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The Time Traveller And Her Father, Chapter 4

Posted on Jan 05, 2020 @ 3:54am by Ambassador Xana Bonviva
Edited on on Jan 05, 2020 @ 3:54am

Mission: Last Days of Empire

Bootstrap Paradox


Location: GATEWAY STATION-2; Corridor
Time: Gene is 29, Dahlia is 13

Gene took a breath as he stood in the corridor. Security had thankfully cleared out all the civilians and non-essentials. His daughter was evacuated, along with some of the other children; she would be safe.

Now all he had to do was go face off against a Changeling that looked like his wife.

Rubbing his face, he thought through his next steps when he felt the air shift ever so slightly. Opening up his golden eyes he wasn't surprised to see the young girl who had that knack of turning up at random times. “It’s not a good time,” he admitted. “I’m sorry--”

“I had to come now,” Dahlia said. Stepping in front of Gene McInnis and for the first time she didn’t know what to say. “Sweet baby Kahless on a pogo stick, this is hard,” she muttered.

“Yeah I’m with you,” Gene grinned suddenly. Looking at the teenager, he realized his skittish friend was closer than she ever let herself be. It allowed him to notice all the small touches that he never allowed himself to before. She had dimples, he thought half to himself, not that she smiled much. Somewhere under the overly done up hair, he’d guess her hair was blonde and curly ... and as she stared up at him, he noticed that she had wide gold eyes.

Stepping back as if drunk, the Bajoran/Human man looked at her as if for the first time. “I just left you,” he said quietly. “I just said goodbye.”

“Did you?” Dahlia replied. “I always wondered.”

Gene, still feeling that swirl of tipsy-topsy, universe on its head, slid down the side of the corridor. “All these years--”

“Days,” Dahlia interjected.

The Bajoran/Human man smiled at the correction as he nodded at that. Rubbing his face in his hands. It took several moments, more to get the words out of his throat than anything. “I don’t make it out of this, do I?” As he looked out of his hands he smiled ruefully at his future traveling daughter, he chuckled dryly. “Well it’s not that hard to figure out. I’m going to-- PROPHETS! Dahlia you shouldn’t be here! You don’t know what’s going on but there’s a Changeling and there’s going to be a war--”

Dahlia sat down on the floor next to her father. Whatever she thought it would be like to talk to Gene McInnis when he finally figure out who she was, this was not it. “I know what happens.” Pausing for a moment, she said, “Probably better than you do.”

Scratching the back of his neck, the blonde man admitted, “This is all kinds of weird.”

“Duh,” the teenager sighed.

Gene scratched the stubble on his chin. “How do you know what happens here? Your mother told you? Uh tells you? I’m not sure how to phrase this.”

Dahlia shook her head. “I studied it in school in the 4th grade, it was in Modern History class.”

“That sounds like a stupid class; History by its very definition can’t be Modern,” Gene grumbled.

The Bajoran/Bolian/Human girl rolled her eyes at that. “Mom said the same thing. She threatened the school a 1000 different ways. It was so embarrassing.”

Gene laughed at that, a deep belly laugh that surprised Dahlia and had her enthralled. “That definitely sounds like Xana.” As he caught his breath he looked at his daughter. “So how is life with your mother?” When Dahlia shrugged he prompted, “It sounds like you moved around a lot from what you’ve told me.”

Dahlia nodded. “Yeah, Mom’s jobs meant we moved.”

“Good,” Gene said softly. Thinking about it he said, “We wanted you to see the universe. You one time told me, accused me really, of forgetting BAJOR. Maybe I did.”

Dahlia cringed at that. “Sorry.”

Gene waved that off. “You’re right,” he said. “But also wrong. I never forgot I was Bajoran. I also never forgot that I was part of the much larger Federation, and I wanted to see that. We wanted you to see and be a part of that. It’s easy to see the small and forget the big.”

The father and daughter sat in silence for a moment before Gene asked, “Would it be too awkward to ask about your life now?”

