STARDATE 70618.2: Fifteen Years after the Trial
Admiral Janeway watched the tractor beams pull the mutilated hull of the U.S.S. Savaal into spacedock. Two-thirds of her crew were dead. A third of the saucer section was gone including the bridge. A scar three decks high ran the length of the engineering hull. She still had warp power and weapons. Holy god, Kathryn thought.
Starfleet told her nothing. She read reports from the other ships that made it back. The Savaal drew the cube away. That was the last they saw. No communication with the Savaal was permitted. The ship was ordered to Starbase Four for refit, a long trip with that much damage. No explanation offered. They gave Kathryn two orders. The first she couldn't believe. The second let her ask any question she wanted after she was aboard. The gantry locked into place, and Kathryn approached the airlock.
"Warning," the starbase computer said. "You have been targeted by phasers. Identify yourself or you will be fired upon. Enter voice and DNA identification now."
She provided her name, rank and service number.
"Recognized. Prepare for security scan." Janeway took a shallow breath. "Scan complete. Welcome aboard, Admiral."
The airlock thrummed open, and shut as soon as she entered. She walked the cylindrical corridor with only the echo of her breathing. The second airlock opened on a familiar face.
"Ensign Wildman," Kathryn said. "It's good to see you."
Naomi smiled back. "Good to be seen." She was bruised and pale. Her uniform was torn and a horn was missing. The admiral touched the empty spot lightly.
"Does it hurt?" she asked
"No more than the rest," Naomi replied. "The doctor will grow me a new one."
"You don't look right without it," Kathryn said.
Naomi sighed. "How many mothers does one ensign need?"
"One hundred and forty-four of us. Remember that."
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry we couldn't afford more of a welcoming party."
"Ship before formalities," Kathryn said. "Where is he?"
"On the Auxiliary Bridge."
"Let's get this over with." She followed Naomi past the blocked passages and exposed decks. "Tell me what happened," she said after a while.
"The task force engaged the Borg cubes. They finally adapted to the technology the other Admiral Janeway brought. We destroyed two of the cubes, but the third hit our bridge and the saucer section. The senior staff was killed. He was the next in line. Only three of our ships were left. We were not enough for the cube. He ordered the other two to split off and try to reach the reinforcements. We pulled the cube away. We used nebulae, asteroid fields, even an ion storm to harry it until the fleet arrived."
"That's very impressive, Naomi."
"We never would have made it without him."
"I can see that, Ensign."
"I'm sorry, sir. On this ship, you get in the habit of defending him."
"I understand. You won't need to worry about that any more."
As they stepped onto the bridge, a lieutenant called out, "Admiral on the deck!" The crew snapped straight.
"At ease," Janeway said. She walked around the tactical station to a figure in a blue uniform. Still so young looking, damn him. "Lieutenant Commander Philip Keegan."
"Admiral Janeway," he replied.
"By order of Starfleet Command, you are hereby promoted to the rank of captain and given command of the U.S.S. Savaal." She placed the pips on his collar and held out her hand. "Congratulations."
He took her hand. "Sir, I will serve to the best of my ability."
"I'm certain of that." She turned to the Vulcan at Keegan's right. "Lieutenant Commander Senek, you are promoted to the rank of commander and given the position of First Officer of the U.S.S. Savaal."
"Admiral," he said. "I shall serve as duty requires."
The admiral nodded. "Captain Keegan," she said. Behind her, Naomi smiled. "Your request that Lieutenant T'Zel be made your chief engineer and Second Officer is denied. Command feels she lacks the experience. You will be assigned new officers to fill those posts."
"Yes, sir," he said. He turned to Senek. "Commander, you will be in charge of the refit for now. Do nothing to the weapons or defensive systems. Admiral Janeway and I have been ordered to acquire schematics for those systems from a research facility. The Savaal will serve as the test bed for the new weapons."
"Yes, sir," Senek said. "When should I expect your return?"
"Within eight days. Work on the superstructure and the power systems first. We'll need those in place for the weapons."
"Yes, sir. The ship will be ready."
"I have every faith in you, Mister Senek. Admiral, shall we go?"
"Lead the way, Captain."
They reached the Captain's Yacht and took their seats. Kathryn smiled at the familiarity of it. The Delta Flyer was the template for most Yachts now, this one included. Phil pulled the shuttle away from the Savaal and rushed her out of spacedock. Kathryn waited until they were in warp to ask the question.
