Accepting Saavik’s voice print, the computer-activated door slid open into the access corridor which led to Regula’s main reception area. The last time she had been here, the station had been cold and dark and strewn with bodies of the victims of Khan Singh’s mad attempt to appropriate the Genesis project.
Now it had been restored after two months of labor on the parts of the remaining Genesis team and a Starfleet work crew. Saavik wondered how much of the actual work Carol Marcus and her colleagues had found themselves able to actually participate in. This laboratory complex was a vessel for horrible memories for those who had survived the Reliant affair as well as those of the Genesis personnel who had returned from leave only to discover that the project had come to an end after years of dedicated labor with the deaths of their friends.
Coming into the reception area—now bright and warm—Saavik presented her ID to one of the guards sent by Starfleet to maintain the security of the wrecked installation. The rather dull-faced man passed her through after glancing at the card and raising a disinterested eyebrow. Saavik wondered if he realized that, officially, she had no business being here.
The corridor she entered now was darker, less clean. The concentration of the efforts had apparently been on cleaning up the public areas, not the research facility itself. Saavik recognized this corridor: it was the one she, Kirk and McCoy had first beamed into that day weeks ago.
She would never forget the atrocities committed by Khan Singh. Even though she had seen considerable brutality from the Romulans, this kind of pure, unyielding cruelty was beyond her experience. The bruises on the body of a man—she had later learned his name was Del March—who had literally been beaten to death in Khan’s quest for knowledge had engraved themselves permanently on her memory—every bit as permanently as the bruises she had received on Hellguard had made permanent marks on her body.
But at least David Marcus had survived. She had taken consolation in this fact.
Now, any consolation the thought had brought her earlier was voided by what she had learned at the Guardian. David would die soon, as well, painfully. She had come here to say goodbye.
The door’s sensor activated, and it opened to reveal the computer room of Genesis.
It was still filled with the terminal and huge memory banks that had been needed to conntain all the precious information. However, it was comparatively late at night, and none of the personnel who would normally work here were at their posts. Except for one man at a terminal in the back of the room, it was abandoned.
He looked as Saavik had expected him to—of course, it was illogical to have expectations. One should merely wait for events to take their course and observe their outcome. Lately, however, Saavik had found that her logic was not what it used to be. She hadn’t yet decided whether this change was for the better or the worse.
David was perched over his screen, studying his data intently. He squinted, as the room was dark compared to the bright computer display. He obviously hadn’t heard the door open. Perhaps he was tired; judging by his appearance he was. His blonde hair was scattered randomly about his head and he hadn’t applied beard repressor to his face for a number of days.
Somehow, his ragged appearance was aesthetically pleasing to Saavik. She smiled as she studied him, sitting carelessly on the chair and leaning one elbow on the desk.
As always, he was attractive. Looking at him brought back memories of times aboard the Enterprise… Saavik realized uncomfortably that it was somewhat absurd to spend time gazing at another individual’s physical appearance, wallowing in one’s emotional and physical responses to their presence.
She said quietly. “David?”
He looked up as though he had just been awakened from a sound sleep. When he saw her. a smile broke out on his face and he rushed forward and took her in his arms. As they embraced, he spoke frantically. “I’m so glad to see you! Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”
She pulled back from him, holding both his hands. “I… cannot stay long. I took a brief leave from duty.”
“Can’t stay?” he asked disappointedly, but still with a smile on his face.
“I must return to the Enterprise soon.” she explained. “There are many things to be done before we leave Earth again.”
He laughed, bewildered. Saavik had often wondered about his tendency to find humor in things he didn’t understand. “Then why did you make a special trip7”
She hesitated. Of course, she couldn’t tell him the truth; but she didn’t find lying an easy thing to do. “I… wanted to see you. Is that not sufficient motive?”
He shrugged. “It’ll do for now.” At least she had told him part of the truth. She did want to see him, she just hadn’t said why. She stayed longer than she’d intended to, as she had been afraid she might. It was difficult to leave. They discussed many trivial things—David’s plans after Genesis, the activities aboard the Enterprise, David’s father. She told him of the events surrounding the destruction of the Excalibur and of the mind meld she had shared with Kirk.
David was fascinated. “So you saved my father’s life?” He grinned. “Thank you.”
