains of what might once have been skin coated the face. The eyes had long since collapsed into themselves due to evaporation. The arms hung down past the cracked leather armature of the chair the remains were seated in. The mouth was open in what looked like a perpetual laugh-or scream.

    “Well, I guess you won’t be telling me anything I don’t already know,” Joe said dryly. He stepped around the desk and opened the top drawer. There was a padd inside. Joe took it out and pressed his thumb into the right corner to call up the power reading on it. It was fully charged. “I wonder how he knew?” Joe mused. Tapping the opening code that Suvon had included in his message, Joe began to read.


    Vash shook her head. “Jean-Luc, what is that thing?” Jean-Luc was poring over the Iconian machine.

    “I think it might re-open the Iconian gates. If I’m right, it will allow Starfleet access to their means of transportation. We could go to planets in an instance!” Picard seemed almost feverish with exicitement.

    “Maybe you should let some Starfleet experts take a look at that before you do anything? I mean, I would hate like hell if you blew up the planet or something.” Vash stood with her hands on her hips.

    Picard paused in what he was doing for a moment and looked up. “Starfleet has no experts on the Iconians and their machines.” He peered at her as she stood in the doorway. “I have had a tiny bit of experience with the Iconians. I quite probably am their number one expert.”

    “That doesn’t mean you should be playing around with that thing. You don’t know what it will do.” Vash crossed her arms over her breasts.

    Jean-Luc smiled at her. “I know enough to realize that the Preservers have placed a master archive of the Iconian gate system here. One would assume they did so that the technology would not be lost.” He paused for a second. “And have I mentioned how wonderful you look like that?”

    Vash blushed. “Jean-Luc, you have a singular way of making a woman feel good. Usually at unexpected times.”

    He smiled back at her and then focused again on the Iconian console. “I am nothing if not unpredictable,” he said. Manipulating a couple of the press tabs on the device, he said, “There, I think I have the directory open.”

    Vash smiled and shook her head, turning away. “Ok, Jean-Luc, if you think you know what you are doing…” She began to walk towards the Vulcan chamber. “Just don’t destroy the universe or anything like that!” she called out behind her.

    As she stepped into the main chamber a man stepped in front of her. “He may be doing exactly that.” Vash almost peed her pants.

    “Who the hell are you?” Vash asked. Her left hand slowly groped for the bush knife at her hip.

    The balding, middle-aged man in front of her looked uncomfortable. “That’s a funny story,” Taking her right elbow, he guided her away from the chamber that Picard was in. He said, “Do you have a moment?” Vash looked at him in surprise, her knife embedded in his kidney up to the hilt. She looked down at the knife. Glancing down himself, he said,

    “Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He blinked, and the knife fell to the ground, seemingly passing through his body on the way to the floor. In a cheerful voice he added, “There you go. Now, can we talk? I think you are going to have to stop him or things could get quite…depressing.” Vash picked up her knife and walked with him deeper into the main chamber.


    As Joe materialized on the transporter pad Will Riker looked at Deanna. “He claims he’s seen what’s coming. He says he’s from 900 years in the future. He says the Captain made a big mistake.”

    Deanna looked back at him. “Maybe he’s right. Let’s hear his story first before we judge what he has to say.” The earnestness in her voice made Riker frown briefly. Then a figure materialized on the pad. He was dressed in the blue medical uniform that had been retired during the run-up to the hostilities with the Dominion. He looked around the transporter room a moment before focusing on Riker.

    “Commander Riker, I presume?” The arrogance in his voice was unmistakable and Riker immediately began to bristle. Deanna, sensing his mood, lay a calming hand on his arm. Riker glanced at her a moment and then nodded at Joe. “We need to find Captain Picard. He’s about to do something very stupid and he doesn’t even know it.”

    “That’s an …interesting statement. Do you have any proof?” Riker sounded completely disbelieving. Joe remained on the transporter pad for a moment longer, a thoughtful look on his face. Then he fished into his sample bag and pulled out a small disk of metal as he stepped down. Faint lights shown from it. Seven, who had remained in the room after her return, raised an eyebrow.

    “That is the Doctor’s portable emitter,” she stated.

    Joe smiled. “Yes, it is. And you are just the person to help me give Commander Riker the proof he requires. I tried to fix it but my technical skills are more oriented towards flesh and blood.” He held it out to Seven and turned his smile towards Riker. “You should have the proof you require soon enough.” Riker looked at Deanna and shrugged.

    “Ok, Mr. Smith. I’ll hold off judgment until Seven gets back to me.”

    “Thank you, Commander.”

    Joe set the padd on the desk and the fragile documents underneath erupted i
    Chapter End Notes: Postscript

    Over a year ago I wrote a Next Generation piece with the working title Picard1. That story withered when I ran out of ideas-writer’s block, if you will. Then one night a few months ago I began the story of Joe Smith from “Living Witness”, encompassing his return to Earth after nine hundred years. Joe, a back-up version of The Doctor, had been dug up in an archeological find on an alien planet in the Delta Quadrant. After serving the societies there for a while he took a ship to go back to the Alpha Quadrant. I found that intriguing and picked it up with his return. I was writing my way through his tale when I tossed in a line about Picard being responsible for the destruction of the Federation. Then lightning struck. I had left Vash staring into the first room in the Preserver chamber saying, “Oh, my God! Jean Luc, you have to see this!” I didn’t know what the hell she’d seen. I suddenly realized that I had the build up surrounding Picard already written. I combined the two tales in my posts on the BBS to create Remnants. I continued to write Joe’s story as a separate tale from Picard’s, cutting and pasting as I went so as not to get too confused about who was where. It wasn’t until Chapter 8 of Remnants that I finally began writing one story together instead of 2 separate ones.

    Here’s the kicker, the part that cracked me up. With the exception of the Next Generation part of the story up to the point where Picard and Vash first opened the Preserver chamber, I wrote the entire story under the influence. That’s right, without an outline or a timeline to keep things straight, I only wrote late at night after I’d been drinking. Not that I wrote or drank every night-but I didn’t touch the story unless I’d “had a few”. I don’t even remember writing the bit about the house and the female corpse-I’d gone to play poker with my buds that night and woke up the next morning trying to figure out what I’d done after coming home. Imagine my horror at realizing I’d not only wrote a chapter of my story but I’d posted it online! I was soooo freaking out that Saturday!

    Now, almost everyone was highly complimentary of the tale and I thank you. In response to the few bits of criticism I received-

    The Picard that activated the gates-impulsive and reckless? You mean the same guy who chased his Professor’s clues half-way across the galaxy, risking the Khitomer Accords and war with the Romulans to find the answers? Or the one that appeared in “Captain’s Holiday”? Or the one that was willing to risk death to secure the Iconian gate secrets in the face of Romulan aggression? That’s the guy I was writing about-a man who showed his weaknesses when he indulged his passions, a man who realized that and (usually) kept himself under tight control to avoid trouble. The same man who needed an artificial heart when he lost his head and attacked a Naussican. A passionate man.

    As for the ending being “rushed”. No, it wasn’t. It took me 50 WORD pages to reach the ending I envisioned back around Chapter Three. I knew Joe’s failure would bear within it the seeds of success. That was the point of the story. That no action, attempted with good faith, is a failure. The “theme”, if you will.

    And, finally, yes, those pathetic little creatures from that TOS episode were Iconians-not the super-Iconians of my story but actual, slightly degenerate descendants of the originals. I believe one was named “Sylvia” in the episode. I may go back and explore it one day-the whole Iconian thing. Ironically, the story was supposed to be about the Preservers-I’ve never been happy with what I’ve read about them in the fan fic I’ve found(and I’ve read a LOT) so I wanted to tell their tale. Someday, maybe I will, but this story took off in directions I never saw coming. It seemed to work out, though, and I thank you all for reading.
  5. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Joe set the padd on the desk and the fragile documents underneath erupted in a cloud of dust. “Mr. Daniels, I can’t believe what you must have gone through in the end but I’ll do everything I can to make sure it never happens.” The corpse remained silent. Joe grimaced at him. “I just hope we can stop him in time.” He walked over to the wall behind the desk and removed a small painting of the singer Caruso, dressed as a sad clown. The touchpad behind it received the code Joe punched in. The safe door swung open and Joe reached inside and took out a small plastic case. Opening it, he removed a computer chip. “I hope this works,” he said. He popped open the IHP access port and began comparing connections between the unit and the chip. “This might take a little work,” he said into the silent office. Daniels just smiled at him-or grimaced. Joe couldn’t tell which.



