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Story Notes:

Cadet Amy Crawford, completing her doctoral studies in the field of quantum optronic biology, reluctantly accepts a difficult assignment.

This story is dedicated to the many heroes of our time and the people behind their courageous deeds.

Star Trek HQ

Episode Six – Unsung Heroes


“I am the Homunculus, Third leadership adjunct of Partition Two, Progenitor Unimatrix. I request asylum.”

There had been no time to analyze this Borg’s strange designation, at least not while he was executing the single most serious threat to earth’s existence in its history. And when the creature had suddenly broken out of an inescapable confinement field, there was no time to understand his twisted attempt at negotiation, either.

‘Asylum?’ thought Captain Jean-Luc Picard. ‘Never.’

But, in a sense, this drone that was not a drone; this individual that could seemingly conjure all manner of destruction from thin air, would have his request granted. He would be protected, but the cost to him would be very dear. Picard saw to that.

Imprisoned within a temporal stasis confinement module, the Homunculus had been condemned to a virtual nonexistence. Beneath a powerful neurogenic field he lay like a sleeping giant, all brain activity suppressed. But for Captain Jean Luc Picard, who had witnessed his bewildering escapes before, this was still not enough.

Ten identical copies of the confinement module were replicated. Called temporal stasis optronic modules, these copies were intended for the finest research laboratories in the Federation. Although not capable of storing fully realized bio-matter, Picard saw the optronic modules as ten more chances for something else to go wrong.

He didn’t doubt that it was the best that his crew could do in the time they had, but Picard preferred that the passage of time within the optronic modules had been completely arrested, and not merely slowed to some indefinite minimum. But the captain had received his orders. Temporally arrested or not, the first optronic module was to be delivered to Starbase-39 Sierra post haste.

If only it were that easy.

In the desperate struggle to capture the Borg, Commander Worf had made a split second decision. He had executed a well-timed Ko’Thot, literally throwing himself at the drone, ensuring that both would plunge into a waiting capture field. The gamble had saved Earth, but condemned Worf to the same fate as the Borg: a prisoner of the confinement module.

Picard could only hope, especially for Worf’s sake, that the passage of time within all eleven modules had been sufficiently slowed. If not, then Worf, and the Homunculus, might awaken to a reality so far beyond their comprehension that insanity would be welcomed as a blessing.

Act 1

June 2nd, 2386, 9:00 am [Stardate: 63452.62]
Starbase 39-Sierra, Primary Holocomplex Facility

It wasn’t that Starbase 39 was the biggest playpen in the galaxy. It was. What began as a few experimental holoemitters donated by Starfleet Academy years earlier had rapidly transformed the place into the most progressive holo research establishment in the quadrant. And the most eccentric.

With holoemitters in every corridor, classroom and dorm, it was not unusual for a freshman on an evening stroll to be greeted by a ghostly midnight targ stampede, or to enter a false-front turbolift that took him for a ringside view of the big bang, or to open the door of his quarters only to discover every cubic centimeter packed tight with tribbles.

No, it was that 39-Sierra was a distraction.

Besieged by four stacks of padds on her study table, Cadet Amy Crawford had assembled every paper on quantum optronic biology she could find. ‘My thesis is here,’ she thought, reviewing her collection, ‘all I need to do is chip away the pieces I don’t need.’ The last thing she wanted was for someone to disturb that process.

Amy had not recognized the older gentleman when he entered the study hall. She had looked up only briefly; his shoes having made an unusual squeak when he stopped to survey the room, but that look was all the invitation he needed.

Approaching the opposite side of her table, he extended a greeting that Amy acknowledged only with a cursory nod. ‘Why didn’t he pick any one of the, oh, I don’t know, empty tables?’ she thought indignantly, as she busied herself reclaiming her padds, sliding them back across the imaginary line that marked the center of the table.

That’s when she almost pasted the guy.

Removing a large padd from his bulging satchel he thoughtlessly placed it on the table completely inside of Amy’s half. Fuming, she calmed herself with the thought that, in a few minutes, she would simply pack up and move to a different table. This guy, whoever he was, took the cake – and the bakery it was baked in.

