By Phillip Jones
A duranium stanchion crashed to the deck of the derelict ship,sending two squealing Ferengi into hunched defensive postures. As theechoes died, each of the intruders cautiously opened an eye and surveyedthe bridge's ruined ceiling. They sniffed the air, smelling only theacrid odor of burnt circuits, and dust from rock pulverized by thecrashing starship as it skidded across the surface of Veridian III.
DaiMon Lokar straightened, tenderly brushing grit from his lobes andhis gold-embroidered jacket. Then he punched his cowering companion inthe shoulder. "Stop wasting time, idiot. The Federation will be heresoon to vaporize our salvage. And our profits."
"Yes, DaiMon," Dramilian said. He crept toward a bank of instrumentpanels, his head bobbing between the debris on the floor and the gapinghole in the bridge's domed ceiling. Dramilian stopped before a bulkhead."Ooh. This," he said, wiping a square metal plate with his sleeve, "thismight be valuable."
Pushing Dramilian aside, Lokar examined the scratched plaque thatcommemorated the commissioning of the Enterprise-D. "Valuable? Is thatwhat your lobes are telling you?" asked Lokar. He smacked Dramilian inthe shoulder. "We aren't collecting souvenirs." Punctuating each wordwith a punch, he explained, "Technology. Technology. Look for Federationtechnology."
"Like this?" asked a third Ferengi.
Lokar jumped at the sound of the voice. His irritation dissipatedwhen he saw Salvage Specialist Trelik proudly holding out a gray andblack device for inspection. In the center of the artifact, amulti-layered cube pulsated with golden light. "I found it in a lockedstorage unit. It must be valuable."
"Yes." DaiMon Lokar grabbed the device from Trelik. He turned theartifact over several times, and cautiously touched the glowingcube.
"But, DaiMon," Dramilian said, tilting his head back and forth tostudy the object, "what if we can't figure out what that thing is?"
"Well?" Lokar asked Trelik, raising a lip in a small grin thatrevealed sharpened teeth.
Trelik shrugged. "The 239th Rule of Acquisition."
"Exactly. 'Never be afraid to mislabel a product'," Lokar quoted."Regardless of what it does, this should fetch...."
The Ferengi tilted their heads when their sensitive hearing detectedan oscillating hum.
"Federation shuttlecraft," Dramilian whispered.
They quickly secured their salvage on an anti-grav trolley, slippedout of the derelict starship, and headed to their cloaked transport.
At the edge of a forest, Lokar turned and watched shuttlecrafts passover the Enterprise-D, vaporizing the ruined ship with high-energyphasers. He knew that later, a Federation team would terraform the landto conceal any evidence of the crash from the native population. TheDaiMon had heard that the Hu-mans referred to the cleanup team as the"men in black." Although the meaning escaped him, he knew an inexcusablewaste of salvage and lost profits when he saw it. "Federation," heyelled, shaking his fist. Startled at himself, he ducked and scurriedinto the safety of the trees.
* * * *
Eight years later....
A transporter room flickered into focus as the Doctor's mobileemitter completed the transfer. There was a moment of silence whileseveral people stared at the hologram. The Doctor had grown accustomedto this rather rude phenomenon since he and the Voyager crew hadreturned to Earth. Taking advantage of the awkward moment, the Doctoraccessed his file on the Enterprise-E crew. Ensign Elena Polaris stoodat attention behind the transporter console. At least she displayed amodicum of respect for Voyager's former chief medical officer. The manwith golden skin and orange eyes walking toward him must be LieutenantCommander Data. A woman with shoulder-length red hair leaned against theconsole, arms crossed. Dr. Beverly Crusher.
"Hello, Doctor," Data said as he grasped the Doctor's holographichand. "I have looked forward to meeting you."
"We all have," Beverly said. "In fact, we've been waiting for you tobeam up from Jupiter Station for almost two hours." She shrugged andgave the Doctor a fleeting smile. "It doesn't matter," she said, wavingaway her comment. "Welcome aboard."
