She is born Idri3.
She is born to the household of Bredrid4, a female of the species. She is raised by Bredrid4 and her partner, Nori2, in Ilyria's capital city of Iarsus.
Idri3 is genetically engineered specifically for intelligence, and leadership qualities. Her particular cocktail also includes a musical inclination and a small frame; the build of a dancer.
On Ilyria, they have been genetically engineering the next generation for 300 years. The risks of inbreeding and eugenics, the former option before the technology grew to accommodate the end goal, bred simpletons or weaklings prone to disease.
Hardly fighters: hardly future leaders who could stop the war. It almost lost them the war. And then everything changed, and they have mastered themselves.
The only flaw is that all Ilyri have brown eyes and hair, and fair skin. It is universal.
Bredrid4, the female who birthed Idri3, was engineered to be a breeder. She has wide hips and a gentle disposition. She lives off of the government's money, as is her right as a breeder. Her wife, Nori2, is a chef. Her genetic code is less modified and specialized.
Idri3 looks at them, even when she is very young and the piano is thundering under her small fingers, and thinks that they are happy. That their heads are quiet, and have no need to seek more: that their entire world can be condensed into each other, and perhaps superfluously the three children in their care.
On Ilyria, there is no concept of "parent" or "sibling." Idri3 may eventually choose to marry Idri1, the eldest boy of the house, or perhaps Rendai2, the girl down the road. When she is 15, Idri3 will leave the house of Bredrid4 and Nori2 and not return: not think upon them again. She will lead her own life; on Ilyria relationships are fluid and people are not to be grasped too tightly. The war dictates such.
The dancing helps her to think. It is nearly a compulsion, to reach out with her body and feel the music flowing through her. She does not know how reasonable it is: what purpose it could serve, but it brings her joy, and she thinks perhaps this is one thing they could not program. This is something for herself. She decides, at age four, that she will always dance. And she does.
The war between Ilyria and her sister planet, Bynes, has been going on ever since the two managed space capability. It started over colonization disputes nearly a millennia ago, but the wounds are fresh and ever-present. "The Bynesians killed my husband," a soldier might say. "They destroyed the city," a breeder might answer.
There had been peace, for a time: strenuous and engineered by the Federation's best negotiators and diplomats. On the day Idri3 was born, Induri, a city far to the south, was destroyed. 22 million lives gone just like that, and the fury started again.
Bynesians have bluish skin, and their people, it is said at least, are not genetically altered. Their focus lay not on their people, but on their weaponry. Different tactics.
Idri3 listens as Idri1 explains this, his eyes far-off as if contemplating the two tactics: weighing each.
"We are the better for it," he decides.
"Perhaps not," Idri2 disagrees from the doorway, his face very serious. "They have identities: we have titles which shift."
"Become Director, then," Idri1 scoffs, and smiles at Idri3 as if to share the joke, but she does not find it funny, and neither does Idri2.
"I will," he says.
She believes him.
She is six, Idri2 is ten, and Idri3 is twelve.
Ilyri society is led by Director. The title stays; the person changes. The current Director is a woman of 57: Ilyri do not live to be 70, and those who are coded for leadership and intelligence do not live past 60. She is searching for Successor: she has left it very late, and Idri3 can feel the hum of anticipation among her classmates and instructors. The hope.
This Director did not take a Companion, or if she did, Companion was lost in the battles. When Companion exists, they are intellectual matches and complements to Director. An alignment of minds and personalities. There is speculation that it is implemented into the genetic code, but Idri3 has studied the codes and finds that this is not possible. Even at seven she is aware that it would be a waste of resources to attempt to code in compatibility specific to another person. Pheromones among their species is difficult to cope with: for all they appear Humanoid, Ilyri are not Human.
#1 is not a permanent figure in the hierarchy. #1 is the best of the people: the smartest and most ruthless; a miracle worker. #1s of history have saved the planet and have written treaties with the Federation; forwarded genetic engineering and saved them from themselves. They are equal or above Director and General: civilian but untouchable. There has not been a #1 in three generations.
Idri1 is killed when he is completing a training exercise in a battle compound. He decided to become General, and Idri2 and Idri3 have had no reason to doubt he would succeed, provided he lived.
Bredrid4 hangs the blue ribbon of loss in their window, and Idri2 becomes Idri1 and Idri3 becomes Idri2. It is the way of things.
