Dr. Aimee Sandoval stared suspiciously at the man standing before her. She had hung up on Doctor Armstrong, and her finger hovered discreetly over the panic button on her phone. “Can I help you? If you require medical attention, I cannot help you. I’m an anthropologist.”
After glancing at Aimee, Jonas took a half-step back, his hands held up. “My name is Colonel Jonas White, and I’m here to fetch you. I was sent by a civilian scientist you should be familiar with,” he said, still holding his hands up. “Doctor Cheon Kyo,” he stated.
“I am familiar with Doctor Kyo. He sat on the panel for my doctoral dissertation hearing.”
“Is there a problem?” Another woman demanded, approaching from the opposite direction. Rebecca Sandoval was wearing a navy version of the Colonel’s uniform with the rank of Captain. “Are you bothering my daughter?”
*** Office of Doctor Cheon Kyo Research & Development ***
Doctor Kyo sat behind a desk in the center of the room as he plucked away at the monitor attached to the desk. He heard the hiss from the door that led into his laboratory and knew that only a hand full of people had the authorized access codes to enter his part of UEC’s compound.
“Greetings, Colonel and Captain,” he said without looking at Jonas and Vausees. “I see that you have brought Doctor Sandoval with you. I sure hope that Captain Sandoval didn’t cause too much fuss about not being able to join us, Aimee.”
*** Bastion Inn ***
Jolie looked out of the window as she kept watch. She was unsure why, but something in her gut told her something was right. Not that anything made sense, but she and the rest had surmised that it was definitely due to the rift and possibly an alternate timeline. But how they still were not entirely sure.
“Ethan, you still awake?”
Ethan’s eyes cracked open. He never rarely slept during an operation. Just quick naps between action or watches. “Yeah. You see something?”
*** Office of Doctor Cheon Kyo Research & Development ***
The room was silent after Cheon had laid it on thick and heavy about an anomaly that he had detected while running a system check on the planetary sensors. He turned and looked at Ethan, “You see, Commander Sandoval, you should not be here, and yet here you are.”
“Talon,” Ethan corrected. “My name’s Talon. Sandoval is my step-mom’s maiden name.” He said that last part in his low grumble. “And did you bring us here to state the obvious? I know that much. I just don’t know how to get back.”
Now for the continuation…
Cheon looked at Ethan, and then over to his Aimee. “Captain Sandoval please feel free to join us,” he stated as he looked at Vausees to open the door.
Vausees nodded and moved towards the secured door and opened it to find Rebecca standing there.
Rebecca entered with her hands clasped behind her back. Her face was expressionless… mostly. There was a nearly imperceptible widening of the eyes and raise of eyebrows as she saw Ethan and then two identical women that resembled her daughter.
Jolie leaned over to Ethan and in a low voice spoke to him. “Something tells me that that lady is shooked by the appearance of you and Aimee,” she stated as she looked over at Rebecca.
Cheon walked over to the Captain and held out his hand, which contained the micro recorder, “Might want to keep your toys out of my lab, Captain Rebecca Sandoval.”
Rebecca scowled, “I don’t know what kind of game you are playing here, but these people are not ‘toys’ and they certainly aren’t mine.”
Cheon’s face twisted at her comment. “I was not referring to our guests. I was referring to this,” he stated as a small micro recorder appeared between his fingers.
Her face remained placid as she stared down at the device. “Cloak and dagger isn’t something I’m used to doing, and I’m certainly not used to being drug places without explanation. Do please get to the point.”
Cheon leaned in and lowered his voice, “Don’t play games with me Special Agent Sandoval,” his voice stressed the last part as he leaned back to gauge her reaction to his knowledge of her being in a supposedly non-existent department of the Navy. “After all Captain, I know where all the pieces are on the chessboard and thus know how each one is being placed and played; this includes myself.”
Jolie leaned over and tapped a silent message to Ethan on his forearm, ‘Do that woman not look like your stepmother?’
Ethan nodded and tapped back, Yes, but do not be fooled none of these people are who we know.
Rebecca stiffened slightly, but her expression did not change. She would have to pull up Doctor Kyo’s dossier. She didn’t know exactly what he knew, and she wasn’t going to expose herself to him willy-nilly. “Do get to the point,” Rebecca stated letting her annoyance intentionally seep into her voice.
Jolie nodded inside her mind to what Ethan had stated and at the same time tapped back, I have already deduced all of that. For instance, the man that looks like my father is in fact the complete opposite. The Captain standing with the completely outdated weapon is in fact Captain Vausees “Vax” Ves, Commander of the U.S.S Heracles. The last report prior to us getting sucked into this twisted version of our own timeline was that she and her crew had been destroyed by an unknown ship and then the debris was sucked into one of the rifts that she had been closing. The only one that is throwing me for a loop is this time Aimee. Although she is completely not our Aimee she does act almost as if she is…
Sometimes things just work out that way, Ethan replied.