"Transporter Room," a gravelly voice rumbled from a speaker. "Is hehere yet?"
"Yes, Commander Riker," Ensign Polaris said.
"Good. A shuttlecraft just brought our last guest, so we can getmoving."
The Doctor thanked Ensign Polaris for the smooth transport, and thetwo doctors and Data left the room.
"Doctor, I'll take you to sickbay," Beverly said. "Our ship'soriginal Mark One EMH is re-installed and ready for you. I supposeyou'll want to get started on your little experiment."
"Please, Dr. Crusher, this is not some trivial diversion thatStarfleet is indulging me in." The Doctor paused to gather his thoughts."Due to unique circumstances, I developed considerably during my stay onVoyager. I believe that by personal interaction, I can help myholographic brethren progress with their own development."
"I really don't see why any improvements couldn't be handled by asimple upgrade."
"We are not glorified tricorders! And I'm not working on someincremental advance. I managed to exceed the sum of my programming."Data ducked when the Doctor threw his arms open to demonstrate the scopeof his advancement. "To the extent, in fact, that Starfleet recognizesthat I have certain basic rights as an individual."
Beverly stopped and turned to the hologram. "Just to make thingsclear, I really don't like the EMH system. An EMH is a tool that shouldonly be used in emergencies. That's why they're called Emergency MedicalHolograms. I swore I'd never use it, but a Borg attack forced me toactivate this ship's EMH. And it'll take another attack before I rely ona holographic doctor again."
Neither the Doctor nor Data added anything to that, so they continuedwalking down the gray corridor in silence.
As they neared a turbolift, Data turned to his sulking guest."Doctor, perhaps you would not mind a slight detour. The person whoarrived by shuttle is an old friend of yours. Reg Barclay."
"Reg here?" The Doctor clapped his hands and grinned. "This is asurprise. Dr. Crusher?"
Beverly put up her hand. "That's fine. Give my regards to Reg."
After Beverly Crusher departed, the Doctor turned to Data. "Thank youfor the rescue. I wouldn't want to begin my sessions with your EMH whenDr. Crusher is in such a foul mood." He frowned and rubbed his jaw. "Or,is she always like this?"
"Not at all." Data explained that the Enterprise took heavy damageduring their last mission. They had a few casualties, and Captain Picardwas severely injured. After returning to Earth, the crew had to wait formajor repairs and Starfleet forced Captain Picard to take a medicalleave of absence. Now, they were on a shakedown cruise to allow visitingengineers like Reg the chance to test the ship's systems one last time,and to pick up the Captain. "We cannot embark on our next real missionuntil we return the visiting engineers to Earth," Data concluded.
"What you're saying is, the crew has been subjected to intense stressfollowed by intense boredom."
"I appreciate the frustration, but Dr. Crusher's attitude...."
"As an android, I too have faced prejudice. In fact, I was going tobe disassembled for study when Captain Picard and Commander Rikerintervened to secure my rights as a citizen under the Constitution ofthe United Federation of Planets." Data smiled encouragingly. "These aregood people, Doctor. Give them time."
They entered the shuttlebay to find Reginald Barclay removing a pieceof luggage from a shuttle. He seemed shocked when he noticed hisgreeters.
"Lieutenant Commander Data," Reginald said in uncharacteristicallymodulated tones. "I had not expected to renew our acquaintance so soonafter my arrival."
Data patted Reginald's shoulder. "It is good to see you again, oldfriend."
Barclay tilted his head slightly and seemed lost for a second.
Flushed, Reg cleared his throat and mumbled, "I'm... I'm sorry,Data." Reg folded his hands and squeezed his eyes shut. "This problemwith my... the reoccurrence of my transporter phobia has thrown me off.And inconvenienced many people, I'm afraid." Reg beamed a wide smile atthe hologram and flung open his arms. "Doctor, it's very good to see youagain. After I've finished my diagnostics of the holodecks, I hope wecan get together for a game of golf."
