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Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 587
# 11
02-08-2013, 06:57 AM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding USS King Estmere NCC-92984

"Hold still," Samantha Beresford snaps at me. I can't help but flinch a little as the cold mist from the applicator brushes my closed eyelids. "And the legs," she adds, sternly.

I open my eyes to glower at her, but I see the need. The fashion for female clothing, in this time period, at this place, tends towards knee-length skirts; leg-concealing trousers or long dresses are a possibility, but they're unusual enough to attract attention... which is the last thing we want.

So Samantha applies the plastiskin spray to my lower legs, while I pick up the hat. The hat has a curly brim, with artificial flowers and fruits and a half-veil; it is complicated and fussy with decoration, so much so that no one will spot a pair of Andorian antennae poking through it... we hope. The half-veil makes it look as if I'm trying to hide the scars on my face... people will respect that, and won't stare too hard. That's the theory, at least.

I put on the hat, and the neat grey jacket which goes with the skirt, and I step into the shoes. At least I don't have to wear those extraordinary, punitive high heels. I am too tall already, a few extra inches would be a bad move. Samantha has sprayed my hands already, but I draw on a pair of gloves, then pick up my shoulder bag.

I look around the room. It's a small room and a crowded one, in one of those buildings they call tenements; it was all we dared take. Soledad Kleefisch, exhausted after another night shift, is still sleeping on the couch; F'hon Tlaxx is sitting by the window, looking out at the city. His face, like mine, is covered in human-coloured plastiskin; the wig covering his bald Bolian head looks ridiculous. Zazaru, too, hasn't escaped Samantha's sprayer; somehow, she looks younger now that her Trill spots are covered up. She is working on the sensor apparatus. I reach into the shoulder bag, touch my tricorder, reassuring myself that it's still there. Zazaru looks up.

"I'm... still working on it, sir," she says, softly. "If you can give me a baseline reading from your tricorder, I may be able to triangulate...."

"If I'm far enough away," I say, "and if we're close enough to the source.... Well, I'll be at least a kilometer away, and staying more or less still for an hour or so... will that give you time?"

Zazaru shrugs helplessly. The sensor device is a bodged-up machine, the best we could manage with what we had. We aren't entirely sure it works at all. "I'm getting a feed from Sirip's tricorder now," she says. Sirip is working at the city's docks; a simple woolen cap, pulled down at the sides, is all we have to hide his Vulcan appearance.

"I'll be off, then," I say.

"Take care," says Samantha. "Seriously, sir," she adds in an undertone. "If you were to get hit by a car, and taken to a hospital...."

First contact would come early, and the timeline would be hopelessly compromised. "I won't get hit by a car," I promise her.

---

Six floors down, and out the door, and here I am; the human city of New York, stardate... I can never remember how to convert stardates to pre-contact format. The Earth date is October 12th, 1948. The sky is a clear blue, the air comfortably cool. There's not a jet contrail in all the sky; no shuttles, no air trams, even the sight of a propeller-driven craft is unusual enough to make people look up. The humans all look... human. Their clothes are weird, complicated, old-fashioned; half of them have little burning cylinders stuck in their mouths. A drug, nicotine, an addictive substance that's socially acceptable here and now. They breathe the drug in with the smoke of the burning; the by-products cause all sorts of diseases, and the smell is repulsive.

There are a lot of smells. The city is crowded with internal-combustion vehicles, and it is full of people, full to the brim and beyond, it sometimes seems. There are odours of people, of industry; odours of foods, from a dozen different culinary traditions; odours of animals, and sewage, and I don't know what else. It is a crazy place. I don't know how so many people can manage, here, without modern conveniences. When we first arrived, I kept doing double-takes, looking at those towering buildings and remembering, suddenly, they were built without industrial replicators or anti-gravs....

The streets are crowded, and few people spare me a second glance, which is as I want it. Let them ignore the tall woman with the silly hat and the scarred face... let them not realise I'm not human, or that the bag on my shoulder contains technology enough to turn their world upside down. I have hours to kill, while I traverse the city and - hopefully - gather the data Zazaru needs. I walk, steadily and purposefully, through the melee of humanity. It is busy and loud and smelly and incredibly alive.

In other circumstances, I'd think myself lucky to see it.

It takes too long to walk from the Lower East Side to Central Park. I have a little currency, enough for a bus fare. I sit silently in a corner, nobody notices me.

The Park is a lovely sight, a patch of greenery in all this urban exuberance. It must look even lovelier in summer, though I hope I'm not still around to see it. It's not my final destination, though. That lies a couple of city blocks to the south, a comparatively small building among the skyscrapers, but quite grand and ornate enough for me. It even raises a faint smile of recognition, when I arrive. I've been to Carnegie Hall before. That is, I will have been to Carnegie Hall before... in the future.

I have to be somewhere reasonably far off, to give Zazaru a decent baseline for triangulation. And I saw this particular performance was coming up... why not, I thought, enjoy myself, while I do what's necessary at the same time? So, I buy a ticket, and I make my way into that resplendent concert hall. It's not particularly full, but I make sure I sit at the back, in any case. I don't want anyone asking me to remove my hat.

The orchestra makes that weird, not-discordant, not-organized sound that they make, tuning up. The rustle of programmes and the murmur of conversation dies away. At the back of the hall, unseen by anyone, I break into a huge grin as the stately opening chords sound, and the voices of the chorus ring out in those words I know so well:-

Hearken to me, gentlemen, come and ye shall hear,
A tale of the boldest brethren, that ever born y were,
The one of them was Adler young, th' other King Estmere....


---

Holst, Shostakovich, and Aaron Copland. Kind of an eclectic mixture, but when I'm marooned in the wrong time zone and scanning for exotic chronitons, that's the sort of music that takes my mind off things. I'm still humming quietly and happily to myself when I get off the bus, on my way back to the apartment.

Then a voice behind me says, "Well, well, Miss Shoal! You sound in a good mood this evening."

I turn. The human behind me is tall and heavily built, wearing a dark blue paramilitary-styled uniform, and carrying a sidearm; his face is all one big friendly grin, though. "Officer Murphy. Hello. Yes, I've - I've been to a concert -"

"Call me Pete," he says, "I'm off duty now. It's a good thing to see you looking cheerful, though! Most days, you look like you've the weight of the world on your shoulders."

We tried to get to know local law enforcement; it was a calculated risk, we didn't want to attract attention, but we didn't want to arouse suspicions either. Pete Murphy... is local law enforcement, basically. People like him, and he seems to like us, which is good. Now, he steps forward and takes my arm. "Let me walk you home," he says. "The nights are getting shorter, and we don't want you walking into any trouble, now, do we?"

I have my phaser in my bag next to my tricorder, and besides, I've spent most of my career not so much walking into trouble as sprinting into it. This is not the time to say that, though. "Thanks, Pete," I say.

"Any time," he says. We stroll along the darkening street, arm in arm. Pete is a very big man, taller than me, and I'm a head taller than the average human female in this time and place. Another complication.... "Truth to tell," he says, "I don't mind this at all. And I'd like to get to know you a little better, Miss Shoal, or may I call you Teela? That's your name, isn't it?"

"Close enough, I guess," I say.

"Ah, am I not saying it right? That's one thing I wondered at, you see, I never could place your accent...."

"I'm from a long way away," I say, "you wouldn't know it."

"Well, now, why can't I be the judge of that? Why don't you tell me anyway?"

What harm can the name do? "Gimel Vessaris," I say.

He laughs. "You're right, then, I don't know it... Somewhere in Europe, maybe?" His friendly eyes narrow slightly. "Is it, maybe, the same place you got those scars?"

"That's right," I say. "In the war." No need to specify which war.

"You're still a fine-looking woman," he says, "and there's many around here who'll be jealous of me for this. And you should smile more often... you've a lovely smile."

I tense, and try not to let him see it. Complications... this is one complication I hadn't expected. "I enjoyed the music," I say, neutrally.

"You should enjoy yourself more," he says. "You know the Rosenbaums' little girl, in the apartment below yours? She's got names for all your little... gang. There's the doctor lady, the pretty lady, the serious lady, the big fellow, the bad wig fellow. Do you know what she calls you? The sad lady. Now, why should you be sad, Miss Teela?"

"I don't know," I say. "I never thought of myself as sad." We tried to be on good terms with the neighbours, too. Human adults... they see what they expect to see. But human children are curious, and they watch.

"I can't figure you out, Miss Teela," says Pete. "I mean, I fancy myself a good judge of character... and I know you and your friends are good people, I'm sure of that... but I just can't figure you out."

"Maybe there's nothing to figure," I say.

"I don't believe that for a minute," he says. "But here you are, in the greatest city in the world, the greatest country... we licked Hitler, we licked the Japs, and even though FDR's gone, I reckon we could still lick the whole world if we wanted to. So, here you are at the heart of the world, and you've got friends around you, you've got talent - old McCutcheon says you're the best teller he's ever had at his bank - so what would it take to keep that smile on your face?"

I don't know what FDR is. Federal Deposit Rationing? Those words all seem to be important. "I guess I'm just - busy, Pete. Things on my mind, you know how it is." He means well, I know it, but now I am desperate for this conversation to end. I look up. We're on the right street, nearly at the tenement building....

"You shouldn't let stuff get you down, Miss Teela," Pete is saying, but my attention isn't on him. The windows. The windows on the sixth floor are dark. It is dusk, the lights should be on. "Now, if you need a shoulder to cry on...." His voice tails off; he's noticed I'm not listening. He follows my gaze.

"The lights ought to be on," I say. "They'd need light to work by...."

"Something's wrong, maybe," says Pete. "Well, now, I guess I'd better see you all the way home, then."

I have a dreadful trapped feeling. How do I get out of this? I hope that it's just a burned-out filament in these archaic incandescent lightbulbs... but I know it's not. I let Pete lead me up the stairs. My hand reaches carefully into my shoulder bag, touches the butt of my phaser.

The door is ajar, the rooms beyond dark and vacant, the furniture disarranged. Zazaru's sensor device is gone; the contents of Samantha's medical kit are strewn over the floor. Pete draws in a sharp breath. "I'll call this in," he says.

"No!" I say. "No, Pete - you can't. Let me -" I'm trapped. "Let me explain." I take a deep breath. "I'll need your help."

"I should call the precinct," Pete says obstinately.

"You mustn't. I -" My eyes rove wildly round the room, until I see what I need. "I'll explain. And you'll know why you mustn't. Pete, I'm going to have to show you something -"

"Show me what?" Pete's voice is angry now. I reach down, and pick up the solvent spray.

"The real me. Pete, promise me you won't scream, or faint."

"Scream and faint? Now what do you take me for?" Pete demands, but I'm already spraying the solvent across my face, and for good measure I rip away the hat with my free hand. There is a faint prickling sensation as the plastiskin reacts and oxidizes to nothing.

Pete doesn't scream, or faint, but his eyes are wide and round as saucers.

"That's why you mustn't call the precinct," I say.

---

"We're explorers," I say, while Pete very slowly makes his way to the couch, not looking away from my face the whole time. "We were out in space, tracking an anomaly - something odd that showed up on our scanners. It caught our shuttlecraft, pulled it through a time distortion - I'm not just from outer space, Pete, I'm from the future as well." Pete sits down on the couch, hard.

"We arrived in New York about six weeks ago," I continue. "We did our best to settle in, got basic living quarters, took some basic jobs... we had some diamonds, we used them for an initial stake." No point telling him we made the diamonds in the shuttle's replicators. "We've been trying, ever since, to find the source of the anomaly. Something brought us here, Pete, and it wasn't natural. Someone in New York has... well, a time machine."

Pete finds his voice. "Holy Mary, Mother of God," he says. "And here was me thinking I was a good judge of character."

"You're a fine judge of character, Pete, just not as good a judge of species. Listen." I cross the floor, take his hands in mine. He doesn't react, but he doesn't pull away. Maybe that's a good sign.

"We've been scanning, trying to find the time machine. My guess is, the others have succeeded, and whoever built it detected our scanning beam and came for them. Pete, I have to find them. We could - the whole timeline could be in jeopardy. And they're my crew, and my friends."

"Your... crew?" he says slowly. "Are they all like you?"

"No," I say. "I'm the only Andorian here. Samantha and Soledad - the doctor lady and the pretty lady - they're as human as you are. Zazaru - serious lady - can pass with a little makeup. Sirip, the big guy, we just had to hide his ears. F'hon - well, the bad wig covers a multitude of sins. He's blue, though, like me, so we have to paint him up, too."

"Why?" he says. "I mean, why... why are you hiding? Why not go to the government, or...?"

"Because we daren't change history," I say. "This is the past, for us, and anything we do here can change that. My guess is, somebody wants to change that. Pete, a couple of hundred years from now, your people, and mine, and a thousand others are going to do wonderful things. We're going to go out into the galaxy and make a civilization there, a place of freedom, and justice, and infinite horizons. We can't risk doing anything that would change that. Even being here is a danger.... Pete, you can't tell the precinct, you can't tell anyone. Not ever. But here and now, I need your help."

He is quiet for a long worrying moment, then says, "What did you say you were, again?"

"Andorian. My people come from Andoria, a planet of the star you call Procyon."

"And... the others... you called them your crew?"

"Yes. I'm an officer in Starfleet, commanding the United Star Ship King Estmere. We were on the way back to the ship, when... it happened." I smile. "If my ship was here, we'd track down the bad guys and deal with them in no time at all."

"What's she like? Your ship?"

My smile grows broader. "You should see her, Pete. Half a mile long, and since we had the new gear put in, she's gleaming bright from stem to stern... fast enought to cross a star sector before you've had time to blink, and as for firepower... finest ship in Starfleet."

Astonishingly, he gives a shaky laugh. "Well, whatever else you are, you're navy, all right," he says. "Never met a navy guy yet who didn't serve on the finest ship in the fleet."

---

When I turn on the lights, something gleams on the cheap sideboard. Samantha's data monocle. She sets it facing the door, maybe it was running.... Pete is still sitting on the couch, his expression still dazed, but there's a little more colour and animation in his face. Maybe this will work out. Maybe. Too many maybes....

"What's that?"

"Data monocle. Um, a sort of...." They don't have electronic computers yet, not outside a few academic and military institutes. "Sort of like a camera, I guess." I look around. A PADD has scooted half-way under the couch. I fish it out, start to set up the connections. "It might have caught what happened."

It did. A whole lot of nothing for the first hour or so; I fast-forward through it while Pete gapes at the images. Sirip comes back, there is another spell of nothing... and then the door bursts open.

I can't see everything, but I see disruptor beams flash, and I pray they were set on stun. The gunmen are hulking brutes, apparently human... but I know how little that might mean. The one thing I have is, before the shooting starts, one of them says, quite clearly, "Mr. Manning wants a word with you guys."

I look at Pete. His face is thoughtful. "Manning," he says. "I know that name."

I wait for him to explain. "Cyrus Manning," he goes on. "Big shot, so they say, and only come to town lately. There've been all sorts of rumours about the guy, and there's some precinct captains would dearly love to see what's inside that big place of his out in Queens. And, well, no one sees him. I don't know of anyone who's ever seen him." He looks sidelong at me.

"Sounds like a good place to start, then." I stand up. "Let's go."

"Mother of God!" Pete surges to his feet. "Not like that, girl, you'll start a riot."

"Oh. Yes." I look around. "Plastiskin applicator. That one there. And I'll need my hat."

---

We hail a cab. It'll eat most of my reserves of currency, but maybe I won't need them again. And the roaring and jerking of the internal combustion drive will take years off my life, but never mind that.

We settle into the back seat, and Pete gives the driver an address. Then, quietly, he says to me, "I've got a whole lot of questions, Miss Teela."

"I'll bet. And I can't answer them all. I daren't. I've told you too much already."

"Miss Teela. Are you... are you even a woman?"

"Sort of. Andorians have four sexes. I'm... one of the female ones."

He shakes his head. "Every time I think I might get a handle on this, you pitch me another curve ball."

"I'm sorry, Pete," I say. "Um.... if it's any help, I have no clue what that means."

"You don't have baseball, where you come from?"

"We don't."

He explains about baseball. It takes the rest of the trip.

---

Cyrus Manning's place is a big brown block, ten stories tall. There's a night watchman on duty. Pete talks his way past him with a phony story putting me in the role of a wronged woman out to make an "arrangement with Mr. Manning". It's kind of a good improvisation, at that. I'm starting to warm to Pete.

The night watchman lets us into the building's elevator, and I say to Pete, "Stop two floors below where he tells us, we'll walk up."

He nods. "Makes sense, I guess."

The interior of the building is... off. It's all impeccably furnished, with the facilities of a big hotel, maybe... but there is no sign of occupation, no sign it's ever been used. It's like a stage set. My skin is crawling with nerves, under my fake human complexion. The night watchman says, sixth floor. We get off at the fourth, and look for a staircase. When we find the stairwell, I pull out my tricorder. Perhaps I can risk some passive scans -

"What's that?" Pete asks.

"Scanning device," I say.

I don't have time to say anything else. Above us, a door crashes open, a big figure silhouetted against light beyond.

I move as quick as I can, my hand diving into the bag, dropping the tricorder, coming out with the phaser. The stairwell lights up with orange light and sick green as the two of us fire, together. He misses. I don't. I take the stairs up, three at a time, while Pete gasps, "What the hell -?"

"Pete. I'm a monster from outer space. Of course I've got a death ray."

I reach the landing, kick the inert body over onto its back. "Or, if you really want a monster...."

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph," mutters Pete, looking down at fangs and warts and dead black eyes. "What is it?"

"Nausicaan," I tell him.

Pete boggles. "Those build time machines?" he says. "I would have thought... well, that one doesn't look bright enough. But I shouldn't judge on looks, maybe?"

"You'd be right, though, this time. Nausicaans... most likely just hired muscle. Goon squads."

Pete looks sharply at me. "You sound like you don't like them."

"I don't." I point to my face, to the scars. "One of them did that."

"With one of those ray guns?" I nod. Pete looks at my face, at the disruptor in the dead Nausicaan's hand, at the scar the beam cut into the brickwork. "Your head must be a lot harder than it looks, Miss Teela."

"I was lucky." I take the Nausicaan's gun, flip it, offer it butt-first to Pete. "Take it. It'll be more effective, but you just pull the trigger, same as your thirty-nine."

Pete accepts the weapon gingerly. "Um," he says. "My Police Special? It's a .38, actually."

I frown. "Thirty-nine's an important number, isn't it? I'm sure I've heard that somewhere." I look down the corridor the Nausicaan came from. The lights are on, but there's no sign of life. Stage set, again. We make our way down the corridor, weapons out, nerves taut, jumping at shadows. I don't dare risk a scan, not now.

At the end of the corridor, an imposing set of double doors, the sort of thing that announces whoever's behind this is important. My antennae quiver. Motion behind those doors, two people at least, maybe more. I gesture to Pete, and he gets the idea. We move to flank the doors. I take a deep breath -

And I explode into action. Kick in the door, dive, and shoot. The first Nausicaan guard takes my beam full in the chest, and falls. The other has time to get off a shot at me, but it goes wild, and then Pete's shot takes him down. I get to my feet. The air is sour with the smell of scorched flesh, the feel of expended energies.

Two Nausicaan guards flanking a huge, imposing desk, and behind the desk -

Pete gasps. "That's Cyrus Manning? No wonder he never shows his face."

The Ferengi, ridiculous in a 1940s business suit, snarls, "You're not so handsome yourself, hew-mon."

I take a deep breath. "No," I say. "Nice guess, Pete, and it's what you're meant to think, but no. This is a Ferengi, and just another mercenary. Absolutely mercenary. A Ferengi'd sell you his own mother for ten strips of gold-pressed latinum."

"Ridiculous!" the Ferengi growls. "For my mother - no less than fifty bars!"

"But -" Pete gestures with the gun; I start to wish I'd shown him where the safety was. "But - well, you can paint your skin, but he can't - I mean, those ears, that nose - he can't hide -"

"We had to improvise," I explain. "They came here on purpose, and they came prepared. Holo-emitters, Pete, a perfect disguise. This guy can look like - like Rita Hayworth, if he wants to." Things are falling into place in my head. "The only reason Cyrus Manning never appears... must be if he's got just too much to hide. Like, say, a completely non-human appearance, and life support requirements - like, if he can't breath Earth's air, or live at Earth temperatures." The Ferengi turns pale, and I know I'm on the right lines. Time to run a bluff, to act like I know my guess is right. Temporal tech, non-human, life support, there are several species it could be, but one is most likely -

I ram the emitter grid of my phaser right into the Ferengi's forehead.

"Where's the Tholian?"

---

The top two floors of the building have been gutted, making space for the gantries and the scaffolding that support a huge glass box, filled with the glowing mist that is Tholian air. Beneath it are devices, some familiar - data consoles and the like - some less so.

And there is a framework of white metal with glimmering force field lines across it, and behind that, five familiar faces, and my heart lifts to see them alive and unharmed. Sirip looks faintly embarrassed, though. Well, so he should, a Starfleet security officer knocked cold by a couple of Nausicaan goons in holo-emitters.

I shove the Ferengi ahead of me and mutter, "Keep an eye out," to Pete. Then I call out, loudly. "Show yourself!"

For an instant, there is no answer; then there is a skittering sound from the glass box. I'm relieved. If the Tholian had had time to get into an EV suit of its own... there's no way I have the equipment to take on one of those, now.

The Tholian emerges from the mist, and I hear Pete gasp. It's a big one, I'd guess commander level at least. Its glowing eyes gaze down on us, and one foreclaw reaches out to tap on the inside of the glass. There is a chittering, squeaking sound: Tholian speech.

An expressionless voice says, <Vice Admiral Shohl.>

"Release my people," I say, and I raise the phaser.

<If you fire that weapon,> the voice says, <you will release Tholian atmosphere directly into this area. You will not survive the resulting explosion.>

"Neither will you, or your technology here," I say, "which means the timeline is preserved. And that's what matters."

Of course, I'm bluffing. Probably. I'm betting the Tholian won't call it, though.

<As a gesture of goodwill, then,> the voice says. A claw fondles a control crystal. The forcefield lines wink out.

"Sorry, skipper." F'hon is the first to speak, as they step out of the cage. "I guess we messed up."

"Don't worry about it." I shove the Ferengi into the cage. "Turn the field back on."

<That is unnecessary ->

"Turn it back on!"

The orange lines come back, and the Ferengi looks daggers at me through them. I ignore him, and walk out to where I can look at the Tholian again. "Congratulations," I say, "you've brought peace to the galaxy."

<Explain.>

"The war with the Klingons will end. They, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Dominion, even the damned Hirogen will drop everything, now - at least long enough to wipe out the Tholian Assembly. Self-preservation. If you're tampering with the time lines, everyone has to stop you. We could probably even get the Borg to join the fight."

<Even if you return to your own time to make a report,> the Tholian says, <that need not necessarily occur. This is a unique opportunity - and I am acting outside the consensus of the Assembly in exploiting it.>

"You're a rogue agent?" Sirip and Soledad have found weapons, are watching the big room's entrances. I almost begin to think I might be in control of this situation. Almost. "Convince me."

<The data consoles hold all the records of my research station,> the Tholian continues. How I wish I could read Tholian expressions... the mechanical voice conveys nothing beyond the bare words. <You will see that much of my equipment is Ferengi in origin. Daimon Rabb, here, has supplied most of the funding for my project - I have had no official support from the Assembly. And the subspace inclusion that allowed me access to the past was, and remains, unique.>

From behind the forcefield, Rabb says, "Tholians are worse than hew-mons when it comes to smelling profit!"

Zazaru is scanning a Tholian console, brow furrowed in concentration. "He might be telling the truth, sir," she says. "There's a small asteroid near the epicentre of the subspace disturbance that swallowed our shuttle. And it reads within a light-minute of King Estmere's last recorded position -"

"He saw us coming and he panicked," I say. "All right. What's our best option for fixing this?"

<That is not in your hands,> the Tholian voice says. <It is now in the hands of your human associate.>

---

I turn to Pete. He has put down the disruptor pistol, and he has picked something up, a cylinder of metal with a gleaming control panel set in its side. He stares at the Tholian, and I stare at him.

Crystal feet scratch and squeal on the glass floor as the Tholian scuttles over to look down on him. <I do not know your name, human,> the voice says. <I am Inyrene, and I would like to make a proposition to you.>

"Pete," says Pete. "Pete Murphy. Patrolman Pete Murphy."

<Patrolman Murphy. Admiral Shohl has undoubtedly painted a glowing portrait of life in the Federation of her future to you. Might I propose an alternative vision? My intention has always been to bring together human drive and ingenuity, Tholian technical mastery, and Ferengi commercial acumen at the right place and in the right time. Together, we could rewrite history, obliterating centuries of destructive warfare, and making this world, this city, the centre of the greatest commercial empire that the galaxy has ever seen. No politicial ideologies vying for supremacy, merely trade and commerce, free, unfettered, with your planet at the heart of it all.>

The heart of the world. My mouth goes dry.

<The device in your hands,> the Tholian continues, <is a chroniton inverter. It is set to a directional beam at present, though it can be converted to a spherical field. Activate the device, and the subspace inclusion which brought us to your world will be reverted. In practical terms - point the end of the device at something from the future, press the button, and that object or person vanishes, back to the future.>

"And you think I should point it at Miss Teela, do you?"

<Have you seen her true face?>

Pete looks at me, now. "There's nothing else, underneath the blue," I tell him. "I don't know what I can do to convince you of that...."

"So," Pete says, "I've got to choose between the blue lady with the feelers, or the big chandelier up there, have I?"

<That is, essentially, the choice.>

"Well, now," says Pete. "Miss Teela's not been entirely straight with me, has she? But I guess I understand why - she doesn't want to mess things up by changing history. I can sort of see how that might work."

<I want to change history. For the better.>

"See, I reckon I'm a good judge of character," says Pete. "Miss Teela and her friends, they came here, they settled down into ordinary jobs, good workers too, from all I've heard. Good neighbours, as well. But you, and this guy here with the ears? Every time I hear about Cyrus Manning, he's been linked to half the dirty rackets in the city."

"Your hew-mon regulations get in the way of profit!" shouts the Ferengi.

"I don't know about visions of the future," Pete continues, obstinately, "but Miss Teela and her people are decent folks. And I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm on the side of the decent folks."

He raises the cylinder, points it at Inyrene, presses the glowing stud at the side. There is a thunderclap of displaced air, and the Tholian vanishes, his whole life support box going with him.

Rabb wails. "Oh, shut up, you," says Pete, and presses the button again. Then he lowers the device, looks at me, and says, "So did I do the right thing?"

"I think so, Pete," I say. I look him in the eye. "I... hope I can justify your faith in me. Thanks, Pete."

He lets out a deep breath, shakily. "So what happens now, then?"

Time to take charge. "Zazaru, download everything from the data consoles before we send them back. Then we'll sweep the building, spray it with that thing so that every bit of future technology's gone. Then... some of us go back to the apartment, do the same there. The rest of us catch a few hours' sleep, we'll need it."

"You're not going straight after him?" Pete seems amazed.

I smile. "That thing will send us back to the moment in the future we left. We can spend as long as we like cleaning up, here, we'll arrive at the same time Inyrene does." I step forward, take a closer look at the device. "It's rather like... remember that thing Franklin Drake fitted on the old Sita?"

"The thing you were specifically told not to look at?" Zazaru smiles, for the first time in six weeks.

"That's the one. We'll have to fit it into the shuttlecraft, then we can all go back home. Pete - you could give it to one of the others, you'll need some rest." I smile. "Tomorrow morning, we're going on a boat trip."

---

She stands there, monumental, in the light of a grey watery dawn. Behind her, the buildings of the city are taller and grander, but the concept she embodies is larger than all of them.

"If you have to build a big green statue," I say aloud, "Liberty's a good thing to build one to."

"Why are we here?" Pete is a little green himself. Not a good sailor, it seems.

"Well," I say, "when our shuttle arrived, we couldn't leave it on display, could we? So we set its holo-emitters to generate... ah, you don't need the technical details. We turned it invisible." I lead the way towards one of the buttresses of the massive statue. "A wise man once said... first rule of active camouflage: park somewhere you'll remember."

The seven of us are alone in the dawn light. Pete starts as I key the command sequence on my tricorder, and the entry ramp lowers, a doorway opening in thin air. He gazes at the interior of the shuttle. "So that's what the future looks like, is it?"

"Some of it." I turn to the others. "Get that thing installed and set for a spherical field. And set up the call to the King Estmere on automatic - I want her moving as soon as we hit our own time." There are two nice warm cells in Facility 4028 just waiting for Inyrene and Rabb.

Pete stands silently while the others move. Finally, he speaks. "Could I... could I go with you?"

I shake my head. "It's impossible, Pete."

"Because I'd change history? I'm not that important."

"Everyone's important. Besides... the reverter only affects things that come from the future. You're not from our time... if we turned it on, the shuttle would just disappear around you. At best, you'd fall into the bay."

"It's too cold a day for swimming, all right," he says resignedly. "I guess this is goodbye, then."

I snap my fingers. "That reminds me." I turn to the shuttle and yell, "Currency!"

"Currency?" Pete seems nonplussed.

"We made our own clothes and things," I explain, "but we couldn't manufacture money, could we? It's... unethical." I hastily collect green notes, little brown and silver discs. I'm already starting to forget what each one's worth. I hand the whole lot to Pete. "We can't take it with us, and we don't need it anyway. Give it to the Rosenbaums, they're always short of money. Tell them it's a - what's their word for it? - a matzoh."

He snorts with laughter. "I think you mean a mitzvah, Miss Teela."

"Whatever." On an impulse, I step up to him, and kiss him, briefly, on the mouth. Human lips are cool, but not unpleasant... not in the least. I step back.

"Be a good person in the future, Miss Teela," he says.

"Stay a good man in the past, Pete," I reply.

I step aboard the shuttle. The entry ramp closes, shutting out my last sight of this world. The next time it opens, Pete Murphy will have been dead for centuries.

I turn to my command. "Thrusters to takeoff levels. Ready impulse engines. Activate the reverter on my mark. Let's go, people."

The shuttle lifts off. Into the future, into our home.
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,457
# 12
02-09-2013, 02:06 PM
"You don't understand, I belong here!"

The man was frantic with his words, almost hysterical. His eyes were wide and blood-shot while his white hair was disheveled. The lab coat he wore was of this time and not from the 25th century. The man looked between the person aiming a pistol at his chest to his right and the swirl of impossible insanity to his left. The vortex was a discordance or sound, light and weather that was both rapturous and repulsive to look at, and the man in the lab coat looked at it dreadfully.

"No doctor, you don't."

The person with the pistol was a hardened veteran of these events. All of them say the same thing and almost of them end the same way: death. These travelers would rather die in a time frame they never existed in, yet insist on being a part of. And why not? They left their own time to find something new sometime else. But that is not permitted. Not natural. You deal with the cards you are dealt with - anything else, temporally speaking, is just running away from your own existence.

And these runners force other people to leave their own time to chase them - hunt them - down. Just. Like. Now.

The sphere of beautiful terror pulsed in the alleyway and made this little corner of New York City the worst place to be. The man with the pistol was ironically becoming impatient with how long this process was taking. His female partner watched the scene and tried to remain passive by mimicking a statue. Her attempt failed as she looked over her shoulder every few seconds hoping no one either followed or stumbled upon the scene. It was enough that one man was trying to live his life when he shouldn't, much less having another two people from the future drag him back, dead or alive.

"Kyle, listen to me," Kathryn said. "Your work on personal Temporal Teleportation worked! Look at your achievement." She pointed at the globular beast.

Kyle looked away from the menacing pistol to his delightful child of intellectual effort then to Kathryn, a pained expression on his face. "They took it from me to use as a weapon!" He pointed at the man with the gun, his face snarling.

"Kyle Retarius, I'll say again: enter the portal and return to your own time."

Kathryn rolled her eyes in frustration. The agent from Section 31 was dismissive of every suggestion and action she took while on this 'journey' and she was beyond annoyed with him. "Kyle, focus on me. I'm your Captain. We've been through a lot since the Academy, you can trust me. Trust me when I say that the 23rd Century is filled with more danger and less hope than home. Starfleet needs you; I need you to come home."

The scientist lowered his arm and looked at Kathryn. His face transformed from hate to sadness. He nodded as the luminescent ball pulsed again. He looked up to the night sky at the immense buildings towered above. "Did you ever love me?"

The agent looked sideways to Kathryn. "Is he serious?"

Kathryn ignored him and took a step forward, her hand outstretched. "Can you forgive me for being honest with you?"

Doctor Retarius looked at Kathryn with resignation. "You didn't answer my question."

The agent stepped forward with Kathryn, his wrist band beeping as if a timer expired. "We don't have time for this doctor. You must enter the portal."

"Kyle. I - "

Suddenly, a hover car appeared above them and slowly passed over the alleyway. All three looked up, but it was the agent that recovered from the surprise the fastest, stepped forward and yelled at the man. "Doctor, you are being ordered to enter the portal!"

Klye Retarius lept away from the agent and drew a pistol. Kathryn recognized the Type 2 Phaser and gathered her wits. "No, don't!"

A blue phaser beam appeared into the night and missed the agent by centimeters. The agent responded with his own purple-colored beam. It connected at Kyle's chest. He screamed as he disintegrated. Within seconds he was gone forever.

Kathryn stood rigid. The hovercar appeared again, this time with blue light swirling and flashing at various points on its fenders. The agent tapped his wristband, grabbed Kathryn at the waist and jumped into the ball of light.

A beam of light from the car probed into the alleyway, itself now dark as if no one was ever there.

---

Kathryn appeared on the transporter pad. Alone.

Science officer Margaret Retarius stood next to the transporter consol. Her hands knotted together with knuckles white. When she saw Kathryn she looked around the pad chamber as if to expect someone to appear from behind the Captain. After several extremely long seconds, Margaret's face changed from hesitating expectations to the realization of reality. She broke down and collapsed to the floor sobbing.

Looking out the window of a transporter room in Earth Spacedock Kathryn could see the bright lights of New York City through the clouds. She huddled next to Margaret.

"I'm so sorry, there wasn't enough time to save your brother or bring him back."
Kathryn S. Beringer - The Dawn Patrol

Solaris build - Veritatum Liquido Cernene

Last edited by cmdrscarlet; 02-18-2013 at 08:29 AM. Reason: Punctuation and missing detail.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 962
# 13
02-09-2013, 05:01 PM
Bravok sat in the Captain's chair, idly drumming his fingers on his chair's arm. He had been in this timeline a few weeks now, apparantly having replaced the younger version of himself from this timeline. At least there were no vast Tholian empire running things here. The Orion female was making some noise about some anomaly they discovered. The old Klingon just lightly scratched at the scar running over his left eye, the worn eye patch bolted into his skull feeling tight. It sometimes did when trouble was brewing. He had come to trust in those instincts. The Orion knew her science, but Bravok really didn't care about it. He just kept her around as she had other worthwhile assests.


The Orion started making noise about readings. With a grunt, Bravok dropped his hand and stared at her.

"What is it?"
"Something is happening with the anomaly. It's putting out-"


Suddenly Bravok found himself standing outside on some planet. It was night, and towers rose up all around him, illumating the streets with their artificial light. Some form of vehicles moved along the bustling streets. What was this? What planet? There were many humans walking around, but there were various other creatures, all bipedal, most alot shorter than the humans. But they were all seemed to be moving around in groups. The smaller aliens were clutching bags of something, and eating items from them.


Someone walked past and shouted.
"Nice costume."

Bravok snarled.
"This is the uniform of the Klingon Defence Force. It is not some mere costume."
"Woah. Whatever you say dude."


The human walked off. Bravok took out his communicator.
"N'Nesh. Respond. This is Captain Bravok to the I.K.S. Praxis. Respond."


There was no reply. Bravok growled and pocketed his communicator. Deciding the best thing to do was to investigate, he began walking along the street. One of the vehicles screeched to a stop, almost hitting him.
"Watch where ya going buddy. Ya almost got killed!"

"And you should watch where you're piloting. Where am I?"
"I aint got time for drunken louts."

The car drove off. Bravok walked further along. This was clearly a Terran settlement. Could it be Earth? He had never been to it, but it could be. How did he get here?


He finally decided enough was enough. This building had lights on, and seemed to be open. He walked into the lobby of something called a 'hotel' and marched up to the woman at the desk.

"You. Human wench. Where am I?"

The young woman blinked and smiled.
"Welcome to the Park Avenue Royal Hotel Sir. I take it you are here for the Halloween Party?"

"Party? Halloween? Don't play your human games with me."

"Of course Sir. No offense was intended. I can see now you are playing in character. The party is just through the doors on your right."


Bravok looked over at the large wooden doors, then back to the woman. He leaned in closer.

"What is this place? What city? What planet?"

The woman kept her smile, though it was becoming obvious she had no patience for playing along fully.

"This is New York. On planet Earth."


Bravok just grunted, then moved towards the door. As he passed by the bar, he paused and looked up at the monitors. There was some kind of information cast being broadcast, and the date it read was-

He was bumped by someone from behind. Bravok spun to see a squat little man in a long coat. He seemed very nervous and made no apology as he shuffled away towards the party door. Bravok turned back to the screen. The date read October 31st 1992. Well, that wasn't good. Somehow, he had gone back in time. By Khaless's Beard, would he never be free from time jumps?


As the music from the party started singing that rythym was a dancer, there was a loud bang, followed by screaming and another loud bang. Bravok frowned. That didn't sound good. Not at all.


Despite having discovered he was lost in time, Bravok didn't care about preserving the past. After all, he had already wiped his original timeline from existence. It's not like he cared for this one. He ran towards the door, smashing through them. The Squat Guy was holding a shotgun at the crowd, two of the partygoers were on the floor where they had been shot. The sudden entry scared the Squat Guy, causing him to spin around and shoot Bravok.


Most of the shots missed, but some of the blast hit him in his left shoulder, spinning him around and down. He clutched the wound with his right hand, his blood seeping between his fingers.


"I... I....I didn't wa-wa-want to. But I will NOT be taken as a joke. Not now. Not ever again."


As the Squat Guy turned back towards the crowd, Bravok slipped his right hand down to his belt. In one fluid motion, he pulled his d'k tahg and launched it at Squat Guy. The blade hit him in his chest, close to his heart. Squat Guy dropped his gun and staggered back, clutching the knife's blade. Bravok wasted no time and charging up to his feet and forwards, raising his fist and driving it with all of his might at Squat Guy's jaw. The impact shattered his mouth, the crack from the shattering bones heard by all over the music. Squat Guy collapsed to the ground in agony, but Bravok didn't let up. He leapt on him, quickly grabbing his head and twisting it, ending the threat.


Slowly, the crowd started to compose themselves. They started edging closer when the fire alarm started blaring. Everyone stampeded out of the room, eager to get out of the horror. Everyone but Bravok and one other. As he stood, he saw a thin human male standing by the Fire Alarm button. He was dressed in some weird jumpsuit that looked like it was made of wires. When they were alone, the human started clapping.


"Well done. I knew you were the one."

Bravok pulled his knife out of Squat Guy and advanced towards this new human.

"Start talking. Or I'll gut you where you stand."


"Easy there. You can call me Daniels. Let's just say I'm responsible for making sure the timeline keeps it's course. One of the people in this room tonight is an ancestor of a Klingon female. An ambassador in your time, named K'Ehleyr. Some people from my time wanted her never to be born, which would have lead to Duras becoming Klingon Chancellor, and drastically altering the timeline. They put an agent back here to make sure that shooter had access to the weapon and opportunity to kill her ancestor. One of the projected timelines indicated a party guest, in a costume that matches your description, was able to disarm the shooter. Ideally, I was hoping you would stop him before he killed those two, but at least you achieved the primary objective."


"So you sent me back here? How did you know? I'm not even meant to be part of the timeline you took me from."

"No. When the Enterprise C returned to her time, you were meant to return as well. But when I saw your description, I knew you had to be the person here today, so I stepped in and crossed you over. The original Bravok never amounted to anything significant in the grand scheme of things, and he had no children, so disruption was minimal. We're done here, I can send you back to the Praxis."

"Can you return me to my original timeline?"

Daniels paused a moment.

"No. I'm afraid that timeline does not exist anymore. All I can do is return you to the future of this timeline."


"Very well human. But watch your records. The name Bravok will become one well known in the years to come."


Bravok suddenly found himself back on his bridge. N'Nesh was still blabbering about the anomaly. Bravok got to his feet and simply stormed off the bridge.



In 1992, Daniels shook his head slowly. Klingons were too tempermental to recruit fully. Sometimes, you just have to point them at the problem and hope for the best. And whoever had set these events in motion were still out there. Temporal incursions were stepping up lately. He hoped this wasn't going to escalate into a Temporal Cold War.
*******************************************

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'
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 366
# 14
02-10-2013, 01:50 AM
Captain's log, no stardate. Current Earth date, April 13, 2053. Our mission into the past has encountered an unexpected complication: a woman who seems to know far too much about who we are.

Dark hair, tucked modestly under a plain scarf, with eyes of the same deep brown shade. A long oval of a face with a sharp jaw and chin, and a knowing smile that threatened to become a toothy, triumphant grin. Vibrantly middle-aged, by the standards of their own time. Dressed simply, as they were, to avoid notice. She'd been waiting for them when they returned to their arrival point - a back alley in what had once been a poor neighborhood, then a Sanctuary District, and remained such for all practical purposes even after the walls came down - to distribute newly-acquired currency and information and make plans for the next stage of their operation. Waiting to step out from a shadowed doorway and proclaim confidently that the three of them were time travellers from the future.

"You might be able to fool the regular satellites, even the military ones, but the Beta-9 picked you up as soon as you made orbit. And when you beamed down, you might as well have sent up a flare." She smirked and crossed her arms, considering the away team. "So, lemme guess... Starfleet, right? Twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth?"

Kyle Sinclair looked at his officers, then shrugged. "I suppose there's no point trying to deny it. Yes, we're Starfleet. From 2409."

"Captain, I advise that--" Sarat's cautionary words were interrupted by a peal of laughter from the strange woman, who'd just gotten her first good look at the olive-tan Vulcan.

"The hat! You guys and your little hats, you're so precious." She clapped her hands, which happened to be gloved like his. "Take it off. C'mon, I wanna see. I'll show you mine if you show me yours." She leered and waggled her brows suggestively.

Slowly, with great dignity, Sarat reached up and removed his cap. The stranger squealed with delight. "I knew it!" Honoring her bargain, she untied her scarf and shook out her hair, letting it fall to her shoulders. Combined with her suddenly gleeful mood, it made her seem much younger.

Sinclair decided it was time to take the initiative. "I'm afraid you have us at a disadvantage, Miz...?"

"Rain. Just Rain, as in 'right as'. Do they still say that when you come from?" Sinclair nodded; she smiled and went on, addressing all three of them. "So here's the deal. I'm not here to stop you or blow your cover or anything. I just want to borrow your captain for a little while. It'll be fun and I promise to return him with his virtue intact."

Kyle managed to keep a straight face, ignoring Sarat's raised eyebrow and Adray's slight flush. (A particularly close observer might have noted that it did not extend to the thin coat of plastiskin that covered her spots.) "I'm afraid we have rules about that sort of thing, Ms. Rain. We're not allowed to interfere."

She dismissed his objection with a wave of her hand, stepping closer until they were face to face. "I know all about your Prime Directive, Temporal and otherwise. I swear to you, I'm not asking you to do anything that isn't meant to happen. Trust me." There was a long pause, and then Sinclair finally gave a wary nod.

It was Adray's turn to speak up. "Captain, we're on a tight schedule here. We don't have time for this."

"There's always time to do the right thing." Rain's tone was still light, but her expression was utterly serious.

Sinclair looked between the two women, feeling a bit like the rope in a tug of war. "It's all right." Turning fully to his science officer and friend, he spoke quietly to her. "Liss, I know you and Sarat can handle this just fine on your own. And if you do run into any trouble, just..." He held up his commbadge, set to silently alert him, then tucked it away again. "Meanwhile, I'm going to try to gather a little information myself," he finished, flicking his eyes to indicate the mysterious stranger.

Adray nodded reluctantly, then frowned. "Just be sure information is the only thing you gather. Sir." Sinclair rolled his eyes but nodded, eliciting a small but genuine smile from the Trill.



Staten Island was not on the mission itinerary; in fact, it was not expected that the away team would have to leave Manhattan. And so it was that Kyle found himself completely lost as Rain led him through areas of the St. George Terminal not open to the public, past conveniently vacant security checkpoints, and down to the docks where the great ferries floated in the oil-slick waters of the Upper Bay. The sun had set hours ago, and a shift change was in progress - the perfect opportunity. An equipment locker supplied them both with hard hats and safety vests with NYDOT markings, making them look almost as if they belonged there. They moved quickly but quietly, with Sinclair keeping a lookout, boarding the first ferry and making their way to the engine room. There, Rain went to a junction box attached to the massive turbine and unlocked it with a much smaller and more advanced gadget that lit up and hummed briefly. Placing it on a convenient surface, she opened the box and plunged her arms in up to the elbows.

"Normally I'd have another set of hands - or paws - but while I was waiting for you, my assistant got himself picked up by Animal Control." Rain grimaced, intent on whatever she was doing to the engine. "After we're done here, I'll go spring him from the pound and then tease him mercilessly for at least a week."

"Right," Sinclair replied, having understood only every other word of that. "So are you going to explain to me what we're doing here?"

"As usual... gumming up the works for a good cause. Here, take these." She dropped a few small square objects into his hastily cupped hands. "Or throw 'em overboard, whatever."

He stared at the control chips that she'd just pulled out of the engine's guts, then looked up at her with dawning amazement and admiration. "So you're the reason why the ferries weren't running that morning!"

"Got it in one." She closed the cover quietly and started leading him back the way they came. "Some will have problems and have to turn back; some, like this one, won't start at all. So tomorrow at 10:44 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, a few thousand people who would have been on the island..."

"Weren't," Sinclair finished, tucking the chips away in his vest pockets. "Very neat. I'm impressed." It was the best sort of intervention, easily mistaken for coincidence and equipment failure rather than deliberate action. In fact, he knew from his own pre-mission research that it had been - a minor footnote to a much greater tragedy, of interest only to a few historians.

"Thank you. Like to think I've learned a few tricks in fifty years." She caught the surprised look he threw her and smiled. "How old would you say I am?"

Sinclair coughed politely. "One thing I've learned is to never answer that question."

Rain laughed. "Smart man. Let's just say that in addition to being exciting and personally rewarding, my job offers great healthcare." They emerged from the bowels of the ferry, crossing the gangplank and heading for the next. "My boss and I, we could pass for... well, not sisters, but classmates. And she's old enough to be my mother."

Coming around a corner, they didn't see the security guard until he was less than a dozen paces away. Sinclair forced himself to keep his head down and his pace steady, wiping at his hands with a grimy rag he'd picked up along the way, thinking of long shifts and Jeffries tubes and replacing EPS conduits. His companion began chattering about some recent sporting event whose rules and players were utterly unfamiliar to him.

"Evenin'," the man said, his gaze and flashlight flicking only briefly over them. Sinclair returned the half-hearted greeting with a grunt and nod of his own and kept walking. After thirty seconds, he finally let himself relax and turned to Rain just as she finished her tale of the epic contest between the "Nicks" and the "Pistons".

"Fifty years?"

"Yeah." She grinned, and there was pride in it, but also other things; weariness, and maybe a little sadness too. "A wrench in the gears here, a report leaked to the net there. Bobbi and me, we held it back as long as we could, but..." She sighed, looking her true age for the first time since they'd met. "At least we gave everyone a few more decades. Long enough for some kids to be born and grow up and old people to die in peace. And maybe it won't be as bad as it might have been. Easier to pull ourselves up from, once we meet the Vulcans and all. For real, I mean."

"I think you're right." He smiled. "And it's... amazing and humbling to think of all you must have done. And if you've done it right, no one will ever know."

She shrugged. "The Klingons, I hear, have a saying: the stars see everything, and they remember. Well, you can't even see the stars here," she added wryly, waving at the opaque dome over the city, glowing faintly amber with reflected light. "But I like to think they're watching just the same. I used to watch them, before I got mixed up in all this. Fair's fair." They shared a chuckle at that.

The rest of the hour passed quickly, with Sinclair assisting Rain in minor acts of sabotage while listening to deliberately vague and partly redacted tales of a half-century of adventures behind the scenes - along with her assistant and her enigmatic superior - to prevent or delay global war. They were carefully draining most of the oil out of an engine when she finally ran out of stories, or at least the ones she could tell him.

"That's what makes it worth it," she finished. "The people. The ones I've helped, the ones I've met along the way... even the ones like you. I mean, look at you!" She turned to him and gestured wildly. "You're it, the future, the proof that it all works out in the end."

Kyle looked away, his cheeks warming, feeling unworthy of such praise but reluctant to disappoint. "Where I come from... it's not perfect. It's actually a pretty troubled time."

"I've never known any that weren't. It's times like these that test us, show who we really are." She finished screwing the cap back on and borrowed his rag to wipe her hands with. "But it gets better, right? And that doesn't happen on its own. It gets better because we make it so." She handed the rag back and checked some device strapped to her wrist. "And we are done. Just in time for you to get back to your crew, and me to get my furry pal out of the joint."

Sinclair nodded, following her up and out into the open air again. "Are you... I mean, are you going to be okay?"

"Aren't you sweet." She grinned, reaching up to lift off his hard hat so she could ruffle his hair. "Don't worry about me. Bobbi and I have our own ride out of here. Like I said, the people we work for take care of their own. And when the shooting and bombing stops, they'll be needing someone to help the survivors pick up the pieces. How's that for job security?" Again, her light words and tone were at odds with her sober expression.

"Any regrets?"

"One." She sighed again, tilting her head back to look up at the patchy nightglow. "I never got to see Saturn."



Adray and Sarat were waiting right where he'd left them, behind the ancient brownstone long abandoned to squatters and decay. (A faded sign on the wall, barely legible through the stains and scratches and graffiti of latter days, identified it as the "21st Street Mission.") They perked up as he approached, not quite standing to attention. Relief was plain on Lissa's face, and even Sarat wore a look of solemn approval along with the knit cap that had so amused Rain.

"Mission accomplished, sir."

"Glad to hear it. Did you get everything?"

Lissa nodded, then qualified, "Almost. Some of the books on the list were already checked out, but we got all the ones that weren't. And then we beamed in after closing time and tagged all the really rare ones that were locked up - enough to fill a shuttle or two. No one should notice they're missing before..." She trailed off, reluctant to say out loud what they all knew.

Sarat came to the rescue, breaking the brief silence. "And I was able to download the library's entire electronic archive to my tricorder - a total of 4.74 kiloquads."

Kyle stared. "That's all?"

Sarat cocked his head and one eyebrow. "The sum of human knowledge was much smaller in this era, Captain. It was, as you have said, a simpler time."

Sinclair smiled in rueful acknowledgement. "Well then, I think we can declare this part of Project Alexandria a success. Let's signal for--"

"'Scuse me." The man who'd interrupted was in even worse condition than the buildings around them, wrapped in layers of shabby and dirty clothing against the chill of the April night and shivering anyway, cheeks covered with stubble, hair lying in slack curls atop his head. "'Scuse me, sirs, ma'am, but I was just wonderin' if you could spare any change. Tryin' to get bus fare, see." He cracked a weak smile when he was not immediately dismissed, showing yellow teeth and not enough of them. "Please?"

Sinclair looked at the beggar - poor, hungry, hopeless, and possibly diseased, everything that his own century had managed to finally abolish, at least on Earth - and made a decision. He turned to his people. "How much cash do we have left?" They looked back at him dubiously, then began going through their pockets. He collected it all, the coins and paper slips bearing the faces of men long dead even in this century, and presented it to the scruffy man. "Listen. You take this and you buy a ticket. Anywhere you like, as long as it's far away from here and you leave tonight."

"Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!" Bowing and babbling in gratitude, clutching the money tightly, the man turned and hurried off with a shambling gait.

Lissa cleared her throat. "Captain, are you sure that was a good idea?"

"No, I'm not," Kyle admitted, still watching the panhandler as he shuffled away. Maybe he'd do as he was told; maybe he'd just go drink himself into a stupor, and still be there tomorrow when a second sun dawned over the city. There were limits to what they could do, and in the end it wasn't Kyle's choice to make. "But I am sure of something a wise woman said to me earlier. 'There's always time to do the right thing.'"




There is an old story in which a man walks along a beach. Lying on the sand, tossed up by the surf and stranded by high tide, are many small fragile creatures. Most of them will surely die in the hot sun before the waters return.

The man comes across another beachcomber - a man, a woman, a child - who is bending down and picking up the helpless castaways and hurling them back into the ocean. The man dismisses this as futile folly, for the beach is long and there are far too many to save them all. "What difference does it make?" he asks. "What does it matter?"

For answer, the second picks up another of the tiny creatures and smiles. "It matters to this one," he/she says, and throws.



Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
-- Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a)


"Let me help."
-- Bonner the Stochastic, 2030
Join Date: January 2011

Last edited by hfmudd; 12-11-2013 at 03:51 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 6
# 15
02-11-2013, 02:29 PM
Personal Log: Lieutenant Commander Tusgra Broy commanding the USS Joan Slonczewski: Date: 1967-042 local (Gregorian)

"It's a great riff, Captain. Listen, Kelix the Elder built his famous theme and variations for piano around it." Lenira's fingers mapped out the chords against her lap.

Captain Tusgra Broy checked that her translator was off before answering. "But he's been playing it for three hours now. He's intoxicated and fixated, it's more entertaining to him than to any of us. Trill or Human piano?"

"Trill, of course, but scored for an ensemble with cello and galzik." The xenobiologist found old Earth almost as interesting as the jungle they were supposed to be surveying. Tusgra just found it exhausting. It was no wonder that telepathy evolved to be rare among humans with their history of urbanization. Small blessings, she supposed. In pre-contact Rixx they'd be sussed out in minutes.

"Sussed out?" Gods, was she starting to think like them? At least engineering officer Patrick had found them a tolerable hideout. In a room of humans attempting to be art, a Trill and Betazoid attempting to be human passed as a couple from India, or Brazil, or Spanish Harlem. And the silver foil that covered every inch of the walls and ceiling provided them with a bit of security. The "Factory" looked more like a studio and lounge to her.

Patrick was the decoy in a mini-dress, a style of Starfleet uniform that Tusgra was happy to leave before her time, but it was considered by their hosts to be "drag." He was chatting up their host, a nervous and repressed empath with a wig that looked like an albino tribble. Another man was setting up a device on a tripod and pointing it at the pair. Curiosity, interest, and an intense focus on light and shadow, but no hostility. Ahh, a scanning device.

"Ensign," Tusgra whispered to Karin. "Can you jam that scanner?"

Lenira mock yawned and looked in her clutch purse. "I detect no active electronics, just a primitive em emitter bolted to the top."

"How does it work then? Oh, optical-chemical image capture."

"Short-burst holographic x-ray should do the trick. Not that much more than the residual atomic dust in the air. It would spoil the whole film roll though."

"Necessary loss, Ensign. Do it."

"Yes, Captain."

She sighed, took off the sunglasses she wore to hide her eyes, and pinched her nose. She wasn't trained for first-contact or temporal missions, but here she was, a hundred years before first contact with humans, searching for a Dominion agent. They'd taken subways and busses the length of the island with no luck. Somehow, they ended up here to retrench while the crew of the Slonczewski solved the problem.

She felt someone sit down next to her on the couch. Another labyrinthine flirtation? No, just curiosity and anxiety. She put the sunglasses on before opening her eyes, and saw a thin, balding, and pale man who looked smaller than he was. "Good evening, I'm Klaus."

She reached into her pocket to tap the translator on. "I'm Tusgra Broy." She introduced herself, taking care not to add her rank or title. "I'm not from around here."

"I know, I'm an alien myself." That translation made her start a bit. "I'm from Germany. I come here to sing opera, but I've not had much luck with it..." He was running circles around the what he wanted from her, silly human.

"I wish you luck. We're just passing through."

"I noticed that your companion, she called you 'captain,' I think. I'm not fluent in your language. And you two are so relaxed together, so I was wondering..."

Tusgra sighed and caught the question mid-vocalization. With historical taboos he could be hinting at it for another hour. "We're not lovers. She's my... assistant. We serve, served together." Tusgra blushed as she tried to twist the truth. "In the navy." There was a war going on, wasn't there. Of course, humans always had a war somewhere in their history.

"My apologies," Klaus frowned, disappointed. He was about to stand up when Tusgara put a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm not remotely offended. We don't have a problem with homosexual relationships it's just not a relationship I want to have... with a subordinate." Tusgra tried to shut her mouth but her culture, honesty, and anger got the best of her. Most of the day she'd been hearing vocal and non-vocal insults. "Soon, the human race will grow up and realize you've got bigger problems to worry about than your own diversity. When you reach the stars, this sort of thing becomes..."

Tusgra shut her mouth, and looked around. Evidently such pontificating wasn't something worthy of notice in this crowd.

"So, you're a futurist!" Klaus said. Tusgra bit her lip in frustration. She said too much. "I'm a big fan of science fiction myself." Klaus nodded enthusiastically.

She was relieved by the device beeping in her pocket. She pulled out the text communication device disguised as a pager. "I need to go," she said.

"Yes, I see, you have someplace to go." Klaus nodded at her. "Perhaps we can talk again." Karin and Patrick were already moving toward the door.

"Have a good evening, Klaus."

The three of them left the building, and went into an alley about a half-block away. Tusgra tapped her hidden communicator, "This is Broy."

Her Tactical Officer, Anthi answered. "We've found the shuttle, with the device..."

"...and?" Tusgra didn't need to be in the same room to know there was something more to the situation.

"It's 300 klicks away from your location. The good news is I can beam you there."

"Do it," Tusgra said.

They didn't notice a thin, balding, and pale man pass by the entrance to the alley, and turn toward the glimmer of the transporter with astonishment.
Rihannsu
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 216
# 16
02-14-2013, 05:20 PM
Bryan sat in his ready room, staring out of the window idly. He wasn't really thinking about anything, merely sitting and staring silently. He was interrupted from his reverie when his combadge chirped, nearly startling him out of his chair. He quickly tapped it and said "Valot, go ahead."

"Sir," ensign Aara, the Athena's Orion comms officer said, "Admiral Blaze is hailing us. Or, more specifically, you."

"Put her through to the ready room." Bryan said, sighing heavily.

The 1st Assault Fleet's co-leader, and Bryan's direct superior, appeared on the console in front of him.

"Greetings Bryan," She said with a faint smile.

"Ley. What do you need?" he responded tiredly.

"There have been some anomalous readings coming from a star that's going supernova approximately twelve Light Years from New Romulus. Could you check it out, make sure that it's no threat?"

"Send us the coordinates. We'll be there as soon as possible."

"Sent. Good luck Bry." With that, she closed the channel.

"Helm," he called out, tapping the intercom button on the ready room console, "Set a course for the coordinates the Equinox just forwarded. Best speed."

The ship began to hum faintly as she accelerated to her maximum warp velocity. Suddenly, the space outside appeared to fluctuate with a faint, pulsing, blue color as the Asynchronous warp field activated, pushing the ship all the way to warp 20.

"Sir, we've arrived in the Azure sector." Athena, the ship's AI, called out several hours later.

"Good. Anything else?" Bryan responded.

"Actually, yes. You have a new message." She said.

"Thank you Athena. I'll take it in here."

"No problem sir."

Bryan pulled up the message on his terminal. The title simply read "New year's resolution." Even though he all ready knew what the message he wrote to himself said, he opened it anyways. All the message said was "Remember your promise to her, Bryan." There wasn't anything else to the message, but there didn't need to be, for the intent of the single sentence immediately reminded Bryan of what he needed to do.

Bryan tapped his combadge and said "Helm, divert course to the Azure Nebula"

"Are you sure? Admiral Blaze said-"

"Dwayne, " I interrupted him, "Leyla's orders can wait. Set a course for the Azure Nebula, now.

"Yes, sir, diverting course."

The bulkheads groaned faintly as the ship changed its course ever so slightly. Though, built to withstand the strain of high warp maneuvers, the turn still put noticeable stress on the hull, hence the noises structural supports attempting to compensate.

"Athena, what's out ETA?" Bryan asked.

"Ten minutes at present speed, sir," the ship said.

"Very good. Could you please inform Commander Zera that I would like to see her in observation?"

"Right away."

The room was silent for a few seconds before the AI finally said anything again.

"Done, sir."

"Good." Bryan said calmly.

"Sir, a question, if I may?"

"Open door policy, Athena. Go ahead."

"Are you finally going to propose to her?"

Bryan smiled as he rested his face into the palm of his hand. " A bit nosy aren't you?"

"Of course," the AI said, laughing a little.

"Well, in that case, you'll just have to find out later, just like the rest of the crew."

********

Bryan stood at the window of the main observation room, observing the stars rushing past the ship when Ibalei entered the room. Though her scars from the battle with their mirror counterparts had all ready healed, she still walked with a slight limp.

"You needed me sir?" She said cheerfully.

"Yes, I did." Bryan responded, smiling a little. "Athena? How much longer?"

"Now, sir." Athena responded.

The entire observation room was tinted blue by the light of the nebula. Ibalei stood there, speechless at what she saw. Her eyes, grey as a stormy sky, were tinted slightly by the light. She walked over to the window and simply stared.

After standing there for a minute, she quietly said "It's beautiful. I never imagined..."

"Imagined what?" Bryan asked.

"That I'd ever be able to see it. At least not without being given my own command."

"I keep my promises, Ibalei."

"I know, I know. It's just...I've never seen anything so beautiful."

"Not even when you look in the mirror in the mornings?"

"I- What?"

Bryan looked into her eyes as he prepared to ask her the hardest question he would ever ask. But, even as he opened his mouth to speak, alarms blared, and Six of Nine, the Athena's chief engineer and second officer, came on the intercom and said in an extremely distressed voice "Red alert! Temporal anomaly detected right off the bow! Evasive action!" Even as she finished her sentence, however, the entire room became enveloped in darkness.

*******

Bryan got up from the floor and looked around. The room, especially considering the speed of the impact, was surprisingly intact. Ibalei was already up and shaking herself off from the impact as well.

"Ibalei, are you all right?" He asked, visibly concerned.

"Yea, don't worry, I'm fine." She said, a little shaken, but otherwise unharmed.

"Six," Bryan said, tapping his combadge, "Give me a damage report."

"No real damage to report other than the starboard nacelle is flooded. Looks like the Neutronium armor held." The liberated Borg said.

"Go back a second. The starboard nacelle is flooded?" Bryan said, visibly concerned.

"Yes sir."

"Athena?" Bryan asked, his intended question quite obvious to the AI.

"It's flooded because we're currently sitting approximately one hundred kilometers off of the coast of New York city." The AI muttered with a touch of annoyance.

"...New York city?"

"Yes sir. And, judging by the ship floating above us, I'd say we're some time in the early 21st century. Before you ask, the ship I'm talking about is a United States of America Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carrier. Specifically, the Nimitz herself."

"What are they doing?"

"Judging by this lightly encrypted radio chatter, I'd say they're trying to figure out exactly what we are."

Bryan sighed. "Well, temporal prime directive just went out the window. Cut all exterior lights. Put a field over the breach in the starboard nacelle, we'll need to find a way to pump it out if we want to get out of here. Ibalei, I think it's time for a night on the town."

She smiled slightly as they left the room to the turbolift.

********

They beamed into a dark alleyway, somewhere in the heart of the Big Apple, wearing traditional clothing one would expect for the time. Bryan looked around the area, then looked back at Ibalei and realized her hair was still up in a ponytail, her "spots," courtesy of being a Trill, easily visible running down the side of her face and neck.

"You might want to let your hair down." Bryan whispered to her.

"But-" She started.

"Ibalei, we haven't even really developed true space-faring vehicles yet this point in our history, and we most certainly have never consciously met a Trill. You would probably get locked up in an isolated cell in some dark corner of the planet, knowing how flexible Earth's governments during this time were."

"Right, sorry." She said, obviously embarrassed.

"Don't worry about it. I still think you're the most beautiful women in the galaxy," Bryan responded, smiling as Ibalei blushed faintly. "Come on, let's head down to the docks. See if we can find something there to pump out the water."

*******

Bryan sat in the bed in the apartment he and Ibalei had rented several weeks earlier. The pair had lived there for a brief time, attempting to find a way to purchase the pumps they needed to clear the Athena's nacelle. So far, they had no luck. Though the Athena's replicators were functioning, the primary one, used for replicating components, large scale equipment, and, most importantly, water pumps to prevent flooding.

"Hey there Bryan." Ibalei said cheerily as she entered the apartment.

"Ibalei. Good to see you again." Bryan responded, getting up from the bed and kissing her gently on the cheek. "Any luck getting what we needed?"

"You Humans used to be more stingy than the richest Ferengi," She said sarcastically. "Nobody would even think about selling me one."

"Reading peoples minds again, Ibalei?" Bryan laughed.

"I didn't need to. It's pretty obvious." The Trill retorted, smiling and laughing as well.

"Was there anything else?" Bryan asked.

"There is some good news. I found some parts down at the docks we might be able to use to make our own pump. Plus, it'll be much more efficient than the ones most ships these days use."

"Well, I say we head back down to the docks and tag the parts for transport aboard the Athena." Bryan said.

"Indeed." She responded, smiling broadly.

The pair left the apartment and walked through the rapidly darkening streets of New York city. They looked just like any other couple you might see, holding hands, talking, and laughing. By the time they reached the docks, it was completely dark, though the docks were still busy as usual.

"This might complicate things a little." Bryan said, carefully observing the situation.

"Please, remember who your talking to," Ibalei responded sarcastically. "I all ready hid the parts we need in a few boxes nearby."

"You always think of everything, don't you?" Bryan laughed.

"Of course," she said, smiling and laughing herself.

She led him to a darkened alleyway, well away from any lighting and prying eyes, and filled with boxes.

"So, which ones are we taking?" Bryan asked.

"Well, I marked the ones we were going to use with an element that should be visible," she said, as she pulled out her tricorder and tapped in a few commands, "now."

She was right, as several of the boxes had a faint stripe on them that glowed a bright purple. The two got to work, silently tagging each of the crates for transport.

When they finally finished, several minutes later, Bryan pulled his combadge out of his pocket, tapped it, and said quietly, "Athena, two plus cargo for transport." At that, the faint hum of the transporter enveloped him as they were beamed out.

********

"Sir, we've got the pump working now," Six of nine said as she entered the ready room.

"Good," Bryan responded, looking up briefly. "How long do you expect it to take to get the nacelle working again?"

"Half an hour. A full hour at the most."

"Good. That will be all, Six. Get that nacelle up and running again"

"Yes, sir," the Borg said. With that she walked out of the room, speaking into her combadge to relay Bryan's orders. Bryan stood up and walked over to the window, looking out into the ocean. Eventually, Ibalei stepped into the room and walked up beside him.

"Quite a view, huh?" she said.

"The ocean has always been full of mysteries," Bryan responded. "We still don't understand it completely."

"That reminds me, was there something you were going to say before we got sent back here by whatever that anomaly was?"

"Yes, actually. I-"

"Sir," Athena called out, "We've got a submersible vessel closing on our position."

Bryan paused. The only way for the submarine's crew to be able to view the ship would be if they put on diving suits, which they more than likely had on board.

"Dwayne," Bryan said, tapping his combadge, "fire up the impulse engines. Try to get us away from that submarine."

"Aye sir." The helmsman responded.

"Aara, sound yellow alert."

"Right away sir." The Orion answered.

"Six, get everyone you have working on pumping and fixing the nacelle. I want to be able to warp out of here within the next ten minutes. Understood?"

"On it sir," the liberated Borg said in reply.

The Athena's hull groaned faintly as the impulse drive powered up for the first time in almost a month. The ship gradually began to rise from being half buried in sand and sediment. Once free from her burial, however, she glided though the water as easily as if it were space. The crew of the submarine didn't even have time to react, as the Athena sped away from them at speeds unimaginable for a vessel of her size during that time period.

"It feels good to be home," Bryan said as he sat back into the captain's chair for the first time since the crash.

"Agreed," Ibalei said, taking her place in the chair to Bryan's right.

"Helm, take us up and out of the atmosphere. Full impulse," Bryan called out.

The ship rose majestically through the clouds and into space once more. The last bit of water trailed away from the breach in the starboard side nacelle, and it finally glowed back to life after a month of sitting dormant.

"Sir, we have warp capability," Six said enthusiastically.

"Good. Helm, get us out of here. Maximum warp," Bryan said, obviously relieved to be back in space, "Now then, does anyone have an idea for how to get us back home?

"Actually sir, I had a thought," Ibalei said. "But first, do we still have that chroniton torpedo on board?"

"Kerry?" Bryan called to the Athena's chief Tactical officer.

"Yes, we do sir." Kerry responded.

"What's your plan Ibalei?" Bryan said, turning back to his first officer.

"Well I figure that if we can get the torpedo to detonate with the correct frequency within a wormhole or a similar anomaly, that we could theoretically get right back to where we're supposed to be. Both the time and the place."

"And you're sure this will work?"

"Not completely sure, but nothing is ever certain, is it?"

"Point. Give Avalrez the frequency. She and Thryiss can work on the Torpedo together. Where's the nearest anomaly we can use?"

"Well, we could try to imbalance our warp drive to simulate the effect right here," Six said from her station.

"Good. Work on that with Athena, Six. I want you two to make sure that you get the balance perfect."

"Aye sir."

"As for the rest of you, normal duty shift from her on out. Secure from yellow alert and get some rest. We will begin with the gamma shift. I'll be in my quarters if you need me."

*******

"Sir, we're almost set to return to our own time," the Athena's AI said over the intercom in Bryan's quarters.

"Good. We're on delta shift now, correct?" Bryan asked

"Yes sir."

"Tell Aara to sound general quarters. I want everyone at their stations and ready just in case this goes south."

"Right away sir."

Alarms blared as Bryan stepped out of his quarters and into a hallway. He passed by groups of crewmen moving hurriedly to their stations and some MACO troopers who were already in their full combat gear and ready for anything. After about thirty seconds, he finally came to a turbolift, which opened to greet him. As he stepped in, he proceeded to call out "Bridge," and the turbolift sped upward. When it finally arrived the Athena's chief of Security, Justin, who was already in full MACO combat gear as well, called out "Admiral on deck!" and Ibalei, who had been sitting in the central chair, moved over to the first officer's chair and allowed Bryan to take the seat.

"Status?" He called out.

"All systems go, sir," Athena responded. "We can begin the attempt whenever you're ready."

Bryan tapped the intercom button on his chair. "Attention all hands, this is the Amiral speaking. By now, you all have heard that we have a plan to get back to our own time. It's a long shot, and it may not even work. Despite this, I know you all will do your duties to the very best of your abilities, as you always do. Good luck to you all. Admiral Valot, out."

"Nice speech, sir," Ibalei said.

"Thanks. Shall we begin?"

"Waiting for your orders, sir," Athena said.

"Good. Ibalei, seeing as how this was your plan, I want you to carry it out. You have the con."

"Aye, sir, I have the Con," She responded. "Dwayne, take us into warp. Athena, set warp factor to exactly sixteen."

"Aye sir." the Helmsman and AI said at the same time.

Outside the window, space suddenly glowed a bright blue, as the imbalanced warp dirve activated and threw the Athena into a newly formed wormhole.

"Thryiss, fire the torpedo...Now!"

The modified chroniton torpedo sped away from the tube, detonating about half a kilometer away. Suddenly, the ship shuddered as it became enveloped in darkness once again.

*******

When Bryan came too, the Bridge was once again enveloped in the soft blue light of the Azure nebula. He looked around the bridge, and saw the others beginning to pick themselves up off of the floor as well.

"Status?" he asked.

"All systems are operational, sir." Athena said, "Present year is 2412, just a minute or two after we were sent back in time."

"Nice work, Ibalei," Bryan said, turning to his First Officer.

"Thank you, sir," the Trill responded, smiling faintly.

Bryan began to put his hand into his pocket when a small, metallic hoop brushed up against it. He was all of a sudden reminded of what he had intended to do, but still had not had the chance to carry out. He looked into Iablei's deep grey eyes, steeled his resolve and prepared himself.

"Ibalei, the fiasco this little excursion turned into has reminded me of something I've been meaning to do for some time now, but could never find the right circumstances to do it in," he said walking towards her.

"What's that?" she asked curiously.

Bryan held her hands in his. "I've known you for about six years now, and we've served together on the same boat for close to three. In that time, I have come to care about you, as a crewmate, as a friend, and, recently, as the first women I've truly ever loved. You are beautiful, smart, funny, and a million other things. And I would like to be one of them. Commander Ibalei Zera," Bryan pulled the small ring out of his pocket, "Will you marry me?"

The Trill stared for a moment, unable to believe what was happening. Tears began to well up in her stormy eyes as she looked into Bryan's. She opened her mouth to answer, but instead saying anything, she reached around Bryan, brought him closer to her, and the pair kissed, right in the middle of the Athena's bridge. Bryan immediately knew her answer even before her mind joined his, and whispered one word in the middle of their brief moment: "Yes."
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

Last edited by ironphoenix113; 02-18-2013 at 08:37 PM.
Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 497
# 17
02-16-2013, 10:53 AM
Right, here's the first part of mine.


Captain's Log, Stardate 844521:

The
Da Vinci is en route back to Starfleet Command after monitoring a unique subspace anomaly in the Mintaka system. The area of space around Mintaka III "folded in on itself," to use Ensign Sann's words, and, for roughly twelve standard hours, this area of space became subject to unique tachyon fluctuations until the anomaly finally dissipated. Ensign Sann has hypothesized that these fluctuations may be indicative of some sort of temporal instability, and similar emissions from solar flares picked up by long-range scanners suggest that the anomaly may have been caused in some fashion by Mintaka's sun.

We have already forwarded the data to Memory Alpha for analysis. If Ensign Sann's hypothesis is correct, then I feel that further studies of the Mintaka system could very well add much to what we know about temporal astrophysics. We have done several shipwide diagnostics since leaving the Mintaka system, and Chief Engineer Adim assures me that there are no irregularities that might have been caused by our proximity to the subspace fold. As soon as we resupply at Starfleet command and get new orders from Admiral Quinn, the
Da Vinci will be ready for anything. In the meantime, I feel that the crew has earned some much-needed R&R.


Lieutenant Arkos Nair, commander of the U.S.S. Da Vinci. gave a sour expression as he ended the log's playback. There was a human term he had come to be aware of during his visits to the Sol System: "famous last words." Many Humans had some strange notion that saying something positive about one's health, fortune, or continued good luck would inevitably tempt fate in some catastrophic way. Arkos had always thought this was a foolish, irrational belief, but he had to admit that his prior confidence about there being no irregularities on the ship felt fairly ironic now.

"Still no response, K'Nera?" he asked the woman standing at the tactical station directly behind his chair.

K'Nera, Chief Tactical and First Officer of the Da Vinci. shook her head, the motion causing her stalk-like Andorian ears to sway like dandelions in a breeze. "Still nothing, Captain," she replied. "No transmissions from Starfleet or from any ships in the area. And if Ensign Sann is right, there's no Starfleet down there to contact."

Nearby, Ensign Neazri Sann, the chief science officer, pored over the scanner log, her spotted Trill face illuminated slightly by the flickering amber glow of cycling data. "I can confirm it now, Captain," she said, her voice betraying a tremor of excitement. Her obvious eagerness where all things scientific were concerned did much to set her apart from K'Nera's more businesslike personality. "The tachyon pulse that hit us once we entered the Sol System is identical to the subspace fold in the Mintaka system. Somehow, we seem to have taken a part of the anomaly with us."

Arkos groaned. This had just gone from bad to worse with a single diagnostic. He knew he should have had the Da Vinci scan the anomaly from the furthest edges of the system, but then the sensor returns would have been poor at best. Not for the first time, he mused, his curiosity had gotten the better of him.

On the viewscreen, the azure, emerald-flecked orb that was Earth rotated peacefully below him, pinpricks of light marking its greenery like motes of dust. Unlike all of the other times he had been to Earth, however, the Earth Spacedock was mysteriously absent.

"So," he breathed, "what you're saying is...we've gone back in time?"

Sann turned to face him, brushing some of her light brown hair back from her brow. "Or, potentially, forward in time," she replied. "If this is a temporal anomaly, then there really is no telling when it could have propelled us in the timestream, or how far back or forward."

Arkos sighed. "Well, I think we can rule out having gone forward in time," he muttered. "Otherwise, we would have found up spacedocks, or starships, or any indication whatsoever of advanced technology."

"Barring some sort massive ecological and/or societal collapse, that is," K'Nera added. She winced, then, when she remembered what she had read about the conditions of Arkos' homeworld and how it had come to be that way, and realized how indelicate her statement had been. "Sorry sir," she added.

Arkos gave her a slight shrug, as a subtle indicator that there was no harm done. "Thank you, K'Nera, for being the voice of optimism," he grumbled, before turning to another station. "Adim, any idea how the anomaly could have piggybacked onto the ship?" He was already going over several possibilities in his mind, but one of the duties of commanding a ship was to let the professionals on the ship have their say first and feel like they were important members of the bridge. Always remember, he recalled Admiral Quinn telling him, you're now a Captain first, and an engineer second.

Adim frowned as he pored over his own console. Like K'Nera, he was an Andorian, with the distinctive blue skin, antennae-ears and white hair of his race, though this hair extended down into a distinguished beard that covered the lower portion of his face. Like Arkos, Adim was an engineer by profession and by interest, and he was a damn good one at that.

"No idea," he replied. "My only guess is...particles emitted by the anomaly could potentially have gotten caught up in our warp drive manifold, which might explain why I didn't notice them at first." There was a noticeable undercurrent of frustration to Adim's tone, expression and movements. Adim blamed himself, Arkos realized, for what had happened, as he was the one who had run the earlier diagnostic and had given the Da Vinci a clean bill of health. Arkos didn't blame Adim personally, but he nonetheless made a mental note to give Adim some important duties to make him feel like he was redeeming himself.

"Keep at it, then," he ordered. "I want you to work closely with Ensign Sann to figure out how we got here, and more importantly, how we got back. If we've been shunted back...or forward...in time, then our top priority is finding a way get back to our own timeline before we break something." He glanced back at Sann. "We know where we are, so any idea of when?"

Sann quickly returned to her console. "Sensors are picking up several large habitations on the surface...overall population appears to be roughly one billion...no indication of electrical discharge or similar power outputs...moderate traces of diffused coal in the atmosphere..." She glanced up from her console at Arkos. "Matching historical records seem to suggest that this is Earth, circa 1886."

K'Nera frowned. "1886? I'm a little rusty on my Earth history. Is there anything significant about that year?"

Arkos leaned over and tapped at the console embedded in his armchair, and did a quick perusal of Memory Alpha records. "Hmm...use of steam and combustion power...automated vehicles slowly picking up in use...electrical engineering is a recent phenomenon by this point..." He glanced up at the image of Earth. "Interesting. From a developmental standpoint, it looks like Earth was on the eve of a technological renaissance in this period. An 'age of invention,' if you will."

For a brief moment, the responsible captain in him took a backseat as the engineer in him took over. Before the Fall and before its regression into its dark age, Nar-Etulis had gone through several similar ages of invention throughout its history, each period advancing the Korda people scientifically and culturally. He had to admit, he was curious to see what early human innovation was like, and how this age of invention affected their own people so early on. Please, let there be an excuse to send down an away team...

"Captain," Sann suddenly spoke, "I'm detecting unusual electromagnetic readings from the surface...too high to be a natural phenomenon...too densely concentrated to be made by any of the technology of this time period."

Arkos bolted upright. "Source?"

There was a short pause. "North American continent...harbor district...New York City."

Though Adim, Sann and K'Nera couldn't see it, the ghost of a smile had crept upon Arkos' blue-grey lips.

He stood up from his chair. "K'Nera, prepare an away team," he said as he strode towards the turbolift. "Adim, I need you to create holo-emitters to make us all look human. Sann, replicate us some period-appropriate clothing. I'll meet you all in the Transporter Room when you're done." As the turbolift hissed open, he glanced back at the bridge crew before stepping in. "Oh, and Adim...maybe hats for you and K'Nera? Just a suggestion."


******

The preparations for the away team mission didn't take long at all. Adim was able to jury-rig some holo-emitters in the space of a few minutes, and Sann didn't have much difficulty replicating period-specific clothing- complete with walking sticks for the men and handbags and umbrellas for the women. The actual disguising of the crew was a fairly simple affair as well: thanks to the physiological similarities between Humans and Trill, the only thing Sann needed to do was temporarily clear away the spots running down the sides of her neck with an imager. Adim and K'Nera, similarly, only needed to holographically transition their skin from blue to the peachy colour most Humans had, and switch their hair from white to black. They still needed hats to cover up their antennae, however-- K'Nera wore a bonnet which, as she grumpily complained, bent her antennae downward unpleasantly. Adim got off easier, as Sann gave him a tall, cylindrical monstrosity that she referred to as a "top hat."

It was Arkos who needed the most work, as Korda had even fewer physiological similarities to Humans than either Trill or Andorians. The holographic emitter hid his grey skin and the silver-blue highlights and at the back of his skull and replaced them with an average human flesh tone, and disguised the bony ridges running horizontally on either side of his upper skull, and the vestigial cluster of tendril-like growths at the corner of each cheek, replacing them with smooth and unbroken epidermis. He was replaced, overall, with the image of a bald human, roughly twenties to thirties, with handsome facial features. Admittedly, Arkos would have liked for his human facade to have hair (the novelty of it was intriguing), but after spending almost ten minutes trying to pick a colour, Adim's patience had worn out and he skipped that detail entirely.

K'Nera was, of course, continuously reminding Arkos of Prime Directive protocols all the way to the transporter room, even after they were all disguised and wearing suitably archaic clothing. The Prime Directive was clear enough most of the time, but in the rare instance of a temporal anomaly, it was especially stringent-- even the slightest bit of interference could drastically alter the timestream, and reality as they knew it (not to mention end their collective careers). They all agreed that their mission was clear: beam down to New York City, investigate the abnormal energy reading, and, if the source was something that didn?t belong in this time period, fix things as quickly and as inconspicuously as possible. To draw even less attention, only the four of them would be beaming down, while the Da Vinci would remain on standby in high orbit under Ensign Coulton.

Despite his knowledge of the Prime Directive, and despite being the responsible captain that he knew he was, Arkos had to keep reminding himself, all the way to the transporter room, not to act like a tourist...

*****

That sentiment lasted exactly ten minutes before Arkos found himself marvelling at living Human history.

19th-century New York was, in many ways, a more alien environment than anything else the Da Vinci crew had encountered in their short career. Gaslight lamps, paved cobblestones, walking sticks, genteel mannerisms, horse-drawn carriages and steam-driven streetcars were in abundance, and the gender-specific dress code-- buttoned up shirts, pants, coats, brass timepieces and absurd hats for the men, and corsets, frilly dresses and even more absurd hats for the women-- caused much confusion and awkward walking for the away team. K'Nera especially muttered several swear words about the uncomfortable combination of corset, frilly hat and odd shoes, though for some reason Sann seemed to be actually enjoying her attire.

Arkos and the rest of the away team remained as aloof as possible, mimicking the mannerisms of the people around them to blend in. Thankfully, Sann, with her background studies in Human history, was immensely helpful in telling them how to act. As they made their way to the side of the anomaly, Arkos took what time he had to spare to marvel at their surroundings, observing as much of the architecture, technology, and customs of the era as time and discretion allowed. New York City of 19th Century Earth was not an unpleasant place, he eventually concluded, but it was a stark reminder of how far the Human race had come in terms of hygiene-- the littered trash, outdated sewers, industrial pollution and occasional horse-droppings were a far cry from the practically glittering cityscape of 23rd-Century San Francisco, where the only thing you risked stepping in was the gardener's liverwort.

Still, it was the small things-- the printed newspapers, the gaslight lamps, the street organ grinders and their pet simians, and the public parks-- that really struck a chord with Arkos as bygone artefacts of history. It made him want to return to Nar-Etulis all the more now, to immerse himself in his own world's rich past. No, he thought bitterly, that's beyond changing now.

Eventually, their readings and uncertain navigation of New York's streets took them to the harbourfront district and the seemingly omnipresent smells of sea spray, fish and ship oil. To everyone's surprise, the harbourfront was more densely populated than they had first suspected-- people were bustling to and fro across the wharfs, vendors were serving out snacks and drinks, and red, blue, and white flags and streamers were flying everywhere. The entire area seemed like the focal point of some sort of celebration.

As they negotiated the crowd and walked the wooden floorboards of the harbourfront, the away team eventually found themselves looking at a large offshore structure that appeared to be mounted on an artificial island of some sort. The structure itself was quite tall, roughly a hundred and fifty feet or so, and, curiously, was covered with a very large series of canvasses and drapes. The general outline of whatever lay underneath that canvas did not look like a traditional building. The four of them leaned against the railing of the harbourfront walkway, doing their best to look inconspicuous. To better fit in, Adim, looking rather genteel under his top hat, glimpsed through a nearby pintle-mounted set of binoculars to get a better look. He cursed when he discovered that he could not magnify the vision without inserting some sort of coin.

"Sann, what can you make from that structure?" Arkos asked, both hands placed on his cane as he adopted a pose he'd seen some upper-class human males use in this timeline.

Sann discreetly took a tricorder reading as she pretended to look in a pocket mirror. "I'm detecting heavy amounts of copper under those drapes...some steel components...dimensions are not static at all..." She paused and suddenly smiled. "It's the Statue of Liberty, sir."

Adim blinked. "The what?"

"A large copper statue built in the late 19th Century, as a gift to the United States of America from France," Sann explained. "It's full name is the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, though sometimes it's simply referred to as 'Lady Liberty.' It has immense historical significance as an American landmark-- it was seen as a monument to the American ideals of life and liberty, and was usually the first thing seen by immigrants crossing the Atlantic. It was destroyed during World War III, rebuilt in 2063, and its remade version is still standing in our timeline."

Arkos gazed up at the veiled form. He had to admit, he was curious now to see what it looked like under the drapes. "Impressive," he said. "The Federation could use something similar to to greet its own refugees, I think." At the back of his mind, he began to ponder the logistics of a gigantic spaceborne statue...

K'Nera peered intently over the rails of the walkway at the shrouded colossus. "That's some gesture of friendship," she mused. "But why is it in drapes?"

Sann shrugged. "Well...if this is the year that I think it is...then we've arrived right on the eve of the Statue's unveiling."

Adim finally gave up on the binoculars and stared up at the statue as well. "So, right on the eve of a major historical event," he muttered. "Our timing couldn't be better. What about the energy signature? Any idea where it's originating from?"

Sann's expression darkened, and she glanced back at her tricorder. "Well..." She bit her lower lip. "The energy source appears to be...inside the statue."

If Arkos recalled human terminology correctly, what happened next was commonly called an "awkard moment of silence."

"You can't be serious," K'Nera moaned.

The Trill shook her head. "The readings are accurate," she replied. "The Statue of Liberty is the origin point of...whatever it is that we scanned from orbit."

"So, the mysterious energy signiature is inside a historically significant landmark," Arkos muttered. "One that is probably heavily guarded, and that we can't intrude on anyway without potentially altering history." He took a deep breath, and wondered how much the universe hated him today. "K'Nera, suggestions?"

The Tactical Officer folded her arms and stared up at the statue as though meeting some unspoken challenge from the metal titan. "We wait until nightfall," she said. "We'll be better able to infiltrate the Statue that way, and any modern technology we're forced to use will is less likely to be seen."

Adim stroked his beard. "Makes sense," he said. "That would also give me time to head back to the ship and jury-rig some useful equipment for the job. I think some sound dampeners would work."

Arkos nodded. "Then we're agreed," he said. "We head back to the ship and reconvene here in roughly four hours. We?re going to try to solve this problem with as little noise or fuss as possible."

K'Nera raised a hand. "Will we still have to wear historical costumes, Captain?" she asked, glancing down at the corset that had been bothering her since they first arrived.

"I'm afraid so, K'Nera," Arkos replied, giving her a sheepish grin. "Sorry, Ensign, but historical continuity takes precedence."

"Dammit."


*****

Last edited by ambassadormolari; 02-18-2013 at 04:11 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,067
# 18
02-16-2013, 06:48 PM
The following is the section of transcript requested inquiring about temporal incursion 37442-A on Stardate: 89112.26146655553. The incursion itself is low level with no stream deviations but is considered Classified: S31-Alpha due to the persons involved. Two of the voices heard are Temporal agents Johnson and Tyler, the third is the Augment Designate: Wraith, Crew member of the U.S.S. Geist.

Time stamp: 247.6

Temporal Agent Tyler: Starting from the beginning preferably.

Wraith: But I already told you-

Temporal Agent Johnson: Listen, we need to make sure we have all the details. Sometimes retelling it helps people remember the small things they might have missed.

Wraith: Fine...

Johnson: I don't think I've ever seen a Vulcan get this annoyed before.

Wraith: I've already asked you to lay off that.

Note: Johnson shifts in his chair grinning

Johnson: Start again from when you encountered the anomaly.

Wraith: I was in in one of the jefferies tubes helping Devon whe-

Tyler: Chief Fine?

Wraith: Yeah, Chief Fine. We were in one of the jeffries tubes doing some routine inspections when the wave hit us.

Tyler: The wave? Could you clarify for the record?

Wraith: That's what it looked like. Just like a rush coming from down the tube, not quite water, but some kind of fluid rushing at us.

Johnson: The report said they found you on top of... Chief "Fine"

Note: The young man seemed to give Agent Johnson an angry look at the way he phrased her name.

Tyler: Continue please.

Wraith: When I saw the wave coming I just kind of put myself between, I didn't really think about it. When we came too the medical team was checking on us.

Johnson: Then what happened?

Wraith: They told us where we were, some how the whole ship had been pulled back to Earth, a place called New York City. Back in the past, 18 something.

Tyler: 1821. September 1st to be a little more specific.

Wraith: We'd crash landed in the water out side of the city. The anomaly caused a storm so I don't think any one saw the ship, but hitting the water as hard as we did apparently flooded the surrounding area. The Captain called for the senior staff so I stayed in sick bay talking to Fizi, the nurse. A while later Dev... Chief Fine-

Tyler: Call her what you want, that last time was just for the record.

Wraith: Devon called me on the comm to come back to engineering. We needed to finish systems check and make sure nothing was effected. The ship was still under water and we needed to make sure it could leave if need be.

Johnson: Underwater?

Wraith: Yeah, a little reinforcement to the structural inte-

Tyler: We know it's possible, but we just want to know what happened while you were there. Tell us again about the energy reading.

Wraith: Once sensors were back online the bridge picked it up. I don't really know much about it other than what I've heard.

Johnson: Gossiping on a high security Star Ship? That's the kind of thing that gets peopled killed.

Wraith: What does that even mean?

Tyler: Children please....

Wraith: Captain Donovan told me during dinner. He invites me every now and then with some of the senior staff.

Johnson: Like a pet Augie?

Note: Another angry look due to Johnson's attempt to illicit a response. It's possible that Johnson is amused by making a Vulcan angry.

Wraith: I've proven myself as part of the crew, any time I'm asked to eat with the staff I've earned it.

Tyler: BACK TO THE TOPIC AT HAND...

Wraith: From what I was told, there was energy readings similar to the star we were studying. Normally the Geist doesn't handle science missions, but Mr. Sabin asked to take a few readings to send a report to the Science division. The Captain agreed saying something about an old bat named Jane getting a laugh out of him sending science data. Before it started causing the subspace folds it emit a weird radiation, the same kind they were picking up from some where in the city.

Johnson: So at what point were you given permission to leave the ship?

Wraith: I wasn't really... At first it was just a few science teams going out into the storm, they went in dressed like the locals. After a few hours though one of the groups went missing so he started sending out security teams.

Johnson: He risked contamination to the time stream?

Note: Wraith stands suddenly at this point, Agent Johnson jumps back surprised but smiles.

Wraith: He'd do what he could to protect his crew...

Note: Both men return to their seats but continue glaring at each other.

Wraith: The townsfolk couldn't see the teams carrying phaser rifles, so they needed to used Type I phasers. But what they found was a little too much for Type I's.

Johnson: The Ghosts?

Wraith: The ghosts... I guess the locals had a few stories about recent hauntings in the area around the bay. Some of the people there mentioned people disappearing around the area where the team did so it seemed a likely place to start. As the storm got worse he recalled every one and sent out a more prepared team. The weather kept most people indoors, so site to site transport was an option which allowed bigger guns. I was given permission to head out with the team because chances were we wouldn't be spotted by any one.

At first it seemed like the just a bunch of empty warehouses along the bay. The storm was causing too much interference for the tricorders to do any long range scans so the team went building by building. It was about the third warehouse when they picked up the signal from the earlier team. We moved in quick and quiet but there was nothing, not a peep.

Johnson: Those pointy ears of yours let you down?

Wraith: What? How do you even have a job with that kind of talk? No wonder you're stuck in here asking to hear about other people getting to do the one thing you're not allowed to do.

Note: Johnson was the one giving the dirty look this time.

Wraith: They team was alive, but barely. Mr. Edison was examining them and said nothing was wrong with them which was usually the first indicator that there was something very wrong. He started going deeper with his ocular implants and found a cerebal cordic deafish...Diffish..

Tyler: Cerebral Cortex deficiency of bio-electric neural energy.

Wraith: That's the one.

Johnson: Not very often we get a Vulcan in here who's bad with science, I take it that you didn't grow up on the home world?

Wraith: Technically I didn't grow up anywhere. It's a good thing too, looking at the way you've been doing it I'd say I dodged the phaser on that one.

Johnson: Watch it you assimilated son of a bi-

Tyler: AGENT! I think maybe you should step out for a few minutes.

Note: As Agent Johnson left Wraith smiled smugly and gave a half wave.

Tyler: You'll have to forgive Agent Johnson, He's obviously a bit touchy with the initial report. Please continue.

Wraith: From what the away teams gathered from the few locals out in the storm, beggars had been found dead in the area, most people assumed it was some thing called Cholera.

Tyler: It's an unpleasant Bacterial infection. There was an outbreak of it a few years after your infraction.

Wraith: They just figured it was the Cholera, but when regular people went missing rumors started about the haunting. Even the police started staying away.

Tyler: All the signs pointing to the Devidians?

Wraith: That's the team thought as well, but as Edison said, the more normal something looks the less normal it probably is. The issue Edison was having was that there were no signs of the what they use to time travel.

Tyler: No Triolic waves?

Wraith: Exactly, none of the science was there. It just didn't seem like the previous encounters on record. Something wasn't sitting right and then it hit us.

Tyler: The Solution?

Wraith: No... it was a stun grenade actually, federation made. Had Edison and I been near the rest of the team we might have been been killed.

Johnson: From a stun grenade? Not likely.

Wraith: No, from the shots fired immediately afterward. Disruptor I think.

Johnson: You think?

Wraith: Well there was something off about it. It wasn't killing the security team, but it seemed more like they were being shocked. Mr. Edison said later that it was like it disrupted the nervous system but didn't kill them.

Tyler: Our interview with Simon Edison shows that you couldn't pinpoint where the shots were coming from?

Wraith: No, we were under fire from multiple directions but Edison was only picking up one life form. From what little cover we could find I was able to see some one rush out to the unconscious crew and start to attach something to one of the team, a large thin spike he put into the back of the neck.

Johnson: Like a hypospray?

Tyler: More like a hypodermic syringe. What happened next?

Wraith: He put it into his own neck. Edison stinks the spike was drawing the energy some how so I don't think it was like a needle, more like a tool for working with power conduits. I was able to hit him in the shoulder as he went to the next member of the team. The phaser was only set to stun, but it didn't seem to effect him at all. I pushed it to maximum but it was only a slight distraction.

Tyler: And when did you switch the beam to kill?

Wraith: I didn't, I gave it to Mr. Edison and ran in. He was reaching for the next crewman and I couldn't let that happen. I tackled him but he was stronger than any human I've seen. What ever he was doing to the others and him self was making him stronger and faster, and who knows what else.

Johnson: Are you sure it wasn't an android or hologram? Are you sure you weren't just jumping to conclusions about who and what it was? And when did you start the fire?

Wraith: The fire started from the blind firing turrets he'd set up, and what ever the old building was used for it went up pretty quick. I wasn't able to get the spike from him before the building began falling apart. I suppose I was lucky really, when he kicked me off of him it threw me clear of the debris that crushed him. I could hear him screaming as it burned, smell... what was going on as the building came down around us as we were beamed out.

Tyler: And you're sure it was Johnson?

Wraith: I'd never seen him before you two came to take statements, but after Edison recognized Johnson on the bridge Dr. E'Saul ran more tests to confirm the blood from my uniform wasn't from a clone or mirror copy, she did however find small signs of chronitons and the strange energy signature from the star meaning it was Johnson, just older.

Johnson: I still don't believe it, it's too crazy.

Tyler: Even with the level of classifications and red tape on this one it does seem far fetched.

Wraith: Am I free to go then?

Tyler: I suppose so, there's nothing else.

Note: At this point Wraith stands up and heads to the door.

Johnson: Try to keep those pointy ears out of trouble, and if you come across the tooth fairy, Ronald Reagan, or anything else feel free to skip the report. I'd appreciate never seeing you again.

Note: Wraith stopped in the door way and smirked

Wraith: Well if not Agent, we'll always have New York.

Last edited by wraithshadow13; 02-16-2013 at 07:00 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 8
# 19
02-17-2013, 01:57 AM
Captain's Log. Stardate: We don't even know anymore. These are the journeys of the starship Compulsion, its ongoing mission to discover new wonders, reinvent the old - and in this case, get remarkably lost on a world that is no longer our own. It all seems so alien now: the blinding snow, the tips of old marvels sticking slantwise from the compacted ice, but at one point this was New York, and in bits and pieces, through observation, good science and a fair amount of wild guessing, we have put it all together. Now we just need to get home, and in a state that's worth going home to.

Perhaps I should explain more clearly.

The Compulsion was on its way back to Sol system after completing a scientific tour of the Delta Volanis cluster, a successful if lengthy mission which my crew were eager to be done with. We had calculated a timestamp map of the death and collapse of a local star, deactivated a poorly-contained and hastily-ejected warp core which had landed on a pre-industrial world, and retained several intriguing (and, according to my second science officer, "adorable") biological samples from an uninhabited rogue planet. We were worn. The duty officers were longing for wide-open vistas, the loving arms of friends and family, and free time. That is their right - but I do not share their sentiments. I do not think I can. I am their captain, and the Compulsion has become my home; as such I regarded the end of the mission with a kind of melancholy. Here I would be forced by regulations to meander on a world that did not belong to me, or maybe had once, a long time ago. I cannot remember. I never will.

My means of taking my mind off the matter was work, as it had always been. I was reviewing the findings from our tour of duty when the announcement sounded that we were approaching Earthdock Station and our short transwarp journey was soon to be ended. I looked up through the windows of my ready room and could see it: the open space before us, the imagined stars, the boredom, the hunger, the long and empty hours.

There was a jolt. The entire ship seemed to stretch out, to the width of a hair and the length of the universe. I was lifting my hand to my communicator and my elbow stretched out into infinity. I thought: something went horribly wrong with the transwarp circuit. I thought: we debarked into an active black hole. I thought: I'm going to die here and never know half of what I seek. I'm dead; this is the prelude. And then the universe snapped back into position, my hand slammed against my communicator and before I could so much as register the world before me, I was jabbering out those eternal words: "Status report!"

"We've encountered some sort of massive transwarp disruption, Captain." Osroe Judun, my chief science officer, kept her voice carefully calm in this crisis - but could not control its pitch, which was high and panicked. "Source unknown at this time. We appear to be intact, with full hull integrity and only a few bumps and bruises from the jolt. But sir-"

"I know," I said, "I can see it."

There was no way we were in the Sol system. We had been shunted out of transwarp directly above an ice planet orbiting a cold and distant white star. There were signs that it had been inhabited once - several space stations, likely huge and impressive in their prime, squatted listing in space around the world, slowly completing their decaying orbits. The planet itself was an impenetrable ball of wind-scored white ice and tempestuous clouds of sweeping snow. I was immediately at my console, tapping in commands to begin a preliminary analysis of this world; there is at times too much of the scientist in me and not enough of the captain. I had just finished confirming the presence of a breathable - if unpleasant - atmosphere when my chief tactical officer hailed me over private comms.
"Sir, I think we have a problem," grumbled Lyell. "Some of the cargo shifted and a bunch of the specimen cases cracked. We've got most of the little flightless bird guys, and none of the water monsters leaked, but those big carnivores? Ambush hunters? With the teeth? Unaccounted for. This is why we got most of the birds, I figure." Lyell was rough on the protocol at times - comes from the Maquis background, I always figured, and the hoops she had to jump through to overcome that fact - but she was scrappy, determined, and could do a lot with a little. We sparred, but I trusted her with my safety. I quickly determined how far the beasts could have gotten since the crash, using the data we had already gathered on their planet's indiginous species, and ordered a lockdown of all threatened areas. I trusted Lyell to get the ship back to sane condition, and redoubled my efforts to the more immediate problem.

Though the planet showed signs of habitation in the past, there were few power sources still active. What was there was distributed very widely and putting out a lot of energy, however. Preliminary scans showed seven major landmasses beneath the ubiquitous coating of snow and ice, and each source was located on what would have been a major population center, judging by the structures present beneath the frozen crust. Something was awfully familiar about the shape of the land and the distribution of the structures - though with my own dilapidated and borrowed memories, this was hardly an unusual feeling. Try going through your life cobbling together a personality from scraps of memories stolen from unwilling victims and see how much deja vu you can stand, gentle reader. I was far more interested in those energy readings.

The signatures were confused, to say the least, like a cross between a massive data storage bank and a holodeck. If it was data storage, then those industrious humans managed to condense an enormous amount of data into a very small space - I judged the source to be no larger than twenty by twenty feet on a cube, with enough room to hold the Compulsion's computer, the minds of all its crew and still have space for a cruiser or fifty. Whatever was providing the power would have to have city-sized heatsinks or risk boring down through all the ice it was inevitably resting on. There were fifteen in total, dotted like shy stars along the buried land, and just as I was judging what room could be cleared out so we could beam one of these things on board, Osroe hailed me again, with insistence.

"I've got news, captain, and it's... confusing. I just scanned one of the derelict stations on the far side of the planet. It's powerless, it's irreparable, it's suffered incredible damage, but it's unmistakeable." She seethed a breath so potent I could hear it through my communicator. "It's Earth, sir. It's Earth Spacedock. We made it back to Sol system just fine, sir. We're where we need to be. It's just the when that's the issue."

I was on the bridge in seconds. The gang was all there, my bridge crew - orphans, all of us, now in time as well as space. Osroe and Seichu were cuddled over the scientific consoles, jabbing fingers at odd readings here and there and talking over one another with crackling insistence. Lyell was screaming into a communicator like an old-Earth drill sergeant, organizing search teams and coordinating a relief medical team in case the worst did happen. T'Pame looked calm, almost bored, in that typically Vulcan way - I suppose she was having the least interesting day, being a combat engineer with nothing having exploded yet. I felt a brief spurt of pride from somewhere, someone I had eaten, before diving full-force into my command role and calling Osroe, Seichu and T'Pame to the front.

"Science officers, on task," I ordered. "You're absolutely certain this is Earth?" Osroe nodded excitedly, her loose blonde hair feathering over her dark Trill spots - but it was Seichu who spoke first. "We've arrived at the correct physical coordinates, sir, but at the wrong time. Tectonic shift matches no known Earth records and vulcanism is quite subdued. Given the state of the planet and its parent star, it's safe to assume that we've traveled forward in time - though the exact magnitude of the shift is as of yet unknown." Seichu delivered her report with clipped accuracy, hands behind her back like the consummate professional the ensign was becoming. "Osroe, that's your job," I ordered. I still remembered the paper on tachyon movement in temporal space that earned her a place on my crew. "Determine the magnitude of our jump. Seichu, you've no doubt noticed those energy readings below the ice crust - see what you can make of them, and if you can, link with their computers and gather as much relevant data as you can. T'Pame, you're up. I need a ship status report up to and during the transwarp event."

"Sir," she began. "Ship readings normal before entering transwarp. Upon review, there was a slight emission of subspace particles coming from a location within the ship. Transwarp event occurred approximately point eight-three-eight seconds later, relative time. It is safe to assume these events are related. I am currently working on determining the location of this particle emission, but it is difficult, given the relatively short timeframe and limited available information."

"Keep at it. Lyell? Animals?" She swiveled, holding one blue hand over her communicator as if hiding a conversation. "Still out there, captain. We've got three of them on the loose, and caught a growl over by engineering not two minutes ago. No attacks yet, but I have teams sweeping the ship and I'm replicating bait as we speak." She drew her hand away and began barking into her shoulder once more.

I leaned back in my chair, collating the information I had into something that made sense. We had experienced a transwarp event as a result of subspace particles emitted from inside the ship during transit. We emerged where we were going - Earth - but an unknown number of years in the future. My ship was full of deadly predators stalking the Jefferies tubes for inattentive ensigns. And in the intervening period, Earth had been abandonned and frozen over, becoming an uninhabited ball of ice and wind - save for those few, drattedly enigmatic data storage nodules squatting on its long-buried surface.
"Right," I decided, "Cull my previous orders. Away team. We're investigating those power readings the fast way. You, you, and you." I swiveled my chair around, pointing at excitable Osroe, languid T'Pame and fierce Lyell. "Seichu, you're welcome if you'd like, but if I recall correctly, you're not too fond of this kind of environment." The girl came from a hot world - high vulcanism, closest to the sun - and her people not only tolerated fire but worshipped it. While she was not as orthodox - or as violent - as the rest of her kind, she would not withstand this new Earth comfortably.

"Sir," she stated, looking up through the light-haze of her console screen. It was always hard to tell mood with Seichu - her features were humanlike enough, but her firey red-gold coloring made it difficult to read her emotions unless she told you what they were. "I will respectfully decline. If this is indeed the future of Earth, then it is no longer the place I have come to cherish. It has been overcome with the white evil, and even as I struggle to understand it, I pray for it, and long to light many fires for its salvation."

"Then you're our support. Monitor the security situation and be ready to beam us out if things go sideways. The rest of us, suit up - temperatures are below fifty Celsius out there. Lyell, suit's needed only if you want to blend in." The fierce Andorian smiled - she was already out of her chair, and halfway to the turbolift. "We meet at the transport room in five minutes. Let's be quick about this, people. Being stranded makes me nervous. I've grown to like all of you, and I would hate to have to eat anyone." I stood slowly, and smiled in a way that I hoped was open and reassuring.

No one looked reassurred.

I was first in the transporter room. My usual outfit - a moving, shifting, purring suit of living leather - was often enough to handle most environmental oddities, but this might be a little out of his usual comfort zone, so I had on a cold-weather skinsuit overtop. I had my mask down, and resembled the implacable force of mnemonic oblivion that my people might once have been engineered to become. Lyell followed - in Starfleet standard uniform, armed with phaser rifle and a handful of grenades. It figured; the Andorian was probably looking forward to playing in the snow. T'Pame was next, armored, with a small hand phaser, tricorder and portable repair kit - smart girl, that Vulcan, though ineffably serious. If this WAS Earth's future, then there would be some technology down there that we would recognize - and possibly repair. Osroe almost overstayed her time limit, appearing in a body-concealing suit of armor, with hand phaser and tricorder at the ready. The pretty Trill had invoked some archaic dress code and managed to get a miniskirt approved for everyday apparel; I figure she just forgot how to put on pants.
With a nod, a handshake, and one last look at our piece of the past, I said the word, and we were beamed down to the snow-crusted ruins of old New York.

Oh, how things change. I remember New York, from about five different angles - New York at night, running and giggling through the old subway stations; New York in the morning, a blur of businesslike efficiency. I had never been, bodily, but the people whose memories I ate, they gave New York unwillingly to me. It was unrecognizeable. We were standing on a shelf of compacted snow, immediately sinking up to our knees in loose white powder. The buildings, shining and new in my own world, had enjoyed time enough to turn brown and grey and list onto their sides, heavy with a coat of thick white snow. And the snow was still falling, obscuring the world in a blanket of rough precipitation, so that the old monuments looked like weathered giants in the distance, all grey and still and forlorn. Apart from the wind, it was absolutely silent; apart from the near-vanished sun, it was absolutely lightless. My New York was a bustle of smells and sounds and, most importantly, lights - lights that kept you up while you slept, lights that turned night into day, lights that followed you where you walked, spewing advertisements and watching for your safety and sometimes calling you by name. This was the graveyard where light laid down to die. It was hard to believe, looking at the place where humanity once crowded the thickest, that this world had ever been inhabited.

But Osroe had her tricorder, and was pointing off into the distance, between two buildings that had sunk into one another so close they appeared to be kissing. "That way," she said, her voice crackling over our winter suit comms, and after confirming with a tricorder reading of my own, we trudged off through the monuments of old glories like ants crawling up a thighbone.

We tried to keep level, but the city seemed determined to keep us on an upward path. Those few hard, metal plates our feet kept encountering - little metal stepping stones through uncertain terrain - turned out to be the very tops of streetlights, buried completely in the endless and unmelting snow. Both Osroe's readings and my own confirmed that the energy source was below us as well as ahead, but we figured it easier to melt or climb our way to it once we were almost on top of it than try a straight course at ground level. Our tricorders might have kept us on target, but we would have lost all other bearings, and might have found ourselves behind a steel or concrete wall with more ice to burrow through and more time lost. And a good thing too - because while all the other non-humans might not have recognized it, I've eaten a human or two in my past, and when the great needle shape of the Empire State Building rose from the snowdrift ahead of us, I recognized it for what it was - and mourned.

It was a fine, fine thing once. An old structure, once falling apart, but reinforced and rebuilt with the finest technology of every time since its inception. Now it was a corpse. No one had cared, in incalculable years, to repair it. The windows were long-since smashed in by hail, or wind, or time. The spire, the topmost antenna - it had snapped off long ago, and a great drift of snow had built itself along the eastern side. It seemed a hermit drawing a blanket over itself. It seemed a monument to the dead city, the dead Earth. And it was where the energy reading was coming from, buried deep in the base of the structure, underneath the coating of ice.

We didn't even have to use our phasers. We simply walked up to one of the broken windows and crawled in. The floor had been an office, once. Chairs, of an awkward wheel-less design (possibly hover) were crowded against the corner, and the walls were coated in an iridescent substance like flash-frozen oil. T'Pame was on that immediately, taking samples, sending spurts of power that made the whole thing shimmer and glow like cuttlefish skin. When flickers of light and sound began to run over our feet, we figured it out: a massive holodeck, somehow condensed into a skin-thin wallpaper covering that took the place of an entire business-worth of supplies. More tools, more time, and more power spurts - T'Pame managed to get a few voices to synth, but they were broken and far-away, like ghosts rushing through the empty spaces. She withdrew her tools and shook her head. It was too far gone, too badly damaged to do anything.

We continued. The elevators were an obvious trap. They stretched down like the maws of great, confused worms, speckled at their perigee with spots of disinterested snow. Some floors were near-impassable, only on the stairs - the great glacier flow had oozed in through the broken windows and coated everything with deep ice. It got colder, darker, and more still the deeper we descended, if that was even possible. The outside changed hue, from lazy white to dirty grey to, finally, a deep glacier blue. Offices opened up into restaurants, clubs, entertainments, the tourist attractions that people loved New York for, back when there were people. There was nothing other than the white puffs of our own breath in the air and the deep, groaning cracks of the glacier world shifting around us.

The tricorders only registered that the energy source was on level when we were at the bottommost floor, what would have been the sub-basement - a total darkness, deep and cold, flecked with spots of drifting snow. Lyell had unshouldered her phaser rifle, breathing hard in compounded anxiety. T'Pame found what would have been a light fixture - something only slightly more advanced than what we worked with back home - and with some fiddling managed to get the whole system back online. The hum of power only underscored the tremendous quiet we had all grown used to - when the lights flickered it sounded like an avalanche, and we all stopped stock still until the tremor eased.
We were slow, we were cautious, we were nervous - but we met no one, no one at all, and it took us no time at all to reach our goal. As if it were possible twice in one day, time seemed to stop when we saw it. It was unlike anything we had expected.

It was a cube of hard, black, crystalline material, twenty-five feet on a side, glowing from within with a dull light that changed colors. It was like one huge cut crystal of smoky quartz, defined from within by a trillion trillion minuscule flaws, each glinting with the light of our instruments and sending tiny runners of excited luminescence back towards its shifting core. The room was warm here, warmer than we had expected, enough for me to withdraw the mask of my leather suit, even for Osroe to wiggle free of her hefty gloves. T'Pame, Osroe and I were immediately at our tricorders, taking readings, comparing notes and swearing at the impossibility of it all as Lyell took up position by the sole entrance and watched the quiet beyond for signs of movement.

I do not know how long we took down there - it was unlike anything I had ever seen. The whole block was like a massive computer condensed down into the smallest possible space. More, it was generating its own power, and efficiently. Even the waste heat was contained within the insulated space and reused. It used no fuel that we could tell, seeming to run on a perpetual reaction with no defined time of collapse. There was no sound, no input, nothing apart from the uncanny knowledge that we were inhabiting a room with an impossible amount of information and nothing else existed upon the Earth.
Before long, the purpose began to become clear. Allowing for a certain amount of storage space for a single consciousness, this box had room within it to store one billion, six hundred thousand such consciousnesses - with room enough to spare to run a continuous virtual simulation and contain all known scientific and cultural records that would have been generated between our time and this. The readings I had received which were so much like our own holodeck were confused by being looped back within its own program. The computer was creating a simulation for itself - and one billion people were living within it. Who knows how long they had been there? Who knows what they were doing in there? Free from all worries of hunger, death or disease - free even from time, capable fo speeding the progress of their civilization to the point where a century passes in the exhalation of our mortal lungs...

It was Seichu who interrupted us, signalling me through the communicator. "I have the results of some calculations Lieutenant Osroe began before she left," Seichu began. "Judging by the state of the Sun and the decay rate of Earthdock Station, I speculate that roughly forty-two thousand, eight hundred years have passed since our time of departure to the present date."

"Yeah," I said, half-distracted by a computational capacity reading that could not possibly be right, "that just about holds up with what we're finding here."

"Furthermore," she continued, "Security teams One and Five have found and recaptured the predatory lifeforms taken from the Delta Volanis rogue, and that has shed some light upon our predicament. The subspace particle emission detected by engineer T'Pame originated from the creatures themselves. Evidently it is used in their method of hunting, as they leap across brief windows of subspace through an as-yet unknown organic means to ambush their prey. The interactions between this localized region of subspace and the transwarp conduit caused the transwarp event we have experienced. Furthermore, we have been able to replicate this event in computer simulations. It seems the news is evil."

"Do continue," I said. I had dropped my tricorder for the moment - this concerned us all, but most importantly myself. I have never had much luck taking my usual nourishment from replicated food.

"The transwarp event did not send the ship forward in time as we had anticipated. It drastically reduced our speed relative to the progress of the universe - to, say, forty-two thousand eight hundred years. Roughly. There is no convenient anomaly present to send us back to our own time. If we replicate the transwarp event, we will travel the same distance in the same time, but we will only be able to travel forward into the future, never back where we belong."

I slumped against a patch of debris. I forgot to pick up my tricorder. I called Osroe, Lyell and T'Pame to me and delivered the news. And that's where we are now - lost, stranded in a dead future with no means of getting home.

There are four of us, discussing what to do. Given the eighty-six crew members of the Compulsion, their combined mnemonic output would sustain me for twenty-six years, four months, if I drained each of them dry and then killed them before they could turn. I might as well strip naked and stride into the snow. Who ever thought it would come to this kind of a decision? I would die before I did that. Who had to die to place that loyalty within me?
But Lyell has a suggestion. Practical, simple, leave the details to us eggheads - stereotypical Lyell. We screwed up. It was our mistake and inattentiveness that caused this to happen. So we put the decision out of our hands. If those people in the box - if they're still people - are advanced enough to do this, then they would be advanced enough to think of a solution to our problem. It couldn't hurt, right? What other options do we have? And even if there's no way to interface our machinery with the box, we have a Vulcan and a Mnemophage right here among us, psychics galore, ready and able to fuse our psyches with the alien minds of one billion, six hundred thousand collective maybe-humans living immortal, unchanging lives within an unbreakable future machine.

I am already pulling my suit away from my head. My hair draws away from my feeding tendril, the long tentacle of brain matter that permits a more selective transfer of memories back and forth between mnemophage and victim, as opposed to the gross involuntary sucking that happens with skin-to-skin contact. The air is cold on my bare, jaundiced skin - this spotty, always-hungry thing that I have become. Because even if I fail and die, I will be dead, and the Compulsion can live and continue and figure out another angle without the constant threat of their captain either becoming insensible or feeding on them, one by one.

I am touching the tip - the very tip - of my extruded brain to the smooth, cold surface of this all-too-human machine.

I feel...
I remember...
Everything I am given is taken away. Story of my life. Story of all of us. But we always have... I can't remember.

Light surrounds me. Noise. Smells. Someone is walking on the floor above my head. My feeding tendril is touching a filing cabinet. Someone is telling a replicator to make a minty raktajino. Someone is trying to sell me souvenirs. Osroe is laughing quick girlish laughter - I look to the side, and she is swirling, her blonde hair a banner. She is wearing a miniskirt, shorter than ever before, practically a belt. Absolutely against regulations, that.

"Sir?" croaks Seichu over my communicator, but I am too busy tucking my brain back into my hair.

"I think we're home, Seichu. Come on down. Light your fires." I try not to encourage the girl's burden of faith, but what do I care? I'm happy. And regardless of what she burns - we always have New York.


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

Cripes, that was long. Sorry.
Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 497
# 20
02-18-2013, 04:10 PM
(Continued from previous post)

*****

Later that night, at roughly ten o'clock PM, standard Terran time, Arkos and the rest of away team attempted to break into the Statue of Liberty.

Under cover of darkness, they managed to get close enough undetected to the wharf railing to set up one of Adim's sound dampeners, so that they would have less chance of alerting any of the night watchmen patrolling the dockyards. From there, it was a simple matter of slipping into one of the manner small boats tethered to the dock and start rowing towards the artificial island. Throughout the entire affair, Arkos tried not to dwell on the fact that this, the most interesting moment in his entire career Starfleet, involved the stealing and piloting of a tiny little rowboat while dressed in an overcoat, satin pants and a "bowler hat," or whatever it was that Sann had called his headgear.

As they neared the island mounting of the Statue, they half expected to see guardsmen lining the edges of the concrete structure keeping watch, or spotlights or something similar scanning the waterline. Instead, however the entire island was eerily silent. They had anticipated some difficulty in dealing with the guards-- especially since any confrontation with the local authorities could accidentally expose the lot of them as extraterrestrials-- but instead the whole affair seemed unnervingly easy. It was no trouble at all for them to moor the rowboat to the edge of the island and make their way up the walkways.

They were still expecting guards near the base of the island as they walked up, and true enough, the guards were there, all dressed in the archaic uniforms of what Arkos guessed was the New York constabulary. Only, in this case, they were also all sprawled across the ground motionlessly, some of them snoring quite loudly.

"Well," Arkos muttered, breaking the silence. "this was unexpected. Sann, any idea why they're all asleep?"

The Trill pulled her tricorder free from her purse and scanned the unconscious guards. "No sign of any toxins in their bloodstream," she said, "though I am...reading...several irregularities..." She yawned suddenly. "...in their...neural...emissions..."

Arkos frowned, and was about to ask his science officer if there was anything wrong, when he noticed just how heavy his eyelids felt. He blinked a few times and made a deep exhalation through his nose as he noticed, for the first time, how sleepy he was. He was obviously overworking himself, he figured, and as Captain he had every right to getting a bit of shut eye and relaxing himself...

A small part of his brain panicked, then, as he heard K'Nera and Adim yawn as well, and he realized just how unnatural it was for them all to be feeling sleepy at once, at a spot where a bunch of human guards were already dozing at their posts. No, you idiot, you're in danger! he mentally screamed to himself. Stay awake! You've fallen into some sort of trap! By that point, though, he was already closing his eyes, his body succumbing to an exhaustion it hadn't even realized it felt until now. Just a few moments to rest his eyes, that would be all...

He was ripped back, violently, into reality as something pressed against his arm, and caught fire inside of him. His eyes shot back open, and he let out a ragged, surprised gasp as he snapped back upright, nearly losing his balance as the world flooded back into life around him. "Where...whassat...whaaat?" he gasped, his mouth fumbling lethargically with words.

He whirled around in Sann's direction, and saw her press a hypopspray into Adim's arm. The Andorian jolted for a second before blinking rheumily. Nearby, K'Nera was rubbing her own arm and glancing around at the world with bewilderment, clearly having already received a hypospray injection.

"Relax, this is just a bit of adrenaline," Sann said, putting the hypospray back in her purse. She then blushed in embarrassment. "Actually...forget what I said, please don't relax. That would be completely counter-productive."

Arkos gaped at his subordinate. "You've injected me with ADRENALINE?" Then his brain adjusted to the invigorating surge, and put two and two together. His rage cooled in the face of understanding. "We almost fell asleep..."

Sann nodded, before looking down at her tricorder. "There appears to be some sort of resonance wave coming from inside the Statue," she said. "It seems specifically formulated to affect neural waves and trigger sleep functions."

K'Nera blinked in confusion, obviously still a bit dizzy from the confusion, obviously still a bit dizzy from the combination of near-sleep and the sudden adrenaline rush. "Wait...resonance wave? Are you saying something inside the statue put all these guards to sleep?"

Sann nodded. "And it almost did the same to us," she replied. "Though this adrenaline sample will probably keep us awake for another ten minutes, at best."

"So we should hurry, then," Adim muttered darkly. "Whatever is inside the Statue is already a danger to the timeline if it can do something like this."

Arkos nodded. "K'Nera, take point," he said, pulling out his own tricorder. The small device hummed, and quickly confirmed everything that Sann had told him: there was definitely a strong wave of soliton-based particles being channelled outwards from inside the statue, and it was definitely synonymous with the energy readings they had detected earlier. More worrisome, however, was the fact that the wave seemed to be steadily increasing in frequency and distance...

"I'm detecting life signs inside, Captain," Sann said as she continued her own scans. "About twenty in the lower levels of the statue, all unconscious. I'm also detecting four near the head of the statue..." She frowned suddenly.

"Is something the matter, Ensign?" Arkos asked.

"Yes, there is...those four life signs are exhibiting active mental cognition...but none of them are human."

****

The interior of the Statue of Liberty was cold, stygian, and poorly lit by a few candles and gas burners here and there, casting uncomfortable shadows onto the verdigris walls. An endless maze of walkways, support struts and platforms punctuated the interior, all of which had evidently been used by workers as they put the finishing touches on the Statue?s interior. Those workers were still there, asleep at their stations, tools still clutched in their hands as they lay sprawled all platforms, floors, or even entangled amidst ladders. Whatever it was that had happened here, these workers had been unaware of it until it had been too late.

Moving as quietly as they could, the away team made their way up the long, winding staircase that spiralled around the statue?s inner walls like some malformed vertebrae. The nearby pulley elevator looked like it would make too much noise, and quite frankly, they were in too much of a hurry. As they carefully stepped over sleeping workers, they gradually heard voices at the top?voices engaged in a murmured conversation. Arkos noticed something else, however: a deep bass hum that caused his skin to tingle, and got more loud and more vibrant as they approached.

The sight greeted them at the top of the stairs confirmed Arkos' suspicions: a pylon of some sort, constructed from some sort of iridiescent emerald material, stood at the centre of the room, pallid vermilion light playing along its surface like luminous veins. The deep hum was being emitted by this device, so potent now that Arkos could feel its vibrations in his bones. The room itself was spacious, wide openings in the walls exposing the fluttering canvas outside. Surrounding this green pillar were four figures, all of whom, at first glance, appeared to be human. They were wearing the dust-stained coveralls they had seen being used by the other workers, but it was what they were doing that was odd. One of them was standing in front of the pillar and waving his hands as though manipulating it somehow, and the other three were kneeling around it, as though...praying to it? They were all mouthing a long, droning incantation in some tongue the artificial translator couldn?t articulate, their chants seeming to mirror the deep hum of the pylon.

Arkos took a quick look at his tricorder, and noted, with distaste that whatever this thing was, it was generating too much electromagnetic interference to gain a proper reading. He glanced to K'Nera and gave her a nod. "It looks like we'll have to do this the hard way," he whispered.

K'Nera nodded, and pulled out her hand phaser. The rest of them did the same. Knowing that they were waiting on his signal, Arkos set his weapon to stun and sprang over the last few steps of the walkway into full view of the strangers, pointing the phaser at them. "Drop what you're doing, now!" he barked, in what he hoped was a suitably authoritative tone. His team sprang behind him with their own phasers drawn, though Arkos was faintly aware that they all looked a little out of place, wearing 19th-Century Earth clothing and wielding futuristic weapons.

The strangers jumped in alarm at Arkos' sudden appearance, the three chanters springing to their feet as one of them shouted something that sounded like ?Intruders!? The one standing by the pillar seemed oblivious, even as one of his friends reached into his pocket and pulled out some sort of firearm...

Arkos fired, the amber beam of the phaser nailing the man in the abdomen before he could point his weapon, dropping him like a stone. Another chanter got a bead on him and fired: an emerald beam hissed his way, only to wash harmlessly around him as his personal shield kicked in. K'Nera brought him down in turn with a perfectly aimed chest-blast. The third chanter yelled something incomprehensible and fired wildly at the group. Adim ducked, the blast punching a hole through his top hat and propelling it halfway across the room, exposing his antennae to the world. He and Sann both retaliated at the same time, stunning the chanter with direct hits to the forehead and shoulder.

The man at the pillar was the only one left, waving his arms ever more frantically. It was then that Arkos noticed the holographic interface hovering in front of him in a ghostly green light. "Defilers!" the man screamed, almost hysterically. "Bend knee to the goddess!"

Arkos was about to tell the man to stop what he was doing and back away slowly, when the device hummed even more loudly. Another, more intense, wave of lethargy washed over Arkos. His vision blurred, and his knees buckled as he was overcome by the powerful need for sleep. "Oh kylken..." he slurred, voicing a choice swear word from his homeworld as he fell to his knees.

His world was drowned out by the deep, bass hum of the device. Through his blurred vision, he could see its green, hazy outline becoming the sole point of light in the world as everything else became darkness?

And then there was a loud bang, and for the second time that night, Arkos snapped awake.

He figured out what had happened only after the dust and debris had cleared. His gut instinct quickly told him that K'Nera, despite the overwhelming power of the device, had kept her wits about her and had thrown a photon grenade, destroying the alien device in a single potent blast. The second thing his gut instinct told him was that K'Nera had actually brought a photon grenade on this mission without informing him. He decided to wait until after they were back on the Da Vinci before he reprimanded her, however, seeing as she had just saved his life.

The alien pylon was in pieces, chunks of glass-like material scattered across the room. The green lights on each piece throbbed weakly, slowly dimming as the individual components shut down and died. The man who had been operating the device lay sprawled on his back, his outfit singed and several solid chunks of the machine embedded in his chest and torso like shrapnel. Arkos winced. He didn't need advanced medical training to know that this man had been fatally wounded.

More noticeable, however, was the fact that the man had changed. Whatever technology had been disguising him had obviously been damaged, as his once-human face was replaced by a bald head with vibrant red skin. His facial features seemed Human, but the crown of perfectly pointed horns around his head indicated otherwise.

"A Sikkoran," K'Nera muttered, recognizing the alien's physiology.

The name quickly rung a bell. From what Arkos knew, the Sikkorans were a reclusive race in the galactic south-east of the Regulus Sector Block. Their race was known for being extremely religious as a whole, and, for a time, they had aggressively tried to convert neighbouring races to their belief system, even going so far as to attack and subjugate worlds to spread their faith. Starfleet had intervened more than a century ago and put a stop to this aggression, and since then, the Sikkorans had been confined to their homeworld in a state of self-imposed isolation.

And now, here they were here on historic Earth, disguised as Humans, with a secret device in the Statue of Liberty that they clearly attached some religious significance to. The truth dawned on Arkos quickly, even as he stepped over the wounded Sikkoran. The man's breathing was heavy, and it was clear he wouldn't last long.

"My name is Captain Arkos Nair, of the Federation starship Da Vinci," he said, remembering standard protocols when dealing with wounded enemies. "Hang on. We're going to take you back to our ship and heal you."

The Sikkoran's amber eyes flashed and locked Arkos in a fierce gaze. "Nnno..." he rasped, black liquid bubbling up the corner of his mouth. "I will not be touched...by unbelievers." He spat up at Arkos, the wad missing him by a considerable distance. "I pity you...you who will never...know the Goddess' love..."

The Sikkoran went still then, his gaze moving past Arkos and settling there. Sann edged up and scanned the Sikkoran with her medical tricorder, and nodded silently to Arkos. He sighed.

"Adim, arrange for the Sikkorans and all of the debris to be beamed back to the Da Vinci," he said. "K'Nera, make sure the other three are put in the brig. I want to make sure that absolutely no trace of what happened here is left behind."

K'Nera nodded. "Understood, Captain." She paused, then. "What do you think they were doing here, sir?"

Arkos glanced at the unconscious, still living Sikkorans. "Isn't it obvious?" he replied. "After Starfleet stopped the Sikkorans...'crusade'...more than a century ago, they must have been looking for a chance at revenge. And what better way to get revenge than to try to convert Earth to their belief system, long before the Federation has even existed?"

The Andorian looked at the destroyed pieces of the machine, understanding finally dawning on her. "So this machine is some sort of mental control device..."

"...and through it, they could have imposed worship of their religion," Arkos finished with a nod. "And from there, they not only would have been able to manipulate the Humans, but would have been able to influence the Federation at its creation hundreds of years later. If not for us, Ensign, they would have drastically altered history."

As he scanned the wreckage of the device and marked its pieces for transport, Adim glanced at Arkos. "But...Captain, they specifically mentioned a 'goddess,'" he said. "What did they mean by that?"

Arkos' face became grim. "What do you think?"

*******

On October 8, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled to the world.

The unveiling was met with great fanfare. Marching bands played all across New York City, the "Star Spangled Banner" playing proudly at every avenue. Confetti and ticker tape rained from every window, and flags and banners were waved excitedly. The United States Navy formed a great nautical parade and made a gun salute, and President Grover Cleveland made a rousing speech about this monument to America's founding values. As the great sheets were pulled free, Lady Liberty was revealed in all her glory, standing with her gleaming, lit torch like a new sun, her verdigris body shining brightly in the sunlight, her serene, knowing face framed by a magnificent spiked crown.

Only four people, far back in a more secluded area of the harbourfront, weren't cheering. They were the only people in the audience who knew that that was no crown, but a ring of horns.

"To think," Arkos mused as he munched on an Earth snack-- the vendors had called it a 'hot dog.' "All those people out there, cheering and enjoying their day, are cheering an alien goddess, and they don't even know it."

"It could have been worse, Captain," K'Nera replied as she leaned against the railing. "They could have actually been bowing down in worship instead of just cheering."

The thought horrified Arkos more than he knew it should Maybe he was prejudiced, but there was much about the Sikkorans' fanaticism that reminded him too much of the Penitents and their own crazed dogma. "Well, let's count this as a victory for rationality, reason, and all those other nice things, then," he said, scarfing down the last of the hot dog. "Adim, status report on your progress?"

"Ensign Sann and I have managed to isolate the temporal particles and have re-aligned the nacelles appropriately," Adim replied. "We're ready to return to our timeline when you say so, Captain."

He nodded. "We'd better be off then," he muttered. "I just know that the Department of Temporal Affairs is going to add hours to the interrogation if we stay here too long." He glanced back at the Statue of Liberty, noting how majestically the Sikkoran goddess rose over the New York Harbour. "You know...it really is a nice statue."

He tapped his comm badge. "Away team to Da Vinci. Four to beam up. Energize."

Last edited by ambassadormolari; 02-18-2013 at 07:46 PM.
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