"Anyway," Leia said, getting back to the subject again. "What did you sense from these people?"

Luke shrugged easily as he recalled what he had sensed. "For sure, they are strong-willed people with iron resolves. I’d bet the Force that they would have tried to take on this…Borg themselves even if we hadn’t agreed to help."

"So the Borg aren’t just some story they are making up?" she asked, even though he sensed she already knew the answer.

He shook his head quickly. "No, not at all. When they talked about the Borg, I felt great fear and sadness from all of them. These Borg…they must really have caused a lot of trouble for the Federation."

Leia took on her distant stare as she considered those words for a moment. She shook her head and looked up at him. Changing the subject again, she asked, "And what is it that you’re sensing about that female officer of theirs?"

Luke frowned at that as he considered what he had sensed about her. "I’m not entirely sure…without a doubt, she’s strong with the force…but something, some mental barrier, seems to be stopping her from being able to gain anything from it. Normal people who are as strong as she is would usually have heightened instincts, to the point where they can ‘see the future.’ She’s probably never experienced that…"

"After this is over, do you think you can help her lift this mental shield?" Leia asked, genuinely concerned about her.

Luke shrugged unknowingly. "I honestly can’t say until I try. I do know that, when I probed her mind…I inadvertently opened a sort of ‘hole’ in the shielding…and as a result, she started to get those ‘feelings.’ For all I know, removing the shielding would be as simple as pressing her mind’s Force ‘nub.’"

The ‘nub’ was just what it sounded like, some sort of nub in every person’s mind. When a Jedi brushed over the nub in someone else’s mind, it prompted a reaction, a sort of defensive push against the person who had touched it. Luke had accidentally discovered the nub when he was teaching Leia how to keep people from entering her mind. Not only did it tell if someone was strong with the Force or not…it also told just how strong they were. For example, the strongest person Luke had ever encountered in the Force, young Kyp Durron, had thrown Luke across the room when he had tested him.

If Luke pressed on the woman’s nub, the reaction from her mind might just be enough to tear away the rest of the mental shield. As a result, she would have full access to the Force, and if she chose, she could train to become a Jedi.

Leia shrugged, probably thinking they would have to deal with it later. "Well, let’s get moving on preparations. If what they say is true…we don’t have a lot of time."



Vendar brought up a picture of Vulcan on the computer screen. Her and the Jedi liaison were at the aft computer station on the bridge. While everyone else was working on repairs and preparations, Vendar had volunteered to give him any information about the Milky Way that he requested.

Despite the fact that she had volunteered, neither had initiated conversation other than his inquiries and her answers about the Milky Way. For some reason, he had recently shown interest in the Vulcans.

"Full-blooded Vulcans," she began, "display no emotions what so ever. They have full control of everything…fear, happiness, even love." When she said that, she noticed that she blushed…and hoped that he didn’t notice. "Furthermore, they have amazing mental powers, and through contact with other beings, can initiate in full mind-to-mind communication. They call it a mind meld, where both minds share everything."

"Amazing!" he exclaimed. "Are there any other species in your galaxy with abilities like this?"

"As a matter of fact," she stated, immediately bringing up a picture of Betazed. "The Betazoid people are fully telepathic. They can communicate and read other’s minds rather easily."

"Can they also move things with their mind?" he asked.

She looked at him and frowned. "No…they can’t." She recalled how the other Jedi, the Jedi Master, had moved Ada’s communicator with a flick of his hand. For a moment, she felt fear.

"You don’t need to fear me," he said, smiling in slight amusement. "The code of the Jedi doesn’t permit us to harm innocent people…and besides which," he added, shrugging, "we don’t wish to harm innocent…or even evil people. If possible, we try to…how shall I say…disable evil, so that one day it may possibly become good."

She raised her eyebrows in surprise, never considering that someone might have values so much like the Federation…or at least, have them like these people do.

"How many Jedi are there?"

He considered the question for a moment, then said, "You know, I’m not sure. I haven’t visited Master Luke’s Academy for almost two years…who knows how many have joined since then."

Still curious, the computer console forgotten, she asked, "Why did you leave?"

He looked at her questioningly, but then seemed to realize that she wasn’t entirely familiar with the Force. That, of course, was an understatement.

"That entitles a rather long story," he began. He hesitated a moment, then said, "So I’ll just give you the revised version. For a very long time, the Jedi have been protectors of all that is good and just in the Galaxy. No one is quite sure whether or not they came to be before or after the Old Republic was formed, but because of the nature of the Force, it was most likely before.

"The Sith are pretty much the opposite of the Jedi," he said, a small trace of contempt entering his voice. "They are nothing but pure evil. In all records of history, only one Sith ever returned to good, and that was just recently…about eleven years ago. A Sith named Darth Vader betrayed his master at the behest of Luke Skywalker, who at the time was the only living Jedi."

Vendar felt surprise and horror overcome her face when she heard that. If the Jedi had always been protectors…then why would there suddenly be only one Jedi?