    Joe stood near bye as Seven worked on the portable emitter. “Can you fix it?” he asked. It was the third time in an hour he’d asked that. She looked up from the Briefing Room table.

    “As I have explained,” she replied with a sigh, “The components are extremely aged. I am replacing what I can with newer parts but this technology is still far in advance of what I have to work with.” She paused for a moment. “To answer your inquiry- I don’t know. If I had peace and quiet I might be able to reconstruct the damaged circuits. It is taking all of my concentration to determine the pathways and resistance of electrical flow needed.”

    Joe opened his mouth and then shut it again. He wandered over to the window and stared out into the great black.

    Seven continued her work in silence. Joe hummed arias in his head.


    The chip didn’t fit neatly and Joe had to play around with the connections for quite a while. Had he been human, he would have needed to rest but his power source was good for several days before he needed to recharge. He kept at it. Eventually, he had what he thought was a clean link between the chip and his IHP. He picked the padd up once again. Examining the instructions, he tapped basic commands into the IHP. Then he pulled the connection from the Everlite, severing the tie between battery and bulb. In the darkness, after sorting out the voltage and ground lines he separated off half of them and hooked the other half into the chip, directly, according to the instructions Daniels had left. The additional power made his presence glow, like an angel out of legend. Drawing an unneeded breath, he hit the ‘Refresh’ command on his IHP. His world buzzed with confusion for a moment and then he was himself again. Looking around at Daniels’s office one last time, he triggered the new chip. An energy build-up began in his IHP but before it reached its peak a half-remembered sensation overtook him. “I’m being transported,” he thought, and then disappeared.


    “This ship has seen better days.” That was the first thought Joe had when he re-materialized. It was obviously some kind of cargo ship. Whatever it had been, today it was a barely functioning wreck. Panels were missing from the wall, showing exposed EPS conduits and other circuitry, two of the four transporter pads were dark and the ceiling lacked proper lighting. The Vulcan behind the transporter console glared at him with obvious anger. The same two Klingons that Joe had seen performing the strange ritual were on either side of him.

    “We detected a strange energy emission from Earth. You are the source.” The Vulcan seemed upset.

    “Have you ever heard of Surak?” Joe inquired sarcastically, “Your current behavior is causing a negative impact on your blood pressure.”

    “How would you know that? Are you one of the Demons?” Both Klingons drew disruptor-style pistols and pointed them at Joe.

    “I am a holographic physician and even if I was flesh and blood your rising hostility would make the diagnosis a simple one.” Joe waited expectantly for a reply.

    “Stretching the realm of believability, let us assume that you are as you say. The last known holographic being ceased to exist four hundred and forty-seven years ago. How do you explain your current existence?” The Vulcan sounded almost reasonable to Joe.

    “I was lost in the Delta Quadrant nine hundred years ago. I’ve just returned to Earth.” Joe looked at him steadily, ignoring the Klingons. “It took a long time to come home.”

    The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. “If that is true, I suspect this is not the homecoming you had hoped for.”

    Joe relaxed a bit. “Indeed,” he said, doing his best-remembered impression of the long-dead Mr. Tuvok. “Nevertheless, I need to return to the surface. I was in the middle of something when you …interrupted.”

    “So you say,” replied the Vulcan with a taciturn expression. “Cover him. If he does anything unexpected, shoot the device on his arm.”


    “Who I am is not important right now,” Joe said. “Vash, you have to stop him! Don’t let Captain Picard activate the gate system! Hurry!”

    Vash had recovered her composure. “Go ahead and stop him yourself. Jean-Luc gets an idea in his head and nothing stops him.” She put her hands on her hips. “And you never did say who you are.”

    “I can’t, the chip…” Joe’s image wavered in a rainbow effect. “The chip is failing. I’m going to …” Joe vanished. Vash looked at the space he’d been in for a moment and then spun on her heel, racing back towards Picard. He met her at the chamber entrance, flushed with excitement.

    “Jean-Luc, don’t,” Picard cut her off.

    “Vash, I’ve done it! I’ve activated the gate system!” He looked quite pleased with himself. Vash stopped in her tracks.

    “That’s great, Jean-Luc,” she replied dully. “I don’t think you were supposed to do that, though.”

    Picard looked at her curiously.
    “Why would you say that?” he asked.

    Vash waved vaguely behind herself. ”There was a man,” she trailed off weakly.

    Picard peered over her shoulder. “I don’t see anyone,” he said.

    “He vanished,” Vash replied, lamely. “But he said you shouldn’t activate the gates before he left.”

    Picard glanced back into the chamber behind him. “It’s a bit too late for that,” he said. The Iconian device throbbed with power. “The gates are active.” He grasped her arms in his hands. “Do you know what this means for the Federation? What we’ve done?”

    Vash looked at him. “Jean-Luc, I have no idea. But that man scared me. I’m not so sure what we’ve done was a good thing.”

    Picard stared at her for a moment and then cast his gaze back towards the Iconian interface. A worried expression crossed his face.


    “I need to know what you know,” Riker said. From his place at the top of the briefing room table he glowered down at Joe. Geordi watched with interest while Data just stared. He wasn’t quite what he’d been before transferring to the B4 unit. Despite the awakening of his personality, Data still hadn’t completely recaptured his full essence. His responses to some stimuli weren’t as natural as they once had been. Seven was her usual self, not giving anything more than her presence. Deanna was the only sympathetic face around the table. Joe sighed and steeled himself for a rough time.

    Joe looked at Riker. “There are things I can’t tell you. I hope you understand. The Temporal Prime Directive plays into this.”

    Riker looked annoyed. “If there is a problem we have to deal with you need to tell us.”

    Joe took an unneeded breath. “We have to stop Captain Picard. I know I came close, temporally speaking. Where is he now?”

    Riker glanced at Deanna, who nodded her head slightly. “Beta Hydroxii Four. The Captain is on an archeological dig with his…girlfriend.”

    “Vash?” Joe asked. Riker looked a bit surprised.

    “Actually, yes. Why, is it important?”

    “Damn! Commander, you need to get us to Beta Hydroxii now. We have to stop him!” Joe was upset on many levels. ”Commander, you have to go now-we have to stop him from activating the gates!” he jumped out of his seat, his hands on the table.

    Riker considered it for a moment. Tapping his com badge, he said, “Helm, make course for Beta Hydroxii Four. Maximum warp.” Riker looked at Data as he opened his mouth. “Better to be in position if we have to act than to be out of position.” Data shut his mouth without saying anything. “Ok, Mr. Smith, I’ve just diverted an entire month’s relief supplies that are badly needed on Betazed on your say-so. Tell me something to keep me from turning this ship around right now.” Riker was grim as he spoke.

    Joe paused for a second and then took a chance. “In two hundred and forty-two years the Federation will fall. The Iconians will destroy the Federation. Captain Picard will release them. Soon. At Beta Hydroxii Four.” He paused for a moment. “They are not just Iconians. They are modified. They have abilities even the original Iconians didn’t have.”
    He looked at them all around the table. “Pretend Khan Noonien Singh was an Iconian. Now, do you understand?” The shocked looks (except for Data) answered his question.


    “Look, it doesn’t have to be this way. I have reason to believe this entire stretch of history is a mistake. I can fix it!” Joe’s tone was pleading now. “It doesn’t have to be this way. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

    The Vulcan looked at him in a long, drawn out moment. “Can you restore the Fleet?”

    “I believe I can,” Joe answered. The Klingons bared their teeth in exaggerated smiles. The Vulcan merely peered at him under doubting eyebrows. Joe held himself very still and waited.

    After a minute, the Vulcan said, “I am S’ton. You will come with me. I will see if what you say is true.” Without any further comment he headed for the transporter room exit, the two Klingons following. Joe shrugged and tailed them out.

    As they walked through the corridor Joe noticed the peeling paint, the exposed eps conduits, and the bare deck plates. “Nice ship you have here,” he commented drily.