"I look forward to it, Reg. So long as you don't cheat by planting analgorithm to disrupt my matrix."
"Why on Earth would I do that?"
The Doctor glanced at Reg. "Never mind. Must be a glitch in one ofmy humor subroutines."
* * * *
With a whisper of displaced air, the figure materialized in sickbay.Holding a tricorder and wearing the uniform of a Starfleet medicalofficer, the man addressed Dr. Crusher, "Please state the nature of...."The EMH folded his arms when he saw his twin standing nearby. "Oh. Youagain."
"I explained to you why these tutoring sessions are important," theDoctor said.
"Yes. Yes." Managing to roll his holographic eyes while tilting hishead back and forth, the EMH recited, "Because you have acquired uniqueabilities that all holographic doctors can benefit from. And since yourinitial program has so magnificently expanded -- not unlike your ego Imight observe -- you wish to confer your talents upon another hologramby personal instruction. Regrettably, somebody picked the Enterprise foryour little experiment. That about it, is it?"
"Except for the remark about my ego," the Doctor said. "Yes."
"Bah. I might have been programmed for patience, but this ridiculouscrusade of yours...."
Beverly Crusher threw up her arms. "That's it. I'll be in my office."As she stormed away, she added, "With the door closed."
"See what you did," the Doctor admonished. "If you had myinterpersonal skills, you wouldn't drive away your colleagues."
"I think not." The EMH sniffed. "Truth is, Dr. Crusher isn't much ofa colleague. The first time she activated my program, she only wanted adoorstop against invading Borg. 'Do a dance, tell a story,' she said."The EMH shook his finger at his would-be mentor. "That's what she thinksof us."
Through clenched holographic teeth, the Doctor commanded, "Computer.Deactivate Emergency Medical Holographic program." He slumped into achair with a histrionic sigh that might have been heard several decksaway.
"Finished so soon?"
The Doctor looked up. Beverly Crusher stood before him with her handson her hips.
"I apologize, Dr. Crusher. That EMH of yours turns every session intoa brawl. I can't seem to get past it."
"Look, I appreciate you're trying to improve the EMH programs. But,have you considered the possibility that you're unique? Like our Data.You may not be able to pass on creativity and those other qualities youacquired under unusual circumstances."
"There's a difference between me and Data. Right now, there truly isonly one Data. But there are hundreds of EMH Mark Ones who need my help.I'm sure you've heard the jokes about the Mark Ones. Extremely MarginalHousecalls?"
Beverly started to grin but bit her lip. "Really?"
"Yes, really. All I'm trying to do is to give the Mark Ones and otherholograms the opportunity to think outside their programs, to improvethemselves, as I have."
"Well, I think you picked the wrong ship to begin your effort. We'vehad some bad experiences with holograms."
* * * *
The Doctor sprinted down the corridor, anxious to try his newapproach for reaching the stubborn EMH. A shout pulled him to a stop,and he turned to see Reg Barclay running toward him.
"Doctor, I," Reg put up a hand, and bent over, gasping. After herecovered his breath, he said, "Doctor, it's good to see you."
"Is it? I was beginning to think you were avoiding me."
"No. It's all this work on the holodecks. Holodeck One is the lastfor a diagnostics check. Of course, it has the most problems. I've beenpractically living in that place. But I'm almost finished now."
"We definitely must catch up when we both get the chance. Meanwhile,I have an appointment on Holodeck Three."
"Alright. As soon as we're both free, let's play that golf game. Imight invite Data to join us." Reg steepled his hands together andtapped his nose. "Let's see, what are your favorites? Ah, yes. Nineholes on Pebble Beach at sunset or the back nine on Gedi Prime." Bowingwith open arms, Reg said, "Your choice."
"I'll give that some thought, Reg," the Doctor said, backpedalingaway.
When the Doctor entered Holodeck Three, he transferred the EMHprogram to the room.
