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Vincent was only vaguely aware of landing on the sandy ground before the Guardian of Forever.
"Crewman Winters?" Dr. Xon asked cautiously.
Vincent gave no response as he stood staring into the Guardian's vortex while tears glided down his cheeks.
"Vincent?" Dr. Xon asked in a softer voice.
Vincent glanced at Dr. Xon with question as the tears continued to fall.
"I wish to offer my apologies for not anticipating the presence of your mother. Please understand that I did not do so intentionally." Dr. Xon said with concern.
"I know, it's okay. I just... when I went to my parents funeral the caskets were closed. I guess ever since then I felt like I didn't really get to say goodbye."
"So your tears are to express joy?" Dr. Xon asked uncertainly.
"Maybe some of my tears are happy. And I know some of them are sad, but I think some are just relieved to finally be able to say goodbye." Vincent said as he wiped his eyes.
"I understand. I am pleased that the experience of realigning your quantum signature had the side effect of providing closure to this painful emotional trauma."
Vincent considered the words for a moment, then said, "Yeah. That's exactly what happened. Seeing my mom in a place where she's happy kinda made some of the stuff that was hurting inside me feel better."
Dr. Xon walked to the rack of equipment and picked up his scanning device, then quirked one eyebrow at Vincent with question.
Vincent nodded that he was ready and waited to be scanned.
* * * * *
"Captain, there is a message for the Holy One from the Nezratia." Debbie's voice said seriously.
"Nezratia?" Tyce asked curiously as he looked around.
"That is my ship." Traiel said apprehensively.
"Please put it through." Tyce said as he turned his attention to the view screen.
"Holy One, I am Lomarr, son of Makiel. The crew of the Nezratia have heard your call to arms and taken the command staff and others loyal to Traiel into custody. Please forgive us Holy One, we were following our orders and did not know that you were aboard the Dorsa when we attacked. We thought we were defending our people from dissidents." Lomarr finished in a worried voice.
"Where is Tyber?" Traiel asked suddenly.
Lomarr looked at Traiel with disgust and said, "With the other traitors!"
"He wasn't any part of the plan. Please don't hurt him." Traiel said desperately.
Tyce looked at Traiel carefully for a moment, then said to the screen, "Lomarr, will you see that Traiel's son is transported to this ship?"
"Holy One?" Lomarr asked cautiously.
"Even though Traiel has committed heinous acts and broken the most sacred laws of our people, his son may be an innocent in all of this. Please have him transported so I may judge the proper course of action in regard to him." Tyce said firmly.
"Yes Holy One, right away." Lomarr said quickly and ended the transmission.
"Captain Byrne, we've just received a text message from the Mangeon saying that their crew is in mutiny." Debbie said quickly over the comm.
"I must return to my ship." Captain Treas said in panic.
"Please Captain, allow me to calm them first. Captain Byrne, may I speak to them?" Tyce asked with concern.
Captain Treas stopped and waited to see what was going to happen.
"Yes. Of course." Captain Byrne said, then pressed the comm button and said, "Please open a channel to the Mangeon."
"Yes sir, and there is an urgent call from the Okuda Central Ministry for the Holy One." Debbie said quickly.
Captain Byrne looked at Tyce with question.
"Please tell the ministry that I'll be with them in just a moment." Tyce said in a louder voice for Debbie to hear him over the comm.
"Yes Holy One." Debbie said quickly, then the screen changed to show a darkened room.
"Captain Treas, the crew are trying to take the ship. Holcoth is holding engineering and I still have control of the bridge. They've taken Mashal and Teik." The woman on the screen said in a desperate voice.
"If you can make a ship-wide announcement, perhaps we can resolve this matter." Tyce said calmly.
"Holy One?" The woman said as her eyes went wide.
"Please Tomie, patch us through to the entire ship so we can end this." Captain Treas said tenderly.
The woman, Tomie, gave Captain Treas a brief smile, then pressed some controls on the console before her.
"Attention all hands. The Holy One wants to make an announcement." Tomie said firmly, then glanced up hopefully.
"Crew of the Mangeon, this is 'The Holy One'." Tyce said in a booming voice.
"Captain Treas and I have discussed our concerns and found understanding between us. There is no need for you to take control of the ship. Captain Treas and I will be working toward a common goal, so if you will resume your duties, we will begin to forge the future together." Tyce said firmly, then looked at Captain Treas with question.
"Please release your prisoners and take your stations. None of you will be held to account for answering the call of the Holy One. Stand with me so we can provide him safe passage back to our home." Captain Treas said formally.
There was a moment of silence, then Tomie looked up with surprise at the screen.
"The fighting has stopped." She said in wonder.
