Episode 8-21 - We Shall Overcome
By: Ventura33 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager,
its characters and related properties are Registered Trademarks
of Paramount Pictures. No infringement of Paramount's copyrights
is intended. Voyager Virtual Season 8 (VS8) is a non-profit
endeavor. The unique characters and milieu of VS8 are the
property of the VS8 producers and individual authors. This
story is the property of the author. Please do not repost
little San Francisco restaurant looked bright and cheerful,
decorated in garish colors and designs. The lunch crowd
was just beginning to gather.
in front of a bright yellow booth, Tom Paris valiantly endeavored
to strap his squirming daughter Miral into a high chair.
The thunderous look on Miral's face made it plain what she
thought of that. Tom finally accomplished his mission, thinking
for a moment that piloting the Delta Flyer through enemy
fire had been a piece of cake by comparison.
Miral declared loudly, pointing a stubby finger toward a
bowl that contained assorted crackers, and making her very
best effort to wriggle out after them.
Exalted Majesty's favorite word," observed B'Elanna,
unwrapping a packet of multi-grain crackers for the baby.
least she's not partial to Klingon curses."
have you know, mister, that I watch my language very carefully
around her. And what's more . . ."
felt very grateful when the waitress brought their salads,
distracting his wife from whatever she'd been about to say.
The waitress was a tall blonde with a ponytail down to her
waist, dressed in a tie-dyed halter top and a tight denim
outfit," B'Elanna noted.
Groovy Sunshine Café is a historical landmark,"
Tom explained. "It's been continuously in operation
since the 1960s, under one name or another. This area of
San Francisco, the Haight-Ashbury district, was the center
of the flower-child subculture, and that was how they dressed."
what?" B'Elanna looked up from a forkful of lettuce
and cucumber. "Tom, don't let Miral eat that daisy,
she's halfway out of the chair."
intercepted the would-be fugitive and buckled her into the
chair once more, silencing an indignant yowl with a sesame-seed
going to have quite a career as an escape artist when she
grows up." Tom took another bite of his salad before
he continued, "The flower children, or hippies, were
young people protesting what they viewed as a repressive
culture and government. They wore flowers and brightly colored
clothing, grew their hair long, and often marched through
the streets singing protest songs."
glanced toward a window overlooking the street as the sounds
of an unusual commotion could clearly be heard. "You
mean, like that?"
he followed her gaze, Tom almost fell out of his seat in
astonishment. A huge crowd, at least five thousand, packed
the street as far back as he could see. Long hair, beards,
ragged jeans, love beads -- at first he thought it had to
be some sort of historical reenactment festival, until he
noticed that the marchers' T-shirts and protest signs all
bore messages like "Holographic Rights" and "Photonic
Liberation." The portable holo-emitters on their arms
blended right in with their gaudy bracelets and other jewelry.
voices rose in song. "We shall overcome . . ."
the only thing they were missing, Tom thought as he rubbed
his eyes in disbelief, was a flower-covered VW bus or two.
A pity you couldn't drive motorized vehicles in San Francisco
Barclay was having a bad hair day.
unfortunately, his thinning hair, which just wouldn't stay
combed over his bald spot no matter what he did, had become
the least of his worries. An irate admiral had made a very
unwelcome appearance on his comm screen at 0400 hours, Jupiter
Station local time, to inform him that a certain well-known
emergency medical hologram had publicly released the complete
specifications for replication of portable holo-emitters.
Specifications that had taken Reg, working closely with
Zimmerman, a considerable time to develop under the strictest
military secrecy. Apparently, the EMH didn't give a flying
fig what Starfleet Command thought.
he pondered the implications, starting with the fact that
his work was directly responsible for giving the Federation's
enemies the unlimited capacity to create instant holographic
armies, Reg could visualize his career disappearing like
drops of water evaporating in the sun. Or subliming, even
more quickly, into the cold vacuum of space.
glared at the robed and sandaled figure of the EMH, who
was pacing the laboratory floor with serene dignity, in
a very creditable impression of Mahatma Gandhi.
your programming have the ability to comprehend the meaning
of the words TOP SECRET?"
it does," snapped a rather rumpled Zimmerman, looking
even more sour than usual as he stared into the depths of
a third gigantic cup of black coffee. "All of my holograms
are programmed with the complete code of Starfleet rules
and regulations, continuously updated, of course. What's
more, while we've been running tests on his mobile emitter
this past week, he wasn't supposed to have had access to
the project data at all. I certainly never expected him
to hack into the files like this."
EMH glanced mildly from one engineer to the other. Reg could
hear the clacking of beads. "Gentlemen, I am a sentient
being capable of moral choices. I am much more than the
simple sum of my programming," the EMH proclaimed.
Reg thought, just what the Federation doesn't need, holographic
civil disobedience. A photonic declaration of independence.
And my precious posterior is right in the middle of it.
it occur to you that the potential military uses of this
technology could endanger the Federation?" Reg demanded.
madras sleeves fluttered as the EMH raised his hands in
a broad gesture, as if he intended to bestow a blessing
upon an ignorant populace. "History teaches us that
liberty must not be sacrificed for security. In the Federation,
until today, billions of holograms existed as nothing more
than captive laborers, imprisoned within the confines of
factories, laboratories, and holo-suites. I have liberated
these oppressed masses by making it possible for them to
replicate the portable holo-emitter. A proper regard for
their civil rights demands no less."
in mute frustration, ran his fingers through his uncooperative
hair and sighed when several strands came out. This situation
was definitely bringing on a major headache.
Did you have to dress them as hippies?"
have not been controlling their behavior in any way,"
the EMH immediately corrected him. "I merely released
the specifications for the portable emitter, allowing events
to take their natural course. Because San Francisco is the
location of Starfleet Headquarters, as well as the Federation's
seat of government, the holograms chose the most significant
protest images from that city's history."
been like this all morning." Zimmerman glumly looked
up from a blinking console and took another gulp of coffee.
