It's not over yet, folks. Over the next two days I'll finally finish this...
Here we go!
Chapter Nine: Resolutions and Threads
The Kenobi broke formation from the allied fleet, thrusters firing and spinning the modified MC-90 cruiser around on its axis. The ion engines fired, sending it off towards the transwarp hub. A modified energy pulse shot from its deflector dish, activating the passage and allowing it to enter. There was a brief flash of orange, and it disappeared from normal space.
Captain Logk and Admiral Ackbar sat in a conference room adjacent to the bridge. Logk held up a datapad and shook his head as he scrolled through the contents. "We suffered casualties, but no deaths," he said. "Truly, Psusan was with us."
Ackbar nodded. His left eye swiveled to the door as it slid open, allowing Picard and Sisko to enter. "Smooth sailing to you," he said. "We have done far more than anyone hoped for."
Picard sat down across from Ackbar and half-smiled. "For you, too." He hesitated. "It also seems I owe you an apology for my protestations over the entire mission. I was wrong, and I'm also glad I was wrong."
Ackbar waved a flippered hand at him. "And you could also have been right. If not for Admiral Sisko's vision, if not for Han talking down Queen Jaina, if not for Admiral Jellico moving early, disaster would've happened."
Sisko grunted. "Each piece, moving in time to strike the final blow against the Collective. Now we can rest easier. Now... some ghosts can be laid to rest." He breathed through his nose and his mouth turned up slightly. "Now, onto the future."
Logk tilted his head to Sisko. "Any insights from the Prophets, Admiral? The Collective has been broken, and now we've got to clean up the pieces." A shadow fell over his face. "Corellia, the Chiss Ascendancy, your Romulan Empire and the Delta Quadrant itself."
Picard sat, stone-faced and staring at the bulkhead across the table. "The Collective has taken much. The Federation's territory was not seriously violated, but we were still dealt blows to Starfleet and our outposts. How much can we give? How much will be accepted? There will hopefully be no more new drones, but what about the ones free? Will they want the security back?" He sighed and shifted in his seat before noticing Logk, Sisko and Ackbar staring at him. "My apologies."
Sisko shook his head. "I'm just glad I won't have to decide those things, Captain. There's gonna be a lot of hard questions the next few weeks. And I'm not sure we'll like all the answers.
Lusa and Raynar meandered down the Enterprise's corridors, no destination in mind and nothing to do at the moment, their arms intertwined. Raynar looked up at his girlfriend and smiled. "Thanks."
Lusa's head turned slightly and she swallowed. "No way I was gonna leave you to the Collective, Raynar. History class at Betazed painted a rather... gruesome fate for those taken by them." She clenched her fist as they continued walking. "if it wasn't for Admiral McCoy and Master Spock, I'm not sure-" She suddenly stopped in mid-stride, eyes widening. "Admiral?" she whispered before breaking out into a gallop, leaving Raynar behind.
The young Jedi skidded around a corridor, hooves slamming into the deck plating as she raced to a turbolift near the end of the corridor. It opened with a bit of telekinetic assistance and she slid in. "Deck ten, VIP quarters!' she shouted.
The turbolift car shot down, moving laterally as well. It finally stopped and the double doors opened, allowing Lusa to bolt out full-tilt. "Make a hole!" she shouted, projecting with the Force.
Lusa slowed down and finally stopped. She shook her head as she felt a familiar presence behind the duranium. Master Spock? What are you doing here?
The voice of the Vulcan Jedi echoed in her head, tinged with the barest hint of emotion. Ah, Lusa. You have arrived just in time. I also feel that Jagged is there as well.
Lusa glanced to her side as Jag ran up, face red. "What's going on?" he puffed out. He tapped the side of his head. "I heard Master Spock's voice concerning Bones. Is he all right?"
Any reply the Chironian might have had was cut off as the door slid open. She stepped inside the darkened room, senses alert. She quickly located the aged McCoy, sitting in a chair in the main living room. "Admiral?" she half-whispered, eyes wide and wet.
Bones looked up from his chair and smiled through pain obvious to both the eye and the Force. "Hi," he said, shifting his bony frame in his seat. "I see we're all here," he observed, filmy eyes looking about.
Lusa looked around, seeing Spock in Jedi robes and Scotty next to him. "We are? Admiral, are you..." She trailed off as she felt his life ebbing away. "No!" she cried out. "You can't die, sir!"
Spock arched an eyebrow. "Why not, Lieutenant? It is his right." Spock turned his face to Bones, the left half engulfed in shadow. "He is strong in the Force, but not that strong. All things must end. It is only logical."