"I will be transporting over right away. Get repair teams working on the most significant damage so we can be underway when we are needed." Captain Treas said seriously.
"Yes Captain." Tomie said with a serene smile.
Tyce looked at Captain Byrne and said, "Can you put me through to the ministry now?"
The Captain nodded and pressed a button on the comm panel to switch to another screen.
"Holy One, this is minister Falek of the Interior. Malif and his staff have been taken into custody and will be ready to stand trial when you arrive." The middle age man said with a look of worry in his eyes.
"Falek, stand down all military actions against our own people and prepare our defenses for a possible invasion. We need every ship that is space worthy launched and prepared to defend the Okudai system." Tyce said firmly.
The minister paled at the words and seemed uncertain of what to do.
"Malif has opened the door to some powerful enemies. His being deposed will not stop their acceptance of his invitation. Defend our people!" Tyce finished as he glared at the minister.
"Yes Holy One. Right away!" The minister said quickly.
"Holy One, if there is a need, perhaps I could petition the Federation to aid in your defense." Captain Byrne said cautiously.
Tyce thought for a moment, then shook his head and said, "There is one thing I can do to try to prevent this before we must call on outside help."
Everyone looked at Tyce with uncertainty, until Lehman said, "You're going to talk to them, aren't you? The Gorn?"
Tyce looked at Lehman with surprise at his observation, then hesitantly nodded.
* * * * *
"So what does it say? Is my quantum thingy all better?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"We have achieved a more precise correlation than I had anticipated. When the time shift occurs, you should have no difficulty." Dr. Xon said with accomplishment.
Vincent watched Dr. Xon's expression carefully.
"It is time for you to return to your own time and place in the universe Crewman Winters." Dr. Xon said as the emotion that had been showing fell away.
"Yeah. Um, can I see that tricorder for a second before I go?" Vincent asked and held out his hand.
Dr. Xon was surprised by the request, and hesitantly handed his tricorder to Vincent.
After a moment of looking over the main display screen, Vincent handed it back to him.
"What information were you seeking?" Dr. Xon asked curiously.
"It doesn't matter. What are you going to do after I leave? I mean, everything's fixed now, right?" Vincent asked curiously.
Dr. Xon thought about the question for a moment, then said, "When you return with your altered quantum signature, the universe should adjust back to it's original timeline. Once all is restored, I will continue my study of the Guardian of Forever. This event has shown the necessity of knowing how to restore time when damage has occurred to the past."
Vincent nodded, then looked at the gateway apprehensively.
Dr. Xon turned on his tricorder and began to make the necessary adjustments as he said, "Guardian of Forever, I seek your aid to restore the past."
"Such is my function. Such is my purpose. Ask the question that I may repair the fractured course of time." The Guardian said in a booming voice.
"Guardian of Forever, will you show me these temporal/spatial coordinates?" Dr. Xon asked seriously as he transmitted the coordinates to the Guardian.
"Look into the past that you may restore the future." The Guardian said as the portal began to show scenes in the mist.
"Prepare to step through Crewman Winters." Dr. Xon said as he watched the time flow carefully.
"Thank you Dr. Xon. I hope everything and everyone you remember comes back to you." Vincent said as he took his place before the portal.
"Go!" Dr. Xon said as the exact moment that he was looking for appeared in the mist.
Vincent stepped into the mist and seemed to be moving in slow motion as he traveled fifty years back through time.
* * * * *
Tyce turned when the doors opened and saw a familiar face.
The ten year old boy's black mop of hair was disheveled. He had a bruise on his cheek and a terrified look in his light brown eyes.
"Welcome Tyber, there is no need to be afraid." Tyce said gently.
Tyber saw his father and ran to pull him into a hug.
"There is something I must do to try to prevent a war, but once that is done I will speak with you." Tyce said gently, then walked to stand beside Captain Byrne.
"I must enter a specific subspace frequency to contact someone. Can you show me how?" Tyce asked Captain Byrne quietly.
"Of course Holy One. I will set the controls, then you can enter the frequency." Captain Byrne said in an equally quiet voice.
After a moment to set the comm unit to accept direct input of a frequency, Captain Byrne stood aside.
Tyce quickly keyed in a numerical sequence, then pressed the key to initiate the transmission.
There was a moment of silence, then a large reptile with mottled green/gray skin and solid black eyes filled the screen.
Tyce smiled and said, "J'Laad."
"J'Layiah?" The reptile asked uncertainly.
Everyone in the room looked at the screen in a mix of fear and awe.
"Yes Holy One, it's me." Tyce said firmly.
"You appear to have shed your skin again." J'Laad said with a note of amusement.
Tyce smiled at the statement and said, "Yes, if you want to look at it that way."
"It is good to see that you are well." J'Laad said more formally.
