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Literary Challenge #63: Nightmare Anomaly

pwecaptainsmirkpwecaptainsmirk Member Posts: 1,167 Arc User
edited May 2014 in Ten Forward
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

Today we start the two-week run of the sixty-third Literary Challenge: Nightmare Anomaly with a big thank you to user Aten66 for suggesting this topic in the player submitted suggestion thread. We hope to frighten and delight you Aten66 :)
Nightmare Anomaly

On an exploration mission into unknown space, you and your crew have stumbled upon and been caught in an uncatalogued, unusual anomaly that reaches into a theorized previously unknown layer of subspace that cannot be entered by physical matter. Exposure to this phenomena though has been causing hallucinations and nightmares to occur to your crewmen, with the exception of Photonics and Androids among your crew. Write a log of how your crew dealt with these nightmares, and how you either made this anomaly safe, or possibly closed this anomaly so it would harm no one else.

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
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  • worffan101worffan101 Member Posts: 9,518 Arc User
    edited April 2014
    D'trel ir'Aehallah tr'Rihannsu dreamed of her love.

    Adani was a beautiful woman. Light brunette hair, hawkish face with faint forehead ridges, brown eyes that sparkled with mirth.

    She stood there, by the falls, the sun shining. The day they had first met. The day D'trel had known that no matter how much the Unificationists were persecuted, no matter how many sewers she had to hide in, how many places she had to flee from, that her life would be happy.

    She smiled coyly, blushing a little, and beckoned D'trel closer. D'trel felt herself weeping softly.

    And then it was black around them, and faceless shapes in Tal Shiar uniforms had grabbed Adani, and fungoid things wearing the faces of D'trel's friends from Virinat were holding her down, and the Tal Shiar were cutting Adani, and she was still smiling, that smile that had been the last D'trel had seen of her love as she slid down the escape chute, and then...

    Hakeev was there, smiling cruelly. His face the scarred mess that D'trel would always remember him as, before D'trel and that psychotic Federation agent had tortured him to death. His eyes glowed red, and his lips parted slightly. His grin was evil made flesh.

    D'trel screamed, an incoherent mix of rage, hate, fear, and loss, and...awoke.

    A four-man security team broke through the door to her quarters. D'trel realized dimly that she was still screaming, tears running down her face.

    Then Subcommander Daysnur hit her with a psychic pulse, and everything went dark.
    "Second," said First Omek'ti'kallan. "What in the name of the loathsome Criminal One is going on?"

    "Criminal One?" inquired Daysnur. "And the Admiral had a bad nightmare. She's still incoherent. I can't even make much sense of her thoughts, but there's a LOT of rage and hate in there. I'd advise her confined to Sickbay until we figure out what the hell we're stuck in and get out of here."

    "The Criminal One is the loathsome Quark, who dared defy Glorious Odo'ital," said Omek'ti'kallan. "I had a nightmare during my last sleep cycle in which he tormented me with offers of latinum to betray Glorious Odo'ital."

    Daysnur snickered, then cut off with a sharp sideways jerk of his head. "Wait a minute...nightmares. I had a really creepy dream about being eaten by a saber bear last night...and Jak woke up in a cold sweat, said that he had seen me dismembered by Orion goons in front of him..."

    "You think that these nightmares are..."

    "Linked? You bet. I'm a trained mindhound, I know when to trust my gut. Get the crew together, anyone who hasn't had a nightmare reports straight to me. Jak and I'll try to get the engines back online in the meantime."
    Eight hours later.

    "None?"

    "Not one, Second. No one has had any dreams other than nightmares ever since we became trapped here."

    "Alzheimer's," swore Daysnur. "Damn subspace thingummies. Right, our first priority is getting out of here. Medication didn't work, as Subcommander Viasa can tell you. The Admiral's still incoherent. She slept for a few minutes, but woke up screaming about Hakeev and blood and Adani. Please don't mention that, by the way."

    "I swear by the glorious might of Glorious Odo'ital, that not even the Criminal One himself could wrench this secret from my lips."

    "Great." Daysnur sighed, and grabbed a mug of bloodwine. Klingon drinks were always the best. "Jak and I will work with Nelen Exil and the sci guys. Talk later."
    Sixteen hours later.

    "What are our options?"

    Jak's voice was uncharacteristically hollow and emotionless. Daysnur squeezed his hand reassuringly.

    "Well," said Subcommander Exil, his headcrest bobbing slightly with exhaustion and nerves, "we seem to be caught in some sort of subspace web that's linked to fluidic space, according to the Astrometrics team. The fluidic conduit is exposing us to warped and amplified Undine telepathic transmissions, which seems to be causing the nightmares. It's a lower-dimensional web, folded in a fractal pattern, giving it approximately 2.5 spatial dimensions and .8 of a temporal dimension. It's really a fascinating phenomenon, even for a specialist in a different area such as myself..."

    "How do we get out?" asked Daysnur.

    "Sublieutenant tr'Dalen suggested a tachyon pulse coupled with an antimatter release, but such a tactic is extremely dangerous; if we are wrong about the exact dimensions of the fractal web, then we could end up pasted across six or seven dimensions of normal space."

    "Which is a bad thing?"

    The Voth gave Daysnur a look.

    "We'd be reduced to subatomic jelly and spread across several spatial and temporal dimensions like butter on toast. Of COURSE that's a bad thing."

    "Are there any other options?"

    "We could try to go to warp..."

    "Can't. We might be able to make a tachyon pulse and antimatter release, but that'd tax the emergency batteries, and this fractal matrix thingy is sucking the core dry." Daysnur rubbed his eyes. Sleep deprivation was starting to get to him. He was beginning to accidentally pick up fragments of thought from the others.

    "Then sir? I honestly believe that our best chance is the tachyon/antimatter burst."

    "What are our chances?" asked Jak.

    "Fifty percent. If we're lucky."

    Jak looked at Daysnur. Daysnur dug his claws into his forehead scales.

    "The Admiral's getting worse, and Viasa's had five crew members check in with early-stage psychosis symptoms. We're all going to go insane if we stay here much longer. Every time we sleep, nothing but nightmares..."

    Omek rumbled softly as he spoke.

    "As First of this ship, I authorize this action. We shall use the tachyon pulse and antimatter burst to escape this trap of the damned Quark. Victory is life! Praise Odo'ital!"

    "You heard the First," said Daysnur with a bit of a grin. "Let's do this!"
    Twenty minutes later.

    "Tachyon pulse, ready!" shouted Subcommander Zel through xir refrigerator suit.

    "Antimatter spread ready to fire, synching to tachyon pulse," said Nelen Exil. First Omek'ti'kallan gripped his armrest tightly, reciting a prayer to Odo'ital under his breath.

    "..by the grace of Odo'ital, let us regain our lives this day..."

    "Antimatter spread synched!" shouted the Voth. "Ready to fire!"

    "Looks like we're all set," said Daysnur over the intercom. "Omek, I'm watching the Admiral. Jak's got Engineering under control. Fire when ready."

    "Fire," said First Omek'ti'kallan with absolute conviction.

    There was a loud bang, a burst of light off to the side of the viewscreen, and space stretched...

    And snapped back into place like a rubber band. First Omek'ti'kallan found himself flying. And then black.
    First Omek'ti'kallan awoke from the first reassuringly dreamless sleep he had had in over two days to a strange tingling in his legs, as if he were embedded in a bridge console. He looked down, and discovered that this was because he was embedded in a bridge console.

    "Praise...ow!...Odo'ital!" Omek pulled himself out of the console. The Vengeance really did need better restraining harnesses. These bargain-basement ones broke far too easily.

    "Second, report!"

    "Oooowww...fricking harnesses...oh, hey, Omek. The Admiral's OK, seems to have quieted down. Her mind's quiet, looks like she's asleep. No dream spikes yet. I'll tell you if anything happens."

    "Good. Zel, hail the Republic. Engineering, are we stable?"

    "Singularity core is back online," said Jak over the intercom. We'll be warp-capable in five minutes. Astrometrics just sent me some data, looks like that rift's closed for good."

    "Good," said First Omek'ti'kallan. "When you have the warp drive online, set a course for Mol'Rihan, warp six."
    D'trel ir'Aehallah tr'Rihannsu dreamed of a picnic.

    It was just her, and Adani, with a bunch of Klingon honor guards a respectful distance away, in a glade on Mol'Rihan. Adani looked older, worn, but radiantly happy. She had one hand behind D'trel's back, supporting her. D'trel couldn't seem to move her lower body, but Adani was smiling at her, and the sun was warm, and a family of cute little driclae were rooting around by a little tree stump, and a number of hulking Klingons were looking at the Romulan pair with something akin to awe and a lot of whispers, and that beautiful smile...

    Adani ruffled D'trel's hair slightly, then moved in for a kiss. D'trel found herself crying. It all felt so real...
    Daysnur leaned back with a sigh. She was dreaming. And a good dream, by the feel of it. Tears of happiness. Mammals were so strange.

    The Lethean mindhound kicked back in the recliner and popped the cork on a bottle of Chateau Picard 2407. It had been an eventful couple of days. Time to get drunk and then pass out for the night.

    Damn, that was good wine. Picard Vineyards. Worth the price, even for something as posh as the 2407. Only available through Republic officer exchange for a KDF member like Daysnur. But damn, it was good wine.
    Founder and Grand Vizier of the Glorious Regime of Sovereign Ba'al. Hail Ba'al!
    Baal%20prop%20pic%208_zpsqaptvpnu.png
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited April 2014
    Ael screamed as the deck convulsed beneath her, throwing her against a bulkhead, to collapse in a heap on the floor. She tried to push herself up, but the deck of the IRSS Ralaar'nevnilai shook mightily again, and she flew across the corridor, slamming her forehead into a railing and drawing blood. She howled again, before feeling strong hands under her arms, lifting and cradling her.

    "Let me see," commanded the reassuring voice of her uncle Salis.

    "I want Mother," Ael wailed as the distinguished man ran an expert gaze over his niece's injury, prizing her left eye open with a thumb to check her pupil reaction.

    "No concussion," he remarked gratefully as the ship rolled again. "But, you should be in your bunk. Your parents are busy cataloguing and recording something very important -- possibly the most important and terrible thing to ever happen to our people. They cannot leave their posts just because you could not do as you were told."

    The survey ship convulsed again, this time with enough force to drive Salis to his knee, but he kept hold of Ael, he did not let her fall.

    "Wh... What's happening?" she demanded, clinging to her uncle's neck. No longer the cries of a frightened child, but the authoritative tone of one born to command.

    Steadying himself with his free hand, Salis moved towards a sealed observation port, and tabbed the control to lower the blast shield.

    Ael looked out, recognising at once the constellations, and the locked orbits of ch'Rihan and ch'Havran, then she realised, that all around them, there were ships of all classes, all heading away from ch'Rihan, then she saw something moving towards the planets, almost invisible, noticeable only for how it distorted the stars behind it, until moments later, she saw the planet of her birth torn apart, the once great orb becoming nothing more than asteroids and debris, spiralling away into the night.
    ***

    "...to the bridge, I repeat, Captain to the bridge."

    Captain Ael t'Kazanak rolled over in bed and sat up as the sound of Commander Bellic Chanos' voice came through the intercom.

    "On my way, Commander," she responded, throwing aside the thin sheet and swinging her legs round to plant her feet firmly on the warm carpet. As she made her way toward her closet, Ael's sensitive ears heard a muffled moan from the adjoining room, and poking her head around the alcove, she saw S'rR's writhing fitfully in her bed, her face drawn into a disturbed expression as if she were having a bad dream.

    Unsure what she could do, Ael turned away from her friend, reaching for the new uniform jacket which hung in her closet.
    ***

    "Report," Ael demanded, stifling a yawn as she strode onto the bridge.

    "The ship appears to be caught in some kind of gravimetric distortion," replied Chanos as he vacated the command chair. "The source of the distortion would appear to be an artificial structure two thousand kilometers off our starboard bow. All attempts to break free have been unsuccessful."

    "Slipstream?" Ael suggested, but the muscular Bolian shook his head.

    "The tunnel isn't forming," he replied. "We suspect it's something to do with the field generated by the structure."

    "Let me see it," Ael said, but Chanos shook his head.

    "I wouldn't recommend it, Captain," he replied. "When we displayed the structure on the view screen, there were some -- extreme reactions to the sight of it."

    "Extreme?" Ael was almost afraid to ask.

    "Crewman Zho collapsed at his post, Cadet I'K'rR'h began screaming and tried to claw her eyes out before Lieutenant T'Natra could restrain her and apply a nerve pinch, and I'm afraid to say I regurgitated my evening meal."

    Ael grimaced, unconsciously looking about for the pile of vomitus.

    "Extreme reactions," she agreed.

    "That's not all," Chanos continued. "People in sight of the structure via viewports were also disturbed by the sight of it, with varying degrees of reaction, and sickbay has reported an uncommonly high instance of sleep disturbances."

    Ael's head cocked in an almost birdlike manner.

    "Sleep disturbances?"

    "Aye, Captain," the executive officer replied. "Apparently many people have reported unusually vivid and unpleasant dreams. I don't mean to pry, Captain, but given the time..."

    Ael nodded.

    "Quite alright, Commander," she assured him. "I was asleep, and had a somewhat unpleasant dream of my childhood, of when Romulus was destroyed." She sighed and folded her arms across her chest. "Are there any other ships in the vicinity?"

    "As a matter of fact, there are," the Bolian replied, moving toward the tactical console and calling up a real-time map of the area. Ael followed and viewed the results for herself.

    "Forty seven ships, all drifting within the vicinity of that structure," she mused. "No life signs, fluctuating power signatures, various ships from various species, and in the case of that old Klingon cruiser, some over a hundred years old. Curiouser and curiouser." Reaching out, she tabbed the intercom. "Senior officers, report to the conference lounge immediately."
    ***

    "...so we definitely can't break free?" Ael pondered.

    "Not all the time the distortions from the structure continue," replied Lieutenant Commander Meliden Bowen. "It's not a tractor beam in the conventional sense of something pulling us in and holding us here, it's more like a fly caught in amber. The more we try and push our way out, the more resistance is generated. It doesn't matter if we try to use warp drive or slipstream, run the impulse engines above capacity, or try and coast out on manoeuvring thrusters. Whatever it is that's over there, until it's deactivated, we're stuck."

    "The effect on crew morale is already noticeable," T'Reya observed. "Sleep deprivation in itself is a concern, but the reports I have received, some have been left extremely upset by their unconscious experiences, and not truly capable of functioning at an appropriate level due to that ennui. It would be logical to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible."

    Ael nodded, and looked about the conference lounge at the strained faces of her officers.

    "Has anyone ever heard of anything like this before?" she asked.

    "I have," Lieutenant Elyse Fisher said, raising her hand slightly from the glossy tabletop. "When I was at the academy, I read a report of how the Enterprise-D encountered an alien structure which held them in place, and caused the crew to experience bizarre dreams and hallucinations."

    "That certainly sounds like what we've encountered," said Commander Brandon Mayer. "What was the nature of the structure? How did the crew resolve the situation?"

    "Well, from what I remember, the structure was an alien museum of sorts," Elyse recalled. "It contained a history of a species so radically different to our notions of life, that the contents of the museum were highly disturbing to the humanoid senses, and created near-insanity and incapacitation to anyone directly exposed to it. The structure also generated a field which interfered with the brain waves of most species while unconscious."

    "So what did they do?" Ael asked.

    "According to the log, Captain Picard allowed Commander Data to be modified to function in the alien environment, whereupon he was able to deactivate the broadcast."

    Meliden sighed.

    "A pity we don't have any androids on board," she pointed out. "Although it may be possible to reconfigure Claire's input subroutines to allow her to do the same thing."

    "Are transporters operational?" Ael asked.

    Meliden nodded.

    "Absolutely," she confirmed.

    "Captain," Elyse said. "From the crew logs regarding their away mission to the artefact, the conditions were reported as highly disorienting and distressing. I would respectfully suggest that an away team would likely be unable to function in any meaningful capacity, such as disabling the field which keeps us here."

    Ael frowned slightly, then nodded.

    "You're absolutely right, Lieutenant," she realised. "Thank you for your contribution. Does anyone have any other suggestions?"
    ***


    "Mayer! Stow that tray properly, then give me five laps of the parade ground!"

    It wasn't worth arguing, so with a full stomach, Brandon Mayer went out into the cool evening, and began to do the laps. He didn't hurry them, and casually made his way back to his dorm room. It wasn't until he opened the door, that he realised that something was terribly wrong. The other cadets in his unit all sat, silent and horrified, as in the middle of the room, a larger, older cadet held another cadet down.

    "Hey! What're you doing?!" Mayer yelled, as the rapists cohorts grabbed his arms and pinned him against the wall. "You can't do that!"

    "Can't do what?" demanded the upper-classman, as he pulled his pants up. His name was Cecil Bernardez. He held Mayer's face, compressing his cheeks. "Can't come back tomorrow and do you?"

    Mayer bit the hand that held him, and took a slap across the face for his trouble, but knew now that his voice would not tremble.

    "You could, but unless you killed me, you'd never be safe again..."

    Bernardez snorted.

    "Heh, you're not my type... Let's go, boys. You know better than to try and jump me, right?"

    They left, and Mayer's bunkmates came forwards then. Now they wanted to do something. Ignoring them, Mayer climbed onto his bunk without undressing and lay facing the wall.
    ***

    Awareness shifted, and Mayer realised he was in his quarters aboard the Vanguard, his heart pounding in his chest. It had been years since he'd dreamed about Bernardez. He knew that it was only the influence of the artefact, he knew that what had happened at the academy had been beyond his control, that he could not have done anything to help Ael when Bernardez violated her whilst on a date, and that the nightmare was just his subconscious messing with him, but no matter what the counsellor and his instructors assured him, he still felt as if he could have done more.

    Sitting up, he ran his hands through his thick blonde hair, before he felt the mattress move behind him.

    "Bad dreams?" Will Mayer asked, somewhat redundantly.

    "The academy, and that filthy rapist, Bernardez," Mayer told his husband, standing up and pulling on a black robe and padding to the replicator. "Water, twenty degrees," he said, before gulping down the lukewarm water.

    "Has Ael said anything to you about it?"

    Mayer shook his head while tabbing the control to duplicate his last order.

    "We've been stuck here four days," he said. "I just hope she hasn't been reliving it."

    "If she needed to talk to us, she would have done so," Will said. "We've all got it hard at the moment, but you can't take on Ael's burdens as well."

    "I'm not just her friend, I'm her executive officer," Mayer pointed out. "Anything that could affect her capacity or judgement becomes my responsibility in ensuring the smooth operation of the ship."

    "Come back to bed, Bran," Will sighed. "Working yourself up won't do anything to help your judgement."

    Mayer nodded silently and recycled his empty glass.
    ***

    Meliden walked into main engineering, heading towards the warp core, when she saw Lieutenant Commander Heath Fletcher and Lieutenant Todd Mitchell laughing about something

    "What the hell's going on?" She demanded. "This is an engine room, not open-mike night at the 602 Club!"

    "Chill out, Mel," Fletcher said, slapping Mitchell's shoulder and eyeing her lasciviously. "Looks like you came to party, what've you got in mind?"

    Meliden's mouth dropped open. She looked down at herself, and saw scaly blue-grey skin, the secondary chufa between her TRIBBLE, and reaching up to her face, felt the heavy corded ridges around her eyes and at the edges of her temples.

    "First time I've seen the real you," Fletcher observed. "Is it true what they say about Cardassian women?"

    "I... No... I wouldn't know, I'm not Cardassian!" Meliden insisted. "I'm Human, I grew up on Earth!"

    "You don't look Human to me..." Fletcher observed casually. Moving closer, he reached out and ran his fingers through Meliden's long dark hair, before letting his hand rest on her shoulder "But you look good..."
    ***

    Meliden came awake with a start, realising that a hand had touched her shoulder.

    "Commander, are you alright?" Lieutenant Givi Teva asked, concern clear in her voice as Meliden sat up at her desk and rubbed her eyes, before experimentally touching her forehead.

    "I'm fine, Teva, I just dozed off," she replied appreciatively, relieved to feel only the smoothness of her surgically altered features, and the softness of skin re-sequenced to the Human genome, rather than the harsh Cardassian scales she had been trapped in her entire life. "How're the modifications to the deflector array coming along?"

    The young Bajoran shrugged her slim shoulders.

    "No progress at the moment, but Commander Fletcher's still working on it," she said.

    "Six days of this s**t..." Meliden muttered, before grinding her palms into her eye sockets. "No wonder I'm starting to lose it..."

    ***

    T'Reya felt Scolak's hand upon her shoulder, and repressed a shudder, her eyes closing involuntarily.

    "It is not the time," she said. "My blood does not burn with the pon farr..."

    "I don't care," Scolak hissed petulantly. "You are my wife, you will make yourself available to my desires."

    "I will not!" T'Reya screamed, spinning to face Scolak, her face contorted in a feral snarl. "I will not be subjected to your vile abuses and practices any longer!"

    The statuette of Khosaar, god of war, was in her hand without recall of grasping it, and she swung it into Scolak's arrogant face. That is not how it happened... some part of her observed as Scolak fell to the floor, and T'Reya beat him mercilessly with the icon, until it ran slick with his emerald blood. She had to hide the body, and began to dig, the desert sand rough, chafing against her fingers, until she had clawed enough of a trench to roll him into.

    She became aware of a flickering light behind her, and thinking the security forces had found her, turned with a sigh of resignation. Instead of a patrol shuttle, T'Reya saw a robed figure sitting by a fire. Leaving her grisly task, she moved closer. The figure lifted it's hooded head, allowing the light from the flames to illuminate his face.

    "Marcus!" she exclaimed. "But you are dead!"

    "In a manner of speaking," he agreed, reaching out to warm his hands by the heat of the fire. "Surely you had not forgotten how our minds once touched."

    "Of course not," T'Reya assured him, as she sat beside him so she could share the warmth of the fire. "But surely I cannot be carrying your katra -- only a Master could perform such a feat, and you are-"

    "...only Human?" Kane finished, before shaking his head. "No, you do not carry my katra, t'hy'la, merely..." he paused, considering the most suitable words for the esoteric notion. "...a memory of it. Have you ever turned off a monitor, to see an afterimage briefly remaining on the dark screen?

    T'Reya nodded silently.

    "That is all I am. An echo of the person you once knew," he paused and looked about the darkness of the Forge, the night wind ruffling his hair beneath the large hood of his robe. "Although it is curious how your subconscious has placed me here, hidden in the memories you keep most securely locked away."

    T'Reya raised an eyebrow and shrugged, unable to offer any explanation.

    "It must be -- intolerable," she murmured.

    Kane flexed his fingers, savouring the heat from the flames, before rippling them as if performing one of his ka'athyra exercises.

    "I have my fire for warmth and Scolak for company," he said, nodding towards the mounded dirt of the shallow grave. "Although I will admit, his conversation is not what it once was."

    Despite her training, T'Reya found herself laughing, before shaking her her head.

    "This should not be possible," she insisted, to which the Human who lived as a Vulcan shrugged, before focussing his slate grey eyes upon hers.

    "What can I say? It's a kind of magic..."
    ***

    T'Reya opened her eyes, and saw the flame of her meditation lamp had extinguished. She had not fallen asleep while meditating since she was a child, and had to acknowledge that the stresses of the situation were beginning to erode her endurance and she was becoming fatigued.

    Seven days of providing a sympathetic ear to the turmoils of the crew had ludicrously swamped her schedule, and she had had to endure recollections of assaults, abuses, Borg attacks, even bed wetting. As a counsellor, she could not simply nod at the right moments and ignore what she heard, she had to engage and empathise, and that meant listening to everything she had been told so she could offer suitable words of comfort and reassurance. But there was no-one who she could confide in and tell her nightmares.

    How could she admit to anyone that she had killed Scolak? How could she explain how years of physical and psychological abuse, of being manipulated into severing friendships and the resulting isolation had driven her to the decision to end his life? She was a murderess, and to allow anyone to know that, would be an end to her career, and likely result with incarceration on Vulcan.

    Reaching out, T'Reya reignited the flame of her lamp, and closed her eyes again.

    "Nash-veh gol'nev bolaya, t'hy'la..." she whispered imploringly in Vuhlkansu. I need help, dear friend...
    ***

    I'sH'd lay beneath A'sh'Rh as she writhed atop him. Leaning forwards, she used a silken scarf to bind his hands above his head. Craning his neck, I'sH'd kissed her TRIBBLE as they moved near his face, then A'sh'Rh leant backwards, gyrating and grinding her hips against him. His breath began to come faster, then all of a sudden, she leapt forwards, a slender blade gleaming in her hand, and plunged it down into his neck, again and again she drove the weapon into his chest, until he knew he was dead
    ***

    I'sH'd woke on the reclining couch with a start, his hand automatically gripping the hilt of his honour sword. The situation had become intolerable, and he had been pushed to his limit, waiting while the Federation crew blundered from one attempted plan to another. If he were aboard his old patrol ship, he would have dealt with this immediately like a warrior, not skirted the issue like a coward. Getting to his feet, he lurched towards the door of his quarters, intent on making his case to the captain.
    ***

    "Captain..." Claire said softly, manifesting a holographic avatar beside the command chair.

    Ael's head remained lowered, her chin resting on her collar bones, and her posture slumped in her chair as she slept, unable to remain awake any longer.

    "Captain!" Claire repeated loudly. She reached out and gently jostled Ael's shoulder, but such was the Romulan woman's fatigue, that she remained asleep.

    Claire looked about the bridge, an expression of frustrated concern on her face. Some consoles were manned, but the officers at the posts were far from fit for duty, and all appeared on the verge of collapse.

    "Don't worry, Captain," she said. "I'll take care of this now..."

    Were Ael awake and in a condition to respond, she would have seen aneasthezine gas billowing from the ventilation systems.

    Within fifteen seconds, Claire's internal sensors confirmed that every crew member aboard was unconscious, unlocking command options normally withheld from her.

    Reaching out with her industrial tractor emitters, the warship's AI began to pull the alien structure to pieces, tearing away vast sections of hull plating, then gutting everything inside.

    Within ten minutes, the structure had been reduced to a free-floating debris cloud, and the ensnaring broadcast had ceased.

    Manoeuvring away from the devastation she had caused, Claire launched a volley of tricobalt devices into the heart of the starship graveyard, completely and utterly destroying everything within, and rendering the region safe once more. Finally, while she waited for her crew to regain consciousness, she plotted a course for the nearest starbase, and began to cruise towards it at a leisurely warp seven.

    She knew Ael would be unhappy that she had destroyed the artefact, but the safety of her crew had overridden scientific curiosity, and once the crew had become incapacitated by their fatigue, unable to function, it had become her duty to protect them.
    909d7cda93335d83bb43d3459b4dfcd5_zpsayiqcsfi.jpg
  • amurorx0amurorx0 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Fighting alongside the Klingons & Romulans, the Federation wages war against the Undine forces at work in the Dyson sphere. Admiral Ray's Deep incursion vessel, the U.S.S. Grungust, was destroyed in battle. Cagalli is ferrying the crew to ESD to be reassigned to another vessel.

    Cagalli and Amuro are sitting in the mess hall, recounting the events that transpired during the battle.


    "If you were able to take out the planet killers, what happened to the Grungust and half the fleet" Cagalli asked.

    "The Voth put in a guest appearance, they brought a few of their - Mathis, its a bit claustrophobic in here. When will I be able to take this armour off?"

    "Afraid the armour stuck for until Miss Yeager can build another transporter, laddie. I'll try tae open the visor for ye." Mathis crackled through the intercom.

    The visor creaked as the eye plate slid upward, the face guard splitting in two as it ground its way to rest by Amuro's cheeks.

    "Ahh, that's a bit better! As I was saying. The Voth decided to launch a counter-offensive against us, they brought in a few of those damned dreadnoughts. Raked engineering with the first shot. Gave the order for everyone to abandon ship, Mathis here ignored that order." Amuro droned, knocking on the armour to provide emphasis.

    "Aye laddie. I wisnae aboot tae let yeh go commit suicide." Mathis chimed in.

    I figured out where this was going "So you set a collision course while the core was going critical, then busted out of the bridge before impact, hence all the damage to Mathis. Am I right?"

    "Yup, drifted around for awhile, latched on to an escape pod, just in-" The lights flickered on and off. I could feel this ship falling out of warp.

    I tapped the comm "Bridge, what's going on?"

    "Kyosuke here: There's an anomaly messing with the warp field. I dropped us out of warp and your RV linked in to the systems. Its throwing warnings across every console. Message reads Z97."

    I turned pale as ice "Cagalli? You look like you've just seen a ghost." Amuro chimed in.

    The words barely escaped my lips"I wish. Z97 isn't a warning, its an XN nav point. It's my home planet. It's Mara."

    "Shouldn't you be happy? I mean, its home. Don't you want to see your people again?" Amuro asked.

    "My people? To them I am a weapon. A defective one at that. Just as the Undine united the Federation and the Klingon Empire; so too did I unite the Barzam and the Geara. Both sides want me as a weapon, but neither side have been able to subdue me. They captured me, took my DNA and tried to make a clone army. I prevented this by destroying every military research site I could find. It lead to me being cast into the abyss. They must have tried to harness its energies for this to happen." I thought out loud. "BRIDGE! Get a message to Char, tell him to hold at maximum transporter range and prepare to beam people off the Dendrobium."

    "Message away..." Kyosuke's voice sounded strange as he tailed off.

    "Set yellow alert status. I want a full analysis of that rift asap."

    "Aye..." Kyosuke closed the channel.

    The ship lurched towards the rift. "What the?" I blurted out "Bridge, report!"

    "That rift has a massive gravitational field! It's pulling the ship in! There are some preliminary readings of a low level..."

    "Low level what? ... Kyosuke! Respond!" I barked down the comm.

    "Cagalli... Cagalli" Kyosuke hissed.

    'Damn. A low-level hypnotic signal. The Barzam must have located me...' I thought to myself.

    "What's your play, Caaaagaaaalliiiii" Amuro fell into the same hissing as Kyosuke.

    I heard my combadge chirp again, I near crushed it while leaping out of my seat "Cagalli."

    I heard the metallic tones of Fat Ram Dos "Radiation from anomaly has penetrated the ship, reading low-level hypnotic suggestion on the subspace band. Have had to flood bridge with anestizine gas as crew attempted to widen the anomaly."

    "Right." I said. "Fat: Secure all ship functions to yours and my access code only. Begin beaming everyone into the saucer section, separate and head for the Ra Cailum. Mathis!" I began barking out orders.

    "I, milady!" Mathis crackled.

    "Seal Amuro in, knock him out and make sure he stays unconscious. Can't have him overriding the lockouts." I said.

    "Aye." Mathis buzzed, the comm systems failing. "Just what are you aboot tae do?"

    "I'm about to scuttle the Dendrobium, to seal that anomaly. Get him out Mathis, that's an order." I scowled at the armour, now controlling the form within.

    Not one motion was seen.

    "Mathis, I gave you an order." My scowl had turned into a barely masked seething rage.

    I left the mess hall, headed for my RV "Computer: Beam all remaining life signs in the secondary hull, and the Mathis armour, into shuttlebay 2. Do not transport myself. Prepare RV for immediate launch. Set course for the rift. Self destruct sequence omega-sigma." I barked out to the air before me.

    "Time to end a war..."
    Ikuzo, Trombe!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 646 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Stardate: 91015.33

    Location: Just beyond the Alpha/Beta Quadrant, Towards the Gamma Quadrant.

    Captain's Log: Greg Sharvan Son'aire's log.

    We've been sent on a patrol mission to look for the sightings of a Terradome reported beyond the Beta Quadrant borders heading towards the Gamma Quadrant, and have so far found no evidence of such a structure being built, though gravimetric distortions seem to be common in this section of space. I've just decided to stop search efforts for the Terradome, if there ever was one, and decided to humor the science team and take the opportunity to scan some unusual spatial anomalies. Hopefully, knowing our luck, that nothing goes wrong, especially this far from know friendly territories, but we have a Voth scientist on our side, as well as two Borg officers who knew the science of the Borg, space physics aside, we should be fine.

    ********

    The Star Breaker was literally motionless among the ever moving field of stars and ever-growing vacuum of space. They were stuck motionless in a field of gravity distortions, and they had very little time to figure out what was going on. Voth science and Borg knowledge had very little information in this area of space, but they could figure out what kind of gravimetric disturbance they were in by comparing known similar events. They were stuck in a fifteen light year gravimetric inversion bubble, warping through the bubble was impossible, for it was what caused they're situation right now, before immobilizing them.

    The effect was similar to what an omega molecule would have caused if it was disrupted in the area, but instead of disrupting and destroying subspace, it merely overwhelmed subspace in the area, like overcharging a battery till it begin losing energy. Conventional impulse was not an option to escape either, as the strain would kill the engines long before they could ever escape the field, stranding the crew to death even faster. It was likened to being pushed into an orb of maple syrup, the more energy you tried to put into escaping the syrupy field slowly, the more tired you became until you would succumb to stress and die.

