Episode 9: The Road Not Taken, Part IV

Will Karelia
Feb 12 2005, 11:26 AM

William Karelia, Orbital Tram

Will looked out the window of the orbital shuttle and gazed at the sheer beauty of the Federation Fleet. The shipyards, the orbiting transports, even a massive Halcyon class ship. And then the centerpiece of it all, Starbase 001. She was a beautiful thing, her basic shape passed down for more than 500 years. 001 sported a few differences than the holos he had seen of places like Starbase 1, better known as McKinley Station; Avalon Station, out in the very frontiers of Federation space at it's peak; and many others like them. He even saw the Enterprise, the pride of the Federation. The name "Enterprise" was also passed from ship to ship, dating back even to Earth's early 1600's. From what he learned in school, almost every Enterprise ever built had been involved in something historical. The flagship of the American fleet in the 1940's, the first Earth space vessel ever built, Starfleet's first ship, and even the starship of the famous James Kirk.


The tram shuddered. The pilot turned around and spoke to the passengers onboard. "We've arrived at 001. Please disembark slowly and wait for Security to check you out. Thank you."

Will and Crystal got out of the tram, and Security quickly scanned them both with a tricorder, clearing them to pass. Will then began the arduous task of finding the shuttle bay dockmaster.
Feb 20 2005, 06:36 PM

Tom Garrison - Cargo Ship Nobel, Approaching Starbase 001

"Cargo Ship Nobel, you are cleared for arrival in bay seven. Approach door 7-A on heading 025 mark 6, be advised cruise speed limits are in effect and enforced. Welcome to Starbase 001."

"Acknowledged, cargo ship Nobel out." Tom closed the channel and steered the ship into the docking bay of the massive space station. He kept a close eye on his velocity indicator, the last thing he needed right now was an incident with the Sol Traffic Control Office. The ship passed through the doors and Tom stared in awe at what he saw. He was entering a massive civilian docking bay, larger than anything he'd ever seen. There were all sorts of ships docked at various places in the bay. And just think, this is only one of ten of these. Plus the five Starfleet docking bays, which are supposed to be twice this size. Suddenly a loud alarm sounded.

He jerked his eyes back to the control and saw that he was steering dangerously close to a Trill merchant ship. With a quick touch of the controls the Nobel turned and headed in the correct direction, towards an empty mooring near the back of the bay. That was close. Guess I better pay more attention.

A few minutes later the ship was docked. Tom left the bridge and walked to the corridors he and Anika shared. He hadn't seen her in two days, not since she found out he had dumped all their cargo. She stayed inside their bedroom with the door locked the entire time, and refused to speak to him. So he was surprised to find the door open as he approached it.

"Anika?" he called out. He reached the door and stepped inside. "Ani?" Suddenly he stopped and looked around, his eyes wide with surprise. All of her belongings were gone. He suddenly realized she must have packed all her stuff and left the room while he was busy docking. The moment the ship was docked she must have left.

He was stunned. He knew she was furious with him, but he didn't think she would actually try to leave him. They had been through so much together. He ran towards the airlock, and was not surprised to find it open. He stepped through and set foot onto Starbase 001.

* * * * *

Several Minutes Later, The Deck

Tom stepped off the turbolift, and instantly forgot about his attempts to find Anika. He was astounded by what he saw. He was surrounded by shops, people, lights, and music on all sides. The shops extended upwards four levels above him, finally meeting the ceiling some 50 feet above him. There were giant glass windows giving a breathtaking view of Earth, and the entire ceiling was made of glass. He was pretty sure he could make out the distant moon, high above the glass ceiling. Or was that Mars? But a strange thing happened, as Tom stood there taking it all in he started to feel as though he had been here before.

Before he could give it any thought, a woman walking in his general direction caught his eye. "Commander Halliwell!" he called out. She looked in his direction, looking for who called her. Wait. How do I know her name? I have no idea who that is.

Thoroughly confused, Tom disappeared into the crowd before she reached him.
Will Karelia
Feb 21 2005, 11:48 AM

William Karelia, Starbase 001 Promenade

Will was weaving through foot traffic, navigating his way to the turbolift to take him to the main spacedock. Crystal was barely keeping up with him. She spotted a information terminal, and dragged Will over to it.

"Over here, Will, we can check which way to go on this map here," she stated.

"Dont worry about it, I know which way to go." he replied.

Moments later, they were at a turbolift. They both got inside, and Will pressed a button. The turbolift began to move. It felt like they were going upwards rather than down, but it had been so long since he had ben in a turbolift, he probably just forgot the feeling. The door slid open, revealing a fairly large room, filled with control consoles, a viewscreen dominating the far wall, and several Starfleet officers.