    S’ton replied, “It is what little the Demons permit us. They deem it harmless.”

    “I dare say they‘re right,” Joe said. S’ton said nothing further until they arrived at a lower-level cargo bay. After several tries at the control panel, the doors opened.

    S’ton turned towards Joe. “The Fleet has awaited Restoration for many centuries. If you can, Restore it.” The Vulcan sounded skeptical. Joe gave him a puzzled look and tentatively stepped into the cargo bay.

    It was divided into aisles by long shelf units stretching from one end of the bay to the other. On every shelf, as Joe walked down into the bay, were small, Lucite-looking rectangles. In each block Joe could see a tiny ship, a replica of an advanced-looking Star Fleet vessel. The cargo bay contained thousands of them. At first, he just walked along, glancing from side to side. Then it hit him. He stopped cold in his tracks. Turning back to S’ton, he asked,

    “Is this the Fleet?”

    S’ton nodded from his place in the doorway. “It is. When the Demons came they rendered the Fleet thus. It has been said that only the Captain knows the way of freeing them to defeat the Demons. He did so at Pyris VII and he will do so again. He has died and come again. He will live again. He will free us when the time of Restoration is upon us.”

    “Pyris VII,” the Klingons echoed. “He freed his ship from the Demons!” The roar of their chant echoed through out the cargo bay. Joe stood there in the midst of the entire Fleet, stunned.



    The Enterprise was at maximum warp, heading for Beta Hydroxii Four. Gleaming metal, glowing plasma exhausts and a wondrous speckle of lights denoting the existence of life within. One being aboard was not life by a biologist’s definition, yet he could speak and think and learn just like the flesh-and-blood or wire-and-circuits members of the ship’s crew. Currently, he was being interrogated by certain high-ranking members of that self-same crew.

    “You’re sure Captain Picard will release them?” Riker still sounded as though he couldn’t believe it, even though Joe had reiterated the point several times.

    Sighing, Joe met his eyes across the briefing room table. “Yes, Commander. The records I gained access to laid the blame for the Iconian resurgence directly at Picard’s feet. And, no, I can’t produce those records. Even if I could, they carried a detailed history of what is to come. The Temporal Prime Directive has already been bent-I don’t wish to break it completely.”

    Geordi spoke up. “It seems to me that by coming back here you’ve already broken the rules. I mean,” and here he looked apologetic, “The Federation fell by your time. Trying to stop it breaks every rule I was taught in Temporal Mechanics 101. I don’t want what we have to disappear but if that is the flow of history…”

    Beverly jumped in with,” How can you say that, Geordi? It’s pretty obvious that millions of people died during the Iconian attacks. If Mr. Smith can stop it he should!” Her voice was strident.

    “Please, Dr. Crusher,” Joe held up his hand in a placating manner, “As a former physician I understand your position but it wasn’t my primary motivation. I am far more concerned with what the Iconians did to the survivors. If you had seen the ignorance, the shredding of civilization, the sheer magnitude of informational loss! I didn’t come back here to save lives-I came to stop a new Dark Age on a galactic scale! The people I spoke with, those that still had a modicum of knowledge, they told me about what was left. The Federation wasn’t the only entity that had been destroyed. The Klingons were a refugee tribe, scattered across the Alpha Quadrant. The Romulans were just gone-and no one seemed to know what had happened to them. The Dominion had degenerated into a scattered, unaffiliated region of worlds after the eradication of the Founders. Any polity you can think of-they were all gone. Where there were survivors most or all knowledge had been lost. That is what I am trying to prevent!” Joe realized he had become heated as he spoke and sat down abruptly, flustered.

    “The loss of knowledge should not be adequate reason to tamper with the flow of history,” commented Data. “History has shown that civilizations rise and fall. Any knowledge lost would be reclaimed, eventually. It might not be reclaimed by the survivors of the societies that we are familiar with but some form of life would eventually rise to and even exceed our own accomplishments.” He looked at Joe impassively.

    “Data, how can you say that?” Deanna asked. “Don’t you realize that we all have an investment in our own way of life? Of course Mr. Smith wants to save the things he is most familiar with. It’s in the nature of life as we know it to want to save the things we cherish. Otherwise we’d be little more than…” Suddenly distressed by what she was about to say, she trailed off.

    Data cocked his head slightly in her direction. “Were you about to say, ‘machines’, Counselor?”

    Deanna looked uncomfortable. “Data, I didn’t mean-“

    “It is alright, Counselor. I take no offense.”

    Seven spoke up, “I believe that Mr. Data is correct. However, I also believe in the tenets of the Federation. The Federation was formed as a political body to safeguard individual members through the exercising of the collective whole. Guidelines have been laid down and modified as situations have evolved for dealing with threats to the citizens that make up the Federation. This is an obvious threat. We should act.” She folded her hands in front of her. “The fact that the end result of the threat takes place in the future does not affect the reality that the origin of the threat exists in the here and now. We should stop Captain Picard.”

    “I’m still not convinced. Changing the time stream seems like a violation of everything we believe in. The Captain would probably say that we have a responsibility to preserve the proper history.” Commander Riker seemed to be waiting for a comment.

    Joe gave him an exasperated look. “In the ‘proper history’ the entire Fleet is locked in suspended animation. In the ‘proper history’ Earth is inhabited by savages, the few Vulcans and Klingons remaining think James Kirk is some kind of Messiah who will come and save them, and they continue propagating a crude semblance of Federation technology with no clue of the science behind it. In the ‘proper history’ the Vulcans have only fragments of the teachings of Surak. The Andorians are on the brink of extinction and the Romulans are gone.” Joe looked at him in an exasperated manner. “Could you explain to me how all of that is ‘proper’?”

    “As Data said, we may not like what happens but it is the natural flow of things.” Riker looked grim.

    Deanna turned on him. “Will, how can you say that? Joe Smith has made it very clear. If we don’t stop the Captain our way of life may be doomed!”

    Riker turned on her in a manner that was almost savage. “And who’s to say that our way of life is worth saving? Who can say that it’s better than any other? We live inside of that very same way of life-how can we decide with anything resembling fairness?” Deanna seemed shocked by his intense response and sat back in her chair abruptly. As Joe gazed around the room, he saw similar expressions on every Human face except for Seven’s. Data was impassive. Joe opened his mouth to speak, realizing his next words either would or would not sway Riker to his point of view irrevocably. A woman’s voice came out, and Joe looked at the settings on his IHP for a moment in confusion before realizing it was Seven talking.

    “Commander,” Seven said, and her voice was a soft contralto Joe had never heard her use before, “The Federation is far from perfect. It does protect its citizens, though, and it also looks out for those peoples that cannot look out for themselves. Where so many other civilizations seek to exploit or manipulate civilizations less than their own the Federation nurtures or protects. Joe Smith has said that if we don’t intervene in Captain Picard’s actions that self-same Federation will fall. Millions will die, whole races will disappear.” Her voice was gentle, with the tiniest of quavers. “The Iconians will destroy the knowledge of a dozen or more civilizations. The knowledge we accumulate is our way of striving towards perfection-and the Iconians will disrupt that striving in a way that assures no one in this galaxy will have a chance to strive in our place for hundreds or thousands of years.” A somewhat guilty look crossed her face as Riker stood, flabergasted at her unexpectedly emotional outburst. The room waited in silence, as if afraid to speak and break the spell she was weaving. “I managed to activate the Doctor’s emitter for a few moments before the components failed completely. He told me of what this Federation will become in just a few centuries, the heights not only we but others will reach.” She glanced down at the table and then looked up at Riker in defiance. “He came from a Federation where a hologram and a biological woman could marry without prejudice, where former Borg were common and,” she held her left hand with it’s interlacing tubules in front of her face, “this was not considered a stigmata.” Fire in her eyes, Seven glared at Riker. “Would you condemn such a legacy, Commander?”

    Riker stared at her, his brow creased.

  6. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame

    Joe returned to the cargo bay door and looked at S’ton. “What happened?” he asked.

    S’ton peered at his face a moment and then suffered a look of disappointment. “It is as I feared,” he said, “You are not the Kirk and cannot Restore the Fleet.” The two Klingons glared at Joe in hatred.

