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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Star Trek: Final Requiem

Yet another Star Trek fan fiction. I'm starting to think I spent way too much time writing Star Trek stuff. This one is a sequel to the original series episode Requiem for Methuselah. I wrote this one in 1999.

 

Star Trek: Final Requiem

 

Data watched impassively through the shuttle’s forward window as the ruddy brown planet grew larger. For the 6,813th time he wondered why he’d been compelled to steal the shuttle and come to this planet. But the compulsion, like the previous one that Dr. Soong had left within him, offered no explanation. He’d been reduced to a prisoner in his own body, watching as it performed actions against his will.
Had he been human, he decided that the appropriate emotional response would be rage. Mingled with fright and trepidation, perhaps.
His mutinous fingers stabbed at the controls, initiating a landing sequence. Maneuvering thrusters took over from the impulse engines. The shuttle swooped down through a light smattering of clouds, made several course adjustments, and the thrusters shut off. The shuttle coasted over a dry, cracked seabed, skimmed over craggy mountains, came in low over a dusty desert. Finally the braking thrusters fired and the shuttle gently settled to the ground beside a crumbling castle.
Still feeling like an outside observer, Data watched himself stand, exit the shuttle and pass through the heavy oak doors of the castle, which were ajar. The castle was empty. He walked through dusty halls that were a chilly 9.65 degrees Celsius. There was no illumination, so he adjusted his eyes accordingly. Purposefully he wended his way through a maze of passages until he came to a closed door. Beyond the door he found a musty bedroom, spartanly furnished. Adjoining the bedroom was a laboratory, the various scientific instruments neatly organized. Along the far wall stood a human-sized metallic arch, with an attached control panel.
Data crossed the laboratory and positioned himself at the center of the arch. His fingers danced over the control panel. A flash of light engulfed him, and he vanished.

Captain’s log, Stardate 47553.7:
Starfleet Command has authorized us to exceed the new warp speed limits in order to search for Mr. Data, who has stolen a shuttlecraft and headed for an unknown destination. We suspect that he is once again under the influence of an overriding directive installed by his late creator, Dr. Noonian Soong.

Jean-Luc Picard strode onto the bridge. As he headed toward his command chair he glanced at the small star on the forward viewscreen. From this distance, on the very edge of the system, the star was barely larger than the sprinkling of background stars.
“This is his destination?” Picard asked, standing beside his chair, hands on hips.
Riker stood. “Yes, sir. The Omega system. Long-range sensors show that he’s landed on Holberg 917G, the second of three planets. There’s a Code Red quarantine beacon here, so we can’t go in any closer. No explanation given by the beacon, but Code Red means there’s a mortal threat in the system.”
Picard crossed his arms on his chest and tapped thoughtfully at his lower lip. “What is Data doing here?” he whispered. “And how did he make it past the planetary defense system?”
Riker cocked his head. “Sir?”
Picard tugged at his uniform, then strode toward toward his Ready Room. “Join me, Commander,” he called over his shoulder.
Riker followed and waited as Picard settled himself behind the desk.
“What I’m about to tell you cannot go beyond this room, Wil.”
“Understood, sir.”
“About 75 years ago, an earth man named Flint died on Holberg 917G after a very, very long life. He was nearly 6,000 years old when he died.” He waited for the shock to fade from Riker’s face. “During his long existence, he was known as Alexander the Great, Methuselah, Brahms, Da Vinci, and others we can only guess at. He was unarguably the greatest mind that ever lived.”
Riker smiled. “I think Lt. Barclay might argue that point, sir.”
“All jocularity aside, Wil, he had enormous creative powers. When James Kirk first met Flint, Flint actually pulled the Enterprise from orbit and shrank it. Kirk eventually set all to rights, as usual. He also learned that Flint was dying.”
“Kirk, sir?” Riker had a fascination for the first captain of the Enterprise.
“Yes. At Kirk’s request, Starfleet allowed Flint to live out the remainder of his life in privacy. At his death, he promised that the fruits of his mind would be made available to humanity. When we’re ready for it. Starfleet knows there is a treasure trove of technology on Holberg 917G, but Flint sequestered it behind an impenetrable defense system. Starfleet’s playing the waiting game, wondering when and if Flint’s technology will be made available to us. So they’ve classified this system as Top Secret, to discourage treasure hunters and prevent fatalities in attempting to penetrate the defense system.”
“So what is Data doing here of all places?” Riker asked. “And how did he get past the defenses?”
Picard smiled. “My thoughts exactly.”
Just then Worf’s voice came over the intercom. “Captain, there is a temporal disturbance on Holberg 917G—”