"Sir, you shouldn't be here. Please leave the OCC," one officer said, ushering him back into the lift.

"The OCC!? I was headed to the dock control! How did I get here?" he retorted.

"The dock control is on Deck 63. This is Deck 1. I don't see how you could have gotten so confused."

"I'm sorry, I'll be leaving now," he said, shamefaced.

The lift deposited him on Deck 63 moments later, where he was still rather shocked over how he could have ended up on the "bridge" of the station. He was walking, face down, thinking to himself, when he ran face-first into another man's back.

"Oof! Oh, I'm sorry! I wasn't watching where I was... wait a minute... I know you! You're Fleet Admiral Garrison!"
Feb 21 2005, 10:57 PM

Tom Garrison - Deck 63

Tom blinked in surprise. "What the..." he started, and then he trailed off. He looked at the man in front of him who just called him 'Fleet Admiral.' He looked just as confused as Tom was.

"I was just on The Deck, and then suddenly I was here talking to you. How did...? Fleet Admiral? What?!"

"I don't know," the man in front of Tom said. "I mean, obviously you're not an Admiral. Yet... part of me says you are. My name is Will Karelia, by the way."

Tom stared at Will for a moment. Some of what he said sounded familiar, like a distant dream. "Come on," he suddenly said as he started walking at a brisk pace.

"Where are we going?" Will asked, struggling to keep up.

"The Deck. There are a lot of people there. Maybe we'll find some answers there."
Feb 23 2005, 05:48 PM

Lieutenant Rune Sith - Dusty Planet

Sith and Julia flashed in, on a dusty and dry planet. There was nothing that seemed to be around them, except the knowledge that they were being chased by non-coporeal, immortal, beings.

Julia looked around to the blue sky above them, "They're on to us. Can you get us really far away?"
"I can try," Sith said.

Starbase 001, The Deck

They flashed in, almost un-noticed, finding themselves surrounded by people. When Sith got his bearings, he began looking around in awe.

"Where is this?" Julia asked.

Sith took a few steps forward, peering up at the vast space and levels around them. The architecture was breathtaking.

"This place looks familliar," Sith said. "Hey, Julia..."
"Remember how I said I began recalling parts of my past? Well, I think I brought us here because this place has something to do with me..."
Julia glanced around, "You're right! This is Starbase 001."

She went over to a control panel on the wall. Hovering before it, was the Starbase layout and an interface.

"Interesting, computer system you've got here... Even if it isn't real. I like this place," she said, taking another glance at the area. A few strange Antedean's walked by.

Sith walked over and peered at the control panel. "...This is frustrating. I can't remember everything..."
"Don't worry," Julia said. "You'll remember."
Sith smiled a half-smile, "Thanks. Anyway, let's stay here for a while."
"Alright," Julia said.
Will Karelia
Feb 12 2005, 11:26 AM

Will Karelia - Deck 63, Starbase 001

By this time, as Will followed Tom along the corridors in the promenade, weaving in and out of people, he remembered most of his life here. "Crystal, I remember it. I remember it all!"

"I... I do... no! Will, we've been over this! It was a dream! You were never an officer in Starfleet. You almost joined the academy, but you decided not to at the last minute."

"That's what I thought, too. But I didn't. I went to Starfleet Academy. I graduated salutatorian, with top grades in warp and quantum mechanics. I made it to Lieutenant, and was one of the senior staff on this very station!"

"I see." she replied, dissapointment in her eye. "And you want it all back. You want to go back to your exciting life as a Lieutenant in Starfleet..."

"I love you, more than anything." Will said. "But I have a duty to the people of Earth too. I can't just sit back as the Alliance wipes out everything the Federation has accomplished in the past 600 years. I just can't!"

"It's all right. I can take it. I love you too, but I know what's more important. You go save the world." she submitted, with a weak smile.

Will stood for a moment, deep in thought. As she began to walk away, he jumped forward and grabbed her arm. "No. I won't give you up."

"But, Will--"

"I don't care. I don't have to give up Starfleet. But I can't live with my decision any longer. I don't know if you'll remember this when we get back, but I want you to remember that I love you. I know you'll be mad that I left you for Starfleet. I know that you won't want to see me again, after all this time. But I regret my decision to leave you. I always have. But it's not too late. We've got all the time in the world."

Will held her close to him, and he felt a strange sensation as they embraced. A tingling in his core. And as the Nexus decided it was time for this one to return, Lieutenant William Karelia finally felt the one thing he had lacked for so many years.

