Star Trek-TNG-Novel-Imzadi 1Peter David
A Brief Fore^w
This novel, the last premise of mine to be
approved by Gene Roddenberry, is the first one
I've written since his passing. He said, at
the time he okayed the idea of a novel exploring
the history and depth of the Deanna
Troi/william Riker relationship, that he
looked forward to reading it. Which he never had the
opportunity to do.
The amount of time we have on this sphere
to accomplish what we want is always limited,
no matter how much we like to pretend otherwise.
That's something always to be kept in mind.
Thanks must go especially, once again, to my
family. The girls, Shana, Guinevere, and the
newest--in case you were wondering--Miss Ariel
Leela David. No, she wasn't born on
the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek.
She was born on Labor Day, which is--ffbe
honest--j as good.
And most of all, to my wife, Myra, who
naturally didn't invent the term Imzadi, but
is, to me, the incarnation of it.
"Let's get the hell out of here."
A gentle, eerie howling was in the air, which
seemed to be permeated with the haunting and lonely
cries of souls that had existed or might never
exist or might be in some state of limbo in between.
In the distance was the city. Its name was unknown and
would forever remain so. The air was dark and filled
with a sense that a storm might break at any
moment. It was that way all the time. The storm never
did break. It just threatened to do so. The very
withholding of the actual event implied that, should that
storm ever arrive, it might very well bring with it enough
power to wash away all vestiges of that remarkable
intangible called reality.
None of that mattered to the man who was the leader.
The man in the greenish yellow shirt, whose mind was
elsewhere and elsewhen. Behind him stood his friends, his
crew. They waited patiently. For a moment it
appeared that he was wondering just how long they would be
capable of waiting. What were the limits of their
patience? The limits of their confidence in the man
who was their captain?
But it was clear that he was not going to test those
limits. A man who had been driven to go out and
explore new places, discover new frontiers
... this man had finally found a place filled with
potentially endless vistas of exploration.
Anywhere, anywhen. And his response was not
to embrace it. No, all he wanted to do was
leave it behind, to get as far away from it as
"Let's get the hell out of here." The ^ws
hung there a moment, startling in their vehemence, in
the longing and resignation and overall sense of
Oh, God, I can't stand it anymore, get
me away from here, away to a place where I
don't have to think or feel, to a place where I can
just be numb.
The crew took several small steps closer
to each other. To a degree it was out of reflex,
to make sure that they would be well within range of the
transporter effect. But there was something else as
well this time. It was an unspoken desire to try
to lend support by dint of the fact that they were there for
him. There was nothing they could say or do. Indeed,
they didn't even fully understand what was going through
the captain's mind.
They did not yet know the sacrifices their
commanding officer had made. Did not know that, in the
best tradition of romance, he had found a part of
his soul existing in a woman and had been drawn
to her. And then had lost that part of his soul, which he
hadn't fully realized he was missing in the first
place. Lost it beneath the screeching of tires, under
a truck's wheels ...
Not just the wheel of a truck. A wheel of
history, an unrelenting, unyielding cog that had
ground up his love and his soul and spit them both
out, bloodied and battered ... and broken.
Yes, that was the difference that the crew sensed this
time in their captain. Many a time had he been
battered ... but as the old saying went,
"Battered but unbowed." This time, though ... he was
They got the hell out of there.
And Commodore Data watched them go.
She was simply called Mary Mac. Her
last name actually began with a sound approximating
"Mac," but the rest was a major tongue twister.
As a result, the other scientists addressed her
as "Mary Mac."
Mary Mac was extremely peculiar. For one
thing, she was an Orion. This in itself was not
particularly unusual. She was, however,
fully clothed. This .was unusual, as the vast
majority of Orion women existed purely to be
the sex toys of men in general and Orion men in
particular. They were known as vicious and deadly
fighters and radiated sex the way suns
radiated heat ... and indeed, some thought, a bit
Mary Mac's skin was green, as was standard for
an Orion woman. In every other aspect,
however, she was markedly different from the rest of her
kind. She wore loose-fitting clothes ...
deliberately loose so as to do nothing that could
potentially emphasize the formidable curves of
her body. Because she liked her arms unencumbered,
her tunic was short sleeved, although an
off-the-shoulder cape was draped stylishly around
her. She had long, jet-black hair, but rather
than hanging saucily around her shoulders, it was
delicately and elaborately braided ...
certainly not an ugly hairstyle, but hardly one
that would inflame the senses.
