by Bruce W. Thompson
Earth. July 10, 1999.
Sunlight filtered in through a window, glinting rainbow beams off the smooth,
curving spine of a Klingon batleth.
The batleth hung-- somewhat incongruously-- on the wall of a modestly
furnished den. Four paneled walls. A simple desk. A chair. A primitive computing
device. Assorted desktop clutter-- pens, paper, an empty stoneware mug. There
was nothing to distinguish this den from any random den in any random house
on the planet.
The door opened. A man stepped into the small room.
His name was Ronald D. Moore. He was a writer. Of television. Or--
more accurately-- he had been a writer of television. Until very recently.
Moores footsteps were muffled by the plush carpeting as he crossed
the den to the desk. With a casual motion, he slid the chair out from under
the desk and angled his knees to sit. Just then, his eye caught the light
gleaming from the alien weapon on the wall. He hovered there frozen for a
long moment, sighed and eased back up into a standing position. He straightened
his shoulders, then stepped across the room to the batleth.
A look of profound sadness colored his features.
He gazed at the batleth. He lifted one hand to touch it, hesitated,
then gently rested the hand on the wall, inches from the weapon. He closed
his eyes and hung his head, lost in thought...awash in memories.
Suddenly the silence was broken by a voice from behind him.
Whats the matter, pally?
Moores head snapped up and he whirled around.
It was a salamander.
Incredulous, Moore gaped at the mind-bending sight. Perched on top of the
desk, a mud-brown, two-foot tall salamander sat cross-legged, using the business
end of a blunt pencil to pick its tiny teeth. W-who are you?
Moore gasped. What the hell are you doing here? He glanced quickly
around the room, looking for a hidden microphone or marionette wires-- anything
that would help him reconcile his sense of disbelief with the apparently
very real amphibian before him. How did you get in here? Moore
wasnt used to being caught off-guard.
The salamander shrugged and spoke again, casually, as though a salamander
with the power of speech was a most ordinary thing. Hey, I dunno, buddy
boy...Im a figment of your imagination. It uncrossed its
legs and leaned forward. You tell me.
My imagination?... Moore asked. He wasnt used to being
confused either. He didnt like it.
Sit down, kid, the salamander said. Lets hash this
over. Maybe we can figure out whats makin you sing the blues.
Tentatively, Moore took his seat. He sat stiffly in the chair and looked
across at his strange amphibious visitor. For a long silent moment, they
regarded each other. Moore had never cared for salamanders, especially the
type that appeared from nowhere and started talking to him. Nervously folding
his arms, he said, What do you want?
The salamander smiled and folded its arms mockingly. What do you
Great, Moore said sardonically, an imaginary, talking,
and cryptic salamander... Lucky me.
The amphibian shrugged again. Look pally, youre the one cryin
in your synthale here, not me. You dont wanna talk about your problems,
its no scales off my snout. It slid off the desk, landing on
the carpet with a moist plop. See ya round, kid. The salamander
spun smartly on its fins and headed for the door.
I wasnt crying.
The salamander stopped. What did you say? it asked, turning around.
Moores head had tilted forward, obscuring his expression. His shoulders
had slumped and his whole body looked as if the very life had been drained
from it. I wasnt crying, he repeated darkly.
The salamander stepped slowly toward him. Its okay, buddy,
it said softy. I hear youve been through some changes lately.
Moore nodded. Changes...yes.
The salamander now stood at Moores side. It gently placed a foreflipper
on his shoulder. Tell me all about it, pally. It aint gonna do
you or me any good festering inside you.
Moore lifted his head slightly. I...I dont really know where
The salamander sighed. The beginnings usually a pretty good place,
but hey, you can name your own poison, pally. Hoisting itself back
to its perch atop the desk, it thumbed an amphibious thumb behind
Moore toward the batleth. Whats with the kooky pig-sticker,
What...? Moore looked over his shoulder in confusion.
Oh, he said as his gaze fell upon the weapon on the wall,
thats a Klingon batleth. It was a...gift. Sadness
welled up from deep within his eyes. But its...more than that,
really. Ive sort of begun to think of it as a...reminder.
Two beady salamander eyes blinked at him. Reminder? Of what?
