"Helmsman, bring us about at three-quarters impulse."
"Aye-aye, Captain," Ensign Barrick replied, his tentacle-like fingers swiftly dancing over the flight console. Captain Data rested his gaze upon the planet in the Bridge's view-screen, analyzing half a dozen sets of data that were streaming into his processing banks directly from the ship's computer. Data had been tagged for this assignment almost two centuries ago by Starfleet Temporal Ops for several reasons, though least among them was his exemplary record as a Starfleet Officer.
The fact that he was the model of perfection when it came to being what a Starfleet Officer should be was taken as a given by the Home-world Council, though it was only after the fact of his performance in the wake of the destruction of the Starship Enterprise D by the Borg that he came to the attention of the Council as something that would always get the job done. Especially in temporal crises such as the one the destroyed the Enterprise.
Time and again Data had proven himself to be close to impervious to the temporal anomalies that plagued those who tampered with the space/time continuum in the past. And now, he was the Captain of the T.S. Relativity S. Two hundred relative years had passed since he'd gained this position. He and his crews had stopped close to a thousand aliens races from becoming extinct throughout history. And now, in a sudden twist that Data wished he'd predicted, he had to stop the extermination of the human race from its long-time suitor: the Borg.
The planet on the view-screen was Rexel IV, what the natives referred to as Carrion. A race of skeletal-like avians, they had developed a lexicon-based block transference technology. The reason the T.S. Relativity was moving into low orbit over this planet near the dawn of the universe was to study their technology, as there was little evidence of any non-mathematical based technological development throughout recorded history. The only reason that Starfleet had even learned of this particular civilization, which had long been extinct, was in a passing reference from a lone survivor of a space/time traveling race of beings.
They'd been orbiting the planet for the better part of two months, and for the most part they'd learned almost nothing. As a matter of fact, the Chief Scientific Officer just that morning had burst onto the Bridge, sweating and stuttering through great gulps of air, exclaiming that they were being scanned. Without hesitation, Captain Data had ordered a full retreat to the planet's third moon, which was large enough to shield any probing signatures from penetrating the ship's systems. Once safely out of range, Data turned to Lieutenant Commander Barrick and barked, "Report."
The generally stoic Barrick stood up as straight as he possibly could, considering he'd hurt his ankle running to the bridge. "Captain, sir, we were being scanned by an energy signature that we just identified right before we detected it. We don't know how long they've been scanning us, sir, but I didn't want to risk whoever it was finding out that we knew about it until we were safely out of range."
"Very good, Lieutenant Commander," Data replied, walking toward his ready-room. Before he passed through the doors, however, he pressed the communicator on his chest and announced, "Senior Officer Staff Briefing in the Conference Room in thirty minutes." Turning to Barrick, he called out, "You have twenty-five minutes to gather a report," before pressing the button on the console on his wall, closing the door to his ready-room.
He walked over to the VRAccess Bay and opened the port on the back of his cranium, jacking in. He had twenty-nine minutes, sixteen seconds, and thirty-four milliseconds with which to access the data and process every conceivable option. It only took him twelve minutes.
"And so, the energy signature that we were able to detect does have some sort of structure to it, but it does not follow any of the laws of the universe that we recognize as a reality today."
Data, setting the virtual cup on the smooth oaken surface of the table before him, leaned back in his chair, looking out at the scenery about them as he processed this. He liked to think that a silent wooded area near dusk like the one he'd programmed for the conference would have a calming effect on the crew. He'd studied human nature for over two centuries now, and he was fairly certain he was beginning to understand them. But this. . . This type of thing would be unsettling for even the most unflappable of creatures.
If Data could grasp the very concept of illogical order, then he was definitely evolving as a being. An android who could believe in--well, magic, is not something that one hears much about. "So, LC Barrick, you are positing that the only explanation of this unexplainable technology is that the race known as the Carrionites uses magic."