While Jolie is tapping this out Cheon saw stiffening and knew then that he had hit a very raw nerve. He turned and looked at the group in front of him. In a low voice, he says, “What to do with you.”
Ethan stepped forward. He stood at parade rest with his back ramrod straight enhancing his whole six-foot-three stature. “We are not here to interfere with whatever this is. We were pulled through some sort of interdimensional rift. We just want to get home.”
Jonas looked over at Vausees as Ethan announced this. Cheon looked back at Ethan with a surprised look on his face. ‘I was right.’, he thought to himself as he looked back at Rebecca for a moment before he moved away from her, but not before he stated that their discussion was far from over.
“Tell me more, Commander Talon.”
“Not sure there’s much more to tell,” Ethan said with a shrug.
“They were tied to a major ion storm affecting the Mellstoxx system and surrounding area,” Aimee added.
Ethan wasn’t a scientist and hadn’t thought that significant but nodded in agreement, “We can provide our sensor data.”
Jolie was about to correct Aimee when she happened to see Ethan play along. After all The Paulson Nebula was not in the Mellstoxx system. She was however curious as to how they would be able to share the sensor data without messing up this timeline somehow.
Cheon nodded and motioned for them to have a seat, he followed them to the semi-circle couch arrangement and took a seat so that he could further listen to what they had to say about their being here.
Ethan sat down with his arms crossed and gave Jolie a look that said this was a waste of time. “It was a hell of a massive ion storm. It destroyed whole colonies and was a threat to the whole Quadrant. Something… not sure exactly what, and maybe your scientists can make heads or tails of the data because I sure as hell cannot. I am no scientist. I barely passed astrophysics at the Academy. My job is to wreck things not find answers to the universe.”
A grin crossed Jolie’s mouth as she sat down. She then looked at Cheon. “Pardon me Doctor but is there a restroom nearby?” she asked as started to pretend to fidget around giving off the appearance of discomfort.
Cheon looked at Jolie for a moment and realized that she had to relieve herself. Nodding he motioned for one of the MACOs to escort her to the nearest restroom.
As Jolie stood up she locked eyes with Ethan and with a few quick blinks sent him a silent message of ‘I am on it.’ before she left being escorted by the MACO. Once the door to the restroom closed Jolie looked around for a moment before she noticed a vent cover in the ceiling. After a few moments, she removed the cover and slipped into the vent. She knew she was close to the outside wall of the building that they were in and before long she was feeling a cool airflow and the smell of sea salt from the bay.
Back in the lab, Ethan’s combadge chirped and Audren’s voice came over the line, “Ethan, what’s your status.”
“Breathing for now,” he replied noticing the dirty looks from those around him. “Audren, can you download the sensor data we collected on the rift onto a PADD and beam it down to my location?”
There was a pause, “Sensor data? Are you sure Commander?”
“Very much so,” Ethan replied. “Also I expect once we disconnect you will not be able to reach us for the foreseeable future.”
“Understood Commander,” Audren replied, “Zebulon Pike out.” A moment later a large data PADD materialized at Ethan’s feet.
Cheon’s eyes widened as the PADD appeared. It was then that he realized just how advanced his guests were. Granted they had the technology but it was untested at this time. ‘Fascinating’
Vausees swung her rifle toward the PADD as it materialized at Ethan’s feet, “What is this,” she snapped out sharply as her finger touched the trigger, prepared to turn the PADD into swish cheese.
“It is a standard data PADD,” Ethan said.
“It’s a tablet,” Aimee added using the 21st Century term. “Essentially a handheld computer.”
Vausees slung the rifle back onto her back and looked at Aimee with a curious look in her eyes. Cheon saw the look and shook his head, “Captain, it’s like your wrist-sling,” he stated as he raised his left wrist to show the device he was referring to Ethan and Aimee.
Jolie laid prone in the vent shaft as she looked about to make sure that she was clear before she spun around and kicked the vent cover clear of the vent. As her feet hit the ground she dropped as low as she could and began to scan the immediate area around her. When she was convinced that she had not triggered any security alarms or sentries she stood up, with the vent cover in hand, and looked up.
A few moments later Jolie stood in a clearing, leaning against a railing, and was looking over into the bay area of San Fransisco. Reaching over to her right wrist she tapped a holographic icon.
“Pike this is Jolie, come in Pike,” she said in a low tone.