True happiness.
Mar 3 2005, 09:26 PM

Tom Garrison - Starbase 001, The Deck (Inside the Nexus)

Tom stood staring at where Will Karelia had been standing just seconds ago. He and the woman he had been talking too had simply vanished right before his eyes. He had absolutely no idea what to make of it.

"Admiral Garrison?" He heard a voice behind him. That's the second time somebody has called me Admiral, he thought while turning around. And it doesn't even sound wrong. What's going on?

He turned and found himself starting at two Romulans, a man and a woman. Before he could say anything, he heard a woman's voice behind him in the direction he had just been facing.

"Commander Tanik?" He whirled around and saw Halliwell standing there. She looked at him quizzically. "Admiral Garrison?"

"Captain Halliwell?" somebody nearby said in a confused voice, even though she was wearing Commander rank pips. All of a sudden several people were standing around him, all looking at each other in bewilderment.

"All right, hold on a minute!" Tom cried out. "Everyone, please! What's going on here?"

"I can answer that for you, Admiral." A few people in front of Tom stepped aside, and Tom found himself staring at Gao Gent-al. Suddenly everything came flooding back, it was as if someone had flipped a switch. The Federation. His Admiralcy. Starfleet. The Alliance. The War.

"You!" Tom cried out. He felt a sudden rush of anger. "What are you doing here?..." he paused for a second. "Where are we? What the hell is going on?"

"You're in the nexus," Gao said matter-of-factly.

"The nexus? Wha..." Tom started to say. Several people behind him started whispering among themselves.

Gao held up his hand. "I can explain," he interrupted. "You might recall that I disappeared while 001 was lost in some sort of subspace?"

Tom nodded.

"When the power suddenly went out I used the opportunity to get away from Commander K'Rak. I slipped into an air ventilation shaft. I didn't really have any plan, I just wanted to get away. I was really scared while I was hiding in there, and the aliens that lived in that realm somehow sensed it. I don't know how to explain it any better, they could just feel my fear, and they were curious. So they took me off the station and into their realm."

Tom stood there taking all this in, becoming more and more unsure of what to think as Gao went on. Gao could sense this in Tom's expression.

"This is the truth, Admiral. I know it sounds bizarre, but there just isn't any other way to explain this. I've been with them ever since, learning. I've been learning about them and they've been learning about me. And there's more. I'm sure you all know about how their was an ancient race that seeded the galaxy before they died out. This is the race. They didn't die out, they evolved to a higher state of being. The Prophets stayed behind to keep watch on all of us, as did the Pah Wraiths. It's complicated, I still don't understand exactly why the two of them fought, but they are both part of this race."

"This still doesn't explain what's going on," Tom said in an irritated voice.

Gao nodded. "I was getting to that. All we do is kill each other, over and over and over. We never learn from our mistakes. Four hundred years ago countless hundreds of billions died in the Dominion War, an event that should have made this quadrant realize that there is a better way. But what happened? The Federation became corrupt. An Alliance formed to stand against that corruption, but soon it became corrupt as well. The Klingons fought a war with the Alliance. The Federation is currently fighting a war with the Alliance. It never ends. The race that created us envisioned that, one day, we would evolve and join them, but it's obvious now that it won't ever happen. So they decided to put you all into the Nexus, which is sort of like a gateway to their realm, for your own protection."

Tom felt his anger rising. "They have no right..." he started, but Gao interrupted him.

"Let me finish. Even in the nexus, where you should be completely happy, most of you aren't. You have all found ways to mess up your ideal situations, and you have all found ways to remember the truth. Will Karelia was even able to leave the Nexus just by realizing it wasn't what he wanted. It's made them realize - you have evolved, just not in the way they envisioned. You have evolved a highly tuned sense of self-awareness, to the point where you are able to make your own decisions. You may not always make the right decisions, but you are capable of making them yourself. All of you are free to leave the Nexus at any time simply by desiring it to be so. If you want to stay, you can, but it can't be guaranteed you'll be happy. You've all evolved beyond the ability of the Nexus to control that. Also, the Prophets and Pah Wraiths will leave corporeal life to its own matters - you don't need them anymore." Tom heard a gasp as Gao said this. Probably Lietra, he thought.

* * * Several Minutes Later * * *

"Well, I guess it's just you and me," Tom said. He looked around at the empty Deck around him. Everyone else had already left, choosing to return to reality even if it wasn't always easy and happy.

"I'm glad we had this talk," Tom continued, referring to what they had been discussing for the last several minutes. "I think I finally understand why you did what you did. You were torn between your loyalties to the Alliance and your respect for the Federation. I think I can finally put your betrayal behind me. Are you ready to leave now and rejoin the real world?"