Saavik looked down at her feet. “I—there is no need to thank me. I did what I had to.”
David laughed and shook his head. “Vulcan,” he said accusingly.
Saavik considered the validity of his taunt. Until recently, she had considered herself a full Vulcan—even though she was not. Had that changed? Was she something different, something less than Vulcan, or perhaps something more? “That is partially true,” she responded blandly.
“I’ve never heard you deny it before.”
“I do not deny it, I merely point out that it is only a partially factual statement.”
“Whoa, you are laying it on thick, aren’t you?” he observed. “Is something wrong?”
She did not respond. Yes, something was wrong; but she couldn’t tell him about it.
“I am rather tired,” she responded lightly. It bothered her that lying became easier as one gained experience at it.
He reached forward and took her hands again. “Would it perk you up if we went for a walk? We could beam into the Genesis cave, I haven’t seen it in a while. We might even be able to find Vance’s dragons,” he added playfully.
Instinctively, Saavik’s jaw tightened at the mention of dragons. In the plans for
the huge Genesis cave inside the asteroid Regulus, Dr. Vance Madison had marked one section, “Here be dragons.” Of course, there could be none. They had not been programmed into the matrix. Dr. Madison had had, she was told, a rather unusual sense of humor.
But through the Guardian, when she had observed David’s death, she had heard his last words. He had mentioned those very dragons. His playful reference now brought her pain. “I cannot go, David, much as I would like to. I must return to the Enterprise, and I am overdue now.” As she stood, she reached out suddenly and impulsively kissed him.
“What was that for?” David asked.
“I… I felt like it. Spock always told me I should… not deny my feelings.”
David moved forward to stand close to her. “What are your feelings, Saavik?” he asked seriously.
She stepped back from him, afraid he might detain her further with physical contact—afraid she might not go if he touched her again. “I… I love you. And… and I hope someday… that we get to see Vance’s dragons.” She wasn’t sure whether or not she’d consciously tried to repeat what would be his last words to her, but she’d done so nonetheless.
Puzzled, David smiled at her. “There are no dragons, Saavik.”
Hardly conscious of her actions, she fled the room and ran down the corridors to the turbo lift. Once the doors had shut her in, she slumped against the wall.
In her mind, she heard again the words she and David had exchanged as he died.
I love you. And I wish… I wish we could have seen Vance’s dragons… Oh, David. David, love, there are no dragons.
There are no dragons.
For ten years, Saavik had controlled her emotions. She had rarely laughed or smiled or lost her temper. She had rarely cried. Now, suddenly, she found she couldn’t stop.
* * *
The Enterprise’s scheduled layover time at Starfleet headquarters was thirty days.
Of those thirty, junior officers were allotted twenty-one for leave after making reports to their respective superiors. Senior officers stayed an additional six days aboard after their subordinates left to prepare their departments for any maintenance required. And the captain left last of all. He had two weeks’ vacation before returning to the ship to get all ready for the launch—that is, assuming that a captain was allowed to return to his vessel by the admiralty. Many were removed from command to take positions elsewhere in the Fleet—hopefully elevated positions. But James Kirk had returned.
It had not been a certainty that he would, of course; but Saavik had calculated the odds to be in his favor. In the month that she had worked with him, she had found Kirk extremely resourceful—and persuasive. With enough effort, she had found it quite likely that he could convince the Admiralty to give him back the Enterprise. Apparently, he had done just that. Saavik wondered how, but she would not have time to ask him.
Soon it would not matter anyway.
She met him as he was preparing to enter his cabin. There would be no better time for her to ask him for yet another “favor.” She was apprehensive as she debated what his response would be after her behavior earlier. Kirk,. she knew, must have been upset by receiving so little information about her trip to the Guardian.
McCoy, of course, had saved Saavik from too many questions by telling the Admiral that his patient should not be bothered at this time. Saavik suspected that the Doctor had also come up with some sentimental excuse of some sort for her visit… Perhaps he had explained that it was a memoriam of sorts for Spock. Kirk, after all, did not know that Saavik’s memorial for her teacher had been carried out months ago in a darkened stasis chamber on board this very ship, nor did he know that any memorial for Spock would serve no purpose now.
Kirk smiled pleasantly as she approached him. “Well, Mr. Saavik, did you enjoy your leave?”
