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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 11 : Tomorrow Today Yesterday

Tomorrow Today Yesterday – 2

USS Atlantis, alien space station
January 2401
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“You all right Sam?” Gabrielle asked as she sat herself down at the bridge Science I station.

While Rrr was sitting at Ops up front, the start of any system survey was usually a bit of a large juggling act, so Samantha Michaels had found herself on the bridge at Ops II. While Atlantis did have an impressive array of sensors at its disposal the ship could still only be in one place at a time. This meant that as soon as they had arrived in the GSC-9587 system they had launched ten separate probes to undertake initial scans of various stellar bodies ahead of their inevitable in-depth surveys. Assuming of course the probes found anything worthwhile.

And managing those probes, at least in the initial part of their flights, was her duty. It would be hours before some of them would arrive at their destinations. Telemetry would need monitoring in case of failure and another probe would need to be launched, or to adjust the probe’s flight paths for unexpected debris of anomalies, not that their own limited expert systems couldn’t and wouldn’t do so if they didn’t get a human response in time.

“Huh, oh, sorry, yes,” Sam finally spat out as her brain registered that Gabrielle had sat down next to her and spoken as well. “Bit distracted.”

“We’re heading in on impulse, it’s going to be a few hours before we aim the good arrays at anything interesting. If you want, I can take some of those probes off your hands?” Gabs offered.

“You’re about to get busy,” Sam stated with perfect timing as not just her console, but Rrr’s started chirping.

“Sensors are picking up a space station,” Rrr announced and everyone on the bridge turned to face the viewscreen as they brought it up. It was telling when officers knew what their captains would want and delivered it without being asked. Confidence in knowing what was expected, confidence in delivering it without explicit orders.

Both Captain Theodoras and Commander MacIntyre had made their presence known about an hour earlier, both wanting to be present for the initial reports and scans of the system, to set the order of events before one of them would head off duty. The captain was the one going to head off duty, Sam could remember hearing the captain say that earlier.

The station on the viewscreen was barely more than a silhouette against the bright disc of the system’s central star, that brilliance toned down many, many times by the ship’s systems. Some details could be made out, but not much, limited by using hours-old light enhanced with faster-than-light subspace scanners. The station had a central sphere, nearly three kilometres in diameter with a three-kilometre spike protruding from the north and south poles, the base of each spike nearly fifty meters in diameter and tapering to a point. And contact each tip was a ring encircling the entire structure, which had to be tens of meters in thickness itself to be seen against the star’s disc.

“Well would you look at that,” the captain said as she and the commander got to their feet. “Any record of that on the Motu Maha’s records?”

“No ma’am,” Gabrielle answered from Sam’s left, now they were facing into the bridge and not their consoles. “Motu Maha’s records only mentioned low energy warp fields and heavy ordnance.”

Sam was already turning back to her console when it chirped at her, bringing her to a halt. That was like the sixth or seventh time this morning she’d found herself about to do something just before it was required. Taking that step forward towards the door before the turbolift actually arrived, avoiding a runaway ensign in the lounge who was dashing to their duties with breakfast in hand, or in this case, turning to check results just before they arrived.

She shook her head, dismissing the sense of déjà vu, and accepted the automated probe’s report, glancing over it briefly before speaking. “Probe Gamma’s initial reports look promising for the system’s inhabited world. 9587c is L-class, just like 9587d, but is heavily irradiated and has an orbital debris field consistent with space infrastructure that someone took an intense dislike to.”

Gabrielle at her side was checking another returned result. “Epsilon is going to be another two hours before it arrives at 9587d, but I think Sam’s on the money. It’s L-class, but no signs of major debris in orbit at its current distance. We’ll know more once it arrives in orbit, but I think Gamma is on point.”

“Let’s let the probes look over things first. If there is anyone alive on those worlds, waiting a few more days for us to get around to them isn’t going to change things, I think. That,” the captain said pointing to the station still on the viewscreen, “is where I think we should start. What do you think XO?”

“It’s pretty close to the star,” MacIntyre stated. “Rrr, distance from the star to the station?”

“A truly impressive forty-five million kilometres from the star, which is a sedate G2IV. According to Federation astronomical records dating back to the late 2200s, the star is currently in a minimum of activity.”

“That’s closer than Mercury to the Sun.” MacIntyre had stepped up beside Rrr. “Atlantis can handle that right?”

“Short of flying into the corona, we should be fine.” They showed MacIntyre something on their console, something Sam couldn’t see, and that seemed to appease the Commander. “Radiation environment is volatile that close to the star though. I wouldn’t recommend transporters without pattern enhancers or a transporter pad at either end.”

“Shuttle it is then.” MacIntyre turned back to the captain. “I’ll get a team together; we’ll take the Lesbos over once Atlantis is in position.”

“Take the Lieutenant Commander with you,” the captain said looking at Gabrielle. “Lest we incur her wrath.”

