Previously on Star Trek: Series ?...
(From Episode 57: “Clotho")
The scene shifted yet again, to a futuristic room with some sort of transporter-looking device. The Ghost pointed. “Can you identify this device?”
“I think that’s a temporal integrator. It combines alternate versions of the same person into one amalgam.”
“This device was used on you, correct?”
“But something went wrong?”
“The device was meant to be used on entities that were no more than a few years apart in age. I and my counterpart were decades apart. The shock of reintegration was what caused my temporal psychosis.”
“But that temporal psychosis was never cured, was it?”
“Not entirely. They said I was fit enough to command again, and I was given the Relativity. But I still seem to screw up more often than not...”
“And that brings us pretty much to where this series starts, correct?”
The Doctor looked quite lost in thought, although he did respond. “Sorry, it took a bit for the universal translator to interface properly with the device, but I’ve got it now. Yes, this is what they were going to use.”
Yar whipped out a phaser rifle. “You want I should blow it up?”
“Not yet. You know that temporal profile the Progeny spent last season putting together? It’s uploaded to this device! I’m downloading it now; we may find it useful in countering the Progeny’s plans later on. There, I’m done. Fire away.”
“Captain’s Log: After several hours, Dax and Damar finally managed to hack into Joe’s and the Doctor’s vocal subroutines to get them to stop screeching. After they promised to be quiet, we turned their voices back on. The two EMH’s seem to have come to an understanding, and Joe has downloaded the ship’s medical logs to further study Ducane’s predicament back at Starfleet Medical. In the meantime...”
“Sir, why are you talking into your plate of curry?”
“I’m talking into what now?”
Dax poked Braxton’s head. “What about the Borg implant?”
The Doctor shook his head. “Unfortunately, it’s been completely destroyed. So have all the nanoprobes in his bloodstream, which means that it won’t be regenerating either.”
Braxton’s eyes slowly opened, and he sat up. T’Lenol stepped forward. “Captain, it’s good to see that you’re awake.”
To which Braxton predictably replied, “No, it’s good to see that I’m awake.”
T’Lenol paused and then responded, “Oh. That’s what you meant...”
And now the continuation...
Ever since his visit to the Relativity, Joe was like a hologram possessed. First, he pored over the ship’s medical logs, looking for anything that he may have missed during his medical duel with his doppelgänger. While he had made peace with the back-up version of his own program, it still gnawed at his matrix that he was unable to wake Ducane from his bizarre coma.
Then, he found it.
Even with the tremendous amount of medical data programmed into his very being, Joe knew that he was way out of his league. He summoned forth medical experts from a dozen worlds to work with him. Once Joe presented the problem to them, each in turn became as obsessed as he with the task at hand.
In this way, Project Tiberinus was born.
An entire wing of Starfleet Medical was converted into the project’s command center. Stocked with the latest equipment and supplied with near-limitless resources, the team worked around the clock.
And yet, it was not enough.
It was then that Joe brought in experts from other fields. From the mundane to the fringe, they came to Starfleet Medical. Hundreds were now working on Project Tiberinus; hundreds were now working on one singular goal.
And so it was that, one day, they achieved the impossible.
After the inevitable celebration, Joe turned to one of his assistants. “Joe to Starfleet Command. It’s time...”
It was a slow day in the Relativity’s sickbay. Now that he had some free time, the Doctor turned his attention towards his one long-term patient, Commander Patrick Ducane.
Only mere months ago, Ducane was well on his way to becoming one of the universe’s most powerful beings, thanks to the Milky Way Galaxy’s negative energy barrier. Unfortunately, the process had driven him completely insane. A desperate gambit by his friends returned him to normal, but ever since Ducane now laid comatose on his biobed, immobile except for his slow, shallow breathing.
The Doctor examined the readings displayed above Ducane’s head. They were normal, as usual. To the best of his extensive knowledge, there was no reason at all why Ducane should not be awake. With no other course of action, the Doctor simply made sure that he was comfortable and well taken care of.
