Chapter 3: NCC-1701-J

"Welcome aboard," said Data. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lieutenant Commander Data, and this is Lieutenant Commander LaForge," he said, indicating a black man with a hair band over his eyes, who was standing behind a desk at the back of the room.

"What kind of stupid name is 'Data'?" said Harry.

"Harry!" scolded Hermione, but she was ignored.

"I do not understand what you mean by 'stupid.' A name does not possess any intelligence of its own," said Data.

"Oh, I see," said Harry. "So, you're name is stupid because you're stupid."

"Harry, that was uncalled for," said Dumbledore, with eyes twinkling.

Data apparently wasn't bothered by having been called stupid. He approached Harry, and with a puzzled look on his face, said "Why are you holding a broom between your legs?"

Dumbledore coughed, as though to indicate that he did not want Harry to answer. Therefore, Harry bent his knees, to show Data how a broomstick can hover.

Data was quite interested in the display. He said, "Fascinating! I have never seen a primitive janitorial instrument used for flight. Unfortunately, I do not have my tricorder with me at the moment. It would be intriguing to know how your flying broom works. Does it perhaps use a miniature impulse engine?"

"It's magic!" said Harry.

"Now this kid's something else!" said Lieutenant Commander LaForge, from behind his desk. "If you dyed you hair the color of your friend's hair, you could pass for Arthur Weasley."

"Bloody hell!" said Ron. "You know my dad?"

"I was talking about the scientist Arthur Weasley, who lived in the twenty-first century. He always joked that his research was 'magic.' I could take you to see him, if you like."

Ron seemed to be dumbfounded.

Hermione was speechless.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled.

"You mean you have his remains?" said Harry. Somehow, he remembered the bit about them thinking it was the twenty-fourth century. Ron seemed to catch on, too.

"No, no!" said LaForge, shaking his head. "We have a simulation of Dr. Weasley on the Holodeck."

Harry wasn't even going to ask what that meant. He was more interested to know, "Are we in a hospital?"

"You're not in a hospital," said LaForge. "You're on a starship. The USS Enterprise-J, to be exact, in orbit around Earth. We were supposed to report to Starfleet Headquarters, but your school seems to be standing where Headquarters are supposed to be."

"About that," said Harry, intending to set things straight. "I understand that this Headquarters is in San--"

"Bloody hell!" interrupted Ron. "You mean we're in space right now?"

"Well duh," said LaForge. "That's generally where you find a starship. Now, if you'll follow me, I'll take you to Ten Forward."

"What's Ten Forward?" asked Hermione.

"I see you've never been on a Galaxy-class starship," said LaForge, as if "Galaxy-class" was a highly privileged attribute for a starship to have. "Ten Forward is our lounge and recreation facility."

LaForge left his desk, and Data turned towards a metal door, which immediately slid open with an ear-splitting SCHHWEET!

"Bloody hell!" said Ron.

"You might want to put some WD-40 on that," said Harry.

"WD-what?" said LaForge.

Extending in both directions from the door was a slightly curved hallway. Keeping with the hospital motif, it was very brightly lit, and exceedingly clean. People in multi-colored uniforms of the same design as Data's and LaForge's were travelling down the hall. There were doors at regular intervals on both sides. Sometimes, a door would open. Harry noticed that they all seemed to be in severe need of WD-40. If Harry ever returned to this ship, he would be sure to bring a can.

Presently, they reached an offshoot from the main hallway, which ended in a door. Unlike the other doors, this door had two sliding panels instead of just one. In yellow, slender, capital letters, the word TURBOLIFT was printed on the left panel. Seeming to sense their presence, the door of the turbolift hissed open, very loudly, and LaForge led the group into the lift.

When the door closed, LaForge said "Deck ten, section one." Harry felt a brief surge of upward movement. Given its name, Harry thought that this "turbo" lift would move a bit faster.

"You'll find Ten Forward to be quite enjoyable," said LaForge. "We have a wide selection of syntheholic beverages from across the Alpha Quadrant."