"Some of the more rogue members of Section Thirty-One might have sent Betazoids to you. Command couldn't take the chance. They let me tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"Which secret is that, Philip?"
"The secret, Kathryn."
"Oh. That secret." She leaned back in her chair and tried to relax. "What about the Section Thirty-One operative on the Savaal? Will he try anything?"
"He died defending the ship against a Borg assault team." Phil shook his head. "I may not like their methods, but I cannot question their loyalty."
"So, where are we going?"
"We are going to Holberg 917-G," he began.
"That's forbidden space," she said.
"I know. The system was damaged by Omega particles. They were detonated intentionally."
She shook her head. "That doesn't sound like the Federation."
"It wasn't. My grandfather did that. He wanted to deter visitors."
"Your grandfather?" She said the word hard and said it again in her mind. "How?"
"My grandfather possessed instant tissue regeneration. He could not age. He came here when he was more than six thousand years old. He wanted to create a companion. He failed, again. And, removed from the Earth, he lost the ability to regenerate."
"He died?" she asked.
"I don't know. We shall see."
"He is your secret?"
"No. The Council knew about him. The Constitution class Enterprise visited there to acquire emergency medical supplies. Ambassador Spock was the ship's First Officer."
"His secret testimony?" she asked.
"Additional information not in the logs. Only three men met my grandfather on Holberg 917-G. At the time of the trial, two of them were dead."
"Kirk and McCoy."
"Yes. My grandfather promised to devote his remaining years to the betterment of mankind, but the technology he developed was too much for us. We weren't ready. He knew that and hid the system behind the Omega damage and hid the world behind a defense screen we still cannot penetrate."
"You hope he's still alive and will respond to you?"
"No," he said. "He set up a security code. When we can pass that, we can reach the planet. The best computers and codebreakers of the last century have tried to defeat it. They failed." He smiled. "But they didn't grow up with him."
"Your counterpart," she said with a smile of her own. "That's what he did."
"Yes. It took him a month with Pathfinder. I don't have that restriction. I should be through in about a week."
"A week? What shall I do, Philip?"
"Kathryn, you have a war to organize."
He sighed. "Coffee?"
He returned with a mug and a plate for both of them. "This is a desert made by one of the Andorians on the Savaal from Vulcan ingredients. It has a complex taste."
She took a bite. "My compliments to the chef."
"To his family," he corrected.
They sipped coffee in silence.
"Your grandfather failed twice?" she asked.
He sighed. "He tried to create a positronic android. It collapsed under its own emotions. He wanted a companion that would last longer than a human lifespan, something that would match his mind and body. An equal."
She nodded and ate her desert. "I quite enjoy this."
"I've had to add time in the gym because of it."
"How has it been for you?"
"Well—" The warp engines cut out. He turned to the controls. "Full impulse from here to the planet."
"Enough time for you to answer my question?"
"I lost two-thirds of my closest friends in one day. I've been better."
"Honestly, Kathryn, I was happy. I was the Chief Science Officer of a Federation starship. That's all I ever wanted."
"On a ship sixty percent Vulcan. That must have been interesting."
He smiled. "Are familiar with the term 'back seat driver'?"
"Yes, in my day we call them a First Officer."
He laughed loud and well at that. "I must tell that to Chakotay," he said.
She sipped her coffee again. "I read that paper you wrote with Lisa."
"I did enjoy that," he said.
"How is she?"
"She's fine, the kids are fine, Tadao's fine. I'll tell them you asked."
"How are you doing?"
He squinted at her. "What do you mean? I was Tadao's best man."
"I know that, Phil. I mean, how are you doing?"
"It's difficult. Human women are afraid."
"Are you still...?"
"No. I stopped that years ago. They're afraid of what any children might be like. I can't blame them." He contemplated his cup.
"And the non-humans?" she asked.
"On our last long range mission, one of the Vulcan women had her mating cycle kick-started. Mating with another Vulcan would have created problems. She asked for my help. I've had worse weeks."
"Did she...? Is she still on the ship?"
"Yes. You just turned her down to be my Chief Engineer."
"Speaking of engineers, I'm looking forward to what a six-thousand-year old genius can create." Still too distant for the eye, she watched the planet approach in the monitors.