Idri1-then-2 balks. He glares and says that they live in a culture of forgetting: that this is part of their problem. They do not value the individual.
Nori2 slaps him across the face, a crack which resonates and stills Idri2. Bredrid4 sits carefully still on the couch, and Idri1 stares up at Nori2.
"I am your superior in every way," he says. He is twelve now: three years from being independent. "If I should make you disappear, you would stay gone."
"Stop," Idri2 says, and her voice does not shake like Bredrid4's hands do, and her eyes do not well as Nori2's do. She suspects that that is part of her genetics. She stands and puts her hand on Idri1's arm. "Stop."
He subsides, looking at her, and then pulls away to go to his own rooms. What he does in there she could not say: cultivates his cult of personality, most likely.
He is popular in school: he charms everyone, and they listen to him, even when he suggests things which result in disciplinary action. He never gets caught: is never implicated. Such is their classmates' loyalty to him.
And when he is sloppy and fails to clean up his messes, Idri2 is there, with a look or a quiet word, ensuring that those who might hesitate do not.
Idri1 is taken from them at night.
Director comes to their home when Idri2 is nine. Idri1 is thirteen.
Idri2 stands beside him, and he holds her hand too tightly as Director speaks of his new path. How he will be known not as Idri1, but as Successor.
"You are now Idri1," Director tells Idri2, who nods, and becomes such. Successor frowns, a quick jerk of his lips. He would have a name for his own, and give her one. He is almost to a title that will not be taken from him until he is dead: she thinks he should be pleased, or at least grateful. He is too different: perhaps Director has made a poor choice, but it is too late to raise doubts.
"I will send for you," Successor promises, kissing her cheek and ignoring Bredrid4 and Nori2. "I need you."
It is a preposterous statement. He does not. Perhaps he thinks that he does, because she remembers the details he forgets; because she is calm where he is not; because she is deliberate and determined where he is sometimes unsure. She complements him neatly, but he must not need her. He must grow to forget that need as a matter of necessity, or else be replaced and purged from society. Know that he is capable on his own, if only he would acknowledge it.
She goes up to her bedroom, and dances for two who will never sleep in the rooms on either side of her, the music from her audioplayer thrumming through the air, consoling her.
The first Idri1, she thinks, would be proud of Idri2-then-1-then-Successor.
She should not remember these things: Bredrid4 does not remember Idri1 the first. Nori2 does not either. Theirs is a culture of forgetting by necessity; in order to survive. It is culturally reinforced.
Perhaps her hardwiring is skewed: perhaps Idr—Successor was a bad influence.
General comes to Idri1's school and watches her in battle simulations. Idri1 is excellent at strategy, and General indicates that she might be looking to Idri1 to groom. Idri1 nods thoughtfully, and instructs the right flank to close in while the left flank draws back.
"You know this war will not be ended with soldiers," Idri1 says to General.
"No," General agrees, and if she is taken aback by Idri1's disregard for proper discourse, which dictates she should not speak to General directly, she does not show it. "How will it be won." It is a question, but not phrased as such.
"By destroying the planet," Idri1 says simply. "A meteor or large bomb will do. We should be working on cloaking devices or disruptors so that they do not see it coming, or are incapable of stopping it."
General looks at her for a long moment. "He did not lie."
Idri1 does not need to ask who she refers to. "No," she agrees. "It is not in his nature to lie."
Successor is wildly popular with the people: his speeches give hope while resting on fact: on reason. He appeals to them all, and his cadence is like music that makes her want to dance when she hears him.
General departs, and Bredrid4 and Nori2 are pleased to hear that they raised two exceptional children. Their income from the state increases, and they live with prestige and wealth. Many parental units do not have such success, and they smile and shower her with affection, trying to make her laugh as they did when she was very young.
She has reached sexual maturity and taken three lovers (a female and male to determine which she prefers, if either. Male, as it turns out, and the second was for pleasure, not experimentation); she will be independent in two years. She sees no reason to indulge them and become a child again.
"You're so cold," Idri1-now-Successor would laugh sometimes as they sat together at the piano, his fingers clumsily attempting to keep up with hers.
"Perhaps," she would always reply, "they mixed my genetics with Vulcan."
"How very logical," Idri1-now-Successor would tease, and she would smile slightly, and he would look satisfied.
