—Dr. “Bones” McCoy to Captain James T. Kirk, after reversing Kirk’s death by radiation poisoning with Khan’s super-blood.
Ridiculous, to think it all started over a tribble. A lifeless bundle of fur. I always kept a dead tribble in my Curio of Maladies in those days, for medical reasons, and was especially glad of it when they finally hauled Khan’s body aboard for study after the battle.
Kirk was particularly dead that day; I remember because everyone was crying and the science woman kept all of her clothes on. As is my habit, I injected several of Khan’s more personal fluids (super-fluids, if you’ll pardon the medical terminology) into the tribble to see what would happen.
The tribble returned almost immediately to life. I remember because I thought to myself, “Ah, I seem to have conquered death. Tremendous,” at the time.
As a doctor, this made my job a great deal easier.
As I mentioned before, Kirk was dead—terribly dead—being chock full of radiations and so forth, so I decided he’d make an excellent second test subject for my Home Death Remedy and plugged him with a bit of the super-blood a few minutes later.
(At this point, of course, the resurrected tribble had multiplied itself several hundreds of times and was wreaking absolute havoc on our food stores, but this wasn’t my concern; I’m a doctor, not an animal husbandry expert.)
Everything went perfectly. Kirk recovered beautifully from the things that had made him dead, and wasn’t dead anymore.
And I had completely unraveled the natural order of existence and returned a destroyed consciousness to life, which felt pretty good. We popped Khan back in the freezer with his 72 super-colleagues (all of whom presumably possessed similarly powerful super-blood), and were ready for our next mission, ready to say no more about the fact that the Enterprise now carried with it the key to immortality and none of us were bound any longer by conventional assumptions about ethics or reality.
Perhaps, upon later reflection, we were naive.
Perhaps it was always more than a little ridiculous to think that Starfleet could be both a peacekeeping and a military service in the light of such an invention. Within a week, the Federation had clawed itself into thirteen warring factions, all ready to destroy entire star systems at the prospect of getting their hands on that serum.
Kirk was immediately taken to a research-torture facility by a group of scientists from Section 31. In a way, I think we all failed to take into account the interest this shadowy government organization, with the resources to build a super-advanced death-ship in absolute secrecy, might take in a serum that reverses death.
I tried to tell them I was a doctor, but it didn’t even slow them down. They killed most of the crew in their raid, which I thought damned inconvenient, until I remembered the immortality serum I had developed, from super-blood.
They took the tribbles. They took all of the tribbles.
Who knows what they’re doing to Kirk at this very moment? Probably trying to synthesize a serum from his blood. That’s what I’d do, if I were in their shoes.
Sulu was shot the night before when some of the engineers found him trying to jettison himself and three of the frozen super-men in an escape pod. I brought him back to life, of course (with the serum I had made from Khan’s super-blood), but he was never the same after that. The uncontrollable twitching, for one thing.
These violent, terrifying setbacks made me think the super-blood serum might prove to be more than just a handy way to resolve the specific conflict of the previous 48 hours. Too late, too late now.
At that point, there was no real chain of command left at Starfleet anyway. Kirk was beyond our reach; Admirals Pike and Marcus were dead. Probably Admiral Tyler Perry too. Could we have brought them back to life, with the serum I had made from Khan’s super-blood? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they were too dead, you know?
I have a lot of regrets about that serum.
After the ship crash-landed in San Francisco, killing thousands, our troubles really began. The numerous flaming piles of human debris, for one. The melted skyscrapers, the mangled infrastructure, the near-collapse of ethical and societal standards once people began to realize that death was no longer permanent.
The rest you undoubtedly know. The wild-eyed men and women who took to showing up at my offices at all hours of the night, bearing the fresh and mangled corpses of their loved ones in their arms, begging for serum. The armies of the frozen half-dead, the resurrected children brought back to crazed and formless life by their deranged, grief-stricken parents, the Blood Colonies.
It is only a matter of time before someone finds me, here in the ruins of the world. I cannot hide forever. Whether the Flesh Admirals or the Nine Armies of the Cold Graves come for me—it doesn’t matter. They will find me, and they will take what remains of the serum, of my work, of my memories. They will find me.
I write this by the little light I have left. I do not know who I hope will find this. I do not know what there will be left to find.