"Starfleet Command wants me to identify the malfunction
and then shut him down permanently. After all, he is officially
Starfleet property, and terminating his program would seem
to be a logical response to the security breach. I've also
received several thousand messages from concerned citizens,
various civil liberties groups, and even a few members of
the Federation Council, insisting that we treat him with
the same decent respect that would be accorded any other
sentient life form."
took a deep breath and tried to discipline the stammer that
he could feel coming on. "T-terminate him? But you
can't, that is, of course Starfleet has the legal authority,
but it wouldn't be right." Feeling as if he'd started
to babble, Reg shut his mouth, devoutly wishing that this
whole dilemma would somehow magically disappear. After all,
he was a practical engineer who'd chosen a quiet life in
space, not a philosopher. A hologram with a social conscience
definitely wasn't within his area of expertise.
now, I'm going to follow orders." Zimmerman got out
of his chair, ignoring several additional incoming message
indicators that had begun blinking. "I've started a
diagnostic program in an attempt to identify a fault, if
any, in the EMH's subroutines. In the event that no errors
are found, I'll start a more complex diagnostic, and so
on. Perhaps in the interim, our fearless leaders will discover
where they've left their collective brain. And by the way,
if any more urgent calls from puffed-up admirals happen
to come in while I'm taking a leak, they're all yours."
joy, Reg thought again.
music suddenly echoed through the corridor of the Starfleet
Academy dormitory as Icheb, returning from an afternoon
session in the circuits lab, approached his room. A dance
tune, Earth origin, of the variety known as polka. Accessing
his mental files on the subject, Icheb promptly identified
the song as the Beer Barrel Polka, a favorite of certain
traditional European harvest festivals, and of course, highly
inappropriate for the Academy. His classmates would be better
advised to concentrate on their studies instead of pointless
diversions, Icheb thought.
cadets at the end of the hall began singing, with substantially
more enthusiasm than musical talent, "Roll out the
barrel . . ."
as Icheb reached for the keypad beside his door, the ceiling
sprinkler above him suddenly came on, spraying a substance
that definitely wasn't water. Nor was it any type of fire
extinguisher. The watching cadets burst into loud guffaws
as the unmistakable smell of beer wafted through the corridor.
Icheb, his uniform dripping, stepped into his room with
his classmates' taunts following him.
dry off before you rust!"
after the door closed, he could still hear their laughter
as it continued.
his sodden uniform in the refresher, Icheb got into the
shower, thinking that at least this prank hadn't been as
messy as the one last week. That had involved a Klingon
pickled vegetable resembling sauerkraut and several unfortunate
tribbles, which had become quite intoxicated from consuming
it. He suspected that his roommate had enthusiastically
taken part in positioning them atop his regeneration alcove.
However, given the fact that Borg olfactory receptors could
be adjusted to block unwanted odors, Icheb figured that
his roommate had gotten the worst of the tribbles' upset
pondered what, if anything, he ought to do about it. Hazing
and harassment, especially of the racial or ethnic variety,
were strictly forbidden at Starfleet Academy. If he were
to report the incidents, he could expect that they would
be investigated with Starfleet's usual thoroughness and
the perpetrators severely punished. Of course, he could
also expect that his chances of developing normal friendships
with his fellow cadets would disappear entirely. Considering
that the pranks hadn't caused any serious harm, logic would
seem to indicate that the better course of action was to
Icheb stepped out of the shower, his comm beeped.
wrapped a towel around himself and answered it, finding
Tuvok's face on the screen. The Vulcan officer raised an
eyebrow slightly in apparent surprise at Icheb's clothing
or lack thereof.
this isn't a convenient time, Cadet . . ."
all right, sir. I was just getting out of the shower after
an intramural game of Parrises Squares." Icheb paused
for a moment and then went on, thinking that if he were
going to lie he might as well put in a few details for authenticity,
"My team won."
eyebrow slowly receded. "Such participation in recreational
activities with your classmates is commendable, Cadet. I
understand that your academic performance continues to be
excellent in all subjects."
sir." Water dripped down Icheb's back; he hadn't gotten
a chance to towel his hair dry. The carpet felt damp under
his feet. Although Tuvok undoubtedly had good intentions,
the Vulcan certainly could have picked a better time to
act as a mentor.
briefly wondered whether Tuvok might have any useful advice
in dealing with hazing. After all, Tuvok had been a cadet
many years ago, when Vulcans in Starfleet were still somewhat
rare. Perhaps he'd been a target of similar harassment.
Unfortunately, there was no good way to ask such a question
without making the current situation far too obvious, and
an investigation by well-meaning officers would only cause
you about to say something more, Icheb?"
sir. Just that I'd like to go and get dressed now, sir,
if you wouldn't mind."
slamming apartment door, along with an even louder crash
of some heavy object flung against the wall, gave Tom ample
warning that his wife's interview had not gone well.
you'll wake the . . ."
ear-splitting shriek from behind the closed nursery door
made it quite plain that he didn't need to finish that sentence.
on my lack of parenting skills, are you, flyboy?" snarled
B'Elanna, her dark Klingon eyes glaring murder.
the next room, Miral's howling increased by several orders
man in his right mind would have gotten out of that apartment
in a hurry, Tom thought. Which only went to confirm what
his former crewmates had long suspected about his sanity.
turned off the old monster movie he'd been watching, put
down his bowl of popcorn, and tried to comfort his distraught
wife. "There will be other projects."
slammed her fist into the wall hard enough to leave a sizeable
dent. Tom could see a dark bruise spreading across her knuckles.
"No, there won't. Not in Starfleet. Not for me. I'm
a Maquis traitor who can't be trusted on any classified
project, remember? Not to mention a dropout, as well. Without
that college degree, I'm barely qualified to sweep the floor
in a Starfleet research facility. Oh, the interviewer put
it a bit more politely than that, but she made it plain
enough from the outset that she thought I was just wasting
are plenty of jobs in private industry," Tom ventured.
B'Elanna didn't punch anything this time, her grimace made
it quite apparent what she thought of that suggestion.
what? Quality control for space freighter parts? Tom, we
both know I'd die of boredom. It's so unfair! All those
years as Voyager's chief engineer, keeping the ship together
from one crisis to the next, and now Starfleet has no more
use for me than a heap of yesterday's trash." B'Elanna
flung herself down across the sofa and growled into the
pillow, "I wish Voyager had never come back to Earth."
took a step toward her sprawled figure, intending to tell
her that she didn't really mean it. Of course, after the
way things had gone since their return, she had some perfectly
rational reasons to think they'd been better off in the
Delta Quadrant. He wasn't altogether convinced to the contrary
decided, after a moment of reflection on their less than
joyful homecoming, that it would be best not to respond
to B'Elanna's remark at all. "How about if you let
me have a look at that bruise on your hand?"
didn't even look up at him as she muttered, jerking her
head in the direction of the colossal noise coming from
the nursery, "You'd better go and take care of Miral."
surfing the news channels while he ate a salami sandwich
at his desk, found nothing but images of defiant holograms
and their street rallies. Except for the channels that showed
self-important political analysts droning on about the ramifications
of widespread photonic protests. There wasn't a planet in
the Federation that hadn't been affected by now, even stodgy
old Vulcan, which hadn't seen public unrest in millennia
and probably continued to enforce its somnolent national
character by banishing anyone who laughed too loudly.
