Edge of Heaven – 3. The Man and the Plan

When Dani came to, she was in the dark.  Total darkness.  There wasn’t anything to immediately indicate where, or when, she was.  No engines hummed or vibrated beneath her.  She could be on a ship, but there was no way to know for sure without exploring.

She sat up, then froze.  Her entire body ached, particularly her chest.  She looked down to investigate, out of pure instinct, before remembering the darkness, which had rendered her eyes temporarily useless.  She brought her hand up and ran her fingers over her uniformed torso.  When she felt the small, jagged hole in her uniform, the memory of her mission came back to her.  She, Will, and Captain Sisko had been cornered in the Suliban facility, and Sisko had ordered her into the temporal chamber.  She didn’t remember much after that, but from the condition of her uniform and her physical condition, she surmised that she’d been shot with a phaser.  Exactly who had shot her was still a mystery and would likely remain one until she was able to ask Will and Sisko what had happened.

Dani sat still for a few moments, willing the pain away.  Finally, it subsided enough for her to get to her knees.  She began to focus less on the aches throughout her body and more on her mission.  She felt for the pouch she’d been wearing before being sent here.  Relieved, she found it right where it had been before she’d awakened, and the five samples she’d taken from the lab were still tucked safely inside.  It was a relief that she still had them, but she didn’t immediately know what her next course of action should be.  She knew that she had to get the samples to Starfleet, so the question now was how to do that.  The first step to answering that question was figuring out where in the universe she’d ended up.

Lighting would be a good start.  She also needed a computer or something that would offer a hint for where she was currently located.

Dani carefully stood, aware that in the darkness, she had no way of knowing how big her surroundings were.  She gained a little more confidence when she was able to stand to her full height without any problems.

“Computer – lights,” she commanded.  Nothing happened in response, but it had been worth a try.  She stretched out her arms in front of her and slowly began to walk forward, like a blind person.  She didn’t have very far to walk.  Within a few steps, she reached a flat, smooth, vertically oriented surface.  She began walking again, sliding her hands along what she assumed was a wall until she reached something that felt like a control panel.  She was wondering how she was going to see the panel to know what she was doing, but then she decided to just take a chance.  She started pressing buttons randomly, and the lights in the room suddenly lit up.

Dani looked around the room.  It was small, seemingly only a slightly larger than a walk-in closet.  Somehow, a set of bunked beds, a sink, and two desks were crammed in there.  She heard the nearly silent hum of engines and felt the vibrations beneath her feet and concluded that she must be on a ship.

But what ship?  And when?

A garment hanging from the corner of the top bunk caught her attention.  It looked like a uniform but not one that she recognized.  She took a step closer to get a better look at it.

A gasp escaped her lips as she read the badge on the garment’s shoulder.

“Enterprise, NX-01?” she read aloud.

Xxx

After Dani had disappeared from the temporal chamber, Chakotay had been able to beam Sisko and Will to the Rio Grande in time to prevent them from being taken prisoner by the Suliban.  Now, the three of them sat in the observation lounge on the Enterprise-E with the rest of the senior staff, Janeway, and Tuvok.

“When we found the lab and the biomatter, we ran into a problem,” Will said.  “According to our intel, the storage equipment we had was supposed to accommodate all the samples of the disease.  Well, that wasn’t possible.”

“There was much more biomatter than we anticipated,” Sisko said.

“How much more?” Janeway asked.

“Enough to fill a large freezer,” Will said.  “In response to this new information, we decided that if we couldn’t get the entire amount, we should at least get some samples back to Starfleet so that we can study it.  So, Dani took five samples with her.”

“Where did she go?” Picard asked.

“That’s a problem, also, sir,” Will answered.  “We don’t know.”

“We weren’t able to read the display panels on the temporal chamber,” Sisko said.  “For some reason, the tricorder was unable to translate it.”

“We’ve got to figure out a way to bring her back,” Will said.  He felt horrible.  It had been Sisko’s order that had knowingly sent Dani to some unknown time, but Will hadn’t objected.  He was just as responsible for Dani’s situation as Sisko.

“I’m afraid there may not be much we can do about the situation,” Janeway said.  “As of now, Starfleet hasn’t developed the ability to willfully and purposefully travel through time.”

“I had a feeling you might say that,” Will said, “and I’ve taken that into consideration.  Have you ever heard of the Guardian of Forever?”

“I have,” Janeway responded.  “I believe Starfleet’s first encounter with it was during one of Kirk’s missions.”

“That’s right,” Will said.  “He and Spock traveled back in time to Earth in the year 1930 to rescue Dr. McCoy.  McCoy had been suffering from paranoid delusions after receiving an overdose of cordrazine, and he beamed down to the planet and leaped through the Guardian’s portal.  Kirk and Spock were able to locate him and bring him back to the 23rd Century.”

“You’re suggesting that we go to the Guardian and try to do the same for Dani,” Janeway said.

“I am,” Will replied.

Janeway looked at Chakotay, silently seeking his input.  Reading the unspoken request displayed in his wife’s features, he promptly complied.  “Unless you or anyone else has another plan, it’s better than sitting back and waiting for the temporal police to come riding to the rescue,” he said.

Kathryn nodded.  In nearly any other situation, she might have made a quip about how often she’d encountered the temporal police in the Delta Quadrant.  But now wasn’t the time.  This was her daughter’s life they were talking about.  Now was not the time for light-hearted banter.

