And Miles To Go Before I sleep

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SCENE 4H-05

INT. EXCELSIOR BRIDGE

A few minutes later.


DOVAN

Okay... Red alert.


Klaxons!
SYLVESTE

Dropping out of warp... now, sir.


YUBARI

Shields up, weapons hot.


Neeva enters the bridge from the briefing room and immediately crosses toward her chair.
DOVAN

Very good. Start that sweep.


SYLVESTE

Beginning scan.


NEEVA
I’ll take that.

(SFX: She takes her station at ops, right next to Sylveste’s at helm)

I’m picking up the Patroclus’s ion trail, as well as a debris field, sir. There were other ships here, at least two, just about the time of the attack.
DOVAN

Where’d they go?


NEEVA

Their ion trail is... it looks like they tried to mask it. It’s all over the place. Can’t get a good lock. Helm, set course three one eight mark three-three.


SYLVESTE

Ma’am.
DOVAN

To what end, Commander?
NEEVA

They tried to hide the trail. They just didn’t do a very good job of it. Tactical, run a charge of huon energy through the deflector dish. Broad spectrum, no need to be picky here.


YUBARI
Captain?
DOVAN

She’s the X.O.. Her orders are my orders.


YUBARI

Aye, sir. Er, ma’am.


Yubari fires a beam from the deflector dish, which sort of radiates out into the space in front of the Excelsior, making the true ion trail visible not just to ship’s sensors, but the naked eye.
NEEVA

There it is.


DOVAN

The attackers’ ion trail.


SYLVESTE

Right through the debris field from the battle.


DOVAN

Follow the trail, Mister. Don’t bump anything.


NEEVA

Tactical, I’d like an analysis of that debris.


Yubari runs an analysis.
YUBARI

I’m picking up Starfleet standard duranium alloy –

DOVAN

— presumably various missing pieces of the Patroclus

YUBARI

Yes, obviously. As for the rest of the debris field... it’s not a high total mass. Could be a destroyed fighter, but more likely parts of a small starship, maybe a scout or corvette.


DOVAN

Any idea who it belonged to?


YUBARI

Yes, it... (she gets the readout and knits her eyebrows) but... but that doesn’t make any sense.


DOVAN

Lieutenant?


YUBARI

There are none of the residual footprints, but the debris reads as–

(SFX: A sensor alert at her console. Yubari grows alarmed.)

All stop!


DOVAN

All stop!


SYLVESTE

Aye! All [stop!]


Interrupted.
Too late. Just in front of the Excelsior, something like a photon torpedo, but mixed with a Borg-ish sound, explodes. Fortunately, her shields are up, so the mine doesn’t do much damage, but it does rock the ship a bit, and we get the usual mix of “whoas” and “ahs” as the crew is rocked from their seats. For once, though, nothing explodes.
Oddly, Yubari doesn’t “whoa.” She knew it was about to blow and braced herself.
DOVAN, SYLVESTE, NEEVA, RANDOM CREWMAN #1 AND #2

[Whoa / ah / etc as the ship trembles]


NEEVA

Are we under attack?


YUBARI

No, sir, that was a mine. Someone left it behind and rigged a proximity trigger.


A string of small Borg-sounding torpedoes hit the ship, causing small tremors but nothing dramatic enough to merit a reaction.
YUBARI

Now we’re under attack. Shields holding.
NEEVA
Picking up an automated weapons platform at bearing two-two-one!
DOVAN

All port phasers, return fire! Evasive maneuvers!


YUBARI

Returning fire!


Cut away as phasers lance out into the dark!

SCENE 4H-06

INT. SICKBAY

Red alert continues from last scene. Ship occasionally shakes a little from these week torpedo hits, but we can’t hear them as we can on the bridge.

LORHROK

(yelling)

Doctor! Doctor!
Sharp comes running.
SHARP

(worried)

Alecz! What is it?
LORHROK

(a little weaker than usual, but putting a brave face on)

The ship’s under attack. I need your permission to report for duty.
SHARP

Oh, I thought you were bleeding from your posterior again – or, for that matter, from any of the other brand new holes in your body. You know, if you’d been in that fire a hundred years ago, you’d have spent the rest of your life in a wheelchair that can only beep answers to “yes” or “no” questions?


LORHROK

Doctor, this is all charming, but [I need something to get me on my feet, now.]


Interrupted.
SHARP

You’re not listening, are you, Alecz? Let me try again:

(clearly enunciating, as if for a slow child)

Your survival is a miracle of modern medicine

(back to normal speed)

and it is by no means guaranteed if you leave that bed for the next four hours. You’re going to stay right here, where the rest of my staff can marvel at my handiwork, for a good. Long. While.