"You've seen it. Where do you think we got the ablative armor and transphasic torpedoes? That's a hell of a lot of advancement for twenty years."
"How did Starfleet know your grandfather had such technology?"
"Originally, they didn't. They were desperate. When I told the Council, they ordered me to hold the information until it was needed."
"Fair enough. When did you know?" she said.
"The minute I saw the schematics. My grandfather's signature is easy to spot." He stretched. "I'm going to get some sleep. I want to be rested for my encounter with Grandfather's computer. I haven't had much good sleep lately."
She looked at the monitor. "You've got two-and-a-half hours." He nodded as he walked to the back of the shuttle. Kathryn opened a database on Borg movements and saw Starfleet had updated the information that morning. She smiled at their thoroughness and began reviewing tactical information.
He returned on time wearing a command uniform and carrying more coffee. "Watch the bed," he said. "It's a bit stiff."
"Just one?" she asked.
"This is not the original Captain's Yacht from the Savaal. They ripped out non-essentials for computer space. It's basically a flying codebreaker."
She leaned back from her console and watched him work. "Do you feel vindicated?"
"I feel accepted. I said the Tribunal delivered the correct verdict. That's still true."
The comm bleeped and a voice said, "Your ship has been targeted. Any attempt to land will result in your destruction. You may leave at any time in safety. Access to the planet will be granted if you are able to provide the correct entrance codes. First code: complete the following number sequence." A series of numbers appeared on the monitor.
"That seems a little easy," Kathryn said.
"The number sequence is irrelevant. The first transmission carries a modulated signature. The modulation follows a series of increasingly complex formulae. I must identify the formula from each signature, identify the sequence and transmit a response using the next signature. That's step one. Starfleet codebreakers have made it to step fifty-three. I estimate about two hundred such steps, each more complex."
"Oh," Kathryn said.
"My grandfather liked codes."
"I see that. I hope he's still alive. I really want to meet him."
"Yes, Kathryn," Phil said softly. "I know."
They talked little during the week. His level of concentration disturbed her. He would break between codes sometimes and talk to relax. That was all. Once, he laughed when he figured out a code but never explained why. He finished six days and four hours after he began with barely twenty hours of accumulated sleep. Kathryn had to land the ship. A woman met them, pretty and blond with a disconcerting smile.
"You are...ahead of schedule," she said.
"That's my fault," Phil replied. He introduced himself and Kathryn.
"I followed your progress. Your approach was very different."
"Yes," he said. "I cheated."
She tsked at him. "Well, you're here. Please follow me."
After a few steps, Kathryn asked, "Is he here?"
Phil and the woman stopped. "I don't know where he is," she said. "I'm sorry."
"That's all right," Phil said. "May we continue?"
"Of course. My name is Aricia, by the way."
"Greek," Phil said. "Princess of the royal blood of Athens."
She turned around and stared at him. "You sound a great deal like him."
"May I ask why you have come?" she said.
"A species called the Borg has begun a full scale invasion," Kathryn said.
Aricia shook her head. "That is ahead of schedule as well."
"You know about the Borg?" Kathryn said.
"Father knew of them, yes." She guided them down a wide corridor lined on both sides by art of the highest order. Phil stopped at a painting of "The Capture of Persephone". Hades was obscured by armor and a helmet, but the face and body of Persephone were both openly exposed. Phil touched the face of the dark haired child of Demeter.
"Phil?" Kathryn asked.
"Gescilene," he replied.
"Your...sister? The one you—"
"They were just words, Kathryn. We were never related. He always loved her features. He painted her a dozen times. I never saw this one."
"He painted this a century ago," Aricia said.
Phil removed a tricorder and scanned the image to the last molecule.
"You were one of his grandchildren," Aricia said. "How? You were not with Khan."
"Cryogenics not of my doing," he replied.
"That explains your cheat."
"Yes," he told her. "You must repair that after we leave."
"I shall. This way please." They continued on. "Which batch were you?"
"The last. I was the physicist."
She stopped again and began to laugh. "Kieron McCray? Father said I have some of you in me. Your sense of humor. He called it an unexpected act of penance. I think it pleased him."
"You'll forgive me if I don't know how to respond," Phil said.
She smiled. "We both knew him."
They arrived at a large chamber. At its center, twenty feet to a side, stood the familiar form of a Borg cube. Kathryn examined it and whistled.
"This is amazing," she said.