Leaning back to pass an idle moment, Amy’s eyes fell upon the wayward padd. It contained the seminal work on quantum optronic biology, the work that defined the field that was now her chosen specialty and, with any luck, the first chapter of her thesis paper. The Starbase library didn’t have a copy, and perhaps for good reason.

“Isn’t that Doctor Charles Dunmore’s book on genitronic replication?”

The older gentleman, displaying a broad smile, looked genuinely pleased by the inquiry. “You read upside down much better than I do.”

“Thank you,” Amy replied. “It comes in very handy during exams.”

“Only if what you’re reading is correct,” he said, a wry expression advancing across his face.

The subtle smug attitude, the over-practiced humility…Amy had the man pegged. “You’re a professor, aren’t you?”

“Guilty as charged,” he confessed.

‘Okay, so he’s a professor,’ thought Amy, ‘but a rude one, and another good reason to find some privacy.’ Standing up to gather her belongings, she couldn’t help one final glance at his padd.

The professor picked up the padd, turned it around, and placed it into her hands, “I think you’ll enjoy it better this way.”

Amy flashed a quick but insincere smile as she seized the padd, sat down, then charged through the first third of the book in less than an hour. The professor waited patiently, comfortably engaged in his own reading when Amy spontaneously voiced her strongly held opinion. “I admit the premise is intriguing but it’s sorely out of date now, and dead anyway thanks to Toby Russell,” pronounced Amy. “I have no idea why Starfleet continues to research it.”

“You’re absolutely right; Doctor Russell was careless,” the professor admitted. “She used it before it had been approved for use on actual patients.”

“But how could it ever work on patients?” snapped Amy. “It had inadequate quantum-level discrimination.”

“There’s no reason why Heisenberg compensation couldn’t be utilized when real bio-matter is being replicated,” the professor calmly suggested.

“I can think of a good one,” said Amy, handing the professor’s padd back to him, “it wouldn’t work! With all due respect, the author should have spent more time on her quantum domain proofs.”

“Well, somebody completed the proofs, otherwise how did Doctor Russell heal her first patient?” asked the professor.

“It was a freak event that could never be repeated,” Amy answered, “…either that or Klingon biological redundancy.”

“But how do we know Doctor Russell didn’t use some form of enhanced Heisenberg compensation? She never published again in the field of genitronics, and her research was destroyed with her on Bilana III.”

Amy had the answer to that, too, but her chirping combadge grabbed her attention first. Ordered to report to high security hololab 8b immediately, she nodded a goodbye to the professor and stepped into the corridor as a friend called out to her from behind.

“Amy, wait up!” shouted Kaitlyn, racing to catch up. “8b?”

“Yeah,” Amy said. “I’m betting it’s that practicum lab we signed up for – they must have found a volunteer.”

“Or a victim,” laughed Kaitlyn. “Probably some hang nail that could be cut off with a laser scalpel. By the way, how did you like talking to the father of quantum optronic biology?”

“Who? You mean that tweed jacket with the padds? You know who he is?”

“Amy, really, you must be kidding. That was Doctor Charles Dunmore.”


It wasn’t light. It wasn’t even consciousness.

It was pain.

Pain answered many questions.


Amy Crawford turned toward the entrance leading to hololab 8b then stopped dead in her tracks. She couldn’t believe it. “Doctor Dunmore is our prof?”

Kaitlyn, only a step behind her, was equally surprised. “Yeah, how did he beat us here?”

“I think my chances of passing this course just took an abrupt nosedive,” said Amy, wondering if she should bother to enter.

From the small raised platform at the front of the classroom Doctor Dunmore saw the two girls hovering at the entrance, and leaned into his microphone. “Ah, our team leaders have arrived! Good. Ladies, please come in, we have a lot of material to cover...”

Amy and Kaitlyn looked at each other: ‘Team leaders?’

Whether it was blatant curiosity or merely nothing better to do, the two girls found their legs carrying them inside the hololab. As they approached their lab bench they could see a yellow light flashing atop some type of storage module. Clearly, this was no hang nail.

