Chapter 12 - Tuttle Of The Defiant
At the edge of Cardassian space, an overlarge Dominion fleet awaited orders to attack Bajor. But Bajor was not their real objective. Many months before, the Vorta, who were the planners for the Dominion's assault on the Alpha Quadrant, had come to a realization. In all Dominion-Federation confrontations, there had been a single, unifying x-factor. An unknown quantity that bound all these disparate events together. Their forecasts and speculations had said such, so it simply had to be the correct take. No possibility of error, of course.
So it was that when Dominion spies hacked an unused, declassified Starfleet personnel database, they found a nugget of pure knowledge. The identity of the unknown force. The name to their pain. The Vorta had obtained for their shapeshifting masters the secret of the Federation's awesome success against them. One awesome man--and his awesome ship. Together, they were---you know.
A huge fleet was called up. The Federation's hero now stood exposed. Not Sisko. Not Picard. Not even Kirk, rumored to have returned from the dead after a century. No, this man was not a glory - hound. He was a winner of victories, a supporter of others' victories. This and a dozen other factors made Jonathan S. Tuttle, the new Commander Of The U.S.S. Defiant, a target worth risking early war.
Weyoun studied more of the Tuttle files obtained at the cost of the lives of people Weyoun didn't really care much about. They, at least, had not died in vain, or been fed misinformation. No subject of the Dominion was that stupid. Except, perhaps, the Gul whose incessant pacing was as boring as the rest of his personality. His troops called him "Ferret-Face" or "Gul Kanaar". But Gul Damaar was, technically, viceroy of Cardassia. Very technically.
"I don't like it Weyoun! There's something about this Tuttle situation that strikes me as wrong. There is definitely something strange about Captain Tuttle. I just get a bad feeling about him!"
"I'll tell you what, Damaar. I'll look and see if Tuttle has shot any children in the back. Combine that with his listed bladder-control problem, and that'll make two things you have in common!"
Weyoun was quite passionless, but still drew muted pleasure from the look of reptilian fury on Damaar's face. Again he silently praised the Founders for giving him someone so easy to play with. Dukat had never been like this. His insanity had always made him much more interesting, though. Damaar leaned forward and put his angry face up in the Vorta's.
"Accidents do happen, telepath! But I was referring to little things about this man's record! Species : 'Daxamite'. What is a Daxamite? What are their characteristics? I've never heard of them before! An unknown like that makes me queasy."
"The unknown makes you queasy? Well then, Damaar, I...oh, never mind. We also have his characteristics, and the Daxamite is as follows : They are faster than most phaser discharges, stronger than a Runabout's engine, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Hmm. Most impressive. He should put the Jem'Hadar through their paces!"
"Let me see that! Tuttle can, apparently, terraform rivers with ease, bend duranium in his bare hands, and---this is odd---often disguises himself as a member of his own crew, to best learn where things need to be changed. Cunning, I'll give him that. His psych-profile goes further and says that he feels personally engaged in a never-ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way!"
Weyoun looked shocked.
"He sounds like some kind of fanatic! Just what IS the Federation Way?"
"Make your comments, Weyoun, but I really don't know. I was hoping you could tell me. But now, a new wrinkle."
"Commander Worf's denial. His claim that Tuttle is naught but a practical joke of some kind, gone out of control."
"It jives with our findings, that the Tuttle evidence was all planted within the last week, and rather clumsily, at that."
"I agree, Damaar. Logically, we should just pull away and reposition these vital forces to strategic areas. Don't you think so?"
"Your sarcasm gives you away, Weyoun! After that manufactured evidence that brought the Romulans in against us, they are trying to draw us away from the Truth, when the Truth Is Plainly Out There!"
"I---don't buy into your theory of a grand conspiracy, Damaar. It is not all the Federation we are up against, but one insanely clever, impossibly powerful man."
"Now I see your point, Weyoun. Yes, the clumsily planted evidence in an obscure corner of Starfleet's massive databases, an honor-bound Klingon telling us the man doesn't exist, our having no prior evidence of him can mean only one thing----"
Weyoun and Damaar rarely agreed on anything. But now, they spoke as one.
"All this is exactly what Tuttle wishes us to think. Very clever! But futile! I saw right through it!"
The two Dominion leaders realized just how congruent their speech had been. They looked at one another.
"Let's NEVER do that again!"
"I agree. Never. It was most disconcerting."
So, as the Federation's clock clicked down, Damaar and Weyoun tried to figure out how best to claim all the credit for this coming victory. Little did they realize, the man hadn't been born that could defeat Jonathan Tuttle. But then, neither had Tuttle. Back on Deep Space Nine, Tuttle's inventors were having their heads-and everything else - examined.
Margaret Houlihan walked over to the area where Jadzia Dax was finishing up the medical tests and analysis of the five time travelers.
