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Part of USS Savannah: Hesperus Rising and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Normans Woe – Part #1

Underspace / USS Savannah / Observation Lounge / Deck 1
2401.7.12 /15:09hrs (Shipboard Time)
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” Down came the storm, and smote amain

      The vessel in its strength;

She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,

      Then leaped her cable’s length.”

The Wreck of the Hesperus – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1842)


The TTH shimmered into being in front of the assembled Senior Officers of the USS Savannah, as they gathered for the Captain’s briefing.

“Please state the parameters for the Tactical Training Scenario.”

The Tactical Training Hologram began and then stopped and craned its head slightly as the Ship’s – computer interfaced with its matrix and performed a data – squirt to update this version with the most current situational analysis from the New Orleans – class Frigate’s own data – banks. The Hologram then also received the most contemporary data it had been exposed to from the Federation – wide TTH network (the cumulative experiential learning from all the TTH units active or on – standby serving with all Starfleet vessels in the Fourth Fleet and beyond – since the TTH program was first initiated 51 Years ago.

It was terraquads of data, a precis of every nanosecond of tactical data available – from every interaction everywhere, all designed to make the TTH the ultimate learning tool.

Upon receiving this universe of knowledge in less than a heartbeat, the Hologram based upon one of Starfleet’s most illustrious NCOs grunted.

“Humph…. I see.” And nodded his shaved bullet – head.

“At – ease Master Chief Saroga.” Commanded a surprisingly young-looking woman, sporting a field dressing to her forehead and what Isagi’s data – dump told him were a set of very new Lieutenant – Commander’s Pips.

“Thank you, Captain Hyland.” The TTH nodded respectfully, his greying moustache jinking at the edges as the barrel – chested little Nipponese man bowed stiffly from the waist. His programming had brought the TTH up to date on every moment of recorded events that had transpired aboard the unfortunate vessel since it came to be stranded in the spatial anomaly.

 Isagi Saroga had not earned the reputation of one of the most formidable operators in the history of Starfleet security by pre-empting the briefing of his superior officers and the TTH stood ramrod straight, hand behind back at ease as ordered – staring at the bulkhead of the observation lounge.

Apart from the Captain and the Executive Officer, every single person in the briefing stared back at the TTH.

For the young officers of the USS Savannah – they were looking at a representation of a long – dead 23rd Century legend. 

One that had fallen in the 1st Klingon War with the nascent Federation, been ‘resurrected’ by a cadre of veteran officers who had developed the doctrine what was now universally known as the “Hazardous Situation Response Team” – in the aftermath of the Dominion War and had been training Starfleet Officers in these asymmetric – skills ever since.

Their incomprehension was clear on their faces – they had no idea why the TTH had been ‘rezzed’ and was attending the briefing.

A being of network centric meta-data, maniple forcefields and a repository of the most cutting – edge tactical evaluation database ever assembled in a heuristic – learning matrix, slaved to a mobile emitter – the TTH had a more – than – better idea why it was summoned. The Master Chief had the legacy and composure to let the CO spell it out to her people, in her own good goddamned time.

“Thank you all for coming.” Lieutenant Commander Hyland commenced the brief.

All eyes were still on the TTH.

Sam grimaced and her hand went to her dressing, presaging a deeper hurt.

“Master Chief – would you mind reverting to something more contemporary. It’s a little distracting?”

The TTH looked down at his Red and Gold 23rd Century Era uniform. The young 25th Century Officers were obviously entranced with a dress – set that they had only ever seen in museums and recreations.

He set his jaw and responded.

“Respectfully Captain. That’s a negative. This was the uniform I fought in. This is the uniform I died in. It stays or I do not.”

Samantha looked at the hologram from a long moment. The debate around the autonomy and individuality for holographic entities had been raging for long years now and she was determined not to let it distract from the briefing.

“Fair enough.” The Captain turned to the CMO and prompted, “Doctor Ballard, given our situation – I think we should start with your briefing?”

Aldren Ballard looked momentarily flustered and his hands started “stimming”, but the slim Australian – accented man managed to master his Aspergers and activated the holo-projector on the center of the briefing – table.

All assembled were perplexed by what they saw, and Dr Ballard swallowed his trepidation and expounded.

“I apologize for the apparent crudity of the abject lesson – but I find that in matters of complex interdimensional metaphysics – it’s often better to start with first principles. Elsewise, people tend to get rather confused when we get to the ‘Meta-spatial’ hyperbole?”

Aldren tried to make a weak lecture – hall joke and saw that his students had received this poorly. He pressed on.

