NOBODY’S CHILD: The Saga of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Family-Chapter Four

NOBODY’S CHILD
by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER FOUR – Through the Ranks

It felt like it was only yesterday that Patricia had been admitted to Star Fleet Medical Academy and began her studies as a cadet. She couldn’t believe how fast the years had flown by! In spite of all the set-backs and hardships, she had managed to progress through the ranks of Ensign, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander, then Commander. She was continuing her efforts to earn her next rank of Captain. She felt that since Gramps was able to achieve the rank of Admiral, she should be able to eventually work her way up through Commodore and earn the same rank as he did. Before that, when she was finally granted her degree as a medical doctor, her relief knows no bounds. “At last!”, she thought to herself as the degree was placed in her hand and she shook hands with the faculty, “I’ve done it! I’ve reached my first goal!” It was all she could do to refrain from dancing her jig across the stage but couldn’t resist doing a playful skip and twirl, curtsying to her former instructors. Captain Smith and the others laughed heartily. As she descended the stage, she searched the audience for her loved ones and friends. Then she saw the sign held up by Gramps, “WAY TO GO!”, and he was grinning from ear to ear! Captain Uhura was applauding her and Uncle Spock…even from a distance, she could see the pride shining in his eyes. She blew all of them a kiss then punched the air in triumph!

Shortly after the ceremony, she receives her new assignment along with her orders. Before she is due to report, she asks for some leave time to spend with her family. She returns to her Great-Grandfather’s home in Georgia where he throws a party in her honor and she assists him with the outdoor grilling. She is so overwhelmed at the number of former crew-mates, from the U.S.S. Enterprise, plus other Star Fleet friends and former classmates, showing up to congratulate and welcome her to their ranks that she is uncertain whether to laugh or cry. She finally slips away to have some alone time, trying to sort out her emotions. Spock finds her and sits down next to her.

“What is that ancient human question that I have often heard your Great-Grandfather ask you, Patricia-kam, ‘A penny for your thoughts’?” says the old Vulcan. Patricia chuckles. “That’s right, Uncle.” Then her smile fades. “My feelings are all jumbled up right now. I don’t know what I’m feeling or SHOULD be feeling! It’s … overwhelming!” Spock nods in response. “There is much to sort through, Patricia-kam.” She looks at Spock. “Do you remember how I used to be, when Gramps first brought me home…after I was rescued from the slavers? I couldn’t really relate to anyone and I was TERRIFIED of EVERYONE! All I wanted to do was hide or fight anyone who approached me! Then I accidentally hurt you by grabbing your ear the first time we met! I look back through time … when I was learning how to waltz with you for my physical therapy as I re-learned how to walk. Remember how I was finally able to grasp mathematical concepts? Remember all the messes and scrapes I got into, growing up? I got into Gramps’ collection of original Kroeker bio-gel packs even though it took him 40 years to amass that collection. I had no idea what they were! I thought I was creating the greatest scientific experiment. Remember Great Aunt Edith? She was trying to teach me etiquette and to act like a lady. She was expecting me to behave like a girly-girl and I was more tom-boy! Gramps thought it was hysterically funny because I tend to take after him with his mannerisms and salty language. I thought Aunt Edith was going to have a cow when I let loose with an expletive during one of her parties!” She giggled then her smile fades. “But I became addicted to alcohol and drugs and all hell broke loose. I can’t forget that I threatened all of you with that broken bottle. You saved my life when I attempted suicide. With you and Gramps helping, I managed to get back on track. I also picked up where my late father left off, becoming the Family Historian. I’ve managed to trace other McCoy ancestors, and our distant cousins, a long way back with my genealogy research. It boggles my mind when I remember that I couldn’t talk at all in the very beginning and now it seems I can’t shut up.” Her voice trails off as she looks at Spock’s face. Then she quietly adds, “I’m not being very logical right now, Uncle.”

She pauses when she sees Spock swallow hard. It was slight, barely noticeable by anyone else. Through the years, she had learned to pick up on slight nuances in his emotional state even though she understood the Vulcan custom of stoicism and logic. She understood that he was feeling emotions, now, without being obvious. He quietly responds. “I remember, Patricia-kam. I remember well the time when you were unable to speak…up through your struggle with your addictions. The incident involving my ear was only minor. You were only six years old and had never met a Vulcan before. You have traveled a long way and have overcome many obstacles! I am pleased at your accomplishments and … I am proud … of you.” His face becomes unreadable.

Patricia reaches up and places a hand on his shoulder as she nods and smiles. “I don’t know where I would be without you, Captain Uhura, and Gramps! I was NOT an easy child! You all loved me in spite of myself!” She chuckles then her smile fades again. “I look back on everything, Uncle. The good, the bad, the ugly, and I feel…overwhelmed…by all of it! Now, I’ve finished my Academy studies, gotten my medical degree, and I’m officially a doctor, just like Gramps. It’s exciting and scary all at once! I know I should be practicing the meditation I learned on Vulcan and, at the same time, it’s so hard to sit still right now! I want to be a perfect Vulcan, just like you!”

Spock looks over at her and gives her a slight smile. “It is not logical to try to be a perfect Vulcan, Patricia-kam, when you were not born as one, let alone raised as one since birth. I am a Vulcan and yet I am not perfect either. I’ve had my moments!” He pauses. “To change the subject in regards to what you describe as exciting and scary, have you received your first assignment?” She nods. “I’m being embedded with a platoon of Klingons, to practice treating their battle wounds while they conduct training missions. It’s as close to a genuine battle situation to practice combat medicine before I find myself in the middle of the real deal! I’m to report to Q’onos at the end of three months, to meet with the commanding officers and be given orientation, then travel to Corbus V for the training mission itself. This should get interesting … which is an understatement!” Spock looks at her. “I have faith in you, Patricia-kam. Your Great-Grandfather and I taught you survival techniques during our camping trips. You practiced self-defense skills with Captain Uhura. You know other skills from your Academy days as well as what you have learned here, at home, along with what you have learned when you were in treatment on Vulcan. You can do this.”

Patricia nods in agreement then tilts her head as she looks at her beloved Uncle. “Do you know what I find ironic, Uncle Spock?” He quirks an eyebrow in response. Patricia continues. “Here I am, a recovering alcoholic and a recovering drug addict and I’m being assigned to work with a platoon of Klingons who LOVE to party, and get blind-drunk, fighting-drunk, with Blood Wine and God knows what other kinds of intoxicating beverages! And I will be practicing my Program in the middle of that in order to STAY sober! YIKES!” She shakes her head in astonishment. Spock gives her a slight smile again. “You were able to take down a violent bully, who was twice your size and weight as well as a much higher rank. If you could face down someone who was abusing his rank, Patricia-kam, then you should have no problem working alongside our Klingon counterparts.” Patricia chews her lip, feeling uncertain. “I hope so, Uncle. I really hope so!”

Patricia’s assignments, on both Q’onos and on Corbus V are eye-opening experiences for her. She quickly realizes that she needs to develop workarounds for the Klingon cuisine given her history of digestive sensitivities. Working alongside proud warriors, she knew that relying solely on Star Fleet issue MRE’s was NOT going to cut it! Using her creativity, she adapts many of the available foods to outdoor cooking over an open campfire. She drew the line, however, regarding the Blood Wine which flowed in copious amounts among the warriors. For her to pick up one drink…that would have been too high a price to pay! She is painfully aware of the hostility aimed in her direction because of being “different” and, for the most part, is able to shrug it off.

Unfortunately, one warrior, Morath, decides to take the hostility to a whole new level. In spite of the frequent surgeries that Patricia had undergone in childhood, she would start limping whenever she became overtired. Being perceived as “weak” by Morath, he begins a campaign of harassment …tripping her, shoving her, tossing dead creatures at her, etc. She either ignores him, shrugs him off, brushes herself off, or tosses the dead creatures back at him and continues about her business. This seems to infuriate this particular Klingon all the more. While she is preparing a batch of stew over the campfire, Morath decides he is going to show her who is “boss” and kicks over the stew-pot, spilling its contents on the ground. She stands up, glaring at him while holding a small cast iron skillet. He reacts by grabbing the front of her tunic, lifting her off the ground, and deliberately spits in her face. Without a second thought, she lashes out, striking him across the face, hearing his nose crack underneath her fist. Only then does she realize she is still holding the skillet!

Bellowing in rage, like a mad bull, he pulls out his d’ktahg ready for the kill! The only thing that Patricia has to defend herself is the skillet still in her hand. At that moment, a shout rings out from offside, “MEVYAP!” Morath immediately drops Patricia, sending her sprawling in the dirt. An older warrior walks up and punches the offender to the ground. The elder warrior shouts something else in Klingon and Morath scrambles away. The elder Klingon turns toward Patricia. “Q’Pla, Doctor! You fight well for one so little!” Patricia nods as she picks herself up, cleans up the mess and tosses the small frying pan into the now-empty stew-pot. “Thank you, sir!” The elder Klingon hands her a bottle. “Come! Let us celebrate your victory with some Blood Wine! It is a good vintage! The best from the House of Martok!” Patricia hesitates, then asks, “With all due respect, do you happen to have Prune Juice, sir?” The elder Klingon eyes her suspiciously. “You do not accept my offer of Blood Wine!? All warriors drink this!” She squares her shoulders and looks directly at the elder warrior as she hands the bottle back. “Permission to speak freely, sir?” He responds, “Hlja!” She struggles to maintain eye-contact with this elder warrior, who is clearly bigger and stronger than Morath. “You may have noticed that I have some personal…”, she pauses, “… ‘challenges’, which has made me a target of your warriors. One of those personal ‘challenges’ could endanger you, endanger your warriors, and endanger the mission if my ‘challenge’ gets out of control. I am a recovering alcoholic.”

The elder warrior grunts. “I do not understand what ‘recovering alcoholic’ means.” Patricia nods. “Not everyone understands, sir, including others who struggle with the same disease that I do.” She pauses, rubbing her chin, realizes that Morath’s spittle is still on her face, and wipes it off with her sleeve. “The best way I can think of to explain it, sir, is that I’ve had a history of endangering others whenever alcohol was in my blood and in my brain. While I was under the influence, I threatened to stab my Uncle, who I LOVE DEARLY! My Uncle Spock helped to save my life and that is a debt that I can never repay! To me, threatening to kill him is insane behavior. Every time alcohol gets into my brain, it takes total control and I have NO control over where it will take me or what I will do. My responsibility, and my oath as a doctor, is to first do no harm. My responsibility is to treat the wounded and the sick. If you get hurt in battle, it would be my responsibility to make you well so you could return to that battle and achieve your victory. If I were under the influence of alcohol, I could accidentally kill you because my brain would not be functioning as it should. Do you remember that incident with Chancellor Gorkon, years ago, after Praxis exploded? My Gramps attempted to treat the Chancellor’s wounds, when Gorkon was attacked, but Gramps was unable to save the Chancellor’s life … and Gramps was COMPLETELY SOBER! Because he failed to prevent the Chancellor’s death, he was wrongly convicted of the Chancellor’s assassination and sentenced to Rura Penthe! I could end up in Rura Penthe, because of the death of a Klingon warrior if I were to operate under the influence of alcohol. I don’t want to repeat history while under the influence! I cannot permit endangering you or the other warriors because of alcohol. As long as I do NOT pick up that first drink, and I remain in recovery, you … and your warriors are safe around me.”

She sees that the elder warrior is considering her words, then he nods and smiles. “I LIKE you, little warrior! I will heed your words and I will ensure that no other warriors will harass you again.” The elder Klingon takes one of the medals off of his uniform and pins it on her. “From this moment on, you are a Daughter of the House of Martok! Any warrior who touches MY daughter will answer to ME! Now permit me to find some Prune Juice for you so we can properly celebrate!” He walks away, leaving Patricia slack-jawed and speechless.

When she reports back to Star Fleet, after her assignment with the Klingons, she expects some fallout. After all, she was sent there as a doctor to treat the sick and wounded during her battle training, not punch out the Allies or assault them with cast iron skillets. She is met by her old mentor, Captain Smith. He gives her a stern look. “You have something to tell me, Doctor?” She nods, straightens her uniform tunic, and relates what took place on Corbus V. Instead of receiving the expected reprimand, the Captain grins. “Martok told me as much during the debriefing. I was worried about how you would be able to handle yourself, and be able to maintain your sobriety, around a group of hard-drinking warriors who would kill at a moment’s notice if anyone looked at them cross-eyed. Good job!” He pauses. “Oh, and by the way, Martok has requested that you be assigned to accompany him and his platoon on future missions. He tells me that he needs to teach you how to fight like a Klingon! A cast iron skillet is not going to be sufficient.” He chuckles as he walks away while Patricia grins and shakes her head in bewilderment.

To continue adding to her medical experience and familiarizing herself with myriad alien physiologies, she is assigned to various clinical as well as forensic, settings on a variety of Federation planets over the years, including Ferenginar, where she treated Grand Nagus Zek, and on Bajor. While at Bajor, she becomes briefly acquainted with Worf, who is visiting with Captain Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, in his role as a Federation ambassador to Q’onos. Patricia recalls the Battle with the Borg at Wolf 359, which caused the death of Benjamin’s first wife, Jennifer…then the War with the Dominion which kept them all busy beyond belief! After the Dominion was defeated, she crossed paths with Benjamin’s second wife, Kassidy Yates-Sisko, who was pregnant at the time and had developed complications. Benjamin’s disappearance, within the Fire Caves of Bajor, did not help her situation. Thankfully, she, and the baby, had pulled through and Kassidy was reunited with her husband just in time for the baby’s birth.

Eventually, Captain Patricia is put in charge of a mission, studying how crew members are affected by the environment on an unnamed planet, its location is classified due to security reasons and only certain select officers were given any further details on a need-to-know basis. Preliminary research, in preparation for the mission, revealed that the planet had the enigmatic nomenclature of “Gateway” and that its coordinates were located in Sector 90.4. She had been informed that various Star Fleet crew members had complained about after-effects from this particular planet and she was asked to research this phenomenon. Once she arrives, she discovers an ancient structure that is referred to as the “Guardian of Forever”. She also becomes acquainted with a very handsome Tiger Caitian named Doctor Quon, an astrophysicist specializing in temporal mechanics. He often shared his passion about temporal mechanics even though she often struggled to understand it. “I thought math was confusing!,” she thought to herself, “but temporal mechanics, its formulae, equations, and theories REALLY befuddle and discombobulate me! At the same time, HE is FASCINATING!”