“I believe it would be accurate to say that I did, sir,” she replied, wondering what Spock would think of her “exaggeration.”
“I’m glad you did,” he said. “It’ll be a long time before the next one.”
“I take it, then, that you were successful in your bid to re-establish your command?”
Kirk smiled his mysterious smile which meant: “What you have said is not precisely true, but I shall not explain further,” and said, “You take it correctly… Are you ready to resume your post?”
Illogically, Saavik wished he had not asked that question. Now she would be forced to make her request, as she had no intention of returning to her post just yet. This was what she had heard her human colleagues refer to as the “moment of truth.”
“I regret that I am not, Admiral.”
Kirk’s face registered surprise. “Why not?”
“I must request an additional leave, sir. I realize that this is somewhat inconvenient, but I do have the accumulated time.” Only after saying all of this did Saavik realize that she had not breathed at all while speaking.
“May I ask why?” he said with somewhat forced patience. Kirk often grew annoyed when he didn’t understand what was happening around him.
Saavik considered responding simply, “You may ask,” but chose not to. Kirk did not seem to be in the mood for “little jokes.” Instead, she told him simply, “I have personal reasons, sir.”
Kirk appeared to be considering that seriously. He could deny her request easily, of course, and she would have to go anyway—as he would in her place. “Admiral,” she said suddenly, “I realize that you must be somewhat mystified by my recent behavior.”
He nodded emphatically. “Somewhat.”
She met his eyes and said levelly, “If I promise you that, after this leave, my behavior will return to normal, will you grant it? I will trouble you no further afterward.”
He thought for a moment, and said finally, “One month, no questions asked. And this had better be the end of it.”
“Thank you, Admiral. I assure you it will be.”
Terry Metcalfe practically leaped off the transporter platform, hefting his slipping bag irritably back onto his shoulder as he made quickly for the door. In the undeveloped Appalachian region of the North American continent where his parents and family owned a semi-secluded home, public transportation was still backwards. The cross-continental shuttle had been late departing from the station and had delayed his arrival in San Francisco by over an hour.
Terry was never one to make plans far in advance, and anyone else’s delays always seemed to slow him down past his deadline. He never took such delays into account and thus was often late, as he was now. He hoped he could reach Kirk’s quarters in time for check-in. His position as a department head required that he report directly to the Admiral.
At the door, he was intercepted. Just as he was about to go out, the door opened for someone on the other side, and Saavik, surprised by his forward dash, stood blocking his path.
“I’ve been looking for you,” she said without preamble.
A rush of boyish excitement went through Terry at these words. The thought that Saavik had been looking for him was a pleasant one indeed. “What’s up?”
Saavik levelled her eyes with his and said seriously, “I need your help.”
“Mine?” Her Vulcan seriousness was sharper than ever. Something was troubling her.
“Do not pledge yourself too easily, Terry,” she said, taking his arm gently and leading him to the door. “Come with me, there is much to explain.” In the corridor, Saavik’s manner convinced Terry not to ask her any questions yet. He knew she would tell him everything when she was ready.
She led him into a turbo lift and down the corridor on deck five which led to sickbay. When she headed for McCoy’s office, Terry couldn’t help asking, “What are we doing here?” But Saavik didn’t answer him. Instead, she walked determinedly through the door, neglecting the buzzer. Strange, barging in on people—McCoy, of all people—wasn’t her style.
The Doctor wasn’t alone inside. Standing by the desk, Scotty was gulping down the contents of a glass and saying, “I’m sorry, Doctor, I really canna stay ena longer. If—” he stopped as Terry and Saavik came in. “Metcalfe, lad!” he said grinning, “did ye enjoy yer shore leave? Hullo, Saavik,” he added with a wink, much to the young Vulcan’s mystification. “I was jus’ goin’—”
“Stay, Scotty,” ordered McCoy. “Saavik will explain everything now.”
“Aye? It’s aboot time someone did.” He turned to the two lieutenants, “D’ye know he pulled me outta me engine room, babblin’ aboot some crucial problem that only I could help him wi’, an’ now he hasn’t said a word!”
Saavik nodded. “I know, Commander. Dr. McCoy and I do have a problem we need your help with. If you will be patient, we will explain it now.”
