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Part of USS Constellation: You Changed The Ending

You Changed The Ending – 6

Bridge, USS Constellation
August 2401
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Through the transparent viewscreen, two Krenim warships hung listlessly in space.  For all their aggression, the starships Constellation and Themis had disabled them in short order.  Likely, this victory had been aided by the warships appearing decades out of date.  It was the planet below that proved the true orb of mystery, given it had revealed little more than cryptic distress calls from time to time.  Over the open comms with the bridge of the Themis, her captain was the first to react to the lates distress call.

”Whoever this Doctor Irlina is, she must know what’s going on here,” Cambil summarised. “We need to find her.”

Manipulating the controls on her science console, Flavia offered, “She hailed us from the planet. Her signal was able to reach our relay and I can trace it back to, ah, a large industrial complex. I’m detecting the highest levels of chronon radiation at her location. I’d hazard a guess it was the source of the radiation.”

“We are detecting a number of instabilities on the planet below. I suggest we send a shuttlecraft team down.” Cambil recommended. 

“Captains, even with anti-rad meds,” Flavia was swift to interject, “more than a few minutes exposure to humanoid tissue would leave our crew members with long-term health effects. I forbid any of my scientists travel to the surface.”  As the mission commander of the Romulan Free State scientists aboard the ship, Flavia was never shy to wield her autonomy among the crew.

“What if we send the away teams in with emergency transporter armbands?” suggested Commander Hunsen beside Cambil. The Themis’ first officer tapped his console beside him. “If we modify them to emit a subspace isolation field, it should protect the away team.”

“The only flaw to that plan is that the away team wouldn’t be able to interact with anything outside of the field; they couldn’t render assistance unless it were verbal instructions,” Commander Perez countered from the engineering station behind Cambil and Hunsen. 

Seated in the mission advisor’s chair on the raised command platform, Doctor Nelli draped two of their limb-like vines over Captain Taes’ wrist. When they spoke, they didn’t raise their voice to compete with Flavia’s confident clamour. Nelli simply interrupted, paused, and then shared their intent. 

“If I may, captain,” Nelli said, “There is a further option to consider.”



Any day that offered an escape from the infertile shale of starship deck plates was a good day for Doctor Nelli. A primal drive in Nelli urged them to raise their eye-stalks, to look up. From the changing quality of light through the shuttle’s forward viewport, they could sense they had dove through the cloud cover and were hurtling to the world below. Their curiosity screamed at them to observe the natural wonders of Onitha, but their higher mind was preoccupied. 

Over the video communication, Doctor Irlina appeared to have been caught in an explosion, and Starfleet knew very little of Krenim biology. Nelli fiddled with the tools in their medi-kit, checking the status of each. Nelli anticipated she would require additional time to diagnose Irlina, even before she could begin to treat her. 

Nelli was also distracted from the shuttle’s rapid descent because of the identity of her pilot. 

“Did you tell them?” Nelli asked. She had switched off her vocoder, speaking in ultrasonic pops and vibrations. “Your crew?  Did you explain why Phylosians are hardened to temporal radiation?”

Moving their fuzzy artichoke-shaped head to face the medical officer, Lieutenant Andar responded in their native tongue. “I found it difficult to explain to them in a way they could comprehend. Even Doctor Forbes couldn’t quite fathom the science behind how we are immune.” Returning their focus back to the controls, Andar’s scarlet-eye stems increased in glow as the sensors started to show them what awaited them on the surface. “This Krenim settlement is highly impressive regarding the number of structures. It may cause difficulties in finding a suitable location to land the shuttlecraft. I will endeavour to bring us close to Doctor Irlina.”

Nelli shifted their weight in the co-pilot’s chair and then they closed the medi-kit in their lap. 

“I trust in your pilotry skills, Andar,” Nelli replied. “Even for us, limiting our time on the planet’s surface will be critical.”

Curiosity got the better of Andar as they started to level off their descent. “Doctor, may I ask you a question, from one Phylosian to another?”

“My truth is open to you.”

“I have not been with my shipmates long,” Andar explained. “I have transferred from the Triton to the Odyssey and then to the Themis. I am curious how you have adjusted in your career to respond to different comrades?”

“My path was unwise, my choices anathema to all ancestral wisdom,” Nelli answered. They reached out to Andar, touching his central stalk to communicate the deeper meanings between them. “Mistakenly, I tried to live outside the crew’s community.  This choice was unnatural. It may have taught me more about humanoid experience, but it left our captain vulnerable to emotional detachment.  My roots were required to hold the senior staff together.”

“I appreciate the insight,” Andar replied just as the shuttle approached its landing spot. “I am reducing our speed, preparing for landing.”

”Don’t repeat my mistakes,” Nelli suggested.  “Make your own.”

As the shuttlecraft slowed down, it gently hummed as it lowered itself down onto the clearing that was nearest to the entrance both Phylosians would use to gain access to Doctor Irlina. 

“We are secure,” Andar announced as they rose from the pilot’s seat. Taking out their tricorder, Andar started to scan beyond the shuttle. “We will need to climb down what appears to be a set of emergency access tunnels to the doctor’s location. Fortunately for us this will not take as long if we had a full humanoid away team.”

Making use of the shuttle’s haptic interface, Nelli pressed the controls to open the rear hatch. After strapping the medi-kit to their body, Nelli followed Andar into the shuttle’s aft compartment. 

“The desire for any living being to burrow beneath the soil, and to live there, remains mystifying,” Nelli remarked. 

Andar slithered across to the locker and pulled out the emergency transporter armbands. Taking one out, they handed it to Doctor Nelli. “Commanders Hunsen and Perez have modified these for our own biology, fortunately for us our Phlyosian physiology will allow us to interact beyond the subspace isolation fields.”

Nelli accepted one and strapped it around one of their motor thighs. After they activated their armbands, both Phylosians made their out of the shuttle, towards the access.  

With any talk of Phylosian secrets left behind on the shuttle, Nelli tapped their combadge. They opened a comm channel with both captains, on the bridges of their respective starships. 

Almost as soon as Andar lifted open the hatch into the Krenim facility, identical warning alerts sounded from Andar’s tricorder and the starship bridges. 

Ah!  Nelli, I want you to halt you ingress,” Taes said over the comms.  “The radiation levels within the bunker are significantly higher than all estimates.

Lowering herself to the ground, Nelli tentatively dangled two of their upper limbs into the access shaft. The subspace isolation field hugging their body crackled into the visual spectrum they could perceive. After quickly reviewing the sensor readings on their medical tricorder, Nelli wrapped their vines around the top rungs of the hatch’s in-built ladder and began their descent. 

“We can proceed, captain,” Nelli said through their vocoder. “The isolation fields will be sufficient to protect us.”

I disagree,” Taes said, raising her voice protectively. “Contact the local medical staff. Request they carry Doctor Irlina out to you.

“She may not survive for that long,” Nelli said.  “The isolation field—“

Climbing deeper into the bunker, the isolation field around Nelli flared and it crackled again. Looking up, Nelli could see no similar affliction in Andar.  The field generator in their band did not appear to be struggling as much as Nellie’s own. 

Say again, Nelli?  You cut out?” Taes said. 

After another crackle, Nelli felt the transporter band on their trunk go scorching hot at the same time the glow of the isolation field flared brighter.  Too soon, it faded into collapsing hexagonal energy bands. The isolation field was failing and Nelli simply climbed faster, recklessly.