Within short order, she and Quon become mates. It didn’t feel like a conscious choice on her part, but it felt…right. She never discussed her past with him and the first time he saw her scars, he asked no questions and accepted her just as she is, flaws and all. That was fine by her. Certain other Star Fleet personnel don’t seem to approve of their relationship, especially Commander George Primmin, who is the head of the Security detail. She quickly becomes aware of his xenophobic, as well as his homophobic, racist, sexist opinions along with his negativity toward anyone with any level of disabilities, challenges, differences, or orientation! It’s obvious that Primmin does NOT like the idea of any woman outranking him and being his superior! It was all Patricia could do to control her temper whenever she had to deal with him. She had to constantly remind herself to remain professional and ask herself, “What would Uncle Spock do?”

“How Primmin got his job, I’ll never know! If he was ever stupid enough to demonstrate THAT attitude toward Admiral Nechayev, today,”, Patricia thought to herself, “Primmin would find himself peeling potatoes on a garbage scow! Damn idiotic prig!” Shortly after her arrival, she had to give Primmin a dressing down when she caught him bullying young Ensign David Gerrold for being “different” even though the young lad was fresh out of the Academy. Primmin’s response to her authority demonstrated that he doesn’t seem to approve of her, personally, being a Captain and being in command during this mission due to her own physical and neurological differences. More than once, he skirted the edge of insubordination as he questioned every decision she made. She was certain he mocked her behind her back. So much for the evolution of humans and the extinction of prejudice and bigotry! All she could do was shake her head in disgust.

While on the planet’s surface, Captain Patricia is informed of evidence of a possible temporal disturbance in the area of the ancient monolith. Curiosity gets the better of her and she and Quon go out to the vicinity of the Guardian to investigate. The Caitian scans the Guardian while Patricia scans the surrounding area. Questioning the ancient Guardian about the recent disturbance only results in enigmatic responses that leave her flustered and confused, if not annoyed. After awhile, Quon and Patricia look at each other, shrug, and she shakes her head. They both reach for their comm-badges but she taps hers first, “McCoy to Time Piece Ops.” A voice responds over the comm-badge, “Time Piece Ops, Commander Primmin here.” McCoy continues, “Primmin, the only response we’re getting from the Guardian is, and I quote, ‘Many such journeys are possible.’, unquote. Doctor Quon and I have found residual energy traces, but there’s no one around now.” Primmin sounds sarcastic as he responds, “Count your blessings, Doctor. What would you have done if you found them?” Patricia irritably thinks to herself, “Pompous ass!”, but manages to keep her voice professionally assertive. “I can take care of myself, Commander. Given my rank as CAPTAIN, that is part of my job!” Primmin continues his sarcastic tone, ignoring her reference to rank. “I know you can. It’s Doctor Quon that I worry about.” Patricia looks over at Quon and rolls her eyes. Primmin is really taxing her patience! “I can take care of Quon, too, Primmin. I’ll remind you who is in command here!”, she snaps. Primmin pauses for a moment, hearing the annoyance in his commanding officer’s voice. “Well … let’s err on the side of caution. No heroes, if you’re in trouble, holler. Don’t want to lose a Captain on my watch!” Patricia grins wickedly at Quon as she responds, “I’ll scream like a girl. McCoy out!” Quon gives her a sly grin, “You’re evil!”, before walking back over to the Guardian. He stands in front of it, arms akimbo, smiling and shaking his head. She walks over to him, smiling and touches his shoulder.

Quon continues to shake his head. “Security. They all think they’re Jim Wayne.” Patricia chuckles. “I think you mean John Wayne.” Quon tilts his head and gives her a quizzical look. “Are you sure? He was a famous pirate, right?” Patricia chuckles again. “Cowboy.” Quon doesn’t understand. “What?” Patricia repeats her explanation. “John Wayne was a cowboy in the ancient movies during Earth’s 20th Century.” Quon shrugs his shoulders. “If you say so, you’re the history and genealogy buff.” Suddenly, the Guardian swirls to life and the two doctors snap to attention! A younger version of Doctor Leonard McCoy leaps through, knocking Quon down in the process! The new arrival jumps to his feet and looks about wild-eyed! He screams, “Murderers! Assassins!” Patricia is dumbfounded and can only stand there, frozen in place, agape and wide-eyed. Leonard McCoy looks at her and there appears to be a tiny spark of something familiar. He gives her a confused look, then gestures toward her, “Who…who are you?” Patricia does a double-take, thinking to herself, “I don’t FREAKING believe THIS!” Her voice squeaks as she responds, “Gramps?!”

Patricia is standing several paces away from this younger version of Doctor Leonard McCoy. He half- crouches with a wild look in his eyes. Doctor Quon lies, sprawled, on the ground nearby…unmoving. Patricia glances quickly between Quon and Doctor Leonard McCoy, sizing up the situation. Doctor Leonard McCoy screams at her, “YOU!” and he charges at her. She shouts back, “Gramps! NO!” Patricia does a combat roll to avoid his charge. She rolls back to her feet, in a defensive stance, expecting an additional attack only to see the younger version of Gramps run out of sight. She watches him for a second, then rushes over to Doctor Quon. She rips out her medical tricorder, quickly scans him, then breathes a sigh of relief. The scan reveals only a mild concussion but it will still require medical attention due to his being Caitian. Patricia taps her comm-badge, “McCoy to Time Piece!” A voice responds, “Time Piece! Primmin here!” She continues, “We have a medical emergency! Send my medical team, and Security personnel, to the Guardian!” Primmin curtly responds, “Acknowledged. Primmin out!” He signs off. Patricia continues to assess Doctor Quon. “Take it easy, Tiger. Help’s coming.”

She grips Quon’s shoulder, reassuringly, then stands and walks a few paces in the direction that the younger version of Leonard McCoy fled to as she puts her medical tricorder away. She pulls out her standard tricorder and scans the distance, checking her readings. In short order, she hears the hum of a transporter beam. She turns in the direction of the sound and sees four Security officers, including Commander Primmin, and two of her medical team appear. The Medics immediately go over to Doctor Quon and begin to attend to him. Primmin rushes over to Patricia. The remaining officers take up their positions, securing the perimeter of the area. Primmin stands in front of Patricia and asks, “Are you all right?”

Other than nodding, Patricia does not respond immediately as she continues to scan the area, focusing on her readings. Primmin pulls out his own tricorder, begins scanning, and scowls with annoyance at Patricia. She notices his annoyed expression and quirks an eyebrow at him. Primmin dials back his annoyance and tries again, “What happened?” She continues to study her tricorder while she answers, sounding preoccupied, “A man.” She pauses while she continues scanning. “A man who most certainly shouldn’t be here!” She walks away from Primmin in the direction that she saw Leonard McCoy’s younger version run off to. Primmin follows behind.

Primmin mutters to himself, “Someone came through the Guardian.” He raises his voice, “Team!” His Security team responds and gather close. Primmin makes sure that everyone is present, then continues, “An unidentified intruder came through the Guardian, attacked Doctor Quon”, he points past Patricia, “and ran off in that direction. I want him found! Phasers on…” Patricia whirls around and faces Primmin, reminding him who is in command as she completes his sentence, “STUN!” Primmin and the Security Team turn to face her. Patricia continues, “I repeat, phasers are to be on STUN! He is not…” Primmin looks at her suspiciously. “Dangerous, Doctor McCoy?” He looks at Doctor Quon and the medical team.

Patricia glares back at him, thinking to herself, “So you fancy yourself a cowboy, you pompous ass?”, but she keeps THAT thought to herself. Instead, she says aloud, “He’s NOT armed, MISTER Primmin! Nor is he an alien. He’s Star Fleet…from the past. He’s obviously ill and disoriented. I am ordering you…all of you…to set your phasers on stun!” Primmin stands toe-to-toe with her. “Do you know something I don’t…Doctor?” Patricia puts on her best poker face that she is able to manage. “Whatever do you mean?” Primmin attempts to push the envelope. “Have I been demoted, and you’ve been made Chief of Security?” Patricia glares at him. “No, you have NOT been demoted … COMMANDER! But you have NOT been promoted either! I am STILL THE CAPTAIN AND IN CHARGE HERE! Should I continue to explain the obvious or do you get my drift yet?” They stare each other down for a moment while Primmin silently works his jaw. While he still glares back at Patricia, he speaks to his Security team, “Phasers set on stun. Let’s move out!” He gives her a look as if to say, “Happy…now?” Patricia wishes there wasn’t a regulation against bitch-slapping an insubordinate idiot!

He starts to walk away, then pauses as another thought occurs to him. He turns back to look at Patricia. “You said he was Star Fleet. Did you happen to recognize the intruder, Doctor?” She maintains her poker face as she responds, “Nope. I have no idea who he was. All I recognized was the uniform from the 23rd Century. I’m the history buff, remember? I KNOW the various Star Fleet uniforms from the different eras!” She has NO intention of giving this fool the satisfaction of telling him what she really knows about Gramps. Primmin nods back to Patricia and turns to his team, gesturing to them to proceed forward. The Security team moves out and Patricia breathes a heavy sigh of relief. She turns back toward Quon’s direction to see to his medical needs.

Back at the base camp for Operation Time Piece, everyone, who is a member of the Project’s senior staff, gathers in the Briefing Room around a large conference table. Primmin looks over at Doctor Quon and bristles. “First of all”, Primmin growls, “Doctor Quon shouldn’t be here!” Quon looks back at the Chief of Security, puzzled, “What?” Patricia barely manages to tamp down her annoyance as she glares in Primmin’s direction. Primmin attempts to dig himself out of the hole he has just dug for himself. “No offense, Doc!” He turns to Patricia, “but shouldn’t he be in Sick Bay, under observation, or something?” Now it is Quon’s turned to become annoyed. “I’m fine, George.” Primmin does NOT like this and it shows on his face. Patricia reaches out and rubs Quon’s shoulder while staring Primmin down. She sees that he is even more annoyed at this blatant public display of affection but cannot say anything. She permits herself an evil smile. She turns to Quon, “He asked me, Tiger.”, then she turns back to Primmin, “He’s fine, George. I’ve given him a clean bill of health and authorized him to return to duty.” She notices Primmin’s reaction to this and her smile grows a little wider.

Primmin clears his throat and turns his attention to Doctor Quon. “If someone came through the Guardian, why don’t our sensors detect them? The orbital station alone could detect a microbe a mile, or a kilometer, underground.” Quon thinks about this, then responds, “This visitor hit me so hard and fast that I didn’t get the chance to look. Maybe this being came from the future, where superior technology exists that could make our technology seem like stone knives and bear skins.” Primmin gives him an odd look, then turns to look at Patricia. “You said that this intruder came from the past.” She shrugs nonchalantly, struggling to maintain her poker face, “Well, I could have been mistaken. At the same time, you have to take into consideration that Quon was struck before he had the opportunity to get a good look at him.” She decides that now is NOT the time to reveal the truth to this pompous idiot! Primmin looks annoyed when he realizes that he has just detected a bald-faced lie and comments, “No. You were quite sure he was from the 23rd Century, based on his uniform, and quite adamant that he was unarmed.” Quon looks at Patricia, realizing that she knows who this newcomer is, “Pu-r-r-r-fection, I do not understand. Explain, please?”

Patricia finally realizes that there is nothing else to do except to come clean and mutters an expletive under her breath. She reluctantly responds, “He’s my…Great-Grandfather…” Another team member, Communications Officer Elroy George is flabbergasted. “Leonard McCoy?!” Chief Engineer Enrique Castillos chimes in, shocked, “Admiral McCoy?!” Patricia nods, “Yes.” Quon is in awe, “From Spock’s Enterprise?!” Patricia is really starting to get annoyed, “Yes!” The Communications Officer mutters in shock, “By Grapthor’s Hammer!” Primmin raises his voice, “You LIED to me, DOCTOR!”

Patricia bristles at him. “As the CAPTAIN on this mission, I should NOT have to remind you, again, who is in command! I didn’t want you, or your trigger-happy dragoons to injure him! He was not himself!” She sighs as she calms down a little as she gets up and starts to pace, “I’m not sure how it’s possible. Temporal mechanics has never been my forte’.” She turns toward Quon. “Doctor Quon, I think you need to re-think your hypotheses.” Primmin dials back his attitude. “If I’m remembering this correctly, your”, he pauses, “Great-Grandfather changed history! Captain Kirk and Commander Spock fixed the time-line, but there was no record of the Admiral traveling to the future.” Quon interjects, “There wouldn’t be. I believe he traveled here, first, then went back in time. What happens with him, here and now, in his future might or might not affect what happened a hundred years ago.” He turns to Patricia. “Did he ever talk about his time traveling experiences?”

She shakes her head. “He never discussed THIS particular place…refused to discuss this experience. The only time travel experience he shared was when the crew of the USS Enterprise went back to the 20th Century to bring us George and Gracie, the humpbacked whales. He enjoyed sharing THAT experience because it gave him additional opportunities to tease Uncle Spock about his little swim!” She gestures. “Long story!” She pauses as she rubs her chin thoughtfully. “There was something about this particular travel that deeply affected him. He named a relative, Edith, because of it, I’m sure, but he would never explain why. I can’t ask Great-Aunt Edith if she ever was told anything about her name because she’s dead and gone now.” The Communications Officer raises his hand to get Patricia’s attention. “He’s still alive, isn’t he, I mean…the Admiral.” Primmin attempts to take charge of the discussion, “We need to question him!” Patricia glares at him. “Primmin, my Great-Grandfather does NOT like to be questioned, ESPECIALLY by Security! Need I remind you that he is an ADMIRAL?” She turns to Quon, “We can test your new holo- communicator that you’ve been developing so I can talk to Gramps. Is it ready?”

Chief Engineer Castillos responds, “It’s ready and on-line.” Patricia grins at Quon. “I can’t believe you got that for me and gave Gramps the other one!” Quon grins back, “It was your birthday!” Primmin is clearly annoyed to no end and he blurts out. “We need to speak to him!” Patricia glares again at the Chief of Security. “I’LL give him a call.” Primmin can barely hide his sarcasm. “I’d hate for you to have to trouble yourself.” She scowls at him in response. Her look clearly says, “Don’t push it, buster!” She turns back to Quon with an expression that clearly says, “I love you” and resumes speaking to him, “That was the sweetest birthday present ever.” Quon holds up his hands with an expression of, “You got me!” Primmin looks disgusted. The Communications Officer and the Chief Engineer look at each other with a shrug.

