Epilogue

Chief Medical Officer's Log Stardate 75209.3: After the toughest bout as a physician since my third year in medical school, I am happy to announce that a cure has been discovered for everyone affected by the cosmic radiation from Hokulea 4. Inoculated Romulans are making their way down to the planet and all seems right with the galaxy. I just need to tie up some loose ends.

Edala stood in the center of sickbay as Dr. Kakua waved his tricorder over her head and torso. With a jubilant grin, Kakua slapped the tricorder shut.

"You're normal." Kakua announced. "Everything is exactly the way it was. You even managed to retain your memories from the last day. I guess those thoughts and memories were stored in that auxiliary limbic lobe that Romulans have."

Edala replied with a glowing smile. "Thanks, Doctor. I appreciate things going back to normal." She then turned to the vacant quarantine compartment behind her. "How's Kenny?"

Kakua smiled as he organized the padds on his desk. "I am pleased to announce that Starfleet's oldest cadet has made a mostly miraculous recovery. I discharged him two hours ago."

Edala frowned and approached the surgeon with her hands folded in concern. "Mostly?"

Kakua gave a heavy sigh. "He doesn't remember anything since he first beamed down to the planet. Honestly, I think it's an effect of the cure Picard got from the Na'kua. It's probably for the best. Conveniently forgetting all the events of his past life will probably save his career. Captain Nguyen knew too much."

Edala's frown deepened in dejection as she slowly turned around. "So, he doesn't remember me?"

Kakua shrugged, his voice twisted in an incredulous response. "I wouldn't say that. He saw you before he went on the away mission. Trust me, he does remember that."

Edala turned back towards Kakua in earnest. "But I mean, he doesn't remember our time together: in the quarantine compartment, on the holodeck?"

Kakua frowned and shook his head.

Edala recoiled and hunched over in grief. As Kakua saw the pulverizing anguish on the young Romulan's face, he formulated a way to relieve her suffering. "I actually have a question about your time in the holodeck, if you don't mind."

Edala uncomfortably grimaced but nodded in silent consent.

"If the purpose of the pon farr tournament was to be assigned a mate in addition to proving one's loyalty to the Empire, does that mean you're married?"

Edala wiped a tear from her eye and shook her head. "No, I mean, I was, technically, but I had it annulled."

She then explained that the Praetor presiding over her tournament was assassinated in Shinzon of Remus' coup d'etat. After his short-lived reign, her father took over as Praetor who had the power to invalidate the original pairing.

"We spoke about it a lot. He did come from a privileged family, a higher class than my own, extravagant dowry." Edala explained. "But I wanted more from my life. I also had no affection for him. Ali'am's passing overshadowed everything."

Kakua nodded thoughtfully. "To be trapped in a loveless marriage is my greatest fear, too. It's probably why I stay single. Plus I think my ridiculously good looks are irresistible to the ladies."

Edala giggled which caused more tears to stream from her face. "But in all seriousness, with a lifespan of 200 years, you can have a lot of children or accomplish many feats. I wanted the latter. My great grandmother was a Fleet Commander who squared off against Captain Kirk. I wanted to make my own mark in my family's mythology."

She sighed and wiped her face with the cloth that Dr. Kakua handed her. "So, against my mother's wishes, I pushed to have the marriage annulled. A woman divorcing her mate without immediately joining with another leaves her vulnerable to discommendation and scorn. A Praetor can even revoke citizenship for such an action. But I knew my citizenship was intact with my father as the Praetor."

She sighed and straightened her spine. "I am proud to be Romulan, but I would not fulfill my duties to the Empire after what I faced in the tournament. Not in the traditional way."

With her eyes clear and face dry, Edala handed the cloth back to Kakua. "So, my father appointed me as his special envoy to the Federation and I came into the services of Ambassador Picard. The decision protected my father from criticism because I was out of mainstream society and it allowed me to serve the Empire on my terms."

Dr. Kakua nodded understandingly and placed the damp cloth into the waste receptacle. "You are a remarkable young woman, Edala. I'm proud to know you."

Edala smiled and gave her thanks. "If you don't mind my asking, doctor, why did you ask me about that?"

Dr. Kakua shrugged. "I need accurate contact information for your next of kin in case something happens to you. Per Starfleet regulations spouses take precedence over parents."

Edala nodded absentmindedly before reflecting on the last twenty four hours. "It's strange. Over the last twenty four hours, I have felt emotions I never thought I would feel again since my sister's death at my hands."