She seemed hesitant to begin, and Terry prompted. “We’re listening, Saavik, what’s wrong?”
“The explanation is somewhat lengthy and, I am afraid, not easily understandable. It concerns the planet we visited before our layover here—the Time Planet.”
Time Planet? Terry wondered. Odd name. Of course, Admiral Kirk had been very careful not to say anything about the world they had diverted from their assigned course to visit. And it was no wonder. Even the world’s name evoked curiosity, and Starfleet couldn’t afford to have certain factions being too curious about its restricted worlds.
“We, uh, we were summoned there,” McCoy explained. “Or, rather, Saavik was, by the Guardian of Forever.”
Scotty, whose eyes were widening somewhat, obviously had heard that name before.
“It’s a sort of gateway,” he said. “A gateway thru time. Y’can go inta the past or future using it. And it seems t’be… intelligent, I suppose.”
“Oh,” Terry said, more confused.
“This being,” Saavik went on, “is indeed quite intelligent. Although I had never heard of it until recently, it contacted me through a series of dreams. Although I thought them at first to be simple nightmares, I began to perceive a presence behind them. And I felt drawn to go to the Time Planet.”
“Jim took thot as a reason t’divert?” Scotty asked.
“No,” Saavik replied, “he did not. It wasn’t until Drs. McCoy and Chapel examined me and recommended to the Admiral that I be taken there that he diverted the ship.”
“I also had to do a bit of talking to convince Jim to let us go down alone,” McCoy pointed out.
“Why did ye go alone?”
“Because my dream told me that Admiral Kirk was in danger. It was vital that he remain behind—for his own protection.”
“Forgive me, Lieutenant,” Scotty said, “but when did ye start lis’nin t’yer dreams?”
“Dreams, Commander, are the only method of communicating with the sub-conscious mind. Your Earth psychologists realized that centuries ago. The Guardian placed its information in my subconscious—I suppose it was the Guardian, however I cannot be sure. At any rate, the information emerged in the form of dreams.”
“So,” McCoy continued, “after I convinced Jim that Saavik would be safe with me alone, we went to see the Guardian. Interesting show, too.” There was a touch of pain behind the accustomed sarcasm in the Doctor’s voice. “It would seem that we’re not living in the real world.”
“What?” Scotty asked.
“What the Doctor means,” explained Saavik, “is that the Guardian showed us images of another universe—a universe where events did not run as they have here. Because of a time paradox, this alternate universe is bridged with ours.”
“How could a time paradox bridge universes?” Terry asked, feeling in over his head.
He wasn’t too sure about the concept of alternate universes, even though his physics classes at the academy had covered the subject extensively. He hadn’t exactly passed that exam with flying colors.
“You must first understand the accepted theories regarding the formation of multiple universes. The Vulcan scientist T’Gara, an authority on the subject, has speculated that universes reproduce—in a manner of speaking—by division. You can picture it as something like fission in one-celled creatures. Each time a point of decision is reached, a universe branches into many parts.
“Suppose you have a point at which there are many possible outcomes. At such a point, time can follow many paths, but only follows one, eventually. T’Gara suggests, however, that at each point of decision, a new universe comes into being to satisfy each possible outcome. Thus, at every moment, new universes are springing into being.
“What we have here is a case of one universe which has split at a decision point but has not fully separated. We are living in the sub-universe which was created from a parent universe of sorts. Because of this paradox, our universes are bridged—tied together. Such a bridge threatens the stability of both universes. If maintained, it will result in catastrophe which will span all of space. In the alternate universe, the consequences have already begun. The most obvious example concerns that world’s Admiral Kirk.”
“Jim?” Scotty asked.
Saavik nodded seriously. “Admiral Kirk… went mad.”
Scotty was shaking his head. “Allo’this. I jus’ don’ know.”
“She’s telling the truth, Scotty,” McCoy confirmed.
“Aye, Leonard, I’m sure she is; but it’s vera difficult t’grasp. Besides, why are ye tellin’ us this? Shouldn’t ye be tellin’ someone else?”
“Like who?” McCoy asked. “We can’t tell Jim—if he knew what was happening to his ‘other self,’ his own sanity might be in danger. And Starfleet would hardly believe any of this.”
“Don’t you have any evidence?” Terry asked. “Something you could show the Admiralty?”
