New Vulcan, 2259, Brunch
Spock Prime clicked open The Daily Galaxy.
"SAN FRANCISCO SMASHED - JOHN HARRISON APPREHENDED" declared the headline. Spock Prime read the article, looked at the photos, then went to the Vulcan comics section, and finished his morning tea to process the information. Then, with a glance at the clock to see what time it was on Earth, he contacted Spock Jr.
He didn't actually call him Spock Jr, but that was how, in his heart of hearts, he thought of him. Jim Kirk's influence, no doubt. His Jim Kirk, not the new one. Kirk Junior.
The call was answered promptly.
"Mr. Spock," he said.
"Mr. Spock," Junior replied.
Ritual observed, Spock Prime got down to business. "When you contacted me, you implied that it was Khan Noonien Singh you were facing. Who is this John Harrison?"
Spock Jr. arched his eyebrow a fraction. "John Harrison is Khan."
"That man," said Spock Prime, "is not Khan. I have seen -- and even caused -- a great many changes to this timeline, but the Eugenics Wars were nearly three hundred years ago. I am reasonably certain that this particular discrepancy is not, as the humans would say, on my head."
"You are correct," said Spock Jr. "You do not draw well."
Sarcasm from myself, Spock Prime thought. This timeline continues to surprise.
"Joke! You just made a joke!" came a voice from the background.
"Please control yourself, Doctor, this is connection will doubtless become part of the historical record."
"I heard it, too!" said another voice
"And you, Mister Scott."
"Tell him thanks for the sandwiches," Scotty added.
Spock Jr let out a small sigh. "Mister Scott wishes to thank you for the 'sandwich club' subscription."
"I do use my knowledge of the future for good when I can," said Spock Prime wisely. "But that is not the point here. I'm sure you've noticed significant difference between the two Khans."
"If you don't want us talking during your calls," said Kirk, "maybe you shouldn't be taking calls at dinner, Spock. Hi, Spock!"
"Good evening, Captain Kirk," Spock Prime replied.
"There was nothing of importance being discussed," stated Spock Jr.
"I was telling you about that girl I met!"
"As I said--"
"Spock, I'm your captain--"
"Enterprise is scrap right now," said Uhura, spearing a noodle.
"You are also not Captain of the dinner table, Captain," said Spock Jr. "Please, I must attend to this call."
"That was Khan, everyone said he was Khan," said Kirk.
"I do not believe a few years more or less in cryogenic stasis could cause that much of a physical change," said Spock Prime. "In fact, I know this to be so from experience. That man is not Khan. I'll let you get back to your meal, Mr. Spock."
"Very well. Thank you for bringing this to our attention," said Spock Jr and cut the connection. "Excuse me."
He dabbed his mouth with a napkin, nodded to Uhura, and left to go do some checking.
'Khan' lay in his tube where he'd been stuffed and frozen. As a genocidecicle, he looked almost peaceful. The problem with verifying the data from Starfleet was that many of the remaining records of the Eugenics Wars, already incomplete, had been destroyed along with Section 31. All they had now was second- and third-hand reportage. Which, now that Spock considered the matter, was really quite convenient for both the late Admiral Marcus and the frozen Mr Harrison. Though he had to admit that the descriptions and degraded images of the historical Khan resembled Spock Prime's doodle a great deal more than they did 'John Harrison.'
Spock wondered if Admiral Marcus had ever realized this. Perhaps it had made no difference to him.
He also did not like to think about facing a Khan that Spock Prime thought more dangerous than the one they had encountered.
So Spock decided to go to the source. The cryotubes containing 'Khan' and his people contained a great deal of data, heavily encrypted with keys lost to history.
But 20th Century heavy encryption was only mildly challenging for 23rd Century cryptographers.The data contained in John Harrison's tube declared him to, in fact, be Khan Noonien Singh. Spock read over the ID data once more, then moved on to the next tube.
Another encryption cracked and a name appeared on the next tube: Khan Noonien Singh.
He looked into the viewing window. A black woman.
The next tube contained a man who appeared east Asian, also called Khan Noonien Singh.
Tube after tube, Khan after Khan. Spock was beginning to understand why their 'Khan' had gone to so much trouble to save his crew, but not taken the next step of unfreezing his army. It was much easier to play shuffle the cryotube than wake a comrade who might potentially give the game away, or expose the real Khan to unnecessary danger.
Eventually he found what appeared to be the man Spock Prime had, er, drawn, and wisely decided not to open it up to ask questions. He dug deeper into John Harrison slash Khan's tube, to see what he could find. Another layer of encryption appeared.
A flicker of an almost smirk appeared on Spock's lips.
"It appears, Doctor -- and Captain --"
"Oh *now* I'm Captain," Kirk muttered.
"--that one genetically superior human is much like another when it comes to carrying out Khan's mission to subjugate humankind," said Spock placidly.
"So who was he -- DON'T STICK THAT THERE, BONES -- Spock?" asked Kirk.
"A lower ranking member of Khan's army, according to the retrieved information. One 'Robert Hanson.' I did not choose to revive and interview him further on the subject."
"Damned lot of trouble for 'lower ranking'," muttered Bones as he checked Kirk's eyes.
"They were designed to be superior to humans in every way. I can of course understand that feeling," said Spock.
Bones snorted. "I'm sure you can."
"Girls, you're both pretty," said Kirk.
Spock lifted an eyebrow. "I am not familiar with that idiom. Assuming it is an idiom."
"It's a--" Kirk yelped as Bones did stick that there.
"I'll leave you to your physical, Captain," said Spock with a nod. He left, attempting to conceive of a credible scenario in which a 20th-Century human who appeared to be of northern European origin might be named Khan Noonien Singh at all, and failing.