Series: In Darkness Light
Disclaimer: Star Trek belongs to various persons and corporations that are not me or associated with me. This piece of fanfiction is written with the admiration and respect for the original work. I claim no ownership of Star Trek's creations. No profit is made from this material, now or in the future.
Rating: G (will change over course of work)
Characters: Khan, Marla McGivers
A/N: This is actually a series of very short stories. Each chapter is a story. This series is a Khan/Marla reboot 'verse, inspired by TOS and TWOK, reimagined for STID canon. The story Seeds, which can be found through my author page, is the first of this series and is specifically a character piece on Khan, setting up this 'verse.
Dream Not of Other Worlds
On the official schematics, this whole floor did not exist. The floor above it did not exist. Nor the one above that. There was no floor beneath this one; Khan had checked. He awoke in a hospital room (lab) with a door outlined in blue, marked B12M3. Then there was the office (interrogation room) with a door outlined in gold, marked B13R1. He spent a very long time there. Eventually, they settled him in a billet (cell) with a red door, marked B14C6, and moved him every day to his personal workspace (another cell) with its own red door, marked B14C12.
They called the entire installation Section 31 and hid it under a glorified library.
He called it The Pit.
The door hissed open behind him. Khan did not even turn.
Instead, he maintained his focus on the three-dimensional molecular structure projected from the tabletop in front of him and the running line of code on another projection to his left.
"I told you, if you do not leave me in peace, I cannot be expected to meet your deadlines," he bit out every word as if he could hold onto his patience by his teeth. "Already, I am exceeding any expectations you could have had for one of your own people. The least you could do is leave me to it."
For several moments, the room was quiet. It took him three seconds to realize he had made a false assumption.
Khan turned in his chair to see an unfamiliar officer standing just inside his workspace (cell).
"You are not Marcus," he said.
She shook her head. "No. I'm not. I'm sorry to surprise you, sir."
"You didn't surprise me." He sat back in his chair, perfect posture, arms on their rests, hands curled in a holding position. He knew exactly how he looked: imposing, deliberate, dangerous. As if there were not armed guards outside his door on someone else's orders at all times. "Forgive me for being direct, but I do not receive guests. Why are you here?"
To her credit, she looked him in the eye and stood at parade rest. "Admiral Marcus' orders, sir."
"Of course, they are." His face twisted into something like a smile. "But that is not what I asked, officer. I asked, 'Why. Are you. Here.'"
She paused and he took the moment to observe her. Average height. Average build. Asian descent. Hair in regulation pony-tail. Regulation grey uniform. Regulation down to her boots.
She broke parade rest and stepped forward, bringing her hands in front of her to hold a simple PADD at her waist. "I'm a historian."
"What use does Starfleet have for a historian?"
"Starfleet is about exploration."
"Is it?" He glanced up at the molecular structure slowly spinning in a projection of light. To the left were his notes on how to amplify its combustive power. "It is a strange thing. At this moment, I know I am speaking to you with the use of a universal translator. Fascinating technology. Perhaps the only development of the last three hundred years that has genuinely impressed me. Nevertheless. There are times where words do not seem to mean the same thing anymore. Starfleet is about exploration, you say. Exploration might be adventure. But not everything that is adventure is exploration. Bombs, for example, are not exploration. They are destruction. History is not exploration or adventure. It is about what has already been destroyed."
Khan blinked. The statement had been made so calmly, so rationally. Over the last two months, he had become accustomed to threats, to orders, to the occasional yelling. He had fallen out of practice with the art of a simple, civil dialogue.
"Why?" he asked.
She worried her lips. Her fingers tightened and then eased on the PADD in her hands. She took another step forward. "Exploration is about knowledge. Knowledge isn't just something we find in front of us. It isn't just the future. It's about the past, where we came from. I explore history. Vulcan history. Klingon history. Human history. Some Starfleet officers fly on starships because they need to know what is out there. I'm less concerned with 'what' and more concerned with 'why'. 'Why' is only ever past tense. It is only ever history. Don't you think 'why' is the most important question of all?"
Khan tilted his head and tried to look at her like Admiral Marcus would have, tried to see what the other man saw in her. It was obvious that she was a pawn in their little game but how would this move advance Marcus' strategy? He could see only one way: emotional and psychological manipulation.
It would not work.
However, Khan might be able to twist the situation to his own advantage. He had no doubt she was ignorant to his crew's location. Her level of access was likely even lower than his own. Yet there was something promisingly naive about her. It was almost endearing. Khan was a man of principles. He respected passion and purpose and conviction. Somehow, she had found her way into The Pit with those principles still intact. That was admirable. It reminded him of Abiba and her never-wavering belief in their cause and Joaquin's constant search for the perfect answer. It reminded him of the reason he was down here.
She could stay. There was no harm.
"You wish to study me, I presume," he finally said and could hear her let out a long breath she had been holding in, waiting. "A living, breathing, speaking piece of history; it must be a historian's dream come true."
Now she dared to smile. And, remarkably, took yet another step forward. "Yes. I wrote my thesis on the historical discrepancies of the late twentieth century."
"Ah. That explains why you look at me as if I were the Rosetta Stone. I believe I am flattered. Oh, I've made you blush. What did I say?"
"I don't mean to objectify you," she rushed to explain. "You're a sentient. You have the right to say no. But . . . Oh god, pleasedon'tsayno."
Khan allowed a corner of his mouth to twitch, before training his face into a stern expression.
"If I told you to leave, what would you do?"
She swallowed. "I'd leave."
"But, my dear, what would you tell Admiral Marcus?"
"Honestly?" she asked and he gave a slight nod. "I'd probably request a week's leave from duty to wallow in my misery. I am not overstating when I say, sir, that it might break me."
He laughed. It was only for a moment, but enough to shock both of them. It had been nearly three hundred years since he had last laughed, or six months, mattering on one's point of view.
Khan stood, causing the officer's hands to tighten on her PADD and her breathing to speed up. She was either afraid or excited, possibly both. He was used to such a reaction. But she did not step back, even though they now stood no more than four feet apart. That was more unusual. She was either very naive or very brave. Again, he thought it might be both. Promising.
"What is your name?"
"Lieutenant Marla McGivers." She offered a smile. He glanced down at it before returning his focus to her eyes.
"Do you know who I am, Lieutenant Marla McGivers?"
"Do you mean your code name or-"
"My real name. Who. I. Am."
"I was told that you were Khan." She paused and searched his face. "Are you?"
He turned away from her and walked around the other side of the table. There, he picked up the only other chair in the room. He carried it around the rest of the way and set it down behind her.
Her eyes had followed him through the entire thing.
He returned to stand beside his chair.
Khan gestured with an arm. "Sit. You may entertain me."