EPILOGUE - Goodbye, Live Long, Prosper, and Amen
1956 - Earth
Not quite knowing how he got to River Bend, Missouri from Deep Space Nine, Hawkeye Pierce walked over to his new fiancee, Margaret Houlihan. She looked shaken. She was.
"Five cents for your thoughts, Hot Lips?"
That he felt that comfortable saying Margaret's old nickname both comforted her and made her shake. She loved Hawkeye Pierce, and she knew he loved her. But the walls she had built around herself were formidable indeed. Built to protect her, they now would allow no one else in. She would be nine more years in taking them down. Each had seen the other die in their Vision. To Hawkeye, it meant he was only gladder to see her alive. To Margaret, it awakened her dormant fear of losing him, of being hurt once more.
"Pierce, I don't know if my thoughts are worth a damned penny!"
Some people would regard a person calling their fiancee by their last name as a sign of coldness. But to Margaret, 'Pierce' was as much an honored title as a name. One day, it was a title she would gladly assume. But it would not be as soon as she or he expected.
"We don't have to get married today, you know! There's something to be said for long engagements."
At that, Margaret felt her cage open. She smiled at the man she loved but wasn't sure she could survive losing. For all her confusion, it was a loving smile.
"Trying to back out, Mister? I may have let Frank off the hook, but your proposal is binding, pal! Like it or not, you ARE marrying into a military family!"
"I like it! I like it! But remember, it did take 400 years for me to propose! Give a man some time---I'm sorry, Margaret. I didn't mean..."
Margaret looked lost.
"A day for every year, that's what Jadzia said. My God, Hawkeye, we are going to bury each and every one of our friends! Were like---"
"The word is Immortals, Margaret. Only we're not like..."
"Remember our pal Duncan? Also, a very smart shrink, very nice young man, and very befuddled CO?"
Margaret's eyes went wide.
"Them? All of them? Oh, my...I am NOT sharing eternity with Frank, am I?"
Hawkeye smiled, and turned his head.
"I firmly believe, that, if there is a God, my darling, he does not have that twisted a sense of humor."
At that, the newly engaged chit-chatted on and on. Unable to avoid the engagement ring any longer, the two could now happily and joyfully work on avoiding the altar. From nearby, Colonel Sherman Potter and Chief Miles O'Brien watched and listened without meaning to.
"Heh. Those two. Tell me, Miles. In your time, what do they do with two folk like that who obviously love each other but dance around so blasted much, trying to avoid help or hurt?"
Miles thought for a moment.
"Colonel, in my time? They make them the Command Crew of the Starship Enterprise!"
Potter stared at O'Brien, but quickly realized it was a kind of joke, so laughed with him.
"Quite a little town you got here, Colonel! Good place to come when your war is done. I never heard o' River Bend in my early studies of the 20th Century, anyway!"
"Do you folk ever study any century besides the big 20?"
"Er, uh. Ya know, I almost think we don't. Imagine that!"
After that, Potter walked over to talk with Pierce and McIntyre. He told them of the way that Henry Blake really died. All 4077th alumni then made a vow not to rest until the chain-smoking punk, Bartford Hamilton Steele the 4th, was somehow made to pay for Henry's murder.
Bashir saw that his ancestor's brother, Charles Winchester, was talking to his sometime friend Elim Garak.
"So, despite Ziyal's 2nd death, you feel you owe me, Elim?"
"Oh, my, Yes, Charles! I had accepted Ziyal's death. I knew that no accident of time was going to revive her. But I had a chance to hold her, to say goodbye. Unusually sentimental of me, but Ziyal and I were always hard to figure, anyway."
"I'm sorry, Garak, but I..."
"Oh, Charles! Meet Julian Bashir, the finest surgeon in all of StarFleet! Julian, this is.."
"Elim, Doctor Winchester's sister is my ancestor! I hardly need to be told who he is."
"Furthar, Eeeellim, you already identified young Julian as my kith when you identified him as your finest surgeon!"
Winchester shook hands with Julian, then walked off to speak with his fellows from the 4077th.
"Your ancestor-uncle is a preening, self-important, cold, egotistical obnoxious bore! And yet..."
"And yet what?"
"Despite all that, I find it impossible to really like him! Why is that, do you suppose?"
Bashir had no clue, either.
Inside the Potter household, a feast was being served. Mildred Potter handed Jake Sisko a huge plate of eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Jake smiled at her, knowing the effort this breakfast took.
"Thank You, Mrs.Potter!"
Mildred stood with her arms folded.
Mildred reached over and kissed the young man on the cheek.
"There, now, was that so hard?"