It was then that T’Lenol came stumbling into sickbay, rubbing her temples all the while. The Doctor regarded her strangely. Like him, T’Lenol was a holographic program, and therefore never needed medical assistance.
T’Lenol groaned and laid down on a biobed next to Ducane. “You’re a holographic doctor, right? Can’t you prescribe some holographic headache medicine?”
The Doctor smiled at her. “The captain getting you down again?”
“It was bad enough before he lost the Borg implant, but now... The Vulcan control programmed into my matrix just doesn’t seem enough.”
She turned to Ducane. “How did he ever stand it?”
The Doctor continued a knowing smile. “Maybe that’s why he won’t wake up... He knows his vacation will be over once he does.”
“Any word back from Joe?”
“No. If he’s still working on the problem, he hasn’t shared anything with me.”
Meanwhile, on the Relativity’s bridge, Dax’s console starting playing the Thundercats theme song. Checking the transmission’s authentication code, she called to Braxton. “Captain, we have an incoming transmission from Starfleet Command. It’s... Priority One.”
Braxton, however, had other priorities. For the past hour, he had been trying to lick his own nose, and he was (predictably) failing miserably.
Dax rolled her eyes. “Xaronna?”
The ship’s conn officer replied, “On it!”
A few zaps from her favorite button later, and Braxton snapped out of his obsession. “What?!”
Dax leaned over the railing until her face was practically touching Braxton’s. “Starfleet Command! Priority One!”
“And... that’s important, right?”
”Yes, it’s important!”
“Very well. Onscreen.”
Admiral Crusher and Joe appeared on the main viewscreen. Oddly, Crusher seemed... happy to see Braxton. “Captain, it’s good to see you again!”
To which Braxton predictably replied, “No, it’s good to see me again.”
His subordinate’s habit of repetition didn’t seem to phase Crusher’s good mood. “Captain, you are urgently needed here at Starfleet Command.”
Braxton scratched his head, “Well, sure, okay... but what’s the Doctor doing already there?”
Joe didn’t seem to be phased by Braxton’s stupidity either. “Please hurry, Captain.”
Braxton nodded. “Very well. Braxton out.”
Everyone (except for Braxton) all got up out of their seats and started cheering. Yar was so excited that she started dancing. “Woohoo! You know what this means!”
Kes jumped up out of her seat and joined her. “Sure do! Joe’s got a cure for Ducane!”
Braxton looked at them in his usual puzzled way. “Huh? What do you mean by a ‘cure for Ducane’? Has he been sick?”
Damar almost answered him, but then had a better idea. “I’ll head down and let the Doctor and T’Lenol know the good news.”
Several minutes later, the Doctor was in the middle of actually trying to come up with a holographic headache reliever for T’Lenol when Damar burst into Sickbay. “Doc! Admiral Crusher just called! Joe’s come up with a cure for Ducane!”
Her head already pounding, T’Lenol shouted back, “Hello?! Big sensitive ears over here!”
“Oops, sorry. Well, think of it this way... You won’t have to put up with Braxton anymore.”
T’Lenol’s headache suddenly went away.
Soon after, the Relativity dropped out of hyperwarp and entered into orbit around Earth. The Doctor had Ducane transferred to a mobile biobed, and the entire senior staff transported down to just outside Starfleet Command.
Joe and Admiral Crusher were both waiting for them. Joe approached the Doctor with a big smile on his face. The smile, however, quickly became a look of confusion as he saw that the Doctor had brought Ducane with him. “What did you bring him down here for?”
The Doctor looked confused right back. “Isn’t that why you called? You found a cure for Ducane’s condition?”
Joe’s look of confusion slowly gave way to a glimmer of realization. “Oh. I didn’t find a cure for Ducane...”
T’Lenol’s headache suddenly came back.
“...I found a cure for Braxton.”
Braxton, who had been distracted by a passing cloud, remarked, “No, you’ve found a cure for me. Wait... I’ve been sick?”