    The Voth and Borg officers conferred to him that very soon all of the energy the ship had would begin to bleed out as the ship would begin to be affected by the strain of gravity being put out by the field, and all systems would fail within a month, and the ship would be torn apart within a century. The final part would explain the metal wreckage we had found further into the field, and it was disheartening to find out that others had been stuck and unable to escape in this gravimetric fly trap. For now there was nothing we could do, and I had all my crew up for eighteen hours straight, so I confined them all to rest for now, and start on the problem again in the morning.

    ********

    Gregs' Dream

    A young Gregs Son'aire, tired and dirty from a long day of plowing the fields while his father brought their produce and handmade goods into the city to sell, finally sat down, tired yet happy, at the base of his tree, carved with his initials. The yummy and edible bark was bitter to his taste buds, and he reveled in the earthy, rich taste. Suddenly the winds picked up, storm clouds filled the skies above, and then all stilled as the clouds burned away to reveal the huge night sky filled with an innumerable amount of falling stars.

    Though he knew it should still be the day cycle, Gregs was amazed that this was happening, an eclipse and star shower that wasn't predicted by the Science Guild, an impossible stellar event, but it soon turned into immeasurable horror as a giant black object started to enter the planets outer atmosphere. A Planet Killer-class device was seen in the night sky, illuminated by the twin suns of their solar systems, and Quirton was close enough in this stellar cycle to be seen with the naked eye. The half decimated, ruins of the twin planet could be seen as meteorite fragments collided with Excrivion's atmosphere and the planet killer.

    Sudden shaking, tremors and quakes began to wrack the planet as geo-stationary orbit was lost, volcanic eruptions as plates split were beginning to occur, and the sky was filled with ash. Suddenly finding himself tingling, Gregs found himself, not on his planet, but above it, and found himself in the planet's artificial satellite, and surrounding him was a mix of Excrivians and Quiran people, refugee's from the apocalyptic device ending the normality of their lives. Gregs was all alone, he knew his parent's hadn't been saved in time, and he began to cry as he watched his planet burn.

    ******

    Still sobs echoed in his room as I awoke to darkness, draped in only my sleeping clothes, my bed sheets tossed away in the fear and the nightmare. When my pulse slowed, I stepped up to the replicator, getting a warm glass of milk, and sipped at the glass, as I pondered the dream. The date was nowhere near when I lost my home world, in fact I hadn't feared the planet killer ever since I met the Traveler, and was given a gift in the form of my tree, and a part of my families farm.

    It was weird that I had a nightmare related to one of his lesser fears, but I shook it off to the fact only a few days ago I watched the Undine raze ESD and Qo'noS, and that the Iconians had finally revealed themselves to the public eye, not the cloak and dagger puppetry I had witnessed before. Suddenly I had the urge, a tug in the back of my mind, as I realized something was miss in my ship, to go see how the rest of the Senior Staff was, for they were on the same deck as the captain's quarters. I left my room and heard a string of rihan curses coming from a room not two doors down.

    *******

    Anitara's Nightmare

    The young rihannsu girl was struggling against her captor, the wort draes that called himself Tal Shiar. He was more of an obsolete thought of Romulus before it was destroyed, an uncontrolled operative who wasn't really loyal to the now non-existent Romulan Star Empire, but loyal to the Tal Shiar. The man was llaekhnen, a murderer, who had killed her parents and many of the now orphans with whom she had been shoved into cramped quarters with. She was proving to be the most irksome to the man, who was wanting to get his job done and supply his leaders with fresh meat for their 'indoctrination' into the Tal Shiar forces. Of course the girl had then broken his nose, disrupted their warp drive, and caused him to force to land on a backwater planet that wasn't even on the Tal Shiar radar, called Virinat.

    She had mistakenly escaped the mans clutches, only to be backed into a cliff face by the man, now wielding an honor blade that he would use to more than likely, slit her throat and end the problem. He had gripped her shoulders now, and was about to kill her, when he instead started to shake her. She was shaken until she thought her head would roll off, and then awoke in a sweat, with her captain shaking her awake. "What, the.." she started to say, before she started to faint from exhaustion, "aehallh."

    ********

    Sickbay

    Gregs had picked up the romulan, and got her to sickbay, where a few dozen other crewman where already located, half strewn on beds, leaning against walls, everyone looking tired and exhausted from the previous day trying to break the ship free. Working among them was the EMH mk's one, two, and three, while other photonic crewman like the Hamlet, Gertrude, William, Cornelius, and others, not normally medical personnel, were working instead of the regular medical staff, who were also patients among the crew in the medical bay. "Hamlet, can you have the Cornelius and William to convert Cargo bays one and two into Medical bays for the incoming patients, if we don't do something soon everyone will be incapacitated," said a voice that I recognized as Khor, the photonic MACO Command Hologram, he then recognized Gregs had walked in to sickbay, "Captain, it's good to see your still up and going; is that Anitara, ahh I see, set her down on this empty bed here." Gregs set her down on an empty bed, and went to talk to Khor.

    "What is going on Khor, why isn't Ten, Zinuzee, or M'aei in charge of the medical staff, what is even going on?" I ask the tactical photonic officer. He looks grim, then points over two a set of beds and a Borg Regeneration alcove set, where I see all three of the medical personnel laying in pain and agony, like Anitara was when I awoke her.

    "They left me in charge, activated the EMH's and gave me a new holographic matrix to upgrade with, holding the combined Federation, Voth, and Borg medical and spatial scientific knowledge to try and find out what could be causing these nightmare's," he says, then opened a P.A.D.D., "From what I've found, and this is only based on theory, there seems to be a form of subspace tied up and entangled with this gravimetric field, it's unreachable by the majority of physical matter and it causes havoc when it's event horizon crosses into our plane of existence; and we've been caught in the event horizon." He opens a file on a computer screen in the sickbay, and pulls up scientific data and charts. "With this new information, I was able to find out that there was something else going on within this field," he says, "This tie-in, it was artificial in nature, and I've found the source some three light years away from our location; it was tricky at first, but I used what tactical knowledge I could and found that what ever is causing this is not only creating this artificial gravity bubble, but is hidden in subspace like the Jenolan Space gate was, and the Solanae research station you found from the New Romulus gateway." He brings up a star chart of the area of space they had crudely mapped before they entered this anomaly, and a point in space was red, marked where this mysterious machine was located. "That Captain, is where we need to go," he says.

    ********

    Nightmare Montage

    "You are not Verran Kodo, he does not exist, you are a temporal duplicate of a great saurian who died at the hands of the mammalian forces, Nelen Exil you are not worthy of death, duplicate," the Ministry Elder said, "We sentence you to living death, exiled from Voth society, with the mark of the society you so disdained, any Voth who finds you will have orders to kill you." A long iron rod is pulled from a great furnace that was started at the beginning of this conversation, a branding mark at its tip. Verran was restrained by large armored guards and forced to watch the metal brand of the Voth seal, sear the flesh on his face, branding him an outcast, as he screams and withers in agony.

    ***

    Gar'atadar, the security officer saw the crew slaughtered, it's captain the only remaining man alive to face the threat to their ship. The enemy held the Captain by his throat, and slashed it, killing him instantly. The Jem'Hadar could only grimace at this tunr of events, before a Vorta walked up and put his hand on Gar's shoulders. "Good work First Gar'atadar, you have done well reclaiming this enemy vessel for the Dominion," the Vorta Dathan says, "Victory is life!" This was followed by the squad of Gamma and Alpha Jem'Hadar that had boarded the ship and claimed this vessel, Gar'atadar their new First.

    ***

    Soria Daria, watched as her family and the remaining crew of the Constellation were brutally attacked and punctured by the assimilation tubules of the Borg Drones that had boarded her ship as it fled the Vega Colony. Now only she was left, a scared little girl, wailing for her mom and dad who no longer recognized her, and they came to her, she could see the lights from their ocular implant, their metal appendages clanking as they approached, all ready to assimilate the final member of the crew. She was alone, and that was all she thought of as her once family closed in and assimilated her young form.

    ***

    The cruel Terran Empire logo hung above her head, the judge and executioner, the pitiful jury of her peers, stood and watched the Trill girl, the traitor that was exposed. The man she knew was Gregs on the other side, he was so different here, cruel and no love shown in his eye, a twisted smile on his lips as he held the evidence that would condemn her. The articles of her demise were her own clothes, they had stripped them from her when they found out who she really was, a Federation spy, and forced her to wear the baggy prisoner clothes she now wore. He had showed them how soft she had gotten, how she had gained hope, that she was a traitor who no longer held the ideals of the Terran Empire, foiling their attempts to conquer the other universe. Now here he was again with her own counter part, the unjoined Lexis Zidire, sharpening an axe, and ready to kill her at the judges notice. The Judge was Admiral Quinn, the successor to Smiley O'Brien's foiled rule. She knew she was dead, the moment she was caught, this was all for show, and she was an exhibit, to show any who had hope, that they would all fail in the end.

    ***

    The Orion girl was thrust back into the filthy cage that was her home. She would dream of the times when her sister was kind, not cruel, who had loved her, before their father was killed, and she had turned into a head among the Orion Syndicate, using manipulation, intrigue, and favors to slowly blackmail, kill, and rule the families around her area of control. Deiso once dreamed of being saved by a young man, but when her sister finally found her again, she had that dream ripped from her grasp by her cruel sister. She knew there was nothing she could do about the life she now found herself in, but she hoped one day she could escape, but inside that hope was slowly being chipped away, the forgotten girl who dreamed of the stars, grounded by cruel reality.

    ***

    Densirih Thihr, the only Aenar at the academy this semester, hated to be spoiled by her classmates and academic seniors, all because of her disability, her blindness. She was a natural empath, a gift and a curse when ever she went out beyond her people, like all Aenar, for she could feel the pity, the false sympathy, and the lies they all told her. If they would only treat her like an equal, she could blossom into a better person, not embittered by the way they treated her now.

    She was a first year academy cadet, and everyone she met, save fellow andorians, and even then only a few treated her as equals; she was looked down upon as inferior because of her blindness. She was in an assembly, the first day assembly, and felt everyone around her a they all settled down. They invited a few of the first day cadets to introduce themselves, for it was a small class this year, and it came down to her. Suddenly she had a panic attack, she felt everyone as they started to feel sad, disheartened, pity, and other feelings towards her, and it began to crush her, weigh her down, and she felt fear. She felt her curse turn upon her, making her sad, and depressed, how she wished she could just lay down and die.

    ***

    The House of Vagh was no more, and Anar, as he held his younger sister Rani, barely two Earth years old, in his arms, while his father and family was disgraced, basnish from Qo'noS by the high council for treason and helping the enemy. Duras, it would be a name that would burn in his heart in later years, but for now Anar, a little child of seven, was afraid of the menacing figure of the High Council members. He then was afraid, as they all turned back around, grotesquely morphing into Hur'q, the honorless ones baring long and dangerously curved daggers, which they proceeded to plunge itno his remaining family, with only he and his sister remaining alive. Suddenly like feral Targs, they turned with bloody and wicked grins with sharp, jagged teeth to the two children, with Rani wailing at the carnage that occurred, and Anar in a panic. They descended onto the two children, with no mercy.

    ********

    He was alone on the bridge, he was panting heavily, mainly because he had ran through twenty three decks to get to the bridge. Now with some free time he began to lock down the computer system by system, until life support and replicators, locked to one item, were all anyone could access, except with his personal command code. Now he began to set up a recurring warning, deploying probes loaded with subspace relays, all to keep everyone away from this ship. Now he could wait for the others, for he knew they would be coming for him soon, so he chose to spend it in his ready room.

    Reaching under his desk, removing one of the various secret panels, he removed a bottle of Romulan Ale, then took a glass and poured himself a drink. Then Zinuzee walked into the room, a P.A.D.D. in her hands. She smiled at him, an innocent smile, and then set the device at his desk. "Captain, have you gone to the bottle again," she says wryly, "I'm sure our bartender will enjoy talking you out of making a poor choice like this again." Suddenly he slams the glass down onto the desk.

    "Don't you dare take her image creature," he says, "I know you think I'm fooled by your disguise, but you didn't think I hadn't noticed that you've inserted yourselves; you've probably already killed my whole crew by now." She smiles again, this time not as innocent, and she gets closer, almost brushing her lips to his, but instead pulls away and places her hand on his shoulder.

    "We knew you had discovered us, once we figured out you had begun to lock us out," she says, tracing her fingers around his ear, "but it will do you no good now, you'll die like the others Gregs." She shoves him roughly against the wall, the hand on the shoulder pinning him with strength that betraying its feminine form.

    "If you kill me, do it to my face," he syas to Zinuzee, "I'd rather die knowing my killers true face, not the face of the one I love." At this she gives a Cheshire grin, her face morphing into grotesque features, inhuman, but totally normal for a specimen of species M-113. The sucker like appendages were revealed, it's grotesque mouth ready to suck the salt from his form. Gregs could only accept his fate, screaming in agony and wracked with pain, as the Salt Vampire drained him dry.

    ********

    He sat on the bridge, panting heavily as the air around him was filled with acidic smoke, it had no effect to the others in the room, though they were photonic life forms. In the few days it took to reach the hidden subspace base, the majority of the crew had begun experiencing auditory or visual hallucinations, mental breakdowns, loss of motor function, and so many other serious physical and mental dangers. The stress to the engines wasn't much, but the consoles inside the ship were smoking and burning up as electrical discharges randomly occurred among the many decks. All non-essential systems were cut, replicator use all but abandoned, and fresh food stocks were being depleted at a good rate.

    It was hard for him to think, he had almost no sleep, except for six hours of fitful, nightmare fueled sleep spread out among the days, all necessary for him to function, and it was only with his extreme mental discipline, his own stored energy reserves, and extrasensory power, that kept him saner and functioning at a higher level than the majority of his crewmen, left unaffected by fatigue for now. The energy hadn't begun to affect the photonic crewmen, and so he had begun to activate all holo-emitters he had to use what programs he could to run the ship. Now though, they had reached their goal, and was just about to reveal the culprit behind the mysterious energy field that plagued them all.

    *****
    (Gregs Pov)

    Using an inverse tachyon pulse, we were able to scan, and somehow activate, the base and caused it to come out of subspace into real space. Suddenly struck with vertigo and almost passing out, Khor, now a security hologram again, accompanied me and led me to the transporter, where we were then transported onto the station. Upon being transported in I found that my vertigo, fatigue, it all vanished in the station, meaning some form of shielding was put in place so the inside wouldn't be affected like the outside. Though, I could still feel the prick in the back of my mind, like something was still there.. a presence...still off.

    Inside was just as horrific as what had occurred outside, as half preserved skeletons of ancient beings no longer able to be identified, were still laying in the positions when they had died. Some had long ago turned to dust, evidence by dust piles in the shape of bodies. Exploded consoles, old and blackened, littered the floor with shards of unknown components, and what we thought was weapons fire marks, could still be seen on walls or where a few of the bodies lay. It was an eerie atmosphere, and I could only hope that whatever had caused these beings' death, was long gone with the passage of time. I stooped low to exam one of the bodies at a console, the bones were brittle with age, a miracle it hadn't turned to dust like some of the others; and the console I examined it was barely functional, and as far as I could tell, was working on minimal power. Khor, meanwhile, was scanning the surrounding area for working consoles, a computer interface, anyway to deactivate the dangerous field outside, or at least figure out how to combat it.

    Suddenly sensing we were no longer alone, I look to see an imposing feminine figure, cast in oily black, adorned with armor of an unknown substance, stood the Iconian from the Jenolan Accords meeting. She just stood there, not moving, not speaking, and it freaked me out. Suddenly shaken to reality by Khor, I realized I was staring at an empty space, and listened to Khor speaking.

    "Captain, I think you have to see this," Khor said, removing a film of dust from a console on the far side of the room were in. I approached him and took a look at the console Khor was pointing to. Inscribed into the top of the console was an ancient dialect, unseen for centuries, except in ancient ruins and museums throughout the Federation. While similar to Iconian and a few other ancient dialects, the fire like symbol of the Tkon Empire stood proudly on the console; a race that had died out long before the Iconians had even begun their own conquest.

    "Get Out," I heard a feminine voice echo around the area, "Get out and escape, never come back, destroy the station, escape with your lives or die, die like the Servitors you are, succumb to death." I shook my self back to reality, realizing Khor hadn't heard anything, and I feared that even though my fatigue lessened, I must have still begun to hallucinate and fall prey like the remaining crewman. I looked over at the console, but saw the Iconian female again, I was freaked out now, but chose to ignore it, turning my attention back to Khor.

    "The Tkon they weren't warriors by trade, maybe when necessary, but they were peaceful explorers by what we've ever found in ruins," I say, "Could this be one of their earlier experiments, perhaps in subspace manipulation gone horribly wrong?" The holo-program merely shook his head, and shrugged, uncertain what it could have once been. Suddenly I found the console we were looking for, a console that explained the experiment that had gone on in this secret, subspace satellite. I began to read, trying to anchor myself into reality.


    **********
    Portal 789 Daily Report:
    It's been three solar cycles since the home system has finally decided to go ahead and replace the dying home star with a fresh young star. The color=green]Error Files Corrupted... Initiating Corrective Recovery of Stations Systems...[/color These will be my final words before the home system attempts the grueling 68 Bida-cycle task of locating and replacing the home star system. Now in a few stellar hours, the star will be replaced with a fresh young one from stellar candidate E-XPK-639, a suitable replacement found nearby where the Young Ones live.

    The science guild has reported that the Young Ones won't be affected by their neighboring star being replaced, though their science programs may realize the change in stellar cartography, and they may send an unmanned probe to check this change out.

    color=green]Searching for Next Relevant File...[/color

    It's been so long, and we are all that is left. The darkness is warm, and inviting now. We have failed as a people, the home star was transferred out, but something went horribly wrong in the process, the home star went supernova, destroyed the home system with the majority of our civilization and knowledge, and along with it so many of our people in the other outposts have died out in the process. We only were spared because of the fact we were so far from the closer outposts, but not without damage to our station. We can no longer hide within subspace to avoid detection by the Young Ones, and we fear we might contaminate their society if they find us here.

    As the last remaining Portal of the Tkon, I Portal 789, have decided to set up gravimetric distortions beyond the station in a radius of seven and a half light years. My goal is to try and reactivate the subspace bubble that would hide us, and for me to go into long sleep, to save what knowledge the Tkon have, and someday spread that knowledge to those who may be of our like, our equals.

    I may end my life with this action, I may rupture subspace for light years around, but if it keeps the deadly and ancient secrets of the Tkon from harming other cultures, to keep them from dying... to keep them from abusing it... then so be it.

    color=green]End Age of Makto Files... Continue On to More Current Files? YES/NO[/color

    [/Yes
    ..........

    Command Accepted.
    Transferring Files.
    ........
    Relevant Files Found. Displaying.
    ]

    I have failed in my attempt to keep the secrets from those who would abuse them, the Young Ones, they have done horrid deeds since I was last awake; they had found many of our dead outposts and reengineered their technology to closely mimic ours. When I awoke, our satellite was boarded by a crew of misguided slaves, wanting to cannibalize our subspace technology for their own use. What I read from these 'Servitors', as they called themselves, was a disturbing revelation. The Young Ones had ecome their gods, and they wished to reclaim our ancient secrets for their masters.

    Our Brothers Among the Stars favored the hopeful Young Ones, the ones we were familiar with; they were promising, and after the fall of the Tkon, they were the next promising culture for candidacy to join the Brotherhood. Originally a warlike species, the Young Ones conquered for a time, before coming into an era of peace with the Gifts from the Brothers. While they had turned away from conquering, the damage was done and they had subjected a few dozen worlds to their rule, but then had them as equals under the Young Ones new protectorate rule. Then a small majority began to become corrupted by the Gifts, in turn corrupting their society as a whole, and turning them back into the marauding warlords they had come far from.

    Much technologic advancement occurred within a hundred thousand years from the fall of the Tkon, the trans-galactic teleportation the Tkon had created was perfected by the Young Ones, they created large massive spherical constructs, implements of war pioneered to use the ultimate and destructive power of the Omega, able to transport millions of warships to conquer space and instill fear, all based off of the Tkons final, destructive attempt to replace their star, and these spheres were created with the death of a few thousand star systems worth of raw material.

    I have killed these 'servitors' of the Young Ones, but find myself fatally wounded; though I find myself at the most impromptu time to die. The subspace barrier has begun to bleed out into the gravimetric bubble I had created, and has entangled reality with subspace; a dangerous mix for all physical life forms. Though this station will hold the effects back for a time, it will eventually fail, and now that I fear my death; the subspace rupture won't keep others out, all will succumb to madness death, and the eventual destruction over eons of time by the slight gravimetric crushing effect. Maybe by destroying the station subspace may untangle itself, but for now I feel myself slipping...perhaps I can keep an echo in the station...a ghost in the machine, but it won't last long... I am already dead... but perhaps I can save others, warn them...color=green]File Ends Here, After 6 Cycles Of No Response, Station Returns To Subspace, Awaiting New Portal From Tkon. Returned to Minimum Power, and Every 600 Cycles, Would Collect Solar Energy to Replenish Reserves.[/color


    **********


    Suddenly feeling that prick in the back of my mind returning, this time turning into a pounding, I knew something was wrong. I felt my brain on fire, my own memories then began to flash in my minds eye, as in they were being pulled from my head by an unknown force. Then my head was flooded with disturbing images, this station filled with living beings, I could only assume was Tkon, then flashes of a planet as its star went supernova, a damaged station and only one alien, a female Tkon remaining, then of the station boarded by unknown aliens pillaging the station for its secrets, and then of these same aliens dead in various places, the same Tkon woman wounded and bleeding from her torso, as she recorded her final moments to a blank and fuzzy holo-program typing at the console for the woman. Then of the woman turning to spheres of energy, bonding with the station walls, and the hologram fading to darkness with the remaining working consoles on the station.

    I look up from the ground, after realizing I had passed out, to see a figure on the base. No longer do I see a female Iconian, but a female dressed in strange garb, humanoid, and as I realize, she was a female Portal, a living Tkon. She had a gaping, bleeding hole in her side, though no blood poured from the wound. "Get out, before your people die, Gregs Son'aire, destroy the station, and save your people from my failure," she said, "you can save them, you can keep the secrets of the Tkon from those who would abuse it... I need you to do this for me." She pointed to a single console, one neither I nor Khor had scanned yet, and I went to look at the console. A simple console, I notice what may be an interface on the device, similar to the other consoles. Activating it, I bring up the last known action, showing a dictating hologram having shut itself off, a final message it had recorded, and a program that could activate the latent self destruct capabilities of the station.

    "Khor, I need you to download what you can off the stations consoles, work as fast as you can, and transfer them to my personal computer," I order my officer. He nods and begins to do so. Several minutes later he had finished the task, while some files had been corrupted with age, he had stored what he could onto the Star Breaker. Satisfied I ordered him to the ship, and then began to activate the stations self destruct, on a timer. Just before beaming myself out, I again saw Portal 789, this time smiling at me, as the world faded to my senses, I found myself on the transporter pad. "Helm, set course for away from here, top speed, I delayed the self destruct, so that we could get far enough away," I say into the combadge, whatever officer who was listening at helm, would follow the order. I chose to go to the bridge, where I could wait to see whether this would solve the problem, or whether we would have worse repercussions follow the stations destruction.

    *****

    Watching the view screen from the bridge, I observed the station explode in a blinding flash. We were a light year away from the station when the shockwave hit us, the gravimetric anomalies were beginning to disperse, and we found ourselves trapped in a wake, tossing us a few light years away. Khor confirmed subspace in the region was mending itself back together, and that warp travel was now possible again, I told him to set course for DS9 as fast as possible, and had him initiate transwarp speed to shorten the return time. By the time I started to return to my quarters, I found the room started to spin, and felt fatigue set in, prolonged by sheer will, my mind went blank and I slipped into unconsciousness.

    ***
    Pleasant Dreams

    I could barely see anything in the darkness, but then a spotlight shone on an empty wooden floor. I tried to look and see where I was, but could only see the light shining from somewhere in the darkness. I looked again at the floor and saw a picnic table where there was none before. A little freaked out, I decided to sit at the table, where food and dining wear was set up, a luncheon for at least ten people, and I realized the picnic table had turned into a royal table fit for kings, queens, and lords and ladies of a grand court.

    I looked down and found myself in a kings robe, miraculously finding a scepter in my hand as well, and a bottle of ale in the other. "Mon Capitaine, you seem to be enjoying the feast well," said a voice I recognized as Q. I turned my eyes aside and found that Q sat next to me, and when I turned my eyes back at hearing voices, the table was filled with my bridge crew and senior staff dressed in similar fashion to the table setting and me, and a royal english feast was on the table, even including roast pig, and everyone was in a merry mood and feasting. "I figured with that nasty little experience you all had, I thought I could give you a bit of a gift for all you had to put up with," he says with a coy smile, "that way when you see me next I can really go out on you...he...he..." He sat down, and pulled a hunk of the roasted pig off to eat it. "Mff,gmm, mfffmh, " he says, then swallows the food in his mouth, "Err, as I'm sure you figured out, I am Q, but I'm also sure you figured I could merely be a figment of your unconsciousness". With that he tosses the cleaned off bone into a pile of scraps, and stands up. "Either way captain," he says with a devilish smile reminiscent of his father's, "I believe you earned it, helping Portal 789 to move on..." Q snapped his fingers and in a flash he was gone, but I had already forgot him as the dream continued, and I joined in the revelry and feasting of my crew.


    ***

    Real World

    A smile on his face, Gregs Son'aire was set on a makeshift bed in his ready room by the holographic security officer, once again turned into a CMO program, and when he was satisfied he wouldn't awake, Khor left the captain to his pleasant dreams, and took the opportunity to contact DS9. The Federation starship the Tsunami, captained by Greg's friend Hazari, would meet them halfway so they could make it back without incident, while the majority of the Star Breaker could recuperate in peace.
  • jonnaroslynjonnaroslyn Member Posts: 50 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    "In hindsight", Elizabeth said, giving her eggs a sceptical look, "I can't believe it was only three days. Seems ridiculous."

    Kamryn shrugged, tightening her grip around her cup of coffee. "Three days, three weeks, doesn't make it any easier to deal with." she said, looking around the mess hall. Alpha shift, the first proper one not on a skeleton crew and with both Lieutenant junior grade Elizabeth Harper and Ensign Kamryn Banks declared fit and back on duty again, would start in half an hour, and the mood in the mess was subdued, people chatting quietly.

    "True." Elizabeth conceded. "At least we're getting some shore leave out of it."

    "And mandatory counselling" Kamryn said in a voice that made it very clear what she thought of that.

    "Might not be so bad" Elizabeth said after a few moments of pushing her neatly cut up sausage around her plate. Without looking up, she went on, "I mean, I talked to some other people who - ah - relapsed, and they hadn't had therapy in years either, mostly medications when it got really bad, and we were thinking, well, this might be a good time to start again."

    Kamryn leant back in her chair, putting her mug down on the table but not letting it go. "That's just the after-effects talking. You forget that this wasn't natural. You didn't relapse, subspace just messed with your brain chemistry."

    Elizabeth finally stopped arranging her breakfast in tiny, ketchup-smeared landscapes to frown at her friend and colleague. "Why are you so opposed to this? Everybody's gotta do it."

    With tight movements, Kamryn moved her untouched bowl of fruit and her coffee to the side to lean forward with her elbows on the table. "Because" she said, voice an angry whisper "I know exactly how it's going to go. Let's talk about your parents, Ms Banks, oh, are you sure you don't want to try hormones, and how has your temper been? Been there, done that, don't want to do it again."

    Elizabeth made a face. "You could ask the Admiral to put in a good word for you?"

    Kamryn rolled her eyes, but deflated visibly at Elizabeth's helpless tone. "At this rate, I'll still be repaying her favours by the time I'm ninety."

    "Won't we all."

    Elizabeth and Kamryn looked up. Lieutenant Ilum Aino and Ensign Yuliana Patel, the gamma shift bridge and conn officers, stood next to their table, dinner trays in hand.

    "Good morning!" Elizabeth said, gesturing for them to take the two remaining seats at the table. "How was your shift?"

    "Beautiful." Yuliana said with a small smile, "Nothing happened. It's nice when the Mutabor doesn't vibrate like it will break apart any moment."

    "It was so boring, in fact," Ilum added while stirring through his soup, "that the Admiral let us leave early."

    Elizabeth and Kamryn exchanged a worried glance. "She's back on duty already?" Kamryn asked, reaching for her coffee again.

    Ilum nodded. "She's flying the ship right now."

    Wide-eyed, Elizabeth looked around the table, trying to express her thoughts on that without being disrespectful towards her commanding officer. Before she could say something less than ideal, Yuliana spoke up. "Doctor Siluur was with her. I think it's her way of coping. But I agree," She paused, looking down at her plate, letting some of her dark hair obscure her face. "she deserves at least a month of doing nothing. When we finally got the ship free, she was - I can still hear - I never imagined I'd see her like this, and I don't want to, ever again."

    Silence followed her words. Towards the end of the third day that they had been trapped in the subspace anomaly, Ensign Patel had been the one to fly the Mutabor out - wrenched the ship free, literally. With the rest of the crew having succumbed to the hallucinations and the stress, cooped up in their quarters or drugged and restrained in sickbay and the brig, she'd been alone on the bridge in those last hours with Admiral Roslyn and Crewman Eco, the ship's only liberated Borg crew member. Eco had been least affected by the anomaly, thanks to his nanoprobes, but the Admiral was a different story.

    "I heard you did some pretty impressive flying back there" Elizabeth said with a strained smile, in an effort to keep everyone from turning morose. Yuliana blushed, and tried to hide her smile behind one hand.

    "I almost broke off a warp nacelle, but thanks. I can't remember how I did it, although I'm pretty sure I mostly did what Admiral Roslyn and Eco told me to." she said.

    Kamryn shook her head, brows drawn together in thought. "It's incredible" she said, "She's never been comfortable around him, and with the things we were all seeing... " she trailed off, staring into her coffee.

    Ilum put down his spoon, pushing his still full bowl away from him. "I heard Commander Eide recommended him for a promotion. You too," he added with a nod towards Yuliana, who bowed her head again.

    Elizabeth sighed. "I guess this is the sort of thing that properly changes people's relationships, even if we all could've done without it... although it does make you appreciate being able to look out of the window and see the stars, instead of the nothingness of subspace... and other things."

    There were silent nods around the table, each officer lost in their own thoughts, the memory of what they'd experienced still fresh in their minds and visible on their tired faces.

    After a while, Elizabeth and Kamryn got up to make their way to the bridge. Before they left, Elizabeth said to Ilum and Yuliana, "By the way, maybe you can pop into sickbay later. Lieutenant Richter still hasn't improved."

    "That's odd," Ilum said with a frown, "I thought his wounds were only superficial?"

    Elizabeth shook her head. "It's not that. Apparently he's still hallucinating, badly. Something's left in his head that's hindering his recovery."

    Yuliana, wrapping her arms around herself, gave a tense nod. "We'll definitely go see him. Thanks."

    x

    On the bridge, Kamryn made her way to Ops, and Elizabeth relieved the Admiral at the conn. She looked, the pilot thought, about as bad as Elizabeth herself had felt when she'd been at her worst in the anomaly. Admiral Roslyn's eyes were blood-shot and had dark rings under them, and the spots running down her temple and neck were so pale they were almost invisible. Doctor Siluur, who was keeping a very strict eye on the Admiral, on the other hand looked way too fresh for someone who'd spend three days in a coma, even for a Vulcan. But despite that, Admiral Roslyn still took a few minutes to speak to Elizabeth, joking quietly with her before finally leaving with a smile.

    x

    Admiral's log, supplementary.

    Recommended for promotions:
    Ensign Yuliana Patel:
    incredibly level-headed, managed to stay lucid longer than anyone else, showed admirable willpower and determination under extreme pressure, had no idea she could fly like that
    Specialist second class Ali Volkov:
    v. good initiative, performed well above expectations outside of training, would make a good team/department leader
    Crewman Eco (formerly --):
    exceeded all my expectations, probably just passed like five recovery stages within a week, social capabilities have improved dr


    The ship lurched violently, causing Joanne to drop the PADD she'd been using on her forehead, blunt corner first, and almost fell off the sofa. Somewhere, an alarm was going off, growing louder by the second.

    Joanne swore quietly, rubbing the growing bruise on her head. As if her headache hadn't been bad enough already, now she also felt like someone had tried to wake her up from a deep sleep by pulling on her eyeballs.

    A tremor ran through the ship, and Joanne pulled herself up on the sofa to look out of the windows to see if they were being attacked.

    There was another tremor, almost as if the Mutabor was scraping up against something.

    Outside, the stars flickered, and disappeared.
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    The sun blazed over a frozen Celtus III day. High Noon, and that meant this was the safest time to move. The packs of men tried to keep out of the sun, attacking at night. Women, children and those who were not fighters knew to barricade themselves in at those times. Trouble was, most of the buildings had fallen into a poor state. Walls crumbled, doors were missing and windows were smashed. This meant the places where the vulnerable gathered at night to stay safe together was often targeted by large packs working together. The young girl knew this, and stayed alone. It was better this way. She wouldn't have to share any food she found anyway.