"Are you aware of the Gorn fleet approaching our space?" Tyce asked bluntly.
"I should say so! I travel with them." J'Laad said with amusement.
"What of our agreement?" Tyce asked cautiously.
"I was told that you had been dispatched. I attempted to contact you to verify this information, but received no reply. If you were dead, our agreement would have died with you." J'Laad said frankly.
"There was a plan to remove me from service. They attempted to dispatch me just after I had... shed my skin, so I was occupied with other matters and didn't see it coming. But thanks to the actions of some good and caring people, I'm happy to say that I survive." Tyce said and gave a fond glance at Captain Byrne.
"To attack when one is shedding is most dishonorable. It is good to see that you are well." J'Laad said with a serious nod.
"Then will you ask your fleet to return to your own space?" Tyce asked firmly.
"If you like, but it seems like such a waste since we have already made half the journey. Perhaps we could escort you back to your home world? It would also serve to protect you from any further plans to remove you from service." J'Laad said with a mischievous twinkle in his black, reptilian eyes.
Tyce thought for a moment, then said, "Perhaps. It has been generations since my people have seen the glory and majesty of the Gorn. Malif's willingness to form an alliance has proven that my people need to be reminded of just what lay beyond our borders."
J'Laad nodded with a mischievous smile.
"How far are you from my location?" Tyce asked in thought.
"At our current speed, we will join you in twelve hours. But we can be there in five if there is a need." J'Laad said seriously.
"No. Some of our ships have sustained damage and we could use the time for repairs. I will be expecting you to arrive in twelve hours." Tyce said in deep thought.
"Our sensors indicate that you are not on an Okudai ship. Is this correct?" J'Laad asked seriously.
"Yes. A Federation vessel came to my aid when my ship was attacked." Tyce said carefully.
"I trust that you will instruct the Federation creatures in the proper protocols before we arrive." J'Laad said in a leading tone.
"Yes Holy One. They have earned my trust, I will see that they behave properly." Tyce said formally.
"I look forward to our reunion Holy One. It has been far too long." J'Laad said with a peaceful smile.
"I agree. It will be good to see you again." Tyce said gently.
"Power and Might." J'Laad said firmly.
"Duty and Honor." Tyce said in response.
J'Laad nodded, then disconnected the transmission.
* * * * *
As Dr. Xon watched Vincent appear back in his own time, his attention was drawn away by the beeping communicator on his belt.
"Dr. Xon, you have a subspace transmission." A female voice said professionally.
"Thank you Dr. Lewis. Can you put it through to my communicator? I am nowhere near a terminal at the moment."
"He said you wouldn't be. I'm patching it through." Dr. Lewis said with a delighted chuckle in her voice.
"This is Dr. Xon."
"I'll never get used to you calling yourself that. You're just like your mother." A man's voice said with amusement.
"Dad? Is that you?" Dr. Xon asked with excitement.
"Who else would it be? I've been waiting for this exact day and time for fifty years so I could thank you for everything you did to help me, not just the quantum signature, but everything." The man said seriously.
"It was logical to do so." Dr. Xon said in his most reasonable voice.
"Joseph Xon Winters! You don't need to use your Vulcan routine with me. I know you better than that."
"Sorry Dad. I guess I fell into the habit over the past few hours. I'm so glad to hear your voice. I thought I'd lost you." Xon said with relief.
"That's better. Now you need to get your ass off that research planet and find yourself a woman and give me some grandkids!" Vincent said firmly.
"What?" Xon asked with confusion.
"I haven't said a word about you getting lost in your work because I knew that you had to so you could save the universe someday. Well you've done it! It's saved! Now go find yourself a nice woman... or man. Just find someone and make a happy life for yourself." Vincent said firmly.
"But my work..." Xon began to say.
"Your work is on a planet that exists outside the flow of time. I'm pretty sure it will still be there after you've taken some time for yourself. I bet you've got about thirty years of data that you could be compiling back here with your family and writing a bajillion papers that will make the scientific community go cross eyed. Joey, whether I'm nine or fifty-nine, I'm still your father and I love you. Come home." Vincent said seriously.
Xon wiped the tears out of his eyes and said, "You're right dad. Of course you always are. It's going to take me a few days to collect everything, but you can expect me to be home sometime next week."
"That's my boy." Vincent said happily.
"I love you dad, tell mom I love her too. Winters out." Xon said as tears streaked down his cheeks.
"She already knows, but I'll tell her. We love you too Joey, Winters out."
* * * * *
"I don't understand. You and the Gorn Holy One are friends?" Lehman asked cautiously.
Tyce smiled at Lehman and said, "Yes. Many races have Holy Ones who help to guide them. As I recall, the Chameloid Holy One is named Myscendria."