Gao smiled. "I'm glad we had this talk too. It's important to me that people realize who I really am, that I wasn't some evil traitor. But no, Admiral, I'm not ready. I won't be leaving."

"What?" Tom said, surprised. "Why not?"

"Because, let's be honest, I have no place to go. I could never return to the Alliance, and I could never return to the Federation, despite what you might say to the contrary. Neither side wants me. And besides, I still have so much to learn. For the first time in my life, I have felt like I belong, like I fit in. I'm not ready to give that up."

Tom nodded. "I guess that does make sense."

The two men stood there in silence for a few minutes. Finally Tom spoke. "I guess this is where we part, it's time for me to return to reality." He held out his hand, which Gao took and shook.

"Maybe one day you will return? You might not be ready to realize it yet, Gao, but the Federation could forgive you. You could make a home there."

Gao nodded. "Perhaps someday, Admiral. Perhaps someday."

Tom took his hand away and moved back a few steps.

And then Tom vanished.

"Perhaps someday," Gao muttered to himself.
Mar 4 2005, 08:36 AM

Lieutenant Commander Rune Sith - White Abyss

When Sith tried leaving the Station, he and Julia found themselves in a white-nothingness. It surrounded them and everywhere.

"Julia! Are you okay?" He bent down to her, as she knealt in pain. Julia seemed to be phasing in and out of the space time continuum.

"--I... I don't know-- The Prophets are leaving, Sith... They're--" She tried to hold her structure, here, between the Nexus and the real universe.

Sith dropped the Orb and placed his hands on her shoulders. "Julia!"

"I can't do-- anything. I don't have any power..."

Sith looked her over, "You're in the worst state of existence right now... Your people are going back... Back to a realm that doesn't even exist to us... And you're one of them."

He looked to his left and picked up the Orb.

"Julia, you're going to die here when they fully leave," Sith said.

"Sith, no! I want to stay with you, I don't want to go back!" She reached out and grabbed the Orb, but Sith wouldn't let go.

"Wait. I think I know what Gao was talking about... the fact we sometimes make the wrong decisions, but are capable of making the right ones. Like he said, we've all evolved right?"

"Please, I'm begging you... Don't do this..."

They looked into each other's eyes, feeling that feeling one last time. It was real; it was always real. But time was never on their side, and something was always pulling them apart. Maybe it was right that this time shouldn't be any different. Julia's eyes suddenly looked to fear--

Then she disappeared under the power of the Orb. He had summoned her away, and back to the Prophets.

Sith looked away, in deep thought, doing what he had been doing ever since he met her, "...I saved your life."

Starbase 001, Corridors

Sith flashed in, on one knee. He held the Orb to his side. Rune Sith got up slowly and looked around. He remembered everything... Even his rank. The Nexus just had the ability to wipe his memory. This place was real.

Then Zeta came flying out of nowhere. The andriod spider landed on his arm, almost losing Sith's balance. Sith got his footing and glanced at the living device.

"Zeta! ...The thieves? Captured, or gone?"

*Click! ...Gone.*

Sith ran over to a console and started checking the internal sensors.

Thorough investigation would eventually lead him to find out that all of the thieves had escaped. No one in Security were able to capture them.

The Deck, Level 2, Bajoran Shrine

Sith approached slowly, as inside this closet sized area was the Bajoran girl he met earlier. She got up from her knees and looked at Sith with tears in her eyes.

"They're gone... aren't they?" She asked.
Sith didn't need to question what she was talking about. He knew she meant the Prophets. Sith didn't want to say anything on the subject... he just held up the darkened Orb. "I wasn't sure what to do with this..."

He put it on a pedestal in the middle of closet-room, and peered at it.

"That's... that's an Orb!" She exclaimed. "You must contact the Bajoran Government!"

"I will," Sith said. "I just wanted to put it somewhere for the time-being."

They both looked at it. The Orb had lost all its power.

"It was fun while it lasted... But you have to let things change." He nodded, "It'll always be alive to me. That's how I'll remember it."

The Bajoran girl glanced over to Sith and then back at the Orb. She had no idea what he was talking about, but accepted it anyway.

It sat there... an Orb of summons, unable to summon anymore.
Mar 6 2005, 02:26 AM

Major Lietra Kayana - Quarters

The Prophets and Pah Wraiths will leave corporeal life to its own matters - you don't need them anymore.

It had been a few hours since everybody had returned to reality. All the senior officers immediately rushed off to hold some sort of briefing on what happened. The War Council was scheduled to meet in a day or two, where they would discuss recent events as well as finally meet with the Romulan Ambassador, Yasha. But until then Lietra had nothing to do.