"Syntheholic?" said Hermione, with a puzzled expression.

"That's what I said," said LaForge, not seeming to realize that Hermione was not simply making sure that she heard correctly.

Harry wondered who these people were, that they drank beverages containing prescription drugs.

"Is that synthetic alcohol?" continued Hermione.

"It's a chemical variant of alcohol, without the harmful effects," said LaForge. "The Ferengi invented it."

Presently, the turbolift came to a stop. It then began to move sideways.

"Dumbledore," began Harry. Something startling had just occurred to him. Why hadn't any wizards been to space? Harry had never heard of any wizard having been to distant stars, the planets, or even walking on the Moon, a feat which Muggles were proud of having accomplished, completely without the aid of magic.

"Yes, Harry?"

"Can Voldemort get into outer space?" Ron and Hermione flinched, but nobody else on the lift seemed to be affected by the name.

"I don't know," said Dumbledore.

If wizards were really so powerful, why didn't they have a spaceship? Because wizards can't travel through space, answered a small voice in his head. Their magic just isn't that powerful. All of a sudden, Harry felt a profound sense of safety. No matter what happened down there, there would be no Voldemort up here.

Just then, the turbolift came to a stop once again. There was a deafening hiss as the doors opened. Outside, was another hallway, just like the one that was there when they entered. Everybody stepped outside.

"We haven't moved!" said Harry, as the turbolift doors closed with a deafening sound.

"Don't be daft!" said Hermione.

LaForge led them on further, and stopped at one of the doors, which hissed as it opened.

"I'm definitely bringing some WD-40 next time," said Harry.

Behind the door was a small room, with another door. LaForge walked up to this door, which hissed open loudly. Behind that door, Harry could hear many people talking.

When he reached the second door, he could see a large room that resembled a pub. On Harry's left, there were tables with flourescent lights set into them. Further to the left, there was a series of gaping black holes, through which Harry could see a very bright light of some kind. It felt as though they were in daylight. The very bright light was moving upwards slowly.

Nearest to Harry, just slightly off to the right, was the thing that Harry assumed to be the bar. Behind it there was a familiar-looking woman. In fact, it looked exactly like... Whoopi Goldberg!

Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Data, and Laforge all lined up at the bar. LaForge introduced Ms. Goldberg to the wizards (and the witch, too), but for some reason, called her by a name that Harry would have spelled as "Gynin" if he had to write it.

Guinan surveyed the group, with their wizards' robes and pointy wizards' hats, before remarking: "Are you supposed to be wizards or something?" She received no answer, and continued with: "So, what'll it be?"

"I'll have some scotch," said Dumbledore.

Guinan lowered her head to the bar and spoke into it: "Scotch. Straight." A glass of scotch appeared there just as though she had conjured it with a wand.

Harry decided to try it himself. He lowered his mouth to the bar and said "Butterbeer."

"Specify," replied a voice, which seemed to be coming from the bar.

Harry tried again. "Butterbeer."

"Specify," replied the bar.

Perhaps the bar only knew how to conjure Muggle drinks. "Beer," said Harry.

"Specify," replied the bar. "Budweiser, Michelob, Heineken, Foster's---"

"Foster's," said Harry.

"Specify," replied the bar. "Cold, hot, warm, lukewarm, frozen, gaseous, plasma---"

"Warm," said Harry.

"Specify," replied the bar. This seemed absurdly difficult.

LaForge said "Romulan Ale, please." The bar did not conjure it, nor did it say "Specify." Instead, Guinan said "Empty glass," which appeared there, and then she produced a bottle of blue liquid from beneath the bar, and poured it.

"I'll have what he's having," said Harry.

"Me too," said Ron.

"Beer. Heineken. Warm, Draught." said Hermione. A glass of beer appeared before her.

Harry chugged his glass of Romulan ale, which burned on the way down, like a strong whiskey. He looked behind him at the gaping black holes. The bright light slowly moved upwards, until it was out of view. Now, Harry could see what looked suspiciously like stars. It got significantly darker, though there seemed to be blue light entering through the black holes.

