Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


Narek enters the Artifact crash site, keeping to the shadows as he hears the repair work going on inside. Elsewhere, Elnor asks Seven of Nine if xBs were better off dead: everyone hated them, they had no home, they don’t belong anywhere. Seven counters by pointing out that she is an xB as well, with no home, and she didn’t belong anywhere either… so why didn’t she just put a phaser to her head and be done? Elnor admits that he would miss her if she did.

Moving through the cavernous wreck, Narek is suddenly held at knife point by his sister, “Narissa”, who then turns him around to hug him. She asks if he has found the synths, which he has, and he confirms he has killed one. “Narissa” shows Narek her hiding place, right up against the ocean.

Held in house arrest in Bruce Maddox‘s former quarters at Coppelius Station, Jean-Luc Picard holds out a hand for a synthetic butterfly to land on; he holds it there for a second before releasing it to fly away. “Lucky you“, he comments, as he thinks on his circumstances. Outside, Soji (observed by Agnes Jurati) enters the locked room with a retinal scanner, and asks how Picard is feeling; he comments he would feel better if he were set free. Soji tries to convince him to see things from their point of view: Organics chose whether her kind lived or died, and synths were never given a choice. Picard counters that saying she had no choice was a “failure of imagination”. He pleads with her not to allow the Romulans to make her into the monster they fear, and to stop building the beacon. The beings they hoped to summon may well be the salvation for Soji and her people, he argues, but it would be the annihilation of all organic life.

Act One

Inside the Artifact, Narek arms a series of grenades for use against the orchids. He plans to return to the “nest” while she reactivates the Artifact’s weapons. Before she can protest, he rages at her that he, the “family disgrace”, the “Zhat Vash washout”, was the one who found Seb-Cheneb. “Narissa” tells him to go on then, as she had work to do. Narek exits the wrecked cube… followed by Elnor.

At the crash site of La Sirena, Rios and Raffi look over the tool given to her by Saga before her death. Rios admits he is afraid of it, afraid it will “eat his soul”; Rafi jokingly mentions that since he doesn’t have a soul, he’d be fine. When Rios asks what the device does, Rafi says Saga told her that she had to use her imagination, but Rios adds he doesn’t have an imagination either. Rafi reminds him that it was his ship, and he knew what was wrong. The intermix reactor is fused, and needs to be replaced, but the maintenance replicator is off-line, because the intermix reactor is fused. Holding the tool in his hand, Rios can see no activation switch, but Rafi suggests that what Saga meant was to simply imagine the part not being broken – visualize the fix, “see the hole patching itself”. Rios does so… and to both his and Rafi’s astonishment, it works, and La Sirena‘s power is restored. They then hear a banging noise… a sound that Rios is familiar with.

Back at Coppelius Station, as the beacon’s construction continues, Dr. Soong shows Jurati a machine containing all of Maddox’s work to transfer an organic mind to a machine, and compliments her on her self-sacrifice. “But after all, that’s what mothers do, isn’t it?” he adds, as he leaves. Jurati tells herself that she could do this, and that she had to… before adding, “I’m not their mother, asshole,” to the absent Soong.

Rios returns to the bridge to find Narek, the “abusive Romulan boyfriend”, throwing rocks at the front viewport. Rios opens a communication channel, daring him to throw another rock, adding that he wanted to see what a photon torpedo could do at that range. Narek counters that he is carrying twelve armed molecular solvent grenade canisters, and that he was just throwing rocks. When Rios asks him what he wants, Narek claims he was trying to save the universe, and that they could keep fighting or work together to stop what was coming – it was Rios’ call.

Act Two

Rafi tries communicating with Picard, but is unable to reach him. According to Narek, the synths were building a transmitter to summon something. He explains that the Romulans believe synths are fated to destroy all organic life, an event they call “Ganmadan“, and that Coppelius Station was on lock down to prevent interfering with the beacon’s construction. Rios and Rafi both remark that Picard was almost certainly going to interfere. All of a sudden, Elnor appears, holding his blade to Narek’s throat, telling him in Romulan to “choose to live”; Narek replies that he “very much” chooses to live. Rios talks him down, saying they might well need Narek’s help.