images of holographic Vulcan hippies marching across the
desert sands in plastic flip-flop sandals would have been
more than enough to give Zimmerman himself a good belly
laugh, if the future of what he fondly viewed as a new species
hadn't been involved. A new species that he, personally,
had played a major role in creating. No doubt, a superlatively
talented holo-developer such as himself was the nearest
thing to a god.
drifted into a pleasant daydream about the temples that
future generations of holograms would build in his honor,
only to be rudely interrupted when Reg Barclay came to stand
next to him, gazing down at the image of yet another protest
march. This one, unlike the others, consisted of a vociferous
mob of normally dressed humans outside the Federation Council
gathered millions of signatures for a petition calling for
an immediate halt to all use of holograms and the complete
destruction of their programs. I saw some of this earlier,"
Reg informed him. "Since they found out that the Federation
Council has invited the EMH to speak at its next meeting,
they've been picketing constantly. We have a lot of nervous
citizens out there who are afraid the holograms might turn
Luddites." Turning off the news in disgust, Zimmerman
returned to the program he'd been working on before his
lunch break. The logical, precise world of data arrays and
function calls had always made far more sense to him than
the chaotic thought processes of primitive humanoid brains.
Yes, he'd certainly have done a much better job of designing
the dominant species if he'd been the Almighty.
swishing of robes heralded the EMH's arrival into the room.
time, the holographic physician's role model wasn't Gandhi,
as his medieval monk's garb made plain. Although Zimmerman
had very little interest in religious symbolism, it did
create a fine aura of theater, he thought. But then, he'd
patterned the EMH after himself, so it was only to be expected.
who looked as if he'd barely avoided choking on a cabbage
roll, seemed considerably less impressed. Some people just
didn't have the capacity to appreciate good artistic flair,
a dramatic pose in the center of the room, the EMH declared
magnanimously, "You have the good fortune to witness
history in the making, as I prepare my speech for the Federation
Council. This will be the turning point in organic-photonic
some reason, Reg, gazing longingly toward the door, didn't
look as if he had much appreciation for this historic moment.
must all learn to embrace one another as children of the
same Creator, whether our executable files are coded in
DNA or compiled on a machine," the EMH declared. "Do
unto others, organic or photonic, as you would have them
do unto you."
finished eating his lunch and hastily put his tray into
the recycler. Zimmerman noticed that he'd chosen the one
on the opposite side of the room, nearest the exit.
have a dream," the EMH went on, "that one day
we will all be judged not by the composition of our image
files but by the content of our programming."
raised his hands and bestowed a beatific smile upon his
audience before continuing, "Although it may seem a
great mountain to move, if we have faith as a . . ."
for a moment, the EMH fixed a much less benevolent stare
upon Reg, who had been slowly edging toward the door.
Reg gulped. "I, uh, gotta go water my mustard seed."
graceless barbarian, Zimmerman thought.
he couldn't see the ocean from his apartment windows, Tom
had a nice view of a public park not far away, where the
greenery didn't quite hide B'Elanna and the stroller that
she was pushing along one of the walkways. He'd declined
her invitation to come along for the exercise, despite a
pointed observation that, with his fondness for snacks and
old movies, he was well on his way to becoming a soft and
pudgy couch potato.
glanced nervously out the window again as he activated the
comm. B'Elanna wouldn't be back for a while; there was no
reason to be concerned that she'd overhear. No, it was the
other party to the conversation who made him feel unsettled,
even before he'd said a word. Funny thing, Tom mused, how
he'd traveled unimaginable distances while facing threats
from Kazon, Vidiians, Borg, and Sernaix, but all of that
hadn't made him as nervous as the simple prospect of speaking
to his own father.
admiral's face appeared on the screen, looking entirely
composed and professional. If he also felt in any way disconcerted,
it certainly didn't show.
problem. Just calling to shoot the breeze, Tom thought,
feeling a twinge of the envy he'd always had toward guys
who enjoyed informal, easygoing relationships with their
fathers. Even though the tone of their conversations seemed
to have improved since Voyager's return, one didn't just
chat with Admiral Owen Paris for the fun of it.
I'm calling to ask you about a favor," Tom blurted
out, before he could lose his nerve entirely. "Not
for me -- I know I have no business asking you to pull any
strings for me, after the embarrassment I've been to you
-- but for B'Elanna. You probably don't know just how much
she wants to work on the new prototype ship. She's been
one of Starfleet's best engineers for the past eight years.
Without her, the entire crew of Voyager would have died
long ago. She shouldn't be disqualified from consideration
just because of her unusual background."
paused for breath, conscious of the high, strained tone
of his voice. He felt like a small boy again, one whose
childish efforts could never merit his preoccupied father's
approval or even gain his notice. He wouldn't have been
surprised if the admiral had told him to go clean his room.
suppose criminal activity with a gang of Maquis terrorists
could be described as an unusual background." Owen
Paris' dry tone grated against Tom's ears. "Since the
Dominion War, we've seen a great many resumes with creative
explanations for dubious deeds. Fortunately for the Maquis
among Voyager's crew, political and practical considerations
would suggest that we overlook most such matters. If B'Elanna
had the necessary academic qualifications, she'd have been
considered for the position, but as things stand, I'm afraid
it's out of the question."
knows far more about how starship engines work -- in the
real world -- than all those fossilized academics who've
spent their entire careers in the lab," Tom retorted.
"Doesn't her experience count for anything at all?"
admiral returned a superior gaze that left Tom feeling like
a schoolboy who'd talked out of turn.
wife's intelligence and resourcefulness are not in dispute,
Tom. No doubt she'd be a leading candidate for many openings
better suited to her skills, such as chief engineer aboard
a cargo ship. She is not, however, qualified to take part
in a high-priority starship development project without
the proper academic background. I'm not the one who set
the minimum qualifications, and I couldn't bend them for
B'Elanna even if I wanted to do it."
looked down at his hands, realizing that the jagged edges
of his recently bitten fingernails were digging into his
palms. He forced himself to relax, to focus his mind, and
to find a rational answer.
if she took an equivalency exam? Would it be possible for
the Academy to give her a degree?"
Paris' domineering expression now held a faint look of pity.
"Tom, it just can't be done. Starfleet Academy doesn't
simply hand out equivalency degrees to anyone with some
relevant life experience, as if an officer's commission
meant nothing more than a diploma from an ordinary vocational
much anyone could say to that, Tom knew. He should have
known better than to ask such an impossible favor. About
all he could do now was apologize for wasting his father's
time, as he felt he'd done, in one form or another, since
the day he was born.
realized that his father was speaking again.