Saavik shook her head. “None that would be conclusive. Of course, there are Mr.
Chekov’s discrepancies in the logs.”
“Aye!” Scotty said, remembering, “the transmission from Phoenix.”
“Obviously received during a period of interphase between universes. The crew of the Phoenix saw us and attempted to contact the ship. We recorded the message, but we did not hear it. That is only the first symptom of the complications of interphase—”
“Aye,” Scotty said, “we’ve been through interphase before. When we were lookin’
fr’ the Defiant, we found her in th’middle of it. The area o’ space went wild! Madness, death… “
“And those,” Saavik pointed out, “were the consequences of a normal period of inter-universal contact, which lasts only minutes under natural conditions. This interphase, however, is an extended one—indefinitely extended. Both universes will suffer the effects you speak of on a massive scale. Eventually they will both collapse when the fabric of space has been stressed past its tolerance point.”
“So what can we do to help?” Terry asked.
“By using the Guardian, this anomaly can be corrected; however, Dr. McCoy and I cannot do this alone. I must return to the Guardian, Terry, and I will need you to accompany me. Dr. McCoy will remain behind to create a diversion—Admiral Kirk must not discover our mission. You, Commander Scott, will be needed to aid the Doctor, as well as assisting us with some of the technical aspects of our plan.”
“What exactly is your plan?” asked Scotty.
“First things first,” McCoy said. “Are you in?”
Scotty sighed. “All right, for Jim’s sake, but—”
“No ‘buts,’ Scotty,” McCoy growled.
Saavik turned to Terry. “And you? I’m afraid your job will be difficult.”
He smiled—he had already given her his answer. “I told you: anything.“
“Well, now that we’ve got that established,” McCoy said with his best conspiratorial look, “sit down. We’ve got a bit of planning to do.”
* * *
The plans made, Terry had gone to Kirk and requested a leave. Conveniently, he had a great deal of accumulated leave time. Kirk had looked a bit surprised and had asked him if he knew that Saavik had also requested a leave. He had lied and said that he didn’t—that his father was scheduled to receive an artificial heart next week, and that he felt he would be needed at home. Kirk had given in after making a light-hearted remark about all his junior officers abandoning the ship.
Now, all they needed was a way to get to the Guardian. He had asked Saavik exactly how she intended to, and she had replied by saying, “I was under the impression that you would be able to make the necessary—”
“You want me to steal a ship.”
“No. That would be a rather extreme course of action. If you could simply get us aboard a ship in that area… “
A plan had come together in his mind almost immediately. It would require Scotty’s help, but that was why Saavik and McCoy had brought him in on this. He and Saavik had come back to the Doctor’s office and moved to join him at the computer console. Terry settled himself in in front of the terminal and spoke. “Computer.”
The screen flared to life. “Working.”
“Request security procedure and access to command assignment file.”
“Identify for retina scan.”
Terry noticed Saavik looking at him with an eyebrow raised as if asking, “Well?” He grinned and inserted a tape from McCoy’s desk into the small box Scotty had supplied him with.
Saavik’s eyebrow rose even higher as Kirk’s voice came out of the speaker on the small, innocent-looking machine. “Kirk, Admiral James T., requesting bypass for retina scan.”
“Authorization?” asked the machine.
“Computer,” said McCoy, “this is Ship’s Surgeon Leonard McCoy. Retina scan please.” A beam of light came from the console and hit McCoy’s eye.
“Security scan approved,” it said.
“Request bypass of retina scan for Kirk, Admiral James T. Injuries sustained prevent normal scan procedure.”
“Acknowledged. Identify for voice print.”
Terry inserted another tape into Scotty’s machine. “Kirk, Admiral James T.”
“Security scan approved.”
The screen presented a menu of files in the command records. Terry called up the assignments chart for fleet vessels. There were three in the vicinity of the Time Planet. One was familiar. Terry laughed quietly and began to play the keyboard again. He had found their ship.
Calling up the personnel orders, he asked the computer to display his own and Saavik’s.
In the assignments column, he made the necessary changes and encoded a new destination for the two of them. The computer digested it and asked, “Authorization?”
Terry punched a final tape. “This is Admiral James T. Kirk. Orders effective stardate: 8147.3. Final authorization granted.”
Terry grinned at Saavik and McCoy. “Computer off.”