She is not cold, she is simply…uncompromising.
On the day Idri1 turns fourteen, Guard234 and Guard382 come to escort her to the Director's Compound (D.C.).
"We are here to fetch #1, formerly Idri1, formerly Idri2, formerly Idri3," Guard234 says.
Bredrid4 makes a thrilled gasp, but Idri1, now #1, merely nods, fetches her bag, and walks to the transport, which takes them to D.C.. She does not know if this feeling is relief, anticipation, or satisfaction. Perhaps it is all of them. Perhaps it is fear at the overwhelming responsibility. Perhaps she is nervous to see him after an absence of years.
Successor-now-Director is waiting at the top of the brushed metal stairs and embraces her as though they have not been separate for five years and are still children. As though he has not been Director for a year.
"Are you going to win me a war, #1?" Director inquires. He is eighteen, now, and looks weary, as all Directors do. He is much loved by the people. He requires a haircut.
She looks at him for a very long minute. "Yes," she replies, finally, because there can be no other answer. He smiles again, and pulls her inside. He is much taller than she.
Her room is adjacent to his, and her access codes get her everywhere. She spends 24 hours learning his schedule, the following 24 reviewing the battle plans, and the next 24 hours adjusting.
"I forgot you did that," he says from her doorway, and she stills, bent in two, peering at him from behind her hair.
"Have you forgotten social courtesy?" she inquires.
"I am Director, I may have all."
"I am #1. You may not have me," she replies, and he laughs, then.
"Did you want something?" She puts her other foot on the floor and straightens. He shakes his head. "General says you have a final solution."
"I have had this solution for years."
"You needed time to hone it, and we needed the time to accommodate it," he replies, and closes the door behind him, sitting on her bed. "And I needed time to come to terms with it."
"You will save billions."
"By killing billions."
"It must end," she says flatly, looking at him.
He nods, bracing his forearms on his knees and looking, for a brief moment, defeated. Inert. She wants to punch him.
"I came in here to tell you to eat something," he says, rousing himself and smiling. "You don't eat enough, I've been informed."
"My eating habits are perfectly adequate," she protests.
"Your definitions of 'adequate,' as I recall, were always suspect," he returns, and leads her to the dining room.
As they eat, 831,300 civilians are killed when Bynes strikes.
He stands, shoulders straight, and she watches, still seated, as his eyebrows lower. General is watching, at parade rest, careful, but #1 feels no apprehension. He needed a push: Bynes provided him one.
"It is us or it will be them," Director says, hard as his dark eyes seek Bynes out in the sky through the window. "I will end this all."
So melodramatic: that is not his place. She is #1 for a reason. If anyone will end it, it will be her. It is merely easier on both General and herself if he is complicit.
"Yes," she agrees, and he turns to her in surprise. "And then the Federation will hang you."
"The Federation had their chance to end it."
"That will make a very good defense, I am sure of it."
"Do not mock me."
"You require mocking. You are ridiculous," she informs him. General respectfully leaves, and #1 presses a kiss to Director's lips and shakes her head. "Ridiculous," she repeats.
The difficulty is that despite the plan, they need time to work on the technology. One year turns into two, and her room becomes empty with disuse: her slippers are at the door with Director's boots, her notes have circles from his coffee cups.
Director flinches, at times, when a direct hit is scored and the number of fatalities reaches the millions on Bynes. He is compassionate. He dislikes that it happens at all.
"That is why he needed you," General says, as they watch Director walk out of the war room after a very productive day. She is playing a remembered piece on an imagined keyboard on the edge of the table. "It's strange that you are not Companion, though."
"No," #1 says, lips quirking. "It is not so strange."
She has maintained that: words to editors of papers and setting members of parliament who might balk straight. She will not be diminished. She is #1, and sixteen, but she is also Director's. He has someone to care for. He plays piano with her and for her as she dances, while on Bynes millions die in agony over the course of the three years it takes to complete their development of the final solution.
Director becomes more and more agitated in #1's 19th year. They had believed themselves to be winning: numerically it was certain. They had not, however, counted upon the desperation of a dying people.
Mutually assured destruction no longer matters to the Bynesians; their own destruction is ensured regardless of whether they act or not, and it appears that they are aware of that. They have weaponry which would destroy both planets, and it becomes a race against Bynes' desperation.