James Kirk materialized outside the double gate of the castle. He and Leonard McCoy looked up at the high buttresses, the three tiers, each higher than the last, and the large central dome. The castle seemed unchanged after eighteen years.
And the scowling, grey-haired man who stepped through the doors to greet them seemed hardly to have aged a day. Kirk held out a hand, but the man ignored it. “Flint,” Kirk nodded. “You look...remarkably well.”
Another, younger man stepped through the door to stand at Flint’s side.
“You expected a decrepit old man, hunched over and hobbling with a cane, I’m sure,” Flint said gruffly. “But I assure you I am very near death. Doctor McCoy’s diagnosis eighteen years ago was correct.” He nodded to McCoy. “You may scan me, if you wish.”
McCoy took out his medical scanner and ran it across Flint’s chest. “Terminal atherosclerosis,” he said, reading off the data. “Imminent renal failure, advanced colon cancer...” He shut off the scanner. “You’re a walking textbook of gerontological disorders. How is it that your outward appearance is so healthy?”
Flint smiled. “You wish me to reveal my secrets? Despite our brief time together so many years ago, I think you know me better than that.”
“But isn’t that why you called us here?” Kirk asked. “To hand your knowledge over to the Federation before you die?”
“Perhaps,” Flint said vaguely.
The young man standing at Flint’s side coughed, drawing Kirk’s attention. He couldn’t have been more than twenty, with slicked-back jet black hair, a rather large nose, and deep inquisitive eyes. His mouth was little more than a line in his face, with a playful smile dancing at the corners.
“I fear my manners haven’t improved with time,” Flint said. “Kirk, this is Noonian Soong, a student of mine.”
Doctor Soong?” McCoy asked. “The cyberneticist?”
Soong nodded. “The same. Though I deny that I’m the shame-filled outcast the rumors would have you believe. “
“I’ d heard you were young, but I had no idea...”
“He’s come to me for...obvious reasons,” Flint said, studying Kirk.
Kirk tried to hold back the painful memory of a beautiful young...woman...whose awakening emotions had destroyed her.
“I see you still carry the pain, Kirk. And the love. As do I.” Flint pounded a fist to his chest. “In here.”
Kirk was silent.
Flint motioned toward the door. “Gentlemen, shall we go inside?”
They walked through the castle’s double-doored portal. “Tell me, Captain,” Flint called over his shoulder. “Where is the illustrious Mr. Spock? I had hoped he would be with you.”
“He’s away playing ambassador to the Klingons. Helping to negotiate a treaty.”
Flint led them down a hallway and into the same recreational room in which he...and Rayna...had entertained them eighteen years earlier. The ancient golden piano still occupied a corner of the room. But the pool table had been replaced with an enormous oak table, which had been laid out with the delicacies and sweet meats of ten different worlds. The four of them sat down and picked at the food as they exchanged polite conversation and the two Starfleet officers brought Flint up to speed on current events. During the meal Flint experienced a prolonged bout of coughing, during which his napkin came away with blood on it. He waved off McCoy’s concern. Another time he stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and stared blankly into space for several long moments before resuming as though nothing had happened.
When everyone appeared to have had their fill, Flint stood. “Soong, if you’d be so kind as to regale the good Doctor with some of your delightful quatrains, Captain Kirk and I have some matters to discuss in private.”
Soong nodded and turned a mischievous grin on McCoy. Kirk followed Flint down the hallway, through Flint’s tidy bedroom and into a laboratory beyond.
“Kirk, a life as long as mine has been gives a lot of room for creativity, and over the years the mind builds up a huge impetus for invention. There are insights in here,” he tapped his head, “that could revolutionize the Federation. New sciences, corrections to the fallacies of existing sciences. And some of the devices I’ve built would amaze you.”
Kirk looked around the room, searching among the neatly arranged scientific apparatus and the open textbooks.
 “You won’t find anything in here, Captain,” Flint said. “My masterpieces are...elsewhere.”
“Yet for all your vast intellect,” Kirk couldn’t keep the bitterness and sarcasm from his voice, “you couldn’t keep her alive.”
A look of rage, quickly suppressed, crossed Flint’s face. “I can’t deny that. But Soong is good, very good. With what he’s learned from me, he will succeed where I failed.” Flint touched a knob on an apparently blank wall and a door popped open. “I must insist, Kirk, that everything you see and hear from this moment on will be held in the strictest confidence.”
Kirk agreed uncertainly.
Flint went into a small room and wheeled out a gurney, upon which lay a man who appeared to be unconscious.
Kirk cocked his head perplexedly as he studied the man. “Soong?” he asked. For the man looked like an older version, perhaps ten years older, of Soong, but with oddly pale skin. Kirk remembered that day, so many years ago, when he’d discovered a room filled with failed versions of Rayna Kopek. “Soong is an android? Is this the only failure, or just the latest in a string?” Then Kirk noticed the vaguely Starfleet-like uniform, and the insignia. His perplexity deepened.
“Soong is human, Kirk, flesh and blood. I didn’t construct this one,” Flint said. “Soong did, in his own image. Or rather, he will. This is an android from the future, Captain. Who, it might interest you to know, serves aboard the Enterprise. A month ago, he came to me unexpectedly through one of my inventions—a time machine, of sorts. Soong doesn’t know of this android’s existence.”
“Why?” Kirk asked.
