Prologue: Inner Voice
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: Somewhere in the Azula Belt
Timeline: 2421, In A Future That Was
::Science Lab 2, USS Themyscira::
Terri watched impatiently as myriads of mathematical models and equations rolled across the holographic screen before her. When the computer finally finished the latest round of calculation, it flashed the same message as it had done the last dozen times: Failure to Achieve Stability Threshold.
"Ugh!" Grunted the short-haired blonde as she slammed her fist on the table, nearly knocking down the pile of PADDs that were sitting on the edge of her workstation.
"Stupid computer." She murmured in frustration. That's when she heard a knock on the door - with all that's going on a malfunctioning door chime was at the very bottom of her to-do list.
"Come in." She shouted.
As the double doors to the science lab slid open, a slender woman with olive complexion walked in. The four pips on her collar indicated their wearer's rank, not that Terri cared much for it. This was her ship and her lab. Unless it's Captain Ishikawa, she didn't give a damn about the rank of anyone walking through those doors.
"Lieutenant Lee," Said Captain Fatima Karim, commanding officer of the USS McCain, "Do you have a minute?"
"I'm busy." Came the cool reply.
Fatima frowned at the response. If it had been anyone else, she would have had the young woman disciplined for disrespecting a superior officer, but the Themyscira was not her ship, not any more, and more importantly Terri deserved some leeway, given all that she had gone through in the last two years. In any case, she had failed to convince Ishikawa to change her plan, but perhaps Terri would be more amenable.
"What you are planning to do, it's not what your father would have wanted." said the captain.
"You don't know my dad."
"I fought by his side at the P'Rex Nebula and the Caldron System."
Terri threw the neutrino modulator down on her work station, fire flaring in her eyes. "And you did such a great job at the Caldron System! Bolanus' men would have killed him if not for Johannes and his Marines."
Fatima was visibly taken aback by those words. She didn't know what Ishikawa had told the girl, but whatever it was, the Trill didn't tell her the truth, certainly not the whole truth.
"You weren't there." Said Fatima. There was a moment of tense silence between them before she spoke again, "You father was a great man, Lieutenant. He continued to believe in the ideals of the Federation while the faith of so many others faltered. To him a Federation without its ideals is no Federation at all, and that means there are lines that cannot be crossed. Operation Catalyst? Fine. But Project Medusa? It's beyond the pale. You father would never have sanctioned it."
Terri raised an eyebrow at the mention of Project Medusa. She had heard of it, of course, but no one on the Themyscira had ever bothered to tell her what it was, and she had never bothered to find out as the chrono-generator required her full attention. Besides, she trusted Captain Ishikawa; she's family and the only one of the two she had left.
"You must have missed the news, Captain," the blonde responded with a sarcastic retort. "so here's a quick recap for you: the Federation is gone, and so is my dad." Her voice faltered slightly at the end of that sentence, and with it she turned her attention back to the calculations on her holographic display. She had wasted enough time on Karim.
Fatima knew when she had overstayed her welcome. And what Terri said was true - they had lost so many and so much - but she would be damned if she hadn't at least tried and stood up for what the girl's father had given his life to protect. So she tried and failed, but her conscience was clear. "There is only so much you can do." The admiral used to say. Without another word, she turned and headed for the exit.
As Captain Karim turned, Terri looked back up from her display and watched as the other woman disappeared behind the closing doors. The truth was, she envied Karim, who had fought by her dad's side. She herself, on the other hand, had only been there for his last moment. And even then she couldn't save him. But if Operation Catalyst was successful, things would be different. Her dad would be alive, maybe even her mom, and then maybe the three of them would finally be happy. Maybe.
::Later, Captain's Ready Room::
"Here's the progress report on the chrono-generator." Said Terri as she handed a PADD to the older woman sitting behind the desk. "It's ready for operation, but I'd like to run a few more tests just to be sure. We should be good to go by the end of the week."
Captain Nami Ishikawa took the PADD and glanced through it. "Good work, Lieutenant." She said. "You dad would be proud." Noticing a slight doubt in the girl's eyes, she assured her with a smile. "I knew your dad well, Terri, so trust me when I say he would be proud of you."
"I hope so." said the girl. After a moment of hesitation, she asked, "Captain, what's Project Medusa exactly?"
Nami's brows tightened slightly at the question. "Karim talked to you, didn't she?"
Setting the PADD down on the desk, the Trill captain snorted. "I guess she's still bitter about not getting the command of the Themyscira. She thinks just because she was the ship's XO and because she fought with your dad in Operation Heimdall, that entitled her to its command. But you and I know better: the Themyscira was your dad's ship, it was where you grew up, and it was where I found a family for the first time. The Themyscira is family, Terri, and we always keep family together."