“I’ve found a cure for temporal psychosis, you twit.”
Warning: The preceding statement was a massive turn of events for the “Series ?” Universe. Take a moment. Breathe. That’s right, just breathe. You okay? Good. We now return you to the jaw-dropping scene already in progress.
The Relativity crew looked like somebody had drilled open their skulls, poured out their brains, and replaced them with tribbles. Well, except for Captain Braxton, but that’s because he wasn’t really paying attention.
Quite pleased with himself, Joe motioned towards Starfleet Medical. “Follow, please.”
And follow they did, albeit in a vaguely zombie-ish manner. Unfortunately, they were all so stunned by this announcement that nobody noticed that they had left Ducane behind on his mobile biobed. Likewise, nobody noticed that pigeons began roosting on him.
As they entered the building, the Doctor was the first to snap out of his stupefied state. “What do you mean you’ve found a cure for temporal psychosis? There is no cure for temporal psychosis!”
“There is now. I found it.”
“Impossible! In order to even remotely begin working on a cure, you’d need a complete temporal profile of the patient and holy crud we have that!”
Joe smirked. “Indeed. While Federation science has not progressed far enough to generate an individual’s complete temporal profile, Progeny science has. You yourself downloaded Braxton’s profile during your conflict with the Progeny vessel, which I then obtained when I downloaded your medical logs. While the Progeny were only going to use that profile to reinitialize the Braxton Paradox, we shall put it to better use.”
The group came to a large door guarded by several Federation officers. Joe put his hand on a scanner by the door.
The typical Federation computer voice responded. Scanning holographic matrix. Identity confirmed. Hello, Joe, whadda ya know?
The doors opened, revealing a huge room filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment and hundreds of doctors and scientists.
Joe waved in the group. “Welcome to Project Tiberinus.”
Kes was the next person to snap out of her dumbfoundedness when she recognized the gigantic gizmo situated several floors down in the center of the room. “Oh no! You’re not getting me near that thing again! No way!”
She began to back away, but the door had already closed behind them. She began pounding on the door with her fists, but to no avail. She was locked in the same room with Scorpius’ planetary subspace drive, the device that had drained her of most of her nearly-omnipotent powers nearly two years ago.
Joe watched her in confusion. “How could she possibly know what this thing is? I just invented it.”
Admiral Crusher replied, “In an effort to save money, the prop department decided to reuse parts of an old set. What she thinks is a planetary subspace drive is, for all intents and purposes of this episode, your biotemporal realigner. See the sign?”
Sure enough, there was a big sign on the biotemporal realigner that said, “NOT A PLANETARY SUBSPACE DRIVE.”
Kes began to calm down, but still kept her distance from the machine.
Joe continued. “Captain Braxton’s particular case of temporal psychosis stems from the fact that Starfleet attempted to reintegrate two different Braxton clones that were thirty years apart biologically. Five years at most, but definitely not thirty. Because of this, he is not in complete temporal synch, and this disrupts the higher functions of his nervous system. The biotemporal realigner reads from the temporal profile, identifies components out of temporal synch, and then corrects them.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed.”
“Oh, I’m not. Yet. I will be in a few minutes, though, once I manage to fix your captain.”
“You’re ready to use the device now?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t have had Admiral Crusher summon Braxton here if I wasn’t.”
“Now see here! I am the Relativity’s Chief Medical Officer, and I’m not going to authorize any medical treatment that I haven’t...”
The Doctor’s protestations fell on deaf ears, as Crusher and T’Lenol had grabbed Braxton and were hauling him towards the elevator that ran down to the base of the gigantic device. The rest of the senior staff followed, with the Doctor reluctantly in tow.
Being a re-use of the planetary subspace drive prop, the biotemporal realigner also had a booth at the bottom. However, a crudely constructed sign above the booth read “KES DOES NOT GO HERE.” As Joe, Crusher, and T’Lenol were all trying to shove Braxton into the booth, Braxton read the sign and said, “No, Kes does not go here.”
T’Lenol breathed a sigh of relief. “And with any luck, this will be the last time he does that obnoxious repetition thing.”
Kes, who had strategically positioned herself so that everyone else was between her and the device, was fuming. “Oh sure... When he goes into the booth, he gets to go in right-side-up!”
Dax eyed the device. “How long is this going to take?”
Joe, who was working at a nearby console, answered. “Not more than a few minutes. Are you ready, Captain?”
Braxton, however, was too enthralled with his own reflection in the booth to answer.
Joe looked up at the bulk of the device. “Computer, load temporal profile!”
Above them all, whirling around the realigner, a holographic representation of Braxton’s temporal profile sprang into existence. While temporal observatories were notoriously difficult to follow due to time travel, Braxton’s personal timeline took the cake. It looped, knotted, and branched so many times that it resembled more a tangled string of Christmas lights than anything else.
While everyone was looking up at the three-dimensional diagram (and trying to figure out where now was), the computer chimed in. The temporal profile has finished loading.
Joe hesitated for a split second, and then responded. “Initiate temporal realignment.”
For a brief moment, everyone thought that the device exploded, as it began putting out unimaginable amounts of light. Had anyone been able to stand to continue looking at it, they would have seen the hologram above writhe and warp as every subatomic particle in Braxton’s body began to shift back and forth through time.
After a few minutes, the light subsided. The computer’s voice came over the comm. Temporal realignment complete.
In his booth, Braxton looked quite disoriented. Joe and the Doctor both whipped out medical tricorders and started scanning him thoroughly.
T’Lenol, though, had a much better (and much faster) test. “My uniform is blue.”
Of course, everyone was expecting Braxton to say “No, your uniform is blue.”
Instead, he said what nobody expected. “Would somebody please go outside and get Commander Ducane? Were he conscious, I doubt he would appreciate being left outside alone and used as a pigeon roost.”
After a few moments of having their jaws drop the floor, the senior staff then began running up flights of stairs in a mad dash to get Ducane.
Braxton then turned to Joe. “Speaking of which, Joe, weren’t you supposed to be finding a cure for Ducane’s coma instead of my temporal psychosis?”
Joe evaded the question by giving the computer a command. “Computer, transfer Emergency Medical Hologram to anywhere that’s far away from here!”
Over the next several hours, Captain Braxton was subjected to just about every medical test 29th Century Federation technology had. Previously, no one could stand to be around Braxton long enough to run a complete physical on him, so this was most definitely a good thing.
In the meantime, Braxton passed the time by catching up on things that he was far too mentally incompetent to do previously...
The disembodied head of Admiral Picard was displayed on a nearby viewscreen, with an expression somewhere between shock, shame, and horror on his face. The expression on Braxton’s face, however, was quite clearly one of anger. “You sent me on suicide missions for four seasons just because one of the shuttles on my ship was named after your old ship? What kind of Starfleet admiral are you?”
“Well, to be fair, it was only three seasons. I only had the one cameo in Season 1 and...”
Admiral Crusher entered the room and hit the viewscreen’s mute button. “Captain Braxton, Joe has found no signs of temporal psychosis and has given you a clean bill of health. Therefore, I see no reason why you can’t return to duty. Speaking of which, I have a mission of the utmost importance for you.”
Crusher handed Braxton a PADD, which Braxton immediately began reading. “Romulans, sir? To be perfectly frank, we’re halfway done with our final season, and we’ve got more plotlines to wrap up than I can shake a stick at.”
“The Progeny, Ducane’s coma, and the evil crew of the evil Excelsior can wait. You see, the Romulans are about to conquer the universe!”
“Was it really necessary to shout that last part, sir?”
“Yes. Yes it was.”
To be continued...
Will Captain Braxton stay cured of his temporal psychosis, or should this two-parter have been called “Flowers for Albert”? Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!