En Route to the Enterprise-B
2293 Old Earth Date
Her name, at this particular juncture, was Guinan, and her silent scream reverberated throughout Time, a despairing echo she could never escape. The transporter's grip had not brought with it the usual momentary numbness. Instead, she could feel her body being torn apart, molecule by molecule, while at the same moment everything that had ever brought joy or comfort to her life was being stolen. Even her memories were being transformed from nostalgic sources of happiness to wellsprings of torment, sadistic reminders of what she had once experienced but would never experience again.
But even at that moment of supreme anguish, there was a fundamental part of her that knew that whatever was happening to her, whether she would ever fully understand it or not, was both right and essential. She didn't know why it was right or what it was essential for. She only knew that it was.
And that she had no choice but to endure, as she had endured before and doubtless would again.
It was her gift, this sourceless knowledge.
And it was her curse.
It had been a part of her for as long as she could remember -- which was a very long time indeed. For all that time, and possibly more, she had been subject to "feelings," sometimes of foreboding, sometimes simply of a vague wrongness or, less often, a similarly vague rightness. Sometimes they came upon her suddenly, other times with maddening slowness. Sometimes they were urgent, forcing her to blurt out a warning to those around her even though she had little or no idea what it was she might be warning them against. Sometimes they were nagging little itches in her mind, the sort of distraction a human suffers through when she realizes she has forgotten something but cannot, no matter how hard she tries, remember what it was.
But the intensity and the steely certainty of the feeling that gripped her now transcended any she had ever experienced before. It transcended even the physical and mental agony that had brought it into being and was, in fact, all that kept her from translating her mental scream of anguish into a blind fury of destruction that would have laid waste to everything and everyone that had the misfortune to be near her. And that would only have added to her grief once she regained control and saw what she had done.
Finally, after an eternity that she somehow knew had lasted only the few seconds it had taken the transporter to "rescue" her, the physical pain faded to a tolerable level.
With glazed eyes, she looked around and saw only bedlam. The Lakul was gone, replaced by another starship's crowded sickbay. Her fellow refugees, those that hadn't collapsed to the floor or slumped across the beds, milled about aimlessly, helplessly. She wished she could share with them her certainty of the rightness of what had happened to them. It would be small comfort to anyone other than herself, but it would be something.
Then a solicitous young man in a Starfleet uniform was gently taking her arm and leading her to a biobed, assuring her she was safe and well. For a moment, his uniform caught her eye, and something twitched within her. A new "feeling," she thought resignedly, something that had been there all along but had until now been buried beneath the rubble of her own disintegrating life.
There was something -- or someone -- here on this ship that would --
She didn't know.
She knew -- felt -- only that there was something of monumental importance about this time and this place, something with tendrils that snaked out, not only through space but through time, and enfolded more worlds than even she had seen.
It was why she was here, why she had to be here.
Sudden anger surged through her, an anger not at the captain of this ship for the agony he had subjected her to in his misguided "rescue," nor even at the supremely intelligent yet essentially mindless creatures whose destruction of El-Auria was still like a corrosive acid in her veins.
This anger was directed inward, toward whatever it was within her that was responsible for these "feelings."
But it was a futile anger. To be angry at something that was so intimate a part of herself would be like being angry at her own heart for beating too loudly.
As it had countless times before, the anger passed, leaving in its wake a mixture of bemusement and implacable determination.
Whatever the object of this latest feeling was, she would find it, as she had found countless others.
She had no choice, not as long as she still wished to allow her existences to continue.
Putting everything else out of her mind, she eased herself off the biobed, took one last, sorrowful look at the still-dazed faces of her fellow refugees, and, leaving that part of her life behind her, began her seemingly aimless search through the starship's sterile corridors.
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