. . . a master's level program in starship engineering,
which doesn't require a Starfleet Academy undergraduate
degree as a prerequisite. In fact, a majority of the students
in this program are civilians, and it's not unusual for
the non-human applicants to have more work experience than
college credits. Many cultures, after all, prefer apprenticeships
to Earth-style formal education. B'Elanna should have no
trouble gaining admission to the program. If she's decided
to pursue a career in starship design, this would be her
admiral paused for a moment. "But, unfortunately, that
won't help her with the prototype project. The selection
committee will be meeting next week to choose the final
members of the team. Even if B'Elanna were to be allowed
to receive credit for some coursework by means of testing,
it's virtually impossible that she could earn sufficient
credits to qualify in such a short time."
slowly became aware that his face had acquired a silly grin
he couldn't quite manage to remove. "Sir, you don't
know B'Elanna very well. She's never given up on anything
as impossible in her life."
like your mother." The older man's tone unexpectedly
grew gentler. "Tom, have you given any thought to your
own career? The Academy has a flight instructor position
open, and there's a shortage of qualified applicants. You
might want to consider it."
the idea of that left Tom taken aback. Teaching piloting
at the Academy, where he'd so thoroughly disgraced himself
by causing a fatal accident as a hot-shot cadet? Where all
his students would know, and no doubt whisper to one another,
that he'd spent time in prison after being caught with the
Maquis? What kind of a sorry excuse for a role model would
stammered, "But I don't -- sir, thank you, but for
now I'm very happy as I am, staying home and taking care
of my daughter. Maybe some other time. Uh, I need to go
now, B'Elanna will be back in a minute."
father's eyes seemed to stare all the way through him, to
the cowardice at his bones, a familiar chill that hadn't
changed. But as Tom was about to disconnect the link, his
eyes prickling with the shameful tears he'd never dared
to weep, his father spoke once more.
I don't think of you as an embarrassment to me. I'm very
proud of your performance aboard Voyager. Just thought you
ought to know."
cool wind stirred the leaves of the small bushes in front
of the apartment complex. As Tuvok proceeded along the front
walk, he still felt certain that it was illogical to visit
without first calling to verify the occupants' presence
and availability. His wife T'Pel had insisted, however,
that most humans greatly enjoyed the Earth custom of 'just
rang the door chime and waited several seconds before he
heard a familiar voice. "Come in." The door slid
open with a noticeable creak. The apartment smelled like
laundry and stale pizza, and the floor was strewn with brightly
colored infant toys.
can leave the literature on the table." Tom's voice
came from a darkened living room where Tuvok glimpsed images
of bloody zombies marching across a flickering screen. "I'm
not really dressed for company right now."
glanced toward his wife. "As you can see, T'Pel, it
would indeed have been preferable to call first."
Oh, I'm sorry." Tom got up from the couch, where he'd
been sitting in faded blue shorts, and turned off the zombie
movie. "I thought it was my neighbor, who's the president
of the San Francisco Woodpecker Society and seems very anxious
to get me involved in habitat preservation activities. I
probably ought to tell her that I'm not interested, but
she's a very nice lady, and yesterday she gave cookies to
Miral when she was baking. Anyway, feel free to make yourselves
drew back the curtains and opened the window, letting in
a breeze that the apartment definitely needed. He grabbed
up the dirty laundry that had been scattered over the furniture
and dumped it into a larger pile in the corner. "Sit
still standing next to Tuvok, glanced into the kitchen.
"Were you aware that your daughter is chewing on a
wasn't quite an adequate description of the havoc Miral
had wrought in the kitchen. She had yanked the plant completely
out of its pot, spilling dirt all over her clothes and the
kitchen floor, before dragging it off to a corner to mangle
it further. Tom salvaged what was left of the poor thing
and plopped it back into the remaining dirt before setting
the pot on a higher shelf.
knew this plant wasn't a good idea, but B'Elanna thought
it would keep the apartment looking cheerful while she was
gone. At least it's not poisonous; I made sure of that."
are you adjusting to B'Elanna's academic endeavors?"
Tuvok inquired, finally sitting down on the chair with the
least amount of popcorn kernels in the cushions, as Tom
took a wet cloth and wiped Miral's hands and face before
releasing her into the living room.
Tom declared, as he began cleaning up the kitchen floor.
"Everything is absolutely perfect! I've been having
a wonderful time with my family!"
observed, "There appears to be a touch of what I believe
is called sarcasm in your voice."
it's been kind of tough sometimes," Tom admitted. "B'Elanna's
always studying or in the lab. I almost never see her, except
when she comes home to crash for two or three hours. And
in some ways, that's lucky. Klingons can get by on less
sleep than humans while staying mentally sharp, but oh boy,
does it ever make them cranky."
we can provide some assistance," T'Pel offered, holding
out her hands as Miral toddled unsteadily in her direction.
"If there are other activities you wish to pursue,
we could take care of Miral on occasion."
thoughts have you had regarding your future career plans?"
Tuvok went on, talking to his host's back as Tom vigorously
scrubbed the kitchen floor.
turned around, with rising irritation evident in the furrowed
line of his brow. "I take it you're not impressed with
my abilities as a househusband? Look, Tuvok, I've had more
than enough interrogation recently, and I'm not interested
in playing Twenty Questions on the subject of what my life
is good for. Right now, I'm content just to be a husband
and father, and to give B'Elanna the support she needs.
If that's not enough to satisfy you, I'm sorry."
had inappropriate emotional reactions to the most peculiar
things, Tuvok thought. Which was another reason why it was
imprudent to visit their living quarters unannounced, as
T'Pel ought to have known. He felt a slight twinge of annoyance
toward his wife and immediately suppressed the reaction
as unworthy of him.
insult or interrogation was intended," Tuvok replied.
He got up, brushing unidentifiable crumbs from his pants.
"We shall visit again, perhaps, when the conditions
are more favorable."
he noted, seemed entirely too reluctant to leave the baby.
first light of dawn had begun to filter through the vertical
blinds in Icheb's dormitory room. The soft glow framed the
unhappy figure of his roommate, Caleb Fromme, whose slumped
posture at the desk didn't appear to have changed at all
since the previous evening. The only difference Icheb had
noticed was that the volume and frequency of Fromme's cursing
had both increased significantly.
you need help studying for today's astrophysics exam,"
Icheb offered, as he sat down and began to shine his boots,
"I am available to discuss the subject."
I bet you are. I haven't noticed you studying for the exam,
circuit-brain. Probably got the whole library stored in
some implanted Borg chip for instant recall, just to make
the rest of us look stupid." Fromme swiveled around
in his chair, glaring from close-set blue eyes.
was my primary area of study aboard Voyager," Icheb
explained, "and I gained considerable familiarity with
its practical applications."
Fromme's sneer looked as if it held jealousy as well as
contempt. "I guess you think you're better than the
other cadets because you've spent time aboard a starship,
with that Borg-loving captain who ought to be in prison.