“Imagine this sheet is the skein that represents what established science knows as the “Hyperspace – Grid.” The scientist intoned and before the senior officers, a flat sheet with a grid appeared over the table.

“Of course, every Starfleet Cadet has undergone basic Warp – theory, so we know that the ‘sheet’ is contemporaneous to a sheet of rubber – in that it is elastic and subject to the causal universal effects of action and reaction, mass, inertia and relative time.” Alden continued, warming to the subject.

Suddenly a bowling ball, gleaming with three finger – holes and the number “13” materialized and immediately began to bear down on the hologram of the rubber – sheet.

“Now – imagine that this bowling ball represents the normal integer of a matter/antimatter relationship between the USS Savannah and the hyperspace grid on the most common hyperspace plane, the “Negative”, as the ship moves at warp. There is (of course) the overarching “Positive” hyperspatial plane – where presides the realm of the “Transwarp” – but for the sake of this demonstration – let’s put that to one side.”

The “bowling ball” began to roll in space on the spot, the illusion of movement given by the flow of the grid on the representation of the “rubber sheet”.

“As the ship moves through hyperspace it must connect and interact with either the Negative or the Positive plans of hyperspace as it propels itself at warp and (for the most part) this relationship is harmonious.” The scientist expounded with mild interest – this ‘monkey-show’ only scratching at the wonderment of the phenomena for this complex man.

“Sometimes there is a spatial anomaly, a rift or wrent in Space-time (ostensibly connected to another locale – but sometimes not) where this relationship is temporaneously usurped.

With this, the holo showed a large tear in the rubber sheet and the bowling – ball fell easily into it.

“This phenomenon is reliably and demonstrably contingent to what is commonly known as a “Wormhole.” Dr Ballard explained to exactly the surprise of no-one seated at the table.

The Holo suddenly reset itself, this time the tear in spacetime was tiny.

“However, it has been postulated that sometimes a smaller, more localized phenomena – exhibiting a subspace compression – rate well in excess of accepted norms can sometimes form – of such focus and magnitude that the rubber sheet reacts in such a manner thus…..” Alden sounded so very pleased to be getting to the good stuff now.

The bowling ball rolled along until it reached the micro-tear in time and space and as it tried to squeeze through the impossibly small aperture it was suddenly pinballed up into the positive plane of the Hyperspace – grid above and accordingly rebounded with even more ferocious force into the micro-tear – passing through its tiny – aperture and beyond where the bowling – ball became a ghostly – translucent orb and the presentation froze at its close.

Dr Aldren Ballard spread his hands wide and indicated the nauseating sepia – vista beyond, a violent swirling mass of angry cloud, accusing lighting and a choking of debris left from other vessel unlucky enough to make this passage.

“And there you have it.” Aldren smiled weakly in the face of Perdition.

“Thank you, Dr Ballard.” Samantha nodded carefully. “Given the incident with Lieutenant Herrera and the other minor temporal incursions, that have affected other crewmembers to a much less pestiferous – degree – I think all minds are understandable preoccupied with the obvious threat that this new threat presents. What can you tell us about the phenomena and is there anything we can do to safeguard the crew against its effects?

“Do?” Alren looked at the CO with some confusion. “DO? Oh, dear me no Captain. It’s true that the Temporal – shell (as I have elected to term the phenomena thus) that affected Lieutenant Herrera, was arguably extreme in the effect it asserted in such a small timeframe.” The scientist shrugged with an academic remove born partly from his social disassociation and partly from his dispassionate fascination with the science.

“I also understand that other crewmembers remain frozen in time – with no aggregate accelerated aging such as LT Herrera experienced, so we much postulate that the effects of the Time – shells are not uniform and the disparity of time they infer is not universal. My team have managed to infer that the phenomena seems to be linked to the lightning – flashes very much in the same way a Thunder – clap presages such in a conventional storm – system.”

Sam’s headache was worsening, and the briefing had only just begun.

“SO, you’re saying that they occur with the lighting, their effects vary, and we have at least a basic way of predicting their occurrence now?” Sam enquired tiredly.

“Well, I wouldn’t stake my reputation on that hypothesis. “Alden sat back in his chair cagily, “But I suppose it is acceptable on First – Principals.”

Samantha turned to the Helm – Officer, Bysea Wanat. The young Bolain pilot had been listening to Dr Ballard intently and Sam needed her take on this theory.

“Bysea?” Sam addressed her. “Post the “Scramming” of the Warp – Core, what can you give us in terms of headway and attitude control?”