“Welcome to the Practicum 724 briefing,” began Doctor Dunmore. “The optronic module that you see on the bench before you was delivered by the USS Enterprise-HQ less than an hour ago. It contains three items of significance: one, Commander Worf of the Enterprise; two, some type of Borg super-drone capable of feats of destruction beyond imagination; and three, the best temporal stasis field that the crew of the Enterprise could hack together in the limited time that they had.”

Doctor Dunmore paused to examine his audience. He expected questions, but received instead a mixture of blank expressions and open-mouthed stares. He continued.

“Our Starbase engineers have confirmed that the module’s stasis field produces a temporal contraction of about four orders of magnitude compared to normal time. So, ten seconds of regular time equates to about one millisecond of time passage inside the module. This level of incomplete temporal contraction would be a serious problem if it were not for the neurogenic field that the Enterprise staff wisely added. Oh yes, the problem is further complicated by the fact that Commander Worf and the Borg are so tightly fused together no known imaging scanner can resolve one from the other.”

Still there were no questions.

“The purpose of this practicum is to devise an algorithm that results in the safe separation and removal of Commander Worf in one millisecond of internal module time or less. It is believed that solutions taking longer than that would provide the Borg sufficient time to escape. The best solutions from across the Federation will be submitted to Starfleet Command and the best of these used on the original module. Are there any questions?”

Amy was bursting with them. “Sir, isn’t this slightly over my pay scale, or did I graduate when I wasn’t looking?”

Doctor Dunmore laughed. “Not to disappoint you but our module is merely one of ten optronic duplicates, and has its safeties engaged. Believe me; you’re in no danger of earning money, not even as a team leader.”

The doctor’s reply did little to assuage Amy’s increasing apprehension.

“With respect, Doctor Dunmore,” stated Amy flatly. “It won’t work.”

What won’t work?”

“The whole plan; it’s flawed. Who’s to say that the solution for an optronic module – if we can even find a solution – will work on the original module? It’s an entirely different problem when fully-realized bio-matter is involved.”

“That’s one for the scientists at Starfleet Command,” the professor replied. “We all must do our part, Ms Crawford.”

“I’ll bet that’s what they told the bilge pumpers on the Titanic, too.”

“I’m surprised at you, Amy. A moment ago you were afraid of failure and now – what? You’re too smart to even try? We have a saying where I’m from, ‘You have to get on one side of the bus or the other.’ I suggest you pick one. Now.

Amy looked intently at Doctor Dunmore, suspecting for the first time that there might actually more to him than his tweed jacket and a collection of antique padds.

“So what’s a team leader supposed to do anyway?”


He awoke for the third time – or was it the thirty-third?

He realized that he had lost his left arm in the previous match – but previous no longer made sense. It had all happened, was happening, would happen – all at once, all now. It was exquisite pandemonium, but somehow Worf gradually acquired some measure of control. It was like the time he and a very young Alexander played the amusement park holoprogram aboard the Enterprise. Watching the children’s carousel, Worf noticed that he could ‘stop’ Alexander as he sailed by, and without moving his head or his eyes. That’s how you did it; that’s how you existed in this frozen time. He thought of Jadzia and of her preferred weapon, the Bat’leth. He could see her so clearly and hear her say again for the first time, “I prefer the longer reach,” when he was suddenly standing in the Great Hall of Qam-Chee – his beloved Lukara to his side – as Molor himself burst through the door, or was it the Pah-wraith? When Worf finally stopped his eyes the figure he saw was the Borg Homunculus.

The Borg attacked first, firing an energy weapon from an already extended arm. But the weapon failed because its concept failed – the Borg had waited to see if the discharge struck Worf and, here, in this bizarre place, that wait may as well have been an eternity. The Homunculus had not detected Worf’s Bat’leth swinging from behind, with a force that would have easily felled a charging bull. His first indication of the surprise attack was the feeling of cold metal striking the back of his neck, followed by short glimpses of the rest of his body collapsing to the hard earth, his head spinning in the air, his prosthetic arms in the throes of death.

In this place where temporal paradoxes were the only thing that did make sense, Worf was adapting faster, better. The impression of a thought appeared in his mind – ‘this Borg cannot even learn to duck” – as Worf’s left arm was sliced off at the shoulder by a wildly flailing cutting tool mounted at the end of the Borg’s right arm.