Carolyn checked the engines once more to make sure each piece and part was working as it should. She’d volunteered to stay behind and keep the Zebulon Pike working while the rest went down to find a way home. Being in an alternate universe was unsettling for Carolyn. She’d studied enough of it in the academy to know that personas had a habit of becoming a darker side of their original…and she wasn’t sure she wanted to see or know what her opposite or even her father’s opposite had become. She’d been spending the time getting to know the old faces and friends while finding out about the new faces…and the really old aliens. Audren Swiftblade was the really old one. Carolyn had not been familiar with the Hylon before this mission and had spent what little of her free time she had catching up on the species. She did one more check of the ship’s systems and decided she needed to take a walk to the bridge to keep her head clear. She walked onto the bridge as one of the crew from the planet was reaching out.
“Understood Commander,” Audren replied, “Zebulon Pike out.” Audren downloaded the data to a PADd and beamed it down. “That doesn’t sound good,” Audren finally said to Mikaela.
Crawford slipped over to an engineering console and waited for Swiftblade.
Mikaela nodded. “Absolutely not. What are they doing down there? If their cover had been blown, there should be tachyon beams sweeping through the area looking for us. Or we should see warships on their way to intercept us. Audren, when’s their next check-in time?”
“Considering I just spoke to Ethan, an hour,” the Hylon woman said meditatively. “It’s unlikely they will be able to detect the cloak considering these humans are a good two-hundred years behind yourself.” She tapped her chin thinking, “How do you feel about a rescue mission?”
Mikaela looked at Audren pensively. “A rescue mission? It sounds good on paper, but it may not be the best idea. At least not yet. It sounded like Ethan had everything well in hand, but then again…” she paused and looked at her console, then resumed speaking as she looked back at Audren. “I think we should wait an hour, then reassess the situation. I just don’t want us to jump into something where we’re the ones in need of rescue instead of the ones doing the rescuing, you know?”
Audren sighed. Mika was right. Finally turning she acknowledged Carolyn, “Ms. Crawford. See what you can do about penetrating whatever it is that is obscuring our sensors of that compound. It has to be relatively unsophisticated considering their technological level. Mikaela, you advise caution and I agree, but that doesn’t mean I will wait for something to happen and then prepare. You have the bridge.”
Crawford swung in her chair to the console and started to work on the problem. She focused on the sensors and understanding the harmonics of whatever it was that powered the system. She ran a band scan but opened it up wide enough to take into account older technology. The computer beeped through the scans. Still nothing. She grumbled quietly and went looking for lower-banded and less secure jamming processes. Her eyes saw an odd pattern as the sensors brushed over the sensor block. It took a minute longer and the computer trilled in confirmation. “Got it! It’s a rotating band blocker that makes you think you can’t crack it…but they only have it rotating between fifteen frequencies. We’re lucky our sensors can see the cycle. We can break through it at your command.”
As Crawford began working on the problem she had been assigned, Mikaela was wrapping up her discussion with Audren. “I agree with you on that point. Let me come up with some tactical options to go over in the meantime, so that at the very least we have a plan. We can implement it as the situation requires. I remember something Kate, my team lead told me once. ‘Stay liquid.’ She meant to stay flexible enough to adapt to the situation at hand. It may be useful to put into practice here.” Upon hearing that she had the bridge, Mika stood up and naturally stood in the center, looking at the instruments and seeing others work.
“Pike this is Jolie, come in Pike,” Joile’s voice over the comm.
Mikaela tapped a few commands on the ops panel. “Kovalev here. Give me a sitrep, Jolie. What’s going on down there?”
“Things are calm at the moment, but I have snuck out of the building that everyone is currently in. I do not know what their next move is going to be but I do have a plan,” she stated. “Beam me back to the ship and have Crawford and Swiftblade meet me on the bridge and by the CIC table.”
“Copy that, Jolie. Stand by. Let me assemble the team, then I’ll beam you up. We were just talking about a plan. I’ll reconnect with you shortly to advise when you’re clear to beam up.” She checks if anyone is tracking the signals. “Coast is clear, energizing now.” Mikaela then taps a few more commands. “Bridge to Audren.”
Audren had just finished pulling on her gauntlets when Mikaela’s voice came over the comm. She turned and pressed the button on the terminal. “Go ahead, Mika. Have you gotten word from the away team?”
“That’s why I was about to page you. Jolie contacted us. She beamed up to the ship a few mins ago, and wants you, me, and Carolyn to meet her in the CIC table. She has a plan she wants to share for rescue.” Mikaela smiles musingly to herself. She had talked some sense into Audren, as riding to the rescue isn’t always the smart thing to do.