In Soong’s lab, Jurati finds him trying to transfer Saga’s memories to a V-module as a memento for her sister Arcana, but the damage to her optical processors corrupted the data stream. Jurati explains she’s been working on the neural laces for Soong’s golem, but some of the files were encrypted, and Maddox had said that his “crypto Kung Fu” was the best. He leaves to check on the files, and asks her to keep an eye on the transcoding rate. Once Soong is gone, Jurati begins removing components from Saga’s body, apologizing as she does.

Around a camp fire outside La Sirena, Elnor wonders why they choose to trust Narek, as his sister had murdered Hugh, and expresses his dislike for the Zhat Vash agent. Narek sarcastically asks how he feels about Ganmadan, because if they can’t stop it, whether or not they like one another will not matter. Rafi asks what Ganmadan is; Elnor dismisses it simply as a story, but Narek retorts it was a story of the end of times, much like Ragnarok or “Judgment Day” in ancient Earth myths. He explains that it involves two sisters, twin khalagu, or “demons”, who intend to release a ch’khalagu, or “very bad demon” as Elnor snidely puts it. One sister is Seb-Natan, the Foreteller; the other is Seb-Cheneb, the Destroyer. He paints an apocalyptic picture based on the legends. When Rafi asks if he believes it was a prophecy, Narek says he does not. Rather, he believes it to be history – and history, he adds, always had a habit of repeating itself.

Meanwhile, the Romulan fleet, led by Commodore Oh, continues its course for Coppelius. “At last,” Oh intones, “our great work is nearly at an end.

Act Three

Narek shows La Sirena‘s crew the molecular solvent grenades he was carrying, originally intended for the orchids, but now he plans to use them for the transmitter itself. When Rafi asks how he intends to get them into “Synthville”, Narek states he plans to go through the front door – acting as their prisoner, recovered after his “escape”. A single concentrated blast, triggered by remote detonation, would be required to destroy the transmitter, but with the transporter block set up in the station, they would not be able to beam anything in or out. They conceal the grenades inside Rios’ soccer balls and approach the main gate, where they are stopped by Rune and Codex, who confiscate their weapons and belongings.

Inside the station, Jurati has recovered one of Saga’s eyeballs to use on the retinal scanner in Picard’s quarters. She explains they are about to power up the transmitter, and that she was busting him out to return to La Sirena. Inside the golem lab, Altan sees that the synthetic matrix for the golem was complete, and that it was ready to receive neural engrams. At the same time, the work to restore Saga’s memories is also complete, and one of those memories appears on Soong’s monitor… showing that it was Sutra, with Narek’s help, who stabbed Saga through the eye. Soong is horrified.

As the team approaches the transmitter, Narek sees the tower is almost complete, and that they need a line of sight at the superluminal tuner at the base. Rafi asks how they could get there without being seen. “An excellent question,” Soong answers, from behind them.

Back at La Sirena, Picard and Jurati find it abandoned, with Jurati thinking the others had gone to find them. Picard asks for a status report on the Romulans; Jurati says they are seven minutes from planetfall. Even if Starfleet Command had received Picard’s message, they would still be behind the Romulans. Picard hopes to find a way to stall the Romulans in the hope that the Federation would arrive to help them. Jurati asks him: What then? Even if they stopped the Romulans and rescued Soji, she and the “golden children” would still call the “uber-synths” and wipe out all life. Picard heatedly replies that they would stop them, too, but Jurati points out that the synths are generations beyond them. Picard agrees that this may be so in one sense, but in all other senses, they were children, and their only teachers were a couple of hermits, and their fear of extermination. He calls fear an “incompetent teacher”, and that while the synths had life, no one had taught them what it was for. Jurati asks how they can learn that lesson in six minutes and eleven seconds. “The way that children learn most things,” Picard replies, as he takes La Sirena‘s helm. “By example.” He brings up the ship’s systems, wondering aloud how well he watched Rios at the controls. As La Sirena rises, Jurati lightheartedly gives him the order to “make it so”, and Picard brings La Sirena into orbit.