Worf awoke, and began again.


Amy was getting tired. Tired of lab rats that wouldn’t know a full day’s work if it walked right up and phasered them; tired of a computer that required her to be present for each and every holotrial but, most of all, tired of Doctor Dunmore’s impromptu visits.

“Ms Crawford,” interrupted the professor for the fifth time that day, “are you planning to generate a duplicate of your quarters and sleep here, too?”

He still took the cake.

“You’re just in time, professor,” Amy replied in mock enthusiasm. “I’m ready to challenge the course.”

“That’s what – the third time today?” casually scoffed Dunmore. “How about we do this one just for fun?”

“Have it your way,” conceded Amy as she activated her console’s voice interface. “Computer. Initialize.” “Affirmative,” acknowledged the computer.

The command instantly emptied the holodeck, removing the aftermath of the previous trial and leaving in the center of the floor a single optronic module; it’s flashing yellow light advising caution.

“Computer,” directed Amy. “Begin genitronic algorithm 73a. Deactivate neurogenic field. On my mark; Holotrial begin.” The contents of the module instantly appeared on the deck of the hololab. Both Worf and the Homunculus were standing, their bodies fused together, and for the tiniest moment the straining of the Borg’s servos could be heard. Then, like an oncoming wave, silence enveloped the holodeck; only a faint humming issuing from the walls of the force fields in which they were trapped. Amy’s algorithm began.

Gradually, and in slow motion, the contributions of every member of Amy’s team began to assert themselves. The Benzite graduate’s Phased Tunneling Beam began separating the two warriors faster and more accurately than ever before, allowing the Vulcan student’s fractal-optimized imaging scanner to almost achieve a lock on Worf, that is, until the Borg started to move. Amy quickly confirmed that the neurogenic field was operating while keeping a finger suspended above the scrub button.

“That bloody Borg,” Amy swore. “It’s like he’s getting smarter with every trial. He should not be able to move.”

“Obviously he doesn’t know he’s just a photonic bio-copy,” replied the Doctor.

Upon detecting motion within the module’s stasis fields the Bolian student’s algorithm automatically activated, introducing random gravimetric distortions that disoriented the Borg, forcing him to devote nearly all of his time and energy simply to remaining upright. Amy couldn’t believe it when the indicator lamp lit.

For the first time the imaging scanner had achieved a lock.

Amy held her breath. The computer awaited her confirmation of the dematerialization method, and she selected the only available option; genitronic enhanced bio-scanning. Activating the modified transport control, Amy smiled when Commander Worf’s image began to shimmer and disappear. When Worf started to rematerialize outside the force fields Amy could no longer contain her excitement, her voice erupting in a volley of cheers that was instantly returned by Doctor Dunmore. But their excitement, and their cheers, was premature.

In a clamor of noisy alerts and warnings Amy’s algorithm abruptly halted, the main computer reporting that the Borg had been exposed to more than one millisecond of accumulated time, the established maximum threshold. Amy had failed, again, and like after every previous failure felt no closer to a solution.

“Doctor Dunmore,” she pleaded. “This can’t be done in under a millisecond. I mean, isn’t that number just an arbitrary figure protected by some overly healthy safety margin? What’s wrong with two milliseconds?”

“Nothing, other than the fact it’s one millisecond too long.”

“I’m sure that Starfleet would prefer my solution over no solution at all.”

“Amy,” admonished Doctor Dunmore, “your solution is no solution at all. You saw the Borg move. Besides, you’ve got bigger things to worry about.”

Professor Dunmore reviewed Amy’s notes, hoping to find a way to accelerate her algorithm. What he discovered he didn’t like.

“Amy, I see that your genitronic algorithm uses fuzzy logic and this lab explicitly calls for deterministic algorithms only. We don’t want a solution that works only 99 percent of the time – it has to work all the time.”

“How do you expect us to transport the quantum information present in Worf’s neural circuitry?”

“I suggest you start by looking at the function performed by Heisenberg compensators,” answered the professor, “or did you forget about them?”