    “The Kirk? What the hell are you-“ Joe thought back to the statue he’d seen on the planet below and cross-correlated it with images in his database. “You think Kirk is going to return from the dead?” he asked incredulously.

    Now it was S’ton’s turn to glare. “The Kirk was killed and lived again. He freed the Enterprise at Pryis VII. He will return and Restore the Fleet. You are a deceiver.” The Klingons’ disrupters came out of their holsters, awaiting S’ton’s command.

    Joe couldn’t help himself. “I really doubt Kirk’s coming back from anything. He died a long time ago. Now if you had said ‘Spock’ I might have believed you.”

    The Klingons dropped to one knee and bowed their heads and even S’ton lowered his eyes. Joe looked at them curiously. “Was it something I said?”

    “The Joiner.” The Klingons chanted softly. “The house of Mek is pledged to the Joiner and the Partnership.” Both of them re-holstered their disruptors and drew their dk’taghs, extending them towards S’ton hilt first. S’ton touched his forehead with his index finger and then tapped the hilts lightly. The Klingons re-sheathed their knives, heads still bowed. S’ton met Joe’s eyes with his own.

    “Autonomic response,” he commented, “A condition of the partnership that the Joiner established in the time of the Demons’ return. The Klingons were sworn as defenders of the Vulcans after Qu’onos was destroyed. The Vulcan called…by the name you used bound them to us that both races might live.”

    Joe looked at him cynically. “The Ambassador would have been long dead by then. Vulcans are long-lived but not that long-lived.”

    “I do not understand. How could-oh, of course, you refer to the Reunifier. The Joiner was the second of that name.” Glancing down at the genuflecting Klingons, S’ton said, “Rise my faithful warriors.” They stood and resumed their positions at his side. S’ton began to intone,

    “After reunification we embraced our love, and made ourselves feel again. With logic, we controlled the moment. Calculation makes us strong.” S’ton touched his left breast and stretched his arms out. “We are joined to the sons of Kahless, to ensure the survival of both races. They are joined to protect us, as we may not raise our fists in combat.” S’ton looked at Joe directly. “Do you understand?” He turned to the Klingon at his left. “Recite the Oath,” he said.

    “We of the House of Mek are sworn to the House of …” here he hesitated and looked at S’ton for guidance. S’ton nodded and said,

    “Use the short version. It is permitted.” The Klingon nodded back and said,

    “sworn to the House of S’manda. I will die for those who would die for me.” The Klingon’s eyes held a sense of worship as he looked at S’ton. S’ton looked back just as intently. “When one dies, all die!” S’ton nodded again.

    “Truth. Fact. Logic,” he said. “We hold the agreement in trust against the day the Warriors shall rise again!” Both Klingons beat a single fist upon their breasts in agreement. Joe just shook his head, too subtle to be seen. S’ton turned back towards him.

    “We thought you might be the one to Restore the Fleet. I thought the lack of hair was merely part of the Human aging process. It appears I was mistaken.”

    “That may not be entirely true. I was attempting to fix things when you beamed me aboard your…” he glanced with disdain at the surrounding bulkheads, “…ship,” he concluded. “I may not be able to Restore your Fleet but I think I can make sure that it was never put in a position to need restoration. Will you hear me out?”

    S’ton stared at him with the burning eyes of a fanatic for a moment, and then a prenatural calm seemed to overtake him. “I will. Come.” He turned to leave, the Klingons pausing to wait for Joe before they followed.


    Joe looked at Riker. “Well, Commander? What will you do?” Will closed his mouth and frowned at Joe. Everyone else around the table waited expectantly. Riker rubbed his beard a moment and then spoke. “Mr. Smith, I think we should try to help you as best we can. Seven makes a most…compelling argument.” Here he flashed her with his patented grin. “If stopping the Captain will avoid a galactic Dark Age who am I to stand in the way?”

    “Thank you, Commander,” Joe said gratefully. “I had an alternative if you declined but I hesitated to use it.”

    “An alternative?” Data asked.

    Joe looked at Data, unable to shake off the eerie feeling he’d had while accessing the library computer hundreds of years in the future. To see him now, wearing a normal uniform…

    “Yes, Mr. Data, I have an alternative. There is a chip in my Independent Holographic Projector that would allow me to travel through time and hopefully arrive on Beta Hydroxii Four before Captain Picard makes the mistake that leads to the Federation’s destruction. I have been warned, however, of the threat involved in traveling the time stream. I would rather not do it.”

    “If there is a threat, then you are wise to refrain,” Data said. He looked as though he was discussing the weather.

    “Thank you,” Joe replied drily.

    The intercom went off. “Commander Riker, this is Ensign Tarq. We are being hailed by the Artemis.”

    Riker looked around the room, and then focused on Joe. “I think we might be too late,” he said.

    Joe thought quickly. “They mustn’t be made aware of my presence. If I have to go back in time again they will encounter me in the past. I can’t see them now and have them telling me what I did, um, will do. It might affect my actions in unexpected ways.”

    Riker looked at him long and hard. “You’re asking me to keep secrets from my commanding officer?”

    “Just a little while. Until you find out what happened and let me know. Then I can figure out my next move.” Joe’s expression was pleading. Riker considered for a moment.

    “Alright, Mr. Smith, I’ll give you some leeway…”he looked at his crewmates, “Not a word until I say so.” Heads nodded in agreement. “Deanna, take him to an unused crew quarter until I signal that it’s safe to come out.”



    S’ton led Joe to a mess hall with a standard table and old but serviceable chairs. The room was clean but shabby, obviously having seen better days. The replicators had been torn out of their niches and in one a large box with a glass door sat. Gesturing at it, Joe asked, “What is that?”

    S’ton glanced at it dismissivly before sitting down. “It’s a microwave cooker. Please, be seated.” Once again, S’ton looked like a stereotypical Vulcan, his face impassive. The two still unidentified Klingons took up positions at the door. Joe cocked an eyebrow at S’ton and pulled out a chair. Sitting down, he placed his arms on the table and folded his hands. He paused for a moment and took a deep, unneeded breath.

    “About nine hundred years ago a Starfleet captain named Picard went on vacation,” he began. S’ton lifted an eyebrow. “Hear me out. This is relevant.” Joe paused until S’ton nodded, then he continued. “He liked archeology and was exploring an ancient ruin when he found-“


    “-an honest to goodness Preserver outpost, Will!” Riker smiled at Picard’s obvious enthusiasm. “And there’s more, Will. I think I found an Iconian gate switch!”

    Riker frowned up at the viewscreen as the Artemis maneuvered towards the Enterprise’s shuttle bay. “You mean like the one we found…”

    “Exactly, Number One!” Picard seemed almost…smug. Vash stuck her head into the picture.

    “He’s been so full of himself it’s a wonder there’s room for me aboard,” she kidded. Riker smiled but he caught an odd, slightly concerned look on her face that made his heart stutter for a second. Catching her eye, an almost knowing look passed between them.

    “Captain, you are clear to land in the main shuttle bay,” Riker said, wondering if his failure to mention Joe would come back to haunt him.

    “Thank you, Number One,” Picard said, “I’ll see you in a few minutes. Artemis out.”

    As Riker and LaForge rode the turbolift over to the shuttle bay to meet the Captain they both stood in silence, lost in their own thoughts. Then Riker spoke.

    “Computer, halt turbolift.” The car came to an immediate stop. Turning to Geordi, he said, “Geordi, I think we should make the Captain aware of the situation he may have created.” Before Geordi could reply Riker cut him off. “I’m not saying we should tell him about Mr. Smith, just that we should let him know the possible consequences of his actions. What do you think?”

    LaForge waited a moment before replying. “If we don’t tell the Captain, then he’ll probably put us on some assignment that will not help the situation. But if we do tell the Captain, he’ll want to know how we know what we do. I’m not sure which option holds the greater danger.”

    Riker looked at him in a long, contemplative stare. Then he sighed and said, “Geordi, I think we’ll have to tell him something. Otherwise, we’ll be patrolling the Neutral Zone or mapping spatial anomalies in Sector 47 or something like that. If he asks you, you have my direct order to cite the temporal Prime Directive and refuse to respond.” LaForge nodded as Riker said, “Computer, resume.” The turbolift dashed off to the shuttle bay. Riker tapped his combadge. “Riker to Seven of Nine.”