At the base of the transmitter, Sutra addresses her brothers and sisters, saying that a portal will open once the signal is sent. Soong approaches, accompanied by Rafi and Elnor. Soong returns the hummingbird brooch Sutra used to kill Saga back to her, saying that she was right that her fellow synths needed an “emotional jolt” to drive them to the decision she wanted them to make. Sutra remarks that she is glad he can see the reason behind her actions. Soong admits he does, but adds that reason wasn’t everything, asking how she could help Narek kill her sister, believing he had taught her better than that. He deactivates Sutra, who collapses to the ground. “Turns out, you’re no better than we are,” he laments. He then nods to Rafi, who whistles to summon Rios and Narek. Elnor and Narek begin to fight the synths, while Rios pulls one of the soccer ball grenades from his pack… and sees Soji still working on the transmitter, silently urging her to move out of the way.

As La Sirena enters orbit, Jurati asks Picard how they intended to hold back 218 Romulan warbirds long enough for Starfleet to arrive, and asks if he’s trying to “build suspense” when he doesn’t answer. Picard pointedly replies that he is trying to pilot a starship for the first time in a long time, and he’s trying to do so without exploding or crashing. Jurati agrees that it was a good call, choosing to focus on “one impossible thing at a time”.

Soji continues to work on the transmitter as Narek tries to plead with her to stop; Rios, meanwhile, activates one of the grenades, which Soji catches in her hand and hurls away before it detonates, then returns to work on the transmitter.

Aboard the Artifact, “Narissa” brings the weapons systems back on line and attempts to gain a lock on La Sirena, when Seven enters with a phaser in her hand, telling her to step away from the console and drop her disruptor. “Narissa” does so and raises her hands, saying she was unarmed, a fact Seven disproves when she deprives her of a pair of knives. “Narissa” then remarks that Seven would be “pretty” if she weren’t a “disgusting half-meat”, and engages the xB in a furious melee.

In orbit, Jurati detects warp signatures, and Picard wistfully asks if they could possibly be Starfleet… but as if in answer, the Romulan fleet drops out of warp. Oh – addressed as “general” by the crew – is told that the synths are concentrated in just one settlement; Oh coldly orders the entire planet to be sterilized. The orchids rise from the surface to engage the Romulans.

Inside the Artifact, “Narissa” mocks “sad Queen Annika” for being assimilated as a child, as the Artifact’s weapons lock onto La Sirena. As Seven holds her away from the console, “Narissa” asks why she didn’t just put a phaser to her head and be done with it. “Because I still had this to live for,” Seven replies, as she pushes “Narissa” to the edge. “This… is for Hugh.” Seven says, while she kicks “Narissa” over the edge. With the Zhat Vash agent gone, Seven moves to the weapons console, removing the target lock.

In orbit, the battle for Coppelius rages, as La Sirena flies between the firing Romulan ships and the orchids. Jurati points out that now would be a good time for the “secret plan”, because once the Romulans destroyed the orchids, they would still have two hundred ships, and there was only one La Sirena. She jokingly adds that they would name whatever plan he made the “Picard Maneuver“… before remembering it already existed. They would have to multiply the sensor images and then find a way to disperse them. Jurati takes up Saga’s tool, which is able to create multiple projections of her face.

As Soji continues to work on the transmitter, she sees La Sirena on the sensors and opens a channel to Picard. He urges her to power down the beacon, saying he had something to give to her and her people, in the hope it would change their mind. When Soji asks offhandedly what that could be, Picard answers that he was giving his life, before closing the channel. Soji appears shaken.