The Prophets and Pah Wraiths will leave corporeal life to its own matters - you don't need them anymore.

The words spoken by Gao kept echoing in her head. She hadn't spoken to any other Bajorans yet, in truth she was afraid to. But she already knew what she would discover, she could feel it in her heart. There was an emptiness in her that had never been there before. Somehow, she knew what Gao said was right. She knew the Prophets were gone.

A beeping sound brought her out of her daze. It was her holoTerminal, she had an incoming message. She sat up on her bed, but didn't get up and walk over to the desk. She just didn't feel like it.

"Computer, identify source of incoming transmission," she said.

"Bajor," came the monotone reply.

"Can you be more specific?" she asked.

"Please restate the question."

"Where on Bajor is the transmission coming from," she said with a hint of exasperation in her voice. She had no patience today for a difficult computer.

"Incoming transmission originated in the office of the First Minister of Bajor. Transmission was rerouted through the Deep Space Nine Array. It was then recoded at the Lun--"

"Shut up!" she yelled out in frustration. The computer stopped talking. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself. "Put the transmission through, audio only." She laid back down on her bed.

"Kayana?" She heard the voice of First Minister Hallan Singer.

"I'm here."

"Why is this only an audio connection?" he asked, confused.

She sighed. "I'm laying in my bed. The desk is too far away to see the holoTerminal from here, and I didn't feel like getting up."

"Kayana, are you all right?" He sounded concerned. "I've spoken to Admiral Garrison about recent events, and I wanted..." he trailed off.

"You wanted to tell me that the Prophets are gone," she finished for him.

There was a long moment of silence. When First Minister Hallan finally did speak, his voice held a sadness that not everybody would hear. Lietra heard it. "As far as we can tell, yes. The orbs have gone dark."

Lietra didn't say anything, she just continued to stare at the ceiling. She felt numb.

"Look Kayana, I just wanted to talk to you for a few minutes. Could you come to your desk so I can see you?"

She didn't respond.

"Kayana, please? Come on. Talk to me."

"I'm fine," she suddenly snapped. "I have to go, I'll talk to you later. Computer, end transmission."

She continued to stare at the ceiling.
Mar 7 2005, 12:15 AM

Admiral Tom Garrison - Office

Tom leaned back in his chair and sighed. He finally had everything under control, at least for tonight. Yasha would be brought onto the station in the morning, and as soon as everybody felt up to it, she would finally get to address the War Council. The briefings with the other Admirals in Starfleet had gone on without incident. The briefing of the 001 senior staff had occured without incident. He could finally relax. He stood up, thinking about how nice a hot shower followed by crawling into bed would feel. He got about two steps towards the door before his holoTerminal beeped, informing him of an incoming message.

Tom paused. For a brief second he was torn, he wanted to ignore it but knew he shouldn't. "Oh, damn it," he muttered as he walked back over to his desk and sat down. He pushed a button and Hallan Singher, the Bajoran First Minister, appeared on his screen.

"First Minister," he said with a bit of surprise in his voice. They had just talked a few hours ago. "What can I do for you?"

"Admiral, sorry to call at what I believe is a late hour on your Starbase time, but..." he trailed off for a second. "I was wondering if I could ask you a favor, something of a personal nature."

"Sure," Tom said. He was intrigued about what Hallan could want.

"Well, to be honest, I'm worried about Major Lietra."

Tom nodded. "I don't know her very well, but I know she is quite religious, even among Bajoran standards. I would imagine she isn't taking this very well."

Hallan shook his head. "No, she's not. I tried to talk to her just now about it, but she completely shut me out. She wouldn't even open a visual communication, we talked audio-only. I was wondering if you could try and talk to her?"

Tom subconsciously made an uncomfortable face. Hallan picked up on it.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have asked you that. It's too..."

"No," Tom interrupted. "No, it's fine. It's just that I'm not very good with these sorts of things. Especially when religion is involved. And I barely know her. But you're right, somebody here on the station really needs to reach out to her. I'll talk to her, in fact I'll go to her quarters right now."

Hallan let out a little smile. "Thanks Admiral, I owe you one."

"It's no problem. And call me Tom," he added with a smile. "Garrison out." The screen went dark. Tom stood up and again walked towards the door of his office, this time not really looking forward to where he was going.

A few minutes later he was standing outside of Lietra's quarters. "Who's there," he heard a voice call out from within.

"Admiral Garrison," he said to the closed door in front of him.

"What do you want?" came the curt reply.

Tom was taken aback. He wasn't expecting such a harsh response. "I just wanted to talk to you for a few minutes."