“But we’re not transporting fully realized bio-matter,” objected Amy. “Heisenberg’s principals don’t apply!”

“I read your notes, Amy, so I know you know better than that. It’s time to try something new,” he concluded.

Amy took it hard, trying to maintain her composure as she wiped away a tear she would never admit was there.

“Professor,” she asked, her usual confidence visibly flagging. “I’m curious. Why did you choose me? After our meeting in the study hall I thought I would be the last person you would want in your class, let alone a team leader.”

“Look around you, Amy, look at what you’ve done in such a short time. Your enthusiasm has spurred both teams to try harder than they could have ever imagined – Kaitlyn thinks it’s just a matter of time before you have this problem beat. She just wants to be there when it happens.”

“Kaitlyn thinks that?”

“I think everyone does.”

The encouragement worked its way to a place inside Amy that she seldom visited. It restored her. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” the Doctor acknowledged.

“By the way,” said Amy, “I like your idea of replicating my quarters – maybe a little shut eye wouldn’t be a bad idea, after all.”

“Give it a try,” suggested the Doctor with a smile as he walked towards the hololab exit, “and let me know what its like. Good night, Amy.”

“Good night,” Amy returned, “or good day – whatever. There’s just one more thing I’ve got to do.”

The exit closed behind Doctor Dunmore as Amy entered a message into her console: ‘Hi Kaitlyn. I wanted to send you this file containing my results so far. It might be useful as a list of things not to try. Doctor Dunmore keeps telling me to think Heisenberg. Good luck, Amy.’


It was combat worthy of Sto’vo’kor – challenge on an alien battlefield, the conflict a matter of honor – a test of courage and endurance. But these were just words, and mere words did not exist inside the heart of a true warrior. For Worf there was no doubt, no questions – only a clarity of purpose achieved solely from battle. This battle.

It was enough for a Klingon to be Klingon. But, in this alien world that contained no when and no where, how could the spoils be shared, the victories celebrated and the tales told? Worf did not allow the thought to enter or even to become a thought, and so it became something else.

Another Bat’leth came down with a force that shook the alien world, slicing the Borg Homunculus in two followed by another stroke that sliced each segment in half again before they landed upon the ground. Such skill – it could only be…

“Kahless!” shouted Worf to his companion, the combat beginning again. “It is an honor to have you at my side in glorious battle.”

“Worf, your stories will be told,” shouted Kahless, “but not in this place. Still, you must fight. It is a battle against evil, and worthy of a true Klingon.”

“But what of Sto’vo’kor?

“Evil grows from nothing and honor grows from its defeat. That is the nature of the Klingon; that is our reason.”

“But what of Sto’vo’kor?” “We fight the same battle, Worf, you and I,” said Kahless, his image fading from view, “your stories will be told.”


“Make the call, Kaitlyn,” insisted Ynden.

Kaitlyn’s teammate, a brilliant Bajoran that had grown up on Earth, was the first to realize how to enhance a Heisenberg compensator to accept genitronically corrected data from a device he called a quantum phase discriminator. In truth, he was lucky, and it would take a team of Starfleet engineers over a week to root out the accident that had made his prototype work; an accident that would eventually lead to an entirely new class of Heisenberg compensator. But none of this mattered, not to Tor Ynden, and definitely not while he felt success was only seconds away.

“But we’ve tested our algorithm only three times,” Kaitlyn implored.

“Yeah, and with exactly the same results,” answered Ynden. “I think the professor would want to know. Make the call, Kaitlyn.”

Kaitlyn tapped her combadge, restraining the sense of celebration growing within her. News like this was not just given away – not on 39-Sierra.

“Doctor Dunmore, its Kaitlyn calling from 8b.”

“Hello Kaitlyn, how’s your team doing down there?”

“Uh, good, sir. I think. It’s kind of hard to describe.”

Doctor Dunmore was puzzled. He couldn’t understand what kind of difficulty she might be having. “Kaitlyn, just tell me what you see, one thing at a time.”

“Okay. The first thing I see is a very angry Klingon that is asking to speak with Captain Picard – what should I tell him?”

