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Part of USS Themis: You Changed The Ending

You Changed The Ending – 7

Onitha, Jameeta System, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78594.5 (August 2401)
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As Doctor Nelli and Ensign Andar burst into the chamber, they were immediately swallowed by the chaos, mirroring the scene that had forced their abrupt arrival—a mix of fear and anticipation coursing through their vines. The acrid stench of burnt circuitry and scorched metal, mingled with the faint tang of ozone, assaulted their senses, intensifying their sense of urgency.

Once a bastion of scientific advancement, the lab now lay in ruins. The remnants of its once-sleek equipment were scattered haphazardly across the floor, their exposed wiring occasionally sparking with a hint of the unknown. Shattered screens and broken consoles, their cracked surfaces still faintly glowing, added to the enigma of the scene. The walls, marked with deep scorch marks and gouges, whispered of the catastrophic forces unleashed in the name of experimental research.

In the centre of the room, the Paradox Machine loomed ominously, its once-smooth surface marred by fractures and scorch marks. The device, a complex array of interwoven crystalline matrices and temporal flux regulators, flickered erratically, struggling to maintain cohesion. Streams of raw temporal energy arced dangerously from its core, illuminating the devastated lab with an eerie, otherworldly light.

Doctor Nelli’s eye stems darted across the room, spotting the lead scientist, Doctor Irlina, crumpled against a wall; her form was hidden by debris. Nelli’s agile tendrils moved with precision, deftly lifting the debris and revealing Irlina’s unconscious form. The Krenim’s uniform was singed, her face pale and marked with minor cuts from the explosion.

“She’s alive,” Nelli called out, their voice a soothing blend of concern and determination through their vocoder. They quickly administered a hypospray from their medical kit. Their tendrils, infused with a gentle bioluminescence, glowed softly as they performed a rapid assessment, ensuring no critical injuries.

Andar moved through the lab with a sombre expression. Each step was measured, their focus on the Krenim scientists scattered across the room. They knelt beside each one, checking for any signs of life. The silence was punctuated only by the occasional crackle of damaged equipment.

“They’re all gone,” Andar said quietly, their voice heavy with regret as they approached Nelli. “No one else survived.”

Nelli’s tendrils gently supported Irlina as she began to stir, her eyes fluttering open. She looked around, confusion and sorrow etched on her face as the reality of the situation settled in. After briefly introducing themselves to her, Nelli and Andar listened carefully as Irlina tried to recall what had happened to find herself in this situation. 

“The Paradox Machine… it… it went out of control,” she whispered, her voice weak. Irlina’s gaze turned to the still-active Paradox Machine, fear and determination warring in her eyes. “It has to be shut down… before it causes more damage. The temporal feedback. It could unravel everything and cause more damage to the space-time continuum.”

Realising the seriousness of what the Krenim scientist was sharing with them, Nelli and Andar immediately told their captains what they had found. 

“Take me over there,” Irlina feebly raised her hand, pointing to what appeared to be the main controls of the Paradox Machine. 

Andar, concerned by the scientist’s insistence on remaining with her experiment, tried to assure her to rest. “Please, doctor, you are in no shape to move. Let Doctor Nelli treat you.”

“We are more than likely sat within a temporal bubbly ourselves; time could be displaced, I need to know,” Irlina said as she pushed herself up and off the ground. 

Knowing there was no way they could stop her, Nelli gave Andar an indicator to help the doctor to her feet. Andar extended their tendrils to support the Krenim’s broken body and guided her to where she needed to be.

After studying the console for a few seconds, Irlina slumped her shoulders. “As I predicted, we are in a temporal bubble.”

“A temporal bubble?” Andar echoed. “What does that mean?”

“Somehow, the Paradox Machine has changed the pace of time for us within the laboratory. I can’t be sure how yet, but time for us is moving faster than what is happening outside,” Irlina answered. She kept her breaths short and sharp as she spoke. “We must fix the Paradox Machine to create a temporal reset. It would seem that somehow the machine is allowing for the time differential between our bubble and normal space-time, which your ships exist in.”

“How can we help?” Andar asked.

Pressing a few more buttons, Irlina loaded up a diagnostic of the machine. “When the Paradox Machine exploded, it created these tears in the space-time continuum—essentially, creating doorways into alternative timelines. Parts of the machine have ended in those timelines. We must retrieve them to fix the Paradox Machine so I can perform a reset.”

“Surely we need to know what caused the overload in the first place?” Nelli asked. “To avoid it happening again.”

Irlina nodded and brought up the temporal sensor logs from the incident. “The Paradox Machine was overloaded by the amount of alternative timelines it had detected.”

“There’s that many?” Andar inquired.

“Indeed,” Irlina nodded faintly. “And a majority of them all are caused by your Starfleet.”

Both Phylosians turned their heads to look at each other after hearing that statement. Nelli, the senior ranking officer in the room, moved their scarlet-eye stems towards Irlina to respond.

“How can you be certain?” Nelli challenged.

“See for yourself,” Irlina pointed to the barely operational display beside her.

Slithering over, Andar and Nelli reviewed the contents of what the Paradox Machine was telling them. In almost every scene they studied, Starfleet was involved in some sort of way, from an alternative timeline based in the Delta Quadrant, where the Krenim Imperium were superior but were wiped out by some intervention by Voyager, to another where Starfleet was barely holding the lines against the Klingons who were almost the rulers of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. There were so many different iterations of the past and the present. Realising they had to do something, Andar and Nelli agreed to stay with the doctor, contact their ships, and find a way to fix this mess.

  • Andar

    Chief Flight Control Officer