"Do I have to let you in? Are there station regulations requiring that?"

"No," Tom said, completely surprised by the direction this conversation was headed. From the few times he had talked to Lietra she seemed to be a very friendly young woman. He knew she was going through a rough time, but this wasn't the greeting he had been expecting. "No," he said again, "you aren't obligated to let me in if you don't want to. I just thought we could talk."

The doors opened to show Lietra standing in the doorway. She didn't move aside to let him in, she just stood there looking at him. "Did Singher put you up to this?" she asked, almost accusingly.

Damn, she's perceptive! "Well yes, he did ask me to talk to you. But I wanted to talk to you anyway." He wasn't exactly lying, he had been concerned about her. He just wasn't actually planning on talking to her before Hallan had called him.

"Look," she sighed. "I appreciate the gesture, I really do. But I don't want to talk right now. Please, I just want to be left alone." And before Tom could even respond she stepped backwards and let the doors close.

Tom was left standing there, slightly bewildered at what just happened. After a moment he shook his head and started walking in the general direction of his quarters. Looks like I'm going to get to that hot shower followed by crawling into bed after all.

Major Lietra Kayana - Quarters

Lietra leaned up against the door that had just closed moments ago. She knew what she had just done to Admiral Garrison was rude, and any other time she would have been greatly bothered by her conduct. But right now she just didn't really care.

She slowly slid down until she was sitting on the floor, her back resting against the door. Nothing made sense anymore. Her thoughts were such a jumbled mess. She felt betrayed, confused, angry, hurt, scared, and alone. But above it all, she also felt numb. The feelings were there, but they were buried under some sort of great numbness.

"Will it ever make sense again?" she asked the empty room.

"Please restate the question," the computer answered.

Lietra just sighed. "You can't answer this question, computer. Nobody can."

"Nobody can," she said again in a whisper.
Mar 13 2005, 12:28 AM

Commander Tanik - His Quarters

Tanik was asleep on the couch when a sudden sound woke him. The holovid's still on… The room was darkened except for the vid, and Rhiana was still asleep on the couch with him. Her arms were all over him, and Tanik noticed a small but still accumulating puddle of drool on his shirt where the side of Rhiana's face lay. He drew himself up from the couch carefully to avoid stirring her, but her eyes began to open anyway.

"What's going on?" she asked drowsily.

Tanik chuckled. "Ah, just the holovid being loud. Computer, time?"

"2047 hours," the computer responded.

Tanik's eyes grew wide. "We're going to miss the party!"

Rhiana looked at him questioningly. "What party, nishka?"

Tanik looked back at her. "Sabi told me that there was going to be a big party in the Double Helix at 2100."

Rhiana still looked perplexed. "Double Helix?"

Tanik smiled. "It seems to be the unofficial watering hole for the senior staff. You'll love it."

Rhiana grinned. "As long as there's some Romulan ale to keep me awake…"

A glint grew in Tanik's eye. "He has something called Romulan Pale. It'll nock your socks off," Tanik said mischieviously.

Rhiana was perplexed again. "Knock my socks off?"

Tanik laughed in response. "Sorry, that's a human expression."

Rhiana nodded. "You know, Tani… It's going to take me awhile to get used to this."

Tanik nodded back. "Yes, it will. But it will be so very rewarding. The humans are a kind, decent people. I have found that they value the things we value most. The differences are only cosmetic and trivial. The more these differences are pointed out to me, actually, the more I realize we're the same. Odd, isn't it?"

Rhiana yawned. "I'm still tired, Tani… but I'd like to see what this place has to offer. We should get ready." Rhiana got up to go change, but Tanik's voice stopped her.

"I'm just… so grateful to have you back…" Tanik said with great emotion.

Rhiana flashed a brilliant smile. "I'm glad that you're glad to have me back. Otherwise, I'd have to kick your ass."

Tanik chuckled as Rhiana walked into the bedroom to get changed. He walked through the dark room to the large window overlooking the Milky Way. "That's the wonderful thing about living amongst the stars - out here, anything is possible."
Mar 13 2005, 04:09 AM

Admiral Tom Garrison – Office

Tom sat in his office with his chair facing away from the door and his desk. He was looking out the window, watching Earth slowly turn far below the station. He was thinking about what had happened while he was in the Nexus. He was thinking about Anika.

The sound of the door chime interrupted his thoughts. “Come in,” he called out. He heard the sound of the door open and he looked up at the window. He could see both Captains Hardgrove and Halliwell in the reflection, standing in the doorway. “Come in, sit down,” he said as he swiveled his chair around to face them and gestured to the chairs on the other side of the desk.

