Part of USS Sarek: An Appetite So Dangerous

Overture

USS Sarek, Bridge
Stardate 78011.8
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Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 78011.8

 

It’s been quiet on the bridge since we returned from the Delta Quadrant.  I suppose I should have expected that.  In fact, I take full responsibility.  

 

Our mission to study blood dilithium across the Gradin Belt has been a costly one for the crew.  The telepaths among us experienced intense emotional dysregulation when exposed to the substance itself.  The remaining crew was spread too thinly between the separated hulls of the Sarek.  Most damaging, the psychic impact of blood dilithium caused me to have an emotional outburst.  On the bridge.  I made a fool of myself in front of the crew.  In front of Flavia.

 

Kellin and Elbon had to talk me down from resigning my commission after that one.

 

I have nominated every crew member for commendations, including our Romulan Free State scientists.  Despite every deterrent, the Sarek crew went on to remove blood dilithium from a dozen star systems, along with strengthening Starfleet’s relationship with the Kadi, if through adversity.

 

In command of the stardrive section, Commander Elbon even managed to drive off a Hirogen attack squadron that was hunting the USS Ulysses, returning a favour after Captain Tharia sh’Elas watched over me when I was stranded on Kunhri Three last year.  Tharia’s loss has… shaken me.

 

Upon our return to the Beta Quadrant, Task Force Seventeen has ordered the Sarek’s immediate return to its research in the Typhon Expanse.  Starfleet has recorded unusually high electromagnetic discharges from all of the expanse’s stellar anomalies ever since mass quantities of blood dilithium were shunted into subspace.  No causal link has been scientifically proven between the two events and so the Sarek crew will take this opportunity to study these stellar anomalies while they’re at their peak. 

 

My chief engineer, Lieutenant Leander Nune, has taken a leave of absence from the Sarek to seek treatment for the emotional trauma of his psychic connection with blood dilithium.  I have offered Lieutenant Sootrah Yuulik a similar opportunity, given the desperate measures she took to study blood dilithium, but she tells me the work is what nurtures her.  And our medical department assures me she is presently fit for duty.

 


 

Looking for a fault in the system, Captain Taes traced the pad of a fingertip across the bridge’s oversized master systems display.

The electroplasma distribution network aboard the USS Sarek often proved its greatest strength and weakness all at once.  The power grid demanded a sizeable engineering department –the largest one on board besides the science department– to utilize the warp power systems for the large-scale scientific equipment built into the Sutherland-class starship.  When the computer illustrated the EPS distribution over a cutout image of the Sarek, it appeared to be the starship’s nervous system.  The astrometrics department had reported a type-2 EPS tap was failing in the middle of constructing predictive models for emerging star systems.  In the absence of her chief engineer, that left Taes curious about the interconnections between those events.

But even a systems failure that was mystifying the diagnostic systems couldn’t hold Taes’ attention when Yuulik was on a personal mission.

Yuulik shot out of the aft turbolift like a photon torpedo: brightly, loudly and impossibly fast.  Too quickly, it proved, because Yuulik clipped her left shoulder against one of the doors that was sliding open.  The impact sent Yuulik careening onto the bridge indiscriminately and she only stopped when she collided with Ensign Dolan.  The brushed chrome tumbler in Yuulik’s hand went sideways, unleashing sticky brown liquid down the front of Dolan’s teal-shouldered uniform.

“Aw gross!” Dolan cried out.  He raised his palms and jumped back from Yuulik.  Dropping his chin to his chest, Dolan sniffed himself and then he asked, “Did you throw fish sauce on me?”

Yuulik blinked at Dolan.  She looked down at her own teal-shouldered uniform, which appeared to have avoided the same fate as Dolan’s.  Then she shrugged at Dolan.

“Close enough.  Hot Cardassian hevrit,” Yuulik said appeasingly.  She handed Dolan the tumbler.  With a confused expression crossing his face, he clasped his hands around the container.