    “Seven here, Commander.”

    “Where Captain Picard is concerned-I may tell him what is happening but if you are asked, you are to cite the temporal Prime Directive, is that understood?”

    There was a pause and then , “Understood, Commander.”

    “Make sure you pass the word to Data, Dr. Crusher, and Deanna as well. And try to do it on the Q.T. if you can.”

    “The Q.T., Commander?” came the response. Riker rolled his eyes at Geordi, who was grinning silently next to him.

    “Just don’t let the Captain or Vash know what you’re doing, ok, Seven.”

    “Affirmative, Commander,” she replied.


    Both of the Klingons glared at Joe as if he were a Romulan. S’ton was impassive, but Joe could detect a rising flush in his face. His voice was ice as he spoke.

    “You would erase us, erase all that we are as if we had never been?”

    Joe considered the odds of his being eradicated before answering. He was very careful how he phrased his words.

    “Look at it this way, S’ton. If I’m successful the Klingons will still have Qu’onos, the Fleet will still exist and you, yourself, may be living a life far beyond anything you’ve ever experienced in the here and now. More importantly than all of that, though, the horrific loss of life and knowledge that the Demons caused would be averted. Isn’t that worth the risk or consequences?”

    S’ton glared at him. “But we would be gone,” he said. “What good is it, this plan of yours, to us?”

    Joe looked at him a moment. “When was the last time you did anything that the Demons didn’t allow?” he asked. “As Captain of this ship, as sad as it is, you are in command of the flagship of whatever remains of Starfleet and the Federation. You are in a position to make a real change.” He paused for a second to collect his thoughts and then, inspired, he said, “Kirk would have jumped at the chance. He was a gambler, not afraid to take chances.”

    S’ton eyed him wearily. “Do not think I am oblivious to your attempts to persuade me. I would be remiss, however, if I continued to allow you to operate under a misconception. You see, I am not the captain of this ship.”

    Joe gave him an exasperated look. “Well, then let me bring my proposal directly to this ship’s captain!” he demanded. The two Klingons looked uncomfortably at S’ton, and S’ton looked down at the table in a troubled fashion.

    “I don’t think you would like him,” he said.

    “Why, is his name Tom Paris?” Joe shot back.

    S’ton looked confused. “No, his name is not Tom Paris. You will not like him, though.”

    “You never know,” Joe replied, “I’ve been known to get along with people that might be described as difficult or unlikable. I might surprise you. Besides, he or she is the captain of your ship. Why would you say that?”

    S’ton glanced at the two Klingons, both of whom made sure their eyes were elsewhere, before answering. “Nobody likes him,” he stated matter-of-factly.

    “I’m willing to take the chance,” Joe said magnanimously.

    “Very well,” S’ton replied. “Come with me.” And he stood and left the mess hall, his pet Klingons in tow. Joe shrugged and followed.


    “Welcome back, Captain.” Riker’s greeting was neutral, at best. “I hope you had fun.”

    “Oh, we had a great time. Who wouldn’t want to be cooped up in a small scout vessel with Jean Luc for two weeks?” The warm smile Vash cast at Picard took the sting from her words. As Picard gave her a quick grin a crewman stepped up the gangway of the Artemis to fetch their bags.

    “Hold on a moment, Crewman Tavis,” Picard said. “There’s a tricorder on the pilot’s station. Would you bring that to me, please?” Tavis nodded and ducked into the little ship as Vash and Picard reached the shuttle bay deck.

    “Welcome back, Captain,” Geordi said, holding his hand out. Picard shook it in greeting.

    “Thank you, Mr. LaForge. While it was an exciting trip it is good to be home.”

    “You said you found a Preserver outpost,” Riker prompted.

    “Yes, yes, Will, it’s all on my tricorder. You aren’t going to believe what was inside. It’s the find of the century!” Picard was practically bubbling with energy. “But I suspect Vash and I should clean up first. Shall we meet in Ten Forward at, say, eighteen hundred hours? Oh, thank you, Tavis,” Picard took the proffered tricorder. “A hot shower with real water sounds pretty good about now.” He tucked the tricorder protectively under his arm.

    “You got that right,” quipped Vash. “It’s going to take hours to get the dust out of my hair!” she declared.

    Riker smiled at them mildly. “Eighteen hundred hours it is, sir.”

    “Come along, m’dear.,” Picard said, taking Vash’s arm. “We mustn’t smell up the shuttle bay.” Vash just giggled as they walked away. Riker and LaForge watched them go.

    “I hate to ruin his good mood,” LaForge said.

    Riker looked at him grimly. “Don’t worry about it, Geordi, that’s my responsibility.”


    Joe followed S’ton onto the freighter’s bridge and was immediately struck by an odd contrast. The holographic command controls at the various stations were years beyond the Federation technology he knew, but the condition of those systems was suspect at best. They were obviously quite old, wavering in and out of focus, although new to him. Various crewmembers were scattered about, performing their duties. The captain’s chair, located in its traditional place in the center of the room, had a leg hanging over the left arm. The uniform showed stains and the boot was scuffed and worn. “You wanted to meet the captain,” S’ton murmured. “There he is.” Joe braced himself for disappointment. S’ton cleared his throat. “Captain, our guest would like a word with you.”

    The chair swiveled around and Joe got his first look at the Captain. He was a small man, dressed in clothing that resembled the corsairs of another age. His shirt might once have been some sort of silk but the ravages of food and drink had rendered it distasteful. His breeches were tan, and bunched in odd places. His eyes peered dimly at Joe, and Joe couldn’t decide if it was a lack of visual acuity or the effects of the contents of the tankard he held in his right hand. His ears lacked lobes and blended down to his neck. He smiled at Joe and took a drink. “So this is the source of the mysterious power surge?” He peered harder at Joe, and then jumped up, spilling what looked like bloodwine on his already stained shirt. “I know you!” he declared. “We met at the inter-species medical conference on Bajor, um,” his eyes grew distant and a befuddled look crossed his face. “About seven hundred and fifty years ago. You’re that doctor from the Voyager!”

    “Sorry. That wasn’t me. Perhaps my predecessor? My name is Joe Smith.” The Captain walked up the steps to the back riser and pushed his booze-sodden face close to Joe’s.

    “So you aren’t the holographic doctor I met so many years ago? I remember how the light reflected off of your bald head.” Joe shut off his olfactory senses and primly replied, “No, I was a back-up module of his that was left behind in the Delta Quadrant. I’ve just returned to Earth.”

    “Well, pleased to meet you anyway.” Extending his hand he said, “I’m Weyoun Ten, captain of this rustbucket, last of my line and last of the Vorta. I’ve been waiting over seven hundred years for some intelligent conversation! Glad to have you aboard!” Joe shook his hand tentatively, not wanting to spill Weyoun’s already precarious drink.

    “Nice to meet you,” he said politely.

    “I can’t believe a hologram survived this long!” He paused for a moment. “So what did you want to see me about?”

    “I’d like you to return me to the surface so I can travel back in time and stop Picard from letting the Demons loose.”

    Weyoun looked at him owlishly. “If you do that, will the Founders survive or will the Demons still get them?”

    “I couldn’t say,” replied Joe, “But there’s a good chance they would have survived if it weren’t for the Demons.”

    “Okay,” replied Weyoun, grinning. Turning to S’ton’s bodyguards, he said, “You-go fetch me another bloodwine. And you,” he pointed at the bigger of the two, “reduce him to his component atoms or photons or whatever. The Founders are in hell and I don’t have any plans to let them out.” He smiled at Joe. “Sorry. I haven’t had one of those damn shapeshifters around to push my genetic buttons in a long time and I have no plans to change that. You understand.” Bloodwine spilled to the deck unnoticed as Weyoun waved his hand to encompass the whole galaxy. “Don’t need those bastards back,” he muttered, staring at the spill with glazed, unseeing eyes. The larger Klingon drew his disruptor.

  7. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Chapter Thirteen

    Picard entered Ten Forward promptly at eighteen hundred hours with Vash by his side. Glancing around, he spotted Riker near the view window sitting alone. As they walked up to him, Riker took a swift drink of his beer and settled back in his chair expectantly. Picard glanced at the empty chairs around the table and asked, “Are we early?” He pulled a chair out for Vash. Sensing Riker’s mood she gently touched Picard’s arm.

