Origins, Chapter 7

 

 

 

Author: Apollo Racer
Title: Origins
Email: fltadmracer@hotmail.com
Characters: New Crew/Star Trek: TOS/Star Trek TOS: Animated Series.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: In a bizarre twist of fate, a young man from the 21st century is trapped
in a frozen coffin as he drifts along the tides of time to be awakened 200 years
later.

Chapter Seven

It was nearing the end of Apollo’s third year. His studies were light, his tutoring sessions were productive, and best of all, he and Sam were enjoying a relationship that a year and a half ago he never thought he would have. In his eyes, his life couldn’t have been better.

He entered his room after a long day, ready to flop down on his bed and relax. But he caught himself in midfall. On his terminal, the words “Message Waiting” flashed in bright blue on the screen. He moved over to the desk and activated the message. As he read the words, Skip walked in.

“Hey, hey, pal of mine. What’s going on?” Skip said, feeling cheerful today. He and Sam’s roommate, Karen, had hit it off pretty well since that first encounter. The two of them were seeing each other as much as they could, even going so far as to change some of their classes so they could share them, too. Skip was whistling a tune when he walked in, but it petered off as he saw the concerned look on his friend’s face. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.” Apollo replied, not taking his eyes off his terminal. He pointed to the screen where the message burned. “I just came in myself when I noticed that I had a message.” He turned to face Skip. “It’s from Starfleet Command… Admiral Komack wants to see me.”

Skip slowly backed up until the backs of his legs hit his bed; he then slowly sat down. “Wow,” he said in a voice of awe. “The big guy wants to see my roomie. I wonder what for.”

Apollo shrugged. “I don’t know. But if one gets a message from above, there are two things he can do: he can ignore it, and accept whatever consequences befall him…” he stepped toward the door and opened it, “… or he can satisfy his curiosity, and heed the message.” On that note, Apollo stepped out and shut the door behind him.

“…and accept whatever consequences befall him.” Skip concluded for him. Then, with a smile and a shrug, he thought aloud, “I hope he won’t mind me having his stuff if he doesn’t come back.”

~ * ~

Why does Starfleet Headquarters seem larger than it was when I first saw it, Apollo wondered as he approached the massive complex. Starfleet Command covered a vast stretch of land next to San Francisco Bay. The building were a lot more streamlined than Apollo had seen on Earth during his time. The Academy, south of Headquarters easily took up most of the space with its many instructional buildings. The infirmary was off to Apollo’s left. The Administration building to his right was huge, designed solely to impress the people approaching it. The either front face of the building consisted of massive flagpoles flying high over the sheltered entrance. A flag from each world of the Federation flew from the its own pole; the seal of the Federation shone in silver and gold in the center of the building’s face, near the top.

The Headquarters building, for which Apollo was heading, reminded him of that high rise building from the Jetsons, although it was only a few stories tall. A huge, wonderfully designed fountain, several meters in diameter, sprayed jets of water high into the air.

Maybe it’s the fact that when I came here with Sarek, I was still thinking in a Vulcan way, so it didn’t seem so impressive. It also helped that I had one of the Federation’s most respected ambassadors by my side. Now that I’m here alone… He had a better sense of the size of the Command grounds as he watched hover vehicles flit from one building to another; but there were still people, like himself, who preferred to walk. No one had to worry about it raining on them, either. The one thing Apollo still couldn’t get over was the fact that Earth had finally managed to control its weather, though it did take the fun out of some things. Uh, sorry, dear. We can’t have that picnic today. They have a downpour scheduled for three. Let’s do it tomorrow. He chuckled to himself, took a deep breath, cracked his knuckles – except his new knuckles wouldn’t crack, he bitterly noted – and entered the building he needed.

The interior was done entirely in Starfleet gray, the doors all painted red. After a short distance, it seemed as though Apollo were traveling in circles, as one door looked just like another. However, he reached Admiral Komack’s office in a short time. Without Sarek with Apollo as he entered the aide’s office, the admiral’s aide was able to maintain his bearing as he was approached by the cadet. He looked up from his work, saw Apollo, and activated the intercom. “Admiral, sir, the cadet you were expecting is here to see you.”