"Anything yet, Jadzia?"
"Huh? Oh. Oh, no Margaret. Julian showed me how to use this equipment, but I don't have his practiced speed. Are you nervous?"
"I can honestly say, the last time I was this nervous, we had to operate on Radar's rabbit to help me find out if I was pregnant! But it's not just that. I mean, I want these tests to tell us we'll be all right, but I don't know if I should want to live too much longer."
"Huh? Major---God, it's weird calling someone else that--why would you not want to live?"
"The future! I mean, I sat there like a lump while Hawkeye took down that Khan character! I don't cotton much to the idea of nice little wifey, baking cookies for the conquering hero! I might want to be that conquering hero! I--do want to be that conquering hero! I want to take the risks, too. Is that so much to ask?"
"Oh, it's only nothing---and everything. Worf is the other half of my Klingon heart, but he's a typical male. He forgot to tell you that, as legend tells us, Hawkeye Pierce was not even going to attend that rally! But someone told him to put up or shut up, concerning the Eugenics Wars. She told him to put his money where his mouth was---or sleep on the couch. We're told he did not sleep on the couch!"
Margaret smiled. She felt much better.
"Our two big mouths saved the world! Oh, I hope Henry Blake could see us, up in Heaven! He'd bust a wing laughing! Course', he'd probably do that anyway!"
Jadzia laughed with Margaret. They would need this laugh, for the tests were done. Their results were nothing short of incredible.
Elsewhere, the legend continued.
SOVEREIGN CLASS CRUISER,
USS ENTERPRISE NCC 1701-E
Personal Log, Captain Jean-Luc Picard recording : The Dominion has
massed very near to Deep Space Nine, with no response from Captain Sisko
as yet. The Dominion forces wish the surrender of one Captain Jonathan
S. Tuttle. Well, I can tell them that they are all fools and dupes.
Utter morons, deluding themselves with a comforting lie. I can say this
because I know the truth about Jonathan Tuttle. In all our years at the
Academy together, he never once gave up. My friend Johnny doesn't know
the meaning of the word. So far, though, no response from my messages to
Mister Worf. A tense situation indeed. But with luck on his side, my old
Security Chief will see first-hand what Tuttle is made of. I am hardl
the only one aboard the ship who wishes him well. Apparently, he was
Data's instructor at the Academy, a family friend of the Trois, and, I
suspect, Beverly's former lover, though I fear he broke her heart. She
won't speak on the matter. Johnny was always a ladies man. I wish my old
DELTA QUADRANT, USS VOYAGER
"We've just recieved this message via the relay, Commander!"
Finally, Voyager had a link to the Alpha Quadrant, and some limited firsthand news. It would not last long.
"What is it, Chakotay?"
"it's Tuttle! They must have released him and the other Maquis from prison! Seems he's a big hero now, complete with a Dominion bounty on his head! Good Ole' Johnny!"
Happy as the proverbial clam, Chakotay left the Bridge to tell Belanna Torres about the former Maquis made good.
Tom Paris thought to himself, "Chakotay's crazy! I served under the guy for a year, and he had no Maquis tendencies! He was stern--but fair."
Harry Kim thought to himself,
"So that's where old "Hard-Case" Tuttle wound up! Oh, who am I kidding! If not for Tuttle, I would have washed out of my first year. I owe the man everything."
Seven Of Nine thought to herself,
"I must believe these scholars to be wrong on their face. The power of suggestion is not as great as some might think. Humans have, at least, evolved past complete gullibility. I will, therefore, ignore teachings about the unproven 'power of suggestion'."
Barely audible, Captain Kathryn Janeway simply muttered---"Johnny...."
"Damn that Nog! He says that Captain Sisko has agreed to appear at our commencement, but it's a no-go on Tuttle!"
"I'll bet he doesn't even know Tuttle!"
"Can anyone reaaallly know a man like Jonathan Tuttle?"
DEEP SPACE NINE
"Just try it, Morn! It's Tuttle's favorite drink!"
That day, Quark got rid of all 17 cases of Ghidoran lightning-juice, from Ogas Swra. The next day, Cardassian kanaar became Tuttle's favorite. Tuttle, it seems, was quite flexible.
In the sickbay, the tests were back. Doctors Winchester and McIntyre tested normal. The other three, though, had some interesting things to find out.
"Okay, guys, here goes. Worf, you better sit down, too. Soon-Lee, you have reaction speeds, strength, stamina, endurance, resilience and immune response over 5 times the human average---for this time period. For your own time, it's more like 10. My guess is, what this Doctor Taylor did to Max affected you through birthing your daughter, Maxine. They may have up to 20 times normal stats. You are also aging 25 to 50 % slower than an average human. Max and Maxine are likely about the same, since the math is a little different on human aging."
Soon-Lee looked worried.
