Author's note: A quantum meditation on one possible future among the many that Captain Benjamin Sisko may have set in motion in the DS9 episode "In the Pale Moonlight." Caroline Baker inspired it. Claire Gabriel beta-read it. It began as an experiment, but it acquired a purpose along the way.

Copyright © 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.


Oracle

Kathleen Dailey

One mild winter night, from the observatory point high above the great Romulan arcology of Nedali City, Spock of Vulcan will see the first flight of Warbirds sweep across the sky. His fate and the Empire's will be written against the blackness in that glittering arc, but the truth will disappear from his unaided sight before he can decipher it. All around him he'll hear people weeping, praying, vowing victory. Their unmediated emotion won't be easy for him to bear, but at least the crowd will be so large, its anger and joy and hope so vocal and pervasive, that it will take no notice of the one who remains silent.

On that night, the Romulan Senate's declaration of war against the Dominion will be just a few hours old, but already everything will have begun to change. For example, it will take him almost two hours to descend the winding steps from the observatory: those steps were built to accommodate a few tramloads' worth of tourists, not hundreds of thousands of patriotic citizens gathered to bid a glorious farewell to their sons and daughters. And he'll have to queue for another hour before he can board a packed tram that will bear him away from the heart of the arcology to the Krocton segment.

In the days that follow, what was familiar will become different; what was simple will become difficult; what was difficult will become impossible.

Romulus will be at war, and all that Spock has ever done or dreamed of doing on this world is going to count for nothing.

* * *

No safe-house will be safe any longer.

The Krocton, which sheltered and protected the unificationists long before Spock came to Romulus, will have no more room for them or for him. The old apartment blocks will be commandeered as billets for the unending waves of colonial refugees. The artisanal manufactories will become barracks for troops awaiting transport to the orbital staging-grounds. The abandoned maglevs will be brought back to useful life, the disused utility tunnels opened and cleaned to accommodate the arcology's suddenly increased population. All hiding-places will be open to the day, all secrets revealed in the light.

Spock's followers will be dispersed to the ends of the world, and when they disappear so will the high-minded illusion that passes for Spock's normal life. Like everyone else on Romulus, he'll have to scramble for a place to lay his head. There'll be little charity to spare for any seer or mendicant, particularly one who can offer nothing in return except ancient history lessons and platitudes of peace in a time of war.

For the first time since Gol, Spock will go to bed hungry on an average of four nights out of ten.

The streets of the Krocton will become crowded and often impassable as the phalanxes of soldiers and shiar'rim come and go from their assignments. Not long ago they would have captured and executed Spock as an enemy of the state; but now the alliance with the Federation and all its firepower may well dispose them to mercy. If they recognize Spock, they'll either send him back to Vulcan as a gesture of good faith or dismiss him with a shrug and a laugh, as if he were no more threat to them than a neutered and declawed housecat.

He will choose not to calculate the odds in favor of one outcome or the other.

As the Alliance's victories begin to mount, so too will Spock's defeats. Shocked and alarmed by the fall of Betazed, the Vulcan planetary government will reverse its centuries-old policy of defensive pacifism: it will expend a substantial proportion of its labor and capital on the arming of its formerly non-combatant fleet. On a public terminal that carries interstellar news reports, Spock will see propaganda images cleverly and collaboratively devised. One day a documentary broadcast will spotlight a Vulcan battlecruiser's mixed crew of Vulcan, Romulan, and Klingon soldiers. He'll turn away from the terminal without waiting to see how the story ends.

When his communicator fails, he'll be unable to repair it; the waiting-list for replicated parts will approach and then surpass several months. As a result, he will lose touch with his friends and followers--and with his foster-daughter Saavik, who may or may not be hired on as a mercenary by the Romulan government's intelligence service.

The woman he loves, a Romulan officer whose path, like his, has turned to diplomacy, will learn that her commission has been reactivated. She will assume command of yet another flight of Warbirds, bound for the Cardassian front, that will inscribe yet another glittering arc across the night sky as Spock watches. He will not hear from her, or of her, again.

* * *

In a pragmatic spirit of forgiving and forgetting, the United Federation of Planets will decide, belatedly, that Ambassador Spock's unique combination of skills might be of use in an interstellar war. It will recall the starship Enterprise from the front and assign it to retrieve Spock from the Romulans, its new and still uneasy allies. But an unlucky combination of bad translations, ion storms, and understaffed relay stations will prevent the relevant messages from reaching the relevant bureaucrats at the relevant time. The Federation will resolve to try again, but its attention and priorities will be redirected elsewhere and no further attempts will be made.

* * *

In due course, when the Dominion is defeated and Cardassia lies in a satisfactory state of ruin, the Federation and the Empire will acknowledge certain commonalities, and both powers will begin to cooperate and prosper. Informal post-war exchange programs will develop in many sectors: technology, diplomacy, education, culture. Some observers--the more reflective ones, those with a taste for irony and paradox--will note that an old Romulan saying has once again proved true: only war can bring peace.

Representatives of the government of the Romulan Star Empire will travel to Deep Space 9, a strategic outpost once held by the Cardassians and now a photogenic symbol of the Alliance's triumph. There they will engage in extended and complex meetings with their opposite numbers from the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. These talks will be described to the news media as "preliminary but promising."

A much smaller Romulan delegation will travel without fanfare to the planet Vulcan for discussions whose nature and purpose will not be made public for some time.

Romulus will be at peace, and all that Spock has ever done or dreamed of doing on that world is going to count for nothing.

* * *


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© 2002 Kathleen Dailey. All rights reserved.

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