    “I think I’ll go to the bar and order for us. What would you like, Jean-Luc?”

    “Oh, whatever is cold,” he said absent-mindedly, his focus on Riker.

    “Of course, Jean-Luc,” she responded. He patted her hand on his arm lightly before she stepped away. Sliding a chair out, he sat down.

    “I gather from your demeanor you have something to say to me?”

    Riker took another pull from his mug before answering. “Captain, when you hailed us earlier you said something about the Iconians and their gate system. Did you…do anything after you found whatever it was you found?”

    Picard gave him a curious glance and then pulled the tricorder from the rear of his belt. “Will, you have no idea. Based on the information Data gathered previously, I was able to determine that the console I found,” he tapped the tricorder, displaying a recorded image of the Iconian command console, “Could re-activate the entire gate system! After a bit more study, I managed to activate the master control. I believe I woke the entire system up!” Riker looked at him with consternation.

    “That may not be all that you woke up, Captain,” he said grimly. Picard cocked his head to the side as Vash returned with their drinks.

    “Care to explain yourself, Will?” he asked, a hint of something hard in his voice.

    “Captain, I have some information. If you activated the Iconian gate system you may have inadvertently triggered some kind of crèche system as well. I have it from a reasonably reliable source that in about two hundred years the Federation and others will be destroyed by something called: ‘The Demons of Air and Darkness’.” He raised an eyebrow at Picard.

    “The Iconians,” Picard breathed.

    “What about the Iconians?” Vash asked, taking her seat. She smiled winsomely at Picard and handed him a margarita..

    “ ‘The Demons Of Air And Darkness’ was what the races they subjugated called the Iconians,” Picard replied. “Will, what are you talking about? How...” Picard seemed unable to phrase the question.

    “Captain, I can’t tell you how I know what I know,” he began, “But you have to trust me. If you activated the gate system, you also unleashed a potentially lethal threat against the Alpha Quadrant. I can’t tell you my source,” As Picard opened his mouth to protest Riker overrode him before he could voice his objections, “Because the Temporal Prime Directive comes into play.” In a moment of silence, Riker could see Picard think about what he had said.

    “All right, Will, what can you tell me?” Vash was looking at Riker with a disturbed expression that Picard didn’t notice. Glancing at Vash, Riker said,

    “My…source…tells me that the Preservers were storing the Iconian equivalent of the genetic supermen of the early 21st century. When the gate system was engaged an artificial gestation facility was activated. It will take them a couple of centuries to reach their full potential but once they do the Fleet, Earth, the Dominion, and just about anybody else we know today will be destroyed or reduced to an interstellar version of Dark-age monks. Or savages.”

    Picard rocked back in his chair gently, while Vash looked on in concern. He took a drink of his margarita, not an enjoyable sip so much as a gulp imbibed in shock.

    “What have I done, Will?” He looked crushed and Vash reached out automatically, gently patting his hand.


    “Wait just a second,” Joe said, nervously eyeing the Klingon approaching him. “Think of the billions that have died!” Weyoun looked up at him and his eyes seemed to refocus for a moment.

    “I ordered the death of millions in the Dominion War-so what?” Weyoun sipped at the new glass of bloodwine.

    “I can’t believe you’d let civilization die across the galaxy! I can avert this whole mess!” Joe was incensed now, even in the face of impending death. “You’re worried about the Founders surviving? I’m worried about the entire Alpha Quadrant!” Joe looked at Weyoun in contempt. “Or do you think that all of this,” he waved at the ancient bridge, “is worth it?” he added acerbically. A sub-system in environmental control chose that moment to erupt in a small shower of sparks. The Klingon pointed his disruptor at Joe’s IHP and looked back at Weyoun.

    “Excuse my interruption.” Said S’ton, “But if Joe Smith can alter the timeline to prevent the destruction of Qu’onos, halt the fall of the Federation , and stop the Demons from wrecking every civilization in the Alpha Quadrant I believe it would be logical to allow him to proceed.”

    Every eye on the ship’s bridge turned towards Weyoun except the Klingon threatening Joe’s existence. He kept his eyes on S’ton.

    “You are so wrong!” Weyoun screamed. “I will not let the Founders rule my life! Never again!”

    “That is not logical,” S’ton said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. So it is written, so it shall be.” He gave an almost imperceptible nod and the Klingon threatening Joe whirled around. Weyoun Ten, only three days past his eight hundred and seventy-eighth birthday, disappeared in a blast of disruptor fire.


    Joe paced the room, agitated. “You don’t have to do that,” Deanna said. “When Will has something for you he’ll let us know.

    “I’m just worried that he’ll trap me in a temporal paradox. If he does I’ll never be able to break the cycle and the Iconians will destroy civilization in the Alpha Quadrant!”

    Deanna kept her peace and just looked at him. Joe paused in his pacing and faced her. “I sound pretty dramatic, don’t I? Like what I do matters more than anything.”

    Deanna glanced away at the coffee table as she answered. “I know that what you are doing seems like the most important thing in the world to you…but until we verify Captain Picard’s actions I think you are worrying yourself unnecessarily. What ever happened, we can only wait until Will contacts us.”

    Joe sighed. “You’re right, of course.” He sat on the couch next to Deanna. “Do you play chess?” he asked.

    She smiled at him. “No, I’ve never been very good at it. But if you are up for a game of checkers…” her voice trailed off.

    Joe smiled at her. “I haven’t played checkers in nine hundred years. It should be…a walk down memory lane.” As Deanna rose to retrieve the checkers board from a drawer, she flashed him another smile.

    “Hopefully, you’ll be rusty enough that I can beat you. Will does fitness reports while he plays and still beats me. We won’t talk about Data.”

    “I promise to play as best I can-and may the best player win.” He grinned at her. “I get red.”


    S’ton looked at the smoking command chair. “Mr. Smith-where do you need to be right now?”

    Joe hesitated, unsure of what to say. The large Klingon turned towards him, and the hint of blood-lust was in his eyes.“ Joe swallowed unnecessarily and cleared his throat.

    “I have to be back in the office where you first beamed me out.” He looked at S’ton nervously. “It’s the only way the device I have will work with any accuracy.” He waited, and did not notice the slight tremor in his voice. After nine hundred years he barely noticed anything about his voice. The entire bridge crew, mostly made up of Vulcans and Klingons, looked at S’ton with an air of anticipation. They didn’t know the underlying reasons for what had happened but they knew something was about to occur, something unique and special.

    S’ton looked at the larger of his two bodyguards, the one that still had his disruptor out.

    “Take him to the transporter room. Send him back from whence he came.” The Klingon saluted, his disruptor to his chest, and then snapped around towards the exit.

    “You will come with me,” he said, in a deep bassoon. Joe nodded at S’ton as he turned to follow.

    “Thank you.”

    S’ton said nothing.

    The Klingon said, “I am not doing this for you.” They entered the turbolift together, the Klingon glaring at Joe when their shoulders brushed.

    After the doors shut and the turbolift began its creaky travel through the ship the Klingon turned towards Joe.

    “You can restore Qu’onos?”

    “If I can stop Captain Picard from his foolishness, then, yes, I believe I can keep the ‘Demons’ from destroying Qu’onos.”

    The Klingon looked into Joe’s eyes and for a moment he understood why the Klingons had been such a threat to the Federation he had known.

    “Good.” The Klingon faced front, his posture that of military attention once again.

    Joe nodded, and tipped his head to the right, away from the Klingon, but he couldn’t resist glancing up when he thought the Klingon wasn’t looking.


    “Captain, you couldn’t have known,” Riker said. He looked uncomfortable.

    “Will, I’ve let loose the Hounds of Hell,” Picard snapped. He pulled his hand from beneath Vash’s. “I don’t think I am in need of comfort just now.” He took another pull from his margarita. Vash glanced at Riker with a worried look. When their eyes met, Riker shook his head ever so slightly. He turned his face to his beer and traced mindless patterns in the condensation on the table for a moment.

    “Commander Riker?” Vash inquired. “This stuff you’re hiding behind the Temporal Prime Directive-does it resemble a middle-aged man in a pre-war medical uniform and a distinct lack of hair?” Picard looked at her, puzzled. Riker quickly buried his surprise at her question.

