Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

7 – On the Edge of Forever

USS Mackenzie
11.1.2400 @ 1800
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The bridge was silent as the Mackenzie dropped out of warp near the Chaotic Space and the Malon Cooperative.  The dull yellow lights bathed the bridge in an unsettling theme as Lieutenant Fowler went to work on scanning the area.  It was past the Chaotic Space that the Borg Collective was free to move.  The barrier that prevented the wormhole and the planets around it no longer existed past a certain point.  They were standing on the edge of that cliff, looking down into the haunted darkness.  It didn’t help that the Devore were also on the other side of the cliff, probably watching from the cover of a star or two.

The science chief was working with her team, “Captain – we’re detecting faint trails of their warp signatures…but we’re also getting more recent traffic from it as well.  We’re approximating in the last two weeks, sir.”  She worked her console and shook her head, “Scratch that; the recent signatures are only for one of the transport ships.  The other was not detected recently.”

Harris stared at the screen.  What did it mean?

A jarring alert sounded from the communications station as she reported, “Captain, I’m receiving a distress call.  The signal is…unknown.  They are reportedly under threat from the Devore Imperium and are fleeing the area.  Sensors are spotty at best, but it appears they have left Imperium territory.”

Ambrose glanced at Okada, “Get Cardamon to the bridge.  We’re going to need his counsel.”  She headed for the turbolift as the CO returned his eyes to the view screen, “Helm, put us on an intercept course, maximum warp.”  The Mackenzie was in motion as he turned his attention back to Fowler, “How good are those maps and coordinates?”

She was already examing the boundary lines, “Compared to back home, sir?  It’s taken us many years to define what is and what isn’t Federation space… we haven’t had that long out here.  We’re relying on some pretty, pardon the expression, sketchy reports of the borders.  Given that the Devore doesn’t have a presence on the outpost or really keep in regular contact…they may have moved their borders and not told anyone.”

The turbolift doors opened, and the Voth advisor stepped gingerly into the room, his eyes open wide in wonder as he looked from officer to console to officer to console and back again.  He turned to Harris, “This…is a bridge!  What beautiful lines… colors, lighting…I’ve never stepped foot in a place like this.”

The CO gave a quiet smile, “Thank you, Cardamon.  We have a pressing question for you.”  He gestured him over to Fowler’s station.  He gave her a bow and attempted a smile.  Harris had warned the bridge crew a smile would probably look like he was sizing them up for dinner or brunch.  He assured the crew they would not be eaten.  Fowler returned the bow from her chair and returned the smile as best as she could.  She walked him through the situation, the positioning, and what she knew.

He shook his head vigorously, “The borders of the Imperium may have once been that, but they have been pushing for more and more.”  He pulled out a computer device and tapped his claws on it bluntly, and showed it to the science chief, “I collected information as a hobby from my store.  Every so often, someone would let slip a planet or system that had fallen to them.”  He pointed to the screen, “This is where I estimate they have grown.” 

Fowler squinted at the small screen and then back to hers, entering in a few adjustments.  She spent a few minutes doing this to ensure she’d estimated what was on the Voth’s screen and translated it to their map records.  She tapped the console and updated the map.  Cardamon swore in his native tongue and then covered his snout with a look of apology, which looked like he was genuinely sorry.  Sometimes even alien faces could show regret.  Harris sighed, “They’ve pushed those borders pretty damn close to us.  How about the distress call?”

Sadie centered the sensor readings and compared them to the new map, “Adjusting…they are still flying through Imporium space still.  It’ll take them ten more minutes to get clear.”

The CO stared at the screen, “How close would we need to be for transporter range?”  Could we…transport across the border?”

She gave him a curious look and adjusted her calculations, “Technically…yes.”

Okada spoke up from her station, “My favorite word.  I’ll head to transporter room one and find some of that famous technical wiggle room.”

A glance at his tactical chief, “Mr. Kondo – are they being pursued?”

De La Fontaine had been keeping his watchful eyes on the situation.  He knew the Mackenzie packed a punch, but he wasn’t sure how they’d fare against the Imperium if they had to take the fight to them.  “Sensors don’t show any ships in the vicinity.  I would have expected there to be a significant military presence in this sector to defend its borders, but I am not detecting any serious traffic in the sector.”

Cardamon looked alarmed, “Your Mr. Kondo is correct in his questions, Captain.  They would be protecting their borders, and there would be no doubt where the line was.”

Prentice spoke up, “Approaching the updated border.  Dropping from from warp.”

Ambrose stared at the screen, “Distance to the ship in distress?”  He turned to Fowler.

“5 minutes from the border.  Nobody in pursuit.  Working on getting more from the ship.”

Kondo worked his console and wondered aloud, “Why is this so easy?”  He caught the eye of Harris and explained, “The Devore isn’t just a boogeyman of the Delta Quadrant.  To be fair, there are a lot of boogeymen out here.  The point is the Devore are the origin story that created the boogeyman.  They’ve proven time and time again to be ruthless, powerful, and dedicated to their mission.”  He glanced at his console and then at the screen, “Something is off here, sir.”

The CO agreed with him, “Harris to Chief Okada – we’re starting to feel a little weird about this situation.  I’m sending Kondo and a team to you.”  She confirmed and closed the channel.  He turned to the crew, “Let’s not let them know we know what’s going on.  Ensign Atega, hail them, and confirm we stand ready to transport them aboard once they are within range.”  He turned to Cardamon, “Anything else you can tell me?”

The Voth kept staring at the screen until he was able to speak once more, “They are the darkness, Captain.  The Imperium…it is not a matter of trusting or understanding…it is a matter of being ready for them with whatever you have to defend yourself…or you will bow down.”

Harris believed him.

Transporter Room 1 – 1830

Kondo stood with four other security officers, armed and ready.  Reid leaned against the wall with a medical team.  The word from the bridge had come that they were nearly in range.  A moment later, the call came.  They were energizing the first ten survivors.

Nothing happened.  Kondo quickly moved to the transporter console, “Well, they are tricky.”  He tapped his badge, “Chief Kondo to Captain…”

=^=They bypassed our protocols.  They were transported to different parts of the ship. We’re locking down the bridge and engineering.  Get your people moving.”

They didn’t even need him to speak. They quickly took off as he tapped at his badge, “Chief Kondo calling a security alert.  All security and tactical officers to sweeping stations Alpha, set to stun.  All hands secure stations and locations with lock-out protocols.”  The heavy klaxons rang as the ship went to full alert, and De La Fontaine started his hunt.

Comments

  • Oh, those tricky Devore. Playing possum and sending out a distress call. I loved the emotions that Cardamon gave when he entered the bridge for the first time. I was like a little kid being taken to a candy shop and seeing all their favorites right there in front of them. Keep up the great writing, and looking forward to the next one.

    November 7, 2022