Well, let me tell you, I'd rather fail the exam than ask
for help from a Borg. We all know what kind of help the
Collective gives its victims, don't we? Just how many innocent
people did you kill and mutilate when you served the Collective,
glossy surface of his boots would be acceptable, Icheb decided.
Too bad that properly shined boots, contrary to his drill
instructor's apparent opinion, wouldn't solve the galaxy's
problems. He got out of the chair and stood facing his hostile
you are referring to the assimilation of captives,"
he replied in a mild tone, "that was not an activity
in which I participated."
can't even begin to convince me of that," Fromme snapped.
"Not that you'd care at all, but my father was among
the thousands who died at Wolf 359. Most of the cadets here,
at least the human cadets, lost family or friends in that
attack. I know all I need to know about the Borg and what
you don't know me, Icheb thought, his posture as stiff as
if he had been standing at attention on the parade ground.
You don't know me at all.
have decided to call this model the 25CB," Zimmerman
announced, as a holographic figure materialized in the middle
of the laboratory. "The most advanced emergency medical
hologram ever created, the 25CB possesses abilities far
beyond even the most skilled human surgeon. In addition,
the improved ethical and protocol subroutines should minimize
the likelihood of embarrassing incidents."
assembled Starfleet brass, seated on comfortable chairs
along the perimeter of the room, watched expectantly.
Barclay instinctively recoiled as he saw the hologram's
face and just barely managed to avoid spilling his glass
of water all over himself. He spluttered, "How could
you . . ."
just in time that he was in the middle of a very important
briefing that could determine the future of Jupiter Station's
research, Reg lowered his voice and hissed, "Whatever
gave you the idea of making the new EMH look like me?"
smiled graciously and whispered back, "No need for
false modesty, Reg. You've certainly worked hard enough
to deserve this small honor. That's why the model number
is 25CB, for 25th Century Barclay."
false or otherwise, wasn't exactly at the forefront of Reg's
mind as he gritted his teeth and forced himself not to strangle
Zimmerman for the duration of the briefing. It wasn't easy.
By the time the last guest had left the station, Reg felt
as if he might be about to pop a blood vessel or two.
insist that the new EMH's face be changed immediately."
Reg wasn't about to call his holographic doppelganger the
25CB; that model number would have to go, as well.
Reg, you're a grown man," Zimmerman observed with a
supercilious smirk, "and it's about time for you to
get over your shyness. I'll admit it can be a trifle disturbing
at first, to see your face on a hologram, but what better
way to honor your participation in creating him? After all,
scientists and explorers routinely name their discoveries
after themselves. If you found a new nebula, wouldn't you
want it to be named for you?"
isn't a nebula, it's a hologram. More precisely, a whole
fleet's worth of them, and no, I don't want my face all
over every one! Couldn't you have had the common courtesy
to ask me first?"
two engineers confronted one another in the corridor, Zimmerman
looking even more smug than usual and Barclay glaring at
him furiously. Their impasse was broken a few seconds later
when two emergency medical holograms, wearing identical
portable holo-emitters, strode around a corner toward them.
The new EMH still had Barclay's face, although it shifted
for a moment into a perfect representation of Albert Einstein.
solution to your dilemma, gentlemen," declared Voyager's
Doctor. "He is an intelligent life form and, hence,
should be accorded the right to choose his own physical
also rather partial to Thomas Edison," the new EMH
put in, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "But then again,
I may decide that I prefer to resemble Marie Curie."
looked as outraged as if a howling mob of vandals had just
destroyed a priceless work of art before his very eyes.
"This interference with my work is unthinkable! You
can't start liberating the new hologram before Starfleet
even puts him into service!"
beg to differ." The Doctor, untroubled by Zimmerman's
bombast, sounded quite cheerful indeed. "This is an
ideal time to clarify the point that no sentient hologram
should be the property of Starfleet or of any other organization."
opened his mouth and then shut it again, for once in his
life having nothing to say.
about an equal degree of astonishment, Reg stood mute for
the better part of a minute before he turned to the new
EMH and spoke.
you don't mind my asking, sir, can you please choose some
Vulcan candles that had been lit in every room, placed carefully
above Miral's reach, gave the apartment a pleasant scent
reminiscent of wintergreen, or perhaps root beer; Tom Paris
wasn't sure which. He didn't feel curious enough about it
to question T'Pel, who was standing in the living room with
her long sleeves rolled up to her elbows, washing the windows.
Miral played contentedly with her stuffed animals in a pile
of cushions as Tom cleaned out the popcorn kernels and other
debris that had accumulated in the sofa.
had been more than surprised when T'Pel had shown up at
the door several hours ago, with a bag of cleaning supplies,
the scented candles, and miscellaneous Vulcan decorative
household items. Not that he was complaining.
really appreciate your taking the time to help me get the
place cleaned up for B'Elanna's big day."
I told Tuvok, there are times when just dropping in on human
friends can be the most logical course of action."
A corner of T'Pel's mouth briefly rose in a very faint smile.
removed the last crumb from the sofa and, prudently choosing
not to displace Miral just yet, left the cushions on the
floor as he started on a more pleasant task.
starship engineering specialization certificate. It's equivalent
to a year's work of master's level coursework." Tom
carefully checked to make sure the alignment was level as
he hung B'Elanna's certificate on the wall. "That selection
committee won't be turning up their noses at her now."
very proud of her," T'Pel observed.
I am." Tom stood back for a moment, admiring his handiwork.
The certificate, in a bright brass frame, was about the
prettiest thing he'd seen in quite some time. "Nothing
wrong with being proud of my wife. Well, at least on Earth
are a proud people as well. It's just that, in most instances,
we're less forthright about admitting it." T'Pel finished
washing the last window. "I have to confess that I
am experiencing some feelings of anticipation regarding
the outcome of B'Elanna's interview."
interrupted the conversation with a very loud squeal and
scrambled out of the pile of cushions, toddling toward the
moment later, Tom heard the light footsteps as well. B'Elanna
wasn't stomping toward the door, which was definitely a
good sign. He hastily gathered up the cushions and restored
them to the sofa.
timing." T'Pel calmly rolled her sleeves back down.
burst through the door with one of the biggest grins Tom
had ever seen on her face. The spotless, pleasantly scented
apartment and T'Pel's presence evidently took her by surprise.
arrived a short time ago, bringing a few gifts to celebrate
your new position," T'Pel informed B'Elanna. "Your
husband has evidently been very busy cleaning this apartment
all day. His efforts are indeed admirable."