    “What do you mean, Vash?” He inquired.

    “While we were in the Preserver site a man, looking like that, appeared and told me to stop Jean-Luc. Then he disappeared in a rainbow of light.” She glanced at Picard. “It was already too late, though. You’d activated the gate system.”

    Riker looked at her carefully. “It was too late?” he asked. “By how much time?”

    Vash was gazing at Picard and missed the intensity behind his question. “Oh, a few moments, I guess.” Picard missed nothing, but held his tongue.

    Riker buried his expression in his beer mug as Vash consoled Picard.


    “That’s game,” Joe said, smiling slightly. “I guess I haven’t lost my touch.”

    Deanna looked ruefully at the board. “Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. I haven’t won a game in so long, I think my mother was young the last time I did. And she hasn’t been young for a while.” Deanna flashed Joe a grin as he rose from his seat. He returned the grin but began to pace again.

    “What is keeping him?” he asked.

    “I’m sure Will is-“ A chirp of the intercom interrupted her.

    “Riker to Troi, please come in,” came the voice from the intercom. Deanna flashed a brilliant smile at Joe.

    “Troi here, Commander,” she answered. She crossed her legs demurely.

    “Please tell our guest that he was off by a few minutes. He should adjust things accordingly.”

    “Understood, Commander,” Troi said, exchanging a look with Joe. “Well, there you go.” Joe smiled wanly.

    He sighed unnecessarily. “Here goes nothing,” he said, adjusting the settings on his IHP. He gave Deanna a little more energetic smile. “Thanks for the checkers,” he added, and was gone in a rainbow of light.


    Joe was standing in utter darkness. “Oh, crap,” he said, “I missed completely.” He adjusted his IHP by feel and pressed the activation sequence once again. The rainbow effect heralded his departure. A moment later a faint sound could be heard, if there had been anyone to listen.

    “Kirk to Enterprise. Scotty, one to beam up.” Light filled the chamber.

  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    CHAPTER 14

    Joe re-appeared in Daniels’s office. With the Everlight extinguished the office should have been pitch black but it wasn’t. Instead, light was filtering in through the frosted glass. It flickered as torchlight often does. Joe could make out humanoid figures, silhouettes through the glass, cavorting in the lab. Glass smashed and metal struck metal. A whine of power quickly rose and then detonated in a burst of blue light. Joe recognized it as Cherenkov radiation. It temporarily illuminated the entire lab. There were dozens of the savages there, and every one of them saw him through the door glass that had also become transparent in the glare. Several launched themselves at office ‘D’, enraged and pounding on the door. Joe hastily tapped in the activation sequence that he’d found on the padd. It was taking too long and the savages were about to break through when a column of light appeared next to him. The big Klingon that had rode the turbolift with him stood there, bat’leth at the ready. “Save Qu’onos!” he cried, lifting his weapon high. The door gave way under the weight of the attacking savages. The Klingon began mowing down the figures leaping in over the wreckage of the door but their numbers were too great. As he went down under the sheer press of bodies Joe disappeared in a rainbow of light.


    Joe re-appeared in a well-lit chamber of pure white stone. He glanced around and saw birthing crèches. Curious, he examined their contents. Each one contained a Klingon-Human hybrid fetus. It took a few moments to cycle through his medical files before he pulled up a Starfleet report from a Denobulan doctor who had served as the CMO on the NX-01. “Damn,” he said, heading for the open archway at one end of the chamber. “He’s here already.”


    “Will, you have to let me speak to your…source. Perhaps there is a way to avert what is coming.” Riker had excused himself for a moment and Picard had taken the time to consider what had transpired at the Preserver sight. He’d waited until Riker returned from the restroom to speak.

    “Captain, I’m sorry but my…source has departed.” Will retook his seat and swallowed a large drink from his mug. “I’m sorry, Captain, but I really don’t know how this sort of thing works. Either he was successful and we are merely waiting for things to change or he failed and all is as it was. Either way, there’s nothing we can do now.”

    Vash looked at Riker. “I hope what I told you was useful.” Picard glanced at her and then back to Riker.

    “So do I, Vash, so do I,” Riker replied. As he took another drink of his ale Vash looked at Picard. He seemed frustrated. She frowned when he finished his margarita in one gulp and held the glass out for her to fetch a refill.

    “Get it yourself,” she snapped, and flounced out of the room.

    Riker raised one eyebrow, first at Picard and then at Vash’s departing figure.

    Picard just bowed his head over his empty glass.


    The cave was dark and there wasn’t any atmosphere. Joe tested the ambient gravity.

    “About .33 Earth norm,” he thought. He adjusted his personal gravity to compensate by rerouting energy to his surface so as to produce a higher differential between his apparent mass and the ability of the moon to keep him from tripping and being placed into orbit.

    He stood for a moment, considering his options. If he had made his target destination as described in the padd he’d read, he would be a day or less in front of Picard. He stepped forward and immediately ran into something. Examining the object in question, he was struck by how similar the black casing on the cradle that held it looked so very much like a Federation photon torpedo. Then it launched. A transporter effect gripped the cradle and another torpedo fired. Joe looked down at his middle, which had been disrupted by the ion pulse wash that tore out of the rear of the projectile. The process repeated. As a doctor, it ripped him apart to know that people were dying. Joe simply let them fire, knowing any change in history had to be a delicate one. He waited for it to end and an old friend to retrieve him. He tried to pull himself together in anticipation of that moment.


    Joe stepped out into the anteroom and saw a very pretty Human woman in her late forties striding in. His instant diagnostic was that she exercised frequently and took very good care of herself. His instincts told him it was Picard’s girlfriend, Vash, who had accompanied him to the Preserver site. “Just don’t destroy the universe or anything like that!” she called out behind her.

    Joe stepped in front of her. “He may be doing exactly that.” Vash almost peed her pants.

    “Who the hell are you?” Vash asked. Her left hand slowly groped for the bush knife at her hip.

    Joe felt very uncomfortable. “That’s a funny story,” Taking her right elbow, he guided her away from the chamber that Picard was in. He said, “Do you have a moment?” Vash looked at him in surprise, her knife embedded in his kidney up to the hilt. She looked down at the knife.

    Glancing down at himself, he said ,“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He blinked, and the knife fell to the ground, seemingly passing through his body on the way to the floor. In a cheerful voice he added, “There you go. Now, can we talk? I think you are going to have to stop him or things could get quite…depressing.” Vash picked up her knife and walked with him deeper into the main chamber.


    “Riker to Troi,” Will said. “Did our guest…depart?”

    “Yes, Will, he’s, um, left. I passed along your message.”

    Riker looked at Picard. “Captain, our…herald of doom, if you will, has departed to try to avert whatever it was that you did. Can you tell me what transpired on your trip with Vash?”

    Picard began to relate the details of his vacation. When he was done Riker said, “Captain, I can’t tell if anything changed. Maybe my memories changed when Joe-our visitor went on his ah, journey. If so, I have no way to tell what’s different-but what you’ve just told me seems to be what I already knew.”

    Picard looked into Riker’s eyes. “Will, we have to warn the Federation. Possibly every major power in the Alpha Quadrant. If your…visitor failed to fix my mistake then the Federation is living on borrowed time.” Riker was heartened to see a look of resolve cross Picard’s face, replacing the despair. “I will not let us be destroyed by my actions. They may be the Demons of Air and Darkness but when they come we shall be prepared!” Picard rose from his seat.

    Riker cocked an eyebrow at him. “Captain?”

    “Number One, excuse me. I’m going to contact Starfleet Command. And then,” he grinned slightly, “I’m going to my quarters to make amends with Vash. Honestly, Number One, I’m not sure which task fills me with more dread.”

    Riker lifted his mug in salute. “Good luck with that, Captain.”


    “Who I am is not important right now,” Joe said. “Vash, you have to stop him! Don’t let Captain Picard activate the gate system! Hurry!”

    Vash had recovered her composure. “Go ahead and stop him yourself. Jean-Luc gets an idea in his head and nothing stops him.” She put her hands on her hips. “And you never did say who you are.”

    “I can’t, the chip…” Joe’s image wavered in a rainbow effect. “The chip is failing. I’m going to …” Joe vanished.