"You know what we must do," #1 says, when the technology is complete. She will launch in four hours: the war will be over in six.
"I do not wish to discuss it," Director snaps, untangling their legs and sliding from their bed, pulling on his clothing and leaving the room. She sighs in exasperation.
She has no desire to hover over the engineers: four hours is the timetable. It requires that amount of time to set it up.
Four hours to systematically target and hack all of Bynes's sensors, rendering them blind when the 2.5 square kilometer asteroid-like missile is launched at them. It will cause an extinction event: nothing will survive, and Bynes will become a roiling, violent planet full of earthquakes and volcanoes.
She is dancing as she contemplates it: weighing Director's obvious distress over her own calm and wondering which of them is the more sane.
She does not hear the assassins come in, but does hear the door crash open and General and Director's shouts of concern.
She is shot four times.
She is conscious when Director runs in and snaps the neck of two of the assassins: General takes out the other three. The pain is like fire. She wishes to press down on the wounds as though to force the pain down: to suppress it. She cannot, and Medic runs into the room, fretting.
She loses consciousness, and almost loses her life.
She resurfaces 82 hours later.
"It is done," General says when she sees #1 is awake. "He did it."
"You should have stopped him," #1 snaps. "You should—"
"He is Director," General says. "I follow his orders."
"Then you've killed him," #1 replies, and closes her eyes. "You have damned him."
She does not want to be awake anymore. The plan had been perfect: he would lead their people; help change society and perhaps give them all their identities and she would be the one to go to trial when the Federation came to punish them. She would be the one to stay in prison. And now…
She wakes on a cruiser.
"Director said to give you this," Captain73 says, and hands her a letter.
You will always be #1, the letter written in Director's sure, firm hand says. You will be our greatest, but we will never be the same. It is time to start anew: to be part of the Federation as we have never before been. Perhaps we will change our customs: perhaps you will be the last #1 and I the last Director, or perhaps the names will continue as titles, and we will be able to claim the luxury of identities we carve out for ourselves. General has already professed guilt to the Federation, and they seem to be willing to accept that she is to blame. She says you would want it thusly, and I am incapable of denying you anything. Be our ambassador: show the Federation who we are external from our conflicts. Be well, Beloved. Be safe.
It is a lie: his incapable of giving her her own way: if she had had her way she would have accepted blame.
She has four neat scars in a cluster on her abdomen, and she traces them with her fingers and wonders that she is alive.
Be our ambassador. It is not much, but it will do. She is genetically incapable of failing her people: if she is to be Starfleet's first Ilyri member, she will be flawless.
The General is convicted of war crimes. She is sentenced to life in prison: it will be two years, as she is 68.
#1 does not investigate further: it was made clear that she was to make a clean break. She does not know that she would know how to continue to live on Ilyria, with the war over. She was created to end it: not to exist in its aftermath.
Director was. She will leave him to it.
She doesn't mourn the loss; she doesn't know how.
Starfleet is a misery. There is no expectation of perfection, which makes her flounder academically. She finds that her cultural norms are not the norms of the majority culture: that here, sexual encounters are regularly first experienced at 16 or 17; that there are strong genetically linked family units. That those who grow up together raised by the same people would never engage in a sexual relationship.
She is too strange to make any social connections: her speech is too strange and her behavior too Vulcan, but she is not Vulcan, and therefore they do not embrace her.
She is surrounded by those whose lives are only beginning: she has, by their count, already lived a life and is now restarting. She has completed school, had lovers, a "husband", waged war and destroyed a planet. She finds them to be children, and for three years she cannot stop resenting them.
She keeps her own counsel: shares nothing of her history, though when she takes a lover his hand always stops over her abdomen, a question in his eyes.
"Birthmark," she will say, and the matter will drop. She exists here, but she is not of here: she does not fit.
It is a strange thing to be so lonely.
But she is #1. She is perfect, and eventually she finds a place to occupy. It gets better when she is on a starship, among those who appreciate her abilities.
And then the USS Kelvin goes down.
The Kelvin is a disaster, and it stuns her to find she is so affected by it.
Perhaps because it was a present event: she was intimately involved from the attack to evacuation to the return to Earth for processing. On Ilyria, everything was removed: it was numbers and data returns. Mechanical and binary.
For the first time she understands Director's emotional response.