Over his combadge Doctor Dunmore overheard the laughter coming from Kaitlyn’s entire team, but he wasn’t quite ready to join in. “Kaitlyn, listen to me, did the Borg do any damage?”

Not waiting for a reply, Doctor Dunmore began a hasty journey towards hololab 8b, keeping his combadge open along the way.

“None, sir.”

“Then you’ve done it, Kaitlyn, you’ve done it! Tell Worf he’ll be seeing his Captain soon. No, I’ve got a better idea...tell him that you and your team just passed Quantum optronic biology 724 with honors!”

But Kaitlyn wasn’t finished. “There’s another problem, sir.”

Perhaps this was not going to be as simple as he thought. “And what’s that?”

“I’m not sure there’s a delicate way to put this, professor.”

“Kaitlyn, you’ve found our first solution. You have my permission to put it indelicately.”

Kaitlyn replied in perfect deadpan. “Worf is holding the Borg’s head by his bio-tubing.”

“Well, we suspected there might be physical engagement, didn’t we?” reminded the doctor.

“This is more than that, sir; the Borg’s head is no longer connected to his body.”

Finally arriving at the entrance to hololab 8b, the Doctor’s shoes made a funny squeak in the corridor as he stopped. He entered a roomful of jubilant faces, his applause merging with theirs, and approached Kaitlyn with his congratulations. Now face to face with an impatient Commander Worf, Dunmore turned one more time towards Kaitlyn.

“I’m guessing here Kaitlyn, but I think your algorithm will be very popular at Starfleet Headquarters.”


Amy had decided last night that the extra five minute walk to her real quarters would improve the quality of her sleep. She was right – she awoke to a new world, but the chime at her door reminded her that the world, no matter how new, had its own agenda. She donned her housecoat and responded evenly, “Enter.”

Doctor Dunmore stepped inside, attempting a feeble smile.

“There’s just no hiding from you, is there?” she joked.

“Amy, Kaitlyn presented me with our first complete solution less than 20 minutes ago. I wanted to stop by and personally thank you for all that you have done – her solution would not have been possible without the note you sent her last night.”

“How did she do it?” asked Amy.

“She used an approach very much like yours but added a phase discriminator to the compensator algorithm.”

“A Heisenberg compensator?”

“Yes, but a brilliant new approach.”

Amy paused thoughtfully for a long time. “Good,” she replied sincerely.

“I also wanted to let you know I’m bringing your original algorithm to Starfleet headquarters. I think your solution is ingenious and one that every researcher should see. Who knows, it may still make the top ten.”

“I don’t know what to say, Doctor.”

“Say thanks, Amy. I’m giving you and your team an ‘A’ – once I receive a copy of your thesis paper.”

“You’ll have it…and, thanks.

“Amy, I would have really enjoyed having a nice farewell chat and the opportunity to let you to know how you’ve made this old hologram very happy, but I have a meeting at Starfleet headquarters in five minutes and my holoprogram is scheduled for transmission at any second.”

“Wait a minute,” Amy interrupted. “Hologram?”

“I’m sorry, Amy. I thought you knew.”

“I honestly had no idea. You behaved so…naturally.”

Amy was looking directly at the doctor when, as the corners of his mouth turned up into a smile, he and his bulging satchel of padds instantly winked out, his holoprogram halting prior to its transmission. But the rapid exit of his program stimulated an idea in Amy, something that had been buried deep within her, and the idea hit her with such force she actually stumbled.

“What we need is an adaptive quantum phase discriminator,” Amy proclaimed to the empty room. “Why we could derive Worf’s quantum state data in a fraction of the time. A millisecond? How about a microsecond, doctor?”

But the doctor was nowhere in sight.

“This is the technology that Starfleet needs to free the real Worf,” she continued excitedly, while throwing on a shirt and slacks and charging for the corridor. “I hope that Kaitlyn is in 8b.”

Standing in the open doorway Amy paused briefly, finally seeing the past week’s events as what they truly were – not failure, but necessary preparation. She knew that Charles would see it that way, too.

She gathered herself one last time and addressed her empty room.

“Thanks, Charles.”


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