Picard was fascinated by the events described by Commander Riker and Commander
Data. They were logged automatically as the two of them talked, and Picard
classified them at top priority. This information would be available to
only the most senior members of Starfleet.
When they were finished, Data left, but Picard signaled Riker to stay. He
switched on his communications screen, and said to Riker, 'Before you go,
Will, there is someone who wants to thank you, even though you seemed to
have no memory of saving him!'
The screen came to life, and a large Cardassian appeared.
'Gul Lurgen,' said Picard, 'I would like to introduce you to Commander William
A smile broke out on the Cardassian's face.
'Commander,' he said, 'Do you still maintain your innocence in saving me?
It occurred to me that someone may have masqueraded as you in order to save
me, for some reason. It was a computer transmission, so imaging would be
'No, Gul Lurgen,' said Riker with a smile, 'I remember it all now. It's
rather complex, but I went on a mission in time, and when I got back I remembered
you had been killed. Since I was back before that time, I was able to warn
the Admiral. It's all difficult to explain.'
'You mean, you altered time to save me?' asked the Cardassian in astonishment,
his face grave. 'That was a noble thing to do!'
Altering time was generally something regarded as unallowable by the Federation,
so he was very impressed. This would make an even more favorable impression
on the Cardassian government. Riker felt he should ameliorate the sin, though.
'Generally, altering history is a no-no,' he agreed, 'but considering it
was only a day ago I thought it would be allowable.' Especially after all
the other alterations that had been going on, he thought.
'I certainly think it was!' said Gul Lurgen. 'A chilling thought, that I
was actually dead!'
'Well, I'm glad that there was a positive outcome to our mission,' said
Riker. 'We must meet on Starbase.'
'We must,' agreed the Cardassian. 'I must at least buy you a beverage. I
believe you are a player of note at this game of poker. Your shipmates have
been educating me. I may not need a retirement fund after all. We must play.'
'We must,' grinned Riker. 'Go easy on me!'
They said farewells, and Riker switched off the screen.
Picard said, 'I hope the goodwill you have gained by saving him isn't lost
when he returns home impoverished! But seriously, Will, a good job.'
'It would never have happened if you'd been there, Captain,' Riker said.
'I nearly destroyed everything! But at least this makes the whole trauma
worthwhile. I'd hate to have had the worst experience of my life just bring
us back to status quo!'
As Malcolm and Mary Anne walked along a corridor, they met Chr' Gyr'.
'Hello, Malcolm,' she chirruped. 'I see you have female company.'
'Indeed I do,' he replied. 'Not only did I not faint when she spoke to me,
but I didn't faint when she asked me to marry her!'
'What did you answer?' Chr' asked.
'I'm still thinking about it.'
'Oh, I thought I had a more definite answer than that!' said Mary Anne.
'Well, it's true,' he said. 'I think about it all of the day and half the
Chr' Gyr' looked taken aback.
'But you did not know each other until recently. I understood human mating
rituals generally took more time.'
'Oh, I don't know,' mused Malcolm, 'we must have known each other at least..
how long, dear?'
'Oh, at least half an hour,' Mary Anne laughed. 'We've managed to get to
know each other very well in the last half hour!'
Chr' Gyr' looked puzzled. She was on her way to the canteen for a meal,
so they went along.
'It'll be good to get back to real imitation food, after having to eat dinosaur,'
remarked Mary Anne, as Chr' moved ahead of them in line. Chr' Gyr' moved
along the row picking an enormous amount of food to put on her tray.
'Whoever made up the expression, 'eating like a bird' hadn't met you,' observed
'They hadn't seen emus feeding, either,' said Malcolm. 'That's something
I'll have to show you, perhaps on our honeymoon.'
'You are up to planning your honeymoon?' asked Chr' Gyr' in surprise.
'Oh, he wants to go to some tinpot little national park,' said Mary Anne
lightly, 'but we've been there already.'
'I thought you had never met before today,' said Chr', looking baffled.
They relented and told her the story of their adventure, thus putting her
on a footing with the highest levels of security.
'How did you know we didn't know each other?' asked Malcolm afterwards.
'I heard it from my roommate,' she said.