Back at Sick Bay, Castillos and Quon are putting the finishing touches and making the final adjustments on the newly-installed holo-communicator. Patricia paces anxiously, checks her appearance, tugs at her jacket, and smooths out her uniform. She turns to Quon, suddenly feeling concerned. “You don’t think Primmin’s found him already and isn’t telling us? The sensors should have found him by now.” Quon walks over to her and places his hands on her shoulders. “Even Primmin is not that stupid. Missions to this planet have reported sensor and temporal problems since the Admiral first came here and long after. They’ll find him.” Castillos makes one final adjustment and steps back. “It’s ready to rock and roll!” The Chief Engineer is dismissed and he leaves. Quon turns back to the holo-communicator and taps out a sequence. “Here we go!” The Caitian presses another button and the holographic image of Admiral McCoy suddenly appears. Patricia is overjoyed. “Gramps! You look so huggable! How have you been?” Admiral McCoy quirks an eyebrow at his Great-Granddaughter. “How am I? Didn’t I just talk to you on your birthday not too long ago?” His facial expression turns to one of concern. “Are you in some kind of trouble, again?” She gives him a pseudo-innocent expression. “Moi? In trouble? I’m your perfect angel, remember? Even when I accidentally contaminated your collection of original Kroeker bio-gel packs!” The old doctor gives her a mock-stern look. “It took me forty years to amass that collection!” He looks at her, questioningly. “That’s not what this call is about…is it?” She starts to answer, then hesitates, which the old doctor notices. “Child, there IS trouble! Tell me what is wrong.”

Patricia takes a deep breath and decides that it’s now…or never. “Gramps, it’s about the Guardian of Forever. You’re aware that I’m currently assigned here, at Gateway in Sector 90.4. I know you don’t like to talk about it…” The Admiral cuts in abruptly, “You’re right! I don’t! I was psychotic on Cordrazine!” She tries again, “Well, Gramps…do you recall ever meeting me”, she pauses, “Here?” The old man shakes his head. “I’d think I would remember meeting my Great-Granddaughter. But, as I said, I was psychotic on Cordrazine.” Quon steps into the Admiral’s view. “Are you sure, sir?” The old Admiral stares at Quon, shakes his head, then quickly glances toward the rest of Sick Bay. Patricia reassures him. “It’s just the two of us on this end, Gramps. I trust Quon. What do you remember? What CAN you remember?” The Admiral doesn’t say anything for several seconds. He just stares, wistfully, into space. He finally turns back to his Great-Granddaughter. “I remember saving Sulu. The ship was rocked by time waves and I fell onto my hypo-spray, which was full of Cordrazine, and I injected myself with an accidental overdose. Then…I met a woman in the past, in a mission. Her name was Edith Keeler.” Patricia and Quon look at each other, then back at the Admiral. “That’s where the name ‘Edith’, for Great-Aunt Edith, came from, isn’t it, Gramps?” The old doctor realizes what they are trying to get at. “I’m there…now? The old, uh…I mean…young me?” Neither of them know what to say.

Commander Primmin and two Security officers are searching for the younger version of Admiral McCoy. Primmin turns to the two officers, “Stay sharp, gentlemen! I don’t believe we’re looking for a crazed Star Fleet officer out of his time. I think someone, or something, else came through the Guardian earlier.” Officer Watkins responds, “Aye, sir.”, while Officer Lauten sweeps the area with his tricorder. Watkins covers with his phaser, takes a few steps away, and stands on a rock, straining to get a better view. Lauten suddenly begins to gesture frantically to the others, bringing Primmin and Watkins to his side with phasers at the ready. Primmin asks him, “What do you have?” Lauten indicates his tricorder. “I’m not reading anything out of the ordinary now…”, when Watkins interrupts him, pointing, “There! Right there! Behind that rock!”

The trio edge closer to the area that Watkins has pointed to. When they are in visual range, they all drop their hands and their faces fall. Primmin sighs, “Another rock.” Watkins is embarrassed. “I could have sworn…” At that moment, Lauten puts his hand on his stomach and grimaces. His stomach gives off a loud growl. He gives Primmin an embarrassed look. “Sorry, sir”, Lauten says with a shrug, “I don’t think the replicators are capable of making a digestible Plomeek soup.” Primmin scowls, “That’s why I stick to Earth foods. No crazy Vulcan or, even worse, Cardassian food, for me! And don’t even mention Klingon cuisine!” Primmin’s comm-badge chirps, “McCoy to Commander Primmin!” and he taps it. “Primmin here.”

Patricia’s voice betrays her anxiety in spite of her best efforts to conceal it. “Did you find him yet?” Primmin responds with irritation, “When we find him, Doctor McCoy, you’ll be the first to know. We’ll contact you immediately.” Patricia’s command voice is heard, loud and clear, “Just make sure your phasers are on stun. He’s not the enemy. He’s suffering from a Cordrazine overdose. Understand?” Primmin silently mouths her last word, mockingly, with a look of annoyance. “This is not my first dance, Doctor!” She catches on to his attitude and reminds him, once more, who is still in command. “If you hurt him, Primmin, I will have your rank AND your butt! You’ll be knocked back down to Cadet, if not lower! You get my drift?!” Primmin scowls, “Perfectly! Primmin out!” He taps his comm-badge again. Lauten looks at Primmin, uncertain. “Phasers on stun, sir?” Primmin scowls back, “I don’t take orders from scientists, Lieutenant! Understood?” Lauten nods, “Aye, sir.” Primmin looks at Watkins, “Phasers set on stun.” Primmin stomps off while Lauten sets his phaser on stun. He follows Primmin. Watkins inspects his phaser. “This thing has a stun setting?”

The search party walks amidst the rocks and boulders, with Lauten scanning the area in front of them. Both Primmin and Watkins have phasers drawn. A Reman is hiding among the rocks, watching the search party pass by. As the alien raises his weapon to draw a bead on the trio of Security officers, a small rock falls behind him. The moment the Reman turns toward the sound, he is attacked by the younger version of Doctor Leonard McCoy. The Reman is knocked to the ground and the two of them struggle. Leonard McCoy manages to grab a fist-sized rock. When the Reman struggles to turn over, Leonard McCoy smashes the rock down on him, knocking him senseless. For a few moments, Leonard McCoy stares at the Reman, then jumps to his feet and runs off.

The Security team hears the scuffling and converge on the area. They discover the Reman where Leonard McCoy left him. In addition to Primmin, Lauten and Watkins, there are also Ellison, a young female Security officer, fresh out of the Academy, and Beckwith, a medical team member. Beckwith is scanning the Reman with a medical tricorder when Lauten arrives on the scene. Lauten indicates the Reman with his phaser, “He’s alive?” Beckwith nods, “Yes, he’s alive, but he’s out like a light.” Lauten looks over at Ellison, then grimaces. He points to Ellison’s phaser, “You can lower your phaser, Ensign. We have things under control now.” Ellison places her phaser back in its holster. She nods at Lauten, “I told you to avoid the Plomeek soup.” Beckwith shakes his head, “I’ll bet the replicators were taken out of our stipends. The scientists were probably given theirs.”

Primmin and Watkins arrive seconds later. Primmin goes straight to the Reman’s body. “He’s alive?” Beckwith nods again, “Yes, sir. I’ve got life signs.” Ellison gestures toward the unconscious alien. “Whoever attacked him, tapped him one good!” Primmin looks at his team. “Anyone get a look at his attacker?” Beckwith shakes his head, “No, sir.” Young Ellison excitedly indicates toward the ground. “There are tracks heading east!” Primmin stands up. “At ease, Ensign.” He indicates instructions to the other team members. “Lauten, you and Beckwith stay here with our ‘guest’. Watkins and Ellison, you’re with me.” Lauten gives him a puzzled look. “Where are YOU going?” Primmin looks back at him, “We’re going hunting for a crazy man dressed like a Star Fleet officer from a hundred years ago.” His entire team look at him as if he is speaking Klingon. Primmin scowls at all of them. “What? Didn’t you know that my ancestors were indigenous tribal members? Move out!”

Back in Sick Bay, Patricia is continuing her conversation with Admiral McCoy. “Child, don’t worry about me! They’ll find me. I never could run very fast.” Patricia shakes her head. “Gramps, that’s EXACTLY what I’m worried about… you being found! I just want you in one piece. We both know how trigger-happy Security can be, especially given that Primmin is the Chief of Security and he has an attitude that is plucking my LAST nerve!” Admiral McCoy rolls his eyes. “Some things never change. I just wish I could remember any of this!” Patricia is feeling frustrated. “I put in a request for the full debriefing file from Memory Alpha. But with Star Fleet clearance procedures, it will be WEEKS before I hear back!” Admiral McCoy chuckles, “I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe!” Patricia snickers, “Just like the oxymoron of military intelligence!” They both chuckle together.

Back at the rocks and boulders, Lauten and Beckwith stand guard over the Reman. Primmin, Watkins, and Ellison are heading back. Beckwith heads over to meet the returning team and gestures back toward the direction they’ve come. “I take it you couldn’t find him.” Primmin scowls at him, “Genius, you should have been an officer. We lost his trail about a half mile down.” Ellison approaches where the Reman is still lying on the ground. She stands next to Lauten and looks at him questioningly, “A man from a hundred years ago?” Lauten nods, “The big donut’s a time portal, Ellison, or do they still teach history at the Academy?” Ellison quirks an eyebrow at Lauten, “If he was around a hundred years ago, YOU must have known the man, Lauten.” Before either of them can react, the Reman suddenly rolls into Lauten, knocking him to the ground.

The Reman leaps to his feet and twists back toward Ellison, striking her, snapping her head back. She drops straight to the ground. Just as the Reman spins around, he is brought down by phaser fire from both Primmin and Watkins. Watkins and Beckwith then rush to the Reman, keeping their phasers on him, while Primmin rushes to Ellison and checks for a pulse. Lauten slowly gets to his feet. Primmin barks, “Watkins! I wanted him alive!” Watkins shrugs nonchalantly. “Don’t worry, sir. Ellison showed me the stun setting.” Primmin taps his comm-badge, “Primmin to Sick Bay! Emergency medical beam out! Six to beam back!” The Away Team, with their prisoner, beam directly into Sick Bay. Primmin is carrying Ellison. When Doctor Quon approaches to take Ellison from him, Primmin reacts to Quon’s presence with a nasty look, then carries Ellison to a nearby bio-bed. He lays her down and continues holding her hand. The remaining Security team starts to drag the Reman to a holding cell. As Patricia rushes into Sick Bay, a nurse hands a medical tricorder to her and she quickly scans Ellison, while activating the bio-bed. She barks at the Security team, “Put him on the other bio-bed!” The Security officers stop, surprised. Lauten attempts to argue, “He’s going to a holding cell!”

Patricia glares over to the Security team while her medical team continues working on Ellison, “He may be our prisoner and, at the same time, he’s injured. He needs medical attention! Bio-bed … NOW!” The Security team look over her shoulder at Primmin, who is still standing beside Ellison’s bed, holding her hand. Patricia barks at Security, “Don’t look at him! I gave you an order! Move it!” They quickly carry the Reman to the other bio-bed and a nurse activates it. Patricia calls out, “Doctor Charles…” as she gestures toward the prisoner. A doctor rushes over to the Reman and a nurse joins him, handing him a medical scanner. Patricia returns to her patient’s bedside, rejoins her team, gives Ellison a hypo, then continues working on her. She looks up at Primmin, “Did you find anyone else?” Primmin does not respond. Patricia turns her attention back to Ellison, working on her, then stops. She looks at Ellison’s readings then turns, sadly, toward Primmin who still seems to be in shock. “I’m sorry…there’s nothing more I could do. She’s dead.” Primmin snaps out of it. “Dead? She’s … dead?” Patricia puts her hand on Primmin’s shoulder. He’s still holding Ellison’s hand and he begins shaking his head. “This was her first assignment…she was fresh out of the Academy.” Patricia nods, sadly. “I know, George. I’m sorry.”

Primmin regains his composure and turns toward Patricia. “I haven’t found your Great-Grandfather yet. I have a hunch that he was the one who gave that Reman his head wound. We’ll find him for you, Doctor.” Patricia nods. “I know you will. Now go. Tend to your men. I’ll keep this Reman in a stasis field.” Primmin looks at Patricia, then down at Ellison’s body. He finally lets go of the Ensign’s hand and starts to leave. He stops at the doorway and turns back toward Patricia. “You ever had to inform a Star Fleet officer’s parents that their child has died?” She gives a solemn nod. “Yes…I have. And it’s never easy.” Primmin’s eyes are unreadable. “I haven’t…until now.” He turns and leaves. Patricia stares after him for a few seconds, sighs, then she turns her attention to the Reman. She barks orders to her medical staff. “I want him sedated and his injuries treated. Keep him in a stasis field! I don’t want any more fatalities because of him!” She gives a heavy sigh as she looks at Ellison’s body. “And prepare Ensign Ellison’s body for an autopsy.”

After the Reman had been treated for his injuries, he is moved to a cell in the Brig where he is guarded by Watkins, Lauten, and Koestler. Koestler chooses to stand as far from the Reman that she possibly can. During their duty shift, Lauten grimaces and Watkins notices this and comments, “I think you have a bleeding ulcer. You were in Sick Bay not too long ago and you didn’t say a word.” Lauten looks at him coldly. “The last person to joke with me, about my condition, was Ellison.” Watkins glares back at Lauten, then walks over to Koestler. He gestures at the tricorder in her hands, then at Lauten. Koestler looks at Watkins with apprehension, then at Lauten, who is pointedly ignoring both of them. She glances back at Watkins, then begins scanning Lauten. Commander Primmin arrives to check on the situation in the Brig.