Most incredibly ... she wore
glasses. They had a slight tint and huge
Nobody wore glasses. They were considered
to be phenomenally ou-of-date as well as
Which is why she wore them.
Mary Mac regretted, every so often, that she
felt a need to "dress down," as it were, so
that she could operate within society. She was,
however, used to it. There were precious few
prejudices that one had to deal with in the day-to-day
operations of the United Federation of Planets, but
one of the few remaining was that all Orion women were
nothing but animalistic sex kittens. It was an
understandable notion because that description did indeed
fit virtually all Orion women, including
most of the ones whom Mary Mac had ever met.
It did not, however, fit her, and if she had
to go to extremes to get h
er point across, well
... then so be it. Her "look" had gotten her quite
far. It had, in fact, been something of a plus.
People would be interested and amused by her as she would
discuss some involved or arcane bit of
scientific lore ... interested because usually
they'd never heard an Orion woman put together
a sentence of more than five or so ^ws, and amused
because they'd smugly be waiting for her to revert
to type any moment. She never did, of course.
She'd trained too long and too hard to allow that
to happen. As a result she was always a bit of a
surprise, and throughout the galaxy, people loved to be
Which is why Mary Mac had worked her way up
through the ranks and eventually landed the assignment of
project administrator on Forever World.
The planet did not have an official name.
Somehow it had seemed presumptuous for any mere
mortal to give it one ... somewhat like painting a
mustache on the face of God. It had simply
been nicknamed Forever World, and that was what had
She passed her associate coordinator,
Harry, who didn't seem to notice her. A
muscular and dark-hued terran, Harry's
attention was fully on a set of equations or some
other bit of scientific data on a
palm-sized computer padd. "Hi, Harry," she
said to him as he walked past. He waved
distractedly and continued on his way. He had
probably already forgotten that he'd been
addressed at all, much less by Mary Mac.
Mary Mac made her way across the compound,
no.ing or conversing briefly with other scientists
on the project. One of the odder aspects of
conversation on the Forever World was that one tended to speak
in a hushed voice. There was no particular reason
for it. It certainly wasn't mandated by law or
tradition. But somehow, particularly when one was
standing outside and the eerie howling filled one's ears
and one's soul, the speaking voice tended to drop
to a soft tone that could best be described as
"subdued" ... and perhaps even a bit fearful.
Mary had once commented that it always seemed as if the
cosmos was hanging on your every ^w here. It was an
assessment that had been generally agreed with.
The gravel crunched under Mary Mac's
boots as she got to the other side of the compound and
headed toward the reason for the perpetual presence
of a half dozen or so scientists on the Forever
Just ahead of her was the only other constant
noise that existed aside from the mournful sigh of the
wind, and that was a steady, constant hum of a force
field. She stepped over a rise, and as always,
there it was.
As always was not a term used lightly, or
incorrectly. As near as anyone could tell, the
Guardian of Forever had always been there, and would
most likely always be there.
The force field that had been erected around it was
ostensibly to protect the unique
archaeological discovery from any potential
ravagers. But in point of fact, it was there for a
subtly different reason. Namely, to protect
life (as it was known) from itself.
Erected just outside the force field was a
free-standing platform about two meters tall. An
array of readouts charted the energy fluxes that
surged around the Guardian of Forever within the force
field. There were, in addition, two small
lights, one brightly glowing red, the other pulsing a
very soft green.
To the right of the platform was a large screen. It
offered, in essence, a taped delay. When a
request for a period was made on the Guardian,
it ran so quickly that the best anyone could hope
to perceive was fleeting images. But the screen would
then capture those images and play specifically
requested moments in a more accessible fashion.