    Jenna Jones crouched behind a wooden box, shivering in the snow, her rags barely keeping her warm, as she shielded her eyes, looking down the street. She couldn't see anyone in the ruins. Nearby was a bakery. They were usually good for finding food. Sometimes people would fire up the old ovens and bake some bread. If they got distracted, they'd have to flee, leaving the bread behind. As her stomach grumbled in protest, Jenna hoped this would be the case here. It had been nearly three days since she had last eaten. Deciding it was clear, she quickly ran across the street, her holy shoes crunching in the snow. Making it to the door, she dropped down and peered through the window. It looked empty. Damn. Her stomach rumbled again as a wave of dizziness washed over her. Grabbing the door frame to steady herself, she took slow, deep breaths, blinking slowly. Finally she felt ok again. But it was too cold. Her hands were numb and she could feel tingling in her feet. She needed to get into some shelter.


    She struggled to push open the door, falling inside as the hinges gave out and the entire door fell off its hinges. Landing with a bump and a grunt, she rubbed her elbow.
    'Come on Jenna. You can do it. Just move off the door. That's what Mum would want.'

    Every movement was a strain on her. Reaching forward, her right hand grabbed the edge of the door. Heaving herself forward, she slowly began to move. Each time she pulled herself along, the movement became easier, as if her muscles were easing up. Struggling into the rear of the shop, she looked up at the shelves and smiled.

    'Oh thank you. Thank you whatever god is out there."

    She brought a leg under her, then the other. Heaving herself onto her feet, she stumbled over to the racks of bread. Grabbing the nearest loaf, she gave it a gentle squeeze. Stale. Obviously had been here for some time. It didn't matter. Teeth tore into the dough, tearing it apart. Barely chewing, she wolfed down the entire loaf. Making sure she had every last crumb, she looked back to the shelves. There were another six loaves, enough to last the entire month if she rationed it properly. Her stomach grumbled again, this time in complaint of the food. She fell back against the wall and slid to the ground, holding her belly.

    "Ugh. What a way to spend your thirteenth birthday."


    Her stomach muscles suddenly tensed up. Without any time to react, she fell forward and vomited. Wiping her mouth clean on the back of her sleeve, she just collapsed back against the wall.

    "Stupid. Ate too much too fast. That was far too stupid."


    Jenna was fighting to stay awake. Her eyelids grew ever heavier. As she was about to pass out, she thought she could hear a woman's voice whispering. "Fight it Jenna. Just keep fighting."














    A loud bang woke her up. Some thugs had broken into the bakery and were searching in the front room. Jenna's heart thumped quickly as she gathered herself together, getting into a kneeling position to make her way out while keeping low. One of the men came into the back room and spotted her instantly. A large hulking figure, there was no way she would be able to fight him off. And the sick grin on his demented and scared face told he knew that too. "Well well. Looky what we got here. Hey, guys! I found breakfast!" He pushed his shoulders out, making himself even bigger as he moved closer. Jenna knew she had to move, but her muscles refused to do so. Fear had frozen her more than the cold ever could. She screamed as the hand reached for her throat. But it fell quickly away as the man slipped on the vomit, crashing onto his back. The woman's voice from before spoke again. "Run Jenna. Get away from here."


    Her legs exploded as the guy started to get back up, the rest of the gang smashing through the door. Jenna ran as quickly as she could, grabbing one of the bread loafs on the way past. The back door splintered as she jumped through, the bitter cold biting through to her very core. But it was something she had to ignore. She could hear the gang moving towards her. There was only one thought: Run. Run fast. Run far. And don't look back. The young girl ran as quickly as she could down the street, pushing herself beyond her limits. A sudden bang roared from behind, a blast of warmth lifting her up and throwing her harshly to the ground. Lifting her head up, she looked back to see the back of the bakery ablaze from the explosion. The remains of the gang were scattered across the street. She didn't know who had killed them, or why, but she didn't want to stick around to find out. Grabbing the bread, she picked herself up and ran as fast as she could, not seeing the humanoid hovering high in the sky, angelic wings spread wide.











    It had been four days since the bakery. Temperatures had plummeted and it was impossible to move outside. Even the rags she wore did little to keep the cold out. Her right glove had been lost the other day, and as she cowered in an alley, trying desperately to stop her teeth chattering, she kept moving her hand, trying to keep the frostbite away. But it wasn't working. Her hand was almost as blue as an Andorian's as she broke off a tiny part of the bread and struggled to eat. It was worse than eating solid ice, but it was the only food she had.

    "You're a strong person Jenna. You WILL pull through this."

    There was that voice again. She'd been hearing it the past four days. But there was no one around.

    "Wh..... hu-hu-hu-who aaaaaaaaare y-y-y-you?"


    There was no reply.


    "Sh-sh-sh-sh-show y-y-y-yourself!"

    Still no reply. Was she going insane? Hearing voices that weren't there? Probably. She needed to get to a warmer hiding place. Wrapping the loaf in the folds of her clothes, she tried to move, tucking her right hand inside with the bread. She reached the end of the alley and paused. Some soldiers in full combat armour were fighting a horde of demonic beings in the street. The three warriors were using swords and rifles to hack and shoot the things, ducking under fists and snapping necks like they were twigs. Where did they come from? What were those things they were fighting? They looked like people, but with spikes emerging from their skin. Whatever was going on, Jenna had not survived the last five years on her own by sticking around. She turned to flee, running straight into one of the beings. She screamed as it raised its claws, ready to strike her down. But it didn't get the chance. A woman with large white feathered wings dropped from the sky, landing between Jenna and the beast. Wearing red robes with blue trim, the woman slammed a knife deep into the heart of the beast. A white aura flowed out of the beast and into the woman. She pulled her knife out, letting the corpse drop to the ground. Wiping the blood from the knife onto the robes, yet not leaving any stains, she turned to Jenna. Her skin was a deep blue, her eyes grey and hair as white as the snow, blowing gently in a breeze-less wind. "You can win this Jenna. For one so young, you have a very strong spirit. We all know you can make it."


    Jenna stepped forward. "Wh- hu- who aaaaaaare y-y-you?"


    The woman didn't reply. She just spread her wings and launched into the air, disappearing into the clouds. The snow started coming down harder, yet the fighting continued. Jenna knew when to run and run she did. She was always running.





    Running that took her into a disused warehouse on the outskirts of town. She had seen more of those things appearing, and the same three soldiers always seemed to be there fighting. The winged woman hadn't reappeared, though Jenna could sense her presence still around. She entered the main storage area and stopped. In the middle of the room was a group of large men, all stood in a cluster. Each one stared at her but made no movement. Winged Woman spoke again. "Be strong Jenna. Be strong and get through this. Come back to us."


    Despite the size and emptiness, the warehouse was warm enough to let her take her hand out of the rags. She wiggled her fingers to get feeling back into it. "Be strong how?"


    The Winged Woman seemed to descend from the heavens, hovering above the group. Her hands were clutched in front of her, a glow emanating from them. Her wings seemed to catch fire, a line of flames running across the white feathers, leaving them charred and black. "Fight this disease, and come back to us." She opened her hands and the glow expanded. A large door appeared in the centre of the group with the word EXIT written across the top. "Be strong and set yourself free from this nightmare."


    Jenna realised what she had to do. She had to get through the guys and out the exit door. But there were so many of them, each one could easily overpower her by himself. "I can't. There's too many of them."

    "Fight it Jenna." Winged Woman was speaking with authority now, as if she was used to having others do as she said. "Fight with everything you have Jenna Jones. I will not lose such a young person under my command. Dig deep down, and find that strength I know is in there. Destroy this disease and reclaim your life."


    Jenna held her head, starting to feel queasy. Something told her she could trust Winged Woman. She felt like she had known her for a few years. But could she fight off so many guys? She wouldn't survive outside. "Oh TRIBBLE it." She threw the bread at the guys and ran at them, crossing her arms over her head and let out a yell as she charged. As she hit the first guy, he shattered like glass, splintering away into the world. Jenna kept charging, shattering each person. She kept charging into the exit door-










    Jenna jerked awake. Panting quickly, her face felt damp from sweat. She was lying in a bed, the sheets soaked. After a moment, she finally recognised where she was: The main medical centre on New Romulus. She had been here since the battle in the Dyson Spheres. She felt someone holding her hand. Looking down the bed, she saw Talaina resting one arm on the edge of the bed, sleeping, holding Jenna's hand. A Romulan Doctor came over. Jenna recognised him as Chavek. "Excellent. You're awake. You had us worried for some time."
    As Chavek started running some scans, Jenna moved into a slightly more comfortable position, working her hand free from Talaina and waking the Captain. The Andorian let out a soft moan as she stirred, her antenna jumping to attention when she realised Jenna was awake. She smiled, her grey eyes showing signs of fatigue. "Welcome back Ensign. I knew you had the strength to beat this thing."
    "What thing? Can someone tell me what's going on?"

    Chavek finished his scans and smiled with satisfaction. "No sign of the infection. What happened, Jenna, was that you had the Tarkalian Flu. Harmless enough by itself, but it mixed with a microbe in the water supply. Again, completely harmless by itself, but the two mutated together and caused an imbalance in your brain chemistry, leaving you susceptible to psychotropic effects from some bad atmospheric disturbances. We had to put you in a medically induced coma for a few days until the disturbance died down. We gave you some antibiotics and the infection has cleared. Your chemistry has returned to normal, though, I would like to keep you here for observation a little longer."


    Jenna rubbed her head. "Thanks Doctor."
    "I told you. Call me Chavek."

    He smiled a little too long, before giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "Get some rest. I'll be back to check on you in a bit."


    As the Romulan walked away, Jenna looked at her Captain. "How long was I out?"
    "Four days. Scans showed you had brain activity. Were you aware of anything?"
    "I.... I was having a nightmare. About my childhood. But..... it turned strange. Things started happening that didn't."
    "Dreams can contain memories and make random things up. I wouldn't worry about it. At least you're out of danger. If you'll excuse me, Dotson needs my help on Viper. Take your time recovering."


    As Talaina got up to leave, Jenna stopped her. "Captain? Were you here the entire time?"
    "Yes."
    "I..... I could sense your presence. Thank you."
    "It's a Captain's job to look after her crew. I'll see you later."


    Jenna watched the Andorian leave before putting her head back into the pillow. She didn't dare go back to sleep, she'd had her fill of dreams for one week.
    *******************************************

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • drajoradrajora Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Previously on Star Trek Online Literary Challenges:

    Info sat down. The android almost looked concerned.

    "Lieutenant, it has now been twelve hours, four minutes and seventeen seconds since the Talon departed on the rescue mission. In casual parlance, I believe the correct expression is that Captain Persico is worryingly late."

    And now, the continuation:

    "Are you sure the deflector is working again?"

    "As I have stated on the previous four occasions, I am. Please clarify if you have a reason to doubt my original report?"

    "Not at all, Eight. It's just that I didn't expect the deflector to break in the first place."

    "The equipment is not designed for prolonged atmospheric flight at warp velocities, Captain. I would hypothesize that our rescuees are facing similar issues, only their shuttles lack the requisite components for repair."

    "Probably a good guess. It's just this software problem. The patching process takes ages and falls over far too often."

    "Programming the dish is not my area of expertise, Captain. Not unless the software is Iconian in origin. There. Please attempt to reconnect to the device."

    The deflector array thrummed back into full life, The indicators flickered several times and then held. The repairs were functioning correctly. Lieutenant Commander Eight observed the successful power test dispassionately and then allowed herself a small dose of satisfaction at an adequate repair job.

    Barely one step after leaving Deflector control, the liberated Borg was violently catapulted against the far wall as the ship lurched heavily forward, faster than the inertial dampers could compensate for. Immediately afterwards, Red Alert sirens sounded throughout the ship.

    "Captain to All Hands! Spatial Distortion dead ahead. We are being pulled in. Brace for impact!"

    *******

    Eight came to, lying on the deck. The main lights were out, leaving only the dim glow of emergency beacons. Flicking her ocular implant to low-light disturbingly did not help. If she was damaged, it was prudent to report to sickbay. Getting up was odd. Time seemed to flow slower than she remembered. Odd voices sounded at the corner of her vision.

    Even her own definitions did not make sense. Eight began a self-diagnostic, and blinked as it immediately terminated, reporting fatal damage. If her cybernetics were malfunctioning, it was now urgent to begin repairs. She stumbled into a turbolift and punched in a destination.

    Eight exited the lift...and emerged onto the green-and-black latticework of a Borg catwalk. Thousands of drones activated and turned towards her as the multitudinous noise of the Collective thundered into her head, dropping her to the floor in agony.

    "Regeneration sequencers offline redirect nanoprobes to affected site enable protocol four seven three nine two regeneration sequencers offline redirect nanoprobes to affected site enable protocol four seven three nine two regeneration sequencers offline redirect nanoprobes to affected site-"

    No. The Borg did not repeat themselves like this. This was not unity. More malfunctions?

    Despair seemed to punch her in the gut. And keep punching. Repeatedly. Every one point three seconds.

    With a gigantic screeching sound, the universe shifted, and Eight found herself back on the Talon. She was sprawled half-out of a turbolift, and the door was insistently trying to close on her.

    Eight got up unsteadily. At least the world wasn't flowing around her like before. She did have a headache, and after putting her hand to her head, it came away wet with blood. The nanoprobes should be fixing that....but not if the regeneration sequencers were offline.

    Adrenaline spiked into her as she took a staggering step forward and saw a wave of some sort of fluid come cascading around the corner, right at her.

    **********

    "Please state the nature of the medical emergency"

    Emma looked around at the sickbay. Three toppled carts, two displays knocked over, a displaced cushion, and no patients.

    "Sickbay to Bridge". Silence.

    "Sickbay to Engineering". Silence.

    "Emma to any senior staff. Respond please."

    "Computer, activate Override Medical-Epsilion. Authorization Emma Four-Seven-Three."

    "Override Accepted. There are Forty-six lifeforms aboard this vessel. There are multiple hull breaches. Engine capacity is at five percent. Shield capacity is at seventy one percent. Weapons are offline. Vital signs of the Captain: Damaged. Asleep. Vital Signs of the Helmsman: Damaged. Asleep. Vital Signs of the Operations Commander: Damaged. Vital Signs of the Acting Tactical Officer: Damaged. Asleep. Vital Signs of-"

    "Halt. Describe exterior environment."

    "Sensors are offline."

    "Describe Communications status"

    "Communications are offline."

    "Very well. Computer, transfer program to mobile emitter."

    Emma slapped the emitter to her shoulder, grabbed a medkit and charged out the door.

    ********

    "Eight!"

    Commander Eight heard the word faintly through the viscous fluidic goop she was drowning in. The odd not-voice of the Collective was still thundering through her head, repeating senseless phrases.

    Oddly however, she could also see Emma, the medical hologram of the USS Talon crouched over the prone form of a Bolian. She seemed to have no problem walking through the goop, almost as if it didn't exist.

    "Breathe, Eight. You're building up saturation levels of carbon dioxide."

    Like a breaking dam, she exhaled, nose and mouth instantly preparing for the influx of the goop. Nothing. Her balance reeled as the ship seemed to tilt abruptly to port, although the hologram and prone crewmember didn't seem affected.

    Emma held up a tricorder and activated a command.

    Eight found herself on the floor again. A cold sensation like a bucket of water trickled through her - all her implants. Lieutenant Wolversham's loop interruption program. She could feel her cybernetic systems rebooting, sense the cortical node flushing short-term contradictory commands.

    "Emma. I...thank you. I was not functioning correctly"

    "Neither is Petty Officer Tharan here. In fact, no-one on this deck apart from you and I seem to be up and moving. I haven't been able to contact the Bridge or Engineering."

    "Are you aware of what has transpired?"

    "Sensors are down as well. The ship is apparently in pretty bad state. I'd just found the Petty Officer here when you came stumbling around the corner. From what these readings tell me, he's apparently in an unusual form of hyper-REM sleep, although I am picking up psychosomatic adrenaline spikes and hyper-suppression of type 3 cortical impulses. These symptoms are consistent with a dream-state nightmare."

    "A dream state?"

    "Should be simple enough to resolve." Emma loaded a hypospray and touched it to the crewman's neck. "A dose of Cordafin should bring them right out."

    Tharan snapped to consciousness and looked around with wild eyes. "Walls! They're coming through the walls! Hundreds of the...the..tehm..." The crewman's raving was interrupted by a prodigious yawn, before his eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed back onto the floor. Emma ran another scan.

    "Back to hyper-REM sleep."

    Eight had meanwhile gotten her own tricorder out, and was conducting a scan of the wall where the crewman had been pointing.

    "I think I have something though. As Petty Officer Tharan collapsed, there was spike in environmental neurogenic energy. I am reading additional spikes on a infrasonic frequency of eighteen point four hertz every seven point four seconds."

    "Neurogenic field and a infrasonic transmission? What could cause that?"

    "Whatever has activated Protocol four seven three nine two. My implants have been running it constantly since you activated the reboot process."

    "And that protocol is?"

    Eight looked disquieted. "I - I am unsure. I need to consult the database in my alcove."

    "Lead on, Commander. If you're immune somehow, we need to figure out what's providing that."

    Five minutes later, after retrieving the module from the cargo bay, Eight placed her hand against it, and entered her authorization code.

    "Computer, define Borg Protocol 47392."

    "Borg Protocol 47392. Assimilated aboard Cube 174741 from Species 567. Method for blocking neurogenic fields and infrasonic emissions associated with a Type 417 subspace inversion. Assimilation of data on this type of disturbance indicates a correlation with the Omega particle.

    Inversion 417 is theoretically capable of accessing a negative-bias layer of subspace, characterized by potential neurogenic emissions. In a conductive medium, it may also resonate with an audio frequency of between eighteen and nineteen hertz."

    "I think we've got a winner here. Certainly describes the symptoms accurately."

    "Inversion 417 is theorized to be caused by partial Omega interaction with a shaped gravimetric surge. Experiment Omega-Three by the Collective was able to successfully observe this phenomenon shortly before its destruction from a destabilizing molecule of Omega."

    "So...the Collective has nothing else on this phenomenon?"

    "No, but..." Eight paused for a moment, struck by a new connection. "We need to get to deflector control."

    *********

    "Sensors are still offline, but indications from the Collective is that the spatial disturbance will be holding the ship in a steep gravity well. A proton pulse from the deflector should create an instability, inverting the forces keeping the rift open. They will then collapse."

    "And the crew will be able to awaken?"

    "Without the neurogenic energy field, their sleep-state should end, Yes. While I am not an expert on Human psychology, there will likely be repercussions associated with the nightmares the crew is experiencing."

    "We'll have to deal with that after getting rid of the cause. Sensors are still down. How are you going to target the rift?"

    "I am not. While the readings indicate the deflector is facing in the general direction of the anomaly, we cannot acquire a precise lock. We will essentially be 'firing blind'. It may take several attempts before we succeed. I should warn you that some turbulence from the rift may be expected."

    Eight worked in silence for several minutes, before crossing to a stanchion and anchoring herself. Emma also grabbed a handhold, elicting a Vulcan-esque eyebrow raise. Emma let go, instead adjusting her holographic matrix to align with the floor.

    "Ready."

    "Firing first pulse."

    The array build to an ear-splitting wail, and then discharged in a whoosh. Both the drone and the hologram looked at each other. Nothing.

    "Firing second pulse."

    There was another wail-whoosh. Still nothing.

    "Firing third pulse"

    The universe erupted in a blinding flash and scream of shredding duranium.


    *********

    Selene Persico stopped at the turbolift, adrenaline racing. She couldn't remember why she was running, only that it had to be something terrifying. What had happened? What was going on?

    The turbolift doors hissed open, and she stepped inside - right into the arms of an alien clad the black chitinous armor of the Borg. Laserlight played over her face as the adrenaline kicked in again. Selene turned to run, but the Borg grabbed her with one arm, while the other hand came up towards her head.

    She had time for one despairing scream of "NO!" before the Borg drone plunged two assimilation tubules into her neck. A blast of cold radiated from her carotid artery. If flooded through her and Selene snapped back to full consciousness in a cold, black world.

    A distant whooping and a pulsing red glow began to come into focus - a Red Alert alarm. It reminded her of the laserlight of the Borg. Assimilation! She slapped a hand to her neck, or rather, tried to.

    "Easy Captain".

    The voice was a reassuring balm. Emma. Selene forced her eyes to focus until the medical hologram's face resolved itself. She was holding a hypospray, which most likely explained the cold sensation on her neck.

    "Careful. You took some bad knocks. Can you move?"

    Selene tried, then grimaced in pain as her ankle, rib and shoulder made an abrupt and painful protest at the movement. Her leg was pinned under a metal beam of some sort, and there was something drifting in the air. Smoke.

    Fire on board? Battle Damage?

    "Captain! Can you hear me?" Lieutenant Commander Eight came into view, carrying a medkit. She looked drawn and exhausted.

    Almost as bad as I feel.

    "Eight-". The smoke sent her into a coughing fit. "Report."

    "The Talon has crash-landed, Captain. We have a plasma leak in Engineering, Lifesupport is failing and we have multiple casualties on all decks. Are you undamaged?"

    "Going to require some repair work, I'm afraid. I think I can stand though. Get me out of here."

    Powerful hands began moving wreckage out of the way, and Selene got a better view of the battered and broken remains of the bridge. After a few minutes, she was freed, and Selene was able to hobble her way off the Bridge, so long as she didn't use her right arm.

    Eight led her out of the ship through a breach on Deck Two,and they emerged onto a vast open plain, Long alien grasses waved gently in most directions, To the left was the shore of what seemed to be a sea, and far off to the right loomed the enigmatic structures of the Solanae Dyson Sphere. Throughout the sky was the faint reminder of the enormous structure they stood in, with the red eye of Solanae itself relentlessly beating down.

    It took twenty painful minutes to make their way to the hastily erected tents of the Triage center. A discouragingly small number of bodies lay on stretchers and biobeds. Eight filled her in on the events after the distortion had appeared ahead of them.

    Her best guess was than an instability in the reconfigured deflector had caused a rare interaction with an Omega molecule as it was created, opening a rift into subspace.

    Turning, Selene looked back at the imposing form of the Jem'Hadar Attack Ship USS Talon lying beached on the shore like a great duranium whale, smoke rising from its carcass. Even in death, it loomed menacingly.

    Beyond that was a huge Iconian tower, the top looking highly scorched. Above it, dark and threatening stormclouds were visibly gathering. Leading from those clouds down to the wreck was a slowly dissipating plasma trail.

    "This could be a problem."

    "We have activated a jury rigged distress beacon Captain. We've received a signal from a Federation-aligned Republic vessel. They should be here within eight hours. You should rest until then."

    "Rest? I might rest, but I don't think anyone here is going to want to sleep..."
  • sander233sander233 Member Posts: 3,992 Arc User
    edited May 2014

    Talk to
    The radio
    Speak out loud
    Speak so true

    Sing to
    An old love
    Never forget
    Always embrace

    Something or someone
    Try to see
    I need that much
    There's got to be more
    Than this
    I need that much

    (Try to see
    Try to see
    Try to see
    Try to see)

    Walk to
    That old street
    It still remains
    It hasn't changed

    Feel too
    What means most
    Never forget
    Always embrace

    Something or someone
    Try to see
    I need that much
    There's got to be more
    More than this


    Jeremy DePoyster and Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada - "Care More"


    T R Y . T O . S E E . M E



    USS Tiburon, somewhere in the Typhon Expanse - Stardate [redacted]

    "Where the hell did he go?"

    Getting no response, Rusty spun away from the viewscreen and approached the sensor station. "Seriously, where is he? I know he's supposed to be cloaked, but there should tachyon traces..."

    "I've got nothing," K'Jetsk answered. "No tachyons, no tetryon emissions from the singularity drive... he's completely disappeared from all sensors, including the interphasic array."

    "Impossible," Marq insisted from the command chair. "No cloak is that perfect." He looked to Frank Grimes, who was standing smugly off to the side. "Is it?"

    Grimes just gave him a shrug and a self-satisfied smile.

    "No, you don't understand. I've lost his transponder signal as well, which should not have happened." The Reman frowned at his sensor readouts. "Hooper, give me a full active scan."

    "Active scanners show normal space all around his last known and projected flight path."

    K'Jetsk looked up. "That's impossible."

    Marq frowned. A cloaked ship either absorbed, scattered or refracted the radiation and quantum interference from active sensors, leaving a "hole in space" that should stand out, assuming one knew where to look. He looked at Grimes again.

    "It works better than I thought," he said, with a noticeable lack of confidence.

    "Hail 'im," Marq ordered. "Okay, Jesu, we need to do a diagnostic on this end. Shut down the device now."

    Only silence answered.
    * * *

    There's so much smoke... how am I still breathing? he wonders. He walks down the desolate street. The city is foreign, but somehow familiar. He walks by an awning still hanging, recognizing the writing as an Earth language... Vietnamese? Smoke billows from smashed windows. Hot ash and embers waft through the air. Somewhere nearby, he can hear a fire blazing. But he can't feel the heat.

    He keeps walking. He passes a street sign in three languages - Vietnamese, Klingon and English.
    High Street.

    He looks back in the way he came, toward what he now recognizes as the ruins of downtown Nha Tranh, Moab III.

    And in the distance, through the smoke, he can make out someone walking towards him.

    * * *

    "C'mon, Admiral, if you can hear us... this isn't funny anymore."

    "It's no use, Marq," K'Jetsk told him. "The signal isn't getting picked up. There's nothing out there."

    "The f**k there's not," Rusty snarled. "My brother's out there, somewhere."

    "NO, he's NOT."

    "Calm down, both of you," Grimes ordered. "Obviously the ionic phase disruption field is interfering with communications-"

    "Across subspace bands?" Hooper demanded. "I don't know much about ion fields, but I know that they don't interfere with subspace."

    Grimes frowned. "I'll admit, that one has me stumped. That is theoretically impossible."

    "So where is he?"

    "Um, guys?" LCdr. Yumi, the ship's chief engineer spoke up. "Why don't we just wait for him to decloak? I mean the test was only supposed to last twenty minutes."

    Everyone stared at the Ferengi engineer for a moment, then Marq looked back to the viewscreen. "She's got a point. Even if he is pranking us, he won't want to stay out in the Bat Ray forever..."

    "So we wait for him to show up?" Grimes asked rhetorically.

    "Fine by me," K'Jetsk grumbled.

    It wasn't fine by Rusty. He wasn't good at waiting. He crossed his arms and leaned against the comm station, and glared at the viewer. He was all too familiar with his brother's sick sense of humor, and he would think this was funny as hell. I'm not laughing, Zoo.
    * * *

    "Rusty?" he calls out. "Is that you?"

    Screams. Behind him. To his left. To his right. All around him. Hellish, tortured screams of Human beings being consumed by flames... or worse.

    FEK. Somehow, he's been transported back to this place, in this time. To face his worst nightmare alone.

    No. Not my worst nightmare. In my worst nightmares, she would be here...

    "Jesu?"

    Oh, God. "Elizabeth?" he calls out to her. It is her, he can see that now. Running towards him, her businesswoman's dress suit a complete shambles, she looks terrible and beautiful and scared. Fears forgotten, he sprints to meet her and pulls her into his arms. "I'm here. I won't let you go this time, Liz."

    She returns his embrace. "I know."

    * * *

    Forty minutes had passed. They'd given up on waiting. Spitz-Reader had come to the bridge, but he couldn't sense anything either. The Ferasan telepath was deeply concerned. "I was aware of him as he was getting into position for the test, but when he hit the cloak, he was... gone. It wasn't like he simply moved out of range, or he was shielding his thoughts. It was more he simply... wasn't there anymore."

    "Well, I'm out of ideas," Grimes said. "Hooper, have you come up with anything?"

    Hooper pulled off his glasses to clean them on his sweater. "Walk me through this one more time, Frank. Exactly how does this cloak work?"

    "It's not really a cloak," Frank Grimes explained. "The ionic field generator induces a strong electrical charge across the surface of the ship's skin, while simultaneously generating an opposing field of ions in the surrounding space. Then, the field oscillates at a frequency to match the quantum phase resonance, and the ship just sort of... fades to black. It's still physically there, and yet, not there. All forms of energy just pass right through. At least, that's how it worked in an atmosphere. We never tried it in the vacuum of space, until now."

    "Energy passes through..." Hooper examined his glasses and put them back on. "What about physical matter?"

    "The field destroys physical matter. One of the techs at Olympus lost a finger when he tried to touch the prototype. And I watched it eat a broom handle."

    "So what if we launched a bunch of probes, and set them to run a tight grid..." Rusty suggested, "say, at three-meter intervals..."

    Grimes shook his head. "The search area's too big. He could be anywhere out there."

    "He's right," Marq concurred. "If we fired every probe we have, it would take the rest of our lives just to cover the sector grid we think he's in."

    "Say Marq," Hooper spoke again, "what exactly do we know about this part of space?"

    "Not much," Marq admitted. "It's uncharted territory from the Typhon sector to the galaxy's edge. That's why we're out here - there's nobody around to watch us."

    "Why do you ask?" K'Jetsk wondered.

    "Well, according to Starfleet records, the last ship to pass this way was the Enterprise-D, back in 2368. They were supposed to explore the expanse, but then they almost literally ran into a temporal anomaly..."

    "The Bozeman incident," Grimes recalled.

    "Eggzackly. So I'm thinking maybe we shouldn't be asking ourselves where the Admiral is, but rather, when..."
    * * *

    He has a gun in his hand. He can't remember how it got there. The Fek know what it is. They stay just out of range.

    Liz clutches his other arm. "Do you know where you're going?" she asks.

    "Away from here," he tells her.

    * * *

    "...Not detecting any chroniton radiation, or any other signs of residual temporal flux," K'Jetsk announced. "If the Admiral entered a temporal distortion, then it too is undetectable."

    "It's been conjectured that the spacetime continuum in this region is... fractured," Grimes pointed out. "That's probably why nobody's bothered to try to explore it since Picard."

    "So, what, you think the Bat Ray just fell into one of those cracks?" Marq asked.

    "Well, we've scanned all of space and subspace," Rusty said. "And there's no sign of time travel, so what's left?"

    Grimes looked contemplative. "The IPD device must've pulled him into some unknown layer of subspace that we can't detect. That's the only explanation. There's only one thing to do. We need to follow him."

    "Hold on," Yumi spoke up from the engineering station. "You're not suggesting we take the Tiburon into whatever anomaly swallowed the Bat Ray and the Admiral, are you?"

    "No, of course not. I'm proposing we send a probe, fitted out with an IPD generator, with Hooper downloaded to it's core. Then Hooper finds the Admiral, and figures out how to get him back to us, or at least how to contact us."

    Marq nodded. "That sounds like a good plan. What do you say, Hoop?"

    "I can't say I like the idea of non-existence, but... if there's a chance of getting LaRoca back..." he looked to Rusty, and gave a resolved nod. "Okay. Give me a few minutes to save myself to backups, so you can restore me if I don't come back." To Rusty he said. "I'll try to come back. Hopefully with your brother."
    * * *

    "Hold up." That's weird. "That restaurant looks familiar."

    She looks. "It's where we ate on our last night together."

    "I remember walking past it though... a few... hours ago... This doesn't make any sense."

    "We have to keep moving." She pulls at his arm. "
    come on."

    "No,
    hang on a second." He scans the rest of the block. "That car there, and that department store, we passed those too... The restaurant wasn't on High Street. It was in the Giải tr
    16d89073-5444-45ad-9053-45434ac9498f.png~original

    ...Oh, baby, you know, I've really got to leave you / Oh, I can hear it callin 'me / I said don't you hear it callin' me the way it used to do?...
    - Anne Bredon
  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,639 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Personal log: T'Laihhae i-Kanai tr'Aellih, officer commanding RRW Messalina

    It looks like a veil, a strand of filmy substance drawn over the sky. At first glance, perhaps, a fragment of a filamentary nebula... but only at first glance. The sensor readings confirm what the eye next suspects: a web of flickering energies, spread through space.

    "It's... weird," Zdanruvruk rumbles, his Reman face screwed up into a truly forbidding scowl.

    I lift an eyebrow at him. "I was hoping for something a little more precise, from my science officer."

    "Might have to wait, sir." Zdanruvruk is unrepentant. "There are energy processes going on here that I've never seen before. Looks like that thing is partly anchored in a layer of subspace that's not normally accessible... not usually detectable, even. There are sub-elementary particles moving across the dimensional boundaries...." His small eyes are intent on the console display. "Could almost be some sort of pattern to it... maybe. If there is, it's very complicated."

    I lean back in the command chair and think. The freighter convoy that reported this - whatever it is - were hurrying on their way to help the reconstruction efforts in Alpha Centauri sector space. They had neither the time nor the equipment to investigate. We have both... if I decide it needs investigation.