“Here,” Yuulik saltily added, “you can have the rest since you enjoyed half of it already!”

Rushing past Dolan, Yuulik approached Taes and the master systems display.  Yuulik swept a hand out to indicate the field of stars through the transparent viewscreen.  There was a vibrancy behind Yuulik’s eyes that Taes only ever saw in her when they were wading through kiloquads of data without a clear hypothesis in sight.  Yuulik was grinning at Taes –positively beaming– in the way Yuulik usually looked when she gave science officers a scathing performance review in her role as Assistant Chief Science Officer.

“It’s a beautiful day out there,” Yuulik declared.  “Rife for exploration!”

She didn’t wait for any sort of response from Taes, not even a nod.  Yuulik was already hurrying to the nearest available console at the U-shaped science hub.  At half the pace, Taes followed in her footsteps.

Over Yuulik’s shoulder, Taes took notice of Ensign Cellar Door blinking one of his running lights at her.  Ahead of the science hub, the exocomp was hovering over the forward flight control console, in the sunken area of the bridge deck.  It was Cellar’s first day serving as one of Sarek‘s flight controllers and there was something hesitant in the way he rode the anti-grav currents in his boots.  He turned his snout down to examine the controls and then he looked back at Captain Taes.  He went through the entire production three times and then he turned to examine Taes when he reported something new.

“We’ve arrived at the coordinates of the gravimetric distortion,” Cellar said.

Elbon Jakkelb caught it first.

“I don’t feel anything,” Elbon said.  He leaned forward, perched on the edge of the first officer’s chair at the heart of the bridge.  His eyes cut to Science Chief Flavia in the science hub.  

“You reported level nine gravimetric distortions on long-range sensors, Flavia,” Elbon reminded her.  “Even with inertial dampeners, shouldn’t we be feeling some turbulence?”

“Commander, sensors are picking up…” Flavia started to respond, but she trailed off to check her instrumentation again.  Taes had observed Flavia always wanted to be sure of her facts before speaking.  Even after running a quick automated diagnostic on the sensor palette, Flavia’s voice lacked its typical boisterous melody.

“Picking up no gravimetric distortions at these coordinates,” Flavia said, her voice sounding brittle.  Taking on an accusatory tone, Flavia asked, “Have you flown us to the wrong sector perhaps?”

By that time, Taes had rounded the science hub and ascended the platform to the captain’s chair.  She double-checked her LCARS command monitors for herself.  In the data, she noticed something else that was unexpected.

“We’ve been here before,” Taes said, trying to sound even-tempered and hide the disquiet she felt at her core.  “About six months ago, aboard the USS Dvorak, we followed inaccurate sensor readings to these same coordinates.”

“My calculations were wrong last time,” Yuulik replied.  Taes would have expected Yuulik to sound defensive –to have taken Taes’ statement as a criticism– but Yuulik only sounded resigned.

Taes would have bet the Sarek itself that Flavia noticed the same thing.  Manipulating her LCARS interface, Flavia called up her earlier diagnostic request and she adjusted both the calibration and the parameters.  As soon as the computer presented the results, Flavia slapped her palm against the console’s housing and cried out an, “Ah ha!”

Flavia jerked an accusatory finger in Yuulik’s direction.

“Yuulik faked the sensor readings!” Flavia declared.

Oddly passively, Yuulik offered Flavia a shy smile.

You taught me how,” Yuulik retorted.

Given many of Yuulik’s erratic decisions in the name of science, the disquiet in Taes’ core escalated into a pang of panic.  In the year Taes had worked with Yuulik, Yuulik’s poor life choices had run the gamut from stealing colleagues’ data for her own private research to injecting herself with an experimental epigenetic therapy to talk to haunted dilithium crystals.  Taes shared a concerned look with Elbon.  Given the furrow in his brow, he looked even more concerned than Taes felt.