At this particular moment, the Guardian
had finished yet another run-through of a particular
era. It was now silent, displaying nothing, waiting
with its infinite patience for the next request from an
Standing outside the field, staring at the
Guardian, was an android. Playing out on the
screen, having been recorded moments before for
replay, was a scene very familiar to Mary Mac.
She stopped and simply took in for a moment the
irony of the situation. On one level, what she
was seeing was one machine watching another. But neither
of them were simple machines. Both of them had
sentience, which raised them from the level of machine
to the status of ... something else. Something
The very thought of something that could not easily be
labeled or pigeonholed was anathema to Mary
Mac, and yet at the same time the existence of such
things was a pleasant reminder that no one could ever
fully know every wrinkle that the universe had to offer
... and that, therefore, a scientist's work would never,
ever, be finished.
Her first inclination had been to think of the android,
despite the rank of commodore, as an "it." Just
as she had thought of the Guardian as an "x" before coming
to the Forever World. However, shortly after she'd met
Commodore Data, she'd found herself forced
to revise her opinion and mentally elevate the
commodore to a "he." As for the Guardian, she was
still trying to get that sorted out. The best she could come
up with at the moment was a "whatever." Or perhaps, more
accurately, a "whenever."
Data stood there, his back to Mary Mac,
hands draped just below the base of his spine. The stark
black and green lines of his uniform, with the silver
trim on the arms and trouser cuffso, seemed
to shimmer in the perpetual twilight of the
horizon. His attention shifted momentarily from the
Guardian to the scene being replayed on the
Mary Mac heard a familiar voice, a
voice filled with resolve and yet hidden
trauma. And the voice said, "Let's get the
hell out of here."
She smiled and called out, "That figures."
Data turned and looked at her, his face
calm and composed as always. His gold skin
glittered in the half light. "Pardon?"
She pointed at the Guardian. "That moment.
It's one of the most popular."
Data nodded slowly and looked back. On the
screen, the crew of explorers was drawing closer
to its leader and then, moments later, shimmered out of
existence. "That's not surprising, I suppose,"
said Data. "Although there are many moments from
history that would be far more impressive in their
scope, the history of James Kirk and the crew
of Enterprise would certainly hold some degree
of fascination. People would probably feel more
> empathy toward someone who is closer to their own
frame of reference. What I find interesting is
how primitive the transporter technology
Mary Mac looked at him in surprise.
"You know, Commodore, I've seen so many people
watch this moment. The story of Kirk's ordeal
with the Guardian, and what he sacrificed for the
sake of history ... it's become so well
known. One of the few modern-day legends we have.
And I've seen so many reactions, ranging from
hysterics to mourning. I've never heard anyone just
comment on the technology ... especially not when
they're seeing it for the first time."
Data glanced at the screen. "It's not the first
time. It's the second."
"When did you see it before?"
"When it was displayed on the Guardian, one
point three minutes ago."
She blinked in surprise. "You were able to make
out something that played on the Guardian himself?"
"Of course. The image feed may be rapid
for you, but for me it's relatively sluggish. Still,
I wished to see it on the replay screen in the
event that I missed some sort of nuance. But I
She shook her head. "You are a rather different
customer than we usually get around here,
Commodore, I must admit. Most people don't quite
know how to react when they see their ancestors
brought to life, or shadows of life"--she
gestured to the Guardian--?bbf their very eyes."
"Understandable," said Data. "However, the
difference is ... I have no ancestors."
"You were made. Other androids existed before you,
even if not in direct lineage. If they're not
ancestors, what would you call them?"
He considered it a moment. "Precedents," he
She smiled broadly and clapped him on the
back. "Come on. We have dinner up
back at the compound. We'd be honored if you
"I'd like to touch it."
Her hand stayed on his back, but her expression
slid into a puzzled frown. "Touch what?"
"The Guardian of Forever."
He looked at her in such a way, with his
gold-pupiled eyes, that Mary Mac felt a
slight chill. The same sort that she had felt
when she first stood in the presence of the Guardian.
As if he had been reading her mind, Data
said, "To be honest ... I'm not entirely
sure. The Guardian and I ... we are