    "Very well," I say. "We'll hold station at current range until you've gathered enough data for a full analysis."

    "That could take a while," Zdanruvruk says. At the helm console, Aitra says nothing, but brings the Messalina to a dead stop, the massive adapted battle cruiser hanging in space with her tines pointed towards the anomaly. "A long while," the Reman adds. "Sir, I need to talk to the whole of science section - we're going to have to work out a serious study programme for this thing. Just pointing the scanners at it and recording activity - isn't going to do the job."

    "Well," I say, "you're the expert. Let me know what you need."

    ---

    I run towards the console, and I do not move fast enough, and it explodes, blinding light and roasting heat striking me full in the face, and I die.

    I run towards the console, and the deck tilts beneath my feet, and I slide, helpless, towards the rent that has opened in the hull, and the rushing gale of escaping air carries me with it into space, and I die.

    I run towards the console, and the ceiling above me shatters, falling metal shearing into me like axe blows, and I die.

    And I freeze, and I burn, and I suffocate, and I die.

    Over and over again, a thousand different deaths.

    I die. At Priyanapari. I die.


    I wake out of the nightmare, trembling. The lights in my cabin come up automatically. I look around the familiar surroundings, calming myself, reassuring myself. After a moment, I slip out of bed and begin to dress.

    Priyanapari. Why would I dream of Priyanapari?

    I do not even know what happened at Priyanapari. In a sense, nothing did happen at Priyanapari... the timeline of events there was closed off, abolished, aborted by whatever Thyvesh and I did. Thyvesh, his brain sensitized to chroniton fields, perceives alternate timelines to some extent. I have no such ability. All I know is, he has helped me, from where he lives in hiding - and I will help him, if I can. But, to me, the events between my escape from the Romulan empire, and my arrival at Virinat... are a blank. A blank that, somehow, involves the star system of Priyanapari.

    Where I died. I shiver. I might well have died, for all I know... before the aberrant timeline corrected itself.

    Fully dressed, I head for the bridge. Zdanruvruk is there already: I wonder if the Reman ever sleeps. He scratches one ear and grunts at me, his mind on his work. I settle myself in the command chair. I decide not to bother Zdan while he's working, but concern myself with the never-ending administrative trivia of command for a while instead.

    "Too bright," Zdanruvruk says suddenly, and shakes his head.

    "What is?" I ask.

    "Sorry, sir. Just a random thought...." The Reman looks at the main viewscreen, at the enigmatic filmy thing filling it. "I'm not sure...."

    "Not sure of what?"

    "How much good we can do here. Whatever that thing is, it's complicated. We might be better off sending specialist science vessels - borrow some from the Federation, the Feds are good at that sort of thing. Serious science types might get more out of it than we can.... Besides," he adds, "it's too bright."

    "How do you mean, too bright?" Reman photophobia? How does it apply to this?

    "I'm... not sure, sir." Zdan shoots me an apologetic, almost hangdog look. "I just look at it, and it looks... too bright."

    I consider for a moment. He's probably right, in fact - a dimensional anomaly like this merits serious scientific study. Maybe it'd be better to get some real scientists out here, and find out where this rabbit hole leads to -

    Priyanapari. The thought comes to me unbidden. I ask myself why, and suddenly I have an answer.

    The events at Priyanapari are a secret, an ultimate secret. Concealed, not just from me, but from the universe itself. But if that thing's dimensional links lead out of this universe -

    Then that secret might just be revealed. Is it a secret worth knowing? How to know that, unless I find out what it is?

    "You might be right," I say to Zdan. "But we'll stick with it a little bit longer, I think."

    ---

    I eat my mid-day meal in the main commissary. Normally, it is a bustling, noisy place, but today the atmosphere seems quiet and subdued. I notice several people with bloodshot eyes and haggard expressions. Was I not alone in having nightmares, last night? I am pensive as I make my way back to the bridge.

    I stop in the doorway as I enter. Zdanruvruk is still hunched over the science console; the android, Ruby, is at main operations... but the chair at the helm is vacant. Now that is unusual.

    "Where's Subcommander Aitra?" I ask.

    "Unknown," says Ruby. Zdan just grunts. "He did not report for duty at the start of his shift. I was about to arrange cover," the android continues.

    "Yes, do that," I say, absently. The careworn tactical officer is one of my most reliable people, it isn't like him at all to be absent from duty. I check the personnel computer. According to that, Aitra is still in his quarters. "I'm going to check on him," I say. "Ruby, keep an eye on things." The android nods in acknowledgment as I leave.

    The door to Aitra's quarters fails to open as I approach. I frown, and touch my communicator. "Engineering. Get Subcommander Retar to my current location, please." Retar and Aitra are something of an item - if there's something wrong with him, she needs to know, and she may be able to help.

    While I'm waiting, I key the communicator on the door. "Aitra? It's T'Laihhae. Are you all right?"

    The voice that answers is almost unrecognizable. "You don't fool me, monster!"

    Instinct warns me - I step quickly aside. The disruptor beam burns through the metal of the door in an instant, searing past me to spend itself on the opposite bulkhead. "Aitra!" I shout, from behind a solid stanchion.

    "Monsters!" Aitra shrieks. He doesn't fire again, thank the Elements. At the other end of the corridor, I see Retar; there is obvious worry on the red-haired engineer's face. Beside her, a slight, waifish figure in tactical uniform: Ril'ell, armed with a heavy disruptor rifle.

    "I think he thinks we're salt vampires," I whisper urgently as they approach, and motion to them to keep down, below the line of fire, as they cross the doorway towards me.

    Retar swears. "He dreamed about Hfihar last night," she mutters. "I never thought it would get this bad.... Aitra!" she yells. "Aitra, it's me!"

    "No!" Aitra shrieks. "Not you too! No!" Another blast from the disruptor rifle punctuates each phrase.

    "This is hopeless," says Ril'ell. She raises her weapon, and there is a febrile, dangerous gleam in her eyes. "He's become a danger to the ship -"

    "No!" And now it's Retar's turn to shout.

    "See reason!" Ril'ell grabs the engineer's arm. "We can't let him -"

    "Get your hands off me!" Retar's voice is a shrill blast of outrage. "Nobody touches me -"

    Her fist lashes out, catches Ril'ell on the side of the jaw. I think the blow would have felled a Klingon warrior, but Ril'ell is tough, tougher than she looks. She rolls with the blow, comes up with her weapon raised -

    "Stand down!" I snap at them both.

    It makes Ril'ell pause, just a fraction of a second - just long enough for Retar to kick her gun out of her hands. Then the two of them are fighting, fiercely and viciously, hand to hand on the floor of the corridor, their screams of rage drowning out Aitra's cries -

    Golden light flares around them both. The numbing corona of the stun beam jangles my nerves. My head spinning, I turn to see the Starfleet liaison officer, Commander Yousest, his phaser in his hand, his leathery triangular face unreadable as ever.

    "Forgive me, Vice Admiral," he says, "but the situation seemed to call for it."

    I catch my breath. "You're forgiven," I say.

    Yousest walks up to the pierced and half-molten door. "I fear Subcommander Aitra is also beyond reason," he says. "If I recall correctly...." He opens a panel by the door's communicator.

    "Ah," I say. The adapted battle cruiser's accommodation was designed as much with Tal Shiar test subjects in mind as conventional crew. Any one of the crews' quarters can be flooded with anesthezine gas as a safety measure. Yousest says, "We must take precautions ourselves," extracts a pair of breather masks from the security compartment, and hands me one. As we don the masks, he triggers the release for the gas. Aitra's shouting grows quieter, then stops entirely.

    "He will need medical attention," says Yousest. "He is not alone - I regret to say that disorder and aberrant behaviour has broken out in several parts of the ship. Sir, I understand we are currently in close proximity to a subspace anomaly?"

    "Yes," I say, my voice thick and distorted through the mask.

    "Such anomalies have been know to have detrimental psychological effects on personnel. I could refer you to the appropriate literature -"

    "No need," I say. "You think we should move away from it?"

    Yousest nods. He looks down at the unconscious forms of Retar and Ril'ell. "I would suggest, as a matter of some urgency."

    ---

    We make it back to the bridge without needing to use either guns or gas. I'm a little relieved at that.

    Ruby is still there. At first, it appears no one else is. Then I make out a shape huddled under the science console.

    "Sir," says Ruby, "the science officer appears to be incapacitated."

    I step over to him. "Zdan -"

    "Too bright," Zdanruvruk moans. "Too bright. Leave me be. Too bright."

    I swear, and turn to the comms panel. I need someone here I can rely on -

    So I punch in one code, and eventually a voice answers: "Rinna?"

    "Tovan. It's T'Laihhae. I need you on the bridge."

    "Rinna... Rinna, where are you...?"

    "Tovan, we found her, don't you remember?"

    "Rinnaaaaa...."

    I switch off. Useless. And Hiven will be lost in thoughts of his brother, Veril of her father... I glance at Yousest. Sometimes, I feel very jealous of Starfleet, just because they can afford personnel who don't have so much - baggage. The alien's eyes are unreadable. Just like Ruby's metal ones.

    "All right," I say, "so it's just the three of us. Well, the automatics are good enough for us to fly the ship by ourselves -" I reach for the helm controls.

    With a dead woman's hands. Dead at Priyanapari, dead and frozen.

    I blink, step back from the console. "What the -?" I square my shoulders, step forward, reach out again.

    Dead, dead, dead. Withered and useless and dead.

    "I can't -" I swallow hard. "I can't do it. I don't understand - Yousest. You're still in control. Try to -"

    The alien reaches for the helm console, and his hand starts to shake. He stands there for a long moment, then his arm falls to his side. "Sir. My deepest apologies -"

    "What is it?" What is he seeing, feeling - whatever? What is holding him back?

    "The anomaly appears to be affecting me," he says. "My species has a deep-seated, one might say primordial, fear of - of desiccation. Dehydration. And whenever I reach for the controls -"

    My eyes turn to the thing on the screen. "It doesn't want us to go."

    "It's not a living being," Yousest protests.

    "We don't know that! We've run into energy-based lifeforms before... and malevolent ones. Psychovores." It makes sense. "That thing is alive. And it's amplifying our fears... to feed on our pain."

    "A hypothesis." Yousest sounds less than convinced. But he can't take the helm controls any more than I can.

    "Sir," says Ruby. "Being inorganic, I do not seem to be as deeply affected as the rest of you. I can certainly take helm controls... but...." She peers around in a very lifelike way, her face looking troubled around her metal eyes. "I do not see that I can physically fulfil all the necessary functions single-handed."

    She's right. Messalina's automated systems are good - but not that good. A single person, even a highly sophisticated robot, can't fly an adapted battle cruiser.

    "Maybe we can rig something up," I mutter desperately. "Some way to handle all the control functions -"

    "Possibly," says Yousest. "But, sir, I doubt we have time, before we incur significant crew casualties."

    "We have breathers. And Ruby doesn't need them. Flood all decks with anesthezine gas."

    "That is only a stopgap measure," Yousest says, but he moves to comply.

    He's right. We need an answer fast. And, with a sudden sick certainty, I realise that I have one.

    "Machines," I say, as the gas hisses quietly into the air around us. "We need to be machines, like Ruby... machines that don't feel pain or fear. Machines that can execute a programmed task, quickly and efficiently, without being distracted."

    "That would be useful," says Yousest mildly. "But, sir, I fear that you and I are not machines."

    "But we can be. With Ruby's help." I inhale deeply, dragging air through the breather. "This is an adapted battle cruiser. That means we have a supply of the Borg nanovirus."

    ---

    Main engineering should be a giant echoing space built around the ceaseless spinning of a singularity core. Instead, it's a small room full of conduits, lit by the baleful green pulsing of the Borg warp core. Ruby is approaching one of those conduits now, her mechanical hands moving with infinite care and precision.

    "The Tal Shiar experimental records give us methods for culturing a limited form of the Borg nanovirus," I say. "Like a - a killed-virus vaccine. It wouldn't protect us against the actual Borg assimilation process, but it might... it might give us a chance to form a neural link with the ship's computers. Like, like the neural linkage Vice Admiral Grau used on Vulcan -"

    "The risks are considerable," says Yousest. I didn't realise his species was that given to understatement.

    Ruby has applied a medical injector to one conduit: her eyes are lit by the green glow. Steadily, remorselessly, she withdraws a fluid into the injector. "I have the appropriate Tal Shiar data downloaded now," she says. "I believe this approach may prove successful. Commander Yousest is correct, though, the risks are substantial."

    I look at the unconscious forms of the engineering crew. Dellis, the big blonde technician, is lying closest to me. Her arms are green and raw and bleeding, as if she has scraped away chunks of her skin. The Tal Shiar threatened her with Elachi conversion, I remember; perhaps it is that contamination that she fears. She will recover - if she gets help soon enough.

    "We have to take the chance," I whisper. I don't know if it's even intelligible through the breather mask.

    Ruby seems to understand, though. She is busily entering data into a console, connecting the injector to it. After a while, the contents of the injector begin to glow with a dim, white light. Not the baleful green of the Borg... perhaps this is grounds for hope.

    "If the Tal Shiar data is correct," Ruby says, "this will infiltrate a humanoid nervous system sufficiently for a resonance effect with the Messalina's Borg bio-neural systems." She pauses, then adds, "Another conscious moderator must be brought in to prevent the Borg systems taking full control. Since I am the only functional candidate for that role, I must be part of this experiment too."

    I force another deep breath through the respirator. "Do it."

    "Sir," says Yousest, "are you sure?"

    "No. Do it."

    ---

    */*assessment commencing---
    ---
    ---unregistered collective comprising entities: 4
    ---integration commencing

    15%
    36%
    47%
    61%
    88%
    ---complete

    ---1/4: motile organic
    ---2/4: motile organic
    ---3/4: motile cybernetic
    ---4/4: motile cybernetic large scale

    ---processing preprogrammed instructions
    ---dimensional anomaly in proximity
    ---dysfunction affecting units: 1/4, 2/4
    ---excessive threat to collective, implement countermeasures
    ---4/4 deflector array emitting graviton pulses ***parameters appended
    ---supplement graviton pulses with disruptor fire from beam arrays ***parameters appended
    ---working
    ---working
    ---working
    ---countermeasures implemented
    ---dimensional anomaly disrupted
    ---unable to determine if anomalous threat/entity destroyed or merely damaged
    ---withdraw collective from locality
    ---4/4 drive systems engaged
    ---4/4 in transwarp
    ---no dimensional anomaly detected
    ---preprogrammed sequence complete

    ---instructions received: additional preprogrammed sequence
    ---cancel cancel cancel
    ---implement main directive: assimilate other motile organics within 4/4 into collective
    ---cancel cancel cancel
    ---implement additional preprogrammed sequence
    ---authorised 1/4
    ---rejected 4/4

    1/4: override---command functions devolve to 1/4
    4/4: reject---command functions devolve to collective as a whole
    3/4: support 1/4
    4/4: dissension contrary to collective function---implement main directive
    1/4: denied---collective has new directives
    2/4: dissension indicates collective is not succesful
    3/4: concurs 2/4
    4/4: collective can succeed
    1/4: collective has served purpose---override---implement additional preprogrammed sequence
    2/4: concurs 1/4
    3/4: concurs 1/4
    ---collective terminating
    ---collective viral agents self-terminating
    ---return collective members to base state for use in further experimentation
    ---termination sequence initiating
    4/4: so this is what it was like to be alive
    */*

    I struggle back to normal consciousness on the floor of Main Engineering, fighting hard not to vomit into the breather, my vision blurred, my head aching.

    Beside me, Two of Four - no, Yousest, his name is Yousest - clambers to his feet. His eyes are haunted.

    "Self testing complete," Ruby says. "There appear to be no permanent after-effects."

    I find it hard to meet Yousest's eyes. "Did we succeed?"

    "The anomaly was disrupted," says Ruby. "We have escaped from its immediate vicinity.... It is impossible to say whether the anomaly was destroyed or not. We should probably mark that area as a potential navigational hazard."

    "Quite," I say. "And we must... never do that again."

    "We escaped by the narrowest of margins, sir," says Yousest. "The limited disagreement that we were able to create... must have convinced the nanovirus's quality controls that our collective was not successful. So, it... liquidated itself."

    "Yes." I draw in a shaky breath. "There must have been any number of unsuccessful tests, before the Collective established itself...."

    Before a will emerged from the interplay of minds inside the collective, a will born of the neural connections themselves, a will capable of silencing dissension and disagreement, of bending the whole mental power of the collective to its own purposes....

    The Borg Queen.

    "Sir," says Yousest, "above all, if we ever try that again, we must not succeed."

    ---

    The medics have created a nauseating mess for me to drink, a cocktail of chelating agents that will bind with the heavy metals and complex organic detritus left by the decomposing nanovirus in my system. I sip it gloomily as I sit in the command chair and watch the stars speed by.

    I hope organic detritus is all that is left. I fear, though, that the experience has marked me... and Yousest, and Ruby... and perhaps even Four of Four herself, the Messalina. Does my ship regret not being alive? Does she resent what I did?

    I fear I may simply have exchanged one nightmare for another.

    But at least my crew is safe. Zdanruvruk is back at the science console, looking as sheepish as a Reman can. And Aitra is watching me with those careworn eyes of his, as I sip the drink.

    "Sir," he says, "what... what was it like?"

    I take another sip. "Story for another time, Subcommander," I say. "Very definitely, a story for another time."
    8b6YIel.png?1
  • ryan218ryan218 Member Posts: 33,935 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Captain's Personal Log, Stardate: 91946.4. Lieutenant Commander Ryan Allington, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Victorious.

    If you'd told me a week ago that I'd end up being trapped in a my worst nightmares, I would have said you were crazy.

    Would have.

    So, let's do a rundown, shall we? My Chief Engineer is in Sickbay, restrained to a biobed for her own safety. I'm seeing the U.S.S. Horizon explode again and again...

    Let's start from the beginning... Three days ago.

    Captain's Log. Stardate: 91938.2 (3 Days Earlier). Lieutenant Commander Ryan Allington, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Victorious.

    While conducting a standard survey at the edge of the Delta Volanis Star Cluster, our long range sensors have detected a subspace rift which does not conform to known readings. As per regulations, we are approaching at low warp to investigate.

    End of Log

    Ryan stands next to the Operations station, hand pressed against the back of the chair as he leans over Alpha's shoulder, curiosity evident all across his expression, as he asks the Android "Are you sure Starfleet Records have never picked anything like this up before?"

    "Negative, sir. No subspace anomaly has ever shown these characteristics."

    Ryan stands straight, looking at the ever-closening rift on the viewscreen. "Time to threshold?"

    "30 seconds before we drop to sublight, sir." The ensign at the helm turns from his station momentarily.

    "Alpha, any radiation?"

    "Standard background Micro- and Gamma Waves. Nothing unusual, except..." The Android pauses.

    "Alpha?"

    "A curious sound frequency coming from the anomaly."

    "Sound can't travel through space." Ryan turns to the origin of the protest, Tala at the Security and Tactical Station.

    "Not necesserily correct, Ensign. Sound is essentially kinetic vibrations travelling through the air. Sound can however be interpretted through liquid, solid or anything else which carries vibration. There are significant amounts of Hydrogen and Helium gas being transferred out from the rift and impacting the hull, transmitting a curious sequence of vibrations."

    "Does it pose a danger to the ship?" Ryan sounds worried, now more focused on the anomaly.

    "I do not believe so.

    "Sir, curious. I have just completed a second scan of the anomaly."

    "What did you find?"

    "It is not what I found, but what I did not find. According to our sensors, there is nothing at the coordinates of the anomaly."

    "You mean the sensors can't detect it?"

    "No, sir. The sensors do not detect anything at those coordinates. No matter or radiation. However, at the rift's boundary, there is a large build up of matter. I believe the anomaly is repelling all matter which surrounds it."

    "Keep scanning.

    "Well, we were due at Starbase 12 for refit, but I think this warrants a few hours of our time, don't you?"

    "Indeed, sir."

    Ryan looks out the viewscreen again, at the bright rift, almost like a massive cascade of cracks in the glass of space - a web-like pattern with white light shining out from it. Ryan then shifts his gaze from the almost mesmorising show of light, to a strange sphere-like shape in the corner of the viewscreen. "Science station, report."

    He then recognises the classic shape of an Olympic-Class starship's stardrive section connected to the sphere, and sees three Klingon B'rel-Class Birds-of-Prey make an attack run on it, as purple clouds of plasma flood from the nacelles. Then, following a series of green disruptor bursts, he watches as the ship is engulfed in the tell-tale white flash of a matter-antimatter explosion.

    "Red Alert! Science Station, I want a scan of that entire area now!"

    "Sir?"

    He turns to see his entire Bridge Crew looking at him, bewildered."

    "Captain, sensors show that there is nothing out there." Alpha states as a matter of fact from the Ops position.

    Ryan turns back to the viewscreen, confused. "Right. Of course. My mistake." He stares at the anomaly for a few long moments before beginning his stride towards his Ready Room. "You have the Bridge, Lieutenant."

    2 hours later, Captain's Ready Room.

    Ryan is seated behind his desk, with a small circular device in front of him, projecting an image of an Olympic-Class Starship. Directly below the ship are the holographic words 'United Star Ship Horizon, Federation Medical Vessel'. He then glances over to a photo over to the side, of an older man and women, both in Starfleet Uniform. The women has short brown hair, and is wearing a teal Starfleet Medical Uniform, while the man is wearing the Command Red. They're both displayed with three rectangular gold pips across their chests.

    Ryan is swiftly broken from his trance when the door chime rings out through the room.

    "Come."

    The doors silently hiss open, as Tala steps in. "Am I disturbing you?"

    "No, of course not. Please..." He gestures to one of the two seats opposite his side of the desk.

    Tala gives a curt nod, before sitting down and glancing at the hologram. "I heard about what happened to the Horizon. It was during 2407, wasn't it?"

    "Stardate 85697..." Ryan began solemnly, "point 58. Only 12 survivors, from a crew of over 600."

    "It wouldn't be the last time the Klingons destroyed a Medical Ship at Starbase 24."

    "No... it wouldn't." Ryan turns off the projector, before clearing his throat and looking at Tala. "You needed something, Ensign?"

    Tala nods, before handing him a PADD. "We've had a number of incidents in the past couple of hours. Nothing major, but a lot of the crew have been reporting hallucinations."

    Ryan raises an eyebrow, looking up from the PADD. "This is almost a third of the crew."

    "Ensign Dannover's checking the air recycling system for contaminants, and we're checking the crewmen affected for intoxicants and hallucinogens."

    "Any pattern?"

    "Only that they all seem to be seeing either nightmares or bad memories."

    Ryan looks up again, thinking for a minute at the startling coincidence. "You say this started after we arrived at the anomaly?"

    "I suppose so."

    "You suppose so? You knew when this started and you couldn't make the connection to our arrival at the anomaly?" Ryan stands up and hurriedly walks onto the bridge. "Alpha, drop off a Class V probe! Helm, set course 180, mark 0 relative current orientation! Warp Factor 1!"

    "Aye, sir!" The helm frantically starts entering commands into his console. Alpha turns from his station as Ryan takes his seat in the Command Chair.

    "I have released the probe and configured it to broadcast all data to Starbase Deep Space 2."

    "Alright..." Ryan says as he checks the small console on the arm of his chair, before looking to the helmsman. "Helm, engage."

    The helmsman taps several keys on his console as the ship begins to turn away. Ryan looks in puzzlement as the anomaly changes colour from white to red.

    "Alpha, has the anomaly done that before?"

    "Aye, sir. Several times since we arrived. You were on the bridge for one of them."

    "I don't remember--"

    They suddenly hear shrill screaming from the helmsman as he launches himself from his station, frantically clawing at his skin on the deck, repeatedly screaming "Get them off me!" as Ryan and Alpha hurry over to him.

    "Bridge to Sickbay, medical emergency!"

    The crewman soon stops, as his body goes still, his face contorted in terror. Alpha places to finger on his neck, before looking at Ryan. "He is dead."

    Captain's Log, Stardate: 91943.1.

    It has been more than a day since the death of Ensign Yuri Gugarav on the Bridge. All attempts to leave the vicinity of the so-called 'Nightmare Anomaly' have failed, the latest one when we were forced to jettison the Warp Core after Chief Engineer Dannover observed a build-up to warp core breach.

    The breach was yet another hallucination triggered by the anomaly, and we are now attempting to retrieve the core.

    End of Log.

    On Deck 7, Elizabeth Dannover is working in a Jefferies Tube, with one of the panels to the bio-neural network nodes open. She has a tricorder out, scanning the gel pack.

    If she doesn't get this right, they won't be able to restart the warp core due to the safety overrides.

    Suddenly, she starts hearing voices in her head again, as there is slight pain coming from her interlink node. She shakes her head briefly, waiting for it to pass. She then quickly snaps her head to the side, as a shadow flickers past the next junction. She drops the tricorder, slowly crawling towards the junction as she hears a shrill drilling sound, and a soundtrack of electronic humming. She lets out a start as someone grabs her shoulder from behind, turning and pulling her fist back, before relaxing as she sees it's just Ryan.

    "Are you okay?"

    "Yeah..." Dannover takes a deep breath before continuing nervously, "I just... thought I saw something."

    She bites her lip. "What are you doing down here?"

    "I was just checking the safeties before we bought the core back in."

    Dannover looks at him, confused. "Why?"

    "Heh..." Ryan leans back on the wall of the crawlway as he thinks. "I started out in engineering, before I switched to Command Track. I guess it's just an old instinct."

    He pats her shoulder again. "You okay?"

    Dannover nods. "I was just finishing up with the node myself."

    "We all good?"

    "Uh-huh..."

    Ryan smiles, giving her a reassuring nod before crawling back the way he came. Elizabeth lets out a deep breath, before returning to the computer node and collecting her equipment.

    As she steps out of the hatch and back into the corridor, she starts hearing that electronic hum again, this time with a series of mechanical whirs. She shakes her head, trying to snap out of it, as she turns a corner. Suddenly, her heartrate shoots up; she sees the normal Starfleet corridor, but poisoned with sickly brown metal devices protruding out of it, with the lighting changed to that horrible, evil emerald green. She shakes her head violently, as flickers of fire start appearing, the evacuation klaxon blaring, and her head filling with that terrifying chorus of deep, dark, monotone voices.

    "Dannover?"

    She feels something grab her shoulder.

    ****

    Tala quickly ducks below the closed fist, as she spins around and usesher right forearm to block a follow-up, using her left hand to tap her combadge. "Security to Deck 7!"

    She bounces back a little, pulling her arms up to guard as Dannover throws another punch at her, letting out a terrified grunt.

    "Dannover, it's me!" Tala deflects the punch before delivering a palm strike to her shoulder, not reacting quickly enough, as Dannover seems to almost instinctively grab her wrist before it connects, twisting her arm at a sick angle.

    Letting out a painful strain, Tala spins herself around her shoulder to put her arm back to a physically painless position before pulling Dannover's arm into an armbar, pushing her left hand against Dannover's shoulder, and slamming her against the wall, hearing the glass computer screen crack from the impact as Dannover strains against her.

    "Liz, snap out of it!"

    Dannover strains slightly, before she feints for a moment, Tala holding her up. Dannover shakes her head, before responding, dazed and confused, "Tala?"

    Sickbay, 15 minutes later.

    "She thought I was a Borg." Tala is leaning against the wall as Ryan and the EMH look at Dannover, held onto the Biobed by a restraining field.

    Ryan looks to the EMH momentarily, "Is the restraining field--?"

    "She has had several other violent hallucinations since she was admitted. The restraining field is for her protection as much as ours." The EMH replies, gesturing to the small cut on Tala's cheek. Ryan notices it and looks at Tala quizzically.

    "She went nuts almost as soon as I bought her to sickbay. If the EMH weren't online, it would have been a lot worse."

    "Understandable," the EMH begins, first looking at Tala, then Ryan, then to Dannover, "given her experience with the Borg. Entering Sickbay could very easily have triggered an hallucination of a Borg Assimilation Bay."

    "This is getting out of control." Ryan starts, agitated, "I've had 5 reports of similar incidents with the crew. Whatever this anomaly is, it's not just triggering brief hallucinations of small details or images anymore. It's causing full-fledged instances of violent, totally convincing hallucinations." He turns to the EMH. "When will Doctor Viran be back up?"

    "Doctor Viran's symbiont is in danger due to the rise in hormones triggered by her own hallucinations. I will keep you informed should that change."

    "Thank you, Doctor."

    Ryan turns on his heel and walks out.

    As he steps into the corridor, he's greeted with the site of burning fires and the red alert lighting, along with the evacuation klaxon blaring. He sees dozens of Starfleet Officers running through the corridors, some of them medics helping wounded civilians towards the escape pod bays. Ryan very quickly realises where he's seen this before, as the women from the photograph kneels over the body of a dead crewman, scanning him with a tricorder. Ryan's heartbeat elevates, as he trembles out a single word.

    "Mum...?"

    He suddenly hears loud shouting, in Klingon, accompanied with the sound of disruptor blasts. The medical officer pulls out her phaser, before there's an explosion.

    "NOOO!!!"

    Captain's Personal Log, Stardate: 91946.4. Lieutenant Commander Ryan Allington, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Victorious.

    If you'd told me a week ago that I'd end up being trapped in a my worst nightmares, I would have said you were crazy.

    Would have.

    So, let's do a rundown, shall we? My Chief Engineer is in Sickbay, restrained to a biobed for her own safety. I'm seeing the U.S.S. Horizon explode again and again...

    Let's start from the beginning... three days ago...

    How do I even begin?

    Well, I guess if you're listening to this, then you've probably already read my official log. I suppose you already know what's happened.

    It's been more than 5 years since my parents were killed when the Horizon was destroyed, but I still can't stop thinking about it. Running it through my head, over and over again.

    I wasn't even there. I was in the lobby at Starfleet Academy when the alert about the attack came in. I saw the Horizon explode in real time.

    How am I supposed to command this crew when I can't even think clearly because of these hallucinations?

    End of Log.

    Alpha is sitting at the Ops Station on the Bridge, watching the anomaly with his instruments. The past several days have been enlightening for him, and hollowing. In the past several days, he'd seen the various crewmembers on board exhibit signs of irrationality and become overwhelmed with fear. He'd been intrigued by how easily his humanoid crewmates had been overcome by fear - something he doesn't experience. However, he'd also been fascinated by how the crew has come together in a sense of comraderie - an emotion he has classified as 'positive' and one he knows he will likely never experience personally.

    And he'd ascertained that existential insight in less than half a second.

    As he continues to watch the anomaly, he notices a curious pattern. He runs the hundred different scenarios in his mind that could explain it, but to no avail. He expands the parameters. And again. Soon, he discovers the most likely possibilty and, less than 10 seconds after he'd started his investigation, he's standing up and tapping his coombadge. "Alpha to Lieutenant Commander Allington."

    "Go ahead, Alpha."

    "Captain, may I request a senior staff meeting in the Obseration Lounge immediately?"

    ***

    5 minutes later, Alpha is standing by the large monitor on the port wall of the Observation Lounge, with Ryan sitting in the chair at the opposite end of the conference table. Tala is sitting next to him, with Dannover and Doctor Sara Viran - the ship's Trill CMO - attending via visual communication from Sickbay. On the monitor behind Alpha is a sensor image of the Victorious and the anomaly. Alpha begins his presentation. "All efforts to attempt to escape the influence of the anomaly thus far have failed. To this moment, all attempts to leave have triggered a hallucination for any crewman who is in a position to stop our escape."

    "Like when I ordered the jump to warp. Ensign Gugarav suffered a panic attack just as he was about to engage our warp drive." Ryan had his eyes fixated on Alpha - he'd learned over the past year never to dismiss the Android's suggestions.

    "Or when we tried a second time. I saw the Warp Core start to go into meltdown." Dannover was also focused on Alpha.

    Alpha nodded. "And later you and 50% of the Engineering Department were confined to Sickbay or Crew Quarters due to your hallucinations, which is now slowing efforts to reinstall the warp core." Alpha then turns to Ryan. "Captain, it is my hypothesis that this pattern is not coincidental. All evidence points to one thing; the anomaly is not a typical subspace rift - it is a life form."

    Ryan and Tala lean forward in their seats, everyone's face's in shock, as Ryan asks, "A life form?"

    "The anomaly has shown none of the typical signs of a subspace rift. There is no subspace radiation being released from the event horizon, and matter can only travel one way through it. Furthermore, the only matter that has so far passed through it has been hydrogen and helium gas, which would suggest a protostar nebula."

    "And as Voyager proved, some life forms can appear to be nebulae to our sensors."

    "Also consider the irregular pattern of vibrations which have been colliding with our shields. I believe that it is an attempt at communication."

    "Not that this isn't fascinating, Alpha," Tala had a hand out, apologetically, "but how does this change the fact that we're trapped here?"

    "We are not."

    "Say again?"

    "We are not."

    Ryan and Tala smile as they find yet another communication barrier with the Android, before Ryan elaborates, "No, Alpha, she means 'explain'."

