Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Stopping Point

Ran across this earlier this evening -- I moved to Linux, as I've mentioned, and was going through the grim but necessary task of weeding out all the crap my various hard drives have accumulated over the years. Ran across a pair of files I didn't remember -- "" and "". In one of them was this -- a pitch I made to Deep Space Nine twice, once before the show began, and another time after the fiasco with "Hard Time," in about 1996.

The Stopping Point

We open in Quark’s holosuite. Julian and O’Brien are fighting off Saxon invaders, and the Saxons are winning. They scramble up a hill together, bad guys coming after them, and then turn to make a stand. They’ve overwhelmed, and first O’Brien is killed, and then Bashir --

The holo simulation vanishes, and O’Brien gets to his feet, really annoyed. Julian was supposed to be covering his back, and if he had been, O’Brien wouldn’t have been killed -- he stops yelling at Julian when he realizes that Julian hasn’t moved. He looks at Julian and finds that Julian still has the wound in him from the sword -- he’s really dead.

Everyone is stunned, but there’s no question about it; they have his body. He’s been killed, by what malfunction nobody knows. O’Brien can’t get over it; he’s useless at his job, and even Quark is in shock. Preparations for a funeral commence. The morning of the funeral ... Bashir wakes up in his quarters. He’s slightly disoriented ... he remembers having died. He remembers being stabbed, seeing the sword enter him, and dying, quite painfully. That’s all he remembers—at least, all that he remembers clearly.

The others react with shock and amazement, naturally. They test him; but it is him, Bashir down to the DNA, by every test that they have available to them. At day’s end, they’ve postponed the funeral, and Benjamin Sisko has told Bashir that in the morning they’ll get in touch with Starfleet and have a team of researchers sent out to work Bashir over. Julian goes down to visit with O’Brien, who’s still utterly rattled by all of it. They’re working on a one of the docking bays -- the interlocks aren’t working correctly -- and while they’ve working on it, the lock opens, and Julian Bashir is blown out into space while O’Brien watches --

And the very next morning, awakens again with a shriek of rage.

Bashir goes down to the sickbay; and finds two of himself lying on the table awaiting an autopsy. He demands the right to perform the autopsy. He’s convinced that something else killed him—and he demands the right to try and figure out what before it happens again. Next time, he tells Sisko, “I might not wake up.” With Dax assisting, and Sisko looking on, Bashir begins the autopsy. He finds something interesting ... neurological damage that does not appear to be related to the stab wound in his heart ... and then, midway through the autopsy, a cutting laser, hanging over the body, turns itself on and slices into the back of Bashir’s head as he bends over his own corpse. He dies instantaneously.

Bashir awakens in his room, about six hours later. He’s holding up, bravely, but he’s very shaky now ... frightened, and obviously with good reason. He suggests to Odo that he be put in a holding cell, and they put him in one ... and the hours pass, with Bashir working on the computer to do searches through history to see if anything like this has ever happened before. He learns nothing, of course... and toward midnight, has a heart attack, and dies.

But this time they are prepared for it. Dax had instruments watching him, sensors planted on him, ultra-high-speed recordings of his death taken throughout the entire electromagnetic spectrum. And they catch—something. Immediately before his death, Bashir’s neurological system went wild. An unprecedented surge of cortical activity—followed by a dissipative energy burst, as some energy source is released.

Bashir awakens in his quarters. The computer informs him that less than an hour has passed since he died. He lies in the bed, motionless, staring at the ceiling above him. A calmness has descended on him now. The fright that we saw earlier has abated; it’s done no good, and he’s weary of it. After a while he rises and heads down to sickbay, where his corpses are waiting. He looks at the one lying on the autopsy table, and shakes his head. He goes up to Ops, where Sisko and Dax are working. Dax tells him what they’ve observed, and tells him her theory—”I think,” she says, “that something is using you ... as an incubator.”

Bashir thinks it over, and makes what seems to him a logical suggestion. He has them put him onto total life support—machines help him breathe, help his heart beat, leach the poisons from his system, stabilize his neurological system. And the next time one of the energy sources enters Bashir, they’re prepared for it—Bashir dies—but his body doesn’t. And the energy source that has entered him is trapped inside him.

The creature, once trapped, is furious. Under duress, trapped in Bashir’s body, it explains to Sisko and Dax that they’ve been using Bashir as a portal—a gateway. They plant an egg within him, and when the egg is ready to be released, the egg kills the host and takes its life force to morph into the next stage of existence. Now that they know what they’re dealing with, they tune their sensors to hunt for them -- and sure enough, there are half a dozen of these creatures on DS9 -- and they’re converging on the medlab.

They do what you’d have done, in those circumstances -- they take the dead Bashir hostage. Harm any more of us, they tell the aliens, and we kill the dead dude. They learn that these aliens have not found such an ideal incubator in a very long time; usually an incubator can only be used once, or twice. The Bashir, they tell them, heals beautifully . . . and the dead Bashir says, in Bashir’s voice, “And I can heal you.”

There comes a time when species tend to abandon their bodies. To become like the Organians, or the Q . . . pure energy. But these aliens did this too soon, before they were ready, and ever since they’ve been struggling to survive. They are not well suited to their forms . . . and so Bashir proposes new forms. They return to the holosuites . . . and the aliens take on forms inside the holosuites, much like the Emergency Medical Holo, and after returning Bashir to life for the last time, set about building a new civilization … in the holosuite above Quark’s bar.

We end with an epilog set three months later. An old man dies on the table while Bashir is working on him. In the next moment everything around them vanishes ... the table, Sickbay, Deepspace Nine itself. They find themselves standing on a featureless black plain ... and in the far far distance is a great glow. The old man says, “I think I’m supposed to go ... that way.” And Bashir says, “Yes, I think you are. I’ll walk with you for a ways.” They take a few steps and the old man looks at him and says quite certainly, “You’re not supposed to be coming with me.” And Bashir nods and says, “Don’t worry. I know the way back.”


And then, of course, there's this, broadcast in 1997:

No further comment on my end.


Sean Fagan said...

That last bit seems quite influenced (in a very good way) by Pratchett. In particular, it reminds me of the end of Small Gods (which is probably my favourite Pratchett book).

I had stopped watching V'ger long before that episode, so I have no idea how much they ripped you off.

Dan Moran said...

Small Gods wasn't published until '94; this precedes that by about 3 years.

No disrespect intended toward Pratchett. Of the writers I came to as an adult, he and Larry McMurtry are the two who've affected me the most.