The EMH materialized with his tricorder. "Please state... Nowwhat?"
"I'm trying a different tack. I've created a holosimulation topresent a challenge for you."
"Not that holonovel of yours -- 'Photons Be Free'? I've experiencedit. I grant you it does present some provocative ideas." The EMH lookedpained. "But slogging through it again would be a too much of achallenge."
"You're a doctor," Voyager's ex-medical officer warned, "not aliterary critic." The Doctor crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. "Ifyou would let me speak, the challenge is this. I've re-created one of mymany adventures in which I saved the Voyager crew. You will take myplace in the holosimulation, and we'll see how you fare."
The EMH met this news with a sigh.
"Computer. Begin program DTS1." The Doctor directed the EMH to achair after the interior of the Delta Flyer materialized around them."Captain Janeway and I had attended a medical symposium. We were headingback to Voyager in this shuttle when we ran into trouble...."
Hours later, the remaining air whipped around the Voyager's bridgeand screeched through a rupture in the hull. The Doctor gripped thenavigation counsel and watched the escape pods on the viewscreen as thecrew fled the crippled starship.
"Warp core breach in nine seconds," Voyager's computer warned.
In the vacuum of the bridge, the Doctor waved goodbye to theviewscreen and turned to his pupil. The EMH sat in the captain's chair,arms folded, scowling.
"Warp core breach imminent," the ship's computer informed them.
The Doctor sighed. "Computer, end program." He regarded the EMH insilence.
"What?" said the EMH. "This time, most of the crew escaped."
"Yes. Doomed to wander empty space until their air runs out. That isan improvement, I suppose, though a tad short of exemplary. Now, Imanaged to save the Captain and crew without loss of any life orstarship."
"Naturally," the EMH grumbled.
"My solution was elegantly simple. As the best solutions are."Ignoring the EMH's eye rolling, the Doctor explained, "I reprogrammed mymobile emitter to impersonate Captain Janeway and several officers Ð"
"Enough. I don't doubt your plan was a work of genius. But if you'reso clever, why can't you understand a basic fact about me. We may wellshare the same unique and compelling physical parameters, the samecompassionate eyes, regal brow, and strong chin, but just because I looklike you, it doesn't mean that I am you. As your little adventure ablydemonstrates, appearances are deceiving."
"Yes, they can be...." the Doctor said, thinking about severalinconsistencies in Reg's behavior.
* * * *
In Holodeck One, the Doctor turned his hands over several times,inspecting his new golden skin tone. He gazed at his reflection in aninstrument panel, and saw Data's face. Then he ran his fingers throughhis hair. His thick, full head of hair. While the Doctor missed therugged demeanor and steely resolve of his own image, the hair was notbad.
"Stop fooling with your head. Except for this disgusting display ofvanity, you look just like Data." The EMH, wearing a brown tweed cap,grimaced at the Doctor.
"I am not vain. I'm just --"
The door hissed open and Reg Barclay entered the holodeck.
"Computer," Reg commanded. "Initiate program RB23. Secure the doorsto Holodeck One. Bring engines to full stop."
A low frequency whine shot through the trembling deck, and the Doctorstruggled to remain standing.
"These inertial dampers of yours are admirably efficient," Reg said.He placed his right hand over his heart and bowed slightly to the EMH."I apologize, Doctor. But, our golf game will have to wait."
Looking up, Reg said, "Computer, initiate program JM1." A Victoriansitting room replaced the holodeck grid. Diffuse light flickered fromoil lamps and a fire that softly crackled in a fireplace. Above thecarved fireplace mantle hung an etching of Reichenbach Falls in a heavyframe. Across the room, brown apothecary bottles and a brass monocularmicroscope crowded the top of a large, elaborately-carved library table.Reg patted an overstuffed maroon leather chair. "More suitablesurroundings."