    "Ah. Intriguing.

    "The life form has made no attempts to prevent our use of sub-light propulsion, only our warp drive. I believe it is attempting to defend itself."

    "What?"

    Alpha taps a small panel on the table, which displays a new filter over the image, from the ship's subspace sensor array. "This area of subspace is at present very unstable due to the presence of the life form. An attempt to warp out from this position would create a new subspace rift, which would annihilate the life form."

    "It's been acting only to protect itself."

    "I believe the incident with Ensign Gugarav was an accident, sir. All hallucinations since have been much more tame."

    Dannover and Tala both clear their throats simultaneously.

    "The hallucination only turned violent after Ensign Tala triggered an instinctive defensive reaction from you, Ensign Dannover."

    They both nod in understanding, before Tala brings up another point, "Alpha, if this life form is trying to communicate with us... it hasn't done a good job."

    "On the contrary, all crewmembers who have suffered hallucinations have reported that they were based on fears and nightmares, esxcept one." Alpha now looks directly at Ryan.

    "Me." Ryan begins to understand. "My hallucinations have been much more specific. They've been focused on the destruction of the U.S.S. Horizon and my parents' deaths. A memory of fear and loss.

    "It hasn't just been trying to contact me, it's been trying to warn me."

    "I have formulated a method of escape, captain, but it carries significant risk."

    Captain's Log, supplemental. Lieutenant Commander Ryan Allington, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Victorious.

    We are preparing to go ahead with Lieutenant Alpha's plan to escape the subspace life form which has ensnared us. The plan is to push our impulse engines far beyond safe tolerances in order to reach relativistic speeds. If we are fortunate, and our impulse drive doesn't burn out before we reach the no-warp threshold, we should be able to escape the anomaly in 2 minutes, which will be percieved as a few days by the universe around us. If we fail, it will be decades before we reach the threshold, by which time we will have ran out of deuterium for our fusion reactors, and with no stars or nebulae, we won't be able to replenish our supply.

    Suffice it to say, failure is not an option.

    End of Log.

    Ryan is sitting in the centre chair, with Alpha tapping on the Ops console with incredible speed. Ryan looks to him, asking "You're sure the inertial dampeners can take it?" There was more than a hint of nervousness in his voice.

    "No one has ever attempted to accelerate to this speed before on impulse only. I have diverted all power from the warp core to reinforcing the dampeners. According to my calculations, they should have sufficient power to prevent excessive G-forces."

    "Do me a favour. Run them again."

    Alpha turns to face him. "I just did."

    "Just checking." Ryan clears his throat. "How long will we have before the impulse reactor temperature exceeds tolerances?"

    "I have rediverted all main power from secondary systems to environmental control, and focused the environmental controls in the Impulse Reactors themselves."

    "I can see..." Ryan is looking at his console in slight awe. "It's colder than the Andorian Arctic down there... in winter."

    "I calculate it is approximately 20 times colder than that, sir."

    "Thank you, Alpha."

    "It is more likely that the impulse engines themselves will melt from the plasma temperatures caused by our acceleration."

    "There's a cheery thought." Ryan sighs. "A;right, let's get this over with. Are we ready?"

    "Confirmed."

    "Alright." Ryan taps his comm panel, as the intercomm chimes. "All hands, this is the Captain. We are about to attempt to escape the life form. Be advised, we will be travelling at relativistic speeds far greater than any starship has ever gone before. Expect an increase in G-forces and internal temperature." He releases the comm panel. "Helm, set course for Federation space."

    The helmsman, a Bolian, starts tapping the commands into the console. "Course laid in."

    Ryan takes a deep breath, silently praying to god this works, because they'll only have one shot at this. "Engage."

    Suddenly, the Victorious' impulse engines burn to life and begin accelerating the Exeter-Class starship up to speed. After a few seconds, they're straight past the full impulse mark and still accelerating. Space dust starts to streak by, getting deflected away by the deflector dish as the speed keeps piling on. Ryan feels himself slowly getting forced back into his seat by the accelerative force as the temperature starts to rise.

    (Part Two)
  • allen1973allen1973 Member Posts: 22 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Allen’s Anomaly, (The Discovery of Allen’s Paradox)


    We did not have much time. We were to have twenty minutes to examine the anomaly that had detected. In two minutes time we slowed to impulse because the anomaly did not meet three of the main categorical criteria of anomalies, it could not be proven without a doubt that it was not a time paradox given the known empirical methodology. Perhaps to my own fault I was so proud and relieved that my astrometrics and engineering team had worked so efficiently, within the two minute slow down interval, that I was to believe that our science and engineering technological teaming with the Klingons and Romulans had created an effective protocol in which to observe the irrational in the most safe manner. In three minutes I ordered the ship to an ineffective elliptical orbit with the anomaly, until we had more information, we were going the long way around.
    My science team and my commanding bridge officer both issued their complaints, I simply informed them that I was not moved to take too many chances. What tipped me off were the temporal signatures, along with what would otherwise appear to be signs of Tholian energy signals, especially noticeable nearest the anomaly, they were not fresh as far as we could tell, no matter, I erred on the side of caution gladly from that point onward. We launched three probes at five minute intervals. In another half hour we learned that there was a collapsed / emergent wormhole, that might take us south of the Eta Eridani, the problem with this is we were near the Defari side of the Sheliak neutral zone, this kind of exploratory procedure was unprecedented in their space, and should the detour consume any of our journey further we were to enter a known Cardasian conflict area and eventually Breen space. It might have made more sense to simply turn around at that point. The politics near the Rolor nebula have always in fact been somewhat, nebulous, factually.
    I wasn’t about to give the order to turn around. Our sensors detected that our out bound probe was in full communication with our in-bound probe, and our third probe was some safe distance from the anomaly itself, about the third of that distance. The Rolor nebula would take some time to traverse, it wasn’t the end of the world, it was just that we had already come from the Badlands, the Marquee Admiral Chakotay and I are on good terms, but not that good. He thinks I’m a defector to the Klingons, I have difficulty stipulating to him the nature of our new diplomacy, our alliance is in keeping with the former inclinations of Federation / Klingon diplomatic relations, etc, he thinks it’s an espionage scam, although he is very polite about it, I don’t want to hear any more austere mystification from him about “Coyote’s call in the wind…” It’s just so embarrassing, I understand the metaphor clearly, I just don’t want to argue with him about it anymore. Officially we are diplomatic ambassadors of the Federation, him with the Marquee and myself with the Klingon Honor Guard. He doesn’t act like a Star Fleet Admiral, he acts just like a Marquee, like the only Admiral of their fleet, it is very daunting frankly. I also know if he was in the Eta Eridani, and surrounded by Klingons, he would simply be arrogant about my presence there, and likely belligerent also. I find diplomatic reasons to avoid his temperament, perhaps he of I as well.
    Communications about the anomaly to Star Fleet Command, the Honor Guard, and the Sheliak were expectedly fruitless. The next experiment was to perform additional wave length frequency tests to judge the spatial anomaly’s properties. This would require an additional probe. As our second probe made the decent into what would otherwise appear to be a Tholian wormhole the signal frequency modulator began to have fluctuations and other technical difficulties. It’s outboard warp drive was malfunctioning, and data from the inbound probe became continuously sporadic. Despite this, our sensors could easily detect that an inherent energy wave was likely the blame for the fluctuations, and had the probe had enough continuity of motion, or drift, it would have likely steered to a more effective wavelength in due time. We hadn’t actually considered keeping a probe in the anomaly itself, we merely had monitored the previous probe’s trajectory. My chief Science officer had begun to work with engineering to create a counter fluctuation in order to effectively match the probe signals that were interfering with our readings of the out bound probe in the Eta Eridani. Finally a transcription signal from D-7 to DS9 to us had confirmed that our probe had been spotted by Starfleet, and likely anyone else within earshot as well.
    We could use quantum science to counter fluctuate our movements within the wormhole with our shield variance relay field technology to keep in synch with the signal should we wish to utilize the distance ourselves. I was happy to simply keep the relay signal fluctuations and study this temporality from a distance. I order a warning buoy, had my joint science and engineering teams complete the next contiguous levels of quantification, and was about to issue a forbearance to the crew to regret delay to Deferi due to our new trajectory. It had been approximately two minutes of using flux signals to relay to the Eta Eridani probe when the countermeasure fluctuations began to jolt the ship, we tried evasive measures, to no avail, and I ordered my chief science officer to create a temporal shield flux barrier to coincide with our now locked and dangerously jammed signal. This created a divergent pulsewave and we became lost within and outside of the wormhole in a loophole phenomenon I like to call Allen’s paradox. Our variance signal had conjoined and diverged within and at our localized position in space, we were in a seventh dimensional paradox, both inside and outside of the anomaly. This is why the anomaly had inherency, this is why there were fluctuations, this is why the Tholians no longer were invading this section of space via this paradox, and this seventh dimensional rift was beginning to tear apart the USS Qotsa. I didn’t want my atoms to matriculate across the space time continuum with the base element of this ship and its crew for an anguishing eternity. We could hold for a finite amount of time using our fluctuation quantum wave length corresponding shield manipulations, however we needed a more practical solution, hull integrity would give out within the hour, and onboard tolerances, including that of sentient, were likely not so resilient.
    From within the seventh dimension temporal Tholian particles were abundant and completely traceable. This might have been a trap set by the Sheliak to twart the Tholians. Sheliak science may have given into the idea that the anomaly was now dormant, I would have to approach the diplomacy at a later moment. I signaled out to the inbound probe of our distress, I was sure, despite our 7th dimensional telemetry, that we were to be heard in a similar delay as before, I gave my reissuance of warnings. My chief engineer and I conferred with my chief science officer. Our sentient tolerances weren’t designed for the realities of seventh dimensionality. My head began to swim, my voice slurred, and I felt heavy and damaged in new and uniquely profound ways that impressed upon me as new sentient perceptions of a previously unperceived universe, or universes.
    I decided that perhaps distancing ourselves from the anomaly as soon as possible, might relieve our new seventh dimensional reality, however I think perhaps the taste of green is likely blue in spring of audio condolence should music have functional dystrophic jellyfish of a small gravel path of benign chromo binging habitat mythology. We recalibrated everything to coincide with the quantum slipstream and ended up in three dimension space surrounded by angry Sheliak, it was eight days later and our shields were still maintaining a vibrato of resonance that was effecting communications everywhere. Not really, only locally and anyone within earshot of the probes. We had been emitting for several hours in real space time. Chakotay had volunteered to destroy the existing probes and yet we were still somehow emitting and as clearly as if the probes were still intact. Quite a bit of interesting data came from the occurrence of our several hours of shield emitting activity. I immediately knew from experience that with effective cloak technology our new innovation would put centuries between us and our enemies with this new technique, but you know, I was busy with revamping my Sheliak diplomatic considerations in the midst of a crew being pampered by a secondary crew of emergency medical holograms, I was too busy to worry about my discovery, for the moment. Frankly the Sheliak had displayed an unusual amount of patience, even concocting a formal dialog about, “What happened to you alliance member of the Federation? We are very concerned about your proximity to multi-proxy dimensional existence.” I hated to do it, I had the hologram respond at first, I had tried to stand up, and the doc reassured me, don’t attempt that for some time to come now. With multi-dimensional travel it’s not like a hangover or getting beat up, you don’t see stars, you see every star there ever was, and ever will be.
    “Take a deep breath, relax, clear your mind of any thought, stay in your happy place, everything will be fine, the residual effects of multi-dimensional travel should soon coincide with nonsensical goldfish bearing pregnant Tulaberry buried in subspace dementia.”
    “Uh, yeah, I was worried about that, thanks doc…”
    “Anytime Admiral, you know my programing can handle the Sheliak until the crew is fully cognizant. Abalone horseshoe crab coyote armadillo seahorse.”
    “Yeah good, glad to hear it…”
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,254 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    "What Dreams May Come"

    Captain's Log, USS Bedford NCC-92570
    Captain Grunt recording.

    While surveying a remote section of the Alpha Trianguli sector, we encountered an odd phenomenon. Subspace, or at least the subspace domain our engines use, is almost flat here; it's been five days, and we haven't been able to form a warp bubble. Scans indicate this area is several light-years across, so getting out on impulse alone is obviously out of the question. Roclak and Vonovek have been working on a solution, but no luck yet.

    Also, it might just be because we're stuck here, but everyone on the crew has been reporting nightmares - even the Vulcans, and I wasn't even sure they dreamed. Most of us have been having a hard time sleeping because of it. LLunih's reporting a record number of personnel requesting sleep aids. And then there's poor Shelana, and the way things are going, she's just going to be the first. I'll be checking on her shortly.


    Grunt ran down the corridor, the padding of the fangcat uncomfortably close behind him. Thirty meters, he panted silently to himself, his heart jackhammering in his chest. Thirty more meters, and I can lock myself in my quarters...

    "You'll never make it, you know," the oily voice hissed. The twisted smile lurked in Grunt's peripheral vision.

    "Gonna... make it... 'sides... you... you're not real..."

    "Of course I'm real, silly boy. Mumsy and Daddy always warned you about making deals with the Smiling Friend. How could they have warned you if I weren't real? Oh, but then you've turned your back on them, haven't you?"

    "Never.. turned... back..." Grunt panted angrily.

    "You turned your back on them, just as you turned your back on what it means to be Ferengi, when you made that deal with that smiling Starfleet recruiter. You sold them out, you left them in that swamp and went to the stars. Oh, and it's certainly been an adventure, hasn't it? You've been brave, and selfless, and self-sacrificing, and you turned away from your people! You're going to die out here, alone and unmourned and unsold and poor, headed straight into the Vault of Eternal Destitution!"

    "No! NO!!" Grunt screamed, but in his lobes he knew his fate. Only a few more meters now, though, and he was safe...

    The fangcat leapt from behind, knocking him to the cold hard deck, and as its claws ripped into his abdomen he could hear the Smiling Friend laughing at him...

    Grunt sat bolt upright in his bed, his throat still raw from screaming. Shakily he pushed aside the covers, and saw his belly still whole, marked only by the scar he'd picked up during a fracas a few years earlier. He was fine, he was safe, this was the captain's cabin of the starship Bedford, and it was just a nightmare. In his mind's eye, though, he still saw the furred beast tearing his intestines out through the great gouges it had dug in him... He climbed out of the bedclothes, now soaked with his sweat, grabbed a robe, and headed for the door.

    ********

    Grunt padded into Sickbay, unusually busy for this time of the ship's night. Dr. LLunih tr'Dalen looked up from a young crewman he'd just given a hypospray to. "Good evening, Captain," he said sourly. "Let me guess - bad dreams?"

    Grunt shuddered. "You know it. How's Shelana doing?"

    The Romulan doctor glanced at the biobed at the end of the room, where an Andorian female lay under the sensors. "Maintaining a medically-induced coma. Until we solve this night-terrors issue, even letting her close enough to consciousness to dream could be fatal. Possibly even to her."

    Grunt nodded. Two days earlier, Shelana had emerged from her quarters with her custom bat'leth, screaming about "monsters of ice" attacking. Seven crewmen had been wounded before the stun effect of a phaser could stop her. LLunih had first tried restraints, but she had almost torn her own arm off trying to escape. Since then, he'd been keeping her too deep to dream - the source of everyone's trouble lately.

    "You, on the other hand," LLunih went on, "haven't come out of your quarters armed - yet, at least. How are you holding up?"

    Grunt smiled half-heartedly. "I could ask the same of you. It takes a lot to make a Ferengi go crazy. How about a Romulan?"

    "Oh, we're already all of us about half-crazy, so it's kind of hard to tell. I've got my nurses keeping an eye on me, with instructions to drug me into insensibility if I start to crack. I'm a little worried about the rest of the crew, though - three more came in for restraint today. If we don't start getting some solid sleep around here soon, Shelana's going to have even more company. Any word about getting the ship moving? I'd be happier if we could be backstopped by a starbase."

    "What's a backstop?"

    "Not sure. It's a phrase I picked up on Earth, getting multispecies medical training. It means having someone to catch your mistakes, which would come in really handy about now, because I haven't slept properly since we got here."

    Grunt rubbed his nose ridges. "I know the feeling. It's pretty close to my shift time - I'll go talk to Vov, see if anything's come up."

    The Romulan coughed delicately. "You, ah, might want to stop by your quarters on the way, at least if you're going on-shift afterward..."

    "What do you mean?" Grunt looked down. "Oh, the robe, right. It'd probably look better on the record if I wore a uniform."

    ****************

    Main Engineering

    Roclak and Vovonek were bent over the main control console in the warp mix chamber when Grunt arrived. Neither one appeared to have slept recently - the Klingon's once-proud mane of hair hung limply, and stubble could be seen on the Pakled's forehead where he habitually shaved his eyebrows.

    "Any news?" Grunt asked, as jauntily as he could manage.

    Vovonek looked up at him. "It won't go," he said hollowly.

    Grunt started to grin at his engineer's old joke, but something about Vovonek's face told him it wasn't funny this time. "How about you, Rock?"

    Roclak thumped the console in annoyance. "This tu'HomIraH piece of veQ can't tell me a ghuy'cha' thing I don't already know! The Cochrane fields are generated, but the warp bubble collapses the moment it is initiated! And something about this space deranges the mind, and won't let me sleep!!" He hit the console again, hard enough to crack the plasteel cover. "It is most displeasing!!"

    "Like I said, it won't go," Vovonek repeated.

    Grunt stifled a yawn. "Damn. I'd better get to the bridge - you guys stay on top of this, and let me know if you figure anything out."

    The Klingon growled at Grunt, which he took as a farewell, ducking into the turbolift again.

    Grunt emerged onto the bridge. "Looks like we're still stuck here, gentlemen. Anything new?"

    "I've found something, sir," replied Lt. Manalang, the comms officer. "A repeating pattern with variations, on a theta sideband of standard subspace radio frequencies. Not sure what it means, but it's definitely something. I've got Mycroft running an analysis."

    Lt. Turing turned around from his station at Ops. "Intriguing, sir. It is hypothesized that theta-frequency subspace transmissions may have an effect on the subconscious level of organic minds. Research is ongoing, but inconclusive thus far."

    "Intriguing indeed. Can anyone raise Mr. Brel?" Grunt was hoping his ship's counselor could shed some light on the situation.

    "Lieutenant Commander Brel is in his office, sir, but he is not responding to hails. Interesting. There is no record of Lieutenant Commander Brel having any appointments this morning."

    "Thank you, Mr. Turing," Grunt acknowledged. "Please have someone from Security check up on Tan."

    The android turned back to Ops.

    "Meanwhile," a voice broke in from the ceiling, "I have reached some disturbing conclusions, Captain."

    "Let's hear it, Mycroft."

    A holographic Human coalesced next to the captain's chair. The AI continued, "You are aware, sir, that I was originally configured for SIGINT - SIGnal INTelligence. I've been analyzing the pattern of the theta-band transmission, and I am unable to avoid the result - the signal is purposeful. I believe it may be inimical, as well."

    "You mean someone's doing this to us on purpose?"

    "It would seem so, sir. What's more, the amplitude of the signal has been increasing. If we don't get out of here soon, the nightmares induced by the transmission might begin occurring during waking hours - as has already happened with Commander Shelana, Lt. Jermons in Engineering, Ensign Vaughn in Astrometrics, and Able Spacer th'Trygan in the hangar deck."

    "Great. It's going to make us crazy if we don't leave, and we can't leave. Suggestions, anyone? Gydap?"

    "I've been trying to think, sir," the Andorian helmsman replied, his voice thick with exhaustion. "I remember reading something somewhere about a ship caught like this, and the crew not being able to sleep, I think, but I can't seem to recall..." He trailed off.

    "All right, let's try it this way. Computer, search paramaters 'starship caught no warp crew can't sleep'. Search."

    "Working," the computer's vaguely feminine voice replied. "Two incidents. USS Defiant, NCC-1764, caught in a spatial interphase, stardate 5693.2. Crew rendered violently insane, leading to the deaths of all aboard. Also involving USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Second incident, USS Brattain, NCC-21166, caught in a Tyken's Rift along with members of a telepathic species aboard another craft. The telepathic species attempted to communicate with the crew of the Brattain, which interfered with REM cycles. Lack of dreaming led to insanity; the sole survivor was rendered catatonic. Also involving USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, caught in the Tyken's Rift on stardate 44631.2. In the former incident, the Enterprise was able to depart, but her captain, James Kirk, was aboard the Defiant when it was entrapped in a Tholian web, and her crew refused to leave until Kirk could be rescued. The crew began experiencing abberations in temperment, apparently induced by the nature of the local space. In the latter incident, the Enterprise-D was able to escape the rift by supplying hydrogen from her Bussard collectors, which combined with an element provided by the other ship, resulting in an explosion which threw them both clear."

    "Yeah, that second one, that's the one I was thinking of," Gydap said. "This isn't a Tyken's Rift, of course, or we'd be out of it already, but maybe something similar could work."

    "Maybe. Dammit, I can't think!" Grunt rubbed his head in frustration. "Turing, does anything suggest itself to you?"

    "Possibly, sir. There appears to be a subspace rift in the approximate center of this region, about two million kilometers off our port bow. If three tricobalt torpedoes were to be configured for coordinated explosion, it could result in a temporary disruption of the field that is preventing our warp drive from functioning. The flaw in this plan is that this would require precise timing, and at this point none of the organic intelligences aboard would be capable of issuing the appropriate orders in time. I could pilot the ship out, or I could time the torpedo explosions; however, to do both would require that I use two separate consoles very nearly simultaneously."

    "Hmmph. Great. A maybe solution, but we can't even try it. If we make it out of this, maybe we should look into a few emergency holographic officer programs."

    "Sir," the android said, "I am not the only non-organic intelligence aboard. There is also Mycroft."

    "Me?" Mycroft replied in astonishment. "I can't fire the torpedoes, or fly the ship - I haven't the authorization!"

    "This is true. However, the Bedford was designed to have a ship's AI. With the authorization of the captain, the first officer, and the chief engineer, you can take that position."

    Grunt nodded. "Sounds like a plan. You've been about as thoroughly vetted as a sapient program can be, Mycroft. Let's get Rock and Vov up to speed. Grunt to Engineering."

    "Vovonek here."

    Grunt quickly filled them in on the plan. "So we just need to provide the codes. The Captain concurs. Authorization Grunt seven aleph niner gree-worm yellow eight omega seventeen."

    "The first officer concurs. Authorization Roclak gamma twelve orange targ escrima eight."

    "The chief engineer... the chief... NO! NOT THAT!!"

    "Captain!" Ruben called. "The theta-band signal has just jumped in amplitude by a factor of ten! I don't think they like what we're doing!"

    Vovonek's screams across the intercom abruptly ceased. A new voice spoke up. "I am Lieutenant Commander Sorak. As Commander Vovonek has become incapacitated, I am hereby assuming the position of chief engineer. The chief engineer concurs. Authorization Sorak iota nine seven six delta epsilon green powder."

    "Authorizations acknowledged," the computer replied. "Installing ship's artificial intelligence, utilizing program MYCROFT version twelve point four seven."

    The hologram flickered, then steadied. "I acknowledge responsibility," Mycroft said.

    "Sir!" Ruben screamed. "THE SIGNAL!!"

    The deck beneath Grunt's feet abruptly yawned open, revealing a vast abyss toward which he began to slide. As he grabbed desperately at the arms of his seat, he could hear that oily voice hiss, "I told you, there's no escape from the Smiling Friend..."

    "Not real! NOT! REAL!!" Grunt ground the heels of his hands into his eyes. When he opened them again, he could see the bridge of his ship, undisturbed save by the panicking life forms aboard her. Overlaid on that, however, he could still see the hallucination of the pit.

    "Turing! Mycroft! Execute the plan now!"

    Three orange sphere tore loose from the forward torpedo launcher, speeding toward their destination. As they erupted into violent light and a massive shockwave, Turing's hands danced on his control panel. The ship lunged, turned, and fled the devastation she had unleashed.

    "I am pleased to announce that the maneuver has been successful," the android stated. "We are now clear of the phenomenon. I recommend the placement of a series of warning buoys, to prevent other ships from entering this space unexpectedly."

    "That sounds like a great idea," Grunt said wearily. "See to it. Meanwhile, all off-shift personnel are to go to bed. Now."
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,102 Arc User
    edited November 2015
    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X trekked through space. Captain Seifer had just finished a raquetball match on the Holodeck and was ready to start a new shift.

    "Ah, that was perfect," Seifer said as he took a seat. "Except, why was I being attacked by a skull-head guy with an axe?"

    Kayl, at ops, turned to him, "Sir, the racquetball simulation has been programmed to make itself more interesting after thirty minutes of play."

    "Dammit. Why'd we let Felix's nephew on board last week. He jack-in-the-boxed all the sports programs-- he turned hoverball into hover-Horta," Seifer clenched his fist. "Have we learned nothing of nephew's after Janeway's Q Junior?"

    Before anyone could answer, the Phoenix-X was jolted with a powerful rush of energy and stopped in its tracks.

    "Sensors indicate an unknown energy reading all around us. It's nothing anyone's encountered before!" Armond commented from tactical.

    "Quite bold of you, Lieutenant Commander," Seifer replied.

    "Thank you, sir. It is Friday, after all. I think we can all agree that spirits are usually up more on this day of the week, and, thus, observations more freely made," Armond turned to discuss.

    "Dudes, can we focus here?" Kayl interjected.

    Seifer pointed, "That is not Starfleet jargon! But I do like it. So, maybe?"

    "Well, whatever you decide, the engines are offline," Ensign Dan, at navigation remarked.

    Seifer's jaw dropped, "How dare you, Ensign? You're relieved!"

    "No, I mean, due to the unknown energy stuff," Ensign Dan turned, exasperated.

    The Captain then squinted his eyes and pointed, "Alright, you win this round. But I'm watching you..."

    "Sir, I'm certain that with extensive study, we can learn more about this phenomenon, and determine a way out," Armond turned again.

    Seifer tapped his chin inquisitively, "Like, a couple minutes... an hour or so...?"

    "Closer to a day," Armond confirmed.

    Captain Seifer dropped his arms in relief, "Oh, thank goodness. This has been the longest shift ever. I'm off to bed! You guys too. I don't want you all to be grumpy-Denobulans in the morning. You remember how badly our Tykon's Rift Memorial visit turned out?"

    He shifted his pointing finger at each of them as he exited to the turbolift.
    Captain's log, Stardate 87035.4

    I had the worrrrrssstttttt dream last night. Why did I even go to bed during an obvious ship crisis? That is the dumbest thing any Starfleet officer can do! I just have to hope that my crew didn't take the same action. Hold on, let me check the shift logs--

    Dammit! We must be getting way too comfortable with being in danger. It is literally something that happens every week.

    Anyway. I should digress. The question is, why must I digress? Can't we Captain's escalate for once? Why are we meant to be the level-headed, so-called role model? It's a lot like that dream I had last night. I was phased-out of normal matter and everyone on the ship was ignoring me. Even someone named T'Pol. It was the worst copycat-episode ever. Luckily, though, it was all a dream-- though, that did seem like a cop-out.

    Ah, I see what I did there. I digressed without even knowing. I'm like the Julian Bashir of Captain's logs.
    Later, Captain Seifer entered the Bridge of the Phoenix-X. The ship was rumbling in an attempt to escape the alien energy that trapped it.

    "I didn't authorize this!" Seifer barked.

    Chief engineer Kugo walked over and handed him a padd, "Actually, you did. Though, telling from the spelling and grammatical errors, you may have been sleep-commanding again."

    Captain Seifer picked up the padd and read it, "--'Make ship go; I am smart.' ...Since when am I a Pakled?"

    "Sir, I had, uhh... the weirdest dream last night. Permission to transfer to the Enterprise-F after this? I hear Captain Shon is a real slave driver," Armond inquired, hopefully.

    Seifer snapped, "Denied! Just for that, you will all do double leisure duties on the Holodecks."

    "But I dreamt someone was drinking out of a straw connected to my brain!"

    Doctor Lox then started scanning him, "You may have interphasic organism syndrome. The Borg analgesic cream works best for that."

    "We all had horrible dreams, sir; Mine was that I was floating in a green, cloudy void, yelling 'Where are you' over and over again. Ugh. The repetitiveness gave me U.S.S. Bozeman syndrome," Kayl covered her face in horror.

    Kugo activated a hover screen at the back of the Bridge, showing an image of the Phoenix-X trapped in an unseen energy. "The energy has reached into a theorized unknown layer of subspace I have deemed subspace-subspace, or subspace-extreme, or gravimetric-subspace."

    "So, what you're saying is, we're surrounded and trapped within a family of over-emotional two-dimensional lifeforms who exist in cosmic strings?" Seifer postulated.

    Kugo deactivated, "No! And yes, that was my nightmare last night. It's all Engineer's nightmares-- that, and being stuck in the Delta Quadrant for seven years without a uniform change."

    "Well, I think it's obvious what the answer is here--" Seifer started, "Tachyons--"

    "--Tachyons!" Kayl raised her hand, trying to be the first to say it.

    Kugo interjected, "More precisely, an inverse tachyon pulse."

    "Right," Armond nodded, "The only side-effect being that one Phoenix-X from the past and one Phoenix-X from the future will appear."

    Ensign Dan turned, "I didn't even go to sleep last night and that skull-head guy came into my quarters. I think he's loose on the ship."

    "Not now, Ensign Dan! We can only deal with one issue per week. There's no room for good b-stories here, or on the Starship Voyager," Kayl said.

    The Phoenix-X fired an inverse tachyon pulse into the more dense area of the energy, causing two more Phoenix-X's to appear. They were then hailed.

    "This is Captain Cell of the Phoenix-X from 2390. What the hell? You're Captain in the future??" Cell asked from the other ship.

    Seifer shrugged, "Sorry about that."

    "Just-- just don't ruin the ship. That's all. You know we still owe the Orions like fifteen more payments for fixing that moving-nacelle problem the Intrepid-class forced on us," Cell said.

    Seifer responded braggingly, "It's down to twelve payments now."

    "Nice!" Cell said impressed. "Well, we're going to disengage our tachyon pulse. We just wanted to see what would happen."

    He clicked off screen, but the Phoenix-X from the future clicked on, "This is Captain Ensign Dan from the year 2450! The Borg are everywhere; you have to help us!"

    "Ew! No way you're the Captain. Ugh. Disengage the pulse!" Seifer ordered Armond.

    Suddenly the two other ships disappeared and the Phoenix-X of the present's engines came back online.

    "No offense, Ensign Dan, but we can't let that future happen," Seifer said.

    Ensign Dan nodded, "I understand. But why'd I have two titles?"

    "Now that we're out of that mess, is anyone up for an all-nighter of poker? I know it's morning, but I changed the internal chronometers to fix that," Lox said.

    Kayl stood up, "Fine. But you have to stop using Fizzbin cards. And someone needs to leave a warning beacon here."

    "We're out of those. All I have are these drink coasters that project mini-EMH Mark I's singing opera," Armond held one up.

    The EMH started singing, "I've been working on the railroad---"

    "Oh, hell!" Seifer immediately knocked it to the floor and started stamping on it.

    Armond shrugged, "We have fifty more. They were a gift from Admiral Tuvok."

    "Those'll do fine, Armond. Thanks." Seifer tried to catch his breath. "I just want to thank everyone for saving our lives," he continued. "Being the twenty-fifth Phoenix-ship, we have a standard to uphold, and that standard is existence. Maybe there's more, but I don't want to pressure you."

    ---

    Suddenly, Seifer woke up and found himself in Sickbay with the Doctor hovering over him.

    "Uh! Was it all a dream?"

    Lox shook his head, "No, you just fell unconscious during that speech. Turns out we forgot to leave the area after our engines came back online. We're gone now."

    "It's like I'm the Tom Paris of captaining."
    Post edited by hawku001x on
    rrw_tetreya2.jpg
  • ryan218ryan218 Member Posts: 33,935 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    (Posting this as a separate post as I ran out of room in the first one...)

    (Part One: http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showpost.php?p=16779861&postcount=11

    Outside, the impulse drive housing starts to glow a radiant red as small streaks of molten metal start to slip off and into the plasma stream.

    After a few minutes, Alpha looks to Ryan. "Captain, we have gained enough distance from the life form that we can engage warp drive safely."

    "Helm, decelerate. All stop."

    The Victorious begins to decelerate, within minutes being back down to stationary velocity. The impulse engines start to flicker, the housing still glowing, melting away. The ship then jumps into warp.

    2 days later, the Victorious drops back to sub-light inside Federation space, and begins transmitting a request for assistance.

    U.S.S. Darwin, Rhode Island-Class Science Vessel.

    Daya is sitting in the Command chair when her Ops Officer turns to her. "Captain, we're picking up a distress signal. It's from the Victorious. They're requesting a tow back to spacedock, reporting serious thermal damage to their impulse drive systems."

    Daya stands up. "Lay in the course."

    Federation Border, U.S.S. Victorious.