Lehman's eyes went wide at the name and he said, "The Reverend Mother Myscendria is a Holy One like you?"
Tyce smiled and said, "Yes. We have much to do. Come over here and help me to sort out what's going to happen to Tyber."
Lehman walked with Tyce to find Tyber still hugging his father desperately.
"Holy One, I never imagined that things could turn out this way. Please help me to provide a future for my son." Traiel said in a pained voice.
"Treifa, could you help me?" Tyce asked in thought.
Treifa hurried to Tyce's side and waited expectantly.
"Would you check on the status of the ships and see who is in control of them and when they will be prepared for the journey back to Okuda?" Tyce asked seriously.
"Yes Holy One." Treifa said quickly and hurried away.
"Gartain, come over here. We need to sort some things out." Tyce said seriously.
Captain Gartain looked at Tyce with indecision for a moment, but finally approached.
"Traiel and Gartain, you've sealed your fates. If you had just attacked me, it might be possible to forgive what you have done. But your mutilation of Lehman is beyond forgiveness. When you return to Okuda you will almost certainly be exiled for your crimes." Tyce said firmly.
"Holy One?" Lehman said quietly.
Tyce looked at him with question.
"You're safe and I'm still alive. What was done is finished. If it will make any difference, I will forgive them." Lehman said quietly.
Tyce smiled at the statement and pulled Lehman into a brief, one-armed hug.
"You are a good and honorable person Lehman. Your forgiveness does make a difference." Tyce said gently.
"So can you fix it so they won't be exiled?" Lehman asked cautiously.
"No. I don't think I can. You need to understand that it wasn't an error in judgment or a momentary lapse in reason that caused all this. It was a calculated plan born of greed. People like Traiel, Gartain and their allies have no place in our society. If they were allowed to remain among us, their true natures would eventually surface again to cause even more problems." Tyce said to Lehman, then turned to Traiel and Gartain and considered for a moment.
"If you return to Okuda and face trial, I believe that the outcome will almost certainly be exile on the third moon of Ikera." Tyce said seriously.
Traiel and Gartain both nodded their agreement.
"Lehman, since you were the one most hurt by them, what would you think if we gave them and their allies a ship and let them go on their way?" Tyce asked in a considering voice.
Lehman looked at Traiel and Gartain for a moment, then back at Tyce and nodded.
"Good. I believe that this will be the best thing for everyone involved. The only thing left to decide is what is to be done with Tyber." Tyce said seriously.
"I want him to go with me." Traiel said quickly.
"If that is his choice, then it will be so. But please consider carefully. If Tyber goes with you, he will be an exile from his own people. He will grow up knowing that he doesn't belong to any race or society. What he accomplishes in his life won't contribute to his community and when he dies, he probably won't be remembered." Tyce said frankly.
Traiel considered the words carefully, then said, "His mother died in childbirth. We don't have any close relatives. Who could take him? What else can I do?"
"If he chooses to, he could come with me." Tyce said seriously.
Tyber looked at Tyce with fear and uncertainty.
"Tyber would become a member of my household." Tyce said frankly.
"Like your servant?" Traiel asked cautiously.
"Like my brother." Tyce said seriously.
"I want to go with you." Tyber said to his father as he clutched onto him more tightly.
"I know. But the Holy One is right. If you came with me, chances are that you would have a short and unhappy future." Traiel said as he held his son tightly.
"I don't care. I don't want to leave you." Tyber said desperately.
"I know. But the fact of the matter is, if you came with me, it would hurt me every single day to know that you're suffering for the choices that I made. If you go with the Holy One, I can leave and know that you are in a safe place with people who will take good care of you." Traiel said as he pulled back to look in his son's eyes.
"Do you really want to leave me?" Tyber asked as his tears began to fall.
"No son. I want to hold you and keep you with me forever. But I've given up my right to have the things I want. The Holy One is being kind enough to give us a choice about what kind of opportunity you're going to have for your future." Traiel said, trying to make his son see the importance of the choice before him.
"I... I'll go with the Holy One if that's what you really want." Tyber said in a shaky voice.
"Yes. That's what I really want. And there's one more thing." Traiel said as he looked deeply into his son's eyes.
Tyber looked at his father with question.
"I have brought shame to our family by being greedy and selfish. All I'm going to ask of you is to have lots of friends and become strong and smart. Live a good life and become a better man than I am. If you listen to the Holy One, I'm sure he'll tell you how to do that." Traiel said frankly.
"Okay. I will. I'll make you proud of me. I promise." Tyber said as tears filled his eyes again.
"Holy One. All our ships are at your command. All but the Mangeon have prisoners who have been identified as allies of Traiel or Gartain. We should be ready to be underway within eight hours." Treifa said seriously.