“Well Captain, we cannot move at warp and the explosion on Deck 13 has damaged the Primary Impulse – Emitters as they were in the same volume a few – frames back.” The beautiful – blue officer reasoned. “At best we can muster half – impulse from the Secondary Emitters on the saucer – but with the EPS power allocation issues – it’d have to be a priority assignment. If Science can give us forewarning of more of these “Temporal – Shell” – incursions with a reasonable integer of warning – my team should be able to shift the old – girl with the RCS thrusters enough to avoid the worst of things.”

Samantha Hyland smiled – Bysea Wanat’s irrepressible optimism and ‘can – do’ attitude was exactly what the crew needed right now. However, both reports led Samantha to have to follow to a more unpleasant segue.

“Dr Reynard?” The Captain addressed the Chief Medical Officer – who had finally assented to releasing Sam from Observation in Sickbay. “Can you please tell us what you can about Chief Herrera’s condition?”

All eyes turned to the CMO (none more than that of Ensign Cassandria Carver – the young assistant Engineer and Carlto’s prodigy – who was now catapulted into the position of ‘Acting – Chief Engineer) and Alison Reynard nodded.

“My thanks for Dr Ballard for his summation.” The CMO began. “It goes some way to illustrate the threat posed by these pockets of time. As reported, we have had several instances of crew being caught in the effects of these Temporal – Pockets – for the most part the effect has intrinsically frozen them for a few seconds, whilst time had flowed on around them at a normal rate. The next effect of Tachyon – Radiation on these victims has been negligible both physiologically and chronologically.”

It was Ensign Carver that spoke and broke the Doctor’s prognosis.

“But how is Carlito?” The young Engineer worried – mirroring the abject concern and fear that was, even now, permeating the young crew of the USS Savannah.

Dr Reynard steepled her hands together and continued with some difficulty.

“The effects on Lieutenant Herrah were more pronounced, despite the quick thinking and actions of the XO – which most certainly saved his life.” Alison explained to the concerned assemblage.

“Although he was only caught in the Tachyon event horizon of the Temporal – shell for a manner of seconds – the effect on Carlito was to age him immediately and at a cellular level to a degree of maturation that has had an extremely acute impact on his nervous system and physiology. That, coupled with the intense mental trauma such an act must surely impart – had led to Dr el – Hannan and myself to elect to keep the Chief in an Induced – Coma whilst he heals. This kind of trauma is almost unprecedented Captain.” Dr Reynard warned pointedly. “The scars will take a long time to heal.”

Sam looked at the CMO levelly.

“How long?” She asked flatly.

“Well recovery like this is hard to…” Dr Reynard began, before Sam shook her head and interjected.

“I mean – how much time did Carlito lose, subjectively?” The Captain pressed.

Dr Alison Reynard grimaced at this and admitted.

“When he sat down with Ensign Carver for breakfast this morning, Carlito Herrera was a healthy young male for 29 years old, with all of the physiological markers one would expect of a person of that age.” The Physician explained.

“Post exposure to the Tachyon Radiation of the Temporal-Shell phenomena – Lieutenant Carlito Herrara’s cellular age is now more akin to that you would expect to see of a Human Male in his early 50’s.”

The silence of the room was palpable.

It was eventually broken by the Executive Officer.

“Captain, if I may?” Intoned Lieutenant T’Vran severally.

“Go ahead Number One.” Sam nodded, glad of the Vulcan’s support.

“Given that we have a codex for the frequency of the Temporal – phenomena, an estimation of the scope of effect and a rudimentary method of detection and avoidance – might I suggest that we relocate all non – essential personnel to the Saucer – section and evacuate all non – essential duty – stations of the Engineering – hull. With the damaged sustained from the explosion and the restrictions currently necessary to the EPS – grid, it might be prudent to alleviate our power demands and present a lower target – profile for possible anomalies.”

“That’s a good idea Number One.” Sam was further relieved that her young crew was rising to the succession of challenges. “Please Liaise with Ops and make the necessary changes with Ensign Vikander and the Chief.”

“Very good Captain.”

Samantha now turned her attention back to the TTH and spoke.

“Thank you for your patience.” She spoke to all gathered – but ostensibly to the hologram.

“For those of you that have been privileged enough to make his acquaintance, I’m sure that you all are familiar with Master Chief Asagi Saroga?”

The hologram of the dapper – little man with the severe moustache bowed stiffly from the waist in greeting.

Security Chief Myron Hayes, at least, smiled wryly of bruises gone by and enlightenment reached through Holodeck tribulations past.