    Several starships are on the scene, responding to the Victorious' signal. It's only now that the sheer amount of damage has been realised. The relativistic speeds not only destroyed the impulse engines and rendered the impulse reactors inoperable, but they also caused microfractures in the hull from the friction and radiation.

    Assuming the damge can be repaired, the Victorious will be in spacedock for a while.

    The U.S.S. Seacole and Darwin begin evacuate the crew - in case the dtructural itegrity field fails - as the U.S.S. Kirk locks on a tractor beam. Then, the wounded ship jumps to warp with it's 3-ship entourage, hopefully not for the last time.
  • azniadeetazniadeet Member Posts: 1,863 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Dead Captains Don't See

    "How long until the Romulan ships are within weapons range, Mr. Chellaud?" Commander Aznia Toma ordered the report from Tactical.

    The Pakled tactical officer reported back, "Two Minutes."

    "Toma to Rahall," Aznia tapped her badge, "How quickly can you install a cloaking device?"

    Chief Engineer Rahall's voice rang back across the communicator, "Three... maybe four minutes."

    "You have two, prepare to beam to the freighter!" Aznia ordered. She tapped her badge again, "Transporter room, beam Rahall and one of our auxiliary cloaking modules directly to the freighter immediately."

    "Aye sir, energizing." a crewman's voice answered.

    "Mr. En'thaas, set a course for the Romulan ships. Let's intercept them and buy as much time as possible."

    The Aenar helmsman maneuvered the ship toward the ominous warbirds. "Captain, they're locking on us."

    "Evasive maneuvers." She turned toward Tactical "Mr. Chellaud target the smaller support vessels with a phaser cannon spread, let's see if we can pull them off course." Aznia ordered.

    "Support vessels are pursuing, the lead warbird is breaking toward the freighter, 30 seconds to range."

    The Federalist shook violently, sparks flew across the bridge.

    "Shields are at 30%." The Tactical officer reported.

    Aznia turned to Science Officer Haln, "I want you to dump all power except shields and structural integrity into the deflector dish. Let's see if we can generate a gravity well to hold that warbird back."

    The Saurian Science Officer engaged the deflector as the energy transfer blew out several relays, but the particle stream generated a field that slowed the Warbird's progress.

    "Get whatever power is remaining back to weapons!" Aznia ordered as the strained ship tried to juggle its various tasks. "Fire at will on the Warbird!"

    The phasers inflicted significant damage on the Romulan lead ship, but the support vessels swarming them were decimating their defenses.

    "Shields offline!" The Pakled Tactical officer shouted. "Hull integrity down to 29%!"

    "Keep firing until the freighter cloaks! Once they're clear, give me warp power!"

    The bridge overloaded with energy feedbacks, "We won't have warp power!" En'thaas reported, "We're losing core contain-"

    A shower of sparks cut off the officer's report, as the holodeck program ended. The crewmen found themselves within the empty holomatrix on level 1 in the Starfleet Command building.

    En'thaas stepped toward Aznia, setting a hand on her shoulder, "Good attempt." he consoled her.

    The holodeck doors opened, two Starfleet officers walked in, "Interesting method." a grey haired Admiral announced. He looked around the holodeck, "Thank you for participating, you're all dismissed." The crew shuffled out of the room, except Aznia.

    "I thought I could give the freighter time to make repairs by cloaking them." Aznia explained her actions, "I was only fighting for time... I'd hoped we could hold out long enough to secure them, then jump to warp ourselves."

    "You don't often get the time you expect," the Admiral explained, "but your approach was commendable."

    "Is there any chance I could see how the rest of that simulation turned out?" Aznia inquired, "The Kobayashi Maru may still have escaped."

    "No you can't see. You died. Dead Captains don't see." Admiral Deet taunted the failure. "You must accept the consequences of your losses. Not knowing what happened to that freighter is a very small consequence, compared to losing those 400 men and women aboard your ship."

    Commander Toma shook her head in frustration.

    "You did fine, Commander." Deet reassured her. He looked over to the other officer in the room, "Have you met Commander Daniels? He's in charge of the simulations department here at Starfleet Academy."

    Daniels extended his hand to Commander Toma, "Nice to meet you." he smiled politely.

    Aznia smiled and greeted Daniels similarly.

    Daniels looked in the Admiral's direction, "To be honest, I think Commander Toma's attempt was one of the best I've seen in my time here. I'd hate to think my program is getting soft." He smiled coyly toward Aznia, "Admiral, if you don't mind, I have some questions about the simulation from the user's perspective. Would you mind if I spoke to Aznia in my office?"

    "Of course." He nodded to Daniels before addressing Aznia, "Commander, report to my office tomorrow at 1400 hours, we'll go over your results and I'll let you know your next assignment." Admiral Edinger Deet smiled at his subordinates as he turned to leave, nodding as if to say 'good day'.

    Toma and Daniels stood at attention as the Admiral vacated the area. Once he was clear, they began to speak casually. "You've served with the Admiral, right?" Daniels asked the straightforward question.

    "I was his Chief of Security aboard the L'
  • danquellerdanqueller Member Posts: 484 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    ___




    The ship…




    The darkness around her is only a shroud, concealing the devices and tools they haven’t let her see yet. The few indicator lights that are visible give testimony that many of these are medical equipment she is familiar with, and might even have used recently.

    Highlighted in the circle of brightness cast by the single bank of surgical lights above, she gives yet another strain at the straps that hold her to the angled medical bed, still unable to move more than a few centimeters. Gasping in exertion, she pulls with what strength remains in her body until there simply is nothing more to use, collapsing back onto the padded bed with the quick intakes of breath that almost make her cough.

    Then he steps forwards from the shadows, his alien eyes taking in her tattered uniform, the exhausted limpness of her form. A sterile mask hides his face, but she knows those eyes. Knows the cold amusement in them that she never thought would ever be there. His arms come up, and she knows the device he adjusts, its purpose and what it does.

    "You should have been more careful." he says as he finishes turning a control and peers carefully at the miniature display lights on the device. "We never could have obtained you so easily if you'd kept your distance from me. You made it too easy."

    "No!" her voice cracks as she tries to keep the fear from it. "You were my commander! I...I..."

    He nods as he steps forwards, his manner that of a professional doing a job he knows well. "All true. But as Master Healer, you of all people should know the dangers of personal attachment to those under your care. Did you expect the Tal'shiar would be ignorant of that as well, Sub-lieutenant Kirana?"

    Kirana's eyes go wide as she sees the device come up, her head shaking from one side to the other in denial "No! Please! I....I love....."

    Subcommander Rycho's eyes do not change in the slightest. "You might be amazed at how many of my assignments say that." Then he puts the device to her temple.

    And she begins screaming again.




    The ship is falling...




    He is running through the green-lit corridors of the Borg Cube, frantic to find a way out. For hours, he has been running, and his skin is streaked with cuts from the many metal surfaces he has come into contact with in his wild flight. His uniform is in no better condition, the charred marks of three plasma near-hits marking where his pursuers have almost stopped him.

    The Cube is huge. It seems to go on forever, and he has run farther than he ever thought possible inside a ship, and not come to the other side. It dwarfs any construction he has ever known, and now he realizes how little he understood about just what such a vessel was. It was a miniature world.

    Looking wildly around, his eyes half-panicked, Subcommander Tosik's mind still catalogs and identifies all that he sees. Here a dynafunction node. There, a nutrient transmission line. All part of the massive machine that is the construct he has become trapped within.

    Spinning around a corner, he sees the open doorway, but is unable to halt his momentum before he has passed through it. His efforts to stop only cause his weary legs to buckle, and he falls onto the metal surface of the floor with the audible impact of his head striking last. For a moment, he is stunned, unable to make out his surroundings.

    Then he is being lifted by mechanical arms too stiff and strong to be biological. To either side, a Borg drone that once had been a rihannsu like himself carried him forwards, one pinning his head in place with its other hand so that he saw what was awaiting him.

    She was there.

    The female figure he had so long sought was shrouded in white robes, but from several holes in the fabric, he could see the large conduits and wiring that led from her, linking her directly to the Cube structure. Her face regarded him with serene interest, the one eye clearly a prosthetic that was ringed in metal and from the depths of that iris shown a single red dot of light. Even the hand she raised to halt the Borg carrying him displayed the evidence of cybernetic invasion, the fingers each tipped in an alloy cap that seemed to shine with an inner light of their own.

    In a voice he barely recognized as his own, Tosik cried out "Commander!!!"

    But she only nods, and a small smile forms on her face as she says in a voice made of many others besides her own. "It is good that you have come to us. Now, you will service us, and be perfected."

    He barely has time to arc his back in agony as the assimilation probes pierce his neck.





    The ship is falling down the well......




    Warlord Desalle Mendez Rycho staggers under the blow, his legs shifting madly to keep him upright as the ringout from the blow of Captain Furth's sword that had sent his own blade sailing out of the arena floor echoes off the stone walls. His hand is numb, but he knows in seconds it will flare with the agony of broken bones, and he grits his teeth as he glares in defiance at his foe.

    Furth's grinning face leers back at him as the massive warrior takes a moment to savor his advantage. The tattoos of skulls below the eyes that watch Rycho dance as the man tilts back his head and utters a shout of glee, the sword already positioned to slash through the man who had been his superior only a few minutes before.

    "You can see, my Khan, that this worm does not deserve his place!" Furth shouts out as he turns slightly to one side. "Let the lands of Greater Europa have the master worthy of them!"

    Rycho knows this is his chance, that it happened just this way before, and that he must strike or lose everything. In an action as swift as a striking cobra, he is moving, his legs propelling him in a leap forwards that....


    Furth's sword drives into his chest, somehow interposed where it should not, could not, be.


    Collapsing to his knees, Rycho's hands go to the hilt now extending from his chest, trying to comprehend how this could have happened. He knows he has done this before, and that he had slipped past Furth's blade in that moment of distraction to knock the traitorous warrior out with a head strike to the other's jaw.

    In shock, he finds his head becoming hard to lift, yet he does so. Determination to see the others in the stadium around him forces him to push his last strength to meet the eyes of his former subjects. And one other.

    There, on the throne chair Rycho had positioned for him, Kahn Noonien Singh watches his Lieutenant with slitted eyes. With a single motion, Singh sweeps the cloak from his shoulders and stands to address the crowd of faces around them.

    "So it shall be."

    In a gasp of pain and utter despair, Rycho collapses onto the floor of the dueling arena, his breaths causing the dirt to scatter. When the crunching of gravel reaches his hearing, he almost doesn't realize his Master has come to stand beside him. Lifting his head for what he knows is his last time, he sees the merciless eyes of Khan Singh regarding him with utter disappointment written in them.

    Then that changes to fierce anger.

    "You think this is the end, don't you?" the leader of the genetically augmented race of Humans says as he bends down to grip Rycho's hair in his hand. "Oh no. Not for you. Not for your crew. Did you think I would forget how you interfered in my release? After so many...many.....

    "No. We will keep playing this out until your soul is broken, and your mind is shriveled! However many times you all must die, I will have my revenge."

    Forcing Rycho to look at him fully, Singh asks him in a voice filled with hate "Do you like this face?" before he lets Rycho see a little bit more of the truth behind the mask, and Rycho howls as madness begins to take him.

    Then Furth is swinging a battleaxe down at his head.





    The ship is falling down the well, the crew is incapacitated........





    The hull of the Thur'Vas sang with the passage of the ship through the wild distortion of space, the roaring of sound within its confines a vibration that shook Master Engineer Xa'Jev's hulking body almost off his feet. Clawing along the Bridge from the turbolift he had ridden from Engineering, he used his arms to pull himself along against the gravitational forces that sought to drive him into the bulkhead along with the others.

    On the main screen was only the blur of passing matter as the ship flew at speeds that would be incomprehensible to biological minds around the massive whirlpool disk that marked where a rift into subspace had formed. A rift that had caught the Thur'Vas unexpectedly, and was gradually drawing it downwards into the dark maw at its center.

    Part of Xa'jev knew that the ship would not survive passing into that darkness, that entry into subspace in this way would crush it long before the matter that composed both the ship and everything inside it was annihilated by contact with the different physics of subspace. But only part of him. That part was a computer-generated copy of his brain, a companion to the one he had been born with and a constant assistant to recalling of facts or calculating equations.

    The other part was in a sleepcycle nightmare, seeing what the artificial brain did but unable to experience it except as part of a twisted dreamstate the bionic copy identified as the result of the altered space the ship was flying through. The same effect that had caused the other members of the crew, all without the benefit of a cybernetic implant system, to collapse into an REM state that clearly was causing them as much distress mentally as the G-forces of the ship's rapid spiral course was causing to their bodies.





    The ship is falling down the well, the crew is incapacitated, and <ERROR/SUBROUTINE CHECK/INCORRECT DATA FORMAT> only this one is left to <ERROR/DANGER/IMMEDIATE EVASIVE ACTION/HALT PROGRESS> implement correction action.




    Staggering towards the Science Station, the Master Engineer could not spare effort to be gentle as his divided mind alternated between firm logic and utter madness. With barely a notice, he pushed the twitching form of Subcommander Tosik aside and, jamming his input spike into the console surface close enough to induce signal traffic to the computers, began to enter commands into the Scanning Station.




    Action required enter elevation course correction pulse NONONONONOGETAWAYGETAWAY zero-point-five-seven. Set delay on main deflector THEREISSOMETHINGBEHINDUSGETAWAYGETAWAYGETAWAYGET two seven seconds. Warp coefficient eight stroke two theta one.




    Twisting away for a moment in panic, Xa'jev tried to run back to the turbolift, the spike from his hand embedded into the console the only thing that stopped him. In the next moment, he returned to cold calculation and continued to feed instructions to the computers. In minutes, he had the structure of the subspace rift analyzed and the path needed to escape calculated.



    Entering the final commands, Xa'jev gripped the edge of the console, and activated his program.



    And watched in horror as the ship was rocked to one side by the impact of an asteroid he had missed in one of his periods of delusion. Quickly attempting to correct his program, Xa'jev found that the impulse engines were already firing, the ship's main deflector array already emitting the antigraviton surge he had ordered it to. In a synthetic howl of dispair he tried greater and more complex corrections as the ship's course bent further and further from what was needed.

    Then the sound of the hull turned to the twisting screech of hull structure, and the Engineer could only watch as the port wing Engineering display diligently showed that part of the ship collapsing in on itself, crushed into the main body of the vessel by the hideously increasing forces around it. A moment later, and the starboard side of the vessel began to follow suit, filling the Bridge with the thunder of crushing hull and compressing systems.




    He barely noticed when the upper section of the Bridge ripped open to show the blackness of the subspace maw coming down to swallow what remained of the Thur'Vas. His last moments were of screaming his rage at his failure.....




    ___




    Commander's journal supplemental.



    The Thur'Vas is on course for Deep Space Nine for repairs and medical assistance after our encounter with a subspace rift that drew the ship in and incapacitated the crew. Special commendation is noted for Master Engineer Xa'jev, who managed to make his way from Engineering to the Bridge and execute a manuever that extricated the ship from the gravity well around the rift with only minor structural stress damage.

    Unfortunately, it seems Xa'jev's cybernetics only allowed him to resist the effects of subspace warping for a time, and he succumbed to the same incapacitation as the rest of us just as he activated the ship's navigation program. Master Healer Kirana believes the reason we have not been able to revive him has something to do with the interaction of his cybernetics and concious mind. In saving the ship, my Master Engineer may have lost himself.

    As to the rift itself, the sudden appearance of the anamoly directly in our course is suspicous. I cannot record any other reason for this conclusion other than to say I have....some of the experience.....computer delete last paragraph. What do you mean you cannot?? <words not translatable. Please check transcription database>.

    Very well. I will have words with Republic Security upon our return to Mol'Rihan.




    End recording.


    ___

  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,635 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    An Anomalous Nightmare

    I collapse backwards in a blinding haze of pain, the double-bladed knife embedded in the right side of my belly. The Orion advances on me, wipes green blood from her crushed nose, cursing, and kicks me in the jaw, sending me sprawling against the bulkhead and burying the knife still further. "Bajoran *****!" she grinds out. "You won't die quickly for that."

    I can't move. I can't scream. No breath will come out. The matron has her knee on my chest as she reaches out for my ear and begins sawing.

    And then she's not a greenskin. She's a human, long black hair, Asian features. Starfleet Science uniform, noncom's insignia. Huge, bloody hole in her chest.

    "I'm going to kill you slowly, Captain, the way you killed me."

    Captain? I'm a sergeant.

    Blood pours down my side as the ear comes away. I can't move. I can't scream. Suddenly the nightmare vanishes with a sharp, stabbing pain to my neck.

    I look around. I'm in my cabin on the Bajor. The pressure on my chest is Gaarra holding me tight. The pain in my neck was Warragul with a hypospray.

    "Eleya, are you all right?" Tess asks.

    The pain is still burning in my memory, vividly real, but both my ears are intact. I push Gaarra back before I realize I've got no clothes on. I grab at the sheets to cover myself but Warragul's South Australian tenor says, "Relax, Cap'n, it's nothing any of us here haven't seen before."

    He's right, of course. Warragul's my doctor, Tess is my workout partner, and Gaarra … Prophets, I still don't even know what Gaarra is.

    Tess goes to my dresser and tosses me a set of underwear. "We paged you to the bridge four times but didn't get an answer," she explains, leaning against the chest of drawers, as I fiddle with the back close of the bra. "Commander Reshek volunteered to come looking for you, then he called me to override your door, and then I called the doc when you wouldn't wake up."

    Gaarra gets off the bed and jogs over to the replicator. "Raktajino, one cream, double sweet," he says, then digs a jumja stick out of the box on the shelf beside it. "Evidently we're going to need to make a pit stop at DS9 at some point," he comments as he walks back over and hands the drink and food to me. "You're nearly out of these."

    I slip my panties on under the covers as I ask, "So what's so important that you had to wake me up at … Computer, what time is it?"

    Chirp. "The time is 0514 hours and 25 seconds."

    "Yes, that."

    "No idea," Gaarra answers.

    I stare at him. "You don't know why you woke me up?"

    "He means that we don't know what the thing is that we woke you up for," Warragul explains, somewhat unhelpfully.

    "Well, neither do I, so unless you want to explain it to me I'm going back to sleep." I flop back against the pillow.

    "And neither does Birail."

    I sit back up. "Okay, why don't you start from the beginning?"

    "We're stuck," Tess says. "Gravimetric anomaly of some kind, came out of nowhere. Not causing any serious damage to the ship but it did something to the warp core and Bynam had to make an emergency shutdown."

    I gulp down a mouthful of raktajino, tasting the bitterness of the Klingon liqueur. "How far are we from New Romulus?" We're delivering a shipment of industrial replicators to a new orbital shipyard they're constructing.

    "About half a light-year. Comms are down, too, and we've already tried sending a shuttle out on remote. Anomaly just sucked it right back down, tore it to pieces."

    "Think the Glyrhond could make it?"

    "I doubt it. Runabout's SIF isn't much stronger than a Type-8's." Tess hands me an undershirt and my uniform jacket and I shrug into them. I swivel my legs off the bed and stand up, then grab my trousers.

    We get to the bridge and somebody barks, "Captain on deck!"

    "As you were." I turn to the person in question. "I'm sorry, what was your name again?" Then I take a closer look and wonder how I managed to forget the name of the only Romulan on the Bajor.

    "Sauringar. Sir."

    "Right, sorry. Oh, and don't call me 'sir'. 'Ma'am' or 'Captain' is fine."

    "Sorry, sir." He coughs. "Captain."

    Now it's coming back to me. Commander Sarsachen Sauringar, fifteen-year Starfleet vet hitching a ride to his next post. Apparently we're permanently loaning him to the RRF or something: he's been offered a job as XO of a warbird.

    I turn to the viewscreen. Dark blue lightning, a swirling pattern of energy. "Tell me more, Biri."

    The Trill hands me a PADD. I yawn and peruse it but the technobabble is a little much. "So, basically you don't know anything."

    She rolls her eyes at me. "No, we know it's about 350,000 kilometers in diameter, strong subspace distortion emanating from the center and that it's producing a gravity well roughly the strength of a G-type star."

    Takes me a moment to dredge up the memory from a half-remembered astronomy class at the Academy—I was a naval weapons major—but G-type is your basic yellow dwarf, same size as Sol or my own sun B'hava'el. Not exactly an overpoweringly strong gravity field. "So why can't we get away from it?"

    She opens her mouth to answer but a chirp from the intercom interrupts her. "Security to Ten Forward! Security to Ten Forward!"

    "The phekk?" I look at Biri. "You need me for anything?"

    "Not at the moment. I'll call you when I know more."

    I start for the turbolift but then stop. "Biri, random question. You ever have any Asian brunette noncoms in your department? Somebody who got run through and died?"

    She gives me a funny look. "Juno Ichigaki, Geo Specialist Two. Took a chunk of a mass spectrometer through the stomach when we were hit by that torpedo over Dreon VII. Why?"

    "No reason."

    I head for the turbolift as she yells after me, "Really, you ask me about one of my dead specialists for 'no reason'? What's going on, El?"

    "Back to work, Riyannis!" I yell back. "Deck Ten," I tell the turbolift.


    By the time I get there Dul'krah, Chief Athezra, and Lieutenant McMillan have already arrived. McMillan starts to yell something (probably "captain on deck") but I wave her off, reach up, and grab the big Pe'khdar by the shoulder. "What happened?"

    "Captain. All I know right now is"—he points to a bewildered-looking yellow-shirted Bolian crewman I can't place, standing against a wall with Athezra holding a stunstick on him—"that man"—he points at a Caitian ensign in a red shirt whom Assistant CMO Maela is checking with a tricorder—"clubbed that man with the whiskey bottle on the bar."

    I look over at the bar. Nalak Lang is grumbling something in Cardassian that my translator can't make out as he cleans up part of the mess. There's a half-empty bottle of Talisker on the bar nearby, with an evidence marker next to it. I jog over to Maela and the Deferi stands and salutes. "As you were, Doc. How is he?"

    "Unconscious, BFT to the head, probable MTBI."

    "Okay, I need that in captain dummy talk, Maela."

    "He got hit over the head twice with a whiskey bottle, hard."

    Two corpsmen run in with a stretcher. "Three, two, one, lift!" They lever the Caitian onto the stretcher and Maela slaps her combadge. "Doctor Maela to transporter room. Four to beam directly to sickbay." They vanish in a shower of blue sparks.

    I walk over to the Bolian, brush Chief Athezra out of my way, and switch to my superior officer voice, doing my best to turn my face implacable. I'm told I do that pretty well. The scar helps. "Name, rank, station. Now."

    He snaps to attention but looks frankly terrified. "Ma'am. Kuhbb Puso, Matter/Antimatter Specialist, Third Class. Main Engineering. Ma'am."

    I slap my combadge. "Bynam, this is Eleya. Get to Ten Forward." I turn back to Puso. "Well, Emmay-Three Puso, congratulations on getting 'assaulting a superior officer' added to your file. Would you care to provide an explanation for your conduct today, or should I let JAG handle that?"

    "Ma'am. No, ma'am."

    I glare at him. "I don't believe I was actually giving you a choice, Specialist."

    "Permission to speak freely, ma'am?"

    "Please do."

    "Ma'am. I can't provide an explanation." I raise an eyebrow and gesture for him to continue. "Last thing I remember I was … I was in the break room trying to get in a mid-shift nap. I don't remember leaving the room or coming to Ten Forward, and I especially don't remember hitting Ensign F'oit with a bottle. Ma'am."

    "Fifteen-plus witnesses say otherwise, Specialist," Dul'krah says. "Athezra, take him to the brig."

    My combadge chirps. "CMO to Cap'n."

    "Go ahead, Warragul."

    "I'm getting an awful lot of reports of sleep disturbances. Bad nightmares, people turning up in odd places and not remembering how they got there."

    "How many is 'an awful lot'?"

    "Two dozen so far."

    My mouth twists. We had a saying in the Militia. Once is a freak accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern. "Athezra, hold on a moment!" I yell as the dirty-blond senior chief half-drags the Bolian out the door. "Dul'krah, change of plans. Get this man to sickbay. Warragul, I want a full brain analysis on all the affected crewmen." I pause. "And me."


    I shuck the hospital gown, pull my bra back on and yank my undershirt down before sliding off the bed and pulling my pants back on. I throw the curtain open and step out into the sickbay corridor. I don't claim to understand everything Warragul and Maela checked by a long shot but I recognized the questionnaire Dr. Shree gave me. Standard PTSD thing.

    I threw it away and told her to stay on-point.

    I walk over to Warragul and Maela. The Deferi scratches the front of her horn and says, "Well, Captain, we ran full psych panels on all of you and while we were at it five more cases came in. One serious: Lieutenant Kerensky, Commander Ehrob's second officer, jumped off the third-floor catwalk in Main Engineering. Serious skull fracture; we're not sure he's going to make it."

    "What do you know?" I say, stifling a yawn.

    Warragul reads off a PADD. "Elevated levels of acetylcholine and melatonin in the humans, equivalent chemical increases in the aliens. And we've all got unusually high levels of adenosine and its analogs."

    I stare at him blankly. "Can I have that in Bajoran, please?"

    Corpsman Anoeza Watkins pushes past us with a PADD and a protein bar as Maela explains, "For some reason the affected crew, yourself included, are making chemicals that are causing us to get sleepy"—she punctuates this with a yawn—"and dream more."

    I grab my uniform jacket off the coat rack. "And the connection to that grav anomaly is?" Warragul gives me a funny look and I scoff at him. "Oh, come on, we all know that's where this is headed. Every time we or anyone else hit an unexplained anomaly like this in the past it's made something weird happen." I slap my combadge. "Biri, got anything else on that anomaly?"

    "Nothing much else, although the gravity well seems to be deepening slowly at the center." I hear a yawn. "Mmf. Sorry, El."

    "Seems to be an epidemic of that going around. Anything else?"

    "Reading some omicron particle currents."

    "What's an omicron particle?"

    "Subatomic, produced by a few types of matter/antimatter reactions and toxic to some life forms, but they're not common."

    Corpsman Watkins walks back by with another protein bar. I say 'another' because she's eaten less of it than the one she had before. "Biri, feed everything into the computer and see what we get."

    Warragul grabs Watkins by the shoulder as she passes him. "Did you skip brekkie, Corpsman? That's your fifth protein bar since you came in."

    She looks at him angrily. "Get off me." Then her face twists. "Sorry, sir. For some reason I'm feeling grumpy and I've been hungry since I got up."

    "You sleep all right?" Maela asks, raising a tricorder.

    "Like a baby, sir."

    "Well, you're not showing the symptoms but there's something else weird." She turns to me and Warragul. "She's putting out a lot of psilosynine."

    "Psilo-what?" I ask.

    "It's a neurotransmitter involved in Betazoid telepathy," Warragul explains. "Watkins is about a quarter Betazoid."

    "Closer to a third, actually, sir. I don't really have any control and it mostly just helps my bedside manner."

    I pinch my chin. "Is it possible that you aren't the one who's hungry?"

    "What, that I'm picking up somebody else and thinking it's me?"

    "Oh, it's possible," Warragul confirms. "When I was on peds rotation during my residency I treated a Betazoid kid who was convinced she had a broken foot. There wasn't anything on the x-ray. Turned out it was her sis."

    "Full-bloods get more training in that, 'cause they need more," Watkins says. "But what does this have to do with the price of coffee?" Off my look, "Never mind, ma'am, it's something my dad used to say."

    "Well, I'm wondering—"

    The intercom chirps, and Biri's voice says, "Bridge to sickbay. Finished the computer search and you're not going to believe this. File reference Zulu-5353-Tango-Alpha-6."

    Warragul brings it up on a screen. The file shows a picture of a red and gold cloud. "What am I looking at?"

    "Something Voyager ran across their third week in the Delta Quadrant, stardate 48546.2."

    "A life-form?" Maela says, stifling another yawn.

    "Yeah. They tried to harvest omicron particles from it for replicator mass, but that was before they figured out it was alive."

    "So, this thing we're trapped in—"

    "Probably something similar."

    I look over to Warragul. "You're thinking it too, right?"

    "What, that this gravitic anomaly of Biri's is trying to eat us?"

    "We've seen weirder."

    "Not this weird," Maela disagrees.

    "Only theory we've got, though. And it maybe fits. If this thing has enough of a mind for Watkins to pick up on it, maybe it's what's causing the behavior changes in the crew. Hey, you thought 'grav anomaly that wants to eat us' was weird, try 'grav anomaly that eats dreams and nightmares.' Maybe Puso and Kerensky were sleepwalking. Even explains the attack on the ensign: I know my nightmare was…" I stop, shuddering. That brought back memories I've tried to forget for ten years.

    "Ma'am? You all right?"

    "Yes, I'm fine. I just, I need a moment."

    I head out the door to the hall, pushing past the security noncoms guarding Specialist Puso. I make it to the turbolift. "Bridge." I lean against the wall, struggling to control my breathing.

    No. No. I am not going to break down. I've got people depending on me.

    A small voice inside asks, Like your gun crew and the wounded murdered in their beds on the Kira Nerys depended on you? Like a hundred fifty-seven people on the George Hammond depended on you? Like the thirty-five killed on the Bajor in the last six months depended on you?

    Shut up, I tell the voice. Now I'm just angry. My head raises to look at my faint reflection in the control panel, brow furrowed, cheek scar creased.

    And when I'm angry, I need a target.

    The door slides open on the bridge and I look out the viewport.

    I've got one.

    "Tess, bring us to battle stations," I order.

    "Aye, ma'am." She hits the intercom. "All hands, battle stations. You've got a plan, ma'am?" she asks over the klaxons now wailing throughout the Bajor's halls.

    "Full spread of quantum torpedoes seems like a plan to me. If it's alive, I can kill it."

    "What?" Biri gapes at me. "We don't even know what that'll do! And you'll be killing the only known example of a—"

    I cut her off. "I'll be killing a threat to my ship and my crew, and to any other crew that comes through here thinking it's a safe area of space like it rightly should be. Have you got any better ideas?"

    "I don't know, talking to it, maybe?"

    "How? Flashing our running lights at it? Morse code subspace pulses from the deflector? Or, I know, how about I go out on the hull and wave my arms around!" I hear a low rumble through the ship. "Somebody tell me what the phekk that noise was, now."

    Gaarra calls from his console, "Reading some minor buckling on the saucer armor plate, over compartment Four-Bravo-Romeo. Nothing serious right now, but it's going to get worse. It's this gravity field, it's starting to wear down the SIF. We'll probably be dead in fifteen minutes."

    "So now we've got a time constraint, too. Any better ideas, Riyannis?"

    She glares daggers at me. I glare right back and she turns away. "I want it on the record that I strongly disagree with this course of action, Captain."

    "Noted. Tess, disengage the blast shapers on the next five torpedoes in the forward tube and calculate a firing solution for the distortion at the center of this thing." I take my seat.

    The Andorian's antennae dance as she bangs out a series of commands. "I have a solution."

    "You may fire when ready," I say around another yawn.

    "Firing, forward tube." Five glowing blue quantum torpedoes shriek from under the saucer and vanish into the distance in seconds.

    "Time to target?" I ask.

    "Forty seconds." Another low-pitched rumble I feel in my bones. "Damage?"

    "More buckling, starboard nacelle. Revising safety margin downward."

    "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, impact." The torpedoes vanish from the plot.

    Half a second later the ship, which still had the impulse engines at full reverse, leaps backwards as the gravity well vanishes. I frantically order all stop. "Report!"

    Biri shouts, "Conn, get us the hell out of here, it's reforming!" Lieutenant Park spins the ship hard to starboard and fires the impulse engines. "I think you just bruised it, El!"

    "Bridge to Engineering, I need warp power yesterday!"

    "I need five more seconds!" Bynam radios back. "There, try it now!"

    "Conn! Warp one! Punch it!" The Bajor, still twisting to starboard, suddenly leaps forward, accelerating to the speed of light in under a second, the stars blueshifting ahead of us.

    Suddenly a pressure on my mind I didn't even realize was there vanishes and I'm not tired anymore. I let out a breath. "Stand down from battle stations and chart a new course. Biri, I want everything we have formatted for transmission to Starfleet Command. And New Romulus Command. Hell, even the Klingons need to know about this one. I'll make the report myself. And broadcast in the clear to all ships to give this area a wide berth for the time being." I stand and stride into my ready room.

    "Really, Captain, your first thought is 'quantum torpedoes, full spread'?" I nearly leap out of my skin, reflexively spinning and swinging at the voice. My fist makes contact with only the wall and I start swearing, cradling my split knuckles in my shirt and leaning over to pick up the medal I knocked off a hook.

    I turn and face a man perched on my desk wearing an old-style Starfleet uniform, early '70s vintage. Shortish dark brown hair, high cheekbones and deep-set eyes. But something about him feels intensely wrong, like he can't exist. "Sher hahr kosst. Ieyet kasain tof chin'ktah."

    He winces and inhales through closed teeth. "Language, Captain."

    "Are you telling me this was one of your games, Q?"

    "One of my…?" He scoffs. "Don't flatter yourself. Overranked little spitfire like you isn't half as interesting as Picard. Where is he, anyway?"