Before long, he was having a wonderful floating sensation, which he instantly recognized as the main symptom of the Imperius Curse. He felt totally relieved from all responsibility. But there was no voice in his head telling him to do anything. Was this caused by the ale? Harry didn't feel like thinking. The feeling seemed to last forever. He floated up to the gaping holes for a closer look. Below him, he felt as if he could see the whole world, all at once. But everything was like a dream.

The next thing that Harry remembered was a terrible headache. He found himself lying on his back. There was somebody standing over him. Harry strained to make his eyes focus. It seemed like his eyes weren't too keen on pointing in the same direction. He closed one eye, and got a brief glimpse of a hideous-looking woman with reddish-brown hair.

"How are you doing?" said the woman. Her voice wasn't as hideous as her face.

"Who the fuck are you?" said Harry. "Where's Ron?"

"Harry! I'm right here. Owww." Ron's voice came from Harry's left.

"You boys need rest. You are suffering from Romulan ale hangover," said the woman.

"What time is it?" moaned Harry. He realized that he was in another windowless room.

"It's eleven hundred hours," said the woman.

Eleven hundred hours. Wasn't that the military way of saying eleven o'clock in the morning? Had they been here overnight? Harry started to sit up, but suddenly felt very sick to his stomach. Vomit belched from his mouth and landed all over him.

"Damn it!" said the woman. "You need to lay down!"

An hour seemed to pass, with Harry and Ron laying there, silently. Harry felt sick whenever he talked. Presently, Harry heard the ever-more familiar SCHHWEEEET! sound of one of the rusty doors of this place opening. A pompous-sounding Briton was speaking.

"Dr. Crusher, I need these two in Engineering immediately," he said.

"But Captain, they're suffering from--"

Harry groaned. Not him again.

"That's an order, Doctor," said the Captain's voice.

The woman, whom Harry figured to be Dr. Crusher, gave Harry a change of clothes that looked very much like the uniform worn by the Captain. The clothes fit perfectly.

Harry and Ron followed the Captain into the hallway outside.

"Wow," croaked Harry, his throat still burning with vomit. "All the hallways around here look exactly the same."

The Captain quickened his pace, seeming to be nonplussed by the remark. He reached the doors to a turbolift. They had to wait for it this time.

Harry and Ron stood on the opposite side of the hallway from the Captain, who stared at them uncomfortably.

"Where did you get that uniform?" said the Captain.

"The doctor gave it to me," replied Harry. His uniform differed from the captain only in its lack of a chest pin and little buttons on the collar.

"What is your name?" said the Captain.

"Harry Potter," said Harry.

"I am a Starfleet Captain. It is considered proper to address me as 'sir.'"

"Harry Potter, sir," said Harry, starting to get pissed off.

"Ensign Potter," said the Captain.

"Sorry, sir?"

"That will be your name, once you graduate from Starfleet Academy," said the Captain, grinning.

Finally, the doors to the turbolift opened and the three entered. "Informatics," said the Captain. The lift seemed to move slightly.

"What's going on?" said Ron.

"Mr. LaForge is going to fix that memory your professor has for us," said the Captain. "Then we'll continue our investigation into Starfleet Headquarters."

The turbolift stopped, and the doors screeched as they opened. "Captain," said Harry.

"Yes, Mr. Potter," said the Captain, striding out of the turbolift.

"Would you consider getting your maintenance crew to do something about these doors?" Harry followed the Captain down another hallway, which was identical to all the other hallways that Harry had seen so far. Ron followed Harry. Behind them, the turbolift's doors screeched to a close.

"Why? Nothing's wrong with them," said the Captain. He stopped in front of a door with INFORMATICS printed on it, in slender, yellow, capital letters. It screeched just as loudly as the turbolift doors.

"They're a bit noisy," said Harry, following the Captain into a clinically-sterile room.

"Noisy? What, these?" said the Captain. The door screeched shut behind them. It dawned on Harry that the Captain might have lived his whole life without ever seeing an automatic sliding door that didn't hiss or screech loudly as it opened and closed.