"You will need weapons and defensive systems," Aricia said.
"Yes," Kathryn replied.
Aricia turned her head to one side as if listening. "You have some of his technology aboard your ship now. How is that?"
"An act of time travel gone horribly right," Phil said.
"Father would not be pleased," Aricia replied.
Phil pointed to Kathryn and said, "She did it."
Aricia shook her head. "You should be ashamed of yourself, young lady."
"Oh, god, you are alike," Janeway said. "I don't think the world can survive two people with your sense of humor, Philip."
The children of the immortal smiled.
"I will return soon," Aricia said.
Phil wandered the room and scanned more paintings and sculptures. He stopped at a harpsichord and sat down to play.
"That sounds like Brahms," Kathryn said.
"Grandfather was Brahms."
"Of course. Was he also Shakespeare?"
"No. He was Francis Bacon." Phil continued to play.
"This model is astounding."
"It's not a model," Phil said.
Kathryn examined the ship closer until she saw a frozen figure. She swallowed hard and stepped away.
"Who else was he?" she asked.
"Archimedes, Alexander, Merlin, Imhotep, a few others. Some he would never talk about."
"Remarkable. Did he make all of these?" she said.
"Yes," Aricia replied, entering the room. "This is my favorite." She pointed to a very dark painting. It depicted a line of people digging graves.
"He was there?" Kathryn asked.
"I didn't see him," Phil said. "Why is that your favorite, Aunt Aricia?"
"It's when he turned to androids," she replied. "Where were you? I wanted to ask him, but he left before I could."
"Fifth grave in from the right with the shovel over my shoulder," he replied, standing. "Do you have the schematics?"
"Yes, these should be more than enough."
"Thank you," he said, taking the isolinear chip. "May I ask you something? You don't seem as...unstable...as I was led to believe."
"Nor as sophisticated, I'm afraid. I do not meet father's standards for a companion. I can maintain his home, however."
"Sophistication is in the eye of the engineer. It was a pleasure, Aricia." He kissed her cheek. "I hope to see you again. One last thing." He picked up the sheet music and raised his eyebrows.
Aricia nodded. "You are a precocious nephew, but I will forgive you." She turned to Kathryn. "Admiral, I wish you the best in your war."
"Thank you," Kathryn said. "For the most intriguing afternoon I've ever had."
Back in space, Phil plunged into the schematics. He swallowed page after page with hardly blinking.
"Don't you need sleep?" Kathryn asked.
"Will they do?"
He looked up. "Yes, I'm certain they will. How are you doing, Kathryn?"
"I'm overwhelmed by your grandfather's technology and his life. His music. He was one of my favorites. His artwork is incredible. His paintings look exactly like Da Vinci's. The most amazing gift for mimicry I've seen."
Phil sighed. "Kathryn," he said in a stern voice.
"No, that wasn't very clever of me." She lowered her eyes as if scolding herself.
"I took so many of your heroes, Kathryn. I wanted to leave you your favorite."
"The Federation has a responsibility to the truth. I will survive this. Tell me, did the simulation look anything like him?"
"Not a bit."
"And what about you?" she asked. "Neither one of you seemed to care if he was alive. I thought McCoy said he was going to die."
"McCoy told my grandfather he lost the ability to regenerate when he left the unique balance of Earth's environment."
"Why not go back to Earth?" Kathryn asked.
"I asked Ambassador Spock that very thing. He said, 'Perhaps he did.'"
"I still don't understand."
"No one does. I cannot love my grandfather or hate him, because I cannot understand him. He was never a part of any era to which he belonged, centuries ahead of everyone around him. He saw children born, grow old and die. He saw our every beauty and every horror. All manner of life and death. He created more of our civilization than we could ever know." Phil took a slow breath. "Have you ever felt alone in a room full of people? Imagine six-thousand years of that. So, no, Kathryn, I cannot condemn my grandfather for what he did. I don't want to know if he's alive, and I don't want to know if he's dead."
She watched him for much longer than she needed to. "He didn't fail completely."
Phil laughed. "Ah, Kathryn, if only I were three centuries younger."
She sighed and stood up. "I've grown suddenly very tired. Read your schematics, Captain Keegan. I want you prepared by the time we reach the Savaal. Good evening."
"Pleasant dreams, Admiral Janeway."
She lay down in the captain's bed and let the memory of Brahms lull her to sleep.