The tall figure of Commander Natashar Rozan, Betazoid First Officer of the USS Discovery, stood in the middle of the ship’s main science lab. A strand of blonde hair had fallen away from the tight bun in which it was usually contained. It fell across her face, barely visible against her pale skin. A slender hand brushed it away, quickly tucking it behind her ear as she looked towards the deck.
A stubby Grazerite thumb and forefinger gripped the cortical scanner. Dr. Wilso leaned towards Rozan, gently pressing the cold metal to the skin of her temple. A few inputs later, and the status lights on the device began to flash, “I’ve got a solid read on your neural activity,” he rumbled, “We’re good to go.”
“So this is the subspace trumpet?” Mek looked towards the emitter. The machine looked like drilling apparatus, with a point extending from a rounded housing that reminded Mek of a miniature class eight probe. Mounted on the lab’s central ‘pool table’, it was aimed directly at an elevated containment box some ten metres away.
“Yes Sir,” the Lieutenant Gailwon closed up her tricorder, “It’s based on a theory from the Sarek, but we’ve added to it based on data sent back from across the fleet. The principle of the thing is,” Mek noticed the dark blue circles under the Bolian’s eyes, “This thing’s gonna bombard the Blood Dilithium with a subspace resonance burst. Like a tiny version of the wave pulse that started this whole thing.”
Padding in Rozan’s direction, Kohl encouraged, “This is what you trained for, Commander. A first contact mission. Like all the others. You can navigate a first contact mission through a hangover if you had to.”
Rozan breathed in, smiling at Kohl, “Thank you, Captain Kohl. A first contact like no other… I’m ready,” a steely determination shone behind her eyes.
“Emitter diagnostic complete,” Gailwon announced.
“Standby to initialise,” Captain Rider stepped forward, “release dilithium containment on my mark.”
The three Captains looked on as Rozan moved to stand beside the emitter. She looked dead ahead towards the containment box. Gailwon tapped several commands into the table controls, sending a shimmering beam bursting with pastel sparkles from the trumpet’s mouth. Upon meeting its target, the metal cube was surrounded by a pinkish glow.
“OK, Natashar,” Rider called, “here we go. Release dilithium containment in five, four, three, two, one… Mark.”
Gailwon punched in a further command. The front of the grey box began to slide open, rising up like a tiny shuttle bay door. Their naked eyes fell upon the Blood Dilithium for the first time. The shards radiated their crimson glow through the room, casting shadows behind all six of them. Rozan’s eyes widened. She gasped, raising a hand to grip the table beside her. Her mouth fell agape. From it, came a low gurgle, then a growl, then a scream.
Her world was black. There was nothing except the dilithium. It was in front of her, just as it had been in the lab. It hovered there, and the terror coursed through her. She heard whispers, “Them… They… Those…” quiet echoes reverberated around her, “Who sent us here…” She forced herself to concentrate, controlling her breathing. Looking down to her hands, the red banding of her uniform sleeves gave her pause. She remembered Kohl’s words. First contact.
She looked up, and the girl was there. The scrawny figure was sallow-faced with sunken, glassy eyes. Sooty black filth, smeared across her hollow cheeks, came into view as she padded towards Rozan from out of the gloom. The eyes stared, unblinking. Her head cocked to one side.
“Hello,” Natashar ventured, a shiver running down her spine.
The girl’s tousled hair looked dishevelled and blown about by a strong wind. Yet here in the dark, there was only stillness. Rozan knelt down, putting herself at eye level. Her gaze was drawn to the two folds of skin at the bridge of the girl’s nose. Rozan’s brow wrinkled, “You’re…” then it came to her. This wasn’t first contact at all, “Brenari.”
The girl’s eyes fell. Top lip quivering, and with outstretched arms, she ran towards Natashar. With a whimper, she pulled herself close. Awkwardly, Natashar held her there, and her breathing quickened. The girl’s touch was ice cold. An electrical sting began to spread from where those small hands clasped around her. Natashar pulled back, only to be met with the girl’s stare. Now emotionless, frozen black eyes locked her in place.
“They sent us here,” the girl whispered, “To this place. In the deep. They said we’re underneath space.”
“Who?” Natashar’s voice, too, was breathless.
“I’ll show you.”
The light was blinding at first. It fell away to an overcast sky. Clouds smudged across it in a continuous, amorphous haze of grey. Grey everywhere. From the metal fences, dusty earth and filthy smocks, all colour had been picked clean. Their faces, thousands of them downturned, looking only into the tracks of those who had trudged before them; dead like the eyes that had bored into Rozan only seconds ago.
Rozan now stood side by side with the girl. Distant mountains loomed, their granite rock faces as stern as the guards that walked beside the wretched column. As Rozan peered closer, she saw that the prisoners were all Brenari. Periodically, a kick or swing of a metal baton would be aimed their way. In the last column, a woman fell to her knees. A black uniformed guard kicked up pebbles and dust as he stormed forward. He ripped her hair back and aimed a kick directly towards a skeletal temple, tearing open her white, malnourished skin.
“Brenari animal!” he came within an inch of her face, “What use are you?” he pushed her head back down, “You? Meet your quota? You can barely walk,” his mouth stretched into a sneer and he paced around her, “Waste of grain. You want to rest,” he brought a boot against her shoulder, shoving her over onto her side, “Well now you can. And I’ll watch as the vansha birds tear the flesh from your bones.”
“Devore,” Rozan’s hands balled into fists. No sooner had she taken a step forward than she felt a small hand grasping her wrist. She looked down to the girl.
“They sent us here,” the black eyes looked up. Wire fences and corrugated barracks faded from view, and the mountains dematerialised, “From a hundred worlds. Our worlds.”
“But you came back,” Rozan’s voice was low, “In the dilithium.”
“For the blood of those that sent us here.”
The cortical monitor on Rozan’s forehead blinked more quickly. She pushed herself up from the bench with a gasp.
“Easy, Commander,” Dr. Wilso said gently, eyes fixed on his tricorder, “Deep breaths,” her head whirled round to face the three Captains. They looked on intently, clearly waiting for the Doctor’s all-clear.
“It’s the Brenari,” Rozan made to stand.
Wilso scowled, “Commander, you shouldn’t-”
“It’s OK, Doctor,” she dismissed with a wave of her hand, “The millions killed in the Devore camps. They’re… In the dilithium. Their consciousness is in subspace, and they’ve found a way back through.”
Mek stood aghast, still processing what it meant. He turned to Gailwon, “Get the subspace trumpet schematics out to the whole fleet. Let them know we can communicate with the Blood Dilithium.”
The Subspace Trumpet In-Play
- Your ship has now received schematics to construct its own “subspace trumpet”.
- This is a subspace resonance emitter, mimicking the effects of the subspace wave pulse that triggered the Blood Dilithium event, but on a miniaturised scale.
- When pointed at a sample of Blood Dilithium and activated, the subspace trumpet allows any exposed telepath to converse with the Blood Dilithium. This might be like an orb vision with the Bajoran prophets, or something more straightforward like a disembodied voice.
- The Blood Dilithium consciousness is a subspace imprint of collective telepathic rage. The voice of millions of Brenari murdered through systematic Devore oppression, whether in labour camps or ethnic cleansing campaigns, lives on.