"Good. Get with the crew of the Timmeraeon and prepare their ship for an extended voyage. When it's ready, we will transport Captains Gartain and Traiel and all their allies onto that ship and allow them to go on their way." Tyce said seriously.
"Holy One?" Treifa asked in surprise.
"If they returned to Okuda, the best that they could hope for would be exile on a desolate moon at the edge of our system. It would be a closed off future without hope. At least this way, there is the possibility that they might find a new world and build a decent future for themselves. When they leave, my sincere hopes and best wishes will go with them." Tyce said honestly.
"I'll see to it." Treifa said with a peaceful smile.
"Thank you Holy One. It's better than we deserve." Traiel said quietly.
Captain Gartain looked at Traiel uncertainly.
"Tyber, please go with the Holy One now." Traiel said softly.
"I don't want to let you go. Please let me stay with you." Tyber said in a tearful voice.
"I'll see you again before I leave. Right now I have quite a few things to arrange if we're to have any hope of survival." Traiel said gently.
"You promise that I'll get to see you again before you go?" Tyber asked cautiously.
"I promise. I'll be back just as soon as I can." Traiel said seriously.
"Okay." Tyber said reluctantly as he let go of his father.
"I'll take good care of him." Tyce said quietly.
"Thank you Holy One. I never doubted it." Traiel said with a pained smile, then turned to Gartain and said, "Come on, we have a lot to do and very little time."
* * * * *
Vincent looked around the conference room for a moment, then slowly walked to the comm panel by the view screen.
He pressed the main comm button, then waited.
"Communications." The voice answered professionally.
"Can you connect me with Admiral Morrow at Starfleet Command on a secure channel?" Vincent asked quietly.
"Yes. I'll have him for you in just a moment." The communications worker said efficiently.
Vincent took a deep breath to brace himself, then watched as the Starfleet Logo filled the screen.
"Crewman Winters, can I assume that all went as planned?" Admiral Morrow asked cautiously.
"Yes sir. Dr. Xon believes that he has corrected my quantum signature and that his original timeline should be restored." Vincent said seriously.
"Good. Can I assume that you understand the seriousness of this matter and why it needs to remain classified?" Admiral Morrow asked as he looked Vincent in the eyes.
"Yes sir. I understand. I won't say where I went on subspace, but it's still classified fifty years from now." Vincent said seriously.
"Yes. You do understand. There is to be no report made of this event in official or personal logs. As far as history will ever know, this event did not occur." Admiral Morrow said, still holding Vincent's gaze.
"Yes sir." Vincent said professionally.
"Very well. As I understand the situation with your doppelganger, they are having quite an interesting time in the officer's mess hall. Perhaps you should find some unobtrusive place to spend some time until their situation settles down and you can reveal your presence." Admiral Morrow said carefully.
"Yes sir. There's something that I think I need to do and this would be a good time to do it." Vincent said professionally.
"I'm glad that everything turned out well. Have a good evening Crewman Winters. Starfleet out." Admiral Morrow said, then closed the channel.
Vincent stared at the blank view screen for a moment, then looked at the ship's time.
Finally he came to a decision and started keying in instructions on the comm panel before him.
He knew it would have been faster to call communications and let them route the call for him. But Vincent felt that this was something that he needed to do by himself.
Finally he was connected with TerraMain's central communications complex and began to search the terminal directories, not knowing if the one he wanted even existed.
Vincent narrowed his search further and more precisely until he finally found what he was looking for.
After a deep breath to brace himself, Vincent pressed the final button to make the connection.
There was a long moment of silence, and Vincent began to wonder if maybe it was too late to be calling.
Finally the screen came to life and a hesitant voice said, "Hello? This is Mr. Silva."
* * * * *
"Um... Tyce? I'm starting to feel really shaky. I think something is wrong with me." Lehman said quietly.
"Audge can take you to sickbay." Tyce said immediately.
"No. He needs to stay here with you to protect you." Lehman said forcefully.
Tyce smiled at Lehman's protectiveness, then said, "Captain Byrne, is there someone who can accompany Lehman to the Sickbay? He isn't feeling well and I'm afraid he might not make it on his own."
The captain nodded, then summoned one of the waiters who had been standing by the door in case anyone needed anything.
"Please accompany this young man to the Sickbay." Captain Byrne said professionally.
"Yes sir." the waiter said immediately.
"Thank you sir." Lehman said in a quiet voice and followed the waiter out of the room.
"Dr. Perry will take good care of him." Captain Byrne said to Tyce with assurance.
"Thank you Captain. Even though I've only known him for a short time, I consider Lehman to be a trusted friend." Tyce said seriously.
The view screen came alive to show Falek looking extremely serious.