Aboard Oh’s flagship, her officers report that the orbital defenses had been dealt with; Oh triumphantly orders all ships to target the “abominations’ nest”. Picard asks Jurati if she was ready, and that all of the projections would have warp signatures; she confirms with a nod. “On my mark,” he orders, as he flies La Sirena directly in front of the fleet. Oh sees the ship and tells her fleet to ignore it; Picard gives Jurati the order, and suddenly one La Sirena becomes several hundred, forcing the fleet to engage them instead. A lucky shot strikes the actual La Sirena, causing it to spin out of control; the fleet suddenly vanishes. Soji activates the beacon, opening the portal; Oh orders the fleet to begin sterilization on her command.

At that moment, a large fleet of Federation starships – real, this time – drops out of warp. From aboard the flagship, the USS Zheng He, Captain Will Riker informs Oh that under the terms of the Treaty of Algeron, Coppelius is under Starfleet protection. When Oh protests that their claim preceded Starfleet’s, Riker shows her Picard’s transmission from the surface, which managed to reach Starfleet Command. Riker boasts that he is on the bridge of the toughest, fastest, most powerful ship that Starfleet has put into service, and he had a fleet of them at his back, and that nothing would make him happier than to “give [him] an excuse to kick [her] treacherous Tal Shiar ass”, but instead, offers Oh one chance to stand down. Oh is unmoved, and orders her fleet to re-target weapons systems on the Starfleet armada. Riker orders weapons armed and deflectors to full.

Aboard La Sirena, Picard is suddenly gripped with pain in the back of his head, a condition which he is very familiar with. Despite Jurati’s protests, he tells her to get him 20 ccs of polisinephrine, and tells her to open a channel to Soji on an open frequency. He again pleads with her to power down the beacon, to show the Romulans she was not the Destroyer they feared, and if that did not convince them, they would answer to the Federation. When Soji points out that the same Federation had banned her and her kind, Picard argues that if the Federation wanted to destroy them, they would have joined forces with the Romulans, not against them – but they wouldn’t, because they trusted Soji and her people to make the right choice, adding that he trusted her, that he believed in her. As Riker and Oh listen on the open channel, Picard explains that the whole point of what he had done was so that they could save one another. As mechanical tentacles begin to emerge from the portal, Soji smashes the transmitter controls, destroying the beacon and causing the portal to close. Now left to face Starfleet, Oh orders her fleet to stand down, and withdraws from Coppelius.

Riker hails La Sirena, explaining that when he heard Picard sent out an SOS, he asked for temporary reassignment; just because he wasn’t going to talk Picard out of his mission, he adds, didn’t mean he planned to let him go it alone, asking jokingly if he was supposed to sit in the woods making pizza while Picard had all the fun. He then formally informs Admiral Picard that he was leaving the situation in his “capable hands”. Picard thanks him for always having his back; Riker replies that he had learned from the best. As the Zhang He and its fleet go to warp, Picard bids his old friend “adieu”, rising from the captain’s chair… and then collapsing to the deck. As Jurati calls his name, he experiences flashbacks of his dreams, walking through his vineyard, seeing Data painting. Soji worriedly asks what is wrong, and Jurati reports the brain abnormality was causing his body to fail. Soji drops the transporter block, and beams them to the surface. Picard tells Soji that “not being the Destroyer” was up to her, and that he had given her the choice. He looks to Rafi and remarks that she had been “quite right”. But, as Rafi asks him about what… it is too late.

Jean-Luc Picard, Starfleet veteran, captain of two starships named Enterprise, is dead.

Act Four

At Coppelius Station, Rios is approached by a visibly upset Seven of Nine, who takes a drink from a bottle of “what passes for alcohol”. As they share the bottle, they remark on things they had thought they would never do again, and did anyway. For Seven, it was killing people who she felt deserved it. For Rios, it was allowing “another self-righteous, hard-assed old starship captain” into his heart. Seven asks if he could have done anything to prevent it, and Rios admits he couldn’t. “So I win” says Seven.

On a ridge overlooking the settlement, Rafi sits alone until she is approached by Elnor, who breaks down sobbing. She encouraged him to let it all out, as she joins him in mourning for Picard.