Dahlia shrugged her shoulders at that. “It’s normal,” she said without thinking. “I go to school, I come home, depending upon where I am friends come over and we hang out with--”

“Just you and mom?” Gene asked quietly. Seeing the change on Dahlia’s face he sighed and looked down. “I, uh, thought that might be the case.” As Dahlia stammered and tried to apologize Gene waived it off. Leaning his head back against the wall, he said, “I shouldn’t have asked. It put you in an awkward position. I want to know about your life’s strange to think that life will go on without me.”

Dahlia realize that this was the moment. Grabbing her father’s arm she begged, the way she had been dreaming of for years. “But it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to go in there. There are others who could go in there.”

Gene looked over at Dahlia, sympathy in his eyes. “It has to be me,” he said quietly. “I gave my word.”

“So did they! They gave their word to Starfleet too! Why does your word have to mean more?” Dahlia glared at her father. “Tell me, are their children traveling through time begging them to stay with them? Cause I’m telling you I’m bending the laws of time and physics to do this.” Glaring at her father she ripped off the proverbial band aid, “You want to know about my life? After this event, Mom re-enlists and starts a war, because she was so grief struck, and I was on a battleship. Some of my earliest memories are of blasts on a ship from a crazed mother, because she was too damn out of her mind to take care of me.”

Gene felt the tears well up in the corners of his eyes. “What else?” Beckoning Dahlia he said, “Come on there has to be more.” When Dahlia just sat there, he asked, “Your life sounds horrible. Where else has Xana wrecked havoc and dragged you along for the ride?”

Sighing she admitted in a very quiet voice, “It’s not all terrible.” Rolling her eyes, she said, “And as for where else Mom has wrecked that’s up for debate.”

Gene was quiet for a moment. “I’m glad your life isn’t terrible.” Leaning in, he said, “You don’t have to tell me -- maybe it’s better you don’t -- but think about something in your life right now. Something that, okay maybe isn’t perfect, but that you can’t imagine your not having.” Pausing he said, “Okay, do you have it?” When Dahlia nodded he said, “Now, can you imagine me and that thing both being in your life?”

Dahlia was about to say “yes” when it hit her... she couldn’t have Ben, Erika, and Gavi in her life with her father. She wouldn’t have her siblings with her father. Oh it was conceivable that maybe Xana and Gene could someday have more children...but it would never be Ben, Erika, and Gavi. Her mother told her that there was no reason for her to marry Daisy, if Gene was alive. And definitely there would be no Ben, if Gene McInnis was alive because Jake wouldn’t have been in the picture…

Her siblings annoyed the hell out of her. But Dahlia couldn’t imagine her life without them.

“You have no poker face either,” Gene smiled wanly. “Your mother loves playing poker with me because I have the most obvious tells. You do too. It’s a McInnis thing.”

Rubbing her face, Dahlia muttered under her breath. “This wasn’t supposed to happen this way.”

“I’d say I’m sorry,” Gene admitted as he got up. “But I had a feeling it was going to work out this way. On the other hand, you just convinced me this was the right thing to do.”

Dahlia looked up at her father. “Were you considering not going?”

“No,” Gene said quietly. Leaning down to help his daughter up he said, “But it helps me to know that for you to have whatever life it is you just imagined I need to do what it is I need to do.” Brushing an errant curl out of her face he said, “I suspected before now that there would be a good chance that I don’t make it out.” When his daughter looked up at him with tears in her eyes, he said, “Sounds pointless I know. So why do it? Why do it at all? Because someone has to try and that someone might as well be me.” Exhaling he said, “I just...I had a moment before, well before you came now. I suppose it’s normal. And seeing you helped me realize that I had to do this. Reminded me of why I’m doing this.”

Smacking her head once she stood up, Dahlia groaned. “This is the bootstrap; I’m the bootstrap.”

Gene looked at Dahlia and then laughed at that. “My little time-traveling daughter, you think we’ve finally caught up in our own paradox? That I couldn’t take the next step without you coming and us having this conversation--”

“--no matter how much I have wished for you not to take it, yes, I think that’s it,” Dahlia finished off.