"What can I do for you Minister Falek?" Tyce asked calmly.
"Holy One, the counsel of governors has voted to allow me to assume the duties of president until an election can be scheduled. I have released control of the media centers, but thought that if you could make the announcement, it would have more meaning to the people than anything that I could say." Falek said seriously.
"Have you launched our military ships?" Tyce asked cautiously.
"Yes Holy One. Every space worthy ship that has any kind of weapons compliment has been launched. Each colony's force has been called to defend it's own world and the primary fleet is en route to take position at our border." Falek said firmly.
"Good. Make sure that all the ships are tied into one central communications frequency. I want to be able to address them all when I arrive." Tyce said carefully.
"I'll see that it's done." Falek said immediately.
"Good. If you'll activate the link to the media centers, I'll make the announcement." Tyce said calmly.
"Thank you Holy One." Falek said with relief, then keyed in the instruction on his console.
"People of Okuda. Malif and his co-conspirators have been taken into custody to await trial. The counsel of governors has elected Minister Falek to govern in his stead until free elections can be arranged to elect a new president. If Minister Falek would agree to it, I would like for Jessub, from the Mycien colony to be put in charge of the election preparations so we will be assured of an accurate vote. He has my complete trust." Tyce said carefully.
Falek looked surprised for a moment, then said, "Yes Holy One, I will see to it immediately."
Tyce smiled at his flustered state, then became serious again as he said, "People of Okuda, some evil and self-serving individuals orchestrated a plan to kill me so they could expand their influence outside our system and reap the benefits of associating with other species in the universe. Although their plan was born of greed and the allies they chose would have sought to enslave us, their underlying desire to grow beyond our borders is shared by many and is not necessarily bad."
Falek looked on with wide eyes of wonder, not having any idea of what the Holy One was going to say next.
"Not all of my attackers were evil. Some were people of good will who sought to improve all of your lives and believed the lies that they were told by Malif. One of these people is named Treifa. I judge him to be sincere in his desire to provide a better future for all of you and for our children. He has sworn his loyalty to me, but has proven through his actions that he will do whatever is necessary to improve the lives of you, his people. Therefore, I am giving my endorsement of Treifa for the office of president in the upcoming election." Tyce said, then motioned for Treifa to join him before the terminal.
"Thank you Holy One." Treifa said reverently.
"Further, I am endorsing Captain Treas of the Mangeon for candidacy for the office of Vice President. She has demonstrated not only her desire to improve the lives of our people, but her willingness to take action to make that desire a reality." Tyce said forcefully, then paused to allow everyone to consider his words.
"Change is frightening. And there will be many changes in the coming days. But if you all will listen to your hearts and do what is right, we can sweep the corruption out of our government and return our civilization to working order. When we have achieved that goal, we will begin to make plans to form alliances outside our system. To my left is Captain Byrne of the Federation starship Yorktown. When Malif's assassins were attacking me, Captain Byrne came to my aid and protected me. When the time comes that we are ready to form our first alliance, I will call upon the Federation to send the Yorktown to Okuda so we can begin negotiations." Tyce finished with a smile at Captain Byrne.
"Arm yourselves with knowledge. Seek truth before you make judgments. Take action when it is right to do so. And vote with your heart for the benefit of all our people. Thank you for your attention." Tyce said, then looked at Falek with question.
Falek blinked a few times, then stammered as he said, "Thank... thank you Holy One. I will do my best to serve our people well until the elections are held."
Tyce smiled at Minister Falek and nodded.
"People of Okuda, you have heard the words of the Holy One. Let us prepare ourselves, the time of change has come." Minister Falek said more assuredly.
Tyce reached over to the comm panel and turned off the screen.
"That was quite impressive Holy One." Captain Byrne said seriously.
"Thank you Captain. I didn't think you would mind if I introduced you to my people." Tyce said with a mischievous smile.
"Not at all. I'm honored." Captain Byrne said honestly.
"Good. Now we have several things that need to be done in the next twelve hours. Treifa?" Tyce said as he looked around.
"Right here." Treifa said as he hurried away from the other captains.
"Will the Dorsa be ready to make the trip to Okuda in twelve hours?" Tyce asked seriously.
"Captain Marr assures me that it will be ready." Treifa said seriously.
"How about the Timmeraeon, will they have everything they need?" Tyce asked in thought.
"Supplies are going to be an issue. If Captain Byrne will help us identify some nearby worlds where they can collect resources, then we should be able to get them on their way before the Gorn ships arrive." Treifa said firmly.
"I'll have Commander M'Butu help you with that." Captain Byrne said seriously.
"Thank you." Treifa said professionally.
"Good. And Captain Byrne, when the Gorn ships arrive it is very important that you do not scan them or attempt to make any contact with them. As long as you remain silent and just observe, they will not make any move against you." Tyce said firmly.