After hearing Audren’s acknowledgement, Mikaela closed the channel, then turned to look at the panel’s phaser. She again thought of putting it in her holster, but thought better of it. ‘I’ll get my phasers from the armory’ she thought, as she walked to her quarters before going to the meeting. She knew she was deploying, which was rare enough given her position, but she knew that covert ops have a way of going south rather quickly. She grabbed her backup, a type-1, and stashed it in one of the many hidden pockets her uniform pants had. After grabbing a few things, she headed to the weapons locker, grabbed a phaser rifle and a type-2 to put in her holster, then headed to the meeting.
“On my way,” Audren replied as she cinched her black leather belt around her waist over the white surcoat bearing the Swiftblade Coat of arms. She slid the curved point-heavy sword home into its scabbard on her left hip and clipped a Starfleet phaser to her right hip. She picked up a device with a tea saucer gold dish, handle and protruding arms coming off of it and clipped a black leather strap to his and slung it over her shoulder, and slid it under the crimson and gold-trimmed velvet cape hanging from her shoulders.
She took a moment to look at herself in the mirror she hadn’t worn her armor since she left the war and Talaria. It wouldn’t protect her from heavy phasers or even sustained phaser blasts, but against lasers and projectiles, she was nearly invulnerable. Tucking the open-faced helm under her left arm with a soft clink of marched out of her tiny quarters.
“Bloody hell lass!” The voice of Dougal MacDonald exclaimed seeing her in the corridor “Ye going to a Renaissance faire? What’s with all the wee hardware?”
“The away team is in trouble. Including your girlfriend.”
Dougal’s eyes widened, “Bloody hell!” The Scotsman fell in step with Audren as they headed for the bridge. Everyone was already there when the duo entered.
Crawford stood from the engineering station, “Reporting as ordered.” She wondered if she was going to find commonality with Audren and the others who were new to her – making friends had not been a problem at the academy but that had been at the academy. The speed of the Pike was a very different pace. Her console was keyed to break the interference system. She’d also transferred mobile control to her tricorder so if their targets were smart enough to get the system working again, she’d have a chance at breaking it again.
Audren gave Carolyn an appreciative nod, acknowledging her efforts on the sensors as she clanked to Joile’s side, “It’s good to see you upright Jolie. I had feared the worst. Thankfully Ms. Kovalev talked some sense into me. I was ready to come crashing in, consequences be damned.”
Mikaela gives a shy look of acknowledgement as Audren gives her a compliment. She’s been observing, but so far, she doesn’t know if she’s going down with the team or if she’s staying aboard, hiding their activities from sensor sweeps and the occasional patrol ship. “I, for one, am glad that Jolie is safe and sound.” She turns to look at Audren and Crawford before settling her gaze on Jolie. “Do you want me down with you? Or would you rather keep me here on the ship?” Her question is direct.
“Audren, were you in the holo-suite?” she asked Narlin as she spotted the gear that she had on.
Audren scowled at Jolie, “I dug this out of storage to bust down the door to rescue you.”
Jolie nodded her appreciation to Carolyn as she placed a hand on the young woman’s shoulder. It was then that she spotted Dougal. “Lieutenant, I am glad that you are here,” she stated as she moved to the rear of the Pike and the CIC. “Miss Crawford, if you would be so kind as to show us the inside of the building from the compound that I just escaped from and the buildings around the compound,” she asked as she leaned over the holographic table monitor. She then looked at Dougal. “What do you make of the situation?”
“It looks like a standard research facility,” Dougal said in his thick Scottish burr. “You’ve been inside lass. Ye got a better idea of what’s going on in yon facility.”
The CEO shifted to the console of the table and ran her hands over the keys as the data populated in front of them, She’d disabled the field slow enough that she suspected those in charge on the planet wouldn’t notice. She’d also snuck in a power short or two as the possible cause which would send whoever they had as engineers hunting for a bit. For now, they had a full view of everything they needed. She clicked a few more commands to save the schematics for offline use. If they were going planetside, they would need to know where the hell they were going. As her father had reminded her, ‘Always be prepared. The display now encompassed all that Jolie had requested. “3-D schematic map complete.” She tapped a few more buttons, “I’ll keep digging deeper to see what I can find.”
“What do you want us to do?” Audren asked.
Jolie looked at Audren as she thought about what Ethan would do. Most of their crew was down there and she knew that this was going to take a tactical scheme to get them all back on the ship. “For now we prepare,” she stated as she thought about what Dougal had said about her knowing more about the compound than them. “I need an upgrade,” she stated as she slipped off her wrist sling and placed it on the table. “We need more information and as much as we dig around from up here I think we need to dig around down there; inside that building and find out what this Doctor Kyo is hiding, if anything.”
“I will take point,” Audren replied. “I can absorb attacks that you cannot, but I agree we need to get eyes on the ground.”