LORHROK

But my ship!


SHARP

Not my problem. Therefore, not your problem. Now, if you’ll excuse me, our captain treats combat like a getting-to-know-you card, so I have to prep for incoming casualties.


Sharp walks away briskly.
LORHROK

(muttering)

Thank you, Doctor, but (grunts as he sits up) I think I’m going to get (grunts again as he stands up on the ground next to his biobed) a second opinion.

(blink; Lorhrok takes a step and hits his combadge)

Leftenant Lorhrok to Main Engineering. Where can I help with, uh, uuhhhhhhn (faints)
SFX: Lorhrok hits the floor like a sack of flour.

SHARP [from a distance, off to the side, but loudly]

(exclaiming furiously)

God, dammit Alecz! Mike!

Nurse Hennessy jogs over to where Lorhrok fell. Sharp stalks her way over more slowly.
NURSE HENNESSY

I have him, Melissa! He fainted! No bleeding.


SHARP [a little closer, still shouting]

(shouting)

Get him back to bed! And put him in a restraining field! I’ll use my command lockout!
As soon as he hears the first sentence of that line, Hennessy bends down and starts lifting the body.
NURSE HENNESSY

(strained under the weight of lifting Lorhrok)

Mels, can we do that? He’s the X.O.!
He drops the body on the biobed.
SHARP [right up close now]

If Alcar has a problem with it, I’ll put him in a restraining field and run this damn starship myself! See how many space battles we have when Captain Melissa’s the one doing the talking!


She’s already walking away, footsteps heavy because she’s stomping a bit.
[Fun continuity note: this scene is directly referenced by Future Hertzler in Scene 10404. Which aired, uh, nine years ago? Extremely minor payoffs are fun! Oh, and also now you know who’s captain of the Oracle.]

SCENE 4H-07
INT. BRIDGE
Yep, still at red alert. Still in battle – but not for long.
YUBARI

Their shields are buckling!


NEEVA

One more hit oughta do it.


DOVAN

Nothing fancy, helm. Stay out of their firing arc and line up aft quantum torpedo tube.


SYLVESTE

Aye, sir. Lining up for the shot.

(blink)

(SFX: the helm console beeps quietly as the shot is now lined up)



Fire when ready, Tactical.
YUBARI

Firing!
Quantum torpedo launches, flies through space, hits weapons platform. Shields collapse; it explodes.


NEEVA

Target destroyed.

DOVAN

All stop. Maintain red alert; there could be more surprises.

SYLVESTE

Aye, sir.


DOVAN

Helm, your arcs were wide and you didn’t stop fast enough to avoid that mine. This’s the bridge, not a simulator.


Blink. Sylveste is quite proud of his performance here and thinks Rol would be proud, too, and hearing this makes him angry. But he is a subordinate officer, so all he says after a moment’s hesitation is:
SYLVESTE

(professionally)

Understood, sir.
DOVAN

Commander, who was that? Who attacked us?


NEEVA

(hesitant)

Tactical, I got some very strange readings from that alloy. Can you confirm my console was working correctly?
YUBARI

I also had some odd readings, Commander.


DOVAN

Oh, come on, out with it. I already know it’s the Borg.


Beat.
NEEVA

That is what my readings indicate.


YUBARI

But there’s no magnetic footprint. It can’t be the Borg.


DOVAN

I knew as soon as the turret opened fire.

(beat)

We had no idea what we were up against when the Borg attacked Wolf Three-Five-Nine. No preparation, no drills, no warning. The only thing more worthless than our weapons was our shields. That torpedo was the only soundtrack for two-thirds of my classmates as I watched them die.



(blink)

You don’t forget that sound. Now we know what Mister Lorhrok was scared of, at least.

YUBARI

So what happened to Rol? He was attacked by the Borg?


NEEVA

The Borg must have been after the Iconian artifact. Prophet knows how they found out about it.


YUBARI

And he escaped? The Borg? In a two-man fighter? That’s impossible. Even with his genetic enhancements.


DOVAN

With Bev, the impossible never surprised me. But, right now, this is just a theory. There’s only one way to turn it into fact.


YUBARI

No, sir.
DOVAN

Excuse me?

YUBARI

Starfleet Standard Tactical Doctrine, Borg, Propositions One Through Five: “One: You cannot outgun the Borg. Two: You cannot escape the Borg. Three: You cannot challenge the Borg. Four: You can only survive the Borg. Five: Never engage the Borg.“ As tactical officer, it is my responsibility to inform you that the only option deemed survivable in these circumstances is non-pursuit. We have to break off.

