The damage to the timeline was more extensive than he had thought.
Seated within his protective temporal containment bubble, Matthew Daniels studied the readouts before him with growing concern. Nothing was turning out the way he’d hoped, and with each passing second, he feared that all of his work was about to unravel. It was on days like this that he wished he’d become a doctor like his mother had wanted, or maybe a botanist like his father.
“Incursion detected along temporal axis one-five-three,” an emotionless, almost mechanical-sounding voice intoned, and Daniels bit back a sigh of frustration when he glanced at the appropriate display. It was Braxton again, sallying forth from the 29th century in another futile attempt to avenge himself against Captain Janeway and the crew of the NCC-74656. The effort was doomed almost from the beginning, but the resulting temporal eddies would need to be examined, investigated, and then pruned as necessary lest they damage the core timeline.
Matthew Daniels, he thought wryly, temporal horticulturalist at your service.
“Log incursion,” Daniels instructed calmly, no trace of the annoyance he was experiencing in his voice, “and inform Director Ducane. Braxton’s his problem, not mine.” The computer chirped its obedience, and Matthew returned his full attention back to the matter at hand, specifically 2152 and the crew of Enterprise.
Viewed dispassionately, his efforts to fix some of the growing timeline inconsistencies appeared to be a success. Many of the snarls and hiccups that plagued the period were gradually smoothing out as the elastic nature of temporal mechanics compensated for the rearrangement of key players. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter if T’Pol and Tucker were no longer a part of Enteprise’s crew providing they were reintegrated into history at the appropriate fulcrum point prior to the destruction of Salem One. As long as Archer was captain of the NX-01 during the Xindi crisis and then later, the Kir’shara crisis, time would march on, pressing others into the roles that had once belonged to officers believed dead by their contemporaries. If things played out like they had in his simulations, by the time T’Pol and Tucker reappeared on the scene, the stage would be set for a more rapid elimination of Terra Prime and the Romulan-influenced Vulcan High Command. And if Matthew was very very lucky, the Vulcans might actually be able to do more than offer empty words when the war with their lost cousins broke out.
And all because Daniels had sabotaged the engines on a single shuttlepod. For want of a nail, Matthew mused idly.
At the time, it had seemed like the correct course of action. Not only did it assure that Tucker would survive the confusing (and frankly self-contradictory) incident that originally claimed his life in 2161, it also provided the impetus for a long-overdue self-examination on Jonathan Archer’s part. Until the ‘deaths’ of his two closest friends aboard Enterprise, Archer had lived what could be construed as a charmed life. Yes, his father’s death had been tragic, but beyond that, the man had never been truly forced to face the ramifications of his decisions.
Unfortunately, it seemed to have backfired if Matthew’s readings were any indication. Jonathan was too cautious now, especially when compared to his previous devil may care attitude. The drive he needed to be truly great appeared to have been lost alongside his two friends. Instead, he approached matters with the wariness of a diplomat when a ‘space cowboy’ was needed. Something would need to be done to compensate … perhaps Daniels should pay Archer a visit and imply that the two officers weren’t dead? No, that would likely lead to Jonathan redirecting Enterprise to Ekos, which would lead them to never interacting with the Vissians. For that matter, who knew what effect such an action would have on the development of the Ekosians?
“Incursion detected along temporal axis nine-six-three,” the computer announced. It was the NCC-1701 and one of their escapades in the 20th-century. Matthew shook his head and silently gave thanks that he hadn’t been assigned to Kirk. Compared to him, Jonathan Archer was a walk in the park.
So instead, he returned his attention to the points of deviation already in play.
As far as he could tell, the biggest change to the timeline revolved around Travis Mayweather. In the core timeline, the former Boomer had served admirably, but retired at the rank of lieutenant commander to take over his family’s starship, but now, with Captain Archer and Ambassador Soval both urging him to push himself harder than ever before, things had changed dramatically. After serving as Captain Hernandez’s executive officer aboard the Challenger, Mayweather became the youngest member of Starfleet to reach the rank of captain until James Kirk beat his record by six months. Mayweather would go on to join the UFP Advisory Board and would serve as President Archer’s commander-in-chief of Starfleet. At his urging, the Federation would get into a small shooting war with the Klingons when they annexed Krios Prime, but beyond that, Mayweather’s impact on the timeline seemed entirely positive.
The same could not be said of Malcolm Reed. From the moment of the Xindi assault on Earth, Reed’s presence in the timeline seemed … spotty, almost as if he were a walking temporal eddy that was constantly in a state of flux. Dozens of splinter timelines branched off of him as the core timeline tried to compensate. In one, Reed died when Rajiin was aboard Enterprise, but in another, he was among those killed at Azati Prime, and in yet another he died aboard the Xindi sphere while attempting to rescue Lieutenant Sato. Daniels grimaced. Was it really that hard just to stay alive, even for a security officer? Reed’s role in history was no less important than Archer’s, albeit in a more subtle manner, so why was the man trying so hard to make Matthew’s life a living hell?
Soval’s presence aboard Enterprise was another unintended consequence that had interesting alterations to the core timeline the specifics of which Matthew hadn’t yet been able to fully nail down. With the former ambassador actively serving aboard the NX-01, there was no need for Maxwell Forrest to travel to Vulcan prior to the Kir’shara crisis, and instead, Hannibal Black went in his stead where he perished in the same explosion that claimed Ambassador V’Lar’s life. Forrest’s continued leadership of Starfleet was already shifting the dynamics of the Earth/Romulan War in curious ways – the use of atomics was becoming less probable and a greater dedication toward research seemed to indicate the discovery of the Romulan/Vulcan connection occurring long before the Kirk Era. And with Forrest providing capable leadership on Earth, Archer was not pressed into flag rank as early as he had, which kept him on the front lines of the war and further tempered the future UFP president’s sense of duty.
Matthew’s head swam. Few comprehended the intricacies of temporal dynamics like he did, but right now, he was beginning to regret making the alteration. He traced one of the fulcrum points – Hoshi Sato, 2157, and the cracking of the Romulan communications code that made Cheron possible – and frowned when he realized it had moved forward three months. Starfleet’s successes in those three months forced the Romulans to revise their battle plan, which made Cheron less of a pivotal battle as previously and extended the war into early 2161. Using his light pen, Daniels moved back along the Sato axis in an attempt to determine the nature of the deviation. He bit back a curse when he realized it was tied to Mayweather and his transfer to Challenger.
“Incursion detected along temporal axis three-two-seven,” the computer announced, and Daniels tapped one of the holographic displays seeming suspended in mid-air before him. A data readout appeared instantly and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. Archer was accessing the temporal database Matthew left aboard the NX-01. For a moment, Daniels was tempted to intervene – there were things in that database that Jonathan had no business learning – but the moment he realized the nature of Archer’s inquiries, he decided to do nothing.
Besides, it was nice to see a flash of the old Jonathan Archer in play.
So he simply logged the incursion and went back to work. There was too much to do.