“Send him in,” came the reply, giving Apollo a sense of deja vu, as it sounded almost exactly as it did a couple of years ago. Accepting the aide’s nod as admittance, Apollo stepped forward, and the door slid aside to allow him to enter. Admiral Komack stood to greet him. The scene didn’t look all that much different from the scene about three years ago. Apollo reached the front of his desk and snapped to attention. “Hello, cadet,” the admiral said. He took in Apollo’s appearance at a glance. “As you were, son. No need to dispense with that here.” Upon seeing Apollo relax, he proffered a hand, which Apollo shook. “Please, sit down.”

Apollo took the seat behind him. “May I speak frankly, sir?”

“Always, son,” replied Komack.

Apollo cocked his head. “Son? With all due respect, sir, I believe I do have a few years on you.”

The admiral let out a laugh that caught Apollo off guard. “That’s right. You are older than I am, aren’t you? Well, I only meant it figuratively. I see any cadet as a child of Starfleet.”

God! How corny, Apollo thought. He almost decided to project that thought to the admiral, if only it didn’t give away his secret. “I received your message, sir. Did you wish to see me for something? Have I done anything wrong?”

Komack smiled. “No, you haven’t done anything wrong, nothing at all. I just thought I’d get in touch with you, discuss your progress. After all, when ambassador Sarek recommends a student for the Academy, I don’t take that recommendation lightly.”

Apollo seemed skeptical. “If that were the case, why haven’t you contacted me before this time?”

“Well, to be blunt, you’re not that important. I do have other duties besides keeping track of cadets’ progress. Besides, with the problems you’ve had this past year, I didn’t feel it was appropriate.” He took in Apollo’s expression of concerned understanding. “Yes, I know about the accident. In fact, I even know of Dr. Bennings’… unorthodox… way of restoring you to full health. No need to worry, we haven’t punished him. On the contrary, we’ve commended him. Starfleet knows that it can’t punish someone for making great strides in the improvement of humanity, even if it does bend some rules now and then. I’m just sorry that you were the guinea pig for it, but as they say, you were in the right place at the right time.”

Apollo shrugged. “I can’t complain. I haven’t had any problems since the operation. In fact, they feel better than before.”

“Better? How so?”

The cadet felt compelled to tell the truth. “Well, sir, the limbs aren’t exactly the same as the specifications imply. I’ve, uh, made some adjustments to them.”

Komack looked concerned. “What kind of adjustments.”

Apollo had to think for a moment for the best wording. “Let’s just say I did a little fine tuning.” It didn’t look as if Komack would accept that as an answer, so he continued. “You see, I would work with my limbs, and somewhere, they just wouldn’t… feel right. So I adjusted them until they did.”

“Interesting. And just how well do you think you ‘fixed’ them?”

“Well, for one thing, there’s virtually no lag in my response time. In fact, I think I actually improved it from my original time. I haven’t really experienced anything else, at least in the way of side effects or anything.”

Komack sat back, impressed. “I… see. So you’re saying that a third-year cadet managed to make improvements on technology that took a team of scientists to develop; and to do it in the space of a couple of months when it took them years.”

Apollo gave him a sheepish look. “Well, as you said, I was a guinea pig, and I’d like to think that I know pretty much how they affect my body better than anyone else would know.”

Komack leaned forward and clasped his hands on his desk. “Yes. Yes, this is true. Anyway, that was only part of the reason why I asked you here.” He sat back in his chair and gave Apollo a steely look. “Cadet, just what do you intend to do with your future in Starfleet?”

Apollo looked confused. “Sir?” was all he allowed out of his mouth. What is he getting at? was what was going on in his head.

Komack noticed his confusion. “What do you plan to become when you graduate from the Academy?” he elaborated.

Apollo had to take some time to think about it. He and Skip had discussed this several times before. “Well, sir, I was thinking of becoming a science officer, or maybe a pilot. I can fly those small ships easily enough. Hell, I could probably even helm a starship if I set my mind to it. Though to be honest, sir, after I had my accident, I figured my days in Starfleet were numbered. I’m actually surprised I’ve been able to stay.”