Lusa wiped her eyes as the tears fell freely. She barely noted Ranyar's presence as he walked into the room. Her shoulders heaved slightly as she felt him wrap his arms around her upper body. "It's not fair..."
Bones' head bobbed. "Don't cry, Lusa. It's been a long life, and I'm tired. I wanna see Tonia again. I wanna see Jim again, and Dad and Mom." He let out a rattling breath. "And I'm tired of... being tired." he looked up at her. "Can you respect that, at least?"
Lusa's sobbing died down as she shored up her self-control. She walked up to the chair and knelt before Bones. She blinked as he appeared blue for a second. "I can, but I'm not sure I'll like it," she said, smiling through tears.
Jag walked up next to her, the dim light playing off his remaining implants. "Admiral, I thank you," he said. "It was an honor to know you."
Bones smiled at him. "Not a problem, Jag. Thanks for the help on the Defiant." He chuckled as he seemed to feel Spock and Scotty by his side. "Well, you two got anything to say? Might wanna be quick about it, you two."
Scotty bit his lip. "I dinna know," he finally said. "I'll miss ye, but I'm glad you'll be goin' to a better place, lad." He placed a hand on Bones' paper-thin shoulder. "Second star to the right, sir."
Bones half-smiled. "Well, you green-blooded hobgoblin? Any final words?"
Spock bowed his head and knelt before Bones. "I have been, and always shall be your friend." He raised his hand and splayed the fingers open in the traditional Vulcan salute. "The usual saying has little meaning at this time, so therefore I will say that the Force will be with you, Bones."
The doctor smiled. He tilted his head back and his mouth opened. "Oh, my," he murmured. "What are you doing here?"
Everyone turned as the room brightened. A blue cloud of energy appeared, coalescing into a human wearing an old-style Starfleet uniform. "I couldn't stay away," Jim Kirk said, stepping forward. He held his arms out. "Welcome, old friend. I've missed you."
Bones' breathing slowed, finally stopping. His eyes stared out into infinity as his life finally disappeared. Jag gasped as his body faded, disappearing entirely. "He's gone!" he shouted, drawing everyone's attention to the empty clothes sagging in the seat.
The room brightened once more as another ghost appeared, this one of Bones in his mid-fifties. He patted himself down. "I don't believe it!" He looked around and grinned. "I haven't felt this good since 2310!"
Spock and Scotty stepped around the chair and approached the Force-ghosts. "I cannae' believe it, but there ye stand!" Scotty exclaimed. He looked to Spock. "Are they real?"
Spock nodded, his self-control on a razor's edge. "They are indeed, Mister Scott." He looked to Jim. "I have missed you, Captain. The galaxy has been quite dull with you gone."
Jim chuckled. "Sorry, Spock. Rules and regulations, you know? I can't just go appearing in any old place."
Spock arched an eyebrow. "Captain, you of all people would be the one ignoring such rules and regulations when the circumstances dictate. Or shall I remind you of Stardate-"
"Never mind, Spock," Jim said, cutting him off with a wave of his hand. He looked to Scotty and smiled. "Still keeping Starfleet running on spit and duct tape, Mister Scott?"
Scotty chuckled and wiped his eyes. "Aye, sir. Teaching tha' new ones the old tricks, too."
Jim smiled, then patted Bones on the shoulder. "Tonia's waiting for you, Bones. She misses you."
Bones grinned. "She is?" His grin suddenly fell away and he tilted his head to the side. "How's this gonna work, Jim? We're both ghosts, after all."
The former captain shook his head. "We're both ghosts and we're touching, Bones." He shrugged. "I'll tell you everything... later."
Bones turned to Spock, Scotty, Lusa, Jag and Raynar. "I'll miss you, but don't hurry after me, you hear? I don't wanna see any of you for a long time." He looked to Spock. "Sorry, looks like I'll be missing your next anniversary. Tell Nyota I said sorry."
Spock waved him off. "She will be disappointed," he said, voice rough. "She always loved your mint juleps."
Bones sighed. "Damn, and I always enjoyed making those for her." His body shifted slightly and he looked to Jim. "Do we have to go?"
Jim nodded. "Afraid so. Rules and regulations." He turned to the living and bowed. "My friends, I leave you in life. Don't be too hasty to follow, though." He looked to Scotty. "Keep the Federation running, Scotty." He then looked to Spock and held out his hand. "Good bye, old friend."
The Jedi Master shook his head. "Since I shall see you once more, it is illogical for me to wish you goodbye." He suddenly thrust his hand out. "Fortunately, I am half-human." He made contact with Jim's hand, and for a second, felt the familiar grip before it passed through the ether. "Fascinating." He looked up, but both Jim and Bones were gone.