    He reappeared in the office labeled “D”. The Everlite was lit and there was the smell of fresh Aruba coffee in the air. Confused, Joe quickly looked around. The man behind the desk smiled at him.

    “Hello, Joe,” he said. Joe looked at the nametag on his uniform.

    “Daniels!” he gasped. “What is going on? You were dead!”

    Daniels smiled at him. “That happens sometimes,” he replies.


    CHAPTER 15

    “I don’t understand,” said Joe. He glanced around again. “I know where I am but I don’t know when. What is today’s date?”

    Daniels continued to grin. “It’s about thirty seconds after you left this office the last time,” he replied.

    “So I’m back in my own time?” Joe asked.

    “Well, that’s kind of a slippery subject. You’re in your own chronological time. It’s been nearly nine hundred years since the return of Voyager from the Delta Quadrant.”

    Joe considered for a moment. “Then Vash was able to stop Captain Picard. Oh, thank God! I was worried that I’d arrived too late.”

    Daniels glanced down at his desk for a moment, then lifted his head and said, “Actually, you did and she didn’t.” Joe just looked at him, his mouth hanging open.

    “Time is a tricky beast,” Daniels said, “And even when you deal with it as I do on a daily basis,” he smirked a little, “it can get slippery. You returned to your origin time when the chip failed but…” The smirked slipped off of his face. “Time re-adjusted but you didn’t. You remember a time that never was.”

    Joe stared at him, confused. “But you said I was too late to, I mean, Vash couldn’t stop Captain Picard…” he trailed off.

    Daniels stood up and walked around Joe to the coffee press. He dumped the old grounds and began preparing a new pot. “That’s correct. The Iconian crèche was activated.”

    “Well, what happened?” Joe inquired, still somewhat stunned about his recent arrival.

    Daniels paused for a moment in what he was doing and glanced back at Joe. “Why, the Iconians eventually attacked the Federation. It wasn’t pretty.” For a moment his eyes grew distant, as he relived old memories. “But you fixed it after everything was lost so, I guess, all’s well that ends well.” He grinned and returned to his task. Pouring water into the press, he squeezed the piston down into the pot.

    “From what I saw of this time, the Federation didn’t fare so well. Nor anyone else, for that matter.” Joe crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his head slightly to the side.
    “Would you care to explain?”

    Daniels stepped back to his desk for his mug. “I’ll do what I can. Things aren’t quite the way you remember around here. You didn’t stop Picard but you did do something almost as important.” He flipped open a paper file lying on the desk and perused it a moment. “Yes, that looks like the key event.” He closed the file and returned to the coffee pot to fill his mug.

    Joe just looked at him, perplexed. “What are you talking about?” he asked in an annoyed tone.

    “You made a difference just by being there.” Daniels took a sip.

    Joe looked at the ceiling. “Well, it wouldn’t be the first time,” he commented.

    “You don’t understand. Commander Riker, Picard’s first officer, was emotionally and ethically unable to keep a secret from his Captain. He not only told Picard everything he learned from you, he turned over every bit of evidence that Seven of Nine had gathered about you. That proved useful to my predecessors in Starfleet Temporal Investigations, the precursor to the organization I work for. We were able to track the dead line and predict your re-entry into the primary time stream. That’s why I was here today, in this year, month, day and time to greet you. And it saved the Federation.” He took another sip of his coffee.

    Joe just gaped at him. “How did that help?”

    “”Picard was depressed at first, not knowing everything that had transpired. He even sent in his resignation but a thoughtful admiral held it up for administrative reasons until after Riker cracked.” Daniels smiled at Joe, and it was as if the sun had come out. “Picard hammered at the Admiralty for years and, when he was finally promoted himself, fought the good fight from the inside. He made Starfleet listen until they finally heard the warning he offered. Then he went at the other major powers in the Alpha Quadrant. He formed unions and helped write treaties. By the time he died, the Alpha Quadrant was virtually unified in their quest to find a defense against the Iconians. Ironically, they showed up on his birthday, eighty-one years after his death.” Daniels glanced at the frosted glass of his door. “When the Iconians did show up they got quite the surprise.” He looked at Joe soberly. “We lost an unbelievable amount of people but we stopped them. It made the Borg Incursions of the 24th century look like a children’s brawl in the schoolyard.” He flashed his smile again. “And we only did it because of your warning. Thank you, Joe!” Daniels lifted his mug in a salute.

    Joe took a moment to absorb all of this. Finally, comfortable with what he’d heard, he asked, “In the world I found, my ‘other’ self was virtually destroyed.” He grimaced at the unintentional pun and continued, “Is he still…around…now?” The look on his face was almost pathetically eager as he asked this.

    “He is,” Daniels answered “but there is someone you might want to meet up with first. You remember I mentioned ‘dead lines’?” Joe nodded. “Well, we have a way to track aberrations in the time stream, uncompleted time lines from their point of divergence to the end. One of our most brilliant, young scientists discovered the method recently in terms of chronological time. Because of him, we could find you and arrange for me to be here to greet you. His work enabled us to ease you out of the dead line and into the primary time line. You’re actually only the second recorded recovery.” Daniels walked to the edge of his desk. “Send him in,” he said aloud.

    The door to office ‘D’ opened and a Vulcan in a blue tunic stepped in. He approached Joe and held up his left hand in the Vulcan salute. “Joe Smith, live long and prosper.” It was S’ton.

    Joe stood out in Boothby’s Garden, looking up at the O’Neill habitat ring circling the Earth. He could hear crickets chirping in the distance. He turned his glance towards the Bay, the civilian ships drifting across the water, only identifiable by the running lights that prevented collisions in the night. He looked at his autonomous power supply embedded in his IHP out of habit. Thirty hours until he needed a re-charge. It would allow him to watch the sunrise in a few hours. He smiled, satisfied. Off in the distance he could see the Union Tower where it sat above Starfleet’s headquarters, the spire twisting up into Earth’s lower atmosphere. The reflected moonlight from McKinley Grand lit it up like a candle burning from the inside. Joe thought about all he’d done and smiled. Earth had taken a beating by the Iconians but in the six hundred and fifty or so years since she’d recovered in style. Joe heard footsteps walking down the little side path he’d ventured onto. “Once, a long time ago,” he thought, “I found the bones of dead lovers here. Now, living people stroll down it, enjoying the flowers.” He glanced down at the bench at the arc of the curve. “I wonder how many lovers have sat at this bench?” he thought. The bench he had seen so many years ‘away’ from now looked somehow older , more worn, with the edges smoothed by thousands of occupants. People who had lived because of him. The person walking the path stopped next to Joe. He was dressed in comfortable clothes and had an interesting device attached to his right bicep. It closely resembled the IHP on Joe’s arm. His face reminded Joe of one he’d seen in mirrors.

    “Hello,” said The Doctor, “Been here long?” Joe smiled at him. They both looked out at Union Tower. Joe considered for a moment.

    “Forever,” he answered.


    There’s an interesting story behind this story. I will wait for reader comments and then my next post will be a reaction and an explanation that most of you will either find amusing, amazing or interesting. A few may find it sad. Watch for it. 


    Over a year ago I wrote a Next Generation piece with the working title Picard1. That story withered when I ran out of ideas-writer’s block, if you will. Then one night a few months ago I began the story of Joe Smith from “Living Witness”, encompassing his return to Earth after nine hundred years. Joe, a back-up version of The Doctor, had been dug up in an archeological find on an alien planet in the Delta Quadrant. After serving the societies there for a while he took a ship to go back to the Alpha Quadrant. I found that intriguing and picked it up with his return. I was writing my way through his tale when I tossed in a line about Picard being responsible for the destruction of the Federation. Then lightning struck. I had left Vash staring into the first room in the Preserver chamber saying, “Oh, my God! Jean Luc, you have to see this!” I didn’t know what the hell she’d seen. I suddenly realized that I had the build up surrounding Picard already written. I combined the two tales in my posts on the BBS to create Remnants. I continued to write Joe’s story as a separate tale from Picard’s, cutting and pasting as I went so as not to get too confused about who was where. It wasn’t until Chapter 8 of Remnants that I finally began writing one story together instead of 2 separate ones.
  9. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Hope you like it.