“Yellow alert,” Taes ordered.  A computerised telltale chimed out across the bridge, as a yellow border glowed around every LCARS display and the viewscreen.  Taking some comfort in the increased readiness of her ship and crew, Taes put all of her attention on Yuulik.  She turned to look at Yuulik and Yuulik was already waiting for her.

“Yuulik, why are we here?” Taes asked in the consoling tone that made her Deltan accent thicken.

“My calculations were wrong last time,” Yuulik repeated.  “But not this time.”

“What have you done?” Taes asked, her voice cracking.

“I couldn’t risk asking for permission,” Yuulik said.  “I’ll beg for your forgiveness instead.”

“Captain!” Flavia interrupted.  She tapped at her console, projecting a holographic sensor overlay on the viewscreen.  Describing the sensor composite, Flavia said, “Sensors are detecting Adler-Lasky temporal radiation emissions.”

Taes ordered, “Shields up.  Red alert!  Ensign Door, fire reverse thrusters.”

The red alert klaxon had hardly sang out when Yuulik reached across the console table to tap on the edge of Flavia’s computer panel.  Yuulik’s eyes were on Flavia; she didn’t consult any of the sensor readings around her.

“You need to look for a helical space-time distortion,” Yuulik told Flavia.

Those words elicited a gasp from Elbon, sitting beside Taes.

“A temporal vortex,” Elbon said.

Flavia “tsk-tsk”ed in reply.  “No, commander,” she insisted, “There are no signs of chronometric particles or triolic waves present.  It can’t be a temporal vortex.”

Through the viewscreen, what looked like mist and dark matter began to swirl in the space the Sarek vacated from its reverse motion.  The swirl of mist twisted and spiralled on itself, forming a vortex that opened a fracture in the space-time continuum on one end and tapered off on the other.  

The underslung nacelles of a Walker-class starship emerged from the opening of the vortex.  The Starfleet starship moved in an unnatural fashion, clearly not powered by its own thrusters as it slid out of the gaping maw of the vortex until its saucer section was visible too.  The starship hung in space, not quite escaping the pull of the vortex, but still tilting on the precipice of the vortex’s opening.

Emblazoned across the saucer section of the starship was: USS Brigadoon NCC-1212.

From the tactical station behind Taes, Lieutenant Commander Kellin Rayco reported, “Records show the NCC-1212 registered as the USS Branchus, not the USS Brigadoon.  It was reported missing in action, over a hundred years ago, in the year 2257.  The Branchus was assumed to be destroyed during the Federation-Klingon War.”

Taking that in, Taes only had one question come to mind:

“Yuulik, what have you done??”

Comments

  • Hahahaha! Yuulik, you little scamp, you! An amusing start to a new mission for the Sarek's crew. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the Romulan Free State scientists behave in the Typhon Expanse with their Starfleet counterparts. Also, I'm very much digging Cellar Door being at the helm! Seeing some of Taes' inner monologue/thoughts about what had happened to her during the BD campaign is a nice continuation and is a theme I hope we continue to see glimpses of for a bit longer. Great stuff as always!

    December 23, 2022
  • In any sane fleet, Yuulik would have been drummed out, court-martialled and carefully put far, far away from anything dangerous. Luckily this is Starfleet where crazy wacky science is the name of the game! We've got rogue-torpedo Yuulik, uncaring for the plight of those she's impacted Yuulik, fake sensor readings Yuulik, forgiveness over permission Yuulik and finally Mastermind Yuulik all in one! Just what is she up to? A mystery with a registry assigned to two ship names? A ship from way, way in the past? Yuulik clearly knows something! Your crafting of this story is fantastic and well paced and written. I was hooked and enjoyed every last bit. Spot on writing!

    December 26, 2022
  • Oh, this is delicious! I love the scheming, underhand, deviousness of Yuulik to get her own way and drop the Sarek right in the middle of a new mystery. Great start to a new mission and I can’t wait to see what the deal is with the ship with two names!

    January 1, 2023