'That's me,' said Mary Anne. 'I told her everything I knew in the first
hour I met her.'
'I may have to have you fitted with a turn-off switch!' said Malcolm in
'Once I'm married to you, I don't have to actually keep talking to you,
you know,' said Mary Anne. 'I just march you around like a trophy until
I get tired of you.'
'That's a nuisance,' said Chr'. 'I've just broken her in as a roommate.
Now I'll have to go through the whole process again.'
'All of two days wasted,' agreed Mary Anne. 'Actually, we're just engaged
so far. We do have a period called engagement, so we probably won't get
married until the end of the tour of duty.'
'I thought 'engagement' was a term used about warfare?' asked Chr'.
'That's what I'm afraid of,' sighed Mary Anne. 'Actually it's a time when
the couple find out if they really get along. They make all their plans
for the future, like where they're going to live and so on. Who is going
to wash the dishes. You know.'
'Actually if you live on a starship,' she added after a moment's thought,
'there's not too much planning. We just change cabins, and there are no
dishes. Let's go see the Captain and get it organized!'
'It's going to be tough keeping her in line,' remarked Malcolm, 'she seems
to be a master of every martial art known to man! Her hobby is lifting houses
off their foundations with her left hand.'
'I've told you a million times not to exaggerate, dear,' said Mary Anne.
'Well, that's the first time,' he said, 'but I'm sure you'll get there!'
'If the marriage doesn't work out,' said Chr', 'at least we'll get a good
double act for the Comedy Festival.'
'If I can't get the last word, I'll just have to stop you talking,' said
Mary Anne, kissing him on the mouth.
'So,' said Chr' Gyr', 'we're going to have to stop calling Engineering 'Bachelors'
'We?' he enquired, breaking the clinch.
'I am a girl!' she said, lifting her beak proudly. 'I can eye the bachelors
with the best of them!'
Malcolm laughed. 'Would either of you like another cup?' he asked, and he
took their orders and went over to the counter.
'What happened to the big romance with Commander Riker?' asked Chr'. 'Proximity
'He failed golf,' smiled Mary Anne.
In Ten Forward, Commander Riker sat among some friends, regaling a few of
his friends with the more classified version of the adventure. He stopped
as he realised his listeners were staring across the room. He turned, and
saw that they were looking at Ensign Arrg, who sat alone as usual looking
at the stars flash by.
'I'll bet he could be really scary,' whispered one of the women.
'You're right there,' said Riker fervently. He called across the room, 'Ensign
Arrg, come over and we'll scare up a few new friends for you!'
As Arrg looked around with a start, and rose to his feet with a ferocious
scowl, one of the others said nervously, 'Won't he be offended?'
'Nonsense,' said Riker. As Arrg approached, he said, 'You're not offended,
are you, ensign?'
'Oh, no!' said Ensign Arrg, enthusiastically. He paused. 'What does 'offended'
'It's a concept neither your people nor the Vulcans seem to have developed,'
said Riker, 'and you can do well without it! Have a drink on me!'
Guinan had drifted across as if she had predicted the order.
'Hi,' she said, and pronounced Arrg's name correctly. The hair stood up
on the limbs of the listeners. 'That's his name,' Riker offered to them
Guinan continued speaking to Arrg. 'How are you finding Starfleet? Did you
enjoy your first mission?'
'It was wonderful,' he snarled. 'I made friends.' He was ferocious with
emotion, and the others stirred nervously. Guinan and Riker remained unmoved.
'I'm sure you'll make lots more,' she smiled.
'Arrg was telling me he's a mean drunk,' said Riker to the others. 'Luckily
we don't have alcohol on the Enterprise.'
'I don't recall...' began Arrg in surprise, but Guinan interrupted.
'It's what passes for a sense of humor in the Commander, Ensign,' she smiled.
'He's just lightening up the atmosphere. But don't let him drink tea, Commander.'
She drifted off back to the bar in a swift movement.
'Was she joking?' asked Riker.
'I don't know, Commander,' said Arrg nervously. 'I've never drunk tea.'
'Well, we won't start tonight!' said Riker. 'I don't know if Guinan has
a sense of humor! Folks, I'd like you all to meet Ensign Arrg, one of my
shipmates on the mission.'
