The evil that men
do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
(William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)
Her father's head is trapped in the madman's hands, while she watches helplessly from her prone position on the floor, her shattered femur barely registering in the face of her fear. The augment's face is not human anymore but has turned into a twisted mask of sheer rage. There is a crack. Loud and sickening on the deadly quiet bridge. Pain both physical and emotional raises within her, her stomach roils and she screams... .
Carol snapped wide awake, a twinge of nausea still slicing through her. She thought she had screamed both in the past and in the present, but in her solitary dark quarters aboard the Enterprise, she could not be certain. Her leg pulsed with pain, as she tried to turn to her side. She took a deep breath and reminded herself that the ache was not real. Her leg was just fine, shattered bone knit together down to the last molecule. Not a single scar remained. But the healing was skin deep. Even after a year of counseling and on the brink of a new beginning as a second science officer aboard the USS Enterprise that had just embarked on her five-year mission, the nightmares persisted and often kept her from getting a decent night's sleep. At least, the flashbacks had subsided and on most days she managed to keep the hyper-vigilance to a bare minimum. On most days. On others she was still jumpy and wary of personal contact.
She had been cleared for space duty only provided that she continued to attend weekly therapy sessions with Doctor M'Benga, who had a second degree in psychiatry, aboard the Enterprise. Only McCoy as CMO and Kirk from his position as captain knew of her PTSD diagnostic in the aftermath of her witnessing her father's murder on the Vengeance. McCoy was bound by confidentiality to keep the secret and Kirk did a surprisingly good job of tiptoeing around the issue, while not treating her as a porcelain doll, as long as she performed well in her official capacity. If there was one commitment Jim Kirk did not shy from, it was the one to his ship and crew. He had already proved that by being willing to die for them. Twice, as a matter of fact.
Once it had nearly been at her father's hand. Her father whom she used to adore and whom she had built as this larger than life hero of the Federation. Her father who was a traitor to everything said Federation stood for, who had tried to kill a ship full of fellow Starfleet officers in cold blood and whom she had seen murdered in a most gruesome fashion. She curled up in a fetal position, gritting her teeth against the sob struggling to erupt from her chest. She wanted to mourn yet she didn't feel she had the right to, despite what M'Benga assured her each time she saw him.
She was the daughter of a murderer and a pariah. She wished she could hide away forever, shrinking from sight and begging every officer she walked past aboard the Enterprise for a forgiveness she wasn't entitled to. She should have spotted the change in her father or maybe suspected that he had been a rotten apple all along. But she had been blinded by her love for him and up until his distance and record-keeping irregularities had compounded to a point where she could no longer overlook them, she had failed to act.
Now people were dead, tens of them on the Enterprise, when the Vengeance had fired upon the flagship under the admiral's orders, forty-two in London, thousands in San Francisco, not to mention the fellow officers dead on the floor of the Daystrom Conference Room at Starfleet HQ, all victims of circumstances set in motion by her father, who had thought he could open Pandora's box and play with what was inside with no consequences. If only her father had not deluded himself into believing he could control a superhuman tyrant, who had once ruled a quarter of the Earth. If only that man had not escaped. If only she had done something sooner. If only she had looked into that London facility that did not belong, the first time she had noticed it on the specs of the new long-range torpedoes, instead of just writing it off as not important. If only... .
She felt wetness leaking down her cheeks and squeezed her eyes closed against the darkness of her room. Questions were all she had left. Questions, nightmares and the inability to say the name of her father's assassin. Above all, there was the blood: blood staining San Francisco and Starfleet as a whole. Blood she could not wash off her hands. Blood covering her father's disgraced, empty grave in his home town, as his remains had been destroyed by the Vengeance's crash. There had not been a funeral. A distant relative had arranged for the stone to be placed next to her grand-parents' graves. Her mother had refused to have anything to do with it.
There was no love lost between Carol's parents. Their divorce, which had happened as Carol had been a small child, had been unpleasant with the main cause being that her father dedicated more time and attention to a Starfleet her mother did not particularly like rather than to his family. So Carol avoided mentioning the admiral to her mother, whose resentment she could understand and perhaps even shared. She didn't know exactly how she felt about her father herself. She wanted to hate him but found that she could not. She wanted to grieve him but would not permit herself to. She was definitely angry with him. Furious even and overwhelmed by shame so much that she was drowning in it. Between respecting her mother's imposed silence and the embarrassment of bringing up her father to her friends in Starfleet, Carol only had therapists to talk to about what she been through and to those she could only reveal so much, if she wanted to appear stable enough to stay on active duty.