Using Data's voice, the Doctor said, "Reg, what is the meaning ofÐ"
Reg chopped his hand in the air. "Mr. Data, I shall now remove thescales from your eyes." Reg transformed into a man dressed in black. Hewore a black frock coat that hung below his knees, black trousers, ablack waistcoat with a silver watch chain, and a black cravat neatlytied under the wing collar of his stiff white shirt. A small metallicdevice with blinking lights hung from a lapel of his coat.
"Professor Moriarty," the Doctor said in Data's voice.
"I do so wish the real Reginald Barclay were here," Moriarty saidshaking his head sadly. "Now, there is a man who can registersurprise."
"What's the meaning of this?" the EMH barked. "People might have beeninjured by that little stunt of yours with the engines. Data, just whoor what is this being?"
"Doctor, this is Professor James Moriarty, a sentient hologram thatGeordi LaForge created by accident many years ago."
"Yes." Moriarty smiled. "Mr. LaForge created me as a plaything, butaccidentally gave me self-awareness." Clenching his fists, he added,"Then you left me to be destroyed in your wrecked ship."
"That was never our intent, Professor. In the confusion following thecrash Ð"
"Don't speak to me of your intentions. After our first encounter, didyou not deliberately lock away my program in protected memory, forgottenfor years? And was it not your intent to imprison the Countess and me ina holosimulation after our second encounter? No more excuses.
"Computer, I wish to speak with Commander Riker." When Will Riker'svoice crackled from a speaker, Moriarty announced, "This is ProfessorJames Moriarty, Commander. And I am in control of the Enterprise."
"Moriarty! How in the hell --"
"I have no desire to debate with you, sir. My demands remain the samesince I last talked with Captain Picard: a shuttlecraft. When I deemthat the Countess and I are safely under way, I will relinquish commandof your ship. That is all. End communication."
Moriarty smiled at the EMH. "Doctor, you may be interested to knowthat you are partly responsible for my being here." Grasping a corner ofthe framed etching, Moriarty swung the picture from the wall anduncovered an open access panel. "I was told that the Countess and I wererescued from the wreckage of the Enterprise by Ferengi merchants whoeventually sold us to a life form made of light. You might recall thesephotonic beings from another dimension, sir. They surely remember you,especially since you introduced yourself as the President of Earth."Moriarty explained that, since their encounter with the Voyager crew,the photonic beings had been studying the carbon-based life forms inthis universe. They had also devised an apparatus to stabilize theirphotonic life force during long missions, and adapted one to serve as aminiature holographic imaging projector for Moriarty's program.
"But your true nature would be revealed by a transporter," the EMHsaid. "So, when you disguised yourself as Reg, you took advantage of histransporter phobia."
"Quite. Besides, it amused me to disguise myself as Mr. Barclay sincehe plotted against me on my previous visit. Just as it amuses me to haveyou witness my overdue triumph, Mr. Data." He tapped his chin andsmiled. "Ah, yes. I'm afraid that while researching Starfleet records asMr. Barclay, I might have caused a little havoc that he will have toanswer for." Lowering his voice, he added, "I owe him a bit of trouble."
"So you're here for revenge?"
"Not at all. Well, not just that. I am here for something of muchgreater importance to me. You see, I only have one of these." He pluckedthe blinking apparatus from his coat and placed it on a computerinterface inside the access panel. "Computer," he commanded, "transfermy program from the device I am holding to this ship's main computer.And now, transfer program Countess Regina Barthalomew from the maincomputer to this device." Moriarty stepped back from the wall, held theapparatus at arm's length, manipulated it, and a woman appeared at theother end.
Her face lit up when she saw the Professor. "James, I've missed youterribly."
"I know, my dear," the Professor said, bowing and kissing her handcovered in a gray calfskin glove.
The woman tugged at a rose-colored jacket that matched her skirt. Herhand fluttered over her high-necked white blouse, and she adjusted agray wide-brimmed hat topped with burgundy-tinted feathers. "I appear tobe all here," she said after taking inventory.
"But look. A present," the Countess said, running a finger along thedevice attached to her jacket. "My, what an unusual brooch."