The Bajoran/Human male thought about that and nodded in affirmation. “Do me a favor? The last one I’ll ever ask of you.” Leaning in, he said, “Don’t tell your mother. It will make her more pissed at me then she will probably already will be at me for all this.”

“You know she’s going to be mad and you’re still doing it?” Dahlia asked. When Gene nodded, the teenager exhaled and grinned. “Mad respect.”

Gene laughed at that. “Well I’ve got that going for me at least.” Holding out his arms, he hugged his daughter for the last time (and the only time his daughter remembered), “Thank you for coming Dahlia.”


Location: BAJOR; Tinuviel Valley -> Temple
Time: Gene is 29; Jenny is 28; Dahlia is 13 and 2; Xana is 31

She had felt the shimmer, but for the first time Dahlia had felt peace with it.

What surprised her was that she did not go into the space bubble but she was back on BAJOR but with no discernable idea of where, and more importantly when she was. The teenager had thought she would be done with this whole “Q yank her out of her daily existence to see something from the past” but clearly not.

Wandering around she could tell she was in Tinuviel Valley, and looking around she saw the woolies and the biowire, so she wasn’t way back in the past. She turned to the side and looked for things that she knew from her present but couldn’t find them. “Ok so I’m in some middling past,” she muttered.

Still she kept walking, wrapping her arms around her midriff as she felt the stiff winter breeze whoosh around her. “If Q is going to keep taking me here and there, at least he could make sure I’m dressed properly if not the way I want,” Dahlia muttered to herself.

“Didya forget your coat, lass?”

Dahlia turned around to see a lovely, sad, Bajoran woman with blonde hair in a dark gray coat as she took long strides to catch up to her. Nodding to the woman, she said, “Yes, ma’am. I hadn’t accounted for the winds in the Valley.”

The Bajoran woman smiled at that. “All ya Fleeters with ya ‘ma’ams’ and ‘sirs’ and still forgetting ya coats. Come on, now. You’re probably here for the service. I’ll walk with you to help buffer the winds.”

The teenage girl felt all the wind go out of her in that moment. “The Service…?” Blinking her golden eyes she said quietly, “For McInnis?”

The blonde Bajoran woman nodded slowly as she wrapped an arm around Dahlia and guided her. “Aye, it’s sad. Come on, we’ll share the sadness. I knew that boy my whole life. Lived next door to him--”

Dahlia’s head whipped around at that as she studied the woman. This was the woman that she had inadvertently diverted her father from dating when she first came to BAJOR but Q said would eventually happen. “You were his next door neighbor?” When the woman looked over at her that, Dahlia improvised, “I heard about you.”

“Didya now? That’s lovely, he probably made me sound grander than I was knowing Gene, but who am I to say. Especially now. Please call me Jenny,” Jenny smiled sadly. There was a pause as she said, “And you knew him then...from his life in Starfleet?”

“Yes,” Dahlia said, deciding to keep it simple. Saying I’m his time-traveling daughter from the future didn’t quite have the ring she thought was appropriate for now. Or ever.

“We’re all putting up visitors from all over. Not just here in the Alpha, but from every Quadrant, someone has come for this funeral. I know there’s rumblings of a war about to start….but still it’s good to know that people can stop and say goodbye.” There was a pause as Jenny and Dahlia kept walking, with her father’s former neighbor trying to keep Dahlia warm as they kept up their walking. “How far did you come from?” Jenny asked.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told ya,” Dahlia replied.

They made it to the temple and Dahlia sat in the back, the place reserved for visitors and non-believers. It was not-surprisingly, very crowded in the back, with all the guests for the funeral. Jenny had been correct in saying that there were people from every Quadrant who had come, or sent some kind of representative. Some of the people Dahlia knew, they were friends of her father from his time on his many tours of duty. Some of them even she didn’t know. Standing up against a back wall she watched the all-too familiar ritual but this time for her father.