DOVAN

I’m surprised at you, Lieutenant. Where’s that fighting Yubari spirit?


YUBARI

There are no fights with the Borg, sir. Only massacres. And that’s if you’re lucky.


DOVAN

Hm. I wish you were wrong. But two decades of fighting the Borg and losing... well. I’m not authorized to order suicide.


YUBARI

Aye, sir.


SYLVESTE

(about to protest)

Sir, Rene[gade Squadron volunteers.]
Interrupted.
DOVAN

But if the Borg somehow found out about the Mapstone, it is vital that Starfleet knows.


NEEVA

Galaxy in the balance and all that?


DOVAN

And all that. Miss Yubari, apprise Starfleet of our situation and request orders.


YUBARI

Aye, sir.


She gets to it, pressing buttons.
NEEVA

Sir, at this distance, it’ll take nearly eight hours for our transmission to reach the Union relay, and another eight hours to receive Admiral Parker’s response.


SYLVESTE

Sir!
DOVAN

Yes, Mister... (he’s forgotten the man’s name)
SYLVESTE

Ensign Jonathan Sylveste, sir. On detached service with Renegade Fighter Group as squadron first sergeant.


DOVAN

I asked your name, not your bio, Ensign First Sergeant Jonathan Sylveste.


SYLVESTE

Yes, sir. Request permission for Renegade Squadron to pursue immediately.


DOVAN

Denied. This isn’t a volunteer mission. It’s at least... eh... forty percent suicide.


NEEVA

I’d be interested in seeing the math behind that, sir.


SYLVESTE

Sir, the trail could go cold in eight hours. We can pursue for weeks without refueling. We accept the risks!

DOVAN

Look, if anyone’s going off half-cocked on a screwball revenge quest around here, it’s me.

(blink)

Besides, didn’t I just get done saying you could use some more bridge seasoning? Now’s your chance, kid. (he turns away) Yubari? What’s taking so long?

YUBARI

It’s just the encryption [key, sir. I should have it in a minute.]


Interrupted.
SYLVESTE

(angry but professional)

SIR! With respect, sir!
DOVAN

Wha—?
Immediate interrupt.


SYLVESTE

I don’t need more bridge seasoning, sir. Those firing arcs were as near to perfect as anything you’ll ever see in your life, sir, and Bev Rol would have taken at least another point-six seconds to reach all-stop after that order.


Dovan steps right in front of Sylveste, eyes blazing, voice level.
DOVAN

Are you telling me you’re better than Alex Bevoney Rol, Mister First Ensign Sergeant? (deliberately mangled)


SYLVESTE

Sir! Mister Rol was the greatest squadron leader I ever met! I will never be his equal in wisdom, or generosity, or friendship. But, sir, I could fly circles around him while sick with Stage-II Rigellian Flu, and that is a true story, sir! Every member of his squadron has earned the right to wreak God’s terrible vengeance on those who took his life! Sir!


Beat. Dovan doesn’t move from his intimidating stance, but his anger fades.
DOVAN

Hmp. (raises an eyebrow) Spunky.

(beat)

Commander Neeva, with me. Miss Yubari, you have the bridge.



(SFX: Dovan turns and starts to walk away. Neeva follows. As he goes, he says:)

Something you’ll learn fast, Ensign Sylveste:

(SFX: he enters the turbolift and turns around to face Sylveste to deliver his last line)

I’m not big on God talk. Sickbay.


SFX: Doors swish shut on Sylveste before he can reply.
INT. TURBOLIFT
A short pause while the turbolift starts moving and Dovan gets some mental space. Then, frustrated, he asks:
DOVAN

Was that kid right, Commander? Did he brake fast enough?

NEEVA

Faster than Bev? I don’t know, sir. Faster than I could have, though.

DOVAN

Hm.


(beat)

After we visit Alecz, can you prep the flyer Tirch Mir for launch? Schedule it for, oh, nine hours from now.


NEEVA

Yes, sir. (thoughtful exhale) I hate to say it, sir, but he had a point.


DOVAN

What, Sylveste?


NEEVA

Why are you waiting for orders, sir? It’s smart, it’s regulation, and it’s exactly the kind of thing you never do.


DOVAN

Ah, well, I know what Admiral Parker and his committee are going to say. They won’t be willing to endanger the Excelsior, but they will agree that we must take a risk in order to find out what the Borg know. They’ll order a shuttle mission. Since I am the local expert on fighting the Borg, they’ll send me.