“Yes, well, I’d have to say you’re very lucky.” Komack sat there a moment, absorbing Apollo’s answer. “Do you want to know what I think?” He took the cadet’s silence as a yes, so he continued. “I see a waste of material in both those choices.”

Apollo was startled, but held it in. “Might I ask the basis of that opinion, sir?”

The admiral stood and began pacing behind his desk. “Do you want to know what I see? I see a man… a very intelligent man. Studied four years on Vulcan earning compliments from his instructors… who, I might add, are very stingy when it comes to compliments, especially for non-vulcans… and decided to return to Earth to resume his learning. He accomplished in a short time what some cadets take their entire Academy career to do. If he wanted, he could’ve requested… and been granted… early graduation and assignment to a starship.

“Instead, this exceptional cadet felt he could be more useful helping his fellow classmates… tutoring them in areas where they have trouble and making sure they’re able to continue on their own. That shows a remarkable degree of empathy, Apollo. I don’t want you to get a swelled head, but you’ve become quite popular. Hell, when I first met you, you acted so much like a Vulcan, I thought someone had shoved a board up your ass.” Apollo’s eyebrow couldn’t help rising at this statement, and Komack shook his head, but he continued. “Ever since your mishap, and ever since your liason with that young cadet you’ve been seen with…” Apollo blushed, “yes, it’s that obvious, but not at all uncommon, so relax… you’ve managed to find your niche. You’re a natural leader.”

Apollo decided that a little ego inflation couldn’t hurt at this point. “Well, my roommate did tell me one time that he saw me as an individual more comfortable with giving orders than taking them.”

“Your friend has remarkable insight.”

The cadet blinked in confusion. “Come again?”

Komack took a deep breath, then approached Apollo. “Racer, I’m going to come right out and say it. How would you like taking Command courses for your final year?”

Apollo stammered, so Komack continued. “You’ve proven that you can handle the normal workload. Hell, you’re tutoring about a quarter of your class. I’m sure that they can do without you for a couple of hours per day.” Then he closed the deal. “Besides, didn’t you tell me when we first met that you’d like to be a captain again? This is your chance to do that. Unless your priorities have changed, that is.”

“Sir, I don’t know what to say.”

“Then don’t say anything. Take the course. Like any other course, you’ll have the option of dropping out if it gets to be too much, though I doubt it’ll come to that. Are you game?” He held out his hand.

“How could I possibly turn down such an offer? I’ll give it a try. Thank you, sir.” He shook the proffered hand.

“Glad to hear it. And I swear, if you so much as move toward standing at attention to leave, I’ll personally and physically boot your butt out of my office.” He said it with a smile, but Apollo could tell he was serious.

“Yes, sir. Good day, sir.” Apollo briskly walked out of the office and practically floated back to his dorm.

~ * ~

In his first Command class, Apollo couldn’t help but feel a little apprehension. Yes, he’d taken leadership courses before, but that was over 200 years ago, and it was necessary for the rank he held. He was still thinking about how different this would be, when the instructor marched through the door. Like his other instructors, she was a captain. Unlike the others, when they stood at attention, she did not dismiss their actions. Instead, she let them stand there for a few minutes; she walked down the ranks, looking each of her cadets in the face, scanning them, as if she could tell by just how they stood there what type of students she was getting. “All right,” she finally said, “take your seats.”

As the cadets sat down, she introduced herself. “My name is Captain Quinn, and I’m to be your instructor for the next few weeks.” She paced the room. “Let’s see if you know why you’re taking this course.” She looked around the room for a volunteer. When none were evident she picked one. “Cadet Racer, why are you here?”

Apollo stood. “I… was told this was where I had to be, sir.” He got a laugh from the rest of the class, but Quinn glared daggers at him. Suddenly, Apollo had the feeling it was the wrong thing to say.

“Told to come here? You were just following orders, is that it, cadet?” she said, slowly and deliberately. She walked right up to him and looked him in the eye. “Isn’t that kind of ironic? Attending classes in leadership because you were told to? Do you not want to be here, cadet?”