Primmin walks up to Lauten, “Is the prisoner awake?” Lauten looks over toward the Reman in the cell. “I’m not sure, sir…” Primmin scowls, “Faking, probably. You know, Remans are sensitive to light.” Lauten gives him a worried expression. Primmin then calls out to the computer, “Computer, turn cell lights up one hundred percent.” The lights in the cell glow brighter. The other officers on duty turn their attention to the Reman’s cell…except Koestler. At the lights reach full intensity, the Star Fleet officers blink and squint as their eyes adjust to the brighter intensity. The Reman sits up abruptly, covering his eyes, and tries to tolerate it as long as possible. Finally it becomes too much for him and he begins screaming, “Ahhhhhh! Turn them off!” Primmin eyes the Reman without emotion, then calls to the computer, “Computer…two hundred percent.” The lights glow even brighter, the officers shield their eyes, and the Reman continues to scream. The Security team give worried looks in Primmin’s direction, who remains stoic. Koestler yells out, “Commander Primmin!” Primmin ignores her while the Reman continues screaming. Koestler tries again, “Commander Primmin!” Primmin continues to ignore her while staring at the Reman.

Finally, Primmin calls out to the computer, “Computer …” the Security team braces themselves for another onslaught as Primmin continues his command to the computer, “Reduce the lighting three hundred percent.” The lights dim to its original setting and the Reman’s pain seems to lessen although he is breathing heavily. Primmin gives a casual look to Koestler, then walks over to the containment field. As he approaches, the Reman stands and the two study each other. The Reman speaks first, “I am Vkryk.” Primmin responds, “Why are you here?” Vkryk moves closer to the containment field while Lauten and Watkins step forward with phasers drawn. Primmin does not move.

Vkryk smiles at his captors. “Ironically, my friends, my mission has nothing to do with Star Fleet. We were not aware of your presence, here, in this time period.” Primmin scowls at him. “If you’re unaware of Star Fleet’s control of the Guardian, then you must be from the future.” Vkryk slowly nods. “One hundred years in your future. My mission was to travel back in time, before the Romulans acquired space travel. I was then to travel to Romulus and kill them all.” Primmin looks confused. “Why kill the Rom…?”, then understanding crosses his face, “kill all the Romulans to prevent your people from being enslaved! Well, ‘friend’, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re one hundred years, or more, too late…” Vkryk contemplates this. “My mission has failed and I will be dead soon. Unfortunately, so will all of you!” Primmin has another thought, “You mean to tell me that, in your time, Star Fleet no longer controls the Guardian of Forever? How did we lose control of this planet?” Vkryk gives him an evil grin. “If you live another one hundred years, you may find out.”

Patricia approaches the Guardian of Forever, looks around to ensure that she is alone, then activates the recording feature of her tricorder. “Guardian, may I ask you a question?” The Guardian responds, “Long have I awaited…a question.” She gets annoyed and sarcastically responds, “I asked you a question, last month, and you answered it with a riddle.” The Guardian continues, “Long before your sun burned bright in the sky, I have been here. Time is far more complex than your species can comprehend.” She grumbles under her breath, “Hmph! You’re the Guardian of Forever and you can’t even tell time!” She attempts to address the Guardian once more, “Earlier today, my Great-Grandfather, Leonard Horatio McCoy, came through your portal. I need to know why.” The Guardian responds, “The answers you seek will come to pass.” Patricia’s annoyance increases. She can’t believe she is getting MORE riddles! “Why did my Great-Grandfather come through to the here and now? Was history changed in some way?”

The Guardian remains silent and she gets more irritated. “I’m sorry, was that question too hard for you?” There is still no response from the Guardian and she raises her voice. “HEL-LOOOOOOOO! I’m talking to you! I asked you a question! Has history been altered?” The Guardian rumbles to life, “There has been no alteration in the current time-line.” Patricia is skeptical. “Are you sure?” The ancient monolith repeats, “There has been no alteration in the current time-line.” She is relieved to hear that, “Well, that’s good news.”, until the Guardian adds, “Not as of yet.” She does a double-take, shocked. “What?! Run that by me again?” The Guardian only says, “History has not been altered. Everything is as it should be.”

She shakes her head, feeling confused. “How is that possible? And what do you mean by, ‘Not as of yet’?” The Guardian continues, “Everything is as it should be. There are out-of-time elements, in this time period, that threaten the current time-line.” Patricia tries her questions again, “Admiral Leonard McCoy came through your time portal! I saw him! Are you telling me that this was a pre-destined paradox?” The Guardian can only respond, “The answers you seek will come to pass.” She starts to fume helplessly. “You are not answering my questions!” The Guardian can only say, “My answers are simply as your level of understanding makes possible.” Patricia takes in a deep breath, then exhales sharply. “Okay…let me ask a different question. We found…a being…from a race called the Remans, on this planet. Did they come through your portal?”

The Guardian rumbles, “The beings, known as Remans, did come through the portal.” She reacts with shock, “Beings?! There were more than ONE?!” The Guardian goes silent and Patricia’s irritation increases. “I am waiting for an answer!” The Guardian replies, “The answers you seek will come to pass.” She reacts, angrily, “Is that all you’re programmed to say?! What kind of teaching tool are you?!” The Guardian answers, “I am both and I am neither. My function is to display the past, display the future, and record all.” She begins pacing back and forth, “Then give me a straight answer for once! What is the meaning of my Great-Grandfather coming to this time and place?” Once again, the Guardian replies, “The answers you seek…” and Patricia angrily completes his sentence while gesticulating, “Will come to pass! I know! I know! It’s like talking to a…a…a Pakled!” Unbeknownst to her, a figure rises behind her, the expression on his face is wild.

Patricia continues to pace to and fro in front of the Guardian, feeling more frustrated than she can ever remember feeling frustrated in her life! The figure, standing behind her, begins to approach like a wild predator stalking its prey. A loose rock is accidentally kicked and Patricia quickly spins toward the source of the sound, taking a defensive stance. Her eyes widen in recognition. Leonard McCoy silently looks back at her, with a slight look of recognition on his own countenance. She manages to find her voice, “Gramps?” He charges at her and she backs up. There’s a rock behind her and she trips. The subsequent fall sends her sprawling. Leonard McCoy jumps over her and continues on toward the Guardian, leaping through the now-inanimate portal. He lands on the other side, flat on his face. He gets to his feet, confused, and jumps through the portal again. He appears to be surprised that he does not materialize in another time. Patricia picks herself up and dusts herself off, keeping a watchful eye on this obviously-deranged individual. She attempts to reason with him, “Gramps? Are you all right? That was a rough fall you just took.”

Leonard McCoy stops and looks around, as if he can’t hear her, before focusing on her, uncertain. He looks thunderstruck. “Do I know you?!” Patricia takes a deep breath to calm herself. “I’m your Great-Granddaughter.” She sees a look of rage cross his face as he screams at her, “You’re lying! I don’t have a Great-Granddaughter! I don’t even have a Grandchild!” Patricia manages to remain calm. “Not yet. You will, but that’s not important. Right now, you need to remember. I want to help you remember. Let me help.” He shakes his head, “No! You don’t want to help me! This is a trick!”

Patricia holds up both hands to show she is not holding a weapon. “No tricks, Gramps! No tricks! Let’s just talk. I just want to have a rational conversation…” He shakes his head at her, “Rational?! Now you sound like a Vulcan! I don’t like Vulcans!” She nods in response, “I know you don’t like Vulcans. But you do TRUST Vulcans, especially ONE Vulcan! Besides, Vulcans are logical, not rational. Please…sit down.” Leonard McCoy eyes her with suspicion but crouches down. Patricia cautiously eases herself down on a boulder and continues speaking in a calm voice, even though she can’t believe she is actually speaking to a younger version of her Great-Grandfather…a one hundred YEARS younger version! “Let’s just talk…Gramps…I…you… look so…”

Leonard McCoy rises to his feet, screaming, “You sound insane! I am NOT your ‘Gramps’! I don’t have grandchildren!” Patricia holds up her hands again, “Just talk?” She waves at him to sit back down and he crouches … still on edge. She tries again, “I…I…just find this all so hard to believe! There’s no Star Fleet record of you coming to the future!” She gestures to the ancient monolith behind her, “The Guardian…” Leonard McCoy looks up, wildly, then suddenly leaps to his feet, “is trying to trick me! You’re one of them!” She feels herself starting to panic and struggles to bring her panic under control, “I am not one of them, Gramps!”, she replies with a shake of her head, “No! No tricks! You are Doctor Leonard Horatio McCoy of the Federation Star ship Enterprise. You serve under the command of Captain James Tiberius Kirk!” The younger version of her Great-Grandfather calms down a little but continues to eye her with suspicion, “How do you know who I am?” She holds out her hand to him, “I’m your…friend. You helped me. You saved my life! Please let me help you.” He rises to his feet, screaming, “NO! I don’t know you! I never met you before! You don’t want to help me! You want to kill me!” He charges at her full-tilt, leaving Patricia no choice but to pull out her phaser and stun him. He sprawls on the ground, unconscious.

She shakes her head in exasperation as she gets up and walks over to his prone form. “Oh, Gramps!”, she groans, “Whatever am I going to do with you…?” She taps her comm-badge. “McCoy to Sick Bay. I need a medical team and an anti-grav gurney at the location of the Guardian. I’ve found our patient. McCoy out!” She looks back down at the younger version of her Great-Grandfather and gives herself a face-palm, still shaking her head, groaning in exasperation. Within a few moments, a medical team beams in, with a gurney, and heads over to where both McCoy’s are. A few of the team start to exclaim in recognition until they see Patricia’s glare and think better of it. They load the unconscious patient onto the gurney and beam back to base.

Back at the Brig, Primmin stands outside of Vkryk’s cell. The three Security officers remain on watch and Vkryk looks bored. No one speaks for several seconds. Primmin shakes his head, “You expect me to believe that you were sent back to destroy Romulus?” Vkryk shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly, “I have given you the truth. I do not care what you believe.” Primmin starts to pace, thoughtfully rubbing his chin, “If what you’ve told me is the truth, then how did you expect to get off this planet? If your goal was to come back before the Romulans had developed space travel, and you were not aware of our presence here, how were you going to get to Romulus from across the quadrant? The only way to complete your mission…” his face shows sudden comprehension, “You have a ship? You smuggled a ship here before now?” The Reman does not answer…he only smiles…evilly.

Primmin continues, raising his voice, “You do, don’t you?!”, he yells, “How many came back with you?! ANSWER ME!” The Reman just grins at him, revealing the ugliest fangs that Primmin has ever seen. Primmin’s voice drops to a whisper, “You know the human you killed, from my unit? So you already know I have no qualms about killing you! But I think that is exactly what you want. Vulcans, Romulans, and Remans share a similar genetic make-up. Did you know that?” The Reman looks at him sharply. Primmin nods at him, “Touched a nerve, didn’t I, Reman? Vulcans and Romulans live much longer than humans…by hundreds of years. I’m betting that Remans do as well. So, if you don’t tell me what I want to know, I GUARANTEE you will see the next hundred years, or so, serving in a Star Fleet penal colony. Is Rura Penthe still around in your time?” The Reman resumes smiling and crosses his arms.

Vkryk shakes his head at Primmin, “Your threats are devoid of substance, my friend. You can’t scare me with permanent incarceration, because I will be dead within a day.” Primmin starts to back away from the cell and approaches Koestler. He whispers to her as she looks at her tricorder, “Did you scan him?” Koestler gives him a confused look, wondering what the hell is going on, “Yes, I…” Primmin barks at her, “Get those scans to Doctor McCoy…NOW!” Koestler looks scared as she rushes out of the room. Primmin walks over to the other Security officers, “Lauten, Watkins, leave…NOW!” Lauten starts to protest, “But…sir…?!” Primmin will brook no arguments, “That’s an order!” The two Security officers nod in agreement, then leave. Primmin returns his attention back to the Reman.

Primmin continues, “You say that you will be dead within the day? How is that possible? I’ve told you, we will not kill you, much as I would LOVE to have that honor. You’re ours for the duration!” Vkryk calmly looks at him, “Before leaving my time, I was infected with a disease that kills within hours. There is no cure.” Primmin scowls at him, “You’re lying! I don’t think you have the courage to commit suicide!” Vkryk shrugs, “What you believe, or do not believe, is of no importance to me. I will be dead, within a day, and my only satisfaction is that you, and everyone else on this planet, will be dead as well.” The Reman sits back on his bunk, and continues to grin at Primmin.

Patricia enters the corridor, leading to Sick Bay, guiding an anti-grav gurney with Leonard McCoy on it. Two medical technicians are assisting her with the gurney while Doctor Quon is taking medical tricorder readings from the patient. Quon is astounded, “I don’t believe it! By Grapthor’s Hammer, I don’t believe it! It’s him! It’s REALLY HIM! IT’S THE REAL MCCOY!” Patricia shoots him a look of irritation at the pun and growls, “How are you, dear? I’m quite all right, Tiger…even though I could have been KILLED!” Quon doesn’t really register what she’s just said and dismisses it, “Oh, you’re fine. It’s just that ….no one has EVER come through the Guardian to the future before!” She can’t believe that her lover can be so dense! He is standing close enough to Patricia that she hauls off and punches him in the arm. He moves out of range for a moment, realizes what he’s just done, then approaches her, placing a hand on her shoulder, in a non-verbal apology, while keeping his eyes on Leonard McCoy. She adds to his comment, “No one has ever come through the Guardian to the future before…that we know of.” Quon is giddy about seeing his idol…in the flesh! “And the first one is HIM!” Patricia looks down at her Great-Grandfather and lightly touches the side of his face affectionately. “Gramps, you were a handsome man. Were? Was? Is?” She’s not sure of the correct verb. She HATES tangled verbs!

Quon is still giddy. “I just can’t believe it’s HIM! An officer from the NCC-1701! The Enterprise! Patricia silently acknowledges to herself that she cannot believe she is actually looking at a younger version of Gramps, “There is so much I can learn from him…” Quon gets giddier, “He knew Kirk! And…more importantly…he knew Spock! He knew Ambassador Spock BEFORE he became Ambassador Spock! My God! He knew Pavel Chekov!” The medical team takes a right and steer the gurney into Sick Bay. Patricia glares at her lover, “Excuse me … DOCTOR … but I have a patient to attend to!” Quon is shocked. “What?! You want me to leave?!” She nods, “You’re an astrophysicist specializing in temporal mechanics, not a medic! I would really appreciate it if you would vacate Sick Bay for awhile and let me do my job. Don’t you have some Temporal Mechanics equations you should be working on?” Quon starts to shake his head, “But, you can’t ask me to leave! It’s…HIM!” Patricia gives him another glare and he realizes that if this Caitian doesn’t cooperate, HE will be in the doghouse! He holds up his hands in surrender, “Okay! Okay! I’m going!” He heads back out the door. Patricia pushes the gurney up to a bio-bed. Doctor Vaterhoelter and Nurse Koestler are studying the results of their readings.