The candle of mourning had already been lit; the priests and monks tending to it once they had been alerted that Gene McInnis had left this mortal coil. Now that service was beginning the head priest walked up with the candle and said: “Raka-ja ut shala morala. Ema bo ru kana. Uranak ralanon McInnis Eugene. Propeh va nara ehsuk shala-kan vune.” They repeated it as they walked around the coffin that held her father’s body.

The Bajorans did not alter the ceremony for the off-worlders. Years of taking Bajoran, speaking it with her family here on BAJOR meant that Dahila could easily translate it: Do not let him walk alone. Guide him on his journey. Protect the one named McInnis Eugene. Take him into the gates of heaven.

That’s when the tears began to stream down the 13 year old’s face.

To guide him on the journey, it was time for the testimonies; words of wisdom from those who knew him best. The belief was that the good words of those that knew him, interspersed with readings from BAJOR, would send the spirit of McInnis Eugene to the Beyond.

His former Captain and Executive Officer each spoke; they spoke about Gene McInnis’ dedication to Starfleet and to saving others when it was said it could not be done. Gene’s best friend spoke about his sheer love of life, his desire to want to help. His family spoke of a son and brother who brought honor to all of them. Others got up and read from the Book of Life.

Dahlia knew enough of Bajoran funeral rites, even abbreviated ones like this one (at least they weren’t doing a 2 hour chant, she thought to herself) that there was one more testimonial that had to be given. It had to be given by someone close to the deceased, and it had to speak to his passing.

That’s when Dahlia saw her mother get up, and saw the pained expression on her mother’s face. “Oh no,” she whispered, realizing what a mistake this was.

The Bajoran funeral rite expected to hear of honor. The Tinuviel Valley assembled here wanted to know that one of their own hadn’t died in vain. The McInnis family needed to feel that their kin hadn’t abandoned BAJOR on a fool’s quest to go into space.

Xana wasn’t going to give any of them what they wanted. She spoke in a low, even tone, of honor. Quiet honor. Showing up on time, every day. Doing the hard work, counseling the people who showed up on the front lines. Making the hard decision to go after the Orions and then survive another day. Going back to Counseling after being in Command because
that was what was needed, not what you wanted. Then Xana pivoted to the personal. She spoke of honor at home. Being the friend who everyone turned to. Being a loyal spouse. Being the one who got up at night with the baby. All the quiet decisions that made up everyday life.

“Honor isn’t found in a single moment,” Xana said quietly as she looked down. Suddenly she looked up and stared at Dahlia across the room. “Gene McInnis had honor in daily life, in every moment of his life. Death doesn’t define honor; life does.”

It’s too quiet, Dahlia thought to herself. This is not what anyone was expecting from Mom. I knew she said something at the funeral but even I wasn’t expecting this. This is not what they wanted or needed. All they heard was Dad died in vain because honor is in one moment here in The Valley.

The rest of the funeral proceeded the way Dahlia expected it to. Stand up, sit down, light candles, chant, listen to more readings. Stand up, sit down, more candles.

And then the candles went out; the service was over and hopefully McInnis Eugene had made his way from this mortal coil. Although the mood in the temple that day was that if he did, it was definitely not any thanks to that wife of his.

Dahlia slipped out a side door, and went walking down a different path than the one she came up with Jenny. She stopped under a tree and leaned against it for a moment; allowing for the hollowness inside of her to consume her.


Dahlia opened up her eyes, and looked around and finally looked down to see a little blue girl with a Bajoran nose, dressed in a gray dress, a big blue and gray coat and black boots. Her blonde curls were held back by a white ribbon except for one stubborn curl that bounced out. The girl tried again to get her attention by tugging on her pants. “Hi-hi.”

Realizing she was now staring at herself as a 2 year old Dahlia muttered, “I’m pretty sure this changes something,” she muttered. Waiting for the tell-tale shimmer that did not come, the 13 year old continued, “Really, nothing? Well it’s gotta break some law of physics or time or time-physics or something.”