Scotty let out a sigh. "Well, what are we all standin' around fer?" he exclaimed. "I dinna think Doctor McCoy would want a sad funeral, would he?"
Jag shook his head. "I shall be sad for him, Mister Scott. He was a good man who saved my humanity." His eyes drifted to the ceiling. "Goodbye."
Raynar opened his mouth, but hesitated before speaking. "So... any clue what we'll be telling Captain Picard?"
Spock arched an eyebrow. "A rather... logical question." He rubbed his chin. "Doctor McCoy has departed, but none of us know his destination."
Lusa reared back slightly. "A lie, sir?"
Spock shook his head. "An omission."
Two months later. Paris, Earth.
President Bacco stood in a large room, normally a conference room but refurbished into a courtroom. She looked about from her position in the center of a semicircular table positioned near the back, while rows of benches, chairs and seats for non-humanoid attendees were set up in the remainder of the room.
Martok and General Klag of the Klingon Empire sat to her immediate right, with the newly-appointed Praetor Tomalak of the Romulan Confederation. Farther down was Ambassador Worf, Fleet Admiral William Ross of Starfleet, Minister Gulaws and General Sslaag of the Gorn Hegemony.
To her left sat Chief of State Triebakk and Admiral Ackbar of the New Republic, Grand Admiral Pellaeon and Admiral Vana Dorja of the Imperial Remnant and Ambassador Formbi of the liberated Chiss Ascendancy. Other dignitaries and military officers sat on the benches, chairs and seats while soldiers from the various nations represented stood at the doors and strategic areas around the courtroom.
Bacco cleared her throat, getting everyone's attention. "I'd like to remind everyone, for the record, that everything that happens here stays here," she said, pointing to the floor. "We all agreed to it beforehand. So if there's any objections, say them now." She waited a heartbeat of silence before nodding to a pair of MACO's near the back door. "Let her in."
One of the MACO's pressed a button on the door's control panel and it slid open. Two Klingon beqqs walked in in full armor, a pair of Romulan uhlans trailing them. And between the two groups stood Queen Jaina.
She was stripped of her armor, wearing a simple gray jumpsuit. Her right arm now had a bio-synthetic replacement in place of her normal prosthetic. The monofilament fibers in her hair had been removed, leaving her with an almost crew-cut. Her skin was darker, no longer mottled from Borg nanoprobes. There were a few scars and residual implants, but for the most part, she was once more human.
The guards escorted her to stand in front of the table. Bacco picked up a PADD and looked the datascreen on it over. "Queen Jaina Solo, former High Queen of the Borg Collective. You stand charged with crimes against sapience itself. You have also waived off your right to a trial. Do you understand what that means?"
Queen Jaina bobbed her head. "A trial would be a waste of time, Nanietta Bacco." She raised her arm and swept the room with it. "All here know of my crimes. They are indefensible. So I offer none. Put me to death, and let the Borg die with me."
Martok bared his teeth in a savage grin. "Oh, no. You shall not get off that easily, Queen Jaina. I would love to see you disintegrated, but what President Bacco proposed is far better for you."
Bacco nodded at Martok. "Thank you, Chancellor." She looked back to Queen Jaina. "From what we understand, you kept your identity hidden. All records of your existence were purged from the hive mind. You used proxies, almost never leaving your throne room. And those who actually know the truth are easily sworn to secrecy."
The young-looking girl with ancient eye glanced about. "Then what will you have of me?"
Bacco cleared her throat. "If you died, then that'd be it. So, no. Your punishment, as it is, is to go out among the former drones and help them recover. Not as Queen Jaina Solo, but as Jane Smith. A former drone trying to help out those in need." She held out her thin hands at the silence. "Well, what do you think?"
The woman standing before the white-haired Federation president wrinkled her brow, causing a few implants to shift. Finally, she half-smiled. "You are far better to me than I would be to you, President Bacco," Jane Smith said.
Bacco chuckled before picking up a gavel and banging it on the table. "Court, as it is, is adjourned," she announced. She looked to the four guards still surrounding her. "Please escort her to transporter room five through the main doors," she said, gesturing to a set of double-doors on the opposite side of the room. "And she has some... visitors outside."
Any questions by the former queen were silenced as the two beqqs and two uhlans once more flanked her, leading her out of the courtroom. Tomalak shook his head as she exited through the doors. "Ten lifetimes would not be enough to erase her crimes."
Bacco shrugged. "Killing her would accomplish nothing. And at least now she can do some good." She looked to Tomalak and Martok. "While I have you both here, I'd like to extend an invitation to you for a summit at Hapes Prime in two weeks."