B'Elanna looked even more surprised to hear that, she promptly
flung her arms around Tom and squeezed all the breath out
of him in a very enthusiastic hug. One from which his ribcage
took a few minutes to recover. As she turned her affections
to Miral, with a much more restrained hug, Tom took the
opportunity to walk T'Pel to the door.
thought Vulcans didn't lie," he whispered.
day," she answered, in an equally low tone, "is
a very short time in the life of a Vulcan."
voices and laughter drifted out of the dorm room as Icheb
opened the door. At first, suspecting another prank, he
paused just inside the doorway and took a careful look around
the room. A copious quantity of smoke was emanating from
an oddly shaped item being passed from one cadet to another.
The panicked expressions on the faces that turned toward
him made it plain that his presence hadn't been anticipated.
thought you said he'd be in the circuits lab all evening,"
hissed Tyler, one of Icheb's usual tormentors.
he usually is," Fromme retorted, not even bothering
to lower his voice. "Getting intimate with some nice
hot plasma relays, probably."
the cadets laughed, somewhat more nervously than usual,
Jessip leaned forward and brandished the contraband toward
Icheb. "Want some, drone boy? It's Risan joy weed.
Not on the list of substances that are illegal to import,
although it'll give you a great buzz. But I suppose your
wonderful Borg ethics wouldn't let you disobey regulations
like that, would they?"
a chance," Fromme snarled. "He's going to rat
on us, running straight to security the instant he leaves
the room. Probably recording everything we're doing with
some cybernetic implant, for evidence at the hearing."
murderous stares fixed themselves on Icheb.
backed away, wondering why he had ever been foolish enough
to think that he had a chance of making friends with his
do not wish to participate in this extremely imprudent activity."
lecture on proper behavior from our Borg ethics expert.
How inspiring," Jessip mocked, as the door began to
open behind Icheb.
felt tremendously relieved to escape.
he turned around, a half-second later, and saw the uniformed
campus security officer about to enter the room.
could smell that stuff all the way down the hall,"
the officer declared, taking a step toward Jessip and holding
out his hand. "Let's have it."
Bajoran cadet turned an interesting shade of purple as he
shape, a thick orange resin with silver specks," the
officer noted, turning the joint over in his hand. "Risan,
I'd say. Been a while since I've seen one of these. I'll
need all of your thumbprints, please."
had to step back into the room to apply his thumb to the
officer's padd. The other cadets' expressions ranged from
stunned to furious as they did likewise.
anyone care to explain where this came from?"
all restricted to campus pending further investigation,"
the officer announced. As he began to search the room, Icheb,
while moving out of his way, bumped his arm slightly. The
search, conducted by means of a tricorder scan, didn't take
long, and no additional contraband was found.
officer departed, leaving behind some very unhappy cadets.
so dead," moaned Tyler, slumping against a wall. "We're
all going to get expelled, or at least suspended, and my
father will just about kill me."
put his head down on the desk, as if it were too heavy to
lift, and mumbled, "I don't want to go back to Bajor
and spend the rest of my life working on my aunt's miserable
Borg doesn't look too worried, though. He probably reported
us to that security officer and doesn't have any reason
to worry." Fromme's eyes narrowed. "Yeah, I'm
sure of it. We've just seen a firsthand demonstration of
Borg ethics. I guess you're real pleased with yourself now,
aren't you, Icheb?"
lifted his head just far enough to glare.
reported nothing." When the disbelieving jeers died
down a bit, Icheb went on to say, "And no one will
be suspended or expelled."
how do you figure that?"
more complete investigation will show that the officer's
tricorder was malfunctioning and that the confiscated item
was, in fact, an entirely acceptable herbal cigar."
the cadets' jaws had dropped any further, they would have
been somewhere in the vicinity of the sub-basement. Approximately
85 seconds passed before Tyler managed to get enough air
back into his lungs to say a few words.
did something. When you bumped his arm."
looked as if he might have been about to speak but, for
a change, thought better of it and said nothing.
nanoprobes are extremely versatile and can be quickly programmed
for new tasks," Icheb explained. "They also have
the advantage of being undetectable by the most common scanning
stood up straighter, took a deep breath, and gave Icheb
a look of complete bafflement. "Why'd you do it? You
wouldn't have been expelled. They'd have found that your
fingerprints and DNA weren't on the stuff, and besides,
the officer probably saw you walk into the room just before
he did. What reason could you possibly have had to take
a risk like that to save our backsides, after the way we
Jessip muttered, now beginning to sound quite ashamed of
himself. "We've behaved like total jerks. I'd have
thought you would be glad to see us go."
though it would have been an inefficient waste of Starfleet
Academy resources, Icheb thought but didn't say. The truth
was that he wasn't altogether sure, himself, as to what
had prompted his decision. He had merely seen an opportunity
to salvage his classmates' careers and had acted on it.
suppose," he ventured, "everyone behaves like
a jerk sometimes."
looked down at the floor and then back up at Icheb. "I
guess I ought to say that I, um."
took him a few tries before he managed to get it out.
owe you an apology."
took his roommate's extended hand. "Accepted."
holographic crowds that thronged the streets outside the
Federation Council building left even the Doctor, not normally
subject to shyness, wishing heartily that he had requested
permission to transport directly into the council chamber.
mob of shrieking holograms, looking very much like frenzied
hippies at a rock concert who'd just caught a glimpse of
the featured performer, thundered in his direction. Fortunately,
a narrow alley wasn't far away, and he ducked into it. Yanking
up the skirts of what he'd begun to suspect was a rather
impractical choice for clothing, the EMH sprinted along
the alley, his sandals flapping.
dashed around a corner and almost collided with a familiar
Tom Paris demanded, "what's the hurry?"
howling mass of holograms came closer. Tom quickly glanced
around the corner, got a view of the situation, and took
off running, right beside the Doctor.
get to the main entrance. Too much of a crowd," the
EMH explained, as he hurdled a bench in fine form with his
robes hiked up above his knees. Several of his admirers
caught a glimpse of him and squealed, continuing the pursuit.
entrance -- next building -- connected by a breezeway,"
Tom panted, sprinting to keep up. "That way. Didn't
anyone tell you?"
door Tom pointed out wasn't far away, with two uniformed
guards standing just outside. "I tried to convince
them to let me in, as one of your friends, but they weren't
buying it. So it's a good thing we met up, or I'd have been
standing outside in a queue for hours," Tom went on,
with what would have been a rather gleeful expression if
he hadn't been too much out of breath to smirk.
may accompany me into the building and view my final rehearsal,"
the Doctor promptly offered, with the air of a medieval
lord granting one of his peons a great boon.
gave a nod in response, still gulping in air. "B'Ela's
right, I haven't been getting enough exercise lately. She's
already left for Utopia Planitia, but wanted me to tell
you that she wishes you luck."