"Another Federation ship, the Enterprise, encountered the Gorn at Cestus III, that encounter did not go well." Captain Byrne said with concern.
"I heard something about that. You attempted to colonize inside their area of space." Tyce said frankly.
"We didn't know it was their space. We had never encountered their species before that meeting." Captain Byrne said cautiously.
"Oh, then I think it would be a good idea for us to provide you a chart to show you their boundaries so you can avoid another such misunderstanding." Tyce said consideringly.
"Yes. That sounds like a very good idea." Captain Byrne said frankly.
Tyce looked around, then noticed Tyber at his side looking lost and unsure of what to do.
"Tyber, would you go ask Captain Marr to come here?" Tyce asked gently.
"Yes Holy One." Tyber said in a whisper.
"I think it's going to take some time for him to be comfortable around you." Captain Byrne said with concern as he watched Tyber walk away.
"I agree. But it will be time well spent. I see great potential within him." Tyce said as he also watched Tyber.
* * * * *
"Hi Principal Silva, this is Vincent Winters." Vincent said shyly.
"Vincent? It's wonderful to hear from you. I heard about what happened to your family. Then you were withdrawn from school without explanation. I didn't know where you went. How are you doing?" Principal Silva asked with concern.
"I'm fine. I just wanted to call to let you know that I'm okay. I mean, even though I was kind of a lot of trouble for you while I was there... I guess I always knew that you cared and stuff. So I wanted to let you know that everything turned out okay." Vincent said shyly.
Principal Silva smiled at the rambling statement, then quietly said, "I'm very glad to hear that. Your teacher and a few of your classmates have asked what happened to you."
"Really?" Vincent asked with surprise.
Principal Silva smiled and said, "Yes, really. Would you like me to pass a message on to them?"
Vincent thought for a moment, then said, "Yeah. I don't know if anyone noticed, but I always liked Starfleet stuff."
Principal Silva chuckled as he said, "I think the UFP and Starfleet crests you drew on every notebook you ever owned might have tipped them off."
Vincent smiled at the fact that Principal Silva had noticed, then continued, "Just tell them that after my worst nightmare happened, my favorite dream came true."
"Would you care to go into more detail about that?" Principal Silva asked cautiously.
"If anyone wants to hear more, they can write to me and ask me. Just tell them to send the message to Petty Officer Vincent Winters on the USS Yorktown." Vincent finished with a proud smile, then backed away from the terminal a little to show off his crewman's uniform.
"Petty Officer?" Principal Silva asked in wonder.
Vincent smiled and nodded.
"Congratulations. Now I understand what you mean about your dream coming true." Principal Silva finally said.
"Yeah. And I'm taking classes over subspace at the Vulcan Academy of Science." Vincent added with pride.
"It appears that you've done very well for yourself Vincent... or should I call you Petty Officer Winters?" Principal Silva asked seriously.
"You can still call me Vincent. Only Starfleet people call me by my title." Vincent said gently.
"Okay Vincent. I'm very proud of everything you've accomplished. I had always hoped that you would get into Starfleet one day so you would have a productive direction for all your potential." Principal Silva said gently.
"Really?" Vincent asked with surprise.
Principal Silva chuckled and said, "Didn't you ever notice that you were put in advanced math and science classes even though your grades weren't quite high enough to qualify you?"
"Um. I kinda thought you were just being mean. Like, saying that I wasn't working hard enough or something." Vincent said reluctantly.
"I was trying to give you the tools that you would need later. Whether you wanted them or not." Principal Silva said while trying to restrain a smile.
"Well, you could'a told me. I would have worked a lot harder if you let me know that I was getting harder work so I could get into Starfleet." Vincent said indignantly.
"The moment I tried to push you in any direction, you would automatically turn the other way... Just to be difficult. So I decided to just put you in the classes and hope for the best." Principal Silva said frankly.
Vincent thought for a moment, then said, "Thanks."
"I just need to know one thing." Principal Silva said seriously.
"What's that?" Vincent asked curiously.
"Are you happy?"
Vincent thought for a moment, then said, "Yeah. I am. I always thought I'd like being in Starfleet, but now that I'm here, it's better than I ever imagined."
"Good. Then I'm happy for you. Think about stopping by and saying 'hi' to your old class next time you're on Earth." Principal Silva said warmly.
"Yeah. I'll do that. And if you wanted to write to me, it'd um... be okay." Vincent finished shyly.
"Yes. I think I would like to have a pen pal who travels among the stars." Principal Silva said peacefully.
"I've got to go. It's not good to tie up the subspace channels too long." Vincent said quietly.
"I understand. Be expecting a message from me sometime soon."