“No, thanks, but we just wanted to stop by and let you know that a bunch of us are gathering in the Double~Helix,” Halliwell said.

“Care to join us?” Drayson asked.

Tom thought for a second. “I think I would. You two go ahead though, I’ll join you in a few minutes. I’ve got something I need to do here first.”

“Great,” Halliwell said. “We’ll see you soon then.” Tom watched as she took Drayson’s hand into her own and turned to walk out the door.

“Hold on a minute,” Tom called out. They turned back to look at him. He pointed at their joined hands. “Are you two...” he trailed off. “Back together?” He was thoroughly confused, he never expected to see the two of them ever holding hands again.

Halliwell looked down at their hands and then she blushed. “Oh, I didn’t even notice...” She looked to Drayson, who smiled and gave a slight nod, and then back to Tom. “Yeah, we are. It sort of has to do with what happened in the Nexus, but sort of not. It’s ... complicated.”

Tom laughed. “That’s ok, you don’t have to explain. I’m happy for both of you, you know. I really am. I didn’t know you very well back then, Samantha, but I did know you quite well, Drayson. And I’ve never seen either of you happier than when you were together.” He smiled at them.

“Thanks Tom,” Drayson said. Halliwell muttered a thank-you as well, embarrassed with the situation. “Well, we’ll leave you alone now. Don’t wait too long to come down,” Drayson added as they left his office.

Tom sat back in his chair with a smile. Suddenly he remembered what it was he was going to do. He opened the bottom drawer of his desk and started shuffling through the junk that had accumulated there through the years. Finally he found what he was looking for. He pulled it out and set it on his desk.

“For ten years now I’ve kept you hidden, both from my memory and from my sight. I couldn’t face you. Even after I accepted it wasn’t my fault that you died, I still couldn’t face you. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have kept you hidden all these years.” He sat back in his chair with a sad smile and stared at the picture of Anika. Finally being able to look at her picture without guilt or remorse was a wonderful feeling. After a minute he got up and walked out the door.

A Few Minutes Later, The Double~Helix

“Over here, Tom!” Tom looked in the direction of the voice and saw Ambassador Michael Larkin waving at him. He made his way over towards the table, picking his way through the crowd. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw so many people in the bar.

He reached the table Larkin was sitting at, and looked around to see who else was gathered around the large table. Michael was there, with Captain Hurst sitting closely next to him. Drayson and Halliwell were sitting next to each other. Tanik was also there, sitting next to a Romulan woman that Tom realized must be Rhiana. Sith was there, as was Ullii and Will Karelia. Clark was also there, sitting next to a woman Tom didn’t recognize. Tom grabbed an empty chair from a nearby table and sat down next to Drayson.

“We were just sharing our experiences in the nexus,” Michael said. “Commander Sith was about to start.”

Tom nodded. “Just one second though.” He looked at the Romulan woman. “You must be Rhiana?” She nodded. “Word travels fast on this station, I’d heard about you and the circumstances that brought you here. I’m Tom Garrison,” he said.

She nodded at him again. “Pleased to meet you,” she said cordially.

Tom then turned to the woman sitting next to Clark. “I’m sorry, you look familiar but I don’t actually know who you are.”

“That’s ok, we haven’t officially met yet. I’m Lieutenant Neala Helling, the assistant Chief Engineer. Clark invited me.”

Tom smiled. “Nice to meet you. Now,” he said to everybody at the table. “sorry for that interruption...”

For the next few hours, Tom listened in fascination as most people at the table took their turn explaining what they had experienced in the Nexus. He found the story that led to Rhiana’s presence on the station the most interesting, but they were all fascinating. He also got to hear more about how Hardgrove and Halliwell got back together, Sith’s battle with the Wraith, and everything else.

Finally everybody had spoken but him. They were all looking at him expectantly. He had been dreading this for awhile, but now that it was time to talk about it the whole thing didn’t seem as bad.

“You were with Anika, weren’t you?” Drayson asked. Tom nodded, a few people at the table looked confused.

“Anika Garrison was my wife,” he said for the benefit for those at the table who had no idea who she was. “I met her about 15 years ago, when I was a Captain and she was my First Officer. Breaking half the taboos in Starfleet, we started dating and were eventually married. She died in the line of duty ten years ago.” He didn’t feel like going into more detail about how she had died, that would suffice.

“Yes, Drayson, I was with her. Not long after we were married she suggested we consider leaving Starfleet together, in order to try and make a stable life for ourselves. We eventually both decided not to, but that decision has always haunted me since she died. I’ve always wondered ‘what if...’