Kyle nodded to her solemnly. "That’s right…that Sith Lord’s master, Emperor Palpatine, had worked his way into the Old Republic. Once he gained absolute control…well, records aren’t absolutely clear on this matter, but he supposedly waited maybe ten years or so before declaring himself Emperor and starting the Clone Wars. He and his apprentice Sith, Lord Vader, hunted down all of the Jedi…all but the two that helped train Master Skywalker. They had evaded them.

"After words, they started to train Master Skywalker…but both eventually died. One, Obi-Wan Kenobi, died at the hands of Vader, while the other died of old age before Master Skywalker’s training was even close to being finished. As a result, he can only train us in what he knows, and we must leave to learn for ourselves.

"Any way, about eleven years ago, Darth Vader and Master Skywalker dueled. Master Skywalker convinced Darth Vader to return to the light side of the Force. He, not Master Skywalker, was the one who killed the Emperor."

She raised her eyebrows as she took all of this in, finding it difficult to imagine all of this happening. "Well…it sounds like this galaxy has had quite a history, indeed…"

"They didn’t slow down from there," he added, making her curious yet again. "Ever since then, we’ve been fighting against the remnants of the Empire. Leaders like Grand Admiral Thrawn and Admiral Daala have made our lives very difficult. We’ve lost many good leaders and friends. The incident at Bakura, the Bacta War, Grand Admiral Thrawn…even the Hutts have caused havoc for us."

She frowned, but before she asked anything, she decided on another course of action. "Sounds like we still have a lot to tell each other," she said. "Maybe we should find a more comfortable place to talk."

He looked at her and smiled. "That would be nice."

She began heading for the turbolift, Kyle right behind her. "Though it’s only ten decks down, and not at the front of the ship, Ten Forward is a popular lounge here because of its view. Let’s go there."



"I don’t think we should wait any longer," Ada said to Chris quietly. "The longer we wait, the more of a chance the Borg have of altering time."

Two hours ago, right after the crew had returned, Tom finally determined that they were indeed in the past. Though interacting would have been inevitable in the first place, they had to reduce the risk of altering the time line as much as possible. As such…he agreed with her.

He nodded to her, then moved down to the Command Chair. "R’Sharn, open a hyperspace channel to the Hope."

"Channel open."

To his surprise, a hologram suddenly appeared on the Bridge. I’d forgotten that holo emitters were all over the ship… He immediately recognized the person as Admiral Neylar.

"Admiral," he said quickly. "We shouldn’t wait any longer. We need to chase the Borg before they get too far away."

Although the hologram was rather distorted and had almost no color, he could clearly see the face Admiral Neylar made. "That’s unfortunate. Only two more capitol ships will be arriving here within the next ten minutes. Four more will make it here in an hour…any ships beyond that arrival time…we probably can’t count on them."

Chris simply shrugged and said, "That should suffice. Remember, the pre-arranged coordinates are where you need to be facing while we are gone. We could be gone for minutes, or even hours…so don’t let your guard up. One slip up…and the Borg could have us all."

Admiral Neylar nodded her approval and said, "Agreed. We’ll be waiting and ready."

Chris nodded as the hologram faded, then he sat down in his command chair.

He knew something should have been said to the crew. They were, after all, about to engage in a battle that could very well determine not only the future of this galaxy…but possibly even the Milky Way. After all…if Tom was right…if the Borg succeeded here, they would have several millennia to advance their technology. By the time they reached the Milky Way’s twenty-fourth century…they could be in control of the Milky Way as well.

But after a moment of hesitation, he realized that a speech wasn’t going to do him or the crew any good. So, instead, he simply gave the order he had already given several times in the past two to three years…

"Red alert, all hands to battle stations!"

The bridge darkened as bulkheads and panels turned from yellow to red. The all-too-familiar alert klaxon sounded as the bridge once again became a bustle of activity.

"James…set a course to follow the Transwarp conduit, maximum warp."

After a few moments of tapping in commands, he replied, "Course laid in, Captain."

He looked around at the Bridge, looking at every crewmember. As usual, each was too busy with their duties to return the look…and that somehow comforted him. He smiled, probably for the last time in the next day.




It had been a long three hours for Vendar. After the initial call for battle stations, she and Kyle raced to the bridge, prepared for action…only to find none. She found herself, with distaste for the fact, bored. She wanted action…and that was something that simply would not have been true before she had been infected with the Devil’s Virus.

She closed her eyes in anger for a moment, satisfied that the Vorkalai had been all but eliminated from the galaxy, but wanting to draw more blood from them.

This fact also bothered her…because before, she was not one to hold grudges. Yet, every day, she was reminded of what happened to her. Whether a moment of impatience or anger or something around those lines…for over a year, she had endured it. In fact, she realized that for about two and a half years, the Dragon had been stranded in the Kalium Galaxy.

Damn, I can’t believe it’s been that long already she thought. A year of the Vorkalai war, half a year of shore leave, and another year of exploring the galaxy…it’s been rather eventful!

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
of Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company. No copyright infringement intended