Ancestors and Ghola
Alathea took a sip of champagne, her eyes scanning the crew gathered in the mess hall. Neelix had graciously invited her, claiming it was a special soirée in honor of the captain. She joined in, thinking it’s always wise to be visible when the higher-ups are throwing a party—loyalty points and all.
Smiles were plastered on everyone’s faces, and the chatter revolved around ancestral pride. It was a head-scratcher; this bunch usually championed individualism, showing about as much interest in tradition as a cat does in water. Yet here they were, making a hullabaloo about the captain’s ancestors...
She took another sip, observing the chaos erupting as the Doctor prepared to take a photo.
“Come on, you should be in the picture too,” he insisted, beckoning her with a smile. “It’s not every day we immortalize ourselves in the great tapestry of Starfleet history!”
Alathea shrugged. “I’m not a card-carrying member of the crew, and in all honesty, I do not have ancestors.”
The words slipped out, and she instantly regretted them. The moment hung in the air, laden with consequences.
“Come on, everyone has ancestors. You couldn’t exist without ancestors!” Tom insisted.
Alathea glanced at the smiling faces around her, pondering how they’d react if she revealed her true identity.
“You had to have parents,” the captain pointed out.
Maybe I should spill the beans, Alathea mused. The captain prided herself on being super open, after all. It would be refreshing to see her change her approach.
“No. I do not. Not in the sense you guys have. I am a Ghola. The Sisterhood created me from the cells of a corpse. Before the Bene Gesserit put me into the Axotl Tanks, they manipulated my DNA so that I could complete my task more efficiently. I’m made, just like your Doctor is made.”
“Ah, that explains the strange anomalies I saw in your DNA. In several places, your DNA looks spliced, completely out of order but still perfectly functional,” the Doctor chimed in.
“That would be DNA manipulation,” Alathea confirmed.
“So, you were grown in a lab? Is that what you’re saying?” Tom inquired.
“But they had to take DNA from someone, from some human. Don’t those humans count as your ancestors?”
“They took DNA from my corpse.”
“Now you’re just confusing us,” B’Elanna interjected.
“The Bene Gesserit has a collection of cells from people they consider useful. From time to time, they use those cells to grow a Ghola, someone like me, if the Bene Gesserit plans require a Ghola to perform the task. I was resurrected like that a full 10 times,” Alathea explained, letting her eyes fall to the floor in front of her. “And I remember all those lives.”
“You have memories from 10 different lives?” Harry asked in amazement.
“Yes. The Bene Gesserit, or rather, the Bene Telaxy, developed a technique to awaken memories in a Ghola. Each time I reach late puberty, the Bene Gesserit awakens the memories of my previous lives in me.”
“So, how did all that start?” Neelix inquired.
She blinked. “I was born to be a Bene Gesserit sister. The Bene Gesserit breed their own sisters with appropriate males to produce a superior human. I was one of those babies. They give all those babies to foster families for the first six years and then take them back to the Bene Gesserit chapter house for additional training. None of the babies knows who their biological parents are until they go through the spice trial.”
“What’s a spice trial?” Tom asked.
“The Empire discovered a drug that can enhance mental abilities, prolong life, allow navigators to travel through higher dimensions, and enable the Bene Gesserit to awaken their ancestors’ memories. The Bene Gesserit takes that drug during the spice trial to awaken those memories.”
“Did you take that drug?” Chakotay asked.
“No. Gholas may not take the drug. I didn’t take it during my first life either; I died in an accident before the trial. That’s why I don’t know who my ancestors are. I never got their memories.”
“What do you mean by getting ancestor memories?” Paris questioned.
“I mean exactly that. Each memory from your ancestors’ lives pops up in your brain like you lived their lives. From the moment of the birth of each ancestor till the conception of the next.”
“That’s impossible,” the Doctor exclaimed.
Alathea shrugged. “That’s the defining quality of Bene Gesserit.”
“No, I mean, it’s impossible because humans need to forget to stay sane. Remembering everything is considered a psychological disorder, and humans who are unlucky to have that disorder have problems functioning in normal society,” the Doctor remarked.
Alathea blinked. What was he talking about?
The Doctor continued, “In fact, the inability to forget often results in serious psychological issues, and those people require treatment to stay sane—treatment that usually helps them forget.”
Are Bene Gesserit sane? The cases of possession were common enough to be called abomination, and they usually killed the Bene Gesserit sisters who ended up possessed. Was that what he was talking about?
“Wait, Doctor, maybe her society developed some way to fight against those consequences,” the Captain suggested.
“Depends on what he’s talking about. If you’re talking about being possessed by past memories, Bene Gesserit didn’t develop any way to fight that. Not in a way that you would find acceptable. They kill the Bene Gesserit sisters who cannot control their ancestral memories,” Alathea clarified.
“You said you remember all your reincarnations?” Seven asked.
“Yes. All of them, and the original life. In my original life, I was trained as a Bene Gesserit sister, and part of that training comprises mental exercises to prepare a Bene Gesserit sister to handle and control past lives. But when one is a Ghola, things are different. Everything is my life—11 childhoods, 11 adolescences, 11 different trainings and lives. And in 8 of them, I got killed after I completed the task.”
“Accidents?” Kim inquired.
“No. A Ghola named Duncan Idaho caused some problems after my first resurrection. That man was resurrected so many times that his memories covered tens of thousands of years. Anyway, he almost collapsed the society in his last resurrection, so a law was introduced that every Ghola has to be killed after the task is completed. So eight times, I completed the task and got killed.”
She looked at the faces of the crew, searching for the expression she had seen countless times on the faces of the Bene Gesserit sisters—a signal of the death sentence. But she could not find it.
“So this time, you avoided death by entering the black hole.”
“I thought I would die in the black hole,” Alathea replied, focusing her gaze at the bubbles in the liquid in her glass. “Most likely, they sent me to die in the black hole, so that the time dilation of my approach to the wormhole serves as a warning beacon for other Gholas. I made a mistake.” Why did she tell them this? What did she expect? She had finally found some people who treated her half-decent, but now, she had spoiled it by revealing she’s a Ghola. Yes, they didn’t show disgust on their faces, but that didn’t mean they too would accept her, a Ghola.
Everyone fell silent for a moment, and then the captain broke the silence. “Well, seems like all those ancestor memories in those sisters removed humanity from them.”
Alathea snapped her head up, meeting the captain’s smiling eyes.
“Maybe that’s the very symptom of insanity I was talking about. All those memories made them insane. Only an insane person would kill someone like you,” the Doctor said.
The rest of the crew nodded in all seriousness. Neelix sprinted toward her, enveloping her in a bear hug. Alathea’s throat closed, and her vision blurred with tears. She blinked the tears away. These people were kinder than she ever thought possible.
“Come on, you belong in the picture! Come!” the Captain declared with a big smile.