"I will. Goodbye Principal Silva." Vincent said with a smile.
"Goodbye Vincent." Principal Silva replied, then ended the transmission.
Vincent thought about the things that he needed to do, then slowly walked to the turbo lift.
When he entered, he glanced at the ceiling and said, "Counselor's office."
* * * * *
"Do you need me to stay?" The waiter asked Lehman gently.
"No, thank you. I'll be fine." Lehman said outside the Sickbay door.
"I'm Crewman Fields, just call me if you need anything." the young man said with concern.
"I will. Thank you." Lehman said with a smile, then walked to the door.
"Hello Vincent... you look worried. Is something wrong?" Dr. Perry asked with concern as she worked on one of the Dorsa's crew members.
"Um, I'm not Vincent. It's kind of a long story. But when you have a minute, could you scan me. I'm not feeling right." Lehman asked as a wave of dizziness washed over him.
"Go over there and sit down. T'Lani should be right back. I'll get her to scan you." Dr. Perry said as she continued her delicate work.
Lehman slowly walked over and took a seat by the door to the back hallway.
The door to the hallway opened and T'Lani walked in carrying a medical tricorder.
"Hus... Who are? you and where is my husband?" T'Lani asked firmly as she looked Lehman in the eyes.
"Um... I'm Lehman and Vincent is doing something for Admiral Morrow right now. I don't know exactly where he is." Lehman said cautiously.
"Why do you look like my husband." T'Lani asked seriously.
"I'm a shape shifter... can you please scan me? I'm not feeling well and it's getting worse." Lehman said as he suddenly felt very tired.
T'Lani raised her tricorder and began to scan him carefully.
"Your blood pressure seems to be extremely low, but I do not know what is normal for you." T'Lani said carefully.
"I think I'm going to pass out." Lehman said as he started breathing heavily.
"Dr. Perry. This patient appears to be going into respiratory arrest." T'Lani said quickly.
"The patient on the first biobed is stable. Get him moved out and put that kid on respiratory support." Dr. Perry said firmly as she continued to work on her patient.
"I need the patient on bed one relocated to the convalescent ward immediately." T'Lani said quickly into the comm panel by the door, then resumed her scans of Lehman.
"Can you determine a cause for his condition?" Dr. Perry asked quickly.
"It appears that his endocrine system is shutting down. Many of his organs have failed." T'Lani said as she tried to make sense of the readings.
"As soon as you get him on the biobed, run a complete blood workup." Dr. Perry said quickly.
T'Lani saw a pair of crewmen move the patient off the first biobed onto a gurney.
Without hesitation, T'Lani scooped Lehman up into her arms and carried him to the biobed.
"What does the biobed's diagnostic say?" Dr. Perry asked in concentration.
"It has identified the organs that have failed to be foreign bodies." T'Lani said with confusion.
"T'Lani, close up for me so I can have a look." Dr. Perry said as she laid her surgical instruments aside.
"Yes Doctor." T'Lani said seriously, then hurried to the other biobed.
Dr. Perry rushed to Lehman in time to see the heart monitor flat line.
"Not good." She said as she initiated the automatic cardiac stimulator in the biobed.
While it was attempting to revive Lehman, she loaded a syringe with adrenaline and injected it directly into his heart.
Dr. Perry watched carefully and waited for the adrenaline to take effect.
Lehman took in a desperate gasp of breath and tried to sit up on the bed.
"Relax, you're back." Dr. Perry said as she gently petted his short fuzzy hair.
Lehman looked at Dr. Perry with wide, terrified eyes.
"We're going to get you fixed right up. Just lay back and relax." Dr. Perry said as she looked carefully at his blood test results.
"I feel? like... something is... laying on... my chest... Can't breathe." Lehman said in increasing panic.
"Here, let me help." Dr. Perry said, then adjusted the respiratory support settings.
Lehman rested back and started to breathe normally again.
"It looks like you've had some recent surgery, would you like to tell me about that?" Dr. Perry asked as she looked at his readings carefully.
"I don't know what they did. They knocked me out and cut me open and did stuff inside me... but I don't know what." Lehman said quietly.
"Who did this to you?" Dr. Perry asked as a fire of anger welled up inside her.
"Captain Traiel. But it's okay, he's already in trouble and going to be exiled for doing it." Lehman said weakly.
"Do you know why they did this to you?" Dr. Perry asked more quietly.
"I'm a Chameloid, a shape shifter. They did this so I could hold an alien shape for a long time." Lehman said in a whisper.
"Well, whatever they did is killing you. I have to remove those failed organs." Dr. Perry said quietly.
"Do whatever you have to. Just please help me. My life is finally starting to get good. I want to live." Lehman said in a trembling voice before falling asleep.