As she left, Jake leaned over to his father.
"Dad? Whatever happened to mid-20th Century racism?"
Sisko, in the middle of not a few home fries, just shrugged.
"We'll look for some later, Jake. Maybe we'll stop at the gift shop, and pick up a souvenir!"
"DAD! You know what I..."
"Will you two just shut up and eat? The sight of all these clothed females makes this bay-kon taste fantastic!"
Quark and the other two Ferengi then went back to their meals. Mildred gestured for Leeta to join her in the kitchen.
"Yes, Mrs. Potter?"
"Leeta, how can you stand to be near that monster?"
Leeta frowned. The limits of tolerance had been hit. The nice woman couldn't be blamed for her narrow-mindedness. She wondered what Mildred thought of her nose ridge. Mrs. Potter continued.
"I'm sorry to say Monster, but that Quark really is the rudest thing! I can't believe a good man like your husband is his brother!"
Leeta's heart jumped, and she asked the Prophets to forgive her and bless this dear woman.
Outside, Trapper John sat with Worf and Alexander. Trapper was told about Kehlyr.
"So you see, Doctor, my first wife was named for Emperor Kahless, as are many Klingon children. But there are a great variety of derivatives, all with their own shades of meaning. K'ehlyr, translated into your English, means, "The Cager Of Prey". Or, more briefly, "Trapper". I am told her human family regarded this as a compromise, in your honor."
"Izzat right? Hmm."
Trapper reached into his pocket, and pulled out a pair of sunglasses. He gave them to Alexander.
"Here, kid! Ain't much, as legacies go, but it's all I have on me!"
Alexander put them on.
"They're terrific, Trapper! Oh, I could have used these after Jadzia's bachelorette party!"
Worf glared at his son. Alexander gulped.
"That's IF I had attended. Heh! Which I didn't! I was with you and the others, Father! Heh-uh-oh!"
"We shall discuss this later!"
Suddenly, Sisko was behind Worf.
"No, Mr. Worf, we'll discuss this NOW! Doctor Pierce has told me all kinds of interesting things about things YOU told him! We just got time and space repaired, Worf! Why are you trying to destroy it?"
With Pierce, Houlihan and Dax looking on sympathetically, it was now Worf's turn to gulp-hard.
Bashir checked on Max Klinger. The news was good.
"Luckily for you, Max, the effects of the personality detachment have very much passed. As with many cases, it was fear and panic caused by the detachment that made it seem worse than it was."
Max looked up from his chair. Something was still bothering him.
"Doc, what exactly is personality detachment? I know what happened to Eddie, but with me it almost seemed like I was calling out to Max, but he-me wasn't listening. It was weird, is what it was."
"Eddie's case was a travesty, Max. I shall see to it that his name is listed as the 1st casualty of the Eugenics War! As to the rest, you can't just "bump" someone up in evolution. Everything we are is geared to how quickly we think, react and contemplate. Change any one of those things, and the person needs to adjust. Change all of them-and more-and a new person needs to emerge. Now, in the case of yourself, and the Pierces--er, I mean, Doctor Pierce and Major Houlihan, you were all 3 such strong personalities that it wasn't so pronounced as it might have been."
"You know what frightens me, Doc?"
"No, what, Max?"
"Because of my acceleration, I just understood every word you said!"
Kira looked at River Bend, and noticed something.
"Where's all the people? There are aliens swarming over a town in pre-FC Earth, and no one notices?"
"Something wrong, Major?"
"Father Mulcahy! Did the Prophets do something to the people around here? No one is seeing Worf, Quark, or Odo!"
"Not the Prophets, my Child! Just--me."
"It was a gift I've always had. Your Prophets just awakened it, they said. Somethng about chronoton particles, or somesuch. An incredible thing, to realize you can travel through time! Such an awesome responsiblity! I don't know if I can handle it! There are so many dangers, Nerys. I couldn't bring myself to hold the Infant Jesus. Now I feel as though I am, anyway. What will I do?"
Kira squeezed Mulcahy's hand.
"You'll do fine, Francis. You Are The Priest. By the way, why did Odo wish to speak with you?"
Odo knew the Padre hadn't given him the Bible as a prosleytizing tool, but he was still intrigued. There, he would find the answers to what the "Father Of The Prophets" had told him. That being had told him the Founders would call him 3 names, besides his own. He knew what Cain meant, and he knew what Lucifer meant. Both these words had applied to his past dealings with the Founders. But the third he only found just now. His eyes were transfixed on the page of the Book Of The Prophet Isaiah. It told the meaning of the third thing his people would, in their time, call him : Immanuel. If Odo had a heart like a Solid, it might have stopped then and there. As it was, a sense of peace drifted over him. All was calm, and his destiny never seemed more brightly lit.