Patricia calls out to them, “I could use some help, guys! This BODY needs a BED!” Vaterhoelter is still looking at his readings. “Doctor McCoy, I think you may want to see this.” Patricia responds with irritation, “Right now, I need help getting this patient onto a bio-bed…STAT!” Koestler puts down her tricorder and moves to assist Patricia. She comes to a screeching halt the moment she sees the patient! “Oh my Stars and Garters!”, Koestler exclaims, “I don’t believe it!” Patricia reacts with annoyance, “What’s the matter, nurse, you’ve never seen a patient before?!” Koestler reverts to an adolescent fan, similar to the ancient vids of Beatlemania, “But it’s him! IT’S HIM! A YOUNG, IMPOSSIBLY HANDSOME…HIM!” Patricia snorts in annoyance, “Oh, please…”, as she gestures to the bio-bed, “the PATIENT?!” Koestler positions herself at the foot of the gurney while Patricia stands at the head of it. “On my mark, one…two…THREE!” They shift Leonard McCoy’s unconscious form onto the bio-bed and activate it. Patricia hits a few more buttons and activates a stasis field. Koestler is standing there with her mouth agape. Patricia walks over to her and pushes her jaw shut. Doctor Vaterhoelter is still staring at his medical tricorder. He gestures to Patricia as he approaches her, “Doctor, you really should look at this…” When Vaterhoelter raises his head, he notices Leonard McCoy for the first time. “By the holy rings of Saturn!” Patricia gives him a glare as if to say, “Not you, too?!” Her exasperation shows in her voice, “YES, it’s HIM! Yes, this is impossible! And, YES, I will explain it all…LATER!” She pauses as she mutters under her breath, “As soon as I am able to understand it and explain to myself!” She turns to Doctor Vaterhoelter. “You wanted to show me something?” He stands there, frozen in shock, and continues to stare, slack-jawed, at Leonard McCoy. Patricia gives him a slight tap on the side of his face, “McCoy to Vaterhoelter! Come in, Vaterhoelter! Are you on this planet? Hello?!”

Vaterhoelter seems to come to his senses. “Oh! Uh! Yes! Nurse Koestler brought me a scan of the Reman in the Brig. I found…this.” Patricia takes the tricorder, looks at the screen and examines the results. She points to something, “What is that? Some kind of pathogen?” Vaterhoelter nods, “It appears so.” She looks at her colleague. “You interned on Romulus. What do you make of it?” He shakes his head, “It’s like nothing I have ever seen before!” They hear a commotion at the door and they look up to see Quon being shoved in by Primmin. Patricia loses her temper. “Commander Primmin! Have you lost your mind?!” Primmin continues pushing his luck, “Look! Doctor! I’ve got some questions…” he does a double- take the instant he sees Leonard McCoy on the bio-bed. “By Jupiter’s moons! Is that HIM?! Quon goes toe-to-toe with Primmin. “That IS Leonard McCoy of the star ship Enterprise! Kirk’s Enterprise! CHEKOV’S ENTERPRISE! The things we could learn from him!”

Primmin gestures toward Leonard McCoy’s unconscious form, “We could learn about the Reman! We need to wake him!” Quon argues back, “He’s a doctor! Not a fortune teller!” Primmin continues pressing his case, “I believe he was the first to contact the Remans!” He gesticulates more urgently, “We need to wake him!” Patricia’s patience is at an end! “Yes! He is MY Great-Grandfather! He is also MY patient! NO ONE is going to interrogate, talk to, question, quiz, investigate, ask, examine, grill, or ANNOY him! I’m giving everyone a direct order…ALL NON-medical personnel leave Sick Bay…NOW! OUT!” Primmin scowls and refuses to move. Patricia stomps over to him and gets in his face. “You want to push me past my limits?! Fine! I will shoot you if I have to! I’m giving you a choice…leave MY Sick Bay voluntarily or INVOLUNTARILY!” Primmin attempts to stare her down. She doesn’t budge. “NOW! COMMANDER Primmin! Or do I have to CALL SECURITY, YOUR SECURITY TEAM, and have you BODILY REMOVED from MY Sick Bay and have you court-martialed for insubordination?!” Primmin glares silently at Patricia for several seconds, clenching and unclenching his teeth, then turns on his heel and leaves. She then rounds on Quon, who starts to smile at her, thinking that, as a doctor/scientist, he’s safe. When he sees the fire in her eyes, he quickly realizes that he better make a hasty retreat! He hurries after Primmin.

Lauten and Watkins are continuing their patrol among the rocks and boulders. Watkins has his phaser drawn while Lauten scans the area with his tricorder. He has one hand on the tricorder and the other on his stomach. He’s trying not to wince. Lauten nods toward his tricorder, “I’m not picking up anybody. Are you sure there are more Remans out here?” Watkins nods in response while he continues to be vigilant. “The Commander seems pretty sure. Something the Reman said to him. He also says that Remans never work alone!” Watkins suddenly halts, holding up his hand. The two of them stop as Watkins gestures toward a boulder. Lauten puts his tricorder away and draws his phaser. They creep up to the boulder from opposite sides and find…NOTHING! Watkins shakes his head, “I thought I heard something!” Lauten is annoyed. “That’s the second time you’ve done that to me!” Watkins looks apologetic. “Sorry, Lauten. I got excited. This planet is to Security what peace is to a Klingon!” Lauten shakes his head. “You just want to kill something!” Watkins looks at his colleague. “Semper Vigiles!” Lauten rolls his eyes. “Tell THAT to Doctor Quon. He thinks we’re simply gold-shirted pack mules!”

Back at Sick Bay, Patricia is at the holo-communicator, when Nurse Koestler interrupts her by handing her a medical tricorder. She gives the nurse a quizzical look as the nurse points out the readings, then leaves. Once the nurse is out of sight, she returns her attention back to the holo-communicator and continues to work the controls. When Admiral McCoy appears, Patricia’s expression softens. He nods at his Great-Granddaughter. “Child, I would say my diagnosis is…acute paranoia. I would recommend…”, he does a double-take when he sees the figure on the bio-bed behind Patricia. “I’ll be damned!” Patricia glances back at the younger version of Gramps, then turns back to the current version with a grin. “Well, Gramps, what do you think?” He stands a little taller. “I think I was a damned good-looking man!” Patricia chuckles at that. “Do you have any questions for me, Gramps?” The old doctor looks over at his younger self, “Just one. If I was that good-looking, in my day, then why did Kirk get all the women?” Patricia shakes her head at him. “Gramps! I’m serious!” He quirks an eyebrow at her. “That’s Admiral Gramps to you! What can I tell you? I was under the influence of Cordrazine. How was I supposed to remember this? I’m a human, not a Vulcan…even though I might be as old as a Vulcan! Patricia tilts her head to gaze at the old doctor’s ears, trying to hide a smirk. “They are getting pointier…” Her Great-Grandfather growls back at her. “Don’t even joke about such things!” She gives him a mischievous grin.

Lauten and Watkins are still patrolling the area, climbing among the rocks and boulders. Watkins forges ahead while Lauten lags behind, wincing and rubbing his forehead. Watkins is so focused on his task that he doesn’t realize that Lauten is unable to keep up with him. Watkins muses to himself and to Lauten, “I don’t get it! This planet is more secure than Earth! It’s not on anyone’s career path to a post like the Enterprise … the Defiant … the Voyager … DS9.” Lauten chimes in, “Unless you’re…” Watkins finishes his thought for him, “George Primmin!” Lauten suddenly grabs his head just as Watkins turns toward him. “What’s wrong, Lauten? Bad soup’s gone to your head?” Lauten is looking really nauseous. “I-I-I don’t know. I’m just not feeling right!” Watkins indicates the way back to base, “Why don’t you head back? I can handle things from here.” Lauten looks at him questioningly. “Are you sure? Semper Vigiles?” Watkins laughs. Lauten shakes his head. “Our orders are to stay in teams…” Watkins points to Lauten, “You…tricorder”, then points to himself, “Me…phaser.” Watkins’ looks up and gestures overhead, “Orbital sensor array, weapons platform, and I don’t think the rocks shoot back, Lauten.” Lauten does not respond and Watkins is puzzled. “Lauten?” He looks back toward his colleague. “LAUTEN!” Lauten has collapsed.

Patricia is sitting in her office recording her statements, “Medical log, supplemental. I have found Doctor Leonard Horatio McCoy, from the 23rd Century. He is unconscious, lying on my bio-bed in my Sick Bay. I am also receiving medical assistance from Admiral Leonard Horatio McCoy, from the 24th Century, thanks to a holo-communicator. There is a Reman, a member of the Romulan race, sitting in the Brig. He is carrying a strange pathogen in his system. That pathogen should have my complete attention, but, seeing my Great-Grandfather, one hundred or so years younger, is pretty hard to ignore!” She gets up and walks over to the bio-bed, hovering over the unconscious form of the younger version of Leonard McCoy and gently touches his face. She looks up at the screen, at the Reman sitting in the Brig, then looks back down at the younger Leonard McCoy. She scans her unconscious patient and checks her readings. The holo-communicator is still operating and Admiral McCoy observes his Great-Granddaughter as she checks the readings from the Reman, then scans the younger version of Leonard McCoy again.

The Admiral shakes his head. “Child, do you remember what you learned in your 12-Step meetings? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results!” Patricia looks up at the holographic form of her Great-Grandfather. “Come on, Gramps! It’s YOU!” The Admiral shows his exasperation, “I can see that!” Patricia scans the younger Leonard McCoy again, “His Cordrazine levels are falling…but still well above the safe dosage. Gramps, how in the hell did you ever survive THIS?!” The Admiral attempts to shift her attention, “Child, maybe your focus should be on the pathogen that Reman is carrying.” She nods, absentmindedly, at her Great-Grandfather’s words. “That’s why I have a staff…” The Admiral starts to growl at her. “Child! Listen to me! You are NOT seeing the forest for the trees! Far be it from me to tell another doctor her or his job, but you really need to focus on the Reman…” Patricia looks up from her scan, clearly irritated. “Gramps! I KNOW my job! I learned from the BEST…YOU! I know the Reman is sick, but he’s not contagious, according to the information my staff have given me. My assistants can handle that!” The Admiral looks back her, frustrated and worried.

Watkins scrambles over to Lauten’s prone form, kneels down, and checks for a pulse. He taps his comm-badge, “Watkins to Time Piece Ops! Medical emergency! Two to beam directly to Sick Bay!” The Communications Officer, Elroy George, and the Chief Engineer, Enrique Castillos, are on duty in OPS. The Communications Officer responds, “OPS to Away Team! Prepare for immediate transport!” He looks toward the Chief Engineer, “Enrique?” The Chief Engineer hits the controls on his console, “I’ve got a lock on them! Energizing!” The Communications Officer continues, “Commander Primmin to Sick Bay, IMMEDIATELY!” The transporter effect surround Watkins and Lauten and they vanish in a shimmer of light.

The two Security officers materialize in Sick Bay and Lauten is immediately placed on a bio-bed by Doctor Vaterhoelter and Nurse Koestler, with assistance from Watkins. All life sign readings are at zero. Patricia rushes over, the nurse hands her a hypo-spray, and she injects Lauten. There is no response and no change in the readings. “Cortical stimulator!”, Patricia shouts. Koestler places the device on Lauten’s forehead and activates it. Again, there is no change. Watkins looks on, helplessly, and is clearly upset. Koestler gives Patricia another hypo-spray and she administers it to Lauten, then checks the bio-readings on the screen again. There is no response. “Give me a neural stimulator, STAT!”, Patricia barks. Doctor Vaterhoelter and Nurse Koestler set a U-shaped machine down over Lauten’s head. Primmin rushes into Sick Bay as the medical staff continue to work on Lauten. Koestler calls out, “Neural stimulator locked in!”

Patricia barks another order, “Interlock current feeds! Set sensitivity factor to four point four!” Doctor Vaterhoelter calls out, “Four point four, ma’am!” The life signs start to respond as Koestler calls out the readings, “Monitoring to one point eight…two point three…” Watkins breathes a sigh of relief. “You did it, Doctor McCoy! You’ve brought him back!” Patricia shakes her head. “We’ve done nothing! Lauten’s on total life support. There is no independent brain function.” Koestler continues to call out the readings, “Current feeds operating…” Lauten’s life signs begin to plummet rapidly. Vaterhoelter calls out, “He’s not responding, Doctor McCoy! His synaptic network is breaking down!” Patricia gives another order, “Another hypo of neur-op!” Koestler hands her the hypo-spray and Patricia injects Lauten. Vaterhoelter calls out the readings, “Neurons are beginning to polarize!” Patricia shouts, “Direct reticular stimulation!”

Vaterhoelter responds, “Direct reticular stimulation, aye!” Vaterhoelter presses a button and there is an audible whine as the voltage charges. Patricia shouts to everyone, “CLEAR!” Everyone steps back at the charge jolts through Lauten’s body. Patricia checks his life signs and barks another order, “Increase to seventy micro-volts! CLEAR!” Vaterhoelter obeys the command and presses the button again. Another charge jolts Lauten’s body up off the bed but he remains limp. Patricia continues, “Increase to eighty micro-volts! CLEAR!” Vaterhoelter responds, “Eighty micro-volts, aye!” He presses the button again, but there is no response from Lauten. Patricia shouts, “AGAIN! CLEAR!” Vaterhoelter presses the button, they hear the whine as the voltage builds then jolts through Lauten’s body. There is still no response. Patricia whispers hoarsely, “Ninety…” Once again, the voltage builds, then jolts through Lauten’s body without results. She barks, “AGAIN! CLEAR!” The voltage charge jolts through Lauten once more…again, no results. Patricia shouts at Lauten’s inanimate form, “Don’t you die on me, Lauten! AGAIN! CLEAR!” Lauten’s body is jolted again without any further response.