“Sir, that’s not what I…”

“Quiet! I’m still talking!” A feral gleam appeared in her eye. “Oh, I’m going to like working with you. I’m really going to enjoy showing just how smart you really are.” She started pacing again. “I suppose you feel that you don’t need this class; oh yes, I’ve seen your file. You think that your ‘many years’ of experience has you all set for command, is that it?” Apollo could have said that her assumption was wrong, but he felt that it would be a fatal mistake, so he allowed her to continue. “In my eyes, mister, you have a handicap. All that you learned about leadership back then, you’ll have to unlearn, and you can bet your boots that I’ll be watching you. Now sit down, you’re giving me a headache.”

Apollo sat down and silently gulped. Yep, I’m definitely in trouble, he thought.

~ * ~

It turned out be easier than he expected. As long as he made sure that his attitude was in check, a task simplified by his Vulcan disciplines, he should do fine. Granted, he couldn’t see Sam as much as he used to, and his tutoring sessions were somewhat curtailed by studying, but he expected that, and she hadn’t complained so far. In fact, she was overjoyed by his acceptance to the Command line and supported him. Sometimes he really needed that support. Quinn wasn’t kidding when she said she’d be watching him, and there were days he felt he had really gotten on her bad side. It was days like that when he could appreciate Sam’s understanding and presence.

He wasn’t as learned in command functions as he was in science, and Captain Quinn wasn’t making things any easier. When the class had projects to accomplish, she made sure he had the most difficult part of the project. ALong the course of the year, cadets who couldn’t hack the increased demands upon them were weeded out. As this happened, there would tend to be an uneven number of students in the course. Quinn always made sure she had an exceptionally difficult project for them, and on those days, she’d ensure that in group projects, Apollo would always be the odd one out. Then she wouldn’t excuse his work just because he didn’t have a partner. He didn’t give her the satisfaction of failing her, however. Rather, he worked twice as hard to ensure his success, which gained the respect of his classmates.

Quinn looked on as her cadets completed her latest project. She especially kept an eye on Apollo. He’s good, I’ll give him that, she thought. I try to teach him a lesson, make an example out of him in front of the class, but he keeps proving himself. I can’t help but be impressed with his tenacity. Could Komack have been right about this one? He seems to be pretty sure of what he’s doing, but other than that, he’s an enigma. She decided to fix that. The cadets finished their project as class time expired. As they headed toward the door, she called out. “Racer, front and center.”

Apollo glanced at his classmates. They pretended to take no notice of him, but he knew what they were thinking, because he was thinking the same thing. What have I done wrong now? I swear, the woman told me she’d go out of her way to draw me out, and she’s proven good to her word. I wonder if she’s thought of a new trial for me. She gestured for him to enter her office, and he made an extra effort to enforce his discipline when he did.

She shut the door behind him and gestured to the seat in front of the desk. He took it as she sat down in her own seat. She cut right to the quick. “Well, Racer, I suppose you think you’re pretty good.”

“Sir?” was his only reply. He was going to make her play her cards first.

“I’ve done everything in my power to make it nearly impossible for you here, and all you do is prove me wrong. What does that make me think, Racer?”

“Well, sir, if I may be allowed to speak freely…”

She gave him a backhanded wave. “Go right ahead.”

He straightened and took a deep breath. “I really don’t know what you think, but I’d like to tell you what I think.” Here goes nothing, but she asked for it, he added silently, taking a deep dreath. “For the past three weeks, you’ve done, as you say, everything you could to make me quit; everything from giving me the hardest tasks in projects to even leaving me out all together. Were it as you’ve claimed… that sometimes we need to learn to see things from an objective point of view… then I’d have no problem with it. But it seems I’m the only one you feel has the need to learn that lesson. Every time I’ve proven myself, and every time you’re not satisfied, and you try and give me something even harder to do.” He paused to see if she had any comment. Hearing none, he continued. “I realize that the comment I made in the beginning of the year was off the wall and completely inappropriate, but I think that a grudge should only carry on for so long, if it should even be carried at all. It should be clear to you that I’ve no intention of dropping out. Now I don’t care if you ride my case all the way through the end of the year. But believe it or not, what I’m concerned about is the fact that with all this attention you’re heaping on me, the other cadets are starting to wonder why you’ve made such a special case out of me. They don’t believe, and I share their views, that one little remark would merit such a vendetta.”