Riker went on to explain to the gathering something of Arrg's history, and
his need for the antipheromone. The others became quite animated, and Arrg
began to relax and enjoy their company.
'What was it like, Commander,' asked someone, 'when the ensign lost his
'You'll have to try it, Matthew,' replied Riker, 'but preferably not when
we're in the middle of a fight with the Borg!'
'Well, anyway, ensign' said another, 'are you satisfied with your first
'Not really,' said Arrg. 'I was supposed to be a gunner, but I failed when
I was needed.'
'When did you fail?' asked Riker in surprise.
'When the animal attacked you,' said Arrg. 'The others were afraid, and
could not act, but I was not affected. I was too slow in reacting. I could
not bring myself to fire my phaser. I love Starfleet, but I am not cut out
'Oh, what were you thinking of?' asked Matthew.
'I thought I might try public relations,' said Arrg. 'Maybe one day I could
be a diplomat, even an ambassador.'
There was a moment's silence.
'We'll think of something for you,' said Riker eventually.
Still later, in the Captain's quarters, Sarel and Sela were sipping drinks
with Picard and Spock.
'This is quite delicious, Picard,' said Sarel.
'It's real,' said Picard. 'I keep a supply for big occasions. I feel that
the Enterprise having a member of the Romulan High Council and a Romulan
Tribune as guests qualifies as a big occasion. The replicators can exactly
duplicate things, but sometimes it seems not quite the same.'
'It is a momentous occasion for me,' said Spock, 'to meet without rancor
with someone who was recently a deadly enemy.'
'I have certainly changed,' said Sela. 'I am still Romulan, but not so committed
against change. When I saw what Romulans had become in that other timeline,
I realized that we will change, whatever happens. We have to make that change
the best possible. Perhaps some reconciliation with Vulcan is the best path.
I will not actively oppose it.'
'But you will not join our underground,' said Spock.
'But it may not be the best path,' she said. 'I will just go home for the
moment. I have to decide on a new path in life. That seems worth taking
some time to consider.'
'I do find it somewhat off-putting,' remarked Picard, 'that everyone I know
who is half-human regards themselves as non-human. Spock thinks of himself
as Vulcan, Deanna thinks of herself as Betazoid, and Sela thinks of herself
'It's like a joke,' said Sela. 'If one has to explain it, it was too difficult
Spock was startled, though he did not change expression. Sela had made a
'Actually, that was one of the critical factors in my conversion,' Sela
added. 'When we met the Romulans in the alternate timeline, they had no
tolerance. In this time I have been completely accepted by the Romulans
as one of them. The only missing factor was the humans.'
'As you have noted,' observed Spock, 'in that timeline the Vulcans and Klingons
were also missing.'
'Point taken,' she said. 'But the humans were the catalyst.'
'I am really enjoying this gathering,' said Picard suddenly. 'I don't know
that I am up to the intellectual level required, but I feel that our meeting
like this is some sort of breakthrough.'
Sarel smiled. 'Of course, we may have some explaining to do after accepting
an invitation like this. I may be hauled over the coals for it, but I could
'I ordered you to do it,' smiled Sela. 'I will walk the coals for you.'
'My crew were fascinated by the chance to walk the corridors of a Federation
starship,' said Sarel. 'I told them not to steal too many secrets.'
'Any secrets they can learn by walking the corridors should not be too major,'
laughed Picard. 'And if they try it will keep Commander Worf in practice.'
'It was interesting to see earth sixty five million years ago,' said Sela,
almost wistfully. 'It would be interesting, from a scientific point of view,
to see it now. Perhaps soon.'
'The Enterprise would be at your service,' said Picard. 'The chance to make
a peaceful overture to a member of the High Command would certainly bend
Starfleet Command to your pleasure.'
'It is somewhat assuring to know that my human heritage does have some legitimacy,
so to speak,' said Spock. 'You have found humans to be a sort of yeast in
the bread of the galaxy?'
'Yes,' smiled Sela, 'like little microbes giving off gas. I'm sorry, I should
not be so insulting. A bad habit. Perhaps one day I will be able to refer
to my human heritage without wincing.'
'I have almost reached that stage myself,' observed Spock.
Finished! Let's go back