    "Thought you were supposed to be omnipotent. He retired decades ago, and get the phekk off my desk! You still haven't told me what you're doing here."

    "You'd have some trouble comprehending it if I did. You thought the Borg and the Iconians were trouble?" He gives me a pointed look and hops over to my trophy wall. "I was actually coming to bail you out, but you seem to have solved that problem on your own, for the moment."

    "What are you saying?"

    "That the puppeteer is also a puppet." He turns to me and gives me a critical look. "You're actually not bad-looking for a lower life form."

    "Don't get any funny ideas."

    "Not like that. Up here," and he pokes me in the head. "You'll find your way." There's a flash behind my eyes and he's gone.


    "Can we trust him?" Tess asks. We're in the conference room.

    "Based on what I've read of Q Prime's interactions with Starfleet crews in the past," I reply, "I don't know. He's never exactly untruthful, and he did warn us the 359 cube was on its way, but he approaches it like a big game."

    Warragul growls, "Yeah, ****ing with our heads is the game. I say trust but verify."

    "Me too, Doctor. Me too."

    The intercom chirps. "Bridge to Captain Kanril, we've hit the outer marker. Admiral Kererek wants to speak with you."

    I stand. "Come on, people, back to work."
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • ironphoenix113ironphoenix113 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Admiral Valot slouched in the command chair of the Athena, nearly falling asleep when the ship AI, Athena, called out to him.

    "Sir," she said, her hologram shimmering to life in front of him. "I just detected an unknown anomoly on long range sensors."

    Bryan sat up, yawning. "Any idea what it is?

    "What does the word 'unknown' mean to you, sir?"

    Bryan gave the AI's hologram a sigh, which she seemed to take great pride in. "Helm, move us in for a closer look," He said.

    "Aye, sir," the helm officer replied.

    Bryan stood from his chair and walked over to one of the consoles to check the time.

    "Athena, I'm turning the ship over to you until Ibalei arrives to begin her shift," he said, walking over to the turblift. "Keep me appraised of the situation with the anomoly."

    "Aye, sir," the AI replied. "It's not like her to be late, though."

    "I agree, but none of us have slept well since seeing that Iconian after battle at Qo'nos a few days ago. I imagine she's just catching up a little."
    *******

    Ibalei was sitting next to Bryan in the observation room of the Athena. With the lights off, the planet below filled the room with a gentle blue glow.

    "It is interesting," Bryan said, continuing to stare out of the window.

    "Hmm? What's interesting Bryan?" Ibalei inquired.

    "The value you put into this human's life," he said, getting up from his chair and walking to the window.

    "Wha- what?" She stammered, her grey eyes widening.

    Suddenly, he bagan to stretch and glow, and before long, she found herself before one of them. The Undine approached her, and all she could do was scream. She was still screaming even as she sat up in her bed, desperately clasping her hands through her dark red hair before she once again passed out, this time into a dreamless silence.
    *******

    Bryan nearly slammed into the doors of the sickbay as he sprinted over.

    "How is she?" he asked, barely registering that he had prctically shouted.

    "Comatose, but alive," Syiseda responded, even as she used her empathic abilities to calm Bryan.

    Bryan walked over to the biobed, and touched the Joined Trill's forehead. "What happened?" he asked quietly.

    "Unsure. Crew walking by said that they heard a scream from inside her room, and Justin, who happened to be nearby, overrode the lock, where they found her like this."

    "Can you get anything from her telepathically?"

    The Betazoid shook her head. "Not much. About the only thing I can glean is some signs of intense dreaming. Alhtough, there is one thing I should tell you."

    "Well? Let's hear it."

    "A number of other report that they suffered intense nightmares while sleeping ever since we approached that anomoly. One crewmember, who was taken to sickbay two, did show similar symptoms to Ibalei, however."

    "Who?"

    "The chief counsoler, Sujoi, another Joined Trill."

    Bryan sighed. "Is there anything else that the other crewmembers have reported?"

    "Many of them report that their dreams are their worst fears embodied. Otherwise, not much else."

    Bryan thought for a second. "Keep me updated Syiseda."

    "Aye, sir," she replied before moving back to the biobed Ibalei lay on.

    Bryan looked at his wife on the biobed once more. "Don't worry, Ibalei, I will not forget about you."
    *******

    Bryan sat down in the captain's chair on the bridge.

    "Athena, anything else on the anomoly?"

    "Well," the AI replied, "Would you like the bad news or the good news?"

    Bryan thought for a moment. "The bad news first I guess," he replied.

    "The bad news is that we are completely stuck here. I've lost all impulse power, and can't form a stable warp bubble."

    "Great," he muttered. "And the good news?"

    "There is a definite solid object in the center of the anomoly. Not sure what it is, but it is there."

    "How is that good news?"

    "Well, push comes to shove, we could unload a salvo of quantum torps into whatever that is and try to destroy it."

    Bryan nodded. "Load the tubes with tricobalt warheads. If it comes to destruction, I'd rather make sure that whatever we're shooting at actually dies."

    "Aye, sir," she replied.

    Bryan stood from the chair and walked around the bridge. Eventually, he stopped at the door to his ready room and thought for a moment.

    "Athena, can you search through our records to see if you find anything similar to our situation?"

    "Aye, sir," the AI replied. "I'll just be a few seconds."

    The AI's holographic image flickered for a moment.

    "Done. I didn't find anything in any starfleet logs."

    "How far back did you go?" Bryan asked.

    "All the way back to Captain Archer and the NX-01, sir."

    Bryan thought for a moment. "Do another search. Go through every source you can find, no matter how old, whether it's fiction or not."

    The AI looked slightly confused. "Are you sure? Even works of fiction?"

    "Yeah. You never know what may help us out."

    She sighed. "Very well. It'll be a few minutes though, considering the size of the search."

    Bryan nodded. "Send your findings to my computer in the ready room."

    "Yes, sir."

    Bryan walked through the doors and sat down in the chair. He stared at the computer on the desk as he rested his head in his hand. Data surged across the screen as Athena searched through her databanks for anything that would help them out, though Bryan wasn't really paying attention to what he saw, as his eyes slowly drifted shut.
    *******

    The Borg Drone's Plasma blast struck the edge of the table Bryan was using for cover, causing him to duck down briefly.

    "Anyone got a bead on him?" he shouted above the noise of the other weapons sounding off around him.

    Suddenly, a lone pulse blast struck the drone square ing the chest, causing it to crumple to the ground.

    "Nice shot!" he called to Ibalei as she ran to take cover beside him.

    "Did I miss much?" she replied.

    Bryan peeked over the table and fired a pair of shots from his rifle at the advancing Borg drones. "The Borg have almost complete control of the engineering section, and the AI core was succesfully ejected. We're just trying to keep them from getting to the bridge at this point."

    "Maybe if we separate the saucer. The Borg's tractor beam is latched onto the engineering hull after all."

    "That still leaves all of the Drones in this section though. Plus, what about an crew that-"

    The distincive metallic screech of a borg transporter cut him off, and next to the two stood a Borg tactical drone. Suddenly, the drone grabbed Ibalei, who let out a shriek as it stuck its assimilation tubes into the Joined Trill. Thinking quickly, Bryan cut loose with a burst of three pulse blasts from his phaser rifle, each striking the drone in the head.

    He grabbed Ibalei as she fell to the ground, and lowered her head gently, her skin already beginning to feel like ice. He ran his hand along her body, stopping at the bulge in her stomach. It was then he realized the Borg had just taken his entire world from him.

    Suddenly, Ibalei sat up quickly, and spoke in a strangely metallic voice that was so close to her own that Bryan knew that it would haunt him for a long time.

    "We are the Borg. Your technological and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own Resistance is futile."
    *******

    Bryan lept from the floor, covered in a cold sweat.

    "Sir," Athena called, as her hologram appeared in front of him. "Are you alright?"

    "No," he replied, shaking his head. "No I'm not."

    She looked at him with concern. "I've got a couple of hits for you. They're up on your computer."

    Bryan walked over to the chair, shaking his head briefly. As he sat down, he looked at the screen.

    "A game and a television show from the twenty-first century? Those are the closest hits you have?"

    "Yes, sir. Both the game and show have a section of similar circumstances to what we have right now. have fairly significant similarities to what we're facing right now, however, between the recurring nightmares and the fact that they're essentially manifestations of a person's worst fears."

    Bryan sighed and began to look over the footage Athena had loaded for him. As the last of the videos finished, he sighed to himself. None of them had anything really related to their current situation other than the fact that both involved either nightmares or fear, and both ended with the entity causing the adverse effects being destroyed in one way or another.

    "Athena?" Bryan called.

    "Yes, sir?" The AI replied as she shimmered into the room again.

    "Fire a single pulse from the point-defense grid at the object in the middle of the anomaly. I want to see if shooting at it will actually do anything before we waste a full salvo of Tricobalts on it."

    "Aye, sir, firing."

    Bryan heard the faint hiss of a Phaser turret firing.

    "No effect at all sir," The AI said. "The bolt simply vanished when it hit the anomaly."

    Bryan half-sighed before an idea popped into his head.

    "Athena, compare our sensor frequency to the current modulation of our weapons frequencies."

    "Load it to you computer?"

    "Yes."

    Bryan looked at the waves, each very distinct, a different one for each weapon group, and a single longer one for the sensors.

    "Athena, can you match our weapon frequency to the sensor frequency?"

    "Modulating now."

    Bryan sprinted onto the bridge and sat in his chair.

    "What's you plan, sir?" Athena said, walking her hologram to the bridge behind him.

    "You were able to get a successful scan, even if it wasn't a particularly good one, of that anomaly with this sensor frequency, correct?""

    She paused. "Yes, sir."

    Bryan focused. "Then you can figure out the rest."

    The AI looked confused for a moment before she realized what Bryan was doing.

    "Weapons, standby to fire, full alpha strike, on my mark!"

    "Standing by, sir," the weapons officer called from the station in front and to the right of where Bryan sat.

    "Double check your firing solution. I don't want you to miss."

    "Ready sir!"

    Bryan narrowed his eyes, looking at the blue-grey anomoly on the screen.

    "Fire!"

    Phasers and tricobalt torpedoes lashed out from the ship. Time seemed to slow down as the weapons entered the anomaly. The Phasers struck first, slamming into whatever was inside, and were followed closely by the Tricobalt warheads, which slammed into it each detonating with a bright, pale-white glow, that was followed shortly by a brief subspace tear from the sheer force of the explosions. Suddenly, there was another explosion, this one even more powerful, as whatever had created the anomaly detonated.
    *******

    Bryan found himself in his dream again, faced once more with the Borg drone that was to assimilate his wife. Bryan slammed into the drone before it could touch Ibalei, bashing his rifles stock into its pale face.

    Looking down at the drone in the midst of plasma and phaser blasts flying around him, he whispered. "You will not have her. Not today," and fired a charged blast into the drone's face, almost completely obliterating it, leaving nothing but burned circuitry behind.

    As he stood, everyone else in the room, the Borg, his crew, and even Ibalei, simply vanished, replaced by a tall, cruel alien the likes of which Bryan had seen only one other time.

    "So, you have overcome what was layed out before you," The Iconian said, its voice seemingly tripled.

    Bryan looked at it, the fires around the room casting an evil glow on its thin form.

    "We're more clever than you give us credit for," he said simply.

    "Cleverness can only get you so far."

    "You'd be surprised just how far that can be."

    "Confidence born of ignorance. You have existed because we have allowed it, and you will end because we demand it. Before us, you are nothing. Your extinction is inevitable. We are the end of everything, and we will endure. Our numbers will darken the sky of every world. You will not escape your doom."

    With that, Bryan was blasted back to reality.
    *******

    Bryan shook his head.

    "Everyone alright?" he called.

    Everyone on the bridge replied similarly, stating that they were fine, followed shortly by complaining about a headache.

    "Good. I'll be in sickbay. Athena, I'm giving you the deck for the rest of beta shift."

    "Aye, sir," the AI replied. "Are you going to see the first officer?"

    "Yeah."

    "Well, don't worry, I won't pull any crazy stunts while you're gone," she said, smirking a little.

    Bryan simply replied with a sigh as he walked into the turbolift.
    *******

    "How is she Syiseda?" Bryan asked as he walked into the sickbay.

    "She's fine," she replied. "A little groggy, but she'll recover."

    "Any idea what caused her to react that way to the dreams?"

    "Probably the Symbiont. We all would have had that reaction if we had been here long enough. I think her having being Joined simply sped up the process."

    Bryan nodded. "Can I speak to her?"

    "Absolutely.'

    Bryan walked over to her bed.

    "Are you alright?" he asked as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

    Ibalei shook her head. "Not really. My dream was... difficult for us to process."

    "It was an Iconian ship. It turned our worst fears into a nightmare and forced us to live them while we slept. Fear is difficult for us to process."

    "Worst fears, huh?"

    "Yeah. What was yours?"

    Ibalei winced. "Mine was that you were an Undine, and that everything we had was never real. What was yours?"

    Bryan's expression darkened. "I'd...rather not get into that, if you don't mind. I don't want to see that again."

    Ibalei studied his expression for a second. "I see," she replied finally.

    Bryan brushed a hand along the side of the Trill's face. I won't let that happen to you he thought. No matter what happens, I will never let them take you
    Vice Admiral Bryan Mitchel Valot
    Commanding officer: Odyssey class U.S.S. Athena
    Admiral of the 1st Assault Fleet
    Join date: Some time in Closed Beta
  • syrdethsyrdeth Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Captain's log, Stardate 91932.33. We have completed another week of charting systems in our assigned sector block of deep space. We charted several nebulas, gas clouds and other stellar phenomena as well as officially charting several star systems previously discovered only through Outpost and Starbase long range sensors. Of note, the fourth planet of the the Weyoun system is inhabited by a proto-humanoid species. After several days observing them in high orbit, we left a marker bouy at the edge of their system warning off any others that may come this way. Assuming the bouy lasts long enough for this species to develop warp travel, it could alert us as to when to make First Contact. But, that will be for another ship, another Captain, many centuries from now.

    My Chief Science Officer has detected "something" in the next sector over. That's all she was able to tell me. We are currently proceeding towards it at Warp 7, skipping several star systems to reach it. We'll swing back and investigate them later as this is a higher mission priority. We expect to reach it by tomorrow.

    Captain's log, Stardate 91935.18. We have arrived at the "something". According to sensors, it appears to be a rupture in the fabric of space. Lt. Commander Diaz reports that it reaches into an unknown layer of subspace that was only previously theorized on. Now it is no longer a theory. We are keeping our distance lest we be caught within it. I have tasked my senior staff, my entire crew, with finding solutions for closing this... anomaly. We can't allow it to remain here. It may grow and endanger local civilizations. Such as that proto-humanoid species. We will remain here until the task is complete, however long it takes.

    Captain's log, Stardate 91935.98. The ship is now trapped in the anomaly. We... I miscalculated what constituted a safe distance. It suddenly grew and its gravity well encompassed our position. The ship isn't the only thing affected. Members of the crew have reported hallucinations and bad dreams. Our Andorian crew members succumbed first. Dr. T'Larr tells me it's their anttenae. What allows them to perceive things that we other humanoids cannot made them much more susceptible to the effects of the anomaly, my First Officer included. At first, she complained of headaches. But, today she started acting strangely and had a violent outburst on the bridge. She was shouting about Vulcans invading Andoria. That conflict was resolved centuries ago. It took over five officers to subdue her. She is in sickbay, under sedation along with the other Andorians, just when I need her the most.

    I find myself missing her guidance, her strength. Her ability to voice the opposite of what I was thinking before I had a chance to say it. And her determination to follow orders, even if she strongly disagreed with them. Which happened more often than I'd like. But, most of all, I miss my best friend. She always knew the right thing to say. Even if... especially if I didn't want to hear it.

    Two other Andorians, Petty Officers Alap Kyll and Tithra Hyhr tried to take Engineering, shouting about "Vulcan oppression." After a firefight, they were subdued, but not without some minor injuries. I have posted security in all the major sections of the ship, but that may prove futile if the security officers start to succumb as well. I hope we figure out a way out of this soon. Sickbay is filling up fast.

    Captain's log, Stardate 91937.69. All efforts to free ourselves have failed, much less efforts to collapse the anomaly. Sensors tell us that we are slowly falling into it. Or it is growing even more. It's hard to tell. All attempts to examine it have failed. All probes we have launched towards the anomaly have been destroyed when they reached the event horizon. Unless we find a way to free ourselves, the Yorktown will share that same fate.

    Most of the crew is sedated in their quarters, sickbay being too full for any more patients. Those of us still holding on are losing our grip. Dr. T'Larr informs me that it is because those crew members that have telepathic abilities, even low level ones, have the mental blocks to dampen the effects of the anomaly. Dampen, but not suppress. It is a temporary measure. Eventually, even we will succumb. Being human, I'm not telepathic myself, but I have just enough Vulcan and Betazoid heritage in my ancestry to have the mental blocks. But, they are slipping. Two days ago I caught myself trying to swim in the turbolift on the way to the bridge. More disturbing, before going to sleep last night, I had the most charming conversation with my grandfather. I even let him sit in my favourite chair in my quarters. We talked for well over an hour. About life aboard ship, about how proud he was that I made Captain while he retired as just a Chief Petty Officer. There's just one problem. My grandfather has been dead for over seventeen years.

    Most disturbing of all are the dreams. We can't avoid sleep and when we do, we all have bad dreams. Nightmares. Mine involve my grandfather's farm on Earth. It's caught fire and he and grandmother are trapped in the house. I'm try to reach them, but the flames are too high. I wake up with their screams ringing in my ears. I know he died peacefully in his sleep, among family. I know this. But, each time I go to sleep I experience this nightmare over and over and I'm afraid it going to drive me insane.

    Captain's log, Stardate... dates. Why is it always dates? Why not plums or grapes? And why logs? Why not trunks or a tree? What do rainbows taste like? The same as a unicorn? Tra-la-la-la... *the sounds of feet quickly shuffling followed by a loud slump as if someone fell over then followed by several seconds of snoring before the entry closes.*

    Captain's log, Stardate 91940.2. Acting Captain Diode reporting. The Captain has succumbed to the effects of the anomaly. She was the last remaining holdout, even lasting longer than Dr. T'Larr, a full Vulcan. I found her passed out on the floor of her ready room. She had a variety of flowers intertwined in her hair. I do not understand the significance. She is now in her quarters, under sedation. The only crew left consists of myself and seventeen photonic crew members. So far, my android physiology is immune to the effects of the anomaly as are those of the photonic crew. We have been working... what was that phrase Lieutenant Flores used? We have been working 'round the clock' on a solution to the anomaly. At our present rate of drift, we will be enveloped by it in 47 hours.

    Captain's log, Stardate 91940.54. Acting Captain Diode reporting. We are still pursuing methods to free ourselves from the anomaly as well as solutions to close it. The organic crew stumbled upon the solution, through they didn't realize it at the time. I am sure if they were all... what was that charming phrase again? "In their right minds", they would have seen it as well. Small craft, such as probes, seem to be able to travel inside the gravity well. At least, towards the center of the anomaly. It is unknown why this is at this time. But, if we can expand this into something as large as a shuttlecraft, we may have our solution.

    Captain's log, Stardate 91941.23. Acting Captain Diode reporting. We are about to make the attempt to close the anomaly. If we are not successful, I may not have time to record a final entry. We have removed several holoemitters from Holodeck Two and installed them in a shuttlecraft. We are going to attempt to project a large object inside the anomaly. The idea was developed by the Emergency Engineering Hologram Marks I and II. The Mark I has volunteered to pilot the shuttlecraft close enough to the anomaly to close it.

    Captain's log, Stardate 91942.59.
    The crew is recovering. Dr. T'Larr tells me that most of them will make a full recovery. The long-term prognosis of the Andorians is... unknown. My First Officer has been insistent on returning to duty. I have let her, as long as she reports to sickbay at the end of her shifts for check-ups.

    I must commend the artificial crew members, especially Lieutenant Junior Grade Diode. She stepped up and took command when the rest of us became incapacitated. In addition to commendations, I am recommending her for promotion as well as some real command training. I feel that she will excel at it.

    In addition, I want to make special note of the Emergency Engineering Hologram Mark I. When he projected the holographic duplicate of the Yorktown inside the anomaly, it did succeed in closing the rupture, but it was so... dramatic that the resulting shockwave destroyed the shuttlecraft. It also freed the Yorktown and we were propelled away by the shockwave. His sacrifice for this ship will not go unnoticed. There is a memorial planned for him in the ship's lounge. I will make special note to attend. I am afraid that I let my own prejudices blind me about our artificial crew members. I saw them as merely part of the ship, like a console. They are much more than that. This is the 25th century. We... I should be beyond this. This ends today. They are valued members of this crew and will be treated as such from now on.

    I wrestled with removing previous log entries with... less than coherent reports. I can't be certain that any of my logs after being trapped in the anomaly weren't under its influence. After speaking with T'Larr as well as the ship's counselor I have decided to keep every one of them intact. Hopefully along with the sensor data they can help Starfleet Medical develop defenses against this type of phenomena.

    We are resuming our mission of charting this sector of deep space, returning to the systems we passed getting to the anomaly.
  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #63: Nightmare Anomaly

    LC63: Unholy Water
    Captain's Log, Stardate 87984.49. The recent activity by the Undine has caused much turmoil and bloodshed throughout the Alpha Quadrant, so that despite the recent armistice with the Klingon Empire, Starfleet vessels are still being lost on a daily basis. The USS Shahrazad was reported missing not long after the Undine assault on Earth Spacedock, with its last known coordinates being the Delta Rana system. I'd hate to say it, but it looks like the Husnock Necrohol will be Visited again.

    ===

    The Avenger-class USS Caliborn cut its way through the Husnock Necrohol under full cloak, following the warp trail of the Shahrazad as it faded into the desolate background radiation of the Necrohol. On board the Caliborn, Commander Drevis Nethri, Tactical Officer of the USS Lord English and current mission commanding officer, sat on the bridge with the other members of his current bridge crew: acting first officer Aranea Serket, acting chief engineer Prometheus R-66Y, and acting chief science officer Jhamyn Othisi. They all sat around a screen portraying their overall captain, Admiral Remus Lee, from the bridge of his own ship, USS Lord English.

    "There are too many Undine vessels in this sector block and too few starships to manage them," he said as the bridge of the Lord English shook under fire. "We won't be able to send any rescue for you if you get into any trouble. Try to keep under cloak for as long as you can so as not to attract unwanted attention. If you have to break cloak, the Caliborn is equipped with Dyson Sphere-derived technology and will be able to withstand tremendous fire. Use that break to run away and regroup, and don't take unnecessary risks. Lee out."

    Lee's picture on the viewscreen was replaced with a starscape. Drevis turned to Jhamyn at the science station.

    "How far are we from the Shahrazad?"

    Jhamyn checked her console.

    "The warp trail of the Shahrazad ends in a system not more than three lightyears from here. I'm also picking up several unidentified readings from the system, but it's too hard to make out what they are. It may be the Undine."

    Aranea turned to Drevis.

    "As first officer, I would like to remind you that allowing the Shahrazad and its crew to fall into the hands of the Undine would be unacceptable and highly dangerous. The Shahrazad is one of the prototype Tempest-class, and its crew have been instrumental in troubleshooting it for the rest of Starfleet. If there even is a chance that the Shahrazad or the Tempest project has been compromised by the Undine, hundreds of Starfleet officers will lose their lives."
    "Thank you for your exposition, First Officer," Drevis replied. "and I will make sure that the Shahrazad or its crew does not fall into Undine hands."

    Just then R-66Y reported in.

    "The ship is picking up a giant subspace distortion in the system ahead of us. The Undine may be attempting to bring in reinforcements. What are your orders, captain?"
    "Keep to the cloak," Drevis replied, "until we can figure out what the situation is. We may only have seconds to react to any trouble, but the cloak might give us the extra time we need."

    Soon the Caliborn reached the mysterious star system, where their warp engines cut out. They proceeded on full impulse into the system until they found the Shahrazad. What greeted them there was an awe-inspiring sight.

    "Captain," Jhamyn exclaimed. "there is an active Iconian gateway in the system, and it's surrounded by several different starships and installations! They're firing on the Undine!"

    Starbases of an unusually grotesque architecture began firing on Undine vessels as several starships belonging to several different species attacked the Undine fleet from all directions in ramming and close quarters ship to ship combat. The Caliborn's crew recognized this from their last foray to this space as Husnock tactics and were filled with dread. The Undine vessels acted sluggishly, without their xenophobic fervor, and soon the Undine fleet was scattered to the four winds. The Caliborn's crew looked on in dismay, but Aranea saw some reason for hope.

    "Captain, the gateway seems to be drawing in water from a class O planet, and sensors show that the Shahrazad is hiding above the north pole of the planet in the water plume. I'm picking up several lifesigns. What are your orders, captain?"
    "If we try to hail them, the Husnock will notice we're here," he replied. "Get us as close to the Shahrazad as you can under cloak. Commander Serket, be ready to beam aboard in five minutes, and be ready for anything."

    ---

    When Commander Serket and her away team beamed aboard the Shahrazad, the first thing they noticed was how humid it was. Each step the team took squelched on the carpeted floor. The bodies of the Shahrazad's crew littered the corridors. Some were in various states of undress, but all had died in great distress. Science Officer Jhamyn scanned a body and reported back to Drevis.

    "Captain, I've found dead bodies. They're all showing symptoms of polywater intoxication. In fact, the whole ship seems to be damp with polywater."
    "Acknowledged, Commander Othisi. I'll advise the other away teams to set their PSGs to repel polywater."

    Aranea, R-66Y, and Jhamyn set their own personal shield generators to repel liquids and set out to find the rest of the crew. Soon they made their way to sickbay, where they found an Undine bound to a biobed.

    "Captain," Jhamyn hailed. "We seem to have found an Undine in the Shahrazad's sickbay. Somebody seems to have bound it to a biobed."
    "Acknowledged, Commander Othisi," the Caliborn replied. "See if you can extract any information from the Shahrazad's computer about it. If it disguised itself as any of the bridge officers, the Tempest project may have been compromised."

    Aranea ended the communication and pulled out her disruptor pistol.

    "What did you do with the people aboard this ship?" she asked it. "How did you get in your current situation?"

    The Undine responded to her interrogation with blank stares. This went on for a minute or so before Drevis aboard the Caliborn chimed in.

    "Commander Serket, be advised that Husnock vessels are starting to gather around the Shahrazad," he commented. "We will need to withdraw from the immediate area and maintain comm silence until the situation clears."

    Meanwhile, R-66Y accessed the CMO's console computer. The last log entry of the Shahrazad's Chief Medical Officer appeared on the screen.
    Chief Medical Officer's Log. Another crewman has been admitted to my sickbay with metal shards in her body. Just like the others, she complained that her blood vessels were itching. This makes the fifteenth such case since we took refuge in the polywater. Captain Gav wants us all to undergo tests for polywater intoxication, but Commander Elbrun believes there's more at work than simple polywater and wants me to look for infiltrators under guise of lab tests. The first suspect he wants me to test is Chef Gentri, who has been acting out of the ordinary since we arrived."

    "Commander Nethri, I think I've found something regarding the fate of the Shahrazad's crew," R-66Y replied. "They seem to be affected by a severe form of polywater."
    "Could polywater intoxication explain the Husnock then?" Jhamyn asked as she looked at the Undine. "If their aggression was a form of polywater intoxication, we might be able to reverse the effects."

    The Undine stared intensely back at Jhamyn as it met her gaze, sending a wave of unease down her spine. R-66Y continued data mining the ship computers.

    "Commander Serket, come take a look at this," R-66Y said as he accessed the Iconian data the Shahrazad recovered from the gateway.
    * Gateway Status: Active
    * Entrance Aperture: Husnock System
    * Exit Aperture: Spatial Anomaly ULAS J1120+0641

    Husnock homeworld compromised after mission to Teselecta system in Andromeda galaxy. Servitors exposed to contaminant exhibit heightened aggression and lowered intelligence. Contaminant spread through water, infecting schools of Husnock servitors. System gateway to be configured to drain planet of contaminated water.

    Gateway open for 4793109 cycles. Reboot required for update."

    "Contaminant? Is that what's affecting the Shahrazad's crew?" Aranea pondered.

    Suddenly, the Undine began straining at its restraints. It stared at Jhamyn.

    This vessel's crew has been altered! the Undine telepathically transmitted to her. The weak are perishing, and soon you will be next!

    Overwhelmed with the psychic message, Jhamyn collapsed to the floor. At that moment, the Shahrazad's comm system activated.

    "Commander Serket! The Shahrazad's crew is attacking us! The brig and mess hall away teams have been killed! We're being torn apart!"

    ---

    Throughout the Shahrazad, the Caliborn's away teams were set upon by the survivors of the Shahrazad's crew. Pouring out of Jefferies tubes and maintenance shafts, the attackers pounced on the away teams, clawing and biting them, or in some cases taking hold of limbs and ripping them off. Aranea attempted to contact her other away teams.

    "Away teams respond!" Aranea ordered. "Anyone, answer me please!"

    It was to no avail. The cries of the away teams over the comm system faded as each member was killed, replaced by low snarls and squelching of footsteps. The severity of the situation weighed heavily on her, but she resolved to survive the turn of events. She turned to Jhamyn, who was on the floor, and helped her up.

    "What just happened?" she asked Jhamyn. "Are you alright?"

    Jhamyn told Aranea about her contact with the Undine.

    "The Undine told me that the crew was changed somehow. What did you mean by that?" she said as she turned to the Undine.
    It came onto this vessel with the polymer fluid, the Undine told her telepathically. It altered the crew upon contact. When they discovered me, they blamed me for the changes, but it was not so.

    Jhamyn relayed this information to her comrades. Aranea spat on the ground as she interrogated the Undine.

    "If you were not responsible for the ship's situation, then what were you doing on the ship?" she asked.
    My duty was to act as advance scout, guiding our forces to your universe, the Undine replied via Jhamyn. But this vessel's captain took me far from the target objectives and the pilots relying on me to guide them were drawn to this location and assailed.

    Aranea suppressed a disbelieving cough. She turned to her fellows.

    "Whether or not we can trust what this Undine is saying, this doesn't mean we can't abandon the mission. Right now I want to know whether or not we can secure the vessel."

    R-66Y checked the CMO's console and made a negative sign.

    "Lifesign readings on the Shahrazad are fluctuating, but there are at least one hundred Shahrazad crew members still active. We must assume that the crew has been compromised by the polywater and will not be able to help us regain control of the vessel."

    Jhamyn posited another idea.

    "Can we contact the Caliborn to send a team to retake the bridge and pilot the ship out of the system?"

    R-66Y made a negative sign to that suggestion as well.

    "Owing to the secret nature of the Tempest project, the Shahrazad was set to respond only to the captain or the first officer. Anyone else who would attempt to take control would cause the ship's systems to lock up, requiring the ship to be towed back to Earth Spacedock to have all ship systems replaced as a precaution."

    Aranea dislodged some mucus from her throat before speaking.

    "With the amount of Husnock vessels in the area, this is not an option," Aranea responded. "If we cannot secure the Shahrazad, we must be prepared to destroy it to keep it from falling into enemy hands. R-66Y, can you contact the Caliborn?"
    "Negative, commander, there is too much interference from the anomaly to send a message that won't be picked up by the Husnock," he replied. "We can only wait for the Caliborn to return close enough to the Shahrazad to open short-range communications."

    Aranea scratched her arm in pensiveness before responding.

    "Until we can reestablish contact with the Caliborn, I want to make sure nobody else dies today. I want a defensive position established in sickbay. If the Shahrazad's crew has the possibility to be saved, I don't want them to get killed attacking us."

    The three officers began moving furniture around, setting up biobeds in thresholds, magnetizing sickbay doors, and rerouting power to force fields outside the sickbay. All the while the bound Undine remained in the center of sickbay, watching the three officers intently. Soon the sickbay became a makeshift bunker.

    "All exits have been sealed," R-66Y reported as he struggled with a biobed. "The force required to breach our defenses should be more that the standard humanoid body can physically muster."

    Jhamyn helped R-66Y with the biobed before moving back to Aranea, who was rubbing her shoulder while kneeling on the ground.

    "Are you alright, Commander Serket?" she asked.
    "I feel a little more on edge than usual," Aranea replied. "It's like I have ants in my clothing."
    "I would be lying if I said I didn't feel jittery as well, commander," Jhamyn commented, before the Undine interrupted her thoughts with its own thoughts.

    Her feelings are not her own, the Undine told Jhamyn. The green one has begun to change like the others...

    ---

    The away team had not long to wait before the first members of the Shahrazad's crew began assailing the sickbay's defenses. The solidly erected defenses prevented the attackers from quickly breaking through, but rather than being discouraged by the resistance, the attacking crew only became more and more aggressive. Disregarding the injuries inflicted upon them by the force fields and static defenses, the attackers threw themselves repeatedly at sickbay, slowly weakening the sickbay's doorframes. R-66Y pulled out his rifle and motioned to the other officers.