Quinn just sat in her chair. Her face betrayed no emotion, but Apollo learned long ago to look at the eyes; and her eyes told him that if he unzipped his skin to reveal two Hortas standing on top of each other she wouldn’t have been more shocked. She displayed a characteristic typical of officers who were formulating a response; she got up and paced the room. Apollo knew this was common because he had been known to do it himself.

Long winded son of a bitch, she thought, and perceptive, too. She stopped pacing and leaned forward, placing her hands on her desk. “Just so it’s clear to you right now, I don’t give a damn how the other cadets think I treat you. This Command course is serious business. The decision of life and death has been placed on the shoulders of officers who have been through this course, so you’d better believe that I make sure the people who graduate my class learn this real quick.” She straightened, a small smile playing on her lips. “As for why I rode you, it wasn’t because of that wisecrack you made. Hell, I forgot about that on the first day. Oh, no. It was because you were recommended by Admiral Komack.”

Apollo was perplexed. “What does that have to do with anything?”

She started pacing again. “I’ve had cadets recommended by admirals, Komack especially. Believe me when I say that he doesn’t have as keen a sense as you think on who will make a good cadet. Or they had relatives who happened to be high-ranking officers and officials. Because of that, those cadets thought that they could walk on water. I made them lose that illusion pretty damn quick. Every one of them either dropped out or got their act together.” She stopped – again – and faced him. “But you… you’re different. You’re taking longer than I’d hoped to find out what you’ve hidden behind your personal shields. But believe me, those shields will come down, and then we’ll get somewhere.”

Apollo never looked away from her the whole time she spoke. She felt as though someone was tracking her with a phaser, and they’d locked on target. It was silent for a while; then Apollo stood up. “Sir, I meant what I said. Whatever personal vendetta you have against the admiral, I don’t think I should be made to suffer. Singling me out isn’t the answer. The others badly misread that action. If you talk to them, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If I may…” he gestured toward the door. When she said nothing, he headed for it. Just before he walked completely out, he stopped, then looked back in. “And sir, I suggest that before you even bother trying to knock down those shields, you should first check to make sure those shields are even up to begin with.” Satisfied at seeing the startled look on her face, he left.

~ * ~

“I can’t believe it! You just walked out on her?” Sam stopped eating and looked incredulously at Apollo from across the table. They had met at the restaurant where they had first met, and they were enjoying dinner while Apollo recounted his day’s events to her. “Wow, I’ll bet Quinn blew a gasket after you left.”

Apollo gazed thoughtfully at the sky. “Actually, from my last view of her, she just stood there, staring at me… I thought her jaw was going to hit the floor with how low it dropped. I really don’t think anyone’s ever had the nerve to talk to her that way before.”

“Are you sure you won’t get in trouble?”

He registered the concern in her voice. “I’m not that worried about it. Besides, she did give me permission to speak freely. She’s a good instructor, but she can be a bit of a bully sometimes.” Again, he took up that thoughtful expression. “I wonder if she had a bad experience when she went through the Academy, one that made her act that way now.”

Sam smiled. “I don’t know, but between you and me, I wish I was there to see it.”

“She probably would have yelled at you for… listening… in…” Apollo’s voice trailed off, staring past Sam and a little above her, as if trying to spot something on the horizon.

Sam was laughing, but it died when she saw the expression on his face. “Apollo? Apollo, what’s wrong?” She was starting to get worried.

Apollo stood up with a start, knocking his chair over in the process. “I have to go!” He turned to go.

Sam caught his arm. “Apollo, what is it?!”

He turned to look at her; she did not like that look. “I Saw something. Skip’s in trouble.”

“What do you mean you saw something? What did you…” The context of what he said finally grasped her. “What did you See? Where…?”

“I have to go.” He shook himself from her grip, and turned to go.

She didn’t even see him start to run. Suddenly, he was gone. “APOLLO!” she yelled after him.