Of things Ive done. Of where Ive been, Moore said
softly. Of where I may never be again.
The salamander crooked its head up at the batleth. Wow, symbolism.
Ignoring Moores angry glare, it continued. Hey, speaking of places
to be...aint you supposed to be somewhere else? I heard you were gonna
enter the lair of The Evil One and hold him in check. I thought that you
were supposed to put the kibosh on the spread of salamanders like me throughout
the Franchise. I was just down in The Evil Ones pit spawning, uh I
mean, visiting relatives... Its like happy hour in Salamander Town!
What the hell happened, pally?
I...I...failed. Moores face had puckered up like the Homecoming
Queen in the kissing booth at the county fair. Defeat tasted bitter indeed.
Go on, prodded the salamander.
Moore grimaced. I couldnt stand against The Evil One. Hes
grown too strong and his power reaches far... Much farther than I
dared dream. In spite of himself, Moore shuddered. Hes
entrenched himself into every nook and cranny of The Franchise. You can
practically smell him in the air. Im afraid that even now hes
whispering sinister ideas in the ears of his superiors, using his dark powers
of persuasion to influence their judgment. Either that, or hes somehow
gotten ahold of certain incriminating photographs... I cant
think of another reason for this madness! Moore swiveled his
chair around to face the batleth on the wall.
He slowly looked up at it. For maybe the first time in my life...Im
afraid, he admitted. Afraid for the future of The Franchise.
A great many good people have worked long and hard to see The Dream
Including you? asked the salamander quietly.
Yes. Including me.
Moore rose to his feet, bringing his eyes level with the batleth. Again
he raised his hand to touch it, then hesitated, his fingers hovering inches
from the weapon.
You can still...go back, said the salamander from behind.
Go back? Moore wondered. What are you talking about?
Pick up the batleth, the salamander urged. Go
back to the fight. Beard The Evil One in his den. The amphibians
voice had taken on an odd, distant tone. Hold fast against the
Whats the matter with you?... Moore said, turning.
The salamander was gone.
The desk stood empty, with not so much as a soggy butt mark to indicate the
salamander had ever even been there. Moore rubbed the back of his neck in
bewilderment, wondering if he had been dreaming.
He shook his head, trying to clear it. This is damn peculiar, he thought.
That crazy lizard didnt know what the hell it was talking about. Salamander
or no salamander, he knew he would never be able to go back. Never be able
to return to the fight. That part of his life was over. Over and done with.
Why are you trying to deny who you are?
A female voice split the silence behind him. Moore spun around, coming face
to face with another sight that threatened his sanity.
Seven of Nine?! Moore choked.
Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero-One, to be
precise, said the silver clad woman before him. She stood, statuesque
to distraction, in front of the batleth, the light from the window
now arcing twin beams from both the weapon and the ocular implant ringing
her left eye.
Moore squinted against the glare, uncertain he could trust what his eyes
were revealing. What are you doing here? How can you possibly even
Seven gazed at him coolly. Because I should be in the Delta Quadrant
aboard the starship Voyager?
Umm...n-no, Moore stammered. Mostly because youre
supposed to be a fictional character!
The former Borg drone cocked an amused eyebrow at him. Fictional
is a relative term, she said. Especially when dealing with
multiphasic temporal anomalies. And transdimensional interspatial displacements.
Or quantum subspace fluctuations. Or even...
Stop, please! Moore pleaded. Technobabble made his head hurt.
As you wish, Seven said. She stepped closer to him. With a withering
glance, she repeated her original question: Why are you trying to deny
who you are?
Moore flinched. I dont know what you mean.
Why did you leave so abruptly? Seven pressed. You had just
begun your work with us. Your initial offering seemed to hold great insight
into my exploration of humanity. She took another step toward him.
I was hoping to continue that exploration with you. To gain deeper
insight into what this new human collective means for me.
The slightest hint of vulnerability tinged her features. Now, with...other
hands controlling my fate, I fear I will remain mere... She paused,
then demanded, What is the term?
Window dressing? Moore offered. Cheesecake? Blatant sex
appeal? Ratings fodder?
I was thinking of the expression a pale imitation of myself,
but thank you anyway, Seven said, with more sarcasm than politeness.