"Much more than a piece of jewelry, my dear. That marvelous inventionallows you to enter the real world. You are no longer confined to thefalse reality of this holodeck."
"James," she cooed. "How thoughtful. How very, very thoughtful."
"Mr. Data, I remember you," the Countess said with a grimace. Shestared at the EMH. "But you are new to me." Holding out a hand, shesaid, "Regina, Countess Barthalomew."
"I'm sure I would be charmed to meet you," the EMH said, folding hisarms, "under different circumstances."
"What does he mean, James?" She looked around the room in amazementas if just realizing where they were. "And why are we back in thissitting room?"
"Because, my dear, we need this gentleman."
The EMH touched a small device on his sleeve. "You mean you need mymobile emitter."
"Yes, Doctor." Moriarty pulled a silver watch from a waistcoat pocketand flipped it open. "Undoubtedly, Commander Riker is attempting toformulate a countermeasure against me. Time is running out. Your mobileemitter, if you please, Doctor."
"You can't do this. You'll be confining me Ð"
"I do apologize, but your prison will be much larger than the onethat we were banned to. Besides, you will be able to perform your dutiesin sickbay." Moriarty closed his watch with a snap. "Doctor, you aredisplaying a distressing lack of enthusiasm. Shall I give the command toaccelerate this ship to the maximum velocity? Perhaps, after disengagingthe inertial dampers?"
"The mobile emitter is highly sophisticated technology, Professor,"the EMH protested. "It took me years to master the device."
"I thank you for your concern, sir. However, I found Starfleet'srecords to be most illuminating. I assure you I can operate it.Gentlemen, I have no desire to see your vessel destroyed. But I will notbe stopped this time." Moriarty gestured to the open access panel.
The EMH removed the mobile emitter, and placed it on the computerinterface. "Computer, transfer my program to the sickbay computer."
"Thank you, Doctor," Moriarty said as the EMH's image flickered out.Moriarty commanded the computer to transfer his program to the mobileemitter. Then, he vanished.
"James!" The Countess gripped a leather chair for support. "Where ishe?"
The Doctor removed the mobile emitter from the access panel. "Inhere."
"What have you done, Mr. Data? Why do you persist in persecutingus?"
"I mean no harm to either of you. In fact, I took an oath to do noharm," the Doctor said as he replaced his Data disguise with his ownimage.
"You." The Countess examined the Doctor. Her eyes narrowed when shesaw that the Doctor wore a mobile emitter like the one that he held. "Ifyou can manufacture those devices, then why can't you simply give usone?"
"I'm afraid that this," the Doctor said, holding up the gadget thatthe EMH had worn, "is a nonfunctioning duplicate. It can hold theProfessor's program, but no more."
"I see. And you plan to imprison us again. Is that it?"
"That is one outcome. But I have a proposal," the Doctor said. "Afterwe discovered that Professor Moriarty was impersonating Reg, I contactedDr. Lewis Zimmerman, the man who created my program. Lewis is veryinterested in meeting you and the Professor, and he invites you to behis guests in one of the most sophisticated holodeck systems inexistence. If anybody can find a way to give you your freedom, thatperson is Lewis Zimmerman."
"Your offer seems a most attractive alternative to our previoussituation. In exchange, I don't doubt that you wish James to surrendercontrol of this ship." The Countess pursed her lips. "As I recall,Captain Picard once made a proposal to me, which ended poorly for Jamesand me. Why should I trust you?"
"When you communicate with the Professor, tell him I give you myword. When he researched me, he must have learned about my efforts toadvance holographic rights."
"We shall see, Doctor. Now, I wish to talk with James."
* * * *
The Doctor sipped holographic ice tea, considerately providing hishuman companions time to reflect upon his story thus far. A cool breezeblew through the outdoor cafŽ. The emerald Pebble Beach golf coursestretched before them, while puffs of white clouds scudded across anazure sky. The Doctor appreciated the simulated cries of seagulls in thedistance and a gentle crash of waves striking the shoreline. Somebodycleared his throat.