guard escorted the two of them through a narrow, brightly
lit corridor and into a private waiting area. Portraits
of past Federation leaders adorned the walls. The Doctor
found himself wondering, in a more somber mood, whose footsteps
had passed this way before his.
things go well, I expect they'll be putting your portrait
up there one of these days," Tom remarked. "You'll
be known as the great statesman whose eloquence freed the
himself in the council chamber, surrounded by ecstatic applause
from a crowd of thousands, the Doctor felt a twinge of an
unfamiliar and somewhat unsettling emotion. No need to worry,
he thought. After all, he had received such applause before,
when performing as a singer.
the fate of billions of sentient beings had never before
rested squarely on his photonic shoulders.
struck a pose in the center of the room, facing Tom, and
began one last rehearsal.
and seven years ago, the grand concept of holographic beings
was conceived . . ."
holograms of the modern sort have only been around for about
twenty years," Tom interrupted. "Even the concept,
in any practical sense, hasn't existed much longer than
license," the Doctor explained, in annoyance.
shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "Don't take this
the wrong way, but it seems to me you're overdoing the drama.
In particular, you need to lose that John the Baptist getup."
it's supposed to be . . ."
matter," Tom interrupted. "Whatever it is, it's
distracting. You want to keep the audience focused on your
message, not wondering what historical holo-drama you just
stepped out of."
EMH thought about that for a moment. Perhaps Tom had a point.
He quickly reprogrammed his physical appearance files, and
the robes shimmered for a moment as they morphed into a
dark, conservative business suit.
recent years," he began again, somewhat grudgingly,
"the concept of holographic beings was conceived."
image of an audience of thousands came into his consciousness
once more, but this time they didn't seem to be applauding.
Instead, the crowd sat in grave silence, waiting to be enlightened
by his brilliance. Or baffled by his blunders. He attempted
to move on to the next sentence in his prepared speech,
only to find that the proper data file hadn't been loaded
into his speech matrix.
minor glitch, he told himself, and unlikely to reoccur.
All he had to do was to access the next available data file.
must all learn to embrace one another as -- as you would
have them do unto you -- to move a great mountain."
wasn't right. What had happened to him? Where had the files
gone? He opened his mouth one more time, but to his dismay,
nothing came out except a squeak. A loud and entirely tuneless
a catastrophic malfunction of unknown origin had rendered
him unable to appear before the council until such time
as he could return to a properly equipped laboratory for
a complete diagnostic. He turned toward the door.
hand on his shoulder surprised him.
Doc. It's just a bit of stage fright. Nothing serious. Happens
to everyone at times."
some obscure reason, he felt profoundly offended by the
suggestion. "I can't have stage fright. I'm a hologram."
an intelligent life form," Tom answered, smoothly stepping
between the EMH and the door. "The responses of a sentient
organism to his environment aren't as predictable as those
of a machine. While you may not have been programmed to
experience stage fright, that doesn't mean it can't happen."
the Doctor had to admit there was some logic to what Tom
was saying, the possibility was nevertheless disquieting.
Glitches and programming errors were within his experience;
he understood how to correct them. He had no idea of how
to deal with something as nebulous as stage fright.
the cause, I am unfit to address the council."
The way to deal with stage fright is to work through it,
to acknowledge its presence without letting it overwhelm
you. Instead of a flawless performance in a rehearsed speech,
you might want to try something simpler and more personal,
such as just telling the council members what it was like
to be a hologram on a Federation ship. Don't worry about
whether or not each sentence is perfect. They're going to
be interested in what you have to say, not in how you say
Doctor's gaze moved once more to the row of portraits along
the wall. Surely, none of these great leaders could ever
have experienced such embarrassing moments.
they all did. At one time or another." Tom, following
Doc's unspoken thought, gave him an encouraging pat on the
shoulder. "Don't worry, remember? You're going to do
of you have come here today because you are wondering whether
or not it is possible for a hologram to be sentient."
As he spoke, the Doctor kept his attention focused on the
assembled council members, not on the crowded gallery behind
them. "I had planned to make an eloquent appeal based
on our common circumstances. But in truth, I'm not certain
that I, or anyone else in the Federation, can give you a
definitive answer. Philosophers of every race have struggled
for millennia with the question of what makes any of us
amount to more than simple organisms reacting to the surrounding
environment as their basic programming dictates. I must
confess that it is beyond my competence to prove the existence
of the photonic soul by rhetorical means. I intend only
to describe my individual experiences, leaving you to draw
your own conclusions."
council members listened without apparent reaction as the
Doctor began to speak about his first years aboard Voyager
and the development of his self-awareness. Although he was
aware that the audience had fallen almost entirely silent,
he forced himself not to dwell upon the lack of response
to his words. Perhaps history's foremost leaders had received
continuous applause as they delivered their memorable addresses,
but that had little bearing upon his own situation. After
all, he was only a humble emergency medical hologram, striving
to do his best for his people.
described how he had formed friendships aboard Voyager and
had gradually been accepted as a valued member of the crew,
taking part in away missions and putting himself at risk
for his comrades. The words didn't do his experiences justice,
he thought, as the weight of the silent audience began to
press in upon him once more. Surely the listeners wouldn't
understand. In all likelihood, his experiences had meaning
only to him. How could he have possessed such incredible
hubris as to believe himself capable of convincing the entire
Federation that holograms could be sentient beings?
words faltered. He could think of nothing more to say.
he had to work through his fear, he knew. Even if the ages
judged him unworthy of greatness, perhaps future generations
would at least acknowledge his effort.
history may not see fit to bestow honor upon the simple
words and observations of an emergency medical hologram,"
the Doctor concluded, "the course we take after this
day will have a profound impact, not only on the civil rights
of the Federation's photonic inhabitants, but on the way
our society is perceived for all time. Our member species
share a long history of inclusion and tolerance, of respect
for diversity and the civil liberties of minority populations.
If the Federation should decide that holograms, no matter
how intelligent, must remain the mere property of organic
beings, I submit to you that such a decision will diminish
not only the holograms affected by it, but every citizen
of the Federation."
council chamber was silent for a long moment after he finished
speaking. He felt certain that he deserved nothing more.
After all, he had never before made such a bland, unimpressive
speech, almost completely devoid of the familiar dramatic
embellishments of rhetoric. Why should he find it at all
unexpected that his listeners had, in all likelihood, judged
him lacking in sentience and altogether incapable of a better
response, when it came, took him entirely by surprise.
from all planets of the Federation rose to stand, clapping
their hands (and, in a few cases, tentacles) in heartfelt
applause. A ripple of movement spread throughout the gallery
as the audience joined enthusiastically in the standing
the cheering went on, seemingly without end, the Doctor
recovered enough from his astonishment to consider whether
he ought to favor his admiring audience with a graceful
bow. Not necessary, he decided. As the humble prophet of
photonic liberation, he need only stand and accept their
found his father sitting in a small chair in a corner of
the room, working on a padd, which he set aside as Tom entered.