But she has endured, and while her crew-members are falling apart around her she tends to them, because she is #1, and she is stronger than this. She once destroyed a planet: this cannot be allowed to rattle her too firmly.
She watches Christopher Pike. He reminds her, in a strange way, of Director. But there is something more…interesting about him. He takes authority where none is given, and yet, because he expects it, is given it. It is a strange loop.
She thinks, as they are all ferried back to Starfleet on Earth, that she will keep busy; find another post. It does not do to dwell.
And then comes the enforced sabbatical. Too much useless time, and she learns another dialect of Romulan and teaches herself to use contractions, to mimic Terran Standard.
She lives two doors down from Christopher Pike, which startles her. He is a reminder, even if she does not see him.
And then it becomes strange that she does not see him. She spends her days busy: she goes for runs and then practices at a ballet studio she finds: it is the closest she can come to the style of dance she learned on Ilyria. The dancers there laugh and do not get offended when she merely offers smiles in answer and teaches them in return for their free tutelage.
She speaks with the Vulcan Ambassador and meets his wife, whom she likes, and is introduced with their child, which she understands is considered to be a mark of favor in both Terran and Vulcan customs.
She supposes what bothers her most is that he has the opportunity to act: to make a difference with the dissertation they all know Admiral Archer assigned him. And yet he is…most definitely not acting. She has not even seen him go to the library, and while it is true that she is not monitoring his door keenly, she does speak with the librarians and several members of the admiralty and faculty. She cultivates these relationships carefully, for they will be needed one day.
She cannot say why it annoys her so much that he is wallowing in his grief like an indulgent child. He did not lose a spouse, as Winona Kirk did. He will one day be a great captain, but that will never happen if he kills himself with heart disease (the smell of greasy food wafts through her door, and she encounters the delivery people frequently enough that she knows them by name, and they always stop at his apartment).
Enough she decides after two months. She slips on her slippers ("Ballet shoes," Irena, one of the ballerinas, had said, but #1 prefers them: they are like the shoes she wore on Ilyria, and she crafts those connections), and walks two doors down, and knocks on Christopher Pike's door.
"Um?" He blinks most unattractively down at her. He has a pathetic beard growing and his eyes are very blue, in contrast to bloodshot whites and bruised-looking skin around them.
"I brought you this." She offers the PADD and he has no choice but to take it, and she slips beside him, looking about. It is vile. The mess is genuinely horrifying. The place would be better burned then attempt to clean it.
"This is… the list of who we should have eaten," he manages. She was going for shock value, she supposes.
"I broke it down in three parts," she agrees, looking around. "Nutritional value, workforce value, and morale."
"Morale?" He sounds very stupid. She reminds herself that he isn't: that it is a result of his poor attempts to become a hermit.
"People who are competent and healthy but are obnoxious are very bad for morale. They should be eliminated first," she explains, stepping over old clothes, headed for the windows. He has clearly kept the blinds drawn. The apartment smells of greasy food, spilled beer and unwashed clothing.
"Wait, wh—" There is a second's pause and then he is laughing, hard enough to shake with it and find it necessary to gasp loudly for breath.
She tilts her head, watching him in his moment of catharsis. "You need to get out."
He laughs again, but seems to agree as he says, "Yeah, well."
"You're getting fat," she provokes, and is pleased to see him flinch. He is soft, not fat.
"I go running every morning at 0800," she informs him, because routine is very important, and stimulating. "I will collect you."
"You—what? No, #1, look, it's—I'm fine, I'm just, this dissertation and—"
"Do you think you've died and not noticed it yet?" she interrupts him flatly. She grew up in a culture where the dead were replaced and hardly acknowledged after their hearts stopped beating. She is accustomed to death: this is indulgence.
He blinks at her. "I—what?" She opens a shade to let the sunlight stream in. "'Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not.' An intelligent observation, for a Terran. Of course, Xenophon was alive almost three thousand years ago. Does that make it more admirable or less?" She is genuinely curious; did the idea have enough merit that no one tried to expound upon it, or were they too lazy to come up with anything better? Christopher still looks baffled, and she becomes suddenly angry. "He is dead, and you are alive. Act like it," she says. "I'll return at eight. Be ready."
She will never be a leader of any people, but Christopher will be. She just has to get him off of his ass, first.
She is #1. She does not know how to fail.