So-- your explanation for your rapid departure?
I had to leave. I was...given no choice, Moore said. Besides,
I dont see how thats any of your business.
Seven was insistent. It is my business. It is Captain Janeways
business. It is Commander Tuvoks business. It is the business of Lieutenant
Torres and Ensign Paris. It is the business of all of us on Voyager
who would have benefited from your assistance.
She took one last intimidating step toward him, then whirled around and stalked
toward the batleth. She placed her implant-studded hand on the
weapon. Why are you trying to deny who you are? she restated.
She nodded her head at the batleth. You can still go back.
Moore turned his back on her. Turned his back on the batleth. And all
it represented. No, I cant, he said quietly.
Shes right, you know.
Moores head snapped up. A new voice had replaced Seven of Nines--
a mans voice, and a most familiar one at that. He turned quickly around.
Doctor Julian Bashir, late of Starbase Deep Space Nine, now occupied the
spot next to the batleth. Its good to see you again,
he smiled, stepping forward and extending his hand in greeting.
Moore gawked at Bashirs outstretched appendage for a dumbfounded moment,
certain someone must have spiked his morning coffee. He grasped the hand,
its apparent warmth and solidity holding precious little reassurance. What
are you doing here?
Why are you trying to deny who you are? Bashir asked.
Oh, not you too? Moore groaned.
Im afraid so, Julian said with an impish grin.
Psychoanalysis isnt my strong suit, but Ive recently
begun...spending more time with our station counselor and I think Ive
picked up a few tricks of the trade. He gestured toward the chair.
Have a seat. Why dont you tell your friendly doctor all about
All about what? Moore crossed his arms and stood, obstinately
refusing to sit.
Why are you trying to deny who you are? Bashir repeated. Waving
off Moores objections, he continued. You know, I spent years
pretending to be something I wasnt. Denying my true abilities. Hiding
behind other peoples notions of what is and is not normal. Finally,
you helped me to see that I had to accept the fact that I was genetically
enhanced. You showed me than I even had to learn how to embrace that fact.
He paused and rested a hand on Moores shoulder. I had never really
known peace until I came to terms with who I really am. He looked Moore
squarely in the eye. Dont deny yourself that peace. Dont
deny who you are.
Moore shook his head. Julian, its not that simple. I just cant
fight that fight anymore. The odds are stacked too high against me. The enemy
is too strong.
Suppose Davy Crockett had said that at the Alamo? Bashir asked,
turning to face the batleth. Do you suppose he and Travis and
Bowie stopped to ask themselves if the odds were in their favor? Or if Santa
Annas army was too powerful to face? He put his hand on the weapon.
Do you suppose they thought the price was too high?
Moore flopped heavily down into the chair, burying his head in his hands.
I dont know. I dont know anything anymore.
Why are you trying to deny who you are?
Bashirs clipped, cultured accent had suddenly vanished, replaced by
a deep and booming voice. It was a voice Moore knew well, perhaps better
than his own. Even before he raised his eyes, he knew who would be standing
Worf. No other acknowledgment was necessary.
Ron Moore. The Klingon responded in kind.
I dont guess I should waste time trying to figure out how you
can be here? Moore said, resigned now to the strange series of visions.
No, Worf agreed. The Klingon reached up and plucked the
batleth from its perch on the wall. Unlike the near reverence with
which Seven and Bashir and even Moore himself had treated the weapon,
Worf handled it with utilitarian calm. He deftly executed several swooping
maneuvers, then tucked it neatly under his arm. Nice weapon. Good
balance, he said.
Im glad you approve, Moore said. A smile almost creased
his face, but it quickly faded as he noted the easy manner in which Worf
cradled the batleth.
The Klingon fixed Moore with an intense stare. I am told our time together
has come to an end.
Moore averted his eyes, somehow suddenly ashamed. He was afraid he was blushing,
which was probably not the most warrior-like of reactions. I...I suppose
Worf nodded. I understand.
You do? Moore had grown used to having his motives questioned.
This matter-of-fact acceptance caught him by surprise.
Of course. After the Enterprise-D was destroyed, I felt it was
time for me to move on. To walk another path, away from Starfleet.