Terri nodded earnestly. "Always."
Nami nodded in kind. Leaning forward from her chair, she clasped her hands on the desk. "As for Project Medusa, it is an essential component of Operation Catalyst just like the chrono-generator, but I'm afraid that's all I can tell you; the rest is classified on a need-to-know basis. The Federation might be gone, Terri, but we are still Starfleet officers, and as your dad used to say, protocols and rules might be cumbersome, but they are there for a reason. And in this case, the classification is there for very good reasons." After a pause, she added, "But I can assure you, everything we are doing here is for the greater good. You have my word."
Terri nodded. If she couldn't trust family, whom else could she trust? "Thank you, Captain." She said before turning and heading to the door.
As the door hissed close behind the girl, Nami felt a sudden surge of pain in her head. Rubbing her temples, she stood up from her chair and walked over to the sink. Cold water flowed down the faucet as proximity sensor detected her hands. Splashing the icy water onto her face, she closed her eyes and waited for the pain to subside. Moments later, it seemed to have worked. Opening her eyes again, the Themyscira's commanding officer looked up and saw someone else' face in the mirror.
"You didn't tell her." It was Nami's own lips moving, but not her voice that she heard. The voice of Serra. The second host. She'd been a mother, and an artist. She could still smell the faintest hint of drying oil paints. "You could have told her."
"She wouldn't understand. She's too much of an idealist." Said Nami. "She's more like her dad than either of them realized."
"I think she would understand more than you realise," Serra replied softly. Her maternal tone sounded strange coming from Nami's lips. "I had a daughter too. I always wondered if she would grow to make the same mistakes I had."
Nami's brows tightened. "Project Medusa is not a mistake. It was a mistake for him to shut it down." clenching her first, she slammed it down against the sink. "Damn it! We could have won the war!" A deep breath. "He would still be alive."
"Maybe. Maybe not. If there is one thing I've learned in six lifetimes it is that all of those 'ifs', 'buts' and 'maybes' are just our own regrets boiling to the surface." Serra's tone softened further. "I think you know that. And blaming him won't help you."
"You are my only regret." Said the Trill captain as she opened the wall mounted cabinet next to the sink. Having found the hyperspray she was looking for, she adjusted the dosage and pressed the device against the side of her neck. Closing her eyes, she reminded the symbiont, "You are only alive because of me, so be grateful and shut up."
"That is something you have made abundantly clear for a long time." Serra's voice faded as the hypo took effect, and the room fell completely silent once again.
Nami let out a sigh and opened her eyes. Looking up, she saw herself in the mirror again. Maybe it was the symbiont's genetic disposition, or maybe it was her own half-Trill-half-Betazoid heritage, either way, she counted herself fortunate that unlike most other joint Trills she was able to assert control in the normally equal relationship with the symbiont - even if sometimes it required the aid of sedatives.
Of course, normally she would never have agreed to the joining at all, but how could she say no when the man who had saved her from a life of pain and misery asked her to save his dying friend? She would have done anything for him, even if it was against her better judgement. So she did.
Just then, the ship shook violently, nearly knocking her off her feet. Having steadied herself, the Themyscira's captain dashed toward the doors. As soon as she stepped onto the bridge, she demanded, "Report."
"Five Klingon ships had just decloaked." Responded Commander Hekoa as he vacated the CO's chair for the captain. "The McCain had engaged them. Your order, Captain?"
Nami took her seat and buckled in. There was no way the McCain could fend off the Klingons on her own, but there was no other choice. "Tell Captain Karim to hold off the Klingons for as long as possible and at any cost. She knows what's at stake. Helm, evasive maneuvers. Bring us out of the asteroid belt and into open space." Turning in her chair, she saw Terri staggering out of the turbolift. "Lieutenant Lee, bring the chrono-generator online and prepare for insertion."
Terri barely made it to the science station when the bridge shook again under fire. "I haven't finished all the tests yet." She protested.
"Is the generator ready or not, Lieutenant?"
"Yes, but . . ."
"Then bring it online. This is your test run, Lietuenant. There won't be another chance."
Terri hesitated for another moment before shaking off her doubt.
"Bringing the chrono-generator online" she reported as her fingers flied over the holographic control panel. Captain Ishikawa was right. There was not time for hesitation. Too much was at the stake.
[To be continued in Encounter of the Temporal Kind - Part 1 . . .]
Captain Nami Ishikawa
Lieutenant Terri C. Lee
Chief Science Officer
Captain Fatima Karim