“I finally got my answer in the nexus. I was living a life where we had left Starfleet. We owned this little cargo ship and we just flew around delivering cargo. That life had an appeal in a quaint sort of way, it was what we were really going to do if we had left Starfleet. But what I found in the nexus was that we were both bored. The love was still there, but we had sacrificed too much for our stable life together. I think we were actually growing to resent each other, in some way we each blamed the other for our decision to leave Starfleet.

“It was only a fantasy, but I think that’s about what would have really happened. My life was, and still is, Starfleet. And the same was true for her. Staying in Starfleet led to Anika’s death, but for the first time in my life I can say, and honestly mean, that I believe we made the right decision. But god do I miss her...” He said the last sentence almost to himself.

He looked around the table at everyone. Sith, who also hadn’t found a completely happy ending waiting for him, caught his eye. For a second the two men held each other’s gaze. Some sort of silent understanding passed between them in that brief moment.

Tom continued to look around the room. He looked at the three couples sitting at the table. He looked at Clark and Neala, not a couple but friends just having a drink together. He looked at Karelia, Ullii, and Sith. An idea was forming in his mind...


“Almost ready, sir.”

Tom sat at the table in the conference room. Two engineering technicians were fiddling with a holorecorder which stood at the other end of the desk. After a few seconds of that, they looked up at him.

“We’re ready,” one of them said.

Tom nodded. “Go ahead.”

“OK, you’re on in five... four... three...” one of the technicians silently counted down the last two seconds and then pointed to Tom.

“Good morning,” he began speaking. “This message is being broadcast to the entire Federation. I realize this is a highly unusual thing for a Starfleet Admiral to do, but I have my reasons.”

Drayson and Samantha lay in bed together watching Tom on the screen on the wall. “Last night,” Tom continued, “I spent several hours in the Double~Helix, a bar here on Starbase 001, talking with some of my fellow officers. There were a few things that I noticed, that really stood out to me.”

Ullii sat at her desk in the infirmary, drinking coffee and watching Tom on her holoTerminal. “The first one was that the bar was packed. I can honestly say that I have never seen that many people in a bar here on Starbase 001 before. We all know there hasn’t been much cause for celebration these past several years.” Ullii nodded to herself. “But last night seems to suggest that might be changing.”

Will Karelia stood at his station on the OCC, watching Tom’s broadcast on the viewscreen. “The other thing that I noticed was slightly more personal. In the group I was with last night, there were three couples. One of them was two people who have been together for quite some time now. One of them was two people who were separated for several years but recently rediscovered their feelings for each other.”

Tanik and Rhiana sat at a table in Tanik’s quarters, where they had been enjoying breakfast before the broadcast started. They were watching it on a monitor built into the table. “And the third was two people reunited after many years of forced separation. They all share one thing in common though: They are all very much in love.” Tanik smiled at Rhiana as Tom said this.

Sith stood on the Deck, watching the broadcast on a giant screen that had been erected earlier that morning. “But not everybody was with somebody else. There were others there with me that were single. Some by choice, some not by choice.” Sith thought of Julia.

Clark and his entire staff were gathered around a monitor in Engineering, watching the speech. “So what is my point with all of this? A packed bar at the end of a shift. New love, old love, and rediscovered love. Heartache and Heartbreak. Love and loss. Not everybody was happy, but everything seemed normal. Real life doesn’t always have a happy ending, and not everybody around me was perfectly happy with the way things were at that very moment. But for the first time in my adult life everything felt normal.”

Ottel and Shani lay in bed together, holding hands under the sheets as they watched Tom speak on the wall screen. “The Alliance has been a threat for as long as anybody living today can remember. They have disrupted our routines, our work, our play... our very lives. But that is starting to change, I could feel it last night. We have shown the Alliance we are strong! We have shown them we will not simply sit by and let them take away everything we hold dear to us! The path we face is a difficult one, make no mistake about that, but we have already made the choice to fight. And we are already beginning to reclaim our lives.”

Tom paused for a minute to let his words sink in. Then he picked up a holoPADD he had brought with him. “I want to read you a few lines from a poem titled ‘The Road Not Taken,’ written by a 20th century Earth poet:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

He set down the PADD and looked directly at the holorecorder. “We took the road less traveled by. We took the road that involved standing up for what we believe in. And it has made all the difference. It really has. I saw that last night. Don’t ever lose hope.”

“Thank you. Garrison out.”

One of technicians pushed a button and then nodded. “It’s off,” he said.

Tom nodded. He stood up and left the room and walked down the corridor to his office. He walked to the window and looked out at Earth below him, and he smiled.