Primmin speaks up, “He’s dead…” Patricia rounds on him angrily! “Do YOU have a medical license, COMMANDER?!” She turns to Nurse Koestler, feeling drained. “Nurse…” Koestler sadly responds, “Time of death, 15:30 hours, local time.” Patricia is exhausted as she turns to Watkins, “What happened down there?” Watkins cannot believe that his colleague has just died in front of him. He shakes his head in disbelief. “We…we were searching for any other Remans. He said he felt ill … then he… he… just collapsed!” Patricia looks up at Lauten’s readings and points to something she sees on the screen. Vaterhoelter nods in agreement while Koestler stares, wide-eyed. Patricia grabs a medical tricorder, scans Primmin, others, then herself. Primmin looks at everyone, confused. “What is it?!” Patricia takes in a deep breath, then exhales sharply. That pathogen, the one the Reman has…now we all have it!” Watkins looks at Patricia, agape. “WHAT?!” Primmin shakes his head in denial, “There must be some mistake! I don’t feel ill!”

Patricia looks deep in thought as she answers to no one in particular, “Neither do I. I can understand a viral mutation that crosses species such as the Avian or Swine Flu…but THIS just doesn’t make sense!” She looks at her staff, “I need a scan from ALL Time Piece personnel…STAT!” Watkins is near panic, “What are you saying?! Are we all going to DIE?!” Primmin realizes that he needs to take command of his Security officer…NOW! He shouts at Watkins, “LIEUTENANT!” Watkins snaps out of panic-mode when he faces his commanding officer. “Yes, sir!” Primmin continues, more calmly, “Report to your station.” Watkins nods in response, “Aye-aye, sir!” He turns and leaves Sick Bay.

Primmin looks at Patricia with an apologetic look on his face. “The Reman said we’d all be dead within a day. I should have listened to him.” Patricia whirls to face him, “What?! Run that by me, again, Commander?!” Primmin repeats his statement, “The Reman said that we would all be dead within a day!” Patricia’s temper starts to rise, “And how LONG have you known THIS and WHY wasn’t I informed EARLIER!?” Primmin hangs his head in contrition, “I assumed the Reman was lying so I decided not to say anything about it.” Patricia growls through clenched teeth, “Do you know that old saying about the word ‘ASSUME’ … COMMANDER?! Because YOU… ASSUMED… that the Reman was lying…and decided to keep that vital information from ME…YOUR CAPTAIN…”, she points to Lauten’s body, YOUR OFFFICER IS NOW DEAD and the REST OF US are ALL looking at a DEATH SENTENCE! CONGRATULATIONS, COMMANDER! I should give you the Darwin Award!” Primmin is fighting back tears. “You have no idea how sorry I am! I’ll have everyone report to Sick Bay immediately.” Patricia manages to dial back her temper. “Thank you…Commander.” Primmin leaves Sick Bay and Patricia, along with her medical staff, turn their attention to the medical screen.

Commander Primmin has assembled the remainder of his Security officers in the cargo bay of the base. He looks at each face, Watkins, Beckwith, and the other five officers as they stand at attention in a line. Primmin manages to find his command voice, “I have gathered you all here to pay respects to our fallen comrades. Today, we lost Ensign Ellison and Lieutenant Lauten, two of Star Fleet Security’s finest officers, in the line of duty. Mourn them, salute them…but do not weep for them. They gave the supreme sacrifice … their lives … for their unit and that is the dream of every Security officer in Star Fleet!” He raises his voice, “They gave their lives doing their job…AND WHAT IS THAT JOB?!”

His Security officers respond in unison, “To protect and to serve!” Primmin shouts, “WHAT IS OUR JOB?!” His officers respond again, “TO PROTECT AND SERVE!” Primmin is pumped as he continues, “Who do we protect?” His officers respond, “Our fellow officers!” The Commander yells, “WHO DO WE SERVE?!” His officers shout back, together, “STAR FLEET!” Primmin almost loses control of his emotions but manages to maintain his composure, “And what do we protect them with?!” His officers respond, “Our very lives!” Primmin nods, continuing his command voice, “Now, you may have heard about this pathogen that the Reman has given all of us! It’s true! We are infected! But…we have the BEST Doctors and Scientists that Star Fleet has to offer, working to find us a cure! And they WILL find that cure! All we have to do is to make sure that they stay alive long enough to find that cure! All we have to do…is our jobs! What is our job?!” His officers shout back, “PROTECT AND SERVE!” Primmin shouts, “WHO DO WE PROTECT?!” His officers respond, “OUR FELLOW OFFICERS!” Primmin shouts once more, “WHO DO WE SERVE?!” Once more, the Security officers shout, “STAR FLEET!” Primmin lowers his voice, “Let us observe a moment of silence for our fallen comrades, Ensign Ellison and Lieutenant Lauten…and let our silence speak volumes and reverberate throughout the galaxy and all the quadrants.” They all bow their heads while observing a moment of silence. After a few seconds, Primmin raises his head and looks at all of them. His anger shows in his voice, “Thank you! Now…we have a job to do! Let’s do it! Dismissed!”

Ensign Pindell is lying on a bio-bed, looking scared. Doctor Vaterhoelter is running tests. The younger version of Leonard McCoy is lying on another bio-bed, still unconscious, while Patricia tends to her patient. The young ensign looks up at Vaterhoelter, anxious, and asks him a question, “I’m going to die! Aren’t I?!” Vaterhoelter is so focused on his testing procedures that he doesn’t make any eye-contact. He nonchalantly responds, “We’re all going to die, Ensign. It’s just a matter of time.” Patricia hears the exchange and gets irritated. She walks over to the Ensign’s bio-bed and places a reassuring hand on his shoulder, “You’re NOT dying on MY watch, Ensign! You can return to Engineering. The moment you start feeling ill…” Ensign Pindell is panicking, “I’ll be dead before I can tap my comm-badge!” Patricia grabs his shoulders and gives him a shake, “NOT! ON! MY! WATCH! ENSIGN! DO YOU HEAR ME?!” Pindell’s panicky expression slowly changes to a slow smile as Patricia continues her eye-contact with him. The Ensign nods, “Aye-aye, Doctor!” He jumps off the bio-bed and heads back to Engineering. Patricia turns to glare at Vaterhoelter. “One of my greatest tools, DOCTOR, is COMPASSION! Why don’t you go find a dictionary and look it up?!” Vaterhoelter hangs his head in embarrassment. “Yes, Doctor.” He heads out of the area to avoid Patricia’s withering glare. Patricia turns to Nurse Koestler, who turns on the holo-communicator. Admiral McCoy reappears.

The Admiral looks at her sympathetically. “You’re all infected, aren’t you?” Patricia gives a deep sigh, “Gramps, I really don’t need to hear gloating! Not now! Just don’t say it! You were right!” The old Admiral tilts his head at her, “Say what? That I told you so?” Patricia attempts to tamp down her irritation, “Gramps, please!” The Admiral’s tone turns gentle, “Child, sometimes the best of doctors need a kick in the seat of the pants every now and then. That includes me as well. If you had paid more attention to what I was trying to tell you, you would have this pathogen solved by now. Give it to me! What do you have?” Vaterhoelter speaks up, “I first thought that the pathogen might be a form of mucormycosis, a fungal infection…” The Admiral snaps at him, “I KNOW what a mucormycosis is, YOUNG’UN!” Patricia glares at Vaterhoelter, “Need I remind you WHO we are consulting with?!” Vaterhoelter looks chastened and continues, “The vascular network shows no signs of fungal invasion. The maxilla is unaffected as well. There has been no swelling in the optical cavity, no eurthyemic symptoms, no reddening, or edema.” Patricia nods as she looks at her Great-Grandfather’s holographic image and indicates the PADD in her hand, “That rules out Amphotericia B or Posacaviazole.” The Admiral shakes his head, “Your thinking is too Terran. Think outside the box! Expand your horizons beyond the quadrant!” Vaterhoelter pauses then continues, “There is one thing, sir, that I AM certain of! This disease is NOT of natural origin! It was manufactured in a laboratory…a bio-weapon!”

Nurse Koestler is horrified. “Who would develop such a thing?!” Admiral McCoy interjects, “I can think of at least fifty worlds off the top of my head!” Patricia starts pacing, thinking, “This is definitely bacterial, attacking the lymph systems first, killing the anti-bodies and white blood cells in the process and destroying the immune system…a retro-virus without BEING a retro-virus! Remember the AIDS epidemic that began in the 20th Century?” Koestler nods, “With our immune systems destroyed, that would make us susceptible to natural toxins and other opportunistic infections!” Patricia nods as she continues pacing, “Like Rigellian Fever or Synthococcus Novae…but Rietalyn has no effect on this…whatever it is. This pathogen is also designed to speed up the effects of toxins and/or other infections.” The Admiral gestures at her to gain her attention. She turns and makes eye-contact with her Great-Grandfather. The Admiral asks her, “Have you tested everyone?” Patricia nods, “Yes, I’ve tested all personnel assigned here…thirty-eight tested and all thirty-eight came back positive!” The Admiral gives her a pointed look, “Everyone?” Patricia gives him a confused stare, then her face lights up with a revelation. She looks over at the younger version of her Great-Grandfather lying unconscious on the bio-bed then back at her Great-Grandfather’s holo-image and nods. In that instant, the power fails…the holo-communicator shuts down, the holo-image of Admiral McCoy vanishes, and everyone is left in the dark. Patricia lets fly with an expletive about Klingon excrement!

Vkryk is sitting stone-still on the bench in the Brig. Beckwith and another Security officer stands guard outside the stasis field. Primmin enters the area, marching straight to where the stasis field sparkles. Looking straight at the Reman, Primmin speaks up, “The infection you carry was engineered to kill Romulans … but it seems to infect other species as well.” Vkryk snickers, “A most fortunate accident.” The Reman grins, revealing the fangs that Primmin finds so repugnant. Primmin scowls at him, “You had help. There’s another Reman out there … somewhere.” Vkryk smirks as he crosses his arms and lounges back on his bunk, “There is … or … perhaps, there was.” Primmin studies his adversary for a moment, then nods at his Security officers, “Lower the stasis field.” Both officers are startled, “But … sir …”, one of them starts to protest. Primmin looks at his officers, “We’re all infected anyway. Lower the field. He can’t go anywhere. Where is he going to go to, this late in the game?” Beckwith nods to his colleague, who nods back and aims his phaser at Vkryk. Beckwith pushes some buttons and the stasis field vanishes with a snap. Primmin approaches the Reman. “You’re going to tell me how to find your partner, my ‘friend’, aren’t you?” In an instant, the power cuts off, leaving them all in the dark. Someone erupts with colorful language.

Back in Sick Bay, there is general panic at the sudden black-out. Everyone is at a loss as to what has happened. Patricia hits her comm-badge, shouting over the din, “McCoy to OPS!” There is no response. She taps her comm-badge again, “OPS!” The din and panic increases within the darkened Sick Bay. Patricia shouts over the noise, “QUIET! EVERYONE!” They all quiet down just as the Emergency lights flicker on. There are sighs of relief throughout the room. Patricia hears the voice of the Communications Officer respond over her comm-badge, “OPS, George here! The power’s down all over the station, Doctor. Primary generators are down as well.” Patricia responds, “Acknowledged! I have emergency lights, but no other emergency power.” The Communications Officer continues, “The medical emergency lights are on a separate circuit, just in case of a station-wide power failure.” Patricia is annoyed. “A fat lot of good that does me if I don’t have my MEDICAL EQUIPMENT operational! This black-out is NOT at a good time! Castillos! Are you there?!” Castillos responds, “This is not a malfunction, Doctor. This was sabotage!”

Patricia turns toward the door as she hears the sound of movement in the corridor. She grabs for her phaser, checking it’s stun setting and motions for others to take cover, just in case. The door to Sick Bay pops open and Primmin, along with his Security officers, push it open and enter carrying the limp form of the Reman. The medical personnel are shocked, unable to move from their positions. Patricia approaches the Security team, irritated. “What did you DO?!”, she snaps. Primmin looks at her, not certain how to react. “I never touched him! I swear! He just collapsed…like Lauten!” Patricia indicates a vacant, but non-functional, bio-bed. Put him over there!” The Security team hoists the Reman’s body onto the bed. Primmin looks at Patricia, questioningly. How soon can we have an autopsy?” Koestler attempts to interject, “But we have no power…!” Patricia interrupts the nurse, “We still have our tricorders! Go get them!” The nurse hurries off as Primmin waits for Patricia to turn her attention back to him. He continues, “There is another Reman and I’m pretty sure he did this! We need to find him before he does anymore damage!” She shakes her head, “I can’t spare anyone from medical!”

Primmin gesticulates with frustration, “There’s no telling WHAT that Reman us planning to do next!” He pauses, “And that’s not the worst of it! The planetary shields are down too! Have you any idea how many worlds would LOVE to get their hands on the Guardian?!” Patricia nods, “I understand your predicament, Commander, but if we want to get out of this … alive … I’m going to need my entire medical staff working on finding the cure! I have NO idea how much time we really have left!” Primmin nods back, “I understand!” He taps his comm-badge, “Attention all personnel! I want everyone, EXCEPT medical personnel, to meet me in OPS in fifteen minutes! Primmin out!” He taps his comm-badge once more then looks at Patricia. “Good luck, Doctor!” He pauses, “Captain!”, as he gives her a respectful salute. She looks back at him, “Same to you, Commander!” Primmin and his Security team leave Sick Bay, heading to OPS. Patricia hears a familiar voice behind her, “Let me help!” She whirls around to see the younger version of Leonard McCoy sitting up and seemingly coherent.

Primmin has assembled all Science and Engineering personnel in OPS. The room is darkened with the exception of emergency lighting. As Primmin takes note of who has arrived, he is surprised to see Doctor Quon, the Caitian. The head of Security walks over to him. “Doctor Quon! What are you doing here?! I thought you would be back at Sick Bay helping with researching this pathogen and finding the cure! Quon shakes his head. “I’m a temporal mechanic, not a medic. Lately, I’ve been underfoot, which has been really irritating Doctor McCoy. I figured if I stayed out of range, I wouldn’t be getting on her nerves so much.” Primmin nods at him. “Very well.” He turns his attention to everyone in the room, “Okay, people, listen up! I’m told that Medical is close to a cure, so we have jobs to do. One…we restore power because right now our sensors are blind, leaving us vulnerable. This planet is classified for a reason and there are certain hostile forces who would love to take it from us! Pindell, Beckwith, you get the backups online. Castillos, Doctor Quon, you get the mains back up!” Quon shakes his head, “I’m a scientist, not a body-guard!” Primmin fixes him with a glare. If this pathogen gets to Castillos before he can fix the mains, then you’ll be an Engineer!