“I wasn’t sure at first, but then I realized, I arranged for him to come here, so near to my death. You see, I wasn’t sure what I should do with the bulk of my knowledge when I died, because my wisdom tells me that humanity is not yet ready for it. So: should I pass it on, at the risk of humanity mis-using it, or should I destroy it and hope they eventually discover it on their own? It was quite a puzzle for me. And then a month ago I found Data unconscious on the floor of my laboratory and I had my answer.”
“You’re not going to give Starfleet anything, are you?” Kirk said accusingly.
“On the contrary, I’m going to give the Federation everything I know—just not all at once. You’ll get some today. But when I die, a defense system will go up around this planet, so warn Starfleet not to come here.”
“But what about the rest?”
Kirk watched as Flint tapped a place on the side of the android’s head and a hatch flipped upward, exposing a network of circuits. “I’m going to give Soong a chip to implant in his creations, a chip that will compel them to come here once the Federation reaches the first of a series of scientific crises that I know are coming, and to which I, of course, have the solution.” Flint picked a circuit up from the table. He snapped it into place at a juncture in the android’s neuropath. “The circuit I’ve just implanted contains instructions, and conditions that must be met, so that this android may gradually reveal my knowledge to the Federation. He is virtually immortal, so my problem is solved.”
“But what if Soong doesn’t want to implant your circuit in his creations?” Kirk asked. “Or suppose it’s years before his creations are realized, and he forgets?”
Flint put his arms behind his back and started pacing. “I sought Soong out several years ago, during a brief sojourn back to Earth. He was barely out of his teens then, a wunderkind, living in the shadow of his own failed potential. His colleagues regarded him with a mixture of pride and shame. He was a solitary man, like me. It didn’t take much to convince him to come here, away from the watchful eyes of his critics, and continue his research with me as part colleague and teacher. We’ve made a lot of progress, yet even the combined might of our intellects have been unable to construct a positronic brain that won’t decay after a few days or weeks.”
“You’ve continued your experiments?” Kirk said, enraged. “Did the death of Rayna teach you nothing?”
Flint continued, ignoring Kirk’s outburst. “But after studying Data, I know where we’ve gone wrong. And knowing the nature of our error, Soong’s error, I’m not sure he will be able to construct a working positronic brain.” He held up an information diskey. “So I’ve put Data’s schematics on here. I’ll give it to Soong. He won’t like himself for taking the disk; he’ll think it’s cheating. But he will take it. He’ll tinker around on his own for awhile, and who knows—maybe he’ll succeed on his own. But he’ll use this as a last resort. Either way, a positronic brain will be constructed. And the price for this information will be that Soong implants the chip in Data’s brain. Bringing him back to me so that I may pass on my knowledge to the Federation through him.”
Kirk’s mind was reeling. “You’re talking about a closed temporal loop. The old question of the chicken or the egg.”
Flint nodded. “However it happens, the positronic brain originates with Soong. And he will implant my chip, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Kirk shook his head. “This is why I hate time travel. Damn paradoxes.”
Flint went into a violent coughing fit. He doubled over and fell to the floor, clutching at his stomach. Kirk bent down and gripped Flint’s shoulders with concern. He flipped open his communicator. “Dr. McCoy—”
“No,” Flint gasped, his coughing subsiding. “I’m all right.” He got shakily to his feet.
“Yes, Jim?” McCoy’s voice came through the communicator.
“Never mind, Bones.” Kirk closed the communicator.
“Thank you, Kirk,” Flint said, the color returning to his face. “Thank you for keeping my secret all these years, and letting me finish my life in peace.”
Kirk looked at his feet, feeling shamed. “I didn’t keep your secret, Flint. I had a duty to tell Starfleet. But I asked them to leave you alone, and they have, although they’ve kept an eye on this system, to prevent you from falling into the wrong hands. We’re no longer the barbarians you seem to think we are.”
“Well, then I at least thank you for the way you handled my case with your superiors.”
Kirk nodded. He pointed at Data. “Does Soong know?”
“No, and he never will. And I trust you, Kirk, to at least keep this secret from your superiors. I believe your Prime Directive or some such other philosophy demands it. Telling Soong and others would have an influence on future history.”
Kirk nodded slowly. “I’m inclined to agree.” He studied Flint in silence for several long moments, as Flint closed the flap on the android’s head. “Why did you ask me here, Flint? We didn’t exactly part on the best of terms. You no longer need your privacy. You could have requested Starfleet to send someone else. Why me?”
“Because, Kirk, I know the pain you’ve lived with over the years. It never goes away. It’s always lurking in the deepest corners of your mind, coming forth in the darkness of the night. I’ve felt such pain a thousand times over the course of my life. No man should have to live with it even once. And I know I’m partly responsible for your torment.” Flint headed toward a door on the other side of the room. “I never buried her. I kept her body in my laboratory, foolishly hoping that someday I could....repair her.” Flint held up a cautionary finger. “She won’t be staying. You understand that I must send her forward with Data, because I used his brain as a guide to restore hers.”
Kirk’s heart began hammering as he followed on Flint’s heels. He knew what was coming, but he didn’t dare hope.
Flint put his hand on the doorknob. “My gift to you, Captain: an easement for your soul. You’ll know that she’s still alive, somewhere, and hopefully in that knowledge you’ll find peace.”
Flint opened the door. A young woman stepped into the room, her eyes gleaming with life. She turned a radiant smile on Kirk, and his heart soared.
Flint passed away a day later, at sunset.