Saavik was practically gaping. “Are you sure that was an advisable choice of vessels? It will draw considerable attention. A less conspicuous ship—”
“Would never get us there so quickly,” he finished.
McCoy grinned. “I think it was the perfect choice.”
Saavik shook her head and said. “I would hardly say so. The Excelsior—”
Terry patted her shoulder. “Relax, I know the head waiter.”
As Saavik pondered that reference and McCoy chuckled, Terry went to his quarters to prepare for their trip. They might just pull it off at that. If too many people didn’t ask too many questions. Only a few complications remained unaccounted for…
* * *
It wasn’t easy explaining to Angela that he would be leaving again so soon after shore leave. She had been the one who insisted that he spend this past month with his family, since he hadn’t seen them for so long; but he was sure she wouldn’t be happy that he was leaving now on an “emergency mission.”
He didn’t like to lie—least of all to her. Of course, they couldn’t tell anyone about this mission. It was bad enough that there were four of them already. But, to lie… It made him feel guilty, and the guilt was only worsened by the fact that he was going with Saavik. He had to go with Saavik, but still, it seemed wrong—lying to Angela about leaving the ship with someone else.
“But why did they pick you?” she asked as he stood at her desk in her quarters.
Terry tried to respond lightly. “Because they need someone who knows the difference between the anti-matter inducer and the impulse accelerator.” He added, “It’s only for a couple of weeks.” And that was the greatest lie of all. If only he could tell her that they might never see each other again. If only he could hold her and tell her goodbye properly.
But he couldn’t let her get suspicious… he couldn’t let her know. He couldn’t let this look like anything other than a departure for a brief tour of duty aboard another ship which couldn’t be mentioned to anyone else. He had to tell her that it would be called “personal leave” by the Admiral because the mission was a sensitive one. He had to laugh while each and every part of him wanted to scream.
“There are other helmsmen on Earth who haven’t been assigned yet,” Angela was pointing out. “Why couldn’t one of them go?”
“I guess Starf1eet wanted someone with experience. Look,” he said, knowing he sounded annoyed and trying to correct it… but failing. “I don’t know all of it myself. I’ve been given my orders and Admiral Kirk’s agreed to the whole thing.” So many lies, and she would find out the truth so soon. There was no way he would be able to make her understand, and he knew she would hate him for lying to her.
She’d have every right.
Angela was trying to take this well. “When you get back—”
He smiled as best he could. “We’ll spend some time together. I… I promise.”
She placed her arms lightly about his shoulders and whispered, “Okay, I’ll be waiting. Take care, all right?” She kissed him.
“I will,” he promised. “And I’ll see you soon.”
He broke quickly away from her and rushed out the door. Right now, he envied Saavik that infallible control of hers. She wouldn’t have any trouble stopping the tears from coming to her eyes.
“Khan SIngh” another McIntyre-ism. Only in Vonda’s novelization do I recall him being referred to without the use of “Noonian.”
“This laboratory complex …” Wow. A 52-word sentence with no commas! I didn’t have an editor, only beta-readers and proofreaders. And they did a good job, but jeez!
Del March was the name given by Vonda to one of the scientists left behind on Regula-1 when Khan attacked. I believe he was the one McCoy found hanging.
The permanent marks on Saavik’s shoulder and collarbone were established by Vonda as a brand that half-caste children bore.
Beard repressor likewise is something Vonda introduced into the Trek universe, as I recall. She first mentioned it in The Entropy Effect.
“Regulus” the name of the asteroid, was never used in the movie. That was from the book.
Metcalfe’s “Slipping Bag” Ha! To this day, I have this problem–bags slipping off my shoulder. Although, in those days, I refused to wear a backp[ack… maybe that was why.
“In the undeveloped Appalachian region of the North American continent where his parents and family owned a semi-secluded home, public transportation was still backwards.” The pain. It burns.
Likewise Metcalfe’s penchant for lateness was just my transferring my own traits onto him.
I assume I created T’Gara? I can’t find any other references to her, except as a name in Josepha Sherman and Susan Schwartz’s Trek books, which were published long after I wrote this.
Metcalfe’s father is mentioned here–perhaps never to be revealed in my own universe.
The use of tapes to fake orders is so classic Trek, and now seems so silly…