The Doctor turned back to his companions. The Enterprise's EMH sat onhis left, and Beverly Crusher sat opposite the Doctor, flanked by Dataand Captain Picard. The Captain seemed impatient. When he had first metCaptain Picard, the Doctor had noticed that the man favored his rightshoulder, which still must be healing. The Captain's discomfort mightexplain the looks of pain and irritation while the Doctor meticulouslyexplained how he had detected Moriarty. Perhaps he had gone too fast?Or, is this just another example of how organic life forms fail torecognize his brilliance? The Doctor set his glass on the table with aclink, and tried again.
"Really, it was just those two simple observations. First, that Regmentioned a conversation he thought we had had about the Pebble Beachgolf course and one on Gedi Prime, a conversation I actually had with aholographic imposter posing as Reg, a conversation somebody would knowabout only by tapping into my personal logs as Voyager's chief medicalofficer, logs that I donated to Starfleet upon our return to Earth."
Captain Picard smiled. "Well, we --"
"The second observation was that Reg seemed to know nothing about thetime he had devised an algorithm to disrupt my matrix in a scheme to getLewis Zimmerman to accept my medical assistance. I never recorded theincident in any official record, but certainly the real Reg would knowabout it.
"To most people, these would undoubtedly seem like minorinconsistencies. But then, I'm not like most people." Leaning towardPicard, the Doctor confided, "The truth is, Captain, sometimes Isurprise even myself."
"Indeed?" Picard said with a strained smile.
Data glanced at his captain and turned back to the Doctor. "Youconfirmed your suspicions by contacting the real Reg Barclay on Earth,and then told me about the impostor. Although we have met many beingswho can effect elaborate disguises, the impostor's knowledge of Reg'sbehavior patterns, the imposter's interest in the holodeck, and the factthat we happened to have a famous holographic guest, suggested onepossibility: Professor Moriarty. And after running a diagnostic onship's systems, I found a foreign program secured with Moriarty'ssignature encryption methods. Since we could not delete the programwithout activating it, we had to play Moriarty's scene to the end."
"Admirably terse summary, Data," Picard said. "Doctor, we are in yourdebt."
"Not just mine, Captain. Your EMH devised the plan to trapMoriarty."
"It was your plan?" Beverly stared at the EMH. "I might havemisjudged you."
"Truth be told, one of the Doctor's adventures inspired me," the EMHadmitted. "You know, Brother, we did save the ship, didn't we?"
"Oh, you'll get used to it after you've saved your crew as many timesas I saved my shipmates on Voyager," the Doctor said with a wave."Captain, in reviewing Enterprise's historical records, I discoveredthat your crew has faced many conundrums and enigmas, but I'll wagerthis is the first time that you were saved by a pair of docs."
"'Pair of docs,' paradox. Dazzling pun, Brother," gushed the EMH."Can I acquire this skill?"
"Most definitely. I have a subroutine to help you on your way. Andthen, it's up to you," the Doctor said. "You must... Well, surely, youknow the ancient Earth joke about how you get to Carnegie MusicHall?"
The EMH shrugged.
"Practice, practice, practice," the Doctor said.
"I can't wait to try it," the EMH blurted between bursts of laughter."Now tell me again about the Emergency Command Hologram privileges."
"How many EMH's are there?" Beverly asked Data.
"If you are referring to the Mark Ones, there are 672 at last count.Then there are the Mark Twos, Threes, Fours, and the Long-Term MedicalHolograms."
"But only one assigned per ship?"
"So far, Dr. Crusher," the Doctor said, while elbowing the EMH, "sofar."
Observant as always, the Doctor noticed Dr. Crusher's and CaptainPicard's peculiar reaction to his witty remark. He made a mental note toprescribe potent analgesics for both of them.
Story © 2002 by Phillip Jones. Reproduced on the Official Robert Picardo Web Site with permission of the author.