~ * ~

Skip was with Karen in a laboratory on the third floor of the science complex, helping her with a science experiment. A simple task… Karen was working with a small tractor beam she constructed, so she could study its effects on certain test objects. Skip realized that he had done that project before. “Hey,” he said, “here’s something to do to really impress the instructor.” He altered a circuit to perform a feedback loop, causing the flow of energy to add itself to the energy being generated, causing a buildup in power. “In my experiment, it boosted the power about 115 percent, and allowed for some really impressive results.” He altered another circuit to perform a controlled bleedoff so as not to cause an overload. Then he reactivated the device.

Apparently, the device’s construction wasn’t as sound as Skip’s was. It worked fine for a minute, but then the emitter exploded, sending a feedback discharge into the power outlet. The resulting explosion knocked the two cadets backward; Karen hit her head on the edge of a table and was knocked out. Skip was thrown against the wall, where he saw the explosion rip a hole in the near wall, starting a plasma fire, which quickly spread through the lab. With a normal fire, the fire suppression system would have no problem with taking care of the fire. However, this fire wouldn’t go out normally; either the fire had to lose its plasma supply, or the oxygen had to be evacuated from the room. Currently, there was a slim-to-none chance of either happening. Skip just sat against the wall. Oh, shit, was all his mind would utter before he froze, staring entranced at the green flame as it worked its way toward them.

~ * ~

Apollo turned to head toward the Academy. He broke into a run and simply took off. The next thing he knew, he was skimming across San Francisco Bay, sending up a wall of water on either side of him. What the… he thought. His concentration broken, he did the worst thing he could have done; he slowed down. Without the velocity backing him, he immediately started sinking into the bay. SHIT, he screamed mentally, and reversed his course. He tore through the water like a photon torpedo. When he hit the shore, he didn’t slow down. His mind working quickly, he realized what he was doing and took complete control. What was a straight line of color grew curves and bends as he veered around people and objects. He couldn’t figure out how he knew when to turn, but as long as it worked, he didn’t try to analyze it at the time.

In no time at all, he hit the Academy grounds and made a beeline for Skip’s location. From the images in his mind, he gathered that to be a science lab. The way into the building was too congested from the cadets evacuating, so Apollo made a lightning-quick decision. Using his momentum, he ran up the side of the building. When he reached a balcony that ringed the entire floor, he stopped and looked in to the lab in question. Skip was sitting against the wall, mesmerized by a plasma fire slowly moving toward him via the floor and the ceiling. Karen was on the floor, apparently unconscious, blood trickling from a cut behind her ear. Apollo screamed Skip’s name, but the sliding transparent aluminum door was meant to be soundproof. Unfortunately, the fire caused the door controls to malfunction… normally it’d release to allow people to escape. In his rage, Apollo pounded on the door and an enormous dent appeared. Shocked, he kept beating on the door until it finally gave way and he tore it from its housings.

Rushing in, he picked up Karen and slung her over one shoulder. He then grabbed Skip by the arm and helped him up; Skip graciously allowed himself to be led. He then headed out to the balcony. Looking back, Apollo noticed that the fire was getting worse; his grand entrance only introduced more oxygen to it, making it spread faster. He looked down, realizing for the first time that he just ran three stories up the wall. A crowd was gathering below. With no other way out, he told Skip, “Hang on, this is going to be rough!” He then yelled down to the crowd, “Clear out, now!!” and jumped. He timed it just right; an explosion ripped across the balcony where he had been standing.

How he managed to stay on his feet, he was uncertain. The Starfleet Corp of Engineers showed up at the scene; part of their job was extinguishing fires when the automatic suppression systems either couldn’t handle it or malfunctioned. Using electromagnetic pulses, they deactivated the plasma conduit that powered the room as well as that section of the building. Without fuel, the fire quickly went out.

Sam came running up to him as medics relieved him of his two charges. “Apollo, what the hell happened? I lost sight of you at the restaurant. I swear I didn’t even see you leave. Did you beam here somehow?” She looked up at the room, then after her two friends. “Are they all right?” she asked the medics.

“The girl’s got a bump on her head and a small cut, maybe a minor concussion. The guy’s just dazed. They’ll be all right,” replied the medic. He and his partner hurried off with Skip and Karen.

Sam looked back at her other main concern. “Apollo?”

Apollo looked up at the room, then back the way he had come. He looked at Sam, then to no one in particular. “I think I need to sit down,” he said distantly.

 

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