Picard and Riker hurried onto the bridge.
“A second temporal disturbance, Captain,” Worf reported. “Exactly 20 seconds after the first, if that’s of any significance.”
Picard looked at the viewscreen. “Both centered on Holberg 917G?”
“Yes sir.”
Picard and Riker sat down. The bridge sat in silence for several long moments. It seemed there was nothing to do but wait. When Worf’s console began bleeping for attention, everyone turned toward him expectantly. “It’s the missing shuttlecraft, sir. Departing the planet, on a rendezvous course with us.” He paused for a moment. “Commander Data requesting permission to dock in 5 minutes.”
“Permission granted.” Picard stood and headed for the turbolift, motioning for Riker to follow. “Shall we, Commander?”

The shuttlecraft settled to the hangar floor. A few moments later the hatched swung open and Data stuck his head out. “Greetings,” he said cheerfully to Picard and Riker, who stood nearby. He stepped onto the deck. “Captain, I must apologize for my recent behavior and the theft of the shuttlecraft. However, there are mitigating circumstances. My actions--”
“Were not your own, Commander. We suspected as much. Are you all right?”
“I am fine, sir,” Data replied. “And...I have a message for you. Not for you specifically, but for the Captain of the Enterprise.”
Picard raised his eyebrows, curious. “From whom?”
“James T. Kirk, sir.”
“James T. Kirk?!” Riker asked incredulously.
Data nodded. “The message is simply, ‘Hello.’”
Picard smiled, nodding appreciatively.
“I also have a solution to our current warp speed problems, sir. Courtesy of Flint. High warp speeds can again be achieved without risk of damaging the space-time continuum.”
“Indeed,” Picard said. “It seems you have been busy, Commander. I look forward to your full report.”
“I am afraid a full report will not be possible, Captain. My awareness of events ends shortly after I entered a castle on Holberg 917G and resume after I exited. Though my internal chronometer tells me 33 days have passed, I have no memory for that time period. Any knowledge or messages I contain were entered into my memory without my awareness.”
“33 days?” Riker said. “But you’ve only been gone four days, and—” He suddenly fell silent, gazing beyond Data at the shuttle hatch. A stunningly beautiful woman had appeared from within the shuttle, and stood silently gazing around the hanger.
Data turned and took her hand, helped her down onto the deck. “Captain, Commander,” he said. “This is Rayna Kopek. She is...a relative.”

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