Xana Bonviva came running down the path and yelled, “DAHLIA!”

Both the 2 year old and 13 year old turned around at that voice.

The mother came over and stared at both the 2 year old version and the 13 year old version of her daughter. “I thought that was you.”

“Mama, look!” the 2 year old said as she went running to her mother.

Swooping to pick up the young girl, Xana looked over to the 13 year old. “I don’t know when you got here,” she said. As the toddler wiggled in her arms, she said, “But I think I know how you got here.”

The 13 year old Dahlia thought about that for a moment, and nodded. This version of her mother would have met the Q, at least she thought she would have met him by now. “Yes, I think you do.”

“This is what you’ve picked to come to? Gods above and below,” Xana exhaled. “Dahlia, why?”

Dahlia looked over in resignation at her mother. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize I’d see you,” she said and as the words came out of her mouth she realized it was a lie. She remembered that conversation she had with her mother a year ago (or 10 years in the future depending upon how you wanted to do the time travel math): her mother knew one of the places she’d go to. And up until now Dahlia had avoided seeing her mother. The moment she stepped into the Tinuviel Valley for her father’s funeral, there would be no way to avoid her mother.

Closing her eyes she leaned against the tree. “This was the other bootstrap. That’s why I’m still here.”

Very faintly, the 13 year old would have sworn she heard golf claps and saw a shimmer. “I’m so sorry, Mom, but I have to go.”

“You are not going anywhere. You just got here,” Xana announced.

At that moment, the 2 year old version of Dahlia had enough (thank you very much) of being carried and wanted to explore. “Down, Mama. Down!”

Xana exhaled at that. She was exhausted, in every way that counted. She knew that she was supposed to be talking to people who had traveled here for the funeral but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that she had just pissed off people with her eulogy, and not many people wanted to talk to her. “Dahlia, let’s use ‘please’,” she said to her 2 year old as she shifted her down, “and stay close to Mama, ok.”

“Go bye-bye,” the 2 year old said as she touched the ground.

“No bye-bye,” Xana said. Looking to where her 2 year old was pointing to, Xana saw that the 13 year old version of her daughter was gone. “I see...bye-bye it is.”

A Ship and A Space Bubble Pass In The Night...

Location: USS PHOENIX; Crichton’s Quarters
Time: Dahlia is 13; Ben is 9; Jake is 35; Xana is 42; Q is ?

She was back; in her quarters on the PHOENIX. Dahlia was relatively sure she hadn’t been gone that long, now having asked the computer no less than 3 or 4 times what the Stardate was, it seems that Q only had her miss a pocket of time of about 3 minutes.

Rubbing her face she muttered, “Three minutes unaccounted for,” she muttered. “I can make that work.” Since time-traveling with Q over the last year she had become quite adept at making up reasons or places she had gone to. It was harder on a ship, with a ship constantly tracking you. She had gotten better at it, but she knew one of these days, Jake was going to ask her about it.

“Ben?” she called out. “Jake?” Hearing nothing in the quarters, she got up and walked around, first poking in the kitchen area and then walking towards the bedrooms. Figuring she would have at least have heard Ben by now, Dahlia gave up and went into her room. The room looked the same as when she left…

Except there was now an old-fashioned envelope sitting on her pillow that hadn’t been there before. Jumping on the bed, Dahlia opened it up and saw the familiar looping scrawl of her mother:

Dear Dahlia,

I’m trusting Jake to give this to you at the right time, as I suspect I won’t be with you when the time comes.

By now, you’ve come back from your father’s funeral, and for you it’s just moments ago. For me when I’m writing this it’s been 11 years. I still remember it like yesterday, seeing you in the back of the Temple and then outside with your younger self. To answer your question: to the best of my knowledge, despite what is written in fiction, it did not break any laws of time, space, and/or physics to have you both there. But yes, it was very weird.