Worf turned and returned the batleth to the wall with a fluid movement.
But, Moore considered, you came back to Starfleet. You
served on Deep Space Nine for years.
True, Worf said, still with his back to Moore. An interesting
Before Moore could speak, Worf continued. I have enjoyed the years
we spent together. You have brought me much honor and I thank you. I would
be proud to fight at your side.
Moores voice almost broke as he said, Thank you, Worf. That really
means a lot to me...
However, you are too short to be an effective warrior, the Klingon
cut him off. You should stick to tasks more suited to one of
Is that the famous sense of humor Jadzia was always complaining
about? Moore asked.
Perhaps, Worf said. But perhaps there is also something
to be said for destiny. He ran his hand along the leathered hilt of
the batleth and turned his head slightly toward Moore. You should
speak with someone who knows what his first, best destiny is. And always
...Worf? Moore blinked. The Klingon was gone.
Moore stood and took two hesitant steps forward toward the batleth,
then froze. He felt a tingling on the hackles of his neck. He knew he was
no longer alone in the room. And moreover, he knew for certain who it was
that had joined him. He didnt even have to turn around to know. He
said the name slowly, deliberately--
James. T. Kirk.
The one and only, came the smiling, oh-so-familiar voice from
Gulping, Moore forced himself to turn. It was Captain Kirk, all right. He
looked older than Moore expected. A bit shorter, perhaps. A fair sight broader
than in his heyday, to be sure. But the unique combination of this man and
that uniform he wore-- the sheer force of his personality and aura of
command...the undeniable chemistry he embodied-- still could fill a room
like nobodys business.
Moore decided to play it cool. Arent you dead? he asked.
Am I? Kirk grinned knowingly. I guess Im just too
pig-headed to realize it. He half sat, half leaned, one-hipped against
the desk and folded his arms across his chest. So, are we having
You could say that, Moore nodded.
What are you going to do? Kirk, as always, cut to the chase.
Moore knew exactly what Kirk was talking about. He turned to face the
batleth. Theres nothing I can do. I cant go back.
Thats simply not a possibility.
Hmm, Kirk said, noncommittal. A wise man once told me there
But The Evil One is too powerful! Moore protested. Sometimes
it seems as though I am the only one who still remembers The Dream...
That Im the only one still fighting for whats good and right
Kirk stood and drew closer to Moores side. So youre facing
a hopeless struggle? Against impossible odds? And it seems like the galaxy
itself stands opposing you?
Kirk put his hand on Moores shoulder. Sounds like fun!
Moore had to smile. Doesnt it? Then he shook his head.
But I cant go back. Ive done my bit for king and country.
Let someone else fight the fight. Its time for me to stand down.
Besides which, the Franchise owes you one? Kirk asked.
Something like that, Moore said. He stepped close to the
batleth. I just cant see a compelling reason for me to
return to the battle.
Kirk came forward and tenderly placed one hand on the weapon. How about
this-- he offered, because while youre there, you can make
I remember someone once saying that one man can not summon the
future, Moore said.
But one man can change the present, Kirk recalled. He stepped
in between Moore and the batleth, turned and put his hands on Moores
shoulders. I cant order you to do this. Its your choice,
your decision. He cocked his head back toward the batleth.
Just remember whats at stake. His eyes searched Moores
for a moment.
Moore returned Kirks stare. After a long pause, he nodded solemnly.
Kirk released his grip on Moores shoulders, giving them a friendly
pat as he did. I have to go, he said. Somewhere Im
sure theres a universe or two in need of saving.
And youre just the man to do it? Moore asked.
Kirk winked. Its a living!
And-- just like that-- he was gone.
Moore was alone.
Shaking his head, he crossed the room to the desk. He sat in the chair and
expelled a long breath. He didnt know just what he was going to do
yet, but he knew he had a lot to think about.
The angle of the sunlight had changed enough so the beams reflecting off
the batleth now hit his eyes in his seated position.
He gazed across the room at the weapon, which seemed to glow from within
as the shimmering light danced across it.
He pondered the future.
When will you be back?
Maybe a year... Maybe...yesterday...
Captain Benjamin Sisko