Two women whose uncommon identical beauty helped spark this mess sat together for the last time.
"Keiko, how can I miss someone who won't be born until well after I am dead?"
"My question, Soon-Lee, is how can I miss someone who is long dead in my great-grandmother's time?"
Both looked at one another, and knew the answer, which they spoke together.
"With All My Heart."
At that, Father Mulcahy restored everyone to their proper time and place. Oddly, he let his friends keep their memories, but made sure to instill upon them the awesome responsibilty they faced. All went as before, with the exception of Hawkeye Pierce looking at the camera in 2003, after Khan's defeat, and saying one odd thing :
"Hey, Worf! Did I do alright?"
Deep Space Nine
"Er, no, Constable. I wouldn't bother the O'Briens for another 2 days, at least. Just trust me on this one."
"All right, Captain! I have some smuggler friends of Quark's to attend to, anyway!"
Odo was in the vents with a thought. Sisko didn't look up.
"Good man, the Constable. But still a trifle odd, you ask me."
River Bend, Missouri
"Er, no, Padre. I wouldn't bother the Klingers for another 2 days, at least. Just trust me on this one."
"All right, Colonel. I have to attend the Fourth Crusade, anyway!"
Mulcahy vanished with a thought. Potter didn't look up.
"Good man, the Padre. But still a trifle odd, you ask me."
September 12, 1983
Fourth cousins Benjamin Russell and Sherman Potter were being reunited in a big way. Benny's son was marrying Potter's youngest granddaughter. They were distant enough to be safe, but not so distant as to rob it of family meaning. It was still rough for interracial couples, but they were both good kids, and had already weathered some attacks from those "bold defenders." It hurt both men that so few of their other family members bothered to show up. A greater hurt lay after the ceremony, though. Benny knew that, in his science fiction stories, no one truly died.
But as he saw Walter O'Reilly worriedly shake Sherman Potter, then grab his own tear-stained eyes, Benny knew that death was quite real. Because it had been so important to Sherman that he live to see this ceremony, Benny's next Deep Space Nine novel, the 15th in his Hugo-Winning series, had his space heroes visiting a Veteran's Hospital in 1956, and named the admnistrator Sherman T. Potter. "Visions Of The AfterMASH" was a runaway hit. Many of Benny's works, sadly, were lost in the chaos of the next century.
December 25, 1989
Sean O'Brien weeped openly. His great-uncle Francis, Bishop of St. Louis, had left them on this most holy day. Before dying, he dissappeared briefly, then returned, saying that, this time, he had held the child. Then he was gone. Sean swore to deliver his uncle's packageto Father Darius in Paris. For now, though, he and his family mourned, as did all of Francis' friends who recieved the news. Among the attendees at the funeral was a Scotsman named Duncan Noel.
"Well, so that's it!"
Francis' spirit soared higher, ever higher, then stopped. He saw the Prophets Of Bajor. Now he was a light, as they were. They asked him to join them, and he saw that his God would not object, so he did. The Prophets had one last surprise in store for him, though.
"Welcome home, Francis! We've missed you!"
"And I, my brothers and sisters, have missed you! But you should really take a stab at being human! I found the experience- Most Exhilirating!"
20 years after the end of The Dominion War
The Bajoran Ambassador looked out upon her embassy, built on the Sacred Ground that was once River Bend, Missouri. Kai Kira Nerys felt as though she had come home. She hoped her husband could join her, soon. Most of the other Founders rejected his teachings, and she feared for his life, at times. But she had faith. Lots of it.
Ezri looked at her husband. It had taken years, but Trill finally relented and let them marry. Worf was still a magnificent brute, after all this time. With him was their old friend Admiral Sisko, the Emissary there to bless the new Bajoran embassy. It was incredible to stand where all that had occurred. Behind them, though, were two people who--- just shouldn't be there.
"HAWKEYE! MARGARET! HERE? DID YOU...Time Travel again?"
Margaret merely smiled.
"Don't look so shocked, Dax! You did say a day for every year. How are you all doing? I love this place! Ooh! I hated waiting for First Contact with Bajor! So many nice fashions. I'm sorry about Jadzia, kiddo!"
"Who is that a statue of?"
"The Greatest Hero Of The Dominion War! He who died so well!"
"Please don't tell me...."
Worf almost smiled.
"I'm afraid so, Pierce. This is the Jonathan S. Tuttle Memorial!"
The 500-year old couple stared blankly at the great, shining lie they had wrought. Then, Hawkeye spoke the last word.