I should have guessed ahead of time that you wanted to go to your father’s funeral. Out of everyone who came and shared their stories to help him pass on from this life, only you would not have any memories of him and that was probably the cruelest part of his death. I hope that by going to his funeral, and hearing what people said gave you...I won’t say closure but at least some measure of peace.

I also wanted you to know something else. I changed my eulogy at the last minute and I did it for you. As his daughter….you needed to hear then what kind of person he was, every day.

I don’t think your father would have minded, or at the very least he would have understood. Funerals are just as much about the living as they are about the dead. The universe celebrates the sacrifice your father gave; the lives he saved, as they should. I still think it was important for us, as his family, to remember the man he was, as we should.



“So what did Mom write to you?”

Dahlia looked up and saw Ben hovering at the edge of her doorway. “It’s addressed to me, not to you,” she pointed out.

“Yeah but I can ask,” Ben pointed out. “And I delivered it, so--”

“You delivered it?”

“You banned Dad from your room, and Dad said you needed to have this now,” Ben said.

“I banned you first!” Dahlia yelled.

Ben held up his hands in a purely defensive measure as he pointed out, “I can stand in the doorway and chuck things in and still not be violating the ban.”

Dahlia got up and prepared to do war. “Did you read it?”

“Define ‘read’,” Ben asked. When Dahlia leapt off her bed, Ben went running down the corridor and instinctively dove behind his father. “DAD! Dahlia is trying to kill me.”

“He read my letter,” Dahlia yelled.

“No killing before dinner,” Jake said absent-mindedly as he tried to finish up a project he brought home, “and no reading other people’s letters. Ok? I thought this was like unspoken.”

Ben ducked and wove around his father as Dahlia tried to swipe at him. “Which part?”

Jake finally put down his work and looked at his son. “All of it,” he said firmly.

“So what’s it worth to you if I don’t kill Dahlia or read her letters,” Ben asked. When Dahlia and Jake both glared at him the 9 year old shrugged with a grin, “Someone had to ask it.”

Dahlia smacked her forehead. “You sound like Mom, Ben. Except this is not a negotiation,” she yelled.

“It is always a negotiation,” he grinned. Swiping an orange off the table, he said, “I’ll be in my room.”

Dahlia and Jake just stood in the living room for a moment. “What are you working on?” Dahlia asked.

“Oh this?” Jake asked as he sat back down. “It’s a project I’ve been tinkering with. Want to help?”

Dahlia smiled and nodded as the two of them bent over a circuit. The next few moments were relatively calm, and free from any discussion save from “pass me that relay” or “boost the reciprocating frequency conduit”.

“Was the letter at the right time?” Jake asked quietly. When Dahlia looked over she saw Jake was still tinkering with a tricky aux pattern. “I kind of had an idea on when to give it but wasn’t exactly sure.”

Dahlia nodded. “It was at the right time.” Pointing to where there was still some interference with the readings she asked, “You knew? About what was going to happen?”

“About you and Q and the deal? Yeah, your mom told me.” Jake nodded. “You may not remember this but Q showed up on the GATEWAY when you were little and we were worried that the deal was going to start then. It didn’t but...yeah I’ve known about this for a long time.” Passing over a spanner to her he said, “Over there.” As Dahlia got to work, he said, “I don’t think Ben read the letter. He didn’t have it for long. And I didn’t read the letter.”

Exhaling, the teenager nodded. “Thanks.”

Ben came running back out and began gesturing towards the windows. “You have to take a look out the windows.”

Dahlia and Jake both looked up. “Why?” Jake asked.

“Okay, you’re not going to believe me,” Ben said, “but I just saw a space bubble with books in it that just went by.”

“A space bubble? Do you mean a ship?” Jake asked.

“Dad, I know ships,” Ben said confidently. “This was a bubble. Like from a bubble bath. But it was huge! And it had books in it. Wait, there was a man in it too!”

Dahlia snorted at that and went back to tinkering. “A space bubble with books and a man in it. And to think I changed time for you,” she muttered under her breath.




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