Suddenly, Picard awakens in the study of Château Picard, illuminated only by the fireplace, and believes he is having “another damn dream”. To his surprise, Data enters, correcting him by saying it was in fact a “massively complex quantum simulation”. He informs Picard that he is, indeed, dead. He asks Picard if he remembers dying, and Picard confirms. Data adds that he remembers he was killed in 2379, but has no memory of his death ; his consciousness exists in a quantum reconstruction created from the memories he downloaded into B-4 just before his death. Picard wonders that Data cannot remember his own death, because Picard himself could never forget it. Data states that, apparently, he ended his life in the hope of prolonging Picard’s. Picard confirms it, not realizing what was happening until he had already done it, and remarks he had been “furious”. Data apologizes, but he could not have done otherwise. Picard agrees, saying that it was the “most Data thing” he had ever done, but often regretted that it had been Data who had died and not him. Data asks if Picard regretted sacrificing his life for Soji and her people. “Not for an instant,” Picard answers immediately, to which Data then asks why he would imagine it would be different for him doing so for Picard.

Picard then asks about the simulation; Data explains that his memory engrams were recovered from a single neuron salvaged by Maddox, and then his consciousness was reconstructed from it by Soong. Picard expresses his distaste for the doctor, to which Data admits that the Soongs are an “acquired taste”. Whatever it is, Picard says he is glad to see Data, but regrets that he had never expressed his love and appreciation for him. Data remarks that knowing of Picard’s feelings made up a “small but statistically significant” part of his memories, which he hoped brought Picard some comfort; Picard admits it does, which is why Data would ask a favor of him before he left. Picard is confused, wondering why he would leave if it was a simulation. Data replies that it is indeed a simulation, but that Picard himself is not. Before his brain functions ceased, Jurati and Soong, with help from Soji, were able to scan, map, and transfer a complete neural map of Picard’s brain substrates. Picard asks if he has to go, and Data tells him that he does, as a door opens to reveal a bright light. Before he steps out, Picard recalls Data asked a favor. Data wants Picard to terminate his consciousness – not exactly death, but rather living briefly knowing that his life was finite. He remarks on how mortality gives meaning to Human life, how concepts of peace, love, and friendship were precious because Humans knew they could not endure. Picard agrees to do as Data asks, before bidding a proper farewell to his old friend.

Inside Soong’s lab, Picard – his consciousness now inside the golem – awakens, seeing Soji, Jurati, and Soong standing over him. Picard raises his hands to see them, and asks if he is real. Soji replies that of course, he is. Later, seated at a table, drinking tea, Picard asks about his new body. Jurati explains that it had no augmentations, no “superpowers”; Soong adds that after ninety-four years in the same body, he would not want to adjust to “something new”, but that his body was completely new, and everything worked. Soji adds that the brain abnormality that had killed him was also gone, forever. Picard asks if it had made him functionally immortal, to which Jurati quickly explains that he would live roughly the same number of years he would have without the brain abnormality. Picard jokingly adds that he wouldn’t have minded another ten or twenty years. Picard thanks Soong for his work, remarking that Soong’s loss was his gain, but that they both had something to lose now… Picard had a promise to keep.

Inside the simulation, Data sips a glass of wine, listening to “Blue Skies” on a record player. In the lab, Picard explains to the others that it said a great deal about Data’s mind that, looking at the Human race with “all its violence and corruption and willful ignorance”, he could still see kindness, curiosity, greatness of spirit. He wanted more than anything to be part of that, to be part of the “Human family”. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” Picard says, quoting Shakespeare as he deactivates the simulation, “and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” Data peacefully “dies” with Picard at his side, as the simulation fades to nothing.

Picard returns to La Sirena, telling its crew – now augmented by Seven and Soji – that it was time to depart. He comments to Soji on how she had worked so hard to get home, and now she was leaving it behind. Soji explains that she felt the urge to wander, and with the synth ban now lifted, she was free to do so, to which Picard adds that he was as well. Rios asks Picard if he was ready. Picard looks around to his crew, and gives the order: “Engage.