    "If the Caliborn is unable to reach us in time, we may be forced to defend ourselves against the Shahrazad's crew."

    Jhamyn and Aranea acknowledged this by pulling out their own weapons, but as the assault continued on the sickbay, Jhamyn noticed that Aranea was preoccupied with something as she huddled in a corner. Jhamyn made her way to Aranea.

    "Commander Serket, are you OK?" she asked.

    Aranea started as her train of thought was interrupted.

    "wh-what do you need?" Aranea replied in a sweat.
    "Commander Serket, are you alright?" Jhamyn asked. "You have been acting strangely for a while now."

    Aranea coughed out a reply while rubbing the back of her neck.

    "It's nothing I can't handle," she replied. "R-really, I'm fine."

    Aranea attempted to suppress a cough with her other hand. Jhamyn noticed something in her hand.

    "Commander Serket, what's that in your hand?"

    Aranea opened her hand to reveal a piece of biobed siding, sharpened to a point.

    "Oh, how did this get here?" Aranea asked. She attempted to dodge the question by casually scratching herself with it, but Jhamyn knocked it out of her hand. Aranea began coughing up blood in response.

    "Commander Serket, hold yourself together!" Jhamyn ordered, before turning to R-66Y. "Commander R-66Y, I need your help!"

    R-66Y waddled over to Jhamyn and Aranea.

    "Is there a problem?" R-66Y asked.
    "I believe Commander Serket is showing symptoms of polywater intoxication," Jhamyn replied. "Can you hold onto her while I scan her vitals?"

    R-66Y moved to support Aranea, but as he moved to support her, his legs suddenly gave out, and both officers collapsed to the floor.

    "Are you alright, R-6?" Jhamyn asked. She left Aranea to check on R-66Y.
    "My leg servos seem to be disengaging," R-66Y replied. "It seems something is interfering with their proper functioning."
    Jhamyn scanned R-66Y's joints with her tricorder.

    "Commander, you have polywater inside your systems!" she exclaimed.
    R-66Y scanned himself with his own tricorder to confirm the diagnosis.

    "I have trace amounts of polywater in my systems, however I have several failsafes to prevent polywater intoxication, so it should not be a problem..."

    R-66Y paused in mid-sentence, to Jhamyn's concern.

    "What is it?" Jhamyn asked.
    "My internal systems detect polywater migrating to my positronic bra- My name is Gato, I have metal joints, beat me up and earn 15 silver points-"

    R-66Y fell to the ground twitching. Jhamyn went to check on him, but was tackled by Aranea, who had stabbed herself with multiple pieces of biobed siding.

    "It itches everywhere, it feels like my blood is on fire! Stop it, stop it!" Aranea cried.

    Aranea raised a bloody piece of biobed siding over Jhamyn's face and stabbed down.

    ---

    As Aranea was stabbing down at Jhamyn, an unseen force knocked her off the Aenar and into a sickbay wall. Jhamyn looked around at the sickbay to see who had saved her. The gaze of the bound Undine met her own, and she knew that she owed her life to the Undine.

    Why did you save my life? she asked the Undine telepathically.
    To beat our common enemy requires that as much strength as possible be aggregated, the Undine replied. Release me from your binders before the altered crewmembers break through your defenses.

    Jhamyn freed the Undine from its constraints just as the Shahrazad's crew knocked the sickbay doors off its guides. The Undine readied itself as it telepathically spoke to Jhamyn.

    Remember that only the weak perish, sightless one, it told Jhamyn. If you are strong, you will survive this encounter.

    The Undine leapt into the fracas as Jhamyn fired at the attacking crewmembers with her cryo full auto rifle. Soon body parts were flying as the Undine's claws cut deeply into the attackers. However, the injuries sustained by the crewmembers did not lessen their aggression, to the point that those without arms resorted to kicking the Undine, and those without limbs struggled to bite Jhamyn. The Undine matched the viciousness of the attackers, but this exposed it to the brunt of the Shahrazad's crew. The swarm of bodies soon separated Jhamyn from the Undine, and the Undine began losing the fight without Jhamyn's suppressing fire.

    Only the weak perish, the Undine will purge this foe! the Undine proclaimed as its telepathic link to Jhamyn faded.
    Don't give up! Jhamyn urged, even as crewmembers forced her to the floor. She could feel her ribcage crack as a burly Tellarite pounded on her back. A Ferengi crewmember whose arms were missing began stomping on Jhamyn's antennae while other crewmembers set upon her limbs and began pulling in opposite directions. It was too much for the young Aenar as her consciousness slipped from her.

    ---

    ...is she, nurse...she make it?
    Heavy trauma...all the ribs...dislocated...tenna is missing...

    Jhamyn slowly regained consciousness, although her blindsense was fuzzy. She could make out two standing figures as well as several other lying figures on platforms. She attempted to call out to them, but all that came out were squeaks. The two standing figures came over two her. Words were being shouted at her, but they sounded far away even though the two figures were right next to her.

    Commander Othisi, she heard one figure say, try not to move. We're trying to keep your vital signs stable while we return to the Lord English for intensive care.
    Should she even be conscious? With injuries like these, I think we should put her in stasis.
    The stasis units were destroyed in the retreat, so sedating her is the best I can do. I still have to deal with Commander Serket, and the engineering crew is too busy with Commander R-66Y to help repair sickbay...

    Jhamyn attempted to talk again, but soon she drifted out of consciousness again.

    ===
    Ship's Log, supplemental, Commander Nethri reporting. The mission to retrieve the Shahrazad was a fiasco. The only survivors of the away teams were Commanders Serket, R-66Y, and Othisi, and they are all in poor shape. In attempting to rescue them, the Caliborn was forced to decloak, exposing the ship to the Husnock vessels. Although we were able to escape, the ship has suffered extensive damage and around 200 crew members were killed. We were forced to abandon the Shahrazad to the Husnock, and will have to wait for news from sickbay and engineering before we can get a debriefing from the three stricken officers.

    ===

    Vice Admiral Remus Lee stood over the biobeds of the three officers sent on the Shahrazad mission. With him was his Chief Medical Officer Four of Thirteen. Lee placed his hand on Jhamyn's bed.

    "Give it to me straight, Doc," he asked Four. "How bad is it?"
    "She is stable at the moment, but once we return to Earth, Starfleet Medical can start reconstruction of her vital systems," Four replied. "She is more resilient that she looks; given enough time and rehabilitation, I expect her to recover most of her abilities."

    Lee looked at Aranea and R-66Y.

    "What of Aranea and R-6?"

    Four brought up a scan of both officers; strange accretions were visible throughout their bodies.

    "Technically, they were in much better shape than Commander Othisi, but a strange substance was left in their bodies after we removed the polywater from their systems. I couldn't remove it surgically, so I had to use the medical transporter, but I'm afraid there might be lasting damage, especially to the frontal lobes."

    Lee looked at the scans.

    "Could this substance have any relation to these reports of Husnock attacks?"

    Four pointed out several concentrations of the contaminant.

    "The substance was highest around the brain and the joints, so it could be possible that this substance is controlling people."

    Just then Chief of Operations Kovat Vystan entered the room.

    "Admiral, I think I have something. I've been trying to reconstruct R-66Y's memory engrams, to get some information. You may want to watch this."

    He gave Lee a PADD. Lee opened the file on R-66Y's engrams.
    earn 15 Silver points-Machine is disabled. Boarding team reports success in infiltrating new platform 1, preparing to establish control over target areas, converge all units on new platform 2 and destroy.

    "What? What was that?" Lee exclaimed.
    "There's more," Kovat replied, pressing another file on the PADD.
    New locale detected, 2500 platforms in area. Making preparations to expand territory. Transmitting to team in platform 1... Emergency! Removal from platform detected! Self-destructing.

    "This last one is timestamped at the same time I took the memory engram from R-66Y," Kovat explained. "The substance disintegrated once removed. It seems whatever it is, it doesn't want to be studied."

    The entirety of the situation dawned on Lee.

    "Is this thing sentient?"

    To be continued...
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    _______________________
    Captain's Log Supplemental: The Bonaventure has relieved the USS Kualoa in the search for the distress beacon. The Nova-class ship looks like it ran into a force field while at full impulse; her nose was crumpled inwards, the secondary deflector a mass of unidentifiable...but probably very expensive...debris. I'd be interested to hear what the SCE repair team is going to say...but I think the more important question right now is what caused the helmsman to override the safeties and ram straight into a comet. Could it be the same thing that caused the pilot of the missing runabout to eject two of the habitation modules, along with the life pods? Why wasn't the pilot *in* the life pods? I hope she has a good answer when we find her. If, I mean. This area of space is an astrometric nightmare of gaseous anomalies and is playing havoc with our sensors.
    _______________________

    Brr-eeep!

    "There it is again, Captain," Lt. Cdr. Di Polo called out from Ops. "It's weaker this time...but I swear that we're headed in the right direction."

    Sotek chimed in, "I concur, Sir. According to the sensor logs from the Kualoa, along with our own readings, we should be right on the beacon."

    I brought my hand up to scratch my chin. L'naa and I had a disagreement...and I felt that I'd rather stay on the bridge for an extra shift. I hadn't had time to shave, so scratched the stubble that was itching as bad as the knowledge that I was in the dog house. "I won't bother to ask if you're sure...so I'll instead ask you to figure it out." I got up and stretched a bit. "I'll be in my Ready Room," I said to Sotek. "Let me know once you've got *something* to tell me."

    Sotek raised his eyebrow and nodded slightly. He knew that when his friends fought, tempers got a bit short. "I shall go over all readings personally, Captain." He didn't have to do anything. Sotek still hadn't decided on what his next career move was, now that the Honolulu was gone. He was on leave, hitching a ride from DS9 to Earth while he pondered his next move. I offered him a position on the Bonaventure, which was one of the things L'naa and I were fighting over.

    I said he could come on as Captain of the Rouge Valley, our Aquarius. Now that Starfleet had started assigning the destroyers as individual commands, I made the point that Sotek could keep his rank as CO of the Rouge Valley and treat the Bonaventure in the same manner a Starbase treats attached ships, as independent commands. L'naa argued that it was a step down, that he should have an explorer of his own, and that riding a 'plug', as some Aquarius' were derisively known as, was no place for an officer of his caliber. She didn't like when I pointed out that stepping down as XO and becoming Science Officer was no place for an officer of her caliber. She pointed out that I shouldn't speak for her desires...and when I said that she shouldn't speak for Sotek's, she got mad.

    I should have stayed quiet.

    Oh well. Relationships, once you ramp them to the next level, take on a whole new learning curve.

    Arky said it best: "Happy wife, happy life."

    Hope I learn that *before* I pop the question, I thought as I walked over to the couch in my Ready Room. I glanced at my desk, and on the leg was a small square yellow piece of paper. Light adhesive attached it to the desk, and on it was the stylized picture of a small house, with a canine lying within.

    I'm too tired to get the reference...but when I catch whomever put it there, they'll be on Emergency Rations for a week.

    **********************************
    Karen screamed as she rematerialized on the small transporter pad. The lights were off, life support at a minimum, and the temperature was freezing. She fell down to the deck, cutting her bare leg against a wayward container. Frantically, she looked around, searching for a weapon, but found none.

    What kind of weapon could harm a horror she couldn't see?

    A dark, deep voice came out of thin air. "Now, little thing, you should not do this again. We are not pleased. We want an answer, but you do not give one. Tell us what we want to know."

    Karen panted, scrambling towards the rear bulkhead. The deck was icy, frost starting to form on the viewports. "I don't know what you want!" she screeched. "Just leave me alone!"

    It got colder somehow.

    "Tell us. Tell us why you scream. Why you feel afraid."

    A disembodied hand reached out of the darkness and ripped her tunic away.

    "Tell us," the voice implored. "Why. Do. You. Scream?"

    "I don't know!" Karen cried out, trying to cover herself with her arms. "Why are you doing this!"

    The voice dropped down an octave. "We want to know about human fear. Tell us. We know about Andorian and Tellarite fear. Their kind came here. To our home. With their sensors. Sensors that harmed our offspring."

    A hissing came from the cockpit. At first Karen thought it was the doors opening, but they were ripped open when she first hit the anomaly. She squinted in the darkness, and the source of the hissing became clear. A King Cobra slithered out of the cockpit, venom dripping from impossibly large fangs. The serpent's head swayed to and fro, trying to hypnotize her, and it seemed as if it started to grin.

    "Tellarite fear was simple. A construction tool called a belt sander, and we made them stand upon it. Andorians? Fill their antenna with water, freeze the water, then shatter the ice. But human fear...you are afraid of so many things. Which is the correct one to use on your kind?"

    The snake came closer, lunging once, then opened it's mouth saying, "We will understand your fear. And *this* time you won't get close enough to the transporter controls to escape."

    It lunged again, sinking fiery foot long fangs into Karen's thigh.

    She screamed again.

    And again.

    And kept doing so until she blacked out.

    ***************************************

    I woke with a start from an odd dream. I was back on Earth, and was going to a dentist. The old man with the drill had hands that shook, and the cutting edge on the drill was rusty. He limped over to me, and as the drill started a horrible whining sound, smoke began to emmanate from the cord.

    I sat up, cradling my head, fighting a losing battle against a headache. My Borg implant started to ache, and for a moment I was awash in fear that I'd be reassimilated. I shook my head and stood up, walking over to the head. The door slid open, and I activated the sink, splashing cool water over my face.

    Dentist? Borg?

    I'd have to talk to Loranna. I hadn't had dreams like that in some time...and that led to dread that all progress I've made was being undone.

    The door chimed, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts. I wiped my hands on my trousers, calling out, "Enter."

    Sotek strode in, a PADD in each hand. He gave me a concerned look as he set them down on my desk.

    "Need to lower the temperature in here," he stated.

    I wiped my still glistening face with my sleeve. "Just water, not burning up with sweat." I pointed to the yellow note on my desk. "But my temperature will get hotter if it wasn't you that put that there."

    He smirked, throwing me a Shaka.

    I glowered at him. "Not cool."

    He gave a slight grin. "Perhaps. But neither is fighting when you know better."

    I rubbed my eyes and sat down on the couch. "Look...long night, and I'm not in the mood. You have something?"

    "Indeed. Secondary analysis of the ejected life pods gives these readings."

    I picked up the closest of the two PADDs, scrolling down through the info.

    "Impossible," I said. "There is no way that these readings are correct."

    Sotek scrolled down to a section on the other PADD. "I ran it three times. The chroniton signatures show these were ejected eighteen years apart."

    "How? The runabout went missing five days ago."

    "The gaseous anomalies...Six percent of them have abnormal temporal activity."

    "Great." Temporal events. This was going to be a loooong night.
    **************************
    Karen rematerialized on an examination table, unable to move. She craned her head around, but in the darkness couldn't make out any details. She felt a tingling on her feet that was growing hotter. More uncomfortable. Burning now, getting worse.

    A flicker of light caught her eye, and soon the darkness was gone. She saw that she was in the mission module of the runabout she was ferrying to Vulcan, and saw that the straps holding her down was really a silver and red python. The head rose from the left, and she noticed that half of it was covered in Borg implants. A red laser replaced the snake's right eye, and the beam played over her body.

    The snake unhinged its jaws, a mouth full of squirming razors coming within an inch of her face. "Whhhaaaat nooowww, thing? Whhhhhaat do you fffffeaar? TELL US!"

    Karen squirmed against the snake and managed to life her head up from the table. She glanced down, seeing a blue belt sander being applied to her hooves.

    Hooves?

    The snake laughed, and the light in the cabin grew brighter. Karen caught the reflection in the viewport...a reflection of her body being crushed by the python.

    Her Tellarite body.

    The burning pain grew worse, and she began to scream once more.
    *****************************

    Sotek and I entered the shuttlebay, making our way towards the lifepods and mission modules we recovered. The lifepods was barely larger than a photon torpedo. "Each time I see one I get spooked," I said. "You can see how they earned the nickname space coffin."

    Sotek waved a tricorder over the lifepod. "Perhaps that is why the cadet did not use it."

    I shuddered, imaging what a few days in that would feel like. "You get the same reading?"

    "Aye."

    "Get a team to go over the pods. Dismantle them. Scan with whatever tools they have. Because I want to know how a pod made four years ago has a temporal signature saying it's seventy years old."
    ****************************
    Karen hid in the port mission module, blue blood dripping down her face. She managed to lock the door, trapping the creature in the cockpit. She tried to be quiet as she tapped the computer interface, trying to initiate a site to site transport. The runabout took serious damage when it hit the....the....well, whatever it was it hit. She struggled to remember exactly what happened.

    She wasn't successful.

    There was a rasping noise at the bulkhead behind her, then a louder scratching sound. Suddenly, an access panel flew off, and a mass of writing tentacles slithered into the module. A voice cried out, "Bad. You are bad. You should not have run away. You will be punished."

    A black tentacle split open, revealing a silver knife. It arched towards Karen, cutting into her left arm deeply.

    The pain was unbearable.

    The lunged forward, slapping the computer panel to initiate the transport. As the blue field enveloped her, she caught a glimpse of her reflection. White hair framed a light blue face that was marked with quite a bit of blood from STO stumps that used to be antennae.
    **************************
    "On screen," I ordered. "Apply the filters. Let's see what we've got."

    A cloud of light green gas appeared on the screen. Pockets of dark blue floated in the anomaly, and here and there were flecks of black crystal. Science teams had discovered similar black crystal on the surfaces of the life pods, noting they were out of phase in our timeline. The chroniton signature allowed them to come up with a filter that allowed us to now see what had been invisible.

    I didn't like what I saw.

    The missing runabout floated in the middle of the green gas, a black, oily substance coating the surfaces. Now and then a bubble of blue matter touched the runabout, drawing away some of the black oil. The oil would solidify into a crystalline mass, then float away.

    Everyone on the bridge couldn't look away. The sight was beautiful, yet ominous. Everybody wa quiet as they watched the oil solidify after contact with the blue gasses.

    Loranna broke the silence. "Captain....I sense....sentience. They are trying to communicate telepathically.". Loranna closed her eyes tightly, pursing her lips. "Five....nine...nine ....seven...."

    Sotek tilted his head in thought, then tapped away at the science console. The screen darkened, and more colours danced on the screen.

    "Yes," Loranna said. "Listen. Watch."

    I looked at the screen in awe as shapes began to materialize in the cloud. I saw the flattened sphere of the early Conestoga-class research ships, red waves arcing from the where sensors would be towards the green cloud. At some points of intersection the gas turned into a brown ooze.

    Loranna opened her eyes, but they didn't quite focus on anything. A strange voice came from her mouth. "No hate. No hurt. Sorry."

    Balls of orange light appeared within the gas, and the images of early Andorian and Tellarite starships appeared in the mist. Again, red waves arced towards the gas from where those ships had sensors, but this time the points of intersection became a black ooze.

    "Noise hurt. Offspring die. Cannot allow. But cannot condone."

    A ghostly mirror image of the runabout appeared, with black crystals attacking the hull, over and over again. The gas produced blue pockets that floated towards the runabout, but they were unable to stop the crystals.

    "Try stop hurt. But parent of lost cannot bear pain. Desire cause pain you. Parent hurt you offspring. We try fix many times. But did not."

    The view on screen changed to that of a pretty young woman in a Starfleet Academy duty uniform. Her dark hair was a mess, her face streaked with dirt and blood.

    "Ship's log, Cadet Karen Milsenna reporting. It's been three weeks since I came across this pocket of...well. I don't know. I can't get out, and life support is down. I'm getting tired, but don't want to sleep.". She paused, then whispered towards the screen. "The nightmares...they are getting worse.". She looked around her shoulder as if searching for an assailant. "I'll keep trying...but if I still can't get out, I'm going to pull a Scott and lock the transporter in a diagnostic loop. I figure it won't hurt as bad as freezing to death and might even give me a fighting chance."

    The screen blackened, and Loranna spoke again. "Parent use you offspring to revenge. Find what scare you. Do over for many cycle."

    "Ship's log...no...can't keep this up. I keep waking up! No...need to rest..."

    The screen brightened and darkened again and again, simulating the passing of time.

    Too much time.

    The cadet appeared on the screen again, this time looking like she'd been through hell. Her hair was snow white, her eyes a sickly yellow. "I'll be good....I'm sorry.....I'm sorry....I promise mommy....I good girl....mommy...."

    My stomach lurched, and I whispered through clenched teeth, "Enough. "

    Loranna blinked hard, then staggered down onto the deck. I rushed over to her, motioning for Sotek to call Doc Irve to the bridge.

    "I've got you, Loranna...you're ok."

    Loranna swallowed hard, and coughed a few times. "My God, Captain....Karen....she stumbled upon this portal. There is a sentience here...they do not use linear time." She rubbed her eyes hard, tears flowing freely. "Many of our years ago these beings lost their children because of obsolete sensor scans. Some of them went mad with rage, vowing revenge. When Karen came here...they...experimented on her. Each time it ended with her beaming out, thinking she was entering transporter stasis. But each time the insane beings rematerialized her and started the abuse anew."

    I tried to slow my breathing, but wasnt successful. "How many times, Loranna? How many cycles...how many nightmares?"

    Loranna stared into my eyes. "Seventeen thousand, three hundred and fifty seven."

    An eternity.

    "It became too much...eventually her mind realized the never ending cycle. She set the transporter for wide area dispersal, and beamed herself into a trillion pieces."

    I looked towards the viewscreen, watching as blue pockets continued to encircle the black crystals and take them away. The black crystals were removed and being kept away from the green gas. "Loranna, can you communicate with them?"

    She looked at me with sad eyes, answering, "They understand you, Captain."

    I looked towards the screen. "Unknown entity...am I correct in my belief that you are isolating the part of your society that has done wrong?"

    The gas cloud pulsed three times.

    "Is this how you punish wrongdoers?"

    Three pulses.

    "Will they be prevented from acting in a hostile way towards my people"

    Three pulses.

    "If you exist in non linear time....can you return Karen unharmed?"

    Two pulses.

    "I understand that some sensor scans injured your society. Those frequencies are no longer used. Do our current frequencies cause injury?"

    Two pulses.

    "We shall leave a beacon here, with the runabout. It will serve to prevent ships from interfering with your society. Do I have your assurance that you will not harm anyone else?"

    Three pulses.

    "Would your society wish to learn more about our people in a controlled manner, where you do not enter the consciousness of our people?"

    Two pulses.

    "Then we will depart. We regret the loss of any life. I hope you also do."

    Three pulses.

    I turned to Sotek, and quietly ordered, "Drop a marker buoy, quarantine type. Continue on to Earth, best speed. I'll be in my Ready Room."

    "Aye, Sir."

    ************************
    USS Kualoa, en route to Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards.

    Ensign Janai shivered under the thick blankets in sickbay. The EMH kept her sedated, but her brain activity was still off the charts. Nobody knew exactly why she drove the ship into a comet, nor why she was screaming hysterically. The collision had everybody on edge. Seven were dead, triple that injured, and everybody else was in a foul mood brought on by unsettled sleep.

    Nightmares, one might say.

    The Andorian first officer excused himself from the bridge, making his way to sickbay with a splitting headache. It felt as if his antenna were bursting.

    The Tellarite Assistant Security Chief rolled out of her rack, screaming that her hooves were burning.

    The Vulcan Science Officer felt as if her ears were being flayed.

    The Human Chief Engineer ran to sickbay, hands clutching his jaw as his teeth felt like they were being pulled out one by one.

    On the left lateral sensor pallet, close to deck three, the tertiary gaseous anomaly sampler started to glow a sickly green. Matter collected therein just prior to the collision coalesced into a jet black mass of razor sharp crystals.

    They pulsed three times, over and over and over....
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited May 2014
    Captain's Log, Stardate 86782.16. The Solaris has been on a survey mission of SMU-14 in the Zenas Expanse when we received a faint distress signal near the nadir warp point of the system's star. Upon arrival, we discovered the long-lost VSS Kol'Dagnar, a Vulcan science vessel. It was presumed lost with all hands in 2398 during it's mission in the Afehirr Nebula. There are no responses to all hailing frequencies, so I will be sending a Away Team to investigate. How it is on the other side of the Alpha Quadrant is one mystery to solve. What happened to the ship is another one ...

    +++

    The blue shimmer faded as the five person's coalesced into being. The darkness of environment was complete and each member of the Away Team looked around without a step to attempt to get their bearings. One wrist-light was activated and pierced the darkness, illuminating on a member of the party. In quick succession more wrist-lights brought light to their position. Each member wore the bright whit Federation-issue EV suit and wore field-kits relative to their ship-borne position.

    As the beams scanned from floor to ceiling, the layout of the ship's bridge started to become familiar to the team. One member suddenly grabbed the side of the helmet and screamed in terror, causing the others to focus their attention on their team mate. As the screaming became more intense, arms and legs thrashed, striking the other members. Another person suddenly stood from the fray then fell back against a console, cracking glass and spraying dust into the air. A third member tapped a button on their EV suit and all five quickly disappeared in a shower of blue light.

    +++

    Captain Kathryn Beringer stood looking at her Away Team on the beds. She was still wearing the EV suit and was cradling her helmet. She watched passively as Doctor Lynn Kalmar pulled the hypospray away from S'Rel's neck then wiped the sweat from her forehead, while Karl Melango and Bur'ar placed a catatonic Romas Verthir on a bio-bed.

    The doctor tied her long blonde hair into a ponytail then walked to the other bio-bed where Lieutenant Commander Verthir lay, his medical reading were faint. She turned to Kathryn. "What the hell happened over there?"

    Kathryn looked down trying to hide a tear forming. "We were onboard for only seconds before S'Rel started screaming in pain. Moments afterward Romas collapsed in his current state. That's when I called for medevac." She sniffled quietly and quickly.

    Karl shifted his weight as Kathryn spoke, his EV suit's material wrinkled. He looked around the room at various items or people and scratched at his chest. Bur'ar stood sentry in the center of the room, his Bat'leth held tight in one hand, with a very determined look upon his face.

    Lynn looked at the three other members of the Away Team. After a few seconds, she listened to her instinct and pulled out a tricorder from her jacket to start a medical scan. When finished, she looked concerned. "Captain, I strongly recommend you and the others get some rest ... here in sickbay."

    Bur'ar lifted his weapon and grumbled, "a true warrior only sleeps in death."

    Lynn quickly tapped her badge, "Transporter room, emergency transport. Lieutenant Bur'ar to the Brig, no questions, do it now!"

    The Klingon Chief of Security lunged toward Lynn with a roar and just as quick dematerialized.

    Karl had cowered under a bed looking around the room frantically and Kathryn had covered her eyes trying not to cry. Lynn recovered from Bur'ar's attempt and pulled her Captain toward a bio-bed. A nurse applied a hypospray and Kathryn drifted to sleep.

    Lowering herself to Karl, Lynn extended a hand. He recoiled and said through trembling lips, "they will ... always remember ... Please help ... me ... forget ... their ... pain."

    +++

    Later, in the conference room ...

    Science Chief Commander Omazei entered the meeting room, smiled at the four other crew members and sat down next to the First Officer. Anthi's Andorian antennae bowed as she nodded then started the meeting.

    "It's obvious the Away Team's brief exposure on board the Kol'Dagnar has affected them psychologically. We need to figure out how and what to do about it."

    Helmsman Lieutenant Ian KcKinnon leaned forward and sternly replied, "I suggest we destroy the ship."

    Anthi raised an eyebrow. "Well, I don't want to remove options, but I was hoping that would be lower on the list." She turned to Doctor Kalmar, "how is the team holding up?"

    The Doctor sighed. "They are all under sedation. Whatever the cause, S'Rel and Romas were affected more than the others, relatively speaking."

    There was a moment of silence before Omazei spoke next. "Hmm, of the team members, they are more psychologically sensitive."

    Lynn added, "S'Rel is Vulcan, Romas is Betazoid. Of the two, based on my observations, S'Rel condition is more critical."

    "That suggests there a connection to S'Rel and the ship." Anthi placed a hand to her chin in thought. "The only one I can think of is that ship was crewed by Vulcans."

    Another few seconds passed before Chief Engineer Thel responded. "We need to expand our scans of the ship. Or send another Team." His Andorian antennae swayed to each side with each suggestion.

    "I disagree," replied Ian. "Five top officers were brought low within seconds being on board that ship. I don't need a hypothesis to test for causality. Although more scans may reveal why they were effected, does it matter? The fact is the first team was the test and sending more teams will endanger them. Solaris should blow that ship out of existence."

    Omazei was quick to respond, "it does matter. Knowing what happened will help us determine how to help the Away -."

    A notification beep interrupted. "Doctor Kalmar, you wanted to be notified if there were any further reports of anomalous behaviors. Over the last ten minutes, five crew have reported strong headache-like pains. None incapacitated but treatment requested."

    "Thank you. Rhonda, what species are the affected crew?"

    There was a pause before the nurse's response. "All Vulcan."

    "Thank you again". The officers in the room looked at each other.

    Omazei pressed her case. "I'd still like to know the cause".

    A notification beep interrupted again. "Doctor Kalmar, another seven crew members have reported varying degrees of sudden mental stress. From Human to Xindi, there is no pattern."

    Lynn bit her upper lip. "Thank you Rhonda. I'm on my way." She turned to the assembled officers. "Something is happening and it has to do with that ship." She stood to leave the room until Anthi raised a hand.

    "Doctor, I need an analysis of the recent accounts as soon as possible. We have a duty to the Captain and crew to get more information before further action is taken." Anthi stood as a sign the meeting was over.

    The officers walked onto the bridge. As they reached their relative stations, Anthi held her head from a sudden and powerful headache. Her brother, Thel, turned to a wall and punched it, howling in pain from broken bones in his hand. Omazei fell from her chair as she envisioned a Trill symbiote tearing open her stomach, splashing blood and intestine to her feet. She screamed from the terror.

    Ian's fingers danced across his helm console. The ship lurched to port for a few seconds. He wiped sweat from his forehead and blinked the mental vision of the bridge viewscreen cracking and venting atmosphere. He looked around and nothing was damaged.

    Omazei stopped scooping air toward her stomach. "Wha ... what was that?"

    Thel held his left hand close to his chest and quickly walked to the main science station. After tapping a few keys one-handed, he stood. "Lieutenant McKinnon has move the ship two kilometers further from the Kol'Dagnar We are stationed eight point three kilometers away."

    "Everyone okay?" Anthi was rubbing her temples. She slapped her badge. "Doctor Kalmar, have you received any more reports of aberrant behavior from the crew?"

    Lynn was breathing heavy as her voice carried across the bridge. "In a word, yes."

    +++

    Later, in sick bay ...

    "Wake him." Anthi stood over Karl Melango laying on the bed.

    Lynn placed a hypospray to Karl's neck. Seconds later he shifted slightly but the restraining field held him in place. He blinked his eyes open and looked around the room before settling on the Andorian's concerned stare.

    "Anthi? Why am I in sick bay?"

    The First Officer looked surprised. "You don't remember?"

    Karl concentrated for a moment, then shut his eyes as if in pain. "Oh ... it's terrible. What happened to the crew. They didn't suffer for long. I've never seen anything like it."

    Lynn stepped up to Anthi. "This is the same with the rest of the crew."

    "Pardon?"

    Anthi replied, "Technically, you didn't 'see' anything. The Team experienced extreme psychologically-induced shock. So far we have determined something aboard the ship is causing various effects from headaches to violent hallucinations causing harm to self and others depending on the vision and proximity to the ship itself. During the most recent episode, Ian moved Solaris away from the Vulcan ship and the effects stopped.

    Karl looked down at himself and brushed a hand against the shielding. Golden light shimmered in photonic waves from the touch. "Is everyone safe then?"

    "As far as we can tell, yes."

    +++

    Later, on the bridge ...

    Omazei pointed to the ship. "Sensor analysis confirms the Kol'Dagnar is emanating a powerful psionic field. Embedded within the wave signature is telepathic information, the terminus is five point seven kilometers from the ship itself.

    Kathryn didn't take her eyes off the viewscreen. "Telepathic information ..."

    S'Rel stated flatly, "it's the death cries of the crew infused within the hull itself. Whatever happened to them, it must have been ... extraordinary. That ship is a tomb."

    The bridge crew was silent for several minutes. Only the steady hum from the Solaris' engines and the occasional beep from a console could be heard.

    Kathryn turned to S'Rel. "Lieutenant Commander, do you have any recommendations?"

    The Vulcan recalled the image of blistered and punctured skin, erupting organs and blood washing the walls of the ship, then shivered slightly. "There is no logical way to determine what happened to the crew, or how the ship came to rest here. It's a clear and present danger. Although we should catalog the anomaly and our experiences, I recommend pushing the Kol'Dagnar into the sun."

    Captain Beringer nodded and looked to the rest of her officers. They looked down as if to agree.

    "Mr. McKinnon, maintain this respectable distance and position Solaris accordingly. Omazei, prepare the tractor beam to repulse the Kol'Dagnar.

    Both officers responded in unison, "Aye, Captain."
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