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Rift in the Stars

Deep in the Vadlox Nebula and grappling with dangerous gravimetric distortions and tachyon emissions, Hypatia is caught unawares when a second subspace aperture unexpectedly pulls the ship into an uncharted region of space, the crew finds themselves stranded, with their communication systems critically damaged.

As they navigate this unknown territory, they encounter a rogue planet with a powerful gravitational pull and a hostile Gorn warship. The situation becomes dire when the Gorn ship is caught in the planet’s deadly grip. In a race against time, the crew of Hypatia must save their adversaries, turn potential hostilities into cooperation, and find a way back to Federation space.

1 – To Vadlox, with Love… and Trepidation

Deep in the Vadlox Nebula...
Day 1

Swirling clouds of high density plasmatic energy wouldn’t normally be enough to warrant the presence of a ship as advanced as the Hypatia, but combined with increased subnucleonic radiation, high levels of static discharge and pockets of ionised gas, the recent change in the Vadlox Nebula had piqued the curiosity of Starfleet enough to draw the Sutherland-class research cruiser from its role in the quarantine of the Quasaris Sector. Analysis of the gaseous anomaly had been ongoing since the conclusion of the Deneb conflict, with a near constant presence of starships along the shared border with the Breen using it as an excuse for justifying their patrols of the area.

“Sending a dedicated science vessel out here without an escort is a considerable risk,” Lieutenant Italia Ruas frowned, arms folded across her chest, planted feet helping her to rock the chair at the Ops station from side to side while she stared at the restless clouds that encircled them, casting an eerie glow across the bridge. Her thick accent always came out to play when she was angry or concerned about something, just as it did here.

“Starfleet seems to disagree,” Commander sh’Elas responded, glancing across at her Italian colleague from her position behind the helm. “There is no threat out here, Lieutenant. Afterall, no one in their right mind would be out here right now,” the Andorian gestured to the screen. Right on cue, another flash of plasmatic lightning lit up the viewer.

“Yet here we sit,” Maddie bit back from the CONN, her eyes glued to the navigation systems, prepared to withdraw the behemoth from her observation point at a moment’s notice.

“And here we’ll stay,” the Captain responded from his seat at the heart of the bridge, smiling playfully as both XO and Operations chief alike glared at him. “At least until Onsas says otherwise,” he added with a nod of the head towards his science chief.

“Whilst the nebula is exhibiting strange characteristics, I don’t believe there is any danger to us should we proceed further into the gas cloud,” Commander Onsas D’orr turned from the station, the hulking brute looking towards the command team at the front of the bridge. “Our analysis might benefit from being a little deeper,” he shrugged a hopeful shoulder.

“Maddison?” Giarvar practically jumped from his chair at the science officer’s suggestion, skipping down the few steps to stand next to his first officer. “What do you think?”

“I’d rather we didn’t,” the helmswoman grimaced, hands dancing across the LCARS controls. “But if we do, I’d recommend no more than another hundred thousand meters or so. Anymore than that and we could be in trouble if something unpleasant shifts. We’re not as nimble as a Pathfinder or a Grissom, ya’ know.” She looked the Captain briefly in the face and knew from his optimistic expression that she wasn’t likely to win this one.

“How does that impact our exposure to the nucleogenic radiation?” Tharia asked, looking back across her shoulder to the brown-skinned Xelliat.

“Minimal additional exposure,” Onsas answered, “we’d still be within the Doctor’s safety levels.”

Anticipating the Captain’s response, Italia let out a sigh and turned back to her station. “Adjusting power distribution network to boost the shield grid,” the Italian said.

“What are you doing to my shields?!” a voice called out from the back of the bridge, its owner swiftly making her way to the tactical operations wall on the starboard bulkhead.

Spinning on his heels and making a beeline back to his command chair, the Captain looked across at Commander Peri. “We’re going deeper,” Giarvar grinned as he took his seat.

Peri slumped into her chair, shooting a disapproving look at the Captain, but to no avail. She, like the rest of the crew, had quickly learnt that when their new commanding officer had made his mind up, there was no changing it.

Maddison Burton, Kauhn’s FlightOps chief aboard the Buran before transferring to Hypatia, understood his words to the tactical chief to be orders, and began the procedure to move the mighty hulk of the cruiser further into the nebula. “Ahead one-quarter impulse power,” she announced to the crew, sticking to the same speed that had brought the ship into the nebula a few hours earlier.

Forward momentum began to increase at a leisurely pace, the transition from all stop to moving at one quarter impulse was probably smoother than most of the crew had experienced having come from older vessels. One of the joys of serving on one of the class of 2400 starships was that everything worked seamlessly, smoothly. Within minutes, the science cruiser had travelled to the maximum distance her helmswoman had recommended, and already the additional readings were proving fruitful. And thoroughly supported the earlier analysis that if they went any further in, there would be trouble. It hadn’t taken long for tremors to grip the ship every few minutes, to the point that the crew hardly began to register them anymore thanks to the superior inertial dampeners she was fitted with.

With the rest of the crew distracted with their investigations of the stellar phenomenon, one would have been forgiven for thinking the Chief Tactical Officer would be far from busy, but on this occasion, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst everyone else scurried about their business, reading data packets and analysing readings, Commander Peri had returned herself to the task that had kept her from the bridge earlier in the day. A task she had been assigned by the Captain no less.

Something across the Federation was stirring, and people were at risk. Again. It seemed like people were always at risk these days: first the Romulans; then it was the Breen-Dominion Alliance; and then nefarious Changelings and Borg infiltration had risked the entire quadrant. Now something else was threatening the Federation, but it seemed no one had any real answers as to what it could be. Several Starfleet vessels had been reported missing, and that was just in locations across the Alpha Quadrant, it was unknown how many had gone missing in other areas. According to sensor readings and accessible ship’s logs, one minute the ship’s were there, the next, gone. She’d been set the task of analysing what she could get her hands on, to see if there was any rhyme or reason to the disappearances, but so far she had hit a dead end. Even after enlisting the computer’s help to delve into possible patterns and anomalies, she’d so far turned up not…

Hang on. Something on one of her displays caught her eye, drawing her attention to the larger of her monitors. On it, she had a display of all Starfleet vessels within extreme sensor range, using what bandwidth she had been permitted by the Operation’s chief. At first, she wasn’t sure if it was a glitch or not, but after a few attempts at recalibration, she glanced harder at the display. Something had occurred right on the edge of sensor range, near to… wait a second…

“What the hell…” she whispered, moving closer, almost in a state of disbelief.

‘Incoming transmission via secured channel…’

Words in bold, red lettering flashed on her screen, almost causing her to fall backwards and out of her seat. She glanced over her shoulder and could see the Captain engrossed in conversation with the XO about something mission related, so she decided to press on. Rubbing the ridges on her nose with one hand, she input her command codes with the other. Its contents did not make for light reading.

“Captain…” she called out, spinning in her chair at the last second, to find the Trill (and his Andorian counterpart in command) staring right at her. “We’ve lost another one…”

Sensors confirmed it several minutes ago,” the holographic form of the Lakota Squadron’s Commander told her former XO as she paced across the limited space in Hypatia’s observation lounge. “Adriatic was conducting a survey on the edge of the Black Cluster, within Deep Space Eleven’s sensor perimeter when she just vanished,” the Trill told.

Nothing like a good crisis to bring people back together, and after the tension of the last month, it was nice for Giarvar to see his former mentor again. They hadn’t parted on good terms after his promotion to command of the Hypatia, but the tragedy of Or’uil’s passing had got them talking again, and now this, whatever ‘this’ was, had them both worried.

“How many does that make it so far?” Kauhn asked, slumped in his chair at the head of the observation lounge table, hands clasped together and resting on his chest.

In our region?” Nazir stopped and turned to look at her Trill brethren, hands on her hips. “Thirteen. Twelve with no warning, no alerts, just… gone.

Planting his feet on the decking before him, Giarvar turned his chair from side to side slowly, the rhythmic rocking helping his mind to wander and contemplate questions. When he had formulated one, the rocking stopped. “What about unlucky number thirteen?” He sat forward. “You said only twelve vanished with no warning. What happened to thirteen?” 

The Collegiate?” the Fleet Captain’s brow furrowed. “According to an intercepted log there was something about a possible lightning storm in space? But there was nothing to substantiate it,” she elaborated. While she spoke, Giarvar’s expression changed enough that she took a holographic step closer to her former subordinate. “What? What is it?” she asked.

“It could be nothing,” Kauhn lied, the look on his face suggesting even he didn’t believe his last statement, “but we’ve detected lightning-like phenomenon as a recent change within Vadlox. No explanation, for it. Frequent, yet intermittent. Random,” he lifted his hand to his chin and began rubbing it.

What are you going to do?” Nazir asked.

“What we’re out here to do,” the junior Trill answered, “study and research the phenomenon and its changes.” His answer wasn’t very convincing.

Whatever you do Number One,” the look of concern on the Fleet Captain’s face was sincere, “please be careful…” she bowed her head and let out the smallest of smiles.

Giarvar appreciated the term of endearment meant that they were on their way to having their friendship restored to normality. And it made him smile in return. “Always ma’am,” he retorted as he rose to his feet. “We’ll be in touch if we find anything.” A shared nod of acknowledgement later and the hologram faded from existence.

Slouching back into his seat, he allowed his mind to wonder once more, only the rumbling of the deck plating beneath his feet keeping him tethered to the here and now. Surely the lightning phenomenon supposedly reported by the Collegiate was nothing more than a coincidence? Such a phenomenon inside a nebula wasn’t unheard of, or uncommon even, but what concerned him the most was the change in the nebula’s behaviour to cause that phenomena. Perhaps he was making a bigger deal of this than he needed to? He’d seen plenty of lightning storms in space during the Century Storm crisis, for example, but he’d learnt to trust his instincts since he’d taken the mantel as XO to Captain Gor, and later, Nazir. He’d never been let down by them before. When those instincts spoke to him, he listened.

Pulling himself forward, he placed his left hand on the glass surface in front of him, fingers drumming almost absentmindedly as he pondered his next move. One thing he had learnt from Nazir during his time as her XO was that it was never wise to keep one’s XO out of the loop on anything, let alone developments that could impact one’s mission. Thus, he allowed his drumming fingers to dance to the table controls and opened a channel to the bridge.

“Number One,” he called into the comm, “could you come in here please?”

Within a matter of seconds, the dutiful Andorian appeared at the doorway and made her way inside. “Everything alright?” she asked him, her antenna dipping when she saw the look on his spotted face.

“Take a seat Tharia,” the Trill gestured to her usual spot at the table.

sh’Elas let out a heavy sigh as she pulled out her chair and took a seat at the table. First names were in play, and from the Captain that meant only one thing…

She wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

2 – Vadlox, with A Vengeance

Deep in the Vadlox Nebula...
Day 1

With the swirling of gas clouds, and colliding of nucleogenic particles, the pooling of pre-animate matter and the static discharges light up, there was no way to describe the Vadlox nebula other than a scientists dream. One could spend a lifetime scanning and collecting data and they would only just scratch the surface of a spatial phenomenon thousands of years old. From the safety of stellar cartography, Commander D’orr and his team had the privilege of watching in awe as the force of nature went about its millennia business. These were the enigmas of the universe the hulking Xelliat had signed on to explore, not missing starships that would no doubt turn up in a day or two. He’d leave that to Peri and others suffering from early-onset paranoia caused by the disasters of recent times. He was here for the nebula and its mysteries.

Mysteries like the cause of the recent uptick in lightning flashes within the gaseous clouds, the very same mystery that had drawn Hypatia here in the first place. Mysteries that had drawn officers from far and wide, from all manner of departments across the science division. Experiments and research projects taking place in labs across the nine decks dedicated to science facilities had come to a halt as people of all species and genders tried to find the answer to one simple question – what the hell was happening out there?!

On their eighth, or was it ninth, sensor sweep of the nebula, Onsas was about ready to call it a day. Matheus had arrived to relieve him of his duties when a shrill screech from the computer made them both cower, somewhat embarrassingly, for a moment. Only a mere moment at that, because the computer seemed to take control of the room, sending the three-hundred and sixty degree holographic display spinning, LCARS markers surrounding a particular area of the nebula before zooming in, drawing the scientists back to the task at hand.

“What the actual f-” Ren whispered, stopping only at the disapproving look from his department head. That would have been another slip of gold-pressed latinum in the swear jar when he got back to the department office later. He had to kick the habit and soon or he’d be destitute whilst the rest of the department had a night on the town at Denen Nes’ Gaming Emporium the next time they were at DS17.

“Computer, analysis?” Onsas called out, staring at the display on the holowall. To the naked eye, it looked like a concentrated cluster of the same lightning flashes they had been experiencing intermittently, but these looked to be rapid and often.

Working…” the computer told the scientists, who impatiently observed, unable to do anything further until presented with the information they required.

Analysis indicates significant, high density ionic storms causing gravimetric distortions,” the computer finally declared, spurring the two into action. Ren slid into the seat next to the Xelliat and began monitoring the display as more and more alerts began to creep in from science facilities across the ship. All had detected the sudden surge in activity.

“Frak me,” the Betazoid whispered, completely forgetting about the consequences of the swear jar. “These storms are significantly more powerful than those already encountered out here,” he revealed to his department head.

“They’re causing a tear in subspace,” Onsas told sternly, zooming in as close as he could. Looking up, it was clear that there was definitely some sort of anomaly there. Something growing in size with each flash, and something becoming increasingly more identifiable.

“Hang on,” Ren reached out with his left hand and placed it on the Xelliat’s right arm, “is it just me or is that a…”

“How the hell do we lose thirteen starships?”

To say that one could cut the tension on the Hypatia bridge with a knife wasn’t an exaggeration. Once Tharia had returned to the bridge from her meeting, the atmosphere reflected the icy climate of the home world from which she hailed. She’d immediately put the team to work on further analysis of their own findings, but also what they knew of the disappearances that had been reported so far. That had been fifteen minutes ago, and with no information forthcoming as yet, the Andorian was rapidly growing restless. She’d practically paced a hole into the floor between the two aft stations with her constant back and forth, and her movements had clearly dampened the atmosphere on the bridge. Unlike the Captain, when Tharia’s tension levels rose, the whole ship felt the repercussions from bow to stern. Repercussions more powerful than the shockwaves caused by the nebula they were scouting.

“Twelve!” Peri spun on her chair and looked across at the Commander, who stopped in her tracks at last, resting her weary feet. “We’ve just received confirmation that one of the missing ships was simply experiencing technical difficulties. Systems are back online and she’s reported in.”

Unfortunately, the Bajoran’s cheery disposition was quickly shut down by the Andorian’s continued frosty glare. Obviously the sudden reappearance of a ‘lost’ ship meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, and the Andorian let her know that. Thankfully, two rather exhausted officers emerging from the aft turbo lift drew the Andorian’s focus and allowed the tactical chief to slink back around to her station.

“Captain!” Onsas’ deep voice echoed across the bridge and drew the Trill from his seat in the observation lounge, his brows furrowed and lips pursed as he regarded the science chief and his deputy more closely. “Sorry sir, but I need you to tell us again what Captain Nazir told you about the Collegiate,” the Xelliat boomed with excitement, turning his attention to his deputy and then the Captain.

Folding his arms across his chest, standing behind his command chair, the Captain raised an eyebrow before relenting and acquiescing to his request. “She said something about the Collegiate reporting a lightning storm in space, but very little else. Peri, you were trying to access the last log from the ship, did you get anywhere?” Giarvar looked across at the Bajoran, who had turned back to face the scientists who were clearly excited about whatever they had found out.

Peri nodded, picking up a data PADD and holding it out in the direction of the science officers. Whilst Ren stepped up and took ownership, the Bajoran elaborated on her findings. “According to the log, Collegiate detected a mild ion storm that lingered for approximately an hour before it grew in intensity. As it grew, it appeared as though the storm was damaging subspace,” she was stopped in her tracks by the science chief.

“It wasn’t damaging subspace,” the hulking brute shook his head, “it was creating an opening,” he explained. Then, with a speed that belied his massive frame, he stepped across to his science station and tapped a few controls on the panel. “Observer, if you will…” he asked, gesturing to the forward bulkhead.

Replacing the bulkhead panels at the front of the command center, the holographic viewscreen came to life, its image representing their discovery in stellar cartography. “We detected it a short while ago. It began with a concentrated ion storm generating significant gravimetric distortions, approximately two lightyears from here,” Onsas told them all, before passing his briefing over to his able assistant.

“Much like the Collegiate,” Ren confirmed with a nod, “only the reaction with the nebula clouds have exacerbated the distortions, magnifying their effects by a factor of ten. But you can clearly see the same opening in space forming here,” the Betazoid stepped up and pointed to an area on the viewer, which magnified.

“Holy shit…”

The realisation of what they were looking at quickly set in, drawing Peri to her feet, and causing Captain Kauhn to round his chair and take a few steps closer to the main viewscreen. A hole in space, several hundred feet wide, with ionic pulses and flashes of clashing particles lining the periphery. “A wormhole?” he asked somewhat rhetorically, whilst everyone tried to make sense of what they were looking at.

“Any idea where it leads?” Tharia questioned, her attention solidly on the discovery.

“No,” Onsas was honest in his blunt response. “Its not like any wormhole I’ve ever seen. It even lacks tachyon particles, but that could be a side effect of its emergence here in the nebula,” he told her.

“Any evidence it could be artificial?” Peri asked, her brain instantly going on the defensive and wondering if it could be a prelude to something much more sinister.

“Nothing,” Ren shook his head. “Everything we’ve learned so far suggests this is a natural opening to a natural travel corridor of sorts, not unlike the transwarp corridors used by the Borg.”

“Hang on a bloody minute,” Giarvar held up his hands and silenced the bridge crew for a moment, spinning on his heels and returning to his command chair. Once back in its comfort zone, the Trill crossed his right leg over his left at the knee and relaxed backwards. “Are we somehow suggesting a wormhole like this is the cause of Collegiate’s disappearance?”

“Perhaps they entered willingly?” Italia shrugged at the forward operations station.

Collegiate is a Reliant-class frigate,” Tharia countered, staring down at the Ops chief she now stood behind. “There is no way her Captain would willingly take such a ship into an unknown wormhole,” she scoffed at the suggestion, but then looked around at Giarvar. “Is there?” she asked with wide-eyes.

“Stranger things…” the Trill shrugged in response. “So what do we do now?” was his next question, looking towards his team for answers.

“Perhaps a probe?” Ren suggested, looking between Onsas and the Captain. “We’d get telemetry in an instant, but if the aperture closes, we’ll lose all contact,” he explained.

“We could always enter the wormhole…”

Every eye in the places trained on the voice of the voiceless, shocked at the insinuation from the previously silent Flight Operations chief, who suddenly picked up on the silence in the room and looked over her shoulder. “I wasn’t being serious,” she lied, hoping not to draw the wrath of the Captain, or worse.

Shaking off the suggestion from Burton, the Captain nodded at Ren. “We’ll try the probe and see what happens. Get to it.”

Amidst the dense clouds of Vadlox, Hypatia danced to the tune of her helmswoman, spinning on her axis surprisingly easily as she turned towards the peculiar anomaly that had drawn her ire. In a bold move, the mighty Sutherland launched glowing orb further into the cloud, the probe’s shields glowing under the stress of the growing gravimetric distortions. Beeping and whirring its way through the spatial anomaly, the scanning device transmitted its readings back to the mothership, screaming for all who could hear it. ‘I’ve found it! I have the information you seek!‘ Then it lurched. It tumbled. It saw its demise looming just a hundred feet away. It wouldn’t make it to its destination, would it? Just when it seemed that all might be lost, that the scientific analysis drone might succumb to nature’s ferocity and crumble under the weight of its crew’s hopes and expectations, the probe found its second wind, persevered through nebulous adversity and hurtled triumphantly into the aperture with a cheer that echoed all the way back home.

Onsas trilled happily as the readings came through, recording images and sounds from within the subspace corridor. His colleague began the analysis, running comparative studies to determine if anything like this had been experienced before by Starfleet’s finest. Findings were coming thick and fast, data indeed suggesting the tunnel to be a natural equivalent to a Borg transwarp conduit. But it was here, and it had happened naturally. Randomly. Opening in the middle of the Vadlox nebula and more than likely the cause of the growing distortions and peculiar behaviour the nebula had been exhibiting.

But then, as quickly as the data had come in, it ceased. Transmissions from the valiant probe ended, its life extinguished violently as it was crushed under the stresses of travel through the tunnel. Its demise brought sighs of resignation and sadness as the amazing discovery came to an end. Giarvar turned in his chair and looked towards his chief scientist.

“We’ve lost signal,” Onsas confirmed, “but we do have some idea as to where the tunnel originated…”

He would never get the opportunity to share his findings. Hypatia began to shake violently beneath their feet, triggering an instant, automated change in decor as the yellow lights across the ship were replaced with strobes crimson in colour.

Whatever was stirring in the depths of the nebula had crept up on Hypatia with a vengeance…

3 – Rift Dynamics

Who Knows Where?!
Day 1

Amidst the swirling clouds of the Vadlox gaseous anomaly, the science ship Hypatia struggled to withstand the force of the gravimetric distortion wave that had gripped her seemingly out of nowhere. With her engines charged to pull the ship full astern, she groaned beneath the counteracting forces that threatened to rip her apart.

Just a few hundred kilometers from her port bow, the sudden and violent distortions foreshadowed the formation of a second tunnel entrance which this time threatened to engulf the ship and drag it to the depths of, well, anywhere, if her crew could not find a way to anchor themselves or escape the anomaly’s grasp.

“Impulse engines are at full reverse, but we can’t maintain this,” Maddison Burton declared from the CONN, her dancing fingers trying their best to keep the mighty Sutherland from encroaching further towards the anomaly.

“Onsas! This is no bastard wormhole,” Kauhn shouted over the din of alarm bells and grumbling deck plates, his knuckles white as he gripped on for dear life, determined to resist this particular white knuckle ride with all of his might.

“The odds of two wormhole’s opening randomly in the same spatial phenomenon are astronomically high,” Matheus Ren glared across at the science chief, both deputy and chief alike flying their fingers across their terminal to provide the information the captain needed to get them out of the situation.

“You think?!” the Xelliat brute scolded his underling. Still, his readings didn’t lie. “I don’t know for certain what these things are,” he bawled over the din, “but they are insanely similar to a wormhole, Captain.”

“And we’ll end up who know’s where if we don’t get the hell out of dodge right fucking now,” Tharia interrupted before Kauhn could answer the science chief. “Engineering! Get us some more gods damn engine power NOW,” she bellowed over the comm, struggling to her feet and grasping the back of the helm officer’s seat for support while glaring at the flight chief’s actions.

As much as I wish I could,” the voice of the Vulcan engineer was louder, more ruffled than usual, “it is illogical to ask for more of something that I am already giving you maximum of, Commander.

“Engines at maximum,” Tharia nodded, “why didn’t you just say so?!” he countered across the airwaves.

I believe I just did…” the Vulcan argued back, before ending the call on his end.

Tharia growled and cracked her neck. “I really hate that Vulcan…” she whispered, just loud enough to illicit a smirk from Maddison in the chair before her, which then drew the briefest of smiles from the XO before another, more violent shockwave threatened to send her barrelling across the bridge at speed. Had it not been for the Ops chief just a meter or so away, grabbing Tharia by the arm and pulling her to safety, almost sitting the XO in her own lap, the Andorian would have been severely hurt.

“Come on people,” Giarvar inched forward in his chair, checking on his XO’s condition, who simply nodded that she was ok. “I need options. How do we get out of this?”

“What about some specifically targeted torpedo detonations. They could break the wave’s hold on us,” Peri called from the tactical station, glancing back only briefly to make eye contact with the captain before returning to her panel.

“The detonations would be too close to the ship at this distance,” Onsas argued, “but we could try an anti-graviton beam from the main deflector. A powerful enough resonance blast could break us free.” He turned in his chair and appealed to the captain for one last chance to prove he was right.

“Get it done,” Giarvar nodded, trusting in his science chief just as he had during the Frontier Day debacle.

Onsas let out the briefest of grins, and nodded his thanks to the captain for his support. “Lieutenant Ruas,” he then called out, “I’m about to send you some adjustments for the deflector. We need to be set to the exact field harmonics or this won’t work.” Spinning in his chair, he nodded to his assistant and got to work.

As her crewmates waited for the adjustments from the Xelliat, Hypatia rumbled from bow to stern one more time, only this time, the distortion broke the grip of the impulse engines.

“Forward momentum increasing!” Burton reported from the helm. “Impulse engines are simply slowing us down at this point.”


“Sending adjustments… now.”

Ever the impatient one on the staff, Italia was in action before the schematic adjustments had even got to her stations. Having access to the full range of deflector control systems meant no long treks to the facility on deck fifteen. Within seconds, and with the help of Hypatia herself, Ruas was ready.

“Activating anti-graviton beam now,” her thick Italian accent couldn’t hide the relief in her voice as she finally activated the beam.

Flickering to life, Hypatia’s deflector unleashed a massive, continuous beam of anti-graviton particles into the aperture ahead of them. If the emergence of these openings had been described as lightning storms, then what transpired next had to be something akin to a storm compounded by some form of nucleogenic explosion. Blinding flashes of light filled the bridge as the anti-gravitons mixed with nature’s own forces in an epic battle for supremacy.

“Its working!” Maddison yelled happily from the CONN just a minute later, “Forward momentum is slowing.”

It was as if her words were a curse, for as soon as she had said them, Giarvar spotted something on the viewscreen that caused him great concern. At the focal point of the beam, its intense reaction with the gravimetric distortions of the aperture, coupled with the nebulous gases surrounding them, an enormous explosion erupted, sending a massive surge back down the length of the beam.

“Brace for impact!” his voice echoed across the ship, but it was a fraction too late. The feedback from the explosion hit the main deflector and sent Hypatia into an uncontrollable spin towards the very opening they’d sought to avoid. Across the ship, people and possessions alike mirrored the movement of their starship, resulting in casualties across her many decks. Not that anyone could report their injuries with communications just one of several systems immediately affected.

Those in the command center who had managed to stay in their seats tried their best to stall the ship’s entry into the aperture. Engines, warp and impulse alike, were one of few systems that surprisingly remained functional. Maddison, in conjunction with her colleagues at ops and tactical, tried everything at her disposal to stop Hypatia entering the anomaly. She engaged every thruster, every engine she could, but nothing worked.

Grasping hold of the rail to the right of her command chair, sh’Elas managed to drag herself to her feet just in time to watch as their ship tumbled into the mouth of the wormhole. But instead of any real damage being sustained once they entered the wormhole, the gravimetric distortions seemed to abate quite quickly. Hypatia seemed to level out quite smoothly and normal lighting was soon restored. The sudden, unexpected respite allowed the crew to gather themselves and tend to their wounded. Matheus was soon stepping into the shoes of a medical officer, performing scans and providing minor treatment in the absence of any ability to call for medical personnel.

sh’Elas, with the help of Lieutenant Ruas, guided the captain back into the safety of his chair, and used part of her uniform sleeve to tend to a wound on his right temple. “Come on guys,” she called out, “lets have some status updates.”

“Deflector offline but not too severely. Maybe an hour or two to get it back. Some other systems, such as communications, also offline,” Ruas answered in her thick accent. All things considered, she was pretty pleased.

“Shields and weapons operational,” Peri reported from tactical, “sensors are damaged and limited to short range only.”

“Where are we at with engines?” Tharia asked between dabs of the captain’s head. The Trill nodded his thanks and took the torn part of his XO’s uniform, allowing her to continue with running the show while he got the medical attention he needed from Matheus.

“All propulsion systems are online,” Maddie retorted, never taking her eyes off her display for a second. “Sensors show we are in a wormhole of some sort, but I’ve got no way of finding out where we are, or where we are headed,” the helmswoman grew frustrated.


Tharia turned on her heels and looked towards the tactical station where the Bajoran officer in charge was deep into her analysis of something.

“I’m picking up minor pockets of debris strewn throughout the corridor,” the Commander reported to the Andorian, ”some of it pertaining to starships, some of it organic. One thing is for certain, some of it is old. Like, really old.” She waved Onsas over to her station, the hulking brute happy to oblige and help her in her analysis. Meanwhile, Tharia turned back to the CONN.

“Do what you can to avoid these debris fields,” the Andorian instructed.

“Don’t worry Commander,” Maddison smiled, eyes trained on the helm, “I don’t want to hit them anymore than you do.”

“Judging by the decay rates on some of the fragments we’ve scanned, we’ve got debris that’s been here for anywhere up to and including a decade or more,” Onsas grew more intrigued as he shared a glance of curiosity with the tactical chief. That curiosity was quickly replaced by a look of concern.

“What is it?” Tharia asked, antennae drooping and head cocked to one side.

“One of the debris fields we just scanned,” Peri turned in her chair to look towards the XO, who had made her way to the chair beside the captain, “it had a Species 8472 biosignature.”

Just mentioning the one species that was, perhaps, more deadly than the Borg themselves, drew the captain back into the present. He spun in his chair to look at the tactical chief and his scientist, looking at them with a singular raised brow. When they nodded their confirmation of their findings, he planted his left foot and spun back to the front of the command center.

“Maddie, find us a way out of here. We need to return to normal space and ascertain our situation,” Giarvar instructed, looking towards his XO for support. Tharia, however, looked torn. “I know what you’re going to say,” he frowned at her, “but the further we go, the further away we are likely to be.”

sh’Elas listened to the captain’s reasoning, and it was sound in logic. Pulling them back to normal space would also allow them to conduct needed repairs and better evaluate their situation. She didn’t like the unpredictability of where they might be. Letting out a sigh, she nodded in agreement.

Smiling at the XO, he thanked her for her support and turned his attention back to the CONN. “Maddie,” the captain reiterated his earlier instruction.

“Sensors are detecting an aperture ahead. Unsure of where we’ll be on the other side, however,” the human confirmed the XO’s suspicions but was happy to acquiesce to the captain’s request.

“I understand,” Giarvar nodded between sharp intakes of breath, very much still suffering the aftereffects of his fall. “Take us out at the earliest opportunity,” he added.

“Aye Captain,” the commander told from the CONN. “Exit aperture ahead. Exiting the wormhole in 5… 4… 3…”

4 – Voyagers

Unknown Part of the Galaxy
Day 1

An entirely new area of the galaxy, an area of space that looked pristine and untouched by the rest of the universe, instantly erupted into chaos as an all too familiar lightning storm in space quickly exploded into a wormhole exit aperture. Mere seconds later, and at a speed far quicker than had perhaps been intended, a massive metallic object emerged from the tunnel, bringing debris and plasmatic emissions that threatened to pollute the heavens surrounding it. Once the burnished behemoth had drifted far enough from the aperture, another eruption occurred until the wormhole vanished from existence, leaving no trace that it had ever been there. Hypatia was here. Wherever ‘here’ was.

Coming to a halt in the dead of space, the majestic starship finally had the time it needed to regroup, her crew the time to seek the answers on everyone’s lips; where were they, and how the hell were they going to get back? With their sensors still damaged, they would be limited to how quickly they could get those answers, but it did allow injuries to be tended to and other systems to be healed.

“There’s nothing on short-range sensors that could give away our location,” Commander Burton pursed her lips at the CONN, reviewing the navigational logs carefully. “There is nothing on sensors at all except…”

As her words trailed off she garnered the attention of the Captain, who felt well enough to get to his feet again and join his helmswoman at the front of the bridge. “Go on,” he urged her, using the backrest of her chair to support him as required.

“Sensors show a planet, some three thousand kilometers from our position,” Maddie told him, fingers still dancing on the CONN.

“And you can’t use the system’s star to try and pinpoint our location?” the Trill asked, somewhat confused.

“I would if there was one,” Maddie shrugged.

“It’s a rogue planet…” Onsas grinned, looking more than a little excited as he took a few steps down from the command deck and joined the Captain at the helm. “Captain, we may be able to ascertain our location through further studies of this planet,” the scientist enthused.

Giarvar, still visibly struggling from his head trauma, rubbed his temple. “Number One?” he called out a few seconds later, for some reprieve rather than anything else.

“I think it’s worth a chance,” Tharia agreed, wandering over to their position. “Until we can get long-range sensors back online, it’s probably our best shot,” the Andorian advised her captain.

“Very well,” Giarvar winced. “Onsas, have your team study this planet. Peri,” he called over to the tactical chief, “I want you to work with Maddison on her analysis of this wormhole we just travelled through. Anything useful you can gleam might help us figure out where we are, or how to get back,” he advised the two more senior members of his team.

“Aye Captain,” the Bajoran tactician agreed.

“Italia,” Kauhn turned to Ops, “see what you can do to help T’Kir with repairs. While we’re just sat here, it makes sense we put everyone to work,” he instructed the Italian.

“Sì, Capitano,” Ruas smiled, forcing herself out of her seat and heading for the aft turbo lift, only for the doors to part and spew several people wearing blue uniforms onto the bridge, led by a Cardassian woman with her hair scraped back into an efficient bun.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Matheus waved Lieutenant Iddar over to their position and filled her in on the wounded on the bridge, including the captain. She pulled out her tricorder and began to scan the man whilst his irritation levels grew.

“Captain,” Keshah smiled, “I’d like to get you to sickbay and have Doctor Okan take a look at you. Commander sh’Elas can handle things up here for a while,” the Cardassian advised, glancing across at the Andorian.

“You have your orders, Captain,” Tharia smiled. “I’ll fill you in if anything changes,” she added.

“Alright,” he agreed, much to everyone’s surprise. Time and again he seemed to confound the critics and prove himself to be a far cry from a traditional commanding officer, leaving the bridge under the care of the medical team, looking over his shoulder as Tharia assumed command for the time being. She had his ship, for now.

Commander Peri and her colleague from the CONN had completed their short trip to deck twenty and the sensor analysis lab when they were accosted by a young woman seemingly patrolling the deck in search of someone… anyone.

“Commander!” the young blonde ran right up to the Bajoran, stopping just inches away so she could almost collapse to her knees and get her breath back.

“Ensign…?” Peri looked more than a little confused as the woman, unknown to her, got her breath back. A quick glimpse towards Maddie, and she too confirmed she had no idea who this young woman in science blue was.

“Peters…” the youngster panted, “Skye Peters… It’s ok ma’am, I wouldn’t know me either,” the scientist smiled between breaths. “I only arrived a few days ago… astrometrics specialist…” she panted.

“Astrometrics, huh?” Peri grinned, placing an arm around the young woman. “Why don;t you come with us and tell us what you know,” the Bajoran led the newcomer into the sensor lab, followed swiftly by the CONN officer. Sitting the woman in blue on one of the stools, the Bajoran talked her through some breathing exercises until she was composed enough to share her knowledge.

“Alright Skye,” Maddie sat on a stool opposite the scientist and gave her full attention to the younger woman. “What do you know?”

“Well, we were analysing the nebula’s data as it came in, including the information about the two aperture’s that we experienced. This is no wormhole we encountered,” the blonde told, spinning on her stool and accessing the data console behind her.

“We figured that out already,” Peri told her, standing beside her stool, arms folded across her chest while watching the astrospecialist at work.

“I’ve been studying spatial phenomena my whole life Commander,” Skye told excitedly, “and when I tell you this is no wormhole, I mean this is no wormhole.” She pulled up two different diagrams on the display. “Here we have two apertures. The left, the mouth to the Bajoran wormhole, is nearly three times the size of the ones we encountered in Vadlox, on the right, and far less volatile. None of the distortions we detected at either end of our journey,” she smiled.

Seeing no real connection from the tactical chief, she looked towards the helmswoman, hoping she would be able to find some common ground with a navigator of the stars.

“So its a micro wormhole?” Maddie asked, confused.

“No,” Skye sighed. “What analysis we managed to gain from the probe and our own sensors showed us one other thing.” She changed the screen to show a larger representation of the inner workings of the tunnels themselves.

“A wormhole tends to get you from A to B, unless there is, like Barzan, an unstable element at one end or another,” she continued, tracing her fingers over the display, “but this is a network of tunnels, with apertures all over the place, some permanent, some randomly forming.”

“Did we stumble across the Borg transwarp network?” Peri’s arms dropped to her side as the recollection of something she had studied suddenly dawned on her, scaring her more than she would care to admit.”

“No, but something similar,” Skye shook her head vigorously, then zoomed her display in. “See how there are no manmade structures maintaining the tunnels? These are natural. And there has only ever been one Starfleet ship that has encountered such a network before,” the scientists’ eyes were wide with excitement as she looked between the two senior officers.

“I know this one…” Maddie inched forward to the edge of her stool and leaned closer to the screen. “It was in the seventies. Voyager, I think it was. She was lost in the Delta Quadrant for a while,” the helmswoman told, drawing an enthusiastic nod from the scientist.

“That’s right,” Skye confirmed, “and while she was there, Voyager reported encountering a corridor of tunnels controlled by a species called the Turei. Starfleet has an agreement in place for use of the tunnels throughout the Gradin Belt, but we had no idea they spread this far.”

“And you found all this out from just the few readings we got from the probe and the short time we were in the tunnel?!” Peri looked more than a little impressed as the youngster nodded swiftly.

“Download everything you have and come with us,” the tactical chief instructed, pointing to a data PADD on top of the console they had been working on.

“We’re taking you to the bridge.”

“The bridge?!” Skye stopped dead in her tracks, the blood draining from her face as she swallowed hard. “I’ve, um, never, um, been on the bridge before…”

“And I’ve never been a scientist before, but you’ve just taught me more in five seconds than I could have imagined,” the Bajoran grinned. “You’re going to share it with the senior staff.”

“Oh…kay…” the wide-eyed look of fear failed to disappear as the youngster took several deep breaths and tried her best to compose herself.

She’d been on her first assignment for a matter of weeks and, now, she found herself on the cusp of her most important briefing ever.

And she was damn close to bricking it.