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Part of USS Themis: You Changed The Ending

You Changed The Ending – 1

Onitha, Jameeta System, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78490
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Deep within the confines of a heavily guarded Krenim research facility, Doctor Irlina and her team of temporal scientists gathered breathlessly around their latest creation: the Paradox Machine. The sleek and metallic frame of the machine glinted ominously in the sterile white light of the laboratory, humming with a barely contained energy that seemed to pulse through the very air itself. Shadows danced eerily on the walls as if the machine were already tearing through the very fabric of time. Every eye was fixed intently on the machine, waiting with bated breath for the moment of truth, when the machine would either deliver the answers they had been seeking or unleash chaos upon the world. The air was thick with a sense of both excitement and apprehension as the scientists felt the weight of their responsibility to ensure that their creation would not be the end of everything they knew.

Decades of work had gone into this, almost her entire lifetime, but Irlina knew this was the next step in her people’s understanding of time. She had left her home on Kyana Prime nearly forty years ago, and under heavy escort by the forces of the Krenim Imperium, she had set up this base deep underground. Now that the day had arrived, after countless calculations, testing and theorising, Irlina was both excited and anxious. What would they discover? What would they learn? 

Pushing down on her uniform, which was standard for all officers within the Krenim’s military, she felt like she had to say something. This was a momentous occasion. Clearing her voice, she grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. The only thing that could be heard was the Paradox Machine slowly powering up. 

“One of our most famed temporal scientists once said that when time offers you an opportunity, you don’t ignore it. Today, we cannot ignore what our creation will show us. So let’s take one moment at a time.” After speaking, Irlina smirked at everyone as they clapped in agreement with her sentiments. 

She turned her focus back to the station before her—the primary controls. At that moment, Irlina realised what everything meant to her. For months, they had toiled tirelessly, pouring heart and soul into the construction of this enigmatic device. Yet, beneath the surface of scientific triumph lingered a sense of unease, a whisper of doubt that danced at the fringes of her consciousness.

“The calculations are stable, Irlina,” one of her colleagues remarked, his voice tinged with cautious optimism. “We’re ready to proceed with the final activation sequence.”

Either it worked, or it didn’t. Throwing caution to the wind, Irlina turned to him and gave him an approving nod. “Initiate the activation process, but proceed with caution. We cannot afford any mistakes.”

Her team, a cadre of brilliant minds united in purpose, sprang into action with practised efficiency. Fingers flew across control panels, frantically attempting to keep an eye on the machine as the first set of readings started to come through. Irlina began to feel herself smile as the temporal sensors started to process the first set of readings. 

Everything was going fine. 

Yet, despite their best efforts, the machine’s core flickered ominously, its once-stable foundations crumbling beneath the weight of unforeseen consequences.

And then, in a blinding flash of light, it happened.

The Paradox Machine erupted in a cataclysmic cascade of energy; its once-proud facade shattered into a million fractured shards. Time itself seemed to warp and bend, folding in upon itself as the very fabric of reality unravelled before their eyes.

Cursing herself, Irlina felt the anger rise through her veins as she attempted to find out what was going wrong. Nothing from their preliminary tests had predicted any issues in the first few moments. Explosions erupted around her from overloads.  

“Contain the breach! Seal the temporal fractures before it’s too late!” Irlina shouted above the deafening roar of chaos; her voice tinged with urgency. “We must reinforce the primary containment field around the temporal core.”

Her team scrambled to comply, their faces etched with determination as they fought against the relentless tide of the unknown. None of them could have predicted whatever was happening to the Paradox Machine. Something external to them, beyond their research facility, was causing it to respond like this. It was almost like an upset baby that couldn’t be rested. Nothing they could do would reset the machine. With each passing moment, the fractures spread like wildfire, ruthlessly threatening to consume everything in their path. 

Looking at the machine’s temporal sensors, Irlina could see the fractures were no longer contained within their lab; they had spread across the planet and beyond. The entire Jameeta system was consumed. Every Krenim, almost five million of them, who lived in the system was now affected by their project: men, women, children – all of them. The Paradox Machine was reaching out, trying to make room with what it was trying to figure out, and it needed the entire system to become its playground. No one was safe. 

Realising that any attempt to stabilise the machine was futile, Irlina knew she had to give up and repair the damage. Her fingers were already dancing across the panel before her, trying to close the rifts that were now getting bigger, not just in size but in power. Who knew what was going to happen if they were left?

“We need to shut down the machine!” one of her colleagues exclaimed, his voice strained with desperation.

Irlina’s jaw tightened with resolve as she surveyed the devastation brought by their creation. “Not yet. First, we must contain the fractures. Only then can we hope to halt the machine’s rampage.”

And then, amidst the chaos, came the unexpected.

“Long-range sensors are picking up something, Irlina,” another scientist called out, her voice tinged with disbelief. She was sitting on one of the stations the farthest from Irlina. It had been her job to monitor the local space-time continuum. “It’s…” Her pause to take a breath was mixed with shock from what was happening around them in their lab and what she could see out in the star system. “We’ve got Krenim warships, but their quantum readings show they are from almost thirty years ago.”

Irlina’s eyes widened in shock as she processed the implications of this newfound revelation. Checking her own readings, Irlina couldn’t believe it. One of the temporal fractures had deposited the ships on their doorstep like an unwelcome guest. Reviewing the sensors with more detail, Irlina noticed that their temporal phase signature was also out. These Krenim warships were not from their timeline but an alternative one. 

“It seems we’ve attracted some unexpected visitors,” she shared, her mind racing to comprehend the magnitude of their situation. She knew she had to focus on the here and now, but the past and possible future were also shouting at her.

There was no way she and her team could endure having to close these rifts and deal with their fellow brothers and sisters from a different timeline; instead, Irlina activated the only remaining system that appeared to be working. Entering her command codes and authorising its use, she activated the base’s general distress beacon before an explosion erupted in the lab, pushing her across the room and smacking her down on the floor, out cold.