"Harry! Ron!" Harry briefly felt the bushy hair of Hermione brush against his face as she embraced him, before she moved on to Ron.

"How come you didn't get ill?" asked Harry.

"I didn't drink that Romulan ale stuff," said Hermione.

LaForge and Dumbledore were standing together next to a recess in the wall to Harry's right.

"Geordi!" said the Captain.

LaForge spun around on his heels. "Yes, sir!"

"At ease," said the Captain. "I'd like you to meet your future shipmate, the future Ensign Harry Potter!" He grabbed Harry by the shoulder and pushed him forward.

"We've already met," said LaForge. "So you want to be a Starfleet engineer, do you?"

"Erm," said Harry.

"I'll bet you'd make a great engineer," said LaForge. "I was about to start analyzing that memory of yours right now." He turned back to Dumbledore. "Can I see it?" he asked.

Dumbledore produced a small crystal bottle that was filled with what looked like silvery-white liquid and gave it to LaForge. LaForge poured it onto the ledge of the recess in the wall. He stared at it closely.

"Wow! I've never seen anything like this!" said LaForge, as he touched buttons that were also on the ledge in the recess. "This stuff is made of pure psychometric nadions! It'll take a minute for the computer to decypher the data representation method."

Harry and Ron exchanged looks. A few minutes passed. LaForge pressed some more buttons. "Aha! Here it is," declared LaForge.

Just then, an image appeared in the wall above the recess in the wall. It was a television image of the memory. It showed Riddle asking his question, and it also showed the white fog.

"So that is the real memory!" said Harry. "I knew it! Voldemort" (Ron and Hermione winced) "must be capable of creating a white mist that makes your voice sound loud!"

"Shut up, Harry," said Hermione.

LaForge pressed some more buttons. "Let me try to enhance it with a quadratic, bipolar fractal algorithm," he said. The memory then re-played on the television screen. This time, it was much longer.

"Ask away, then, m'boy, ask away..." said Slughorn, on the screen.

"Sir, I wondered what you know about...about Horcruxes?" said Riddle.

"Well, let's see... A Horcrux is an object in which a witch or wizard has hidden a piece of their soul."

"But how does it work, sir?" said Riddle. He seemed desperately eager for the information, but Slughorn didn't seem to notice.

"Well, you split your soul, you see," said Slughorn, "and hide part of it in an object outside the body. Then, even if one's body is attacked or destroyed, one cannot die, for part of the soul remains earthbound and undamaged. But of course, existence in such a form... Few would want it, Tom, very few. Death would be preferable."

"How do you split your soul?"

"Well," said Slughorn uncomfortably, "you must understand that the soul is supposed to remain intact and whole. But, to do it, all you have to do is kill someone, which tears your soul in two. You then encase the torn portion in a Horcrux."

"But how do you do that?"

"There is a spell, but I don't know it. If I happen to hear anything about the spell, I'll let you know."

"What if you ripped your soul into seven pieces? Wouldn't that make you completely invincible?" asked Tom.

"Merlin's beard, Tom! Who'd want to have their soul in seven pieces?"

The video ended.

"That is what we went through all this trouble to decode?" said LaForge in disbelief.

"This may perhaps be the most useful clue we've found so far about how Voldemort has survived!" said Dumbledore.

"Does this mean that Slughorn knows the countercurse to the white fog curse?" said Harry.

"Harry! You are daft!" said Hermione.

"Harry! Did you hear a word that Slughorn said?" said Dumbledore. "Think about it! Voldemort hid his soul in six objects! You destroyed one, and I burned my hand trying to destroy another!"

"I've destroyed one? When was that?"

"Merlin's beard, I wish there was a Draught of Intellect!"

Just then, a voice issued from the ceiling: "Riker to Picard!"

The Captain responded: "Yes, Number One."

"Your presence is requested on the bridge immediately!"

"On my way," said the Captain as he rushed through the screechy doors.