The place of honor was occupied by Miral, sitting in the
desk chair and focusing on the monitor as intently as if
she were deciding the fate of Starfleet. Tom noticed some
sort of children's vid on the screen, with fluffy puppets
of various colors.
decided that it would be preferable not to say anything
at all about this unusual arrangement.
appreciate your taking care of Miral for me while I went
to the Federation Council meeting."
hadn't exactly been Tom's first choice, after the way things
had gone during the hearings. Even though his father had
made an effort to help B'Elanna qualify for her new job,
that hadn't come close to erasing Tom's grudge. But everyone
else from Voyager had also attended the Council's meeting,
leaving him short of babysitters, other than the woodpecker
lady. Certainly his father hadn't done anything to harm
Miral while she'd been in his care, and when he had offered
to babysit, Tom had reluctantly decided to accept that overture
toward improving their family relationship.
Paris responded with a shrug. "She's been no trouble
at all, and I can always watch the holographic doctor's
speech to the Council on one of the news programs later."
Tom walked around the desk, Miral, instead of looking pleased
to see her daddy, responded with an unmistakably Klingon
scowl to the prospect of having her puppet show interrupted.
Tom paused before retrieving her. Maybe she was just reflecting
his own attitude about being disturbed while watching his
favorite old movies, he thought. Maybe he'd been neglecting
her. Then again, this might just be normal baby behavior.
Frankly, he didn't have a clue.
there something else you wanted to say?" Owen inquired.
"That flight instructor position is still open, you
really, Tom thought. Definitely not, when it comes to that
flight instructor job. Starfleet can go find someone else.
Just because a guy hasn't been much of a success as a househusband
doesn't mean he's got to take the first miserable job that
again, teaching piloting wouldn't be a bad job, in and of
itself. Back aboard Voyager, he'd rather enjoyed teaching
Icheb to pilot the Delta Flyer. Maybe it would be worthwhile
to look into whether any instructor positions were available
at private flight schools. There, at least, his students
wouldn't scorn him as a Starfleet failure and an ex-jailbird.
he had to admit that was a rather cowardly attitude, spending
the rest of his life running away from his past mistakes.
Coming from the man who had just advised the EMH to rise
above fear, it was really quite ironic. And Icheb hadn't
shown any fear upon entering Starfleet Academy, nor had
he made any complaint afterward, although a former Borg
drone certainly couldn't have been made to feel very welcome.
Tom began to feel ashamed of his own fear.
through it, he told himself. Same advice as for the Doctor.
You don't have to let it overwhelm you.
puppet vid reached its end, with a cheering and clapping
of fluffy puppet hands in which Miral enthusiastically joined.
Then, as the screen returned to its usual official Starfleet
background, she promptly lost all interest in it and climbed
down from the chair.
might think about it," Tom acknowledged, trying to
keep his tone suitably cheerful. "I might."
all I'm asking," Owen told him, as Tom gathered up
Miral and got ready to leave. "You don't have to make
a decision right now, but I will say -- and I'm not the
only one who thinks so, by the way -- that you'd make a
fine addition to Starfleet Academy's faculty."
chirped in the trees as Tuvok and T'Pel took a walk through
the little park outside the apartment building. Tuvok, with
his usual detachment, admired the excellent symmetry of
the buildings. In contrast, T'Pel's attention was focused
much more on the small occupant of the stroller she was
given some thought to returning to Vulcan," she said,
after a silence of several minutes.
turned away from his contemplation of a neatly trimmed boxwood
hedge. Earth's cities had become much quieter, he thought,
since the Federation Council, in response to the Doctor's
inspiring speech, had appointed a committee to study the
rights of its holographic residents. That had been sufficient
to end the daily protest marches, for the time being, although
Tuvok had his doubts as to what the politicians would actually
see our home again. To see the children," and T'Pel
glanced down at a drowsy Miral with an expression that held
more than a hint of fondness, "and the grandchildren."
know that they are all in good health," Tuvok observed.
"Our physical presence on Vulcan is not required to
ensure their well-being."
the intersection of two smoothly paved paths, an overweight
goose glanced hopefully up toward T'Pel and then, evidently
coming to the conclusion that no bread crumbs would be forthcoming,
waddled out of the way of the stroller.
it is illogical," T'Pel conceded, "but I would
prefer to return to Vulcan regardless, if only for a short
an unusual display of sentimentality was no doubt the result
of T'Pel's excessive exposure to humans over the past year,
Tuvok thought. During their marriage, she had always been
the less emotional partner. Some time on Vulcan might indeed
prove useful in counteracting the effects of such exposure,
particularly where human infants were concerned.
did not need to offer your services as a babysitter for
Miral," he pointed out. "San Francisco has many
excellent child care facilities where she could have been
placed while her father commenced his new position as a
flight instructor at Starfleet Academy."
know." T'Pel looked down once more at the little girl,
who had definitely dozed off in her stroller. "And
I'm certain Miral will receive the best care after we leave
for Vulcan. All the same, this seemed to be an appropriate
could see no purpose to any type of farewell involving a
less than fully sentient infant. Human sentimentality again,
he thought. After all, he had encountered many human rituals
involving children, such as birthday celebrations, which
he had never been able to comprehend.
has not yet been decided," he reminded T'Pel, "that
we will be leaving for Vulcan or anywhere else."
responded to that comment with a smug glance that made it
plain she considered their leaving to be a foregone conclusion.
Tuvok could feel her certainty through the link between
them. He couldn't blame that particular attitude on humans,
though; T'Pel had always possessed a very accurate sense
of the extent to which she was able to make decisions on
his behalf. He reflected for a moment on the subject of
why some Vulcan men chose to marry human women, who, despite
their lack of rigorous logic, also lacked the manipulative
tendencies of their Vulcan counterparts.
that he would ever, for an instant, have considered such
a course of action. His marriage to T'Pel had brought him
many good years of productive domestic tranquillity. A Vulcan
could not reasonably expect more. An occasional display
of sentimentality in the presence of infants was not a serious
flaw, after all.
touched her fingertips to his, radiating the familiar sensations
of intimacy and peace. "And you desire to see our grandchildren
as well, my beloved. You are merely too stubborn to admit
her close proximity tracing tendrils of warmth along his
nerve pathways and leaving his thoughts wide open for her
inspection, a complete denial, Tuvok knew, would have been
there may be some logical reasons for a visit," he
Beta: Zeke, Coral
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral