Laurus (Hohberg, 1675)
Unspoken Truth explored the profound personal and political consequences of the events depicted in "The Enterprise Incident." Now, Any Other Lifetime reunites Spock and the Romulan Commander a century later in a bittersweet story of intrigue, revelation, and ultimate redemption.
Drawn against her will into the dark conspiracy that pits Pardek, Neral, and the mysterious Sela against Spock and his reunificationist followers, the Romulan Commander must find a way to uphold her oath to the Empire while fighting to keep Spock out of the hands of his enemies--whether they wear the uniform of the Tal Shiar or the Federation's Starfleet.
Through her eyes we see the unfolding events of the TNG "Unification" episodes juxtaposed with flashbacks to many historical turning-points--Spock's sojourn at Gol, his death and rebirth, the surprising truth of Hellguard.
Any Other Lifetime is the story of a passsionate and courageous woman who learns at last that there are, indeed, always possibilities.
Claire Gabriel and Morgan Stuart, for their reflective and insightful beta-reading; Francine Geraci, for her generosity, professionalism, and wise counsel; and Larry Johnson, for his inexhaustible patience and good humor. If these four people were not in my life, this story would not exist.
Michael Lee West, Susan Martin, Diana Gabaldon, and all the past and present contributors to the Research and Craft of Writing sections in the CSi Writers and Authors forums, for telling me exactly what I needed to know exactly when I needed to know it.
Leslie Fish, whose classic filksong "Banned from Argo" inspired the setting for the prologue.
Paul Gadzikowski, whose novella The Legacy of Kirk first made me consider the repercussions--both public and private, in the Federation and elsewhere--of the Genesis project, the Battle of Mutara, and the events that occurred on Mount Seleya circa 2285.
Diane Duane, for the beginnings of an exegesis of Surak's teachings in Spock's World, and for a description of Hamalki physics in The Wounded Sky.
Finally, and above all, my readers, for inspiring, challenging, and encouraging me with their overwhelmingly generous and thoughtful responses to Unspoken Truth.
Most fans will have no difficulty in orienting themselves to the timelines and events depicted in both the "present-day" story and the flashback sequences. However, I have assigned to certain persons and occurrences a greater importance than they were given in the televised episodes of TNG.
The "Tomed incident" was cited in the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone" as the cause of the Romulans' absence from interstellar affairs for some fifty-three years. Although we were never given any substantive information about the Tomed incident or what precipitated it, I have assumed, for the purposes of this story, that both Federation and Romulan forces suffered enormous losses, and that the repercussions of Tomed are still being felt in the Romulan Empire at the time of "Unification."
Similarly, in "Data's Day," which preceded the "Unification" episodes, we were shown a Romulan undercover agent, Subcommander Selok, who had successfully passed herself off as the Vulcan ambassador T'Pel. Jean-Luc Picard's Enterprise ferried her to a rendezvous with a Romulan ship, ostensibly on a mission of peace. Eventually she was exposed, but not before she was safely back in Romulan space. Anyone who could rise to the rank of ambassador must have been under deep cover on Vulcan for a very long time indeed, and must have seen and reported on many historic events. And given that Selok/T'Pel's unmasking took place only a year or so before Ambassador Spock's clandestine mission to Romulus, it's likely that her deception was fresh in the minds of the Federation Council at the time of Spock's "defection." It's equally likely that Selok/T'Pel and Spock, both members of the Vulcan diplomatic corps, knew each other.
In "Face of the Enemy," we were introduced to Commander Toreth, a powerful and compelling character--and, I think, one of the few TNG-era Romulans who came close to attaining the nuanced complexity of the TOS-era Romulans. I had hoped that we would see her again; because we didn't, I've given her a role in this story.
I have also chosen to maintain, as far as possible, a "conservative" view of some--not all--events and characters. For example, although the writers of DS9 sometimes seemed to assume that the Romulan Empire was in the Alpha Quadrant, I have accepted the long-established location of the empire as almost wholly within the Beta Quadrant. And the Borg referred to herein are the Borg of the TNG years--the enemy whom Q described as "a terror to freeze your soul." They are not the latter-day revisionist and comparatively unthreatening Borg we have seen more recently.
* * *
Now, a few words about the "Unification" episodes themselves, and about Hellguard.
As I did with Unspoken Truth, I made the decision early on to adhere to canon--that is, to take the events of the televised episodes and the films and incorporate them unaltered into my story. (Hellguard, strictly speaking, is not canon, but it has been a part of fan lore for so many years that I've accepted it as such.)
The TOS episode "The Enterprise Incident," on which Unspoken Truth was based, was a model of dramatic integrity and traditional storytelling. The plot grew out of the characters' motivations, and the story progressed in a linear and coherent fashion, carrying viewers along with it until the moment of resolution (which, fortunately, was open-ended enough to permit the writing of Unspoken Truth). The TNG "Unification" episodes, by contrast, seemed to grow more confusing with repeated viewings. Time and again I found myself puzzled about what was happening, when it was happening, and above all why it was happening. I have done my best to interweave the events of this story with the "Unification" episodes and timeline, but I often had to resort to pure guesswork to determine, for example, whether an hour or a day had elapsed, whether the matte paintings inserted between acts and scenes represented sunrise or sunset, and whether one underground location was different from another. Such significant matters as the logistics of transport to and communication with a cloaked enemy ship in orbit around Romulus weren't addressed in the episodes. And as to the characters' motivations, I can only say that I've attempted--in the Romulan Commander's words--to explain the inexplicable. I hope I have succeeded.
Fans of the TOS-era Romulans will understand why my version of Hellguard differs radically from the framework established in various fan and pro stories. I've always thought (as Claire Gabriel once said of Vulcans in a very different context) that Romulans are too smart for what they seemed to be up to at Hellguard, so I've posited a rationale that is, I hope, somewhat more in character.
* * *
For Ambassador Spock and the Romulan Commander, the Dominion War is still several years in the future. Whether they and the people close to them will have a role to play in those history-making events remains to be seen. However, in view of their personalities and their penchant for turning up at turning-points, I urge my readers to remember that there are always possibilities.
© 1999, 2002 Kathleen Dailey. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be archived, reproduced, or distributed in any format without prior written permission from the author. This is an amateur nonprofit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by Paramount Pictures or any other lawful holder.
Codes: TNG/TOS; S/f
Ratings: Can 18A (BC), R (Ont); Aus R18+; UK 18; USA R
Feedback is very much appreciated. Please send your comments to Kathleen Dailey.
© 2002 Kathleen Dailey. All rights reserved.