“For those that have not – I have activated the TTH as we have need of him to assist us in the execution of a particular mission. The profile of which is uniquely suited to his skillset and programming – the outcome of which is paramount to the continued survival of this ship and crew.” Samantha continued and activated the holo – projector with a program of her own.

“As you know – our current status is that we are situated within a subspace anomaly that is currently beyond our capacity to escape at Warp due to the loss of half of our Deuterium Storage.”

The Captain explained. The passage through the mouth of the Labyrinth had been hectic – the explosion of the jettisoned ventral MMP and its torpedoes had indeed seemed to debilitate the pursing True Way “Galor” – class Cruiser, but both events had left the crew mostly unconscious and the effects of Underspace had confounded all attempts to re-establish a reliable telemetry.

The USS Savannah was lost in a hostile hellscape with no idea of which was up, down, forward or back.

Sam wisely chose not to share what her dead – father had shared about what it’s Crystal – Entity symbiont claimed that it knew about “Underspace” – she saw it as an ‘unreliable – narrator’ at best and did not think this revelation would be constructive considering what her crew has having to come to terms with currently.

“Firstly, we do not know the current status or threat represented by the hostile True Way Cruiser – but we have to assume that it survived the engagement intact, until we can confirm otherwise.” Sam reasoned grimly. “That we have not come under renewed attack in the last few hours – we can only hope is indicative that our strike was successful and the Cardassian vessel has sustained significant damage – much the same as have we.”

Sam indicated the Master Chief.

“Barring Chief Manningly, whose acumen we cannot afford to risk on an Away Mission, the Master Chief is our only current Tactical – Asset with extensive knowledge with engaging in a Cardassian Aggressor on a War – footing.” Samantha Hyland reasoned, this eliciting a flutter of murmurs from around the table. Starfleet (though martially capable and able) was not a military force and Sam knew this concept would be unsettling to many gathered here.

Sam held up her hand for silence.

“The other reason for the activation of the TTH is this.” Lieutenant Commander Samantha Hyland spoke with surety.

“Whilst I was recuperating in sickbay – I used that time to set you all various assignments that presaged this briefing.” Sam nodded.

“Before Chief Herrara was overcome, he informed Lieutenant T’Vran that the only way to restore power to the Warp – core was to locate a source of enriched deuterium – something that seems on the face of it, plaintively impossible in our current predicament. Do you concur Ensign Carver?”

Cass Carver squirmed uncomfortably in her seat, obviously feeling the strain at having been deputized to fill a role she saw beyond her capabilities. However, she rallied and attempted to rise to the challenge.

“Carlito…” She began and corrected herself “The Chief is right Ma’am – without restoring the Deuterium supply – we have no way for re-stablishing the requisite Matter/Antimatter ratio to safely restore warp power. Also, the Deuterium Fill – Ports were also situated in Deck 13 and have been totally destroyed. Even if we could locate a viable source of Deuterium in this Hell – we have nowhere to load it onboard, nowhere to store it and no way to process it to sufficient purity to attempt to restart the Core.”

The young Engineer looked crestfallen at the apparent impossibility of their collective – plight.

It was Sam’s time to smile as she led.

“All true – butif we could locate a suitable source of Deuterium – could you fabricate a temporary holding tank of sufficient volume to contain such a supply?”

Cass looked perplexed, but worked the problem, nevertheless.

“Well – we could utilize one of the cargo-bays I guess – we’d have to prioritize and shut down far more of the Ship’s – systems to prioritize the EPS allocation to run the industrial – grade replicators and ensure adequate field containment – but yes – given time we could do that. But that still doesn’t help us with the issue of the Fill – Ports – the explosion totally destroyed the infrastructure – we just don’t have enough Biomass onboard to be able to manufacture enough high – grade trillium to be able to replace that system, Captain.”

Sam nodded and prompted – “But that would be a standard fixture aboard all Starfleet Vessels, is that correct Ensign Carver?”

“Well yes Ma’am but…”

Samantha activated the Holo and explained.

“I set Ensign Sh’eshikrar that task of using our long – range scanners to scour the debris field to see if there was anything useful that we could possibly use to help us repair the damage within the context of the locale of where we find ourselves within the anomaly.” Sam nodded.

The hologram resolved to a represent the Debris Field surrounding the USS Savannah – a veritable shoal of detritus & lost souls.

“Most of what she found was either too fragmented or too contaminated by time and radiation to be of any practical use.” The Captain continued and then the view zoomed in on a shape that was both incongruous but startlingly familiar to all at the table.