Some of her more formal questions were shared by the command team of the Enterprise, both the captain and Mr. Spock having requested an investigation into the activities of the secret branch of Starfleet her father had called Section 31, but Admiral Komack had claimed that the organization was just a pet project of the former Commander-in-Chief and had not survived the destruction of its quarters in London. Apparently, Admiral Marcus had also acted alone only with the help of private security and a few officers he had embroiled in the whole Section 31 business and who had all died in the London attack. No one wanted that to be true more than Carol. But still it was very suspicious how her father had managed to build a secret warship in the middle of the Sol system with such limited assistance, that the Earth's perimeter sensors had failed to pick up the battle between the Enterprise and the Vengeance that had taken place near Luna and above all, that Alexander Marcus had managed to cover up Khan's existence so well for a whole year.
There was nobody left to ask, though, the crew of the Vengeance lost in the crash in San Francisco and her father dead, while the Enterprise had been sent away for five years, as soon as her repairs and refit had been finished. As for the augment himself, Starfleet Command had resorted to the same decision the victors of the Eugenics Wars had made, when the man had slipped through their fingers and run off to space: denial. Their superiors had explained that it would be detrimental to public morale to reveal that seventy-three Napoleons and Alexanders having survived one of Earth's bloodiest centuries were still alive and well and one of them had been left to roam the galaxy only to be end up causing the death of several admirals and all three of the first terrorist attacks since the creation of the Federation. The guilty party had been put back in cryo-stasis without trial shortly after the blood transfusion that had ultimately saved Kirk's life.
Officially, the London and San Francisco tragedies had been blamed on the rogue Starfleet officer, John Harrison killed in self-defense by Commander Spock in the aftermath of the third act of terror as well as on her father's illegal actions. Public opinion could rest assured: the guilty had been punished and Earth's paradise was safe once more. A monument had been erected in the memory of those who had been lost and Captain Kirk invited to give the inaugural speech right before his ship embarked on her historical and unprecedented mission. All was well, wrapped in neat, little bow. With fathom pain pulsing through her leg, Carol desperately hoped that was true. After what her father had put her through, she doubted she could withstand a dent in her picture-perfect image of Starfleet, her dream of wonders and exploration spread through the stars. The dream she was sworn to protect. The dream she would die for and for which she had set aside her abhorrence of violence to study weaponry. She refused to remember that she had joined Starfleet inspired by her father's example.
All was well. All seemed well yet it felt so wrong. Something had been broken beyond repair, lost with her father aboard the Vengeance and erased by the impact with San Francisco Bay. Carol did not know whether it was her innocence, her idealism or her previously unshakable belief in the goodness and truth of everything Starfleet stood for. But it was there, deep within her, an indescribable hollowness punched in the foundation of her hopeful view of the universe. It was this very demoralization that she avoided in her conversations with M'Benga and all her other therapists, because if they realized she no longer trusted Starfleet unflinchingly, she would lose her new-found family on the Enterprise.
Though exhausted, she gave up on sleep and limped off her bed, ordering the lights on as she moved. Her leg was still throbbing, but she ignored it, aware that it would go away soon. It always did. Something sparked alive in her memory. A dark silhouette sitting on the captain's chair on the Vengeance, his parting words ominous as the transporter had whisked her away.
No ship should go down without her captain... .
She had had other more pressing matters on her mind at the time, but now, as the words haunted her dreams, she realized they were vaguely familiar. She rubbed on her leg as she carefully advanced towards the computer monitor on her desk, ordering it to identify the origins of that sentence. It was a quote from the novel Moby Dick. She wriggled her toes on the cold floor. Her leg was starting to feel better and she had available a sleeping aid prescribed by her doctor. If she went to bed now, she had a chance of getting some rest before her shift began.
She contemplated the wisdom of what she was doing, even as she was reaching for her tablet, which contained a wide array of both alien and human literary works. Moby Dick had to be among them. Try as she might, she could not reconcile the man who had crushed her father's skull between his hands with something so peaceful and normal as reading a 19th-century American classic. Her fingers sped across the PADD, however she didn't search through the archives dedicated to literature but historical material on the rise of the augments and the Eugenics Wars. Maybe if she could let herself think the name of the man who had killed her father and wrought so much destruction, she could also come to some sort of peace with her parent's own transgressions.
When she returned to bed, it was with a monograph on twentieth century genetic engineering projects opened on her tablet. If she were to read on this, she might as well start at the very beginning.