NEEVA

You’re the captain.


DOVAN

I’m a fluke – an expendable one, at that. Not that I’d let anyone else go in my place anyway.


NEEVA

Still: a shuttle against the Borg?


DOVAN

No different from a starship against the Borg, really. They’ll squash you like a bug either way. A small ship with a little stealth might actually stand a better chance.


NEEVA

So if you know that’s what the committee wants, why wait? Why not just go?


DOVAN

Gives my X.O. a little more time to rest before I roll him onto the Tirch Mir with me in a wheelchair. As the sole survivor of the attack, he might have some critical insights.


NEEVA

And he needs to see Bev’s last chapter through to the end.


DOVAN

Yeah, that too. Don’t tell Melissa.

(beat)

How long were you in command during the Tilamar Investigation?


NEEVA

About four days.


DOVAN

Then this’ll be cake. I suggest finding a nice nebula to hide in while you wait for our signal. In case of Borg.

NEEVA

But why nine hours? We’ll have Admiral Parker’s response in eight.

DOVAN

Eight to get the Admiral’s orders across unthinkable distances of space and time. But nine to convince Doctor Sharp to release my executive officer from sickbay.

(SFX: the turbolift slows to a stop and opens)

...starting now.



SCENE 4H-8
INT. FIGHTER DECK
Valentine and Sylveste are on top of a fighter, trying to fix something. It’s noisy in here, and they are a few meters apart working on different sides of the ship, so both have to raise their voices to be heard.
COMPUTER [background; for flavor]

Squadron commander to marine flight deck. Squadron commander to marine flight deck.


VALENTINE

(raised voice, etc.)

Nope, still no thrust.
SYLVESTE

(raised voice, etc.)

Don’t worry, we’ll get this bird flying again before next drill. Now what if I try this inductor?
VALENTINE

Nope. Y’know, sir, I think the problem’s in the fuel line?


SYLVESTE

Eh, you might be right about that, Valentine.


The Major approaches during the above dialogue, and he has now arrived at the base of the shuttle.
MAJOR

(raised voice, etc.)

First Sergeant Sylveste! Front and center!
SYLVESTE

Sir, Major, sir! I’ll be right down, sir!


MAJOR

(raised voice)

See that you--
Sylveste jumps from the top of the fighter and lands right in front of the Major. It’s a couple meters, so he grunts when he hits the deck.
SYLVESTE

(grunts)
MAJOR

(not raised voice anymore, since Sylveste is now right in front of him; mildly surprised/impressed)

--are.


(blink)

We have a sick bird here, First Sergeant?


SYLVESTE

Aye, sir. Valentine’s one of the best mechanics I know, though. She’ll pull through, sir.


MAJOR

See that she does. Squadron launches at oh-four-hundred.

SYLVESTE

Sir? Shouldn’t mission details be given first to Chief Vesant, sir?

MAJOR

We’ll be escorting Captain Dovan and First Officer Lorhrok aboard the Tirch Mir. The captain instructed me to notify you personally.


SYLVESTE

He did. ...I mean, sir, yes, sir!


MAJOR

Carry on, Mister Sylveste.

The Major walks away.
SCENE 4H-09
EXT. SPACE

The runabout cruises past as several small fighters surrounding it swoop by with a “whoosh.”


DOVAN

Captain’s log. Following Admiral Parker’s orders, the Tirch Mir and its escort are proceeding at low warp to avoid disrupting the enemy ion trail.


INT. FLYER TIRCH MIR – REAR COMPARTMENT
Dovan walks up to the door that leads to the cockpit.
DOVAN

(sigh)


(not much meaning here; just establishing Dovan is the person walking since it’s audio and the listener can’t see. I guess he’s a bit sleepy)
Dovan presses the button, the door slides open (it sounds like one of the doors on the Defiant, not a standard Excelsior door), and he steps through as we suddenly hear...
INT. FLYER TIRCH MIR – COCKPIT

Music is playing. “Sleep” by Eric Whitacre.


DOVAN

What? Computer, lights up one-quarter.


LORHROK

Captain?
DOVAN

Alecz. I’m sorry. I just had to file my logs. Thought you were asleep. Well, sedated, actually.
LORHROK

No. Watching the stars.


Dovan makes his way to the front of the cockpit and, when he eventually gets there, he sets down the PADD he’s holding. The scene continues as he does this:
DOVAN

What’s the song? Sounds... human?


LORHROK

Yes. Whitacre. Rol got me listening to him.