The heavily – damaged form of a derelict Miranda – Refit class Starfleet starship – minus one Warp – nacelle and showing damage throughout.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the USS Subic Bay!” the Captain said without fanfare and sat back as those gathered exploded into a barrage of conjecture and urgent questions.

After a while Sam held up her hands for quiet again and outlined her plans.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures and I can’t think of a situation where this more urgently applies.” Sam commenced her proposal.

“Assuming Ensign Carver and her team can fashion us a vessel that can hold Deuterium, I propose that a salvage mission is mounted to the wreck of the “Subic Bay” to retrieve what parts we can to rebuild the Deuterium Fill – Port and Processing assembly aboard the USS Savannah. The basic design parameters should be similar enough to upgrade the raw – parts to a standard we require – even if it means jury-rigging and a kit-bash to end all kit-bashes. Ensign Carver?”

“It could work….’ Cass began to warm to the idea and bring up specs & make calculations on her PADD.

“But with the known danger of the Tachyon Radiation and the other exotic effects of the anomaly – that’s tantamount to a suicide mission – given what happened to Herrera!” Dr Reynard interjected. “Captain, on medical grounds it is unethical to ask any member of the crew to undertake such a hazardous mission given the likelihood of exposure!”

Captain Hyland nodded and indicated the TTH.

“Which is why I have tasked Master Chief Saroga to participate in the away team. He is fully mission – capable and more than passingly familiar to the systems aboard a 23rd Century Starfleet ship.’ Sam explained and it gradually dawned why the TTH was there.

“But what about redundancy?” Asked Ensign Vikander. “If we base the success of the mission, in its entirety on the TTH, what happens if there is an issue with his Mobile – Emitter? We lose him and the mission is a failure?”

It was T’Vran’s time to speak.

“The TTH will not be embarking on the Salvage – mission alone Ensign.” The Vulcan spoke levelly. “I will be accompanying the Master Chief on the Away Team.” Before Dr Reynard could protest, T’Vran continued.

“As a Vulcan, my expected life – span is effectively double that of a Human member of this crew. If I were to be subject to the Anagathic – effect of Tachyon Radiation, exerted by a wandering Temporal Shell – I have a far higher likelihood of surviving long enough to ensure the mission’s success.”

T’Vran shrugged diffidently.

“Besides the Master Chief – I am the only other logical choice.”

Ensign Vikander, the USS Savannah’s young OPS Lead frowned and reasoned out loud.

“Let’s say that Engineering can fabricate a replacement storage tank and assuming that the Away Team mission to the USS Subic Bay is successful Captain?” Neva’s dark brows knotted, and she asked. “Doesn’t that still leave us with one piece of the puzzle missing? We still don’t have a viable source of Deuterium, do we?”

Samantha Hyland nodded sagely and keyed the holoprojector one last time.

“Well noted Ensign.” Sam smiled despite her headache. “We do not have a viable source of Deuterium.” She agreed.

The Holo suddenly swung to postulate the shape of a “Galor” class Cardassian Cruiser.

“But somewhere out there – I bet that there is a man that does.” The Captain nodded with grim purpose.

“And I intend to go have a word with that man about that Deuterium, but first I am going down to the Brig to have a chat with the True Way crewmember we have secured down there – so he can tell me a little more about his Boss and who we may be dealing with – when the time comes.”

 

Comments

  • There's a lot to like here, but that last 1/4 of the story is just pitch perfect in how the pieces of the solution are coming together - there's a lot of risk in getting what they need from the Miranda refit - I'm invested in seeing how that plays out. The other element is the possibility of having to talk to a Cardassian captain about the supply that they need - will it be a conversation, or will it be more forceful? There are lots of ways this could do, and you've given us lots to think about. Interested to see how it pans out.

    June 21, 2024
  • I feel a certain level of pity for Herrera, he had no way to avoid it, no way to get back to his younger years that got taken from him. But he now is forced to live with it. Emotional understanding is but partly as Herrera opinion is not even given, but his co-workers can feel the weight of the results of the hazard space that effected him. Hyland has not going to burn boats over such sitback and builds on the bigger picture. I love how she takes control over the situation and presents a valid solution to their predicament. Great post!

    June 21, 2024
  • This story had a lot of meat to it and it was a great piece to read. I have to agree with Ryoko that I felt pity for Herrera, I couldn't imagine not being able to live the younger years of my life, as they were some of the biggest to define me for who I am. This whole post has so many interesting parts and I could write a paragraph, but the best way to say it was this was an excellent post and you did an amazing job in pushing the story forward in a unique way. I am really invested to see what's going to happen going forward.

    June 25, 2024