Martok's single eye focused on one of the few humans he truly respected. "I have no objections," he growled out. "But why Hapes Prime?" he asked, rubbing his bearded chin.
Tomalak arched an eyebrow. "An excellent question, Chancellor." He looked to Bacco. "I will attend such a conference, too. But as Chancellor Martok asked, why there?"
The older woman shrugged. "I got an invitation to a wedding between a Jacen Solo and Tenel Ka Djo from the ruling Queen Mother. So I figured a working vacation was in order." She picked up the PADD from the table and tucked it under her arm. "If you'll excuse me," she said, bobbing her head to Tomalak and Martok before turning to others still in the room. "Triebakk, Formbi!"
Jane kept her head low as she and the guards exited the courtroom. A better fate than I deserve, she thought. It took a moment before the sound of her former name registered in her consciousness.
"Hey, Jaina! You awake?"
Jane's head snapped up. She looked around, seeing several familiar faces. "What-what are you doing here?" she finally stuttered out.
Han stepped forward as the guards separated from her. He, Chewie, Threepio, Luke, Jacen, Tenel Ka, Jaina and Zekk stood in the hallway. Han waved at one of the Klingons and smirked. "Okay, pal. I believe Madam President said a little time?"
The Klingon, almost as tall as Chewie and just as wide, nodded. "Be quick, though," he growled.
Han extended a hand. "For what it's worth... may the Force be with you," he said, the last few words somewhat mumbled.
Jane paused a moment before accepting his hand. "I thank you, and must inform you my name is not Jaina Solo anymore."
Jaina stepped forward and crossed her arms. "Oh? And what was it changed to?"
Jane regarded her quantum twin and smiled. She broke the handshake with Han and extended her bio-synthetic right hand to Jaina. "Jane Smith. Nice to meet you."
Jaina glanced down at the hand, apprehension playing over her face and in her aura. Finally, she clasped Jane's hand. "Nice to meet you, too. Tell me, does your work have to start right away?"
Before Jane could reply, Tenel Ka stepped forward. The Hapan princess was now showing her three-month old pregnancy and radiated happiness. "I will be married in two weeks," she stated, grinning. "I wish for you to attend, and that is a fact."
Jane looked her over, noting the baby bump and the blouse that was looser than normal for Tenel Ka. "Are you..." She abruptly broke off and shook her head. "I cannot believe this!" she half-shouted, stepping back. "I kidnap you, assimilate Luke," she said, motioning to the Jedi Master, "and yet... you invite me to your wedding?"
Chewie growled and roared. [Yes. Mercy is a virtue, Jane. It should not be wasted on petty things like revenge.]
Jacen cracked a grin. He walked up and stood beside his wife, hands clasped behind his back. "You're coming and that's the end of it. Resistance is futile."
A collective groan rippled through the people there. Jane barked a laugh and wiped her eyes. "I missed your jokes," she said between laughs. "I'm so glad..." The laughter quickly turned to tears. "I'm... so..."
Jacen approached her and took her hands. "No, don't. From what we learned... it was necessary to stop your Jacen. He was nuttier than an Earth fruitcake."
Jane glanced away from him. "Not that way. Not what way." She let out a shuddering breath and forced a smile. "I would be... honored to attend your wedding, Tenel Ka. If it's permissible, that is."
Han chuckled. "I think we might have a say in if you can attend." His grin dropped and he walked up to Jane, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and hugging her. "Stay safe, Jane. And write often."
Jane stood there for a moment before returning the hug. "I will," she said, voice somewhat muffled." She broke from the hug and approached Jaina. She noted Zekk standing a pace behind and half-smiled. "Stand by her side, Zekk. She needs someone like you."
Zekk nodded and tossed her a salute. "Oh, don't worry. I won't be running off anytime soon. I'd fear for my life if I did." He stepped forward and slid his arm around Jaina's. "She was there for me."
Luke stepped forward, his cape swirling about. He held up a gloved hand and an old lightsaber hilt. "I retrieved this from the Sputnik before the Kenobi left the Unicomplex."
Jane looked at it and held up her hand. "I'm not worthy of it."
The Jedi Master looked at her with his ice-blue eyes. "Not yet... but someday." And with that, his hand disappeared back inside the cape.
The two locked eyes for a moment before Jane turned away. "Perhaps." The guards formed up around her, and she walked off to her destiny.
BenRG-Jim doesn't know of the Force... yet. ;) As for tech levels, if you continue reading you'll note I don't pay attention to those. This takes place right after the Young Jedi Knight series, with the New Jedi order never happening. No Vong. They're... busy dying. As for droids, I address that in another story here. Although the vast majority of them IMHO aren't sapient.