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Part of USS Constellation: You Changed The Ending

You Changed The Ending – 10

Cockpit, USS Rubenstein
August 2401
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“The source of the negative particles appears artificial, commander,” said Science Officer Nune.  Through the viewport, the thin blue line of a particle stream was just barely visible to the naked eye.  He swiped up a holographic LCARS frame to enhance the image.  While the particle stream was magnified on the hologram, Nune tabbed through outputs from forty-seven different sensors.

Nune recounted, “The negative energy is being generated by an orbital particle fountain.  I’m reading no lifeforms aboard the particle fountain, nor the Class H planet below.  Subspace transponder identifies it as belonging to something called the… Confederation of Earth.”

“We were forewarned to prepare for alternative timelines,” Perez reminded Nune. “Just take us in carefully.” The Rubenstein shuddered from something outside. Perez frowned. “Looks like low-level graviton pulses coming from the station, probably created by the particle fountain.” 

“Wait, we don’t want our first looks to be our last look,” Nune objected firmly.  His shoulders rose closer to his ears while he scrolled through a holographic menu wheel.  He explained, “I’ll run a simulation on how the graviton pulse might interfere with our tractor beam.  Let’s hang back, commander.”

“What do you mean, hang back?” Perez questioned him. “What we need is over there. Follow my orders and take us in, Nune.” She glared at him for a moment. “Have you truly forgotten your roots?”

Like the wind was knocked out of him, Nune couldn’t say anything other than a tapered scoff.  Still, he tapped the thruster controls to maintain their distance from the particle fountain.

“Commander, I haven’t forgotten anything,” Nune tightly said.  “If anything, I’ve learned more.  We can’t expose any of our runabout systems to the negative particles.  Our only hope is keeping hold of the Krenim’s collection pod.  The safest thing to do is secure our tractor lock on the pod before we approach.”

“Well, it feels like you’re thinking more like a scientist than an engineer,” Perez remarked. 

Snarkily, Nune asked, “And what would I have done as an engineer?  Boost power to tractors and hit the engines fast enough to outrun our troubles?”

Before Perez had a chance to respond, their runabout shuddered. “What was that?” She asked as she checked the sensors one more time. “What on Earth? I’m detecting a Kapal F-Seven class freighter approaching us,” She paused. “No, make that two. They’re heavily modified.”

Any of the heat in his chest was quickly forgotten when Nune added, “Their transponders are consistent with the fountain’s Confederation.  I guess their charter doesn’t include articles to share interstellar resources for the benefit of common interests.”

“Take evasive action. I’ll add more power to the shields and start collecting the particles for the Krenim pod,” Perez announced. 

The stars whirled through the viewport as the runabout swerved under Nune’s control.

Throwing a wicked grin at Perez, Nune promised, “If you think my science department has influenced my judgement, wait until you see what I’ve learned from my favourite security chief.”

 


 

Wreckage of Krenim Weapon Ship

Walking slowly in his EVA suit, Hunsen found his visit to the wreckage of the Krenim ship, not something he had expected to be doing a day ago. Around him, various systems were damaged, and parts of the ship were exposed to the void of space. Bodies of the crew floated in space. Holding his phaser rifle tightly in hand, he continued to use the other to scan what they were looking for. 

“We’re almost there,” he shared with Kellin, who was just behind his left shoulder. 

Kellin’s amused guffaw was transmitted over the suit-to-suit comms before his response.  He lumbered closely behind Hunsen, finding a steady rhythm on his mag boots.  Also leading with a phaser rifle, Kellin kept the phaser emitter pointed at the compartment’s opposite quadrant, left open by Hunsen’s sweep.

Hunting experimental technology in a parallel universe is just another day,” Kellin intoned with light-hearted sarcasm.  “We gotta get you home safely to the best job in the galaxy.

“Yeah, I’m not sure my Imzadi would be happy if she knew how much danger I was in right now,” Hunsen admitted as they dodged a floating of a dead Krenim officer. “Fatherhood does change your perspective on things.”

Oh really?  Like a brain parasite?” Kellin asked.  “What has fatherhood changed for you?

“Well, you don’t take the small things for granted anymore,” Hunsen answered. “You enjoy them more as those moments you have as a dad with your kid become more precious.”

Swinging his phaser rifle to the right, Kellin asked, “What moment has meant a lot to you?

“Stupid things, like the first time my son smiled at me when I held him,” Hunsen replied. “Louwanna said it was probably gas, but I was certain it was a smile. He knew who I was; I could sense it.”

“That’s almost too overwhelming to think about,” Kellin said.  “It’s what scares me off.

“What makes you worried about it all?” Hunsen enquired as they went down a junction. He pointed to a nearby closed door. “Just in there.”

I don’t know if I want it enough today.  Being a father,” Kellin said.  He thumbed at the door controls, but they were darkened and didn’t respond to his touch.  “I think about it a lot.  It’s a nice idea.  But I don’t need it yet.

Using the heft of his gauntlet, Kellin smashed the door controls off the bulkhead.  He prodded and tested the wires and crystal protrusions within the exposed access controls.

At the same time, I don’t want to regret not being a father twenty years from now,” Kellin added.  “I don’t know if I could survive the weight of that regret.  But simple fear is no reason to make a life-changing decision either, is it?

“You do it because you want to become a dad,” Hunsen advised him as they entered the room. “It will give you an entirely new perspective on life, and you’ll realise the decisions you would have made in the past, and you’ll make them differently now.” 

Hunsen paused as he kept his tricorder out in front of him. “To quote my old captain, ‘bingo’!” He pointed at the device in front of him. “Here we go, exactly what we were sent to find. Let’s set up the transporter enhancers and get out of here!”