Quon raises his hand, “I have a theory…” but Primmin shakes his head, “No, Quon! We are NOT going back in time!” The Caitian is dumbfounded and the entire room falls silent. Primmin continues, “I know that you’re a scientist, who specializes in temporal mechanics. It’s pretty obvious what YOU want to do!” He hands Quon a phaser while he continues speaking to the rest of the personnel, “Watkins, you take the rest of the team and protect the Guardian. Elroy, I need to have you remain in OPS, monitoring all communications. Unfortunately, you’ll also be by yourself!” The Communications Officer nods in agreement. “I can live with that.” Quon gives Primmin a curious look, “And where will YOU be?” Primmin double-checks his phaser, then glances over at the Caitian. “I’m going after the Reman!” Watkins raises his hand, “With all due respect, sir, how are you going to find him by yourself?” Primmin smiles grimly, “Oh, finding the Reman is the easy part. Now … all of you … dismissed!” All personnel scatter to their respective assignments.

The younger version of Leonard McCoy is sitting on the side of his bio-bed, lucid, but Patricia approaches him cautiously. He fixes her with a look, “Did I hear you, or someone, say that the entire crew, here, is infected by some kind of pathogen?” Patricia nods at him, “Yes … everyone … but you.” The younger version of Leonard isn’t certain what to make of that. She gives him a half-smile, then turns to everyone else standing about the room. “Everyone, listen up!”, she announces as she holds up four hypo-sprays, “Vaterhoelter, take two hypo-sprays to the Guardian. See that everyone gets a shot. Koestler, go to OPS first…give Officer George a shot. If the power’s up by then, have him beam you over to the power plant and then to the back-ups. Find out where Primmin is.” Vaterhoelter gestures toward the hypo-sprays. “What is that, Doctor?” Patricia grins. “Cordrazine.”

Pindell and Beckwith are in the back-up generator room. Pindell is working as quickly as possible while Beckwith guards him. The officer nods towards the Security officer with satisfaction. “Done! That was easy! All he did was remove the power cells.” He pushes a button and the generator hums to life. Pindell grins, “We now have back-up power!” Beckwith taps his comm-badge. “Beckwith to OPS!” The Communications Officer responds, “OPS, George here!” Beckwith continues, “You now have back-up power.” Pindell chimes in, “It’s not enough for the shields but it should be enough to power the long range sensors.” Officer George responds, “Acknowledged. Activating long range…” Pindell and Beckwith hear him gasp in horror, “Oh my God! OPS to all Away Teams! We’ve got gate crashers coming to our party! Long range sensors show a Romulan fleet heading our way! Enrique! We need main power in ten minutes or we are ALL dead!”

At the main power plant, Castillos is underneath a console with only his feet showing. Quon is scanning the area with his tricorder but his phaser is still in its holster on his side. Quon glances toward Castillos’ direction. “Can you do it, Enrique?” Castillos’ voice is slightly muffled. “No sweat, Quon! This is a piece of cake! Once I recalibrate the field generators, all of our shields will be at full strength. Pass me the spanner!” Quon looks confused. “The what?” Castillos’ hand appears from behind the console and points at the tool that is just out of reach. Quon reaches for it and hands it to him. “Oh, I see! Castillos takes it from him and gets back to work. “Thanks! By the way, Quon, do you think Doctor McCoy will find the cure in time?” Quon continues to scan the area, “I’m not worried. If there is a cure, I’m confident that Patricia will find it!” He hears an ominous clunk from underneath the console. “Enrique?” There is no response. “Enrique! Answer me!” Still no response. He reaches with his foot to tap Enrique’s leg. Castillos still does not respond. Quon bends down to look underneath the console then straightens back up with the spanner in his hand. “Well, Quon, old boy, NOW it’s time to worry because NOW I’m also an Engineer!”

The Communications Officer is monitoring the long-range sensors. At the push of a button, the view-screen shows a Romulan fleet approaching their coordinates at warp speed. He has every reason to be worried! Both Doctors McCoy are at the Guardian of Forever, administering doses of Cordrazine to the Security Team protecting the ancient monolith. Inside the darkened hangar deck, there are two runabouts. The other Reman emerges from the shadows and moves, silently, toward the spacecrafts. He stops, looks around, and seeing no one, proceeds to one of the vessels. As the Reman attempts to work the controls to open the door, there is a shout behind him, “Hey!” The Reman whirls around, reaching for his weapon but his instantly dropped by a phaser blast. Primmin walks out of the shadows, phaser in hand. As he walks over to the Reman’s body, he is sweating profusely. “How else were you going to get to Romulus…’friend’?” Primmin suddenly drops his phaser, falls to his knees, then collapses onto his face, unconscious.

As Patricia works to ensure everyone, at the Guardian, has been inoculated, she suddenly grabs her head and bends double crying, “NO!” Leonard McCoy looks over at her. “You can’t be dying now! You were among the first to get vaccinated! She shakes her head. “It’s not that, Gramps! It’s Quon! My mate! I just felt our connection breaking! He’s dying!” Leonard McCoy walks over to her and grips her shoulders. “You can’t help him now but there are still others that depend on you!” He shakes her as he shouts, “Captain!” She nods in agreement. “You’re right, Gramps!” She straightens up and resumes command. She taps her Comm- badge. “McCoy to OPS! What’s the status?” The Communications Officer responds, “OPS, George here! Doctor, the Romulans are almost on top of us! I haven’t heard back from Pindell or Beckwith and I can’t raise Doctor Quon or Castillos!” Patricia wipes the tears off her face with the back of her hand. “Acknowledged. You know what you have to do!” Officer George sounds apprehensive. “Aye-aye, ma-am! I’ll man the planetary defenses. We need to arm the self-destruct sequence so we’ll be ready if the Romulans break through!” McCoy nods, even though she knows that the Communications Officer cannot see her. “Agreed! Computer, arm self-destruct sequence, McCoy! Alpha-nine-one-one!” The Communications Officer responds, “George Concur! Beta-nine-one-one!” The computer responds, “Self-destruct armed!” George continues, “I’m ready to blow this entire planet, at the push of a button, the moment I spot the first Bird-of-Prey within firing range! George out!”

Patricia takes a deep breath, trying to control her shaking and her grief, then looks around at the rest of the crew. Koestler approaches her with tricorder, showing her the readings. “The response is good. The pathogen levels are dropping rapidly.” Patricia manages to smile, “Good work, nurse!” She raises her voice so that everyone can hear her. “Listen up, everybody! There’s a Romulan fleet on the way to our coordinates. Our priority is to protect the Guardian as best we can! If we can’t…” Watkins finishes her sentence, “We blow up this planet and take them with us!” Security brandishes their phasers and Leonard McCoy realizes that he still has his 23rd Century issue phaser. Both McCoy’s look at each other and Patricia is uncertain if this newest development is a good thing or a bad thing. Out in space, the Romulan fleet continue their approach as the Communications Officer watches the view-screen with increasing apprehension. Back at the Guardian, everyone takes cover to prepare for possible hand-to- hand combat or a firefight, if not both.

The Romulan fleet edges closer and the Communications Officer prepares to hit the button. At the Guardian, Security is at the ready while Leonard McCoy stands behind Patricia, who has her own phaser in her hand, every nerve at Red Alert. Back at OPS, Officer George’s hand is shaking. Everyone, on the planet’s surface, is ready for a fight to the death. Just as the Romulan fleet enter standard orbit, the planet’s shields and weapons platform reactivate, driving them off! Officer George does a victory dance in the OPS control center! “YES!” He taps his comm-badge, “OPS to Doctor McCoy!” Patricia taps her comm-badge, “McCoy here!” Officer George is ecstatic. “Ma’am, I don’t know how but the orbital defenses are back online! The Romulans are leaving!” Patricia breathes a sigh of relief, holsters her phaser, then calls out to the computer, “Computer! Cancel self-destruct! McCoy! Omega-nine-one-one!” Officer George chimes in, “Concur! Cancel self-destruct! George! Omega-nine-one-zero!” Patricia walks over to a nearby flat rock and stands on it, raising her voice, “The orbital defense systems are back online! The Romulans are leaving!” Watkins grins, “I guess they couldn’t stomach the fight we had ready for them!”

Patricia steps down from the rock as everyone lets out a yell of celebration. Leonard McCoy looks about, confused. She approaches Leonard McCoy as she continues her orders, “Okay, people! We still got infected crew-mates out there that need to get vaccinated! Let’s find them!” As she reaches Leonard to put her arm around him, he grabs her from behind and holds his phaser to her head! He barks an order to everyone, “No one moves! Take one false step and she dies!” She is shocked beyond belief! “Gramps?! WHAT?!” Leonard snaps at her, “QUIET!” He turns back to the crowd, “I mean it! One move and I fire!” Patricia holds her hands up to indicate that the crowd needs to stay back. “You heard the man! No one fires! No one moves! That’s an order!” Keeping his arm around Patricia’s waist, he moves both of them toward the Guardian. He calls out to the ancient structure, “Guardian! A question?” The Guardian activates, “A question…” Leonard continues, “Do you know where I need to go in Earth’s history?” The Guardian starts to show scenes from Earth’s past within its ring.
Leonard backs up closer to the monolith as he surveys the Security detail, ready and waiting to protect their Captain. He looks sadly at Patricia. “I wish you could with me, child!” She feels the tears start to stream down her face as she whispers back, “I know, Gramps. Your destiny awaits you, with Captain Kirk and Uncle Spock. I love you!” She quickly kisses the side of his face and he roughly pushes her away, sending her sprawling, face-first, into the dirt. He leaps into the Guardian’s swirling images, disappearing from sight. Security rushes forward as she gets to her feet, brushing the dirt off of her uniform and wiping at her eyes. Watkins offers her a hand but she shakes her head. She turns to look at the Guardian as the images fade and the structure become silent once more.

She reaches up, again, to wipe the tears off her face and smudges dirt there instead. Realizing there is nothing left to do about it, she reminds the crew around her, “Let’s spread out, people! We have crew-mates to find and vaccinate before it’s too late! MOVE!” All personnel scatter hither and yon. Once she is sure she’s alone, she sits down on a nearby boulder and permits herself a good cry. Then she gets up, wipes her face on her sleeve and goes in search of her mate. She finds his body, along with the body of Castillos, beside the console at the main power plant. When the other crew-mates arrive, they find her cradling Quon’s head in her lap, sobbing.

Patricia is granted funeral leave and she accompanies Quon’s body back to his home-world of Cait where he is given a Star Fleet funeral with all the bells, whistles, pomp and circumstance that a hero deserves when dying in the line of duty. She expresses her condolences to his family but they respond to her with coldness, letting her know that they’ve been aware of their relationship since the beginning based on his letters sent home to them. After all she’s not Caitian, they bluntly inform her, and they don’t approve of inter-species relationships. They show her the door. She returns to her Great-Grandfather’s Georgia home and shuts herself in her old room. The old doctor taps at her door. “Come in, Gramps, the door’s open.” The old man comes in and sits down beside her as she continues to lie on the bed, facing the wall. “It hurts bad, doesn’t it, child?” She tries to hide a sniffle, “Yes, it does. I keep wondering if I could have done it all differently. If only I hadn’t gotten annoyed with him. If only I hadn’t yelled at him. If only I hadn’t gotten irritated at him, he would have remained in Sick Bay, with me, and stayed safe. Thanks to my stupidity, he’s dead! My mate, Quon, is dead!”

Her Great-Grandfather gets stern. “Sit up and listen to me, young lady, and you listen to me good! You did nothing wrong so stop blaming yourself!” She sits up and faces him as he continues, “I had the opportunity to read over the logs that you, and everyone else, submitted. What you encountered…a younger version of me…crazed on Cordrazine, could not have been easy for you! You did what you had to do! If I had encountered my younger self, under those circumstance, I’m not sure what I would or could have done. Quon made his choices as a free, sentient being. What does the Serenity Prayer say, child?” She hesitates for a moment, then recites it, “God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference!”

The old doctor’s face softens, “You couldn’t change Quon’s decisions, child. You can’t control the behaviors of others THAT much. You can only change your own behaviors … either for the better or for the worse. Being in command gives some control over others, and, at the same time, those you command usually make a conscious choice to follow the orders of their superior officers. Unfortunately, at times, those in command have to deal with the deaths among their crew no matter how hard they try to avoid catastrophe. I’ve lost count as to how many crew-members, from the U.S.S. Enterprise, died while Captain James T. Kirk was in command. I was the one, the Chief Medical Officer, who had to make the call over a crew-member’s body, pronouncing them dead. The Captain, the one in command, had to take the responsibility to inform the next-of-kin. You’ve dealt with both my role and Captain Kirk’s role … down to losing someone you dearly loved. It’s just ironic that the Guardian of Forever was involved with Kirk losing Edith and you losing Quon. I don’t think Jim Kirk ever got over Edith’s death. He just managed to continue living as he felt that Edith would have wanted him to live. Which leads me to my next question … would Quon want you to shut yourself up in this room … forever?”

She shakes her head, “No, Gramps.” She pauses, thinking, for a few moments. “Gramps, I know you never spoke about what happened with the Guardian of Forever, even though you talked about your other adventures on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Now that I’ve encountered part of your past, with the Guardian, can you tell me more about what happened, with you … and what happened to … Edith?” Her Great-Grandfather considers her question for a few moments, then sighs, looking at her. “After what you went through, child, I think it’s time I talk about it … all of it. Maybe then, it will help you understand. Keep in mind that there are still many blank spots in my memory. I had to depend on the Captain’s logs to fill those in … plus what you experienced.” Patricia nods, “Okay, Gramps.”

The old doctor gets a faraway look in his eyes as he thinks back on that time. “The Enterprise had been sent to investigate temporal disturbances emanating from a nearby planet. While we were in standard orbit, monitoring this phenomena, the panel at Sulu’s station exploded, injuring him. I was called to the Bridge and I treated him with a few drops of Cordrazine. The hypo- spray still had more doses in it. Without warning, the ship was struck by some sort of shock wave, rocking it violently. I was thrown off-balance and I fell onto the hypo, accidentally injecting myself with an overdose. From that moment on, until I woke up in the mission, being nursed by Edith Keeler, everything in between was a huge blank. According to the Captain’s log, I beamed down to the planet’s surface in my crazed state. You knew I had to be out of my mind because I HATE transporters to begin with! The Captain, Spock, Uhura, Scottie, and several others followed me down to try to bring me back. That’s where we encountered the Guardian of Forever. Jim accidentally activated it with a question and, while it was showing images from Earth’s past, I jumped into it … just like you saw my younger self do. Unfortunately, the moment I did that, the Enterprise vanished … as if it had never existed. Because of my actions, my closest friends were marooned on that cursed planet! I think their proximity to the Guardian was what protected them from vanishing too. Don’t ask me exactly how because temporal mechanics has never been my strong suit.”