“Do it,” she said.

Xxx

The Enterprise NCC-1701 E had been in orbit around the Guardian planet for nearly six hours.  Janeway, Chakotay, Picard, and Riker had gathered in transporter room 2 and were prepared to beam down.  Before they could even set foot on the transporter platform, someone unexpectedly began to shimmer into existence in the room.  Whoever it was didn’t need the transporter system, as they were materializing on the floor next to the transporter pad.  Janeway’s head whipped around to the transporter tech at the controls.  The technician shook her head, just as confused as the rest of the group was.  Janeway turned back to the figure solidifying before them and realized that it was multiple figures rather than a single person.

When the sequence was complete, Janeway immediately recognized who they represented, even though the two agents now standing before her weren’t the two she’d dealt with before.

“The Temporal Police,” Janeway greeted. “I was wondering how long it would take you to show up.”

“Admiral Janeway,” one agent began.  “Though we’ve never met in person, your reputation precedes you.”

“I assume that your presence here means that our plans for a rescue mission have changed,” Janeway said.

“Not necessarily,” the agent said.  “We think your plan is sound, and we’d like to help you.”

Xxx

“I’d like you to meet the man who extracted your daughter from Cardassia Prime,” one of the agents said to Janeway.  The away team had reassembled around the table in the Enterprise’s observation lounge, along with the two visitors from the future.

“I think it’d be a good idea if we got to know both of you,” Janeway said.  “You could start with your names.”

“Fair enough,” the man said. “My name is Daniels.”

“Just Daniels?” Riker asked. “You don’t have a first name?”

“Just Daniels – for now,” he said. “I do have a first name, but I don’t find it relevant to the situation at hand.”  Daniels turned his attention back to Janeway.  “The gentleman sitting next to me is Lt. Kyle Hicks.”

Riker’s head snapped to the handsome sandy-haired man beside Daniels.  He knew that name.  That name had been one of the reasons he and Dani had broken up around the time of her graduation from the Academy.  Will had thought that she’d seemed a little too close to Hicks at the time.

Daniels continued. “Mr. Hicks was part of the extraction team sent to Cardassia to bring Commander Janeway home,” he said. “In fact, he personally escorted Dani to the transport that brought her back to the Enterprise.  Just before his graduation from the Academy, he was recruited into Starfleet special forces, where he has since served with distinction.  He’s among the best at what he does, which is why I recruited him for this mission.  As I said before, I think your idea to use the Guardian to go back in time is a good one, and I think Lt. Hicks should be the one to go back.”

“I have extensive experience carrying out directives of a covert nature,” Hicks said.

“And how many of those have been of a temporal nature?” Janeway asked.

“I’d rather not elaborate on that, Admiral,” Hicks replied. “My missions have been classified, and, no offense, you don’t have high enough clearance to order me to divulge the details of my previous missions.”

“Fair enough,” Janeway said.  But she had part of her answer.  The boy had obviously been involved in some serious missions, some of which likely involved time travel.

She turned her attention back to the man who seemed to be the leader of the two.  “You said you think our plan to utilize the Guardian of Forever is sound,” she said. “But I’d be surprised if you didn’t already have a plan of your own in mind.”

“You’re right, of course,” Daniels replied.  “You’re on the right track with the idea to travel back in time, but instead of one of you blindly hopping in and out of history using the Guardian portal, we’ll use technology from my time to send Mr. Hicks back in time to the exact period where Dani is located.”

“You know where she is?” Chakotay asked.

“It’s my job to know,” Daniels replied.  “She’s on the Enterprise.  Jonathan Archer’s Enterprise, to be precise.”

There was silence as the 24th-Century Starfleet officers absorbed the information Daniels had given them.

“The Suliban may have already had their temporal chamber programmed to that period because they’re planning to strike humanity in the 22nd Century,” Chakotay said.  “Perhaps as a way to go back and end things before they get out of hand.”

“That does make sense,” Riker said.  “First contact with the Suliban was during Archer’s first mission.  It would be a logical place to try to change the balance of power in their favor.”

“That’s precisely what our observers from your future have hypothesized,” Daniels chimed.

Janeway, surprised, looked at Daniels with raised eyebrows.  “You mean you don’t know for certain?”

“Under normal circumstances, we would be able to identify, to 99.9% certainty, what occurred,” Daniels replied. “But it seems the Suliban had to be aware of that fact because they’ve done something to disrupt our abilities to monitor the timeline.  Some things we’re still able to see, but other parts of the timeline have gone dark.”

“Since you say you can send Mr. Hicks back to where Dani is, I assume that you can still ‘see’ that portion of the timeline,” Janeway said.

“Correct,” Daniels said.

“There’s just one more question,” Janeway said. “What do you get out of this endeavor?    Not to sound ungrateful for your intervention in this matter, but I’ve dealt with people from your department enough times to know that there’s something more at stake than just the welfare of my daughter.”

“You’re right, Captain, you have had several encounters with Temporal Investigations, so I don’t have to tell you that I can’t reveal everything to you,” Daniels said.  “I will say that you’re right to imply that there’s a bigger issue here than just your daughter.  It involves those vials of biomatter that your away team recovered from the Suliban facility.  That’s about all I can say at the moment.  Regardless of what else is at stake, you should realize that we both benefit by bringing your daughter – and the biomatter – back to the 24th Century.”

Janeway nodded.  “What are we waiting for, then?  Let’s get started.”

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