She looked back at the empty compartment. "But I suppose, those feelings are to be ripped away from me, too."

Dr. Kakua frowned. "What makes you say that?"

"If you're saying Captain Nguyen's memories have been erased then surely his affection for me must be gone, too." Edala then looked over her shoulder at Dr. Kakua. "Or did he have them before?"

Dr. Kakua shook his head. "Sorry. I'm pretty sure that falls under doctor-patient privilege."

As Edala forlornly faced forward away from Dr. Kakua; the ship's surgeon tried to comfort her. "I may not be an expert in temporal mechanics, but I do know this. Effects cannot happen without causes."

Edala frowned. "What does that mean?"

Kakua smiled. "It means what you experienced yesterday was the effects of Captain Nguyen's longtime affection for you. In the simplest terms imaginable, he couldn't have those feelings unless a version of them existed earlier in his life." He looked Edala in the eye with an encouraging smile. "But, you won't know unless you get to know him."

Edala wrinkled her forehead in contemplation. "I guess you're right."

At that moment, the doors to sickbay flung open and a young Cadet Kenneth Nguyen made his way towards Dr. Kakua's desk.

Kakua noticed the spontaneous gleam in Nguyen's eye when he saw Edala standing near the desk. "Hey Doc, good evening Edala, am I interrupting anything?"

Dr. Kakua shot a glance at Edala who emphatically shook her head. "We were just finishing up." She replied. "How are you feeling?"

Nguyen clutched his right knee. "I'm feeling okay for the most part. Some of my muscles get sore when I walk but I think I'll be okay after a few days."

Nguyen turned to Kakua. "I was wondering when I could resume my exercise regiment. Starfleet Special Forces wants its recruits to be in top notch shape."

Kakua shrugged lazily. "Well, if we're going by Starfleet Special Forces standards, my professional opinion is that you start an extremely light regiment today and incrementally increase the difficulty as your joints recover."

Kakua then caught a glance of Edala looking over Nguyen appraisingly before finishing his prescription. "And I'd say supervision is a must. Especially given your current physical condition."

Nguyen shot a brief glance at Edala before turning back to Kakua. "Do you want to supervise me, Doctor?"

Kakua feigned disappointment. "I would, Cadet, but I promised Picard I'd swing by his quarters. I want to see if that drink he talked about yesterday really does make one's knees melt. It's for medical research, you see."

Kakua turned to Edala. "Would you like to supervise the cadet during his recovery?"

Edala fought with all her might to crush a smile. She managed to suppress it long enough to turn back to Nguyen and ask about his exercise regimen of choice.

Nguyen shrugged with a hint of self-confidence. "Ordinarily, I do Klingon bat'leth exercises. It's the perfect exercise."

Edala's eyes widened. "Really? Me too! It keeps the muscles strong and the senses sharp."

Kakua gestured for Edala and Nguyen to head towards Holodeck 1. "Then go brave warriors of the Federation and Romulan Star Empire. Go slay the galloping hordes of barbaric assailants and bring honor to both your houses. May we sing songs of your many victories!"

Edala and Nguyen made their way through sickbay in a constant state of chatter. Edala was impressed by Nguyen's choice of blade and martial art strategies. Nguyen was impressed by the abnormally high difficulty level at which she set the holodeck's safety protocols.

On their way out of sickbay, Nguyen stumbled as his right knee buckled. As she did before in the turbolift, Edala flung her arms around Nguyen's torso to prop him up. Trying to save as much dignity as he could, Nguyen steadied himself and applauded his Romulan friend for her quick reflexes and strength. "I think we will definitely need that on the holodeck. At least until my knee recovers."

As the two made their way through the passageway, Edala offered to teach Nguyen the combat techniques she used during the pon farr tournament. "If you want to get into Starfleet Special Forces, these skills are second to none." Edala insisted. "Thanks, who knows, maybe you might want to join Special Forces, too." Nguyen responded.

Kakua caught the two out of the corner of his eye as they turned around the juncture where escape pods were located. As the doors hissed behind him, the young doctor nodded. "I have a feeling Starfleet's future is in good hands."

This concludes Star Trek: Destiny (aka Star Trek: Picard What Could Have Been) Episode 2: "What is Past is Prologue." This narrative continues with Episode 3: "Dark As Erebus." Coming soon.