Patricia comments, “It’s quite a coincidence that you and Captain Kirk encountered this Edith Keeler.” Her Great-Grandfather shakes his head. “Don’t forget your Uncle Spock! He was there too. It was more than a coincidence. It turned out that Edith Keeler was the key to everything! To make a long story short, Jim Kirk had to take responsibility for her death.” Patricia looks perplexed. “You mean like when the Captain has to take responsibility for the deaths among his crew?” “No, child!” the old doctor said as he gently shook his head, “It was worse than that for Jim! He had to make sure that Edith died…even though he had fallen in love with her! If she had lived, the United States would have delayed entering the Second World War, Hitler would have conquered the world, millions more would have died in the Holocaust and…”, he looks at his Great-Grandbaby as he gently touches her face, “You would have never been born, child.” She contemplates this. “I wish I could figure out why you … I mean, your younger you … arrived in our time-line first before going back to the Era of the Great Depression.” The old doctor puts his arm around Patricia and gives her a hug. “I wish I knew how to answer that child!” He kisses the top of her head. “How about having a cup of tea with your old Great-Grandfather?” She nods. “Sure, Gramps.” They both get up and go to the kitchen with their arms around each other.

Upon her return to duty, she attempts to cope with her grief by focusing solely on work. She is sent to various medical settings to add to her skills there. When she returns from her rotation with the geriatric ward, her elders notice a distinct change in her demeanor … for the worse. She is asked what happened while she was assigned to work with elderly patients but Patricia refuses to discuss it. When she’s assigned to accompany the Klingons on their training missions, she throws herself completely into it … learning how to fight with the Bath’leth, the Mek’leth, and to wield the d’ktahg, along with the Klingon version of Kung Fu … occasionally injuring herself. As she trains with the Klingons, her creativity brainstorms ways to add to various challenges, encouraging Martok and others to think outside the box. Her genealogy research leads her to antique weaponry, such as the crossbow, the slingshot, and the paintball gun. Recognizing her difficulties Star Fleet assigns her as Chief Medical Officer to an infirmary on a space station, where she would be on-call for additional Klingon training missions, rather than give her another command over one star-ship. When she’s not on duty, or training, she spends all of her free time, alone, teaching herself fabric arts such as spinning wool, new crochet stitches, weaving, and/or knitting. She also continues training as a forensic specialist, analyzing evidence involved with suspicious deaths among Star Fleet members. Unfortunately, she winds up becoming a “human doing” rather than a “human being” … doing anything to avoid drinking, avoid drugging, and avoid thinking … or feeling … continuous grief … about Quon.

When Ambassador Spock visits her, he is disquieted at how much she has become emotionally withdrawn. He begins to suspect that her accidental injuries, while training with the Klingons, are not so “accidental”. He observes that she is attempting to emulate his Vulcan stoicism, once more, without success. Even though he is not a doctor, Spock can see that Patricia is slowly, but surely, breaking down … mentally, physically, and emotionally as she fights to stuff down her grief. His old friend had told him about some of the recent events that had occurred at the Guardian of Forever but the old doctor wasn’t able to tell him everything because he had not been able to see, let alone, remember it all. Spock found it impossible to persuade Patricia to permit a mind-meld, to help her work through her grief, and her Post-Traumatic Stress. Her overwhelming grief is too much of a barrier. Much to his consternation, she withdrew even more inside that silent shell that he had seen during her childhood. He knew that if something was not done … soon … she would reach a point of no return. What could happen then was anybody’s guess. He had to acknowledge, to himself, the possibility of another suicide attempt, similar to what occurred when she had run away from home as a teenager. Spock came to the conclusion that Patricia was continuing to punish herself for Quon’s death, among other possible, but unknown, issues. He realizes that he has no other choice but to confront her … or she would surely die … either from natural causes or by her own hand. He stated as much when he made an emergency call to Admiral McCoy, that an intervention was required in order to save a Star Fleet officer. Patricia’s Great-Grandfather concurred, contacted Captain Uhura, and they arrived at Patricia’s residence in short order.

Patricia is NOT happy at this turn of events and accuses them of ganging up on her! Admiral McCoy angrily responds, “Damn straight!”, and proceeds to point out fact after fact regarding what she is doing to herself as she continues her downward spiral. “Child”, he finally says, “I’m diagnosing you with severe clinical depression along with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder! As far as I can see, you are attempting to commit slow suicide and I am NOT going to allow that to happen! I love you too much to permit anything to happen to my Great-Grandbaby!” She finally collapses in tears. Admiral McCoy is left with no choice but to relieve his Great-Granddaughter of duty until she deals with these issues in a healthier way. She’s at a total loss about how to do that. Spock gently reminds her that there are still resources on Vulcan that can help in this regard. “Patricia-kam”, he points out, “you must remember that you do not have the physiology that I do. When you were in treatment on Vulcan, you learned that if you attempt to suppress your emotions, your body involuntarily reacts by releasing stress hormones that increase your negative emotions …leading you to attempt to suppress them even more, which releases more stress hormones. You are caught in a vicious cycle that is slowly, but surely, killing you! Please, Patricia-kam, yield to the logic of this situation and permit us to help you. Allow me to accompany you to Vulcan. I am not asking that you undergo Kohlinar as that would be illogical for you. The Healers can assist you with working through your pain.” She takes him up on his offer and travels to his home- world, taking refuge in a monastery, refreshing her meditation skills. She shares some, but not all, of her recent struggles with the Healers who are assigned to work with her. At one point, she is offered the opportunity to have a mind-meld, which she refuses. Spock senses that there is something more going on that Patricia is unwilling to divulge.

As she is sitting in the monastery’s meditation garden, Spock approaches her. “Patricia-kam, may I join you?” She silently nods her assent and he sits down beside her. They sit quietly for several seconds. Finally, Patricia breaks the silence. “I’m so sorry, Uncle Spock.” He quirks an eyebrow at her. “For what, Patricia-kam?” She sighs, “For being an illogical, out-of-control, emotional human. I wish I could be more like you.” Spock gives her a slight smile. “I have no doubt that your Great-Grandfather will, most likely, find humor in that statement to me as he often ribbed me for not being human enough!” He slowly shakes his head. “Patricia-kam, it would be illogical to wish to be something”, he pauses, “or someone, that you were never born to be. I was born and raised as a Vulcan and you were born human. You are as you were meant to be and we, as your family, accept and love you as you are.” She turns to look at him, “Even when I mess up?” He gives her a kind look with affection in his eyes, “Especially when you mess up, Patricia-kam.”

Spock pauses. “Patricia-kam, there is something you are keeping to yourself which is why you have refused the opportunity for a mind-meld. You have not yet learned how to shield thoughts that you wish to keep private and it would be unfair to force you to divulge what you are not yet ready to discuss.” She nods and sighs. “You’re right, Uncle Spock. I’ve … encountered … difficult situations that I don’t feel comfortable talking about … yet. The incident at the Guardian of Forever is the least of my problems.” She takes a deep breath. “Uncle, how did Captain Kirk deal with his grief over Edith Keeler’s death?” The old Vulcan looks somber. “Being the Captain, he did not have the luxury to indulge in his grief. He had a ship and a crew that he was responsible for. I’m almost certain, within the privacy of his quarters, he grieved deeply for her. He kept his grief private … even from his closest friends.” He looks at his adopted niece. “I grieve with thee, Patricia-kam, over the death of your mate, Quon. There will never be another like him.” She hangs her head and he sees her tears fall into her lap. “You have the right and permission to cry. Let the tears come. There is no shame.” She sobs until she is exhausted. When she raises her head, she feels calmer. “Thanks, Uncle.” He gives her a slight smile. “One does not thank logic.”

His statement makes her giggle, then her smile fades. “Uncle, there has been a question, among many, that both Gramps and I have wrestled with for years. I’m not sure if I should pursue it because of the possible fallout if my suspicions are confirmed.” Spock looks thoughtful. “Look at all facets of the question, Patricia-kam. Analyze what you see. Determine if the Pro’s will outweigh the Con’s. That will help you decide if you wish to seek the answer … for your own peace of mind.”

The question kept bothering her and, when she returned to Earth, she sought out a colleague who specializes in neurology. She lays out a hypothetical case, describing various behaviors and possible evidence of a potential Spectrum Disorder. “Well, what do you think?”, Patricia asks. Doctor Hans nods, “The evidence, and the symptoms, you describe are strong indicators of Asperger’s Syndrome.” “I concur with your diagnosis, Doctor.”, Patricia comments, then asks, “Is it possible to conduct a neurological assessment to confirm this diagnosis, even if the subject is an older adult? This individual was unable to be assessed in childhood due to numerous misdiagnoses plus other issues. Other medical professionals refused to consider the possibility that their diagnoses could be wrong.” The Neurologist nods enthusiastically, “Of course! It’s not the first time this type of situation has occurred. Asperger’s can be hard to spot, especially in females. How soon can this person come in for an appointment?” Patricia sits back in her chair. “The person, in question, is here now.” The other doctor gets up and checks around his office’s waiting room but sees no one else. He looks back at her, confused. “Where is the patient?” She sits up and looks her colleague square in the face. “The patient, in question, is sitting …”, she indicates herself, “… here. It’s me!” Doctor Hans stares at her agape.

Once he gets over the shock of this revelation, Doctor Hans conducts a neurological assessment on Patricia. When the results come back, the answer is clear … she has been living with Asperger’s her entire life! Realizing that she has an Autism Spectrum Disorder triggers a new wave of grief along with the fear that she will now be thrown out of Star Fleet for being “defective”. She realizes that her current fear is eerily similar to her childhood fear of being thrown away again. She returns home to her Great-Grandfather and shows him the results of her assessment. He nods as he reads the report. “Child, tell me something I don’t already know! I’ve suspected this for years even though I was unable to get anyone to listen to me!” Patricia looks fearful as she indicates the report in her Great-Grandfather’s hands, “Now that we know for certain, won’t I be drummed out of Star Fleet because of this?” The old doctor looks up at her, puzzled. “What for? You’ve proven yourself time and time again by working alongside and training Klingons and facing down the Romulans on the Guardian’s planet! You’ve handled command quite well in the face of bad situations. As for the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, there have been higher-ranked officers who struggle with the same thing and they are still serving! Remember Jean-Luc Picard and what he went through when he was assimilated by the Borg and became Locutus? He’s still in Star Fleet as an Admiral! There’s no basis to throw you out!”

She looks at the old doctor, uncertain. “Even so”, she asks, “Now what?” He sets the PADD down on a nearby table. “Regarding your ability to remain in Star Fleet, it’s a no-brainer! You have repeatedly proven your qualifications. As I’ve already said, there is no basis to throw you out of the service. If we tossed out every single officer based on physical or neurological challenges or differences, we wouldn’t have anyone left in the Fleet! Besides Jean-Luc Picard, do you remember Melora Pazlar, the Elaysian?” Patricia nods and Doctor Leonard continues, “She was the first of her species to enter Star Fleet. She has had special needs, requiring braces and a motorized chair, since she first entered the Academy due to gravitational differences. That hasn’t stopped her. You were born with your special challenges and achieved your goals of graduating from Star Fleet Medical Academy in spite of them. Don’t put yourself down simply because you consider yourself ‘different’, child!”

Patricia takes a deep breath, pauses for a few seconds, then resumes. “Gramps, given that I was born ‘different’, I strongly suspect that is why I was thrown away when I was only a baby … sold to the child-slavers. I was too defective to be worth keeping by … her.” Her Great-Grandfather looks at her, thunder-struck. “Why in God’s Holy Name would you think THAT, child?!” He begins to sense that she knows something that she’s not going to tell him. He watches her fidget with her hands, avoiding eye-contact, as he awaits her answer. She attempts to give a nonchalant shrug. “Oh … just a hunch … I suppose.” She looks as if she’s about to cry but doesn’t. He looks at her and nods. “I get the feeling that there’s more to this but you’re not ready to talk about it. I’ll respect that … for now. We will talk about this issue … later … when you feel ready. But know this, child, you are my flesh-and-blood, my family, and I will never throw away my Great-Grandbaby simply because she’s quote ‘different’ unquote. You got that?” She looks up at him and smiles, holding back unshed tears. “Got it, Gramps!”

The elder Doctor McCoy nods with satisfaction. “Now that we have THAT out of the way, child! I’m going to recommend that you take an extended leave of absence … give you time to sort out what you are thinking and feeling as well as give you time to physically recover from all the stress and strain. You’ve had a LOT happen to you within a short period of time and I wouldn’t be surprised that your nervous system is stretched past all limits!” Patricia gives him a puzzled look. I’ve just got back from Vulcan, from working with the Healers. I’m not sure what to do or where to go during this extended leave of absence … other than returning to my quarters on the station.”

Her Great-Grandfather bristles. “Absolutely NOT! You will do no such thing! I know you all too well, child! If you return to your assigned quarters on the station, then you’re going to simply bury yourself in work … AGAIN! You’ll either go into the office and busy yourself, against medical advice, or you’ll isolate yourself again, in your quarters, against medical advice! Martok is aware of what’s happened and is willing to wait until you are strong enough to resume training missions. Deep Space Nine is preparing to celebrate the Anniversary of the Defeat of the Dominion. I’m strongly recommending that you go and visit your friends, the Sisko’s. It’s been awhile since you’ve had the chance to see them. It will also give you a chance to go play! That’s a skill you still need to learn!”
Patricia nods in agreement. “You’re right, the last time I saw Kassidy Yates-Sisko was about a couple of years ago, while she was still pregnant. In fact, she was getting close to her due date. She had some complications but she managed to pull through.” Her Great-Grandfather adds, “With YOUR help, DOCTOR! And don’t forget how you helped Grand Nagus Zek when he had his ear infection!” She responds, “You mean the RETIRED Grand Nagus Zek. Rom is Grand Nagus now.” He waves his hand dismissively, “Whatever! You know what I mean, child!” “Yes, Gramps.” He heads for the kitchen. “Now, I think we both need a spot of tea, then you need to start making arrangements, and packing, to head out to Deep Space Nine.”

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