"Jadzia, are you sure this is not just from eating right? I eat lots of vegetables...This is not from vegetables."
Trapper shot off, "If it is, get me some spinach!"
Winchester then said, "Pierce, don't even think about a Popeye comment, or I will destroy you!"
Jadzia shook her head.
"Sorry, Charles. But you'd have an easier time taking out a Jem'Hadar. Watch!"
Turning, Jadzia picked up two scaplels and threw them, at top speed, at Hawkeye and Margaret. Effortlessly, they caught them, handles first.
"Margaret, if you would, punch my husband in the stomach!"
Worf stood ready for the blow. In a moment, he was sitting, nursing his ribs.
"By Kahless! How..."
"Sorry, Worf! I got carried away!"
"That is all right, Major! My first wife once belted me like that....as will my 2nd, for bringing her up, no doubt."
Hawkeye was still digesting the incredible news about his future, but spoke up, nevertheless.
"Uh, Dax? What does all this add up to? Are Margaret and I still..human?"
"Yeah. Buuuuttt...you've both been bumped so far up the ladder of human evolution...incalculable speed, unbelievable strength, and aging that seems to go on a day for every year. Guys...we're talking cellular godhood here. You have brain potential that makes Julian's little friends seem challenged!"
Hawkeye stood up.
"There's something I have to do."
He walked up to Margaret, and kissed her, full on the lips. He then got down on one knee.
"Margaret, honey, we know now. We know what the slime at the 3966th did to us. If I have to be alive, forever, I want it to be with you. I asked this in Tokyo, in December of 54', but not very well. So let me ask it now."
Worf tapped Hawkeye on the shoulder.
"Hawkeye, you were in Tokyo, in December of 54'? You saw...the creature?"
Worf was asking like an excited little boy. His wife's elbow brought him back.
"Please ask, Hawkeye. Ignore the Klinger-er, Klingon, sorry, Worf."
Margaret's words were the last for 30 seconds. History was in the making, at long last, and the dance between two people was reaching a high point.
"God, why isn't this easier? Here goes. Margaret Houlihan, Will You Marry Me?"
Margaret stood up.
"Everyone to Vic's, on the double!"
Displaying unbelievable speed, Margaret was in the holosuite and had Vic's program up in moments. Hawkeye was there soon after, while the others took time. Soon-Lee was the first of them. Margaret shouted to Vic.
"Vic! Dusty 2! He finally did it!"
"Hey, congrats, kids! Ok, everybody here? Then, without further ado, Miss Dusty Springfield!"
Hawkeye was confused, as a hologram of a singer whose career lay 10 years ahead of his time came onto stage. But Margaret was all smiles. Dusty spoke.
"Hawkeye, since I've been activated, that means you wised up and proposed! About bloody time, too! Now, pally-boy, here's your answer!"
Margaret stared deep into Hawkeye's eyes. The song began. It was a lively and joyous tune.
"I don't know what it is that makes me love you so; I only know I never want to let you go; Cause you've started something; Oh can't you see; That ever since we met you've had a hold on me; No matter what you do; I Only Wanna Be With You; You stopped and smiled at me; And Asked me if I Care to Dance; I fell into your open arms; And I didn't stand a chance; Now hear me honey; I just wanna be beside you everywhere; As long as we're together honey I don't care; Cause look what has happened; With Just One Kiss; I never knew that I could be in love like this; It's Crazy But It's True; I Only Wanna Be With You."
Margaret smiled. Hawkeye had gotten the message, and Vic had agreed not to play the Samantha Fox version of that song. Decent voice, but the girl seemed to have a problem with clothes, Margaret felt. Dusty Springfield didn't.
When the song was done, Margaret spoke one more time.
"Hawkeye Pierce, Yes, I Will Marry You!"
Now officially an engaged man, Hawkeye stood up. He was reenergized.
"This sweet woman has just agreed to marry a bum like me! To celebrate, lets figure out a way to turn back that Dominon fleet! Margaret? Guys?"
"If anyone can, it's us, darling! We are the 4077th's 24th Century Auxiliary!"
"Coount me in! I've been mopin over my wife, my life, not getting enough attention. Lets give those bums what for! We'll make em' regret the day they heard the name Jonathan Tuttle!"
"Oh, what the hell! Boston Aristocracy versus the slime of the Universe? No contest! A Winchester is A Winchester, no matter the time or place!"
"I am Mrs. Max Klinger! I must uphold the family honor, particularly if there's a scam involved!"
As the 4077th alumni marched off, Worf looked at Jadzia and said ; "Kahless, help me, but I almost believe they can do it, Jadzia!"
"Oh, I believe they can do it. What I can't believe is that you interrupted Hawkeye's proposal to ask about Gojira! Mosura, maybe, but Gojira? Puhlease, Worf!"
Once again, Worf was alone.
"I like Gojira!"