LC Barrick's mouth dropped and closed as he tried to think of an adequate answer that would not result in his immediate expulsion out of Starfleet and becoming the laughing stock of the entire galaxy. "I, I, I never said that, per se, Captain," he replied, nonplussed.
"That is not possible, Captain. Magic is illogical, and the universe by its very nature is logical. It flies in the face of everything we know to be true," Commander Asil interjected, her voice even and calm even as the words she was saying betrayed the strength of her feelings towards such an outrageous supposition.
"I do not know if the Vulcan Home World has its own version of Clarke's Law, but on Earth there is a philosophical 'law' that states, 'Any sufficiently advanced form of technology is indistinguishable from magic.' Also, the inverse is considered to be true," Data informed.
Commander Asil's cheek bones grew a shade darker as she steadily replied, "Vulcan has long ago put aside its illogical beliefs in the supernatural in favor of the only logical truth that there can be in the universe: science is all, and magic is not real."
A younger voice piped up from the far end of the table, completely catching the Commander off-guard. "Here's another bit of Earth philosophy that you might like, Commander," Ensign McClain offered, grinning at being allowed to sit in on an Officer's Briefing. As the resident "outside-the-box" thinker, Data had long ago found it beneficial to consult him on things that did not quite compute with the way he saw the universe. As it turned out, Data had to come to him quite frequently. "Try this one on for size: Occam's Razor states that from among competing hypotheses, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions usually provides the correct one, and that the simplest explanation will be the most plausible until evidence is presented to prove it false."
"But magic as an answer is neither of those," LC Serron spoke up in Asil's place. "Magic is by far the newest assumption that we can make, and it is nowhere near being the simplest answer available to us at the moment."
"I'm sorry, Commander Serron, but you are wrong on both accounts." The entire senior staff, Data excluded, all turned to look incredulously at the upstart Ensign. Jonathon, nevertheless, forged on as if his entire career wasn't at risk. "Magic, on both of our worlds, is the
oldest answer there ever was. Something we didn't understand? It was magic, or the gods behind it, which also made it magic. Just because we don't believe it to be so, doesn't make it so, gentleman, and ladies," he corrected, glancing Asil's way. "And it is, by far
, the easiest answer to what we are looking at here." Getting up, he walked around the table to the virtual display.
"Look here," he said, pointing out a mathematical equation that tried to explain the existence of an energy that should not exist. "This proof says that what we encountered is not possible, and yet we encountered it. It says that the energy needed should have used up a small sun, but we detected no energy source within this quadrant. It says that in this universe, the structure of the space around us is malleable in ways that we know not to be true, and yet we have seen the Carrionites not only probe us, but attack each other and Ollerite vessels, of which were only passing by the edges of their solar system, without any visible means of technology. So, I ask you, what can it be other than magic?"
"So what are you suggesting?" Lieutenant Rowe asked. "That the witches and wizards of legend had actual magic?"
A grin split Ensign Jonathon McClain's face as he nodded in affirmation. "Exactly."
Data, who had let this discussion go on as long as it had in order to gauge the morale and fortitude of his officers, finally spoke up. "You want us to go to ancient Earth or Vulcan in order to acquire a practitioner of magic, do you not, Ensign McClain?"
"Not exactly, sir," Jonathon began, his face flushed with the excitement of his idea. "I want us to go to the early twenty-first century England. The year 2006, specifically."
"And just who do you believe will be there that will be able to help us?" Commander Asil asked pointedly.
"Well, have any of you ever read a series of novels featuring a wizard by the name of Harry Potter?"
Data accessed the ship's databanks and saw that Ensign McClain had indeed read the series himself, within the last week. Assimilating them into his own databanks, Data replied, "Are you aware that the series in which you are referring to is a fictional series written by an author named J.K. Rowling?"
Jonathon smiled a little as he drew himself up, ready to give his own briefing. "I have reason to believe that the novels in question are not fiction, as it was presented, but actual biographies of several special individuals. . ."
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