DOVAN

Ah.
LORHROK

No. I’m lying. I’m lying and I don’t even know why I’m lying. Rol wanted me to listen to Whitacre. He said I’d like it.
Beat. Dovan not sure what to say, and eventually offers:

DOVAN

And did you?

LORHROK

I don’t know. I never plugged in the album until a second before you walked in.

(blink)

I figured he’d badger me another month, maybe two, and then... I’d have time.


Long beat. Silence.
DOVAN

These lyrics... “His house is in the village, though”? Where have I heard that?


LORHROK

(realizing)

Oh. Oh, that explains it.
DOVAN

Huh?
LORHROK

Bev’s favorite poet. He probably quoted this poem on the bridge sometimes. I guess Whitacre set it to music.
Another beat, painfully long.
DOVAN

He gave his life in service to others. A graceful end. It isn’t enough, but...


LORHROK

No, it’s not enough. Saving the galaxy isn’t a good death for someone who shouldn’t have had to die at all. (with conviction) He was the best of us, Captain. The one who had nothing to atone for.


DOVAN
Well... there was that time he murdered Leo Amara and David Robins.
LORHROK

He was under genetic control! Isaac Brahms committed those murders; Bev didn’t get a say.


Beat. Another long one. Dovan doesn’t want to shatter this illusion, but, finally, he has to admit it:
DOVAN

(after exhaling uncomfortably)

There... were no genetic controls.
LORHROK

What?
DOVAN

I’m sorry.
LORHROK

Captain, I saw the nanites.


DOVAN

Brahms put Rol under genetic control to absolve him. Take away the responsibility and you take away the crime. Rol wasn’t willing to be absolved. He disabled the controls. He followed orders of his own free will. I don’t think even Brahms knew.


Short beat.
LORHROK

No. No! If Bev was killing people on his own, he wouldn’t have told me about it! He would have just killed me and moved on!


DOVAN

That was my first hint, actually.

LORHROK

(biting)


Sorry? For the record, he didn’t kill me.
DOVAN

Right. If he were really under genetic control, any half-decent programmer would have put in some safeguards — you know, a failsafe, in case someone got too close.

(blink)

But he didn’t shoot you. He shot a computer chip, giving you the chance to disable him. That didn’t smell like programming to me. That had the odor of a choice. And choice it was.


LORHROK

How could you possibly know that?


DOVAN

I asked him.


LORHROK

(betrayed)

And... and he told you?
DOVAN

He made a formal confession to Admiral Parker after Gevinon. Rol wanted a public trial, confession, punishment... but it was too damn “sensitive”, what with all that DEFCON Zero business. Parker swept him under the rug.

(blink)

Bev wanted to tell you.


LORHROK

(resigned)

If that were true, he would have.
DOVAN

I know he was worried about you, ever since Gevinon. Or, maybe he was just waiting another month, maybe two... thought he had more time.


LORHROK

I was putting off listening to a music album! It’s not really the same as murder!


DOVAN

(quickly, defensively)

I can’t speak for him. I won’t. Maybe he had a good reason, maybe he was just ashamed. Here’s what I do know, Alecz: Bev loved you. You saved him.
LORHROK

(bitterly)

Apparently, I saved him from a bunch of genetic controls that didn’t actually exist.
DOVAN

No no no! Don’t you see? That’s a nice little story, but it doesn’t amount to much. Any man in the Fleet would free a fellow officer from slavery. Nothing special. But you, Alecz, you saved Bev. He adored you for it.


LORHROK

What are you even talking about?

DOVAN

Just after Rol willfully murdered two officers — not for the first time – you confronted him. He decided on the spot to stop murdering, to help arrest his accomplices, and to turn himself in. You didn’t fix some nanite engineering problem. You convinced Alex Rol to repent.

(blink)

You might be too young to know how impossibly rare that is.

LORHROK

No, you know what’s impossibly rare? The naïve, moralizing childishness that let me ignore what was right in front of me – for years. Bev saw me for what I was: a useful mark. And, hey, full points to him: he got off the hook, didn’t he? Wheels within wheels within wheels, right?


DOVAN

Alecz...
LORHROK

No! He doesn’t get to betray me and die on the same day!

(beat, calmer)

Please leave, captain.
Short beat.
DOVAN

Al’ght.
After Dovan leaves, Lorhrok is left staring out at the stars.


LORHROK

The stars are lovely, dark, and deep.

Bev... you had promises to keep.

And miles to go before you sleep.

And miles to go... before...
He just trails off, losing heart.




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