“Top of the list. Michaels,” MacIntrye said, addressing Samantha directly, “you’re up as well.” And with that, he was on his way to the turbolift.

“Come on,” Gabrielle said, slapping Sam on the arm with the back of her hand. “It’ll be fun.”

“You said that last time,” she answered.

“What? When was that?”

“Haven’t we done a mission together?” Sam challenged as they stepped into the turbolift.

The shuttle bay on the alien space station, located on the dark side of the station, was as empty as it was lifeless. They could have parked the entirety of Atlantis’ small craft in here, with room to space to hold a tennis match between each one. The station’s hull was a dark material, serving to be highly absorptive on the star side and highly radiative on the dark side. Initial scans hinted that the entire hull was a solar cell and heat radiator in one. For all that, the shuttle bay was stark white with bright bands of colour serving to section the bay off into sections or to guide people to certain areas if they followed some of the lines. This was how the entire away team had come to be in front of one of the doors along the bay’s back way, five distinct coloured lines painted on the floor leading up to a door that stubbornly refused to open. No panel with a display saying why the door wouldn’t open, and no audible statement about why either. There didn’t even seem to be an access panel beside the doors, which were large enough for a shuttle.

“Any luck?” MacIntyre asked, not for the first time since Sam had started on the task of trying to trick the doors into opening for them.

 “The sensor mounted above the door keeps scanning all of us,” Samantha answered. “I think it’s a bio scanner. Commander Camargo is scanning the bay for any biomaterial we might be able to use to spoof the sensor.”

Spread around the bay, no more than fifty meters from the door were half the away team, tricorders scanning, searching for anything they might find that could help them spoof the door. Skin flakes, hair samples, maybe a missed bodily fluid sample – some detritus of organic life that could give them a hint as to the biomarkers the scanner might have been looking for.

“Come all this way, no one is here to greet us and we’re stuck at the front door,” MacIntrye said. He didn’t sound disappointed, just more stating facts. “Glad we’re starting with the easy mysteries.”

“Creepy sun-staring obelisk station with no crew and locked doors,” Sam quipped while still examining her tricorder. “And yes, creepy. It’s nearly pitch black on the outside, but white and colourful on the inside. That’s just…weird.”

A chirp on her tricorder and she tapped at it, changing settings, confirming the oddity the electronic minion had dutifully reported. “This station is holding an absolutely massive amount of energy in reserve.”

“Oh?” MacIntyre asked.

“Yeah.” She checked again her tricorder, then turned it to show the commander. “Like enough that if you do something stupid you could obliterate half the star system.”

“Why would you need that much power?” he asked, checking her reading, then whistling to get Gabrielle and Gérard Maxwell, their pet engineer for this away mission, to come over. “Seems a bit excessive,” he continued after they arrived and were brought up to speed on the find.

“Maybe some sort of weapon system we haven’t spotted, or beamed power back to their homeworld?” Maxwell suggested. “Though the latter would be an iffy prospect at best. Can’t really say more till we get inside and poke about a bit more.”

“I agree,” Gabrielle agreed. “Can speculate all we want, but we’re better to get inside first I think.”

“Agreed, Samantha, I want you to-“ MacIntyre was cut off by his commbadge chirping away.

“Atlantisss to away team, we’re getting an odd energy ssssignature from the sssstation.” It was W’a’le’ki on the channel, background noise hinting at the bridge too. “Have you managed to infiltrate beyond the firssst door?” Her sibilant hiss was particularly pronounced today.

“Negative Atlantis,” Mac answered. “We’re still at the bay door. Define odd energy signature.”

There isss a large ssscale chroniton build-up occurring in the ssstation. But the outer hull isss masssking sssome of it, ssso could be much higher than we’re detecting.”

“All right, fun’s over for now folks. Everyone back on the shuttle, we’ll sort it-“

It wasn’t the volume of the noise that made Sam flinch, but the pitch of it. The whistle was so high, so shrill and piercing that it went in one ear, through her skull and hit her other eardrum. The warble of the expertly manipulated bosun’s whistle didn’t help either, but it did have the desired effect. The only merciful thing about the whole experience was its briefness.

“Attention on deck!” shouted Fightmaster, his voice unchallenged by the now mute Port Royal and then came the sound of shuffling bodies, hers included, answering that call.

“Wait a minute,” she muttered quietly to herself.

“What’s up, Sam?” Dimitry asked out one side of his mouth. He was one of the new science offices, though new was a relative term seeing as he’d been aboard ship for months now. Tall, muscular, not an idiot, and easy on the eyes. All good enough reasons to talk to him.

“Ever had really, really bad déjà vu?”


  • Lovely scene and I like the hints of deja-vu, or what is being brushed off as deva-vu sprinkled throughout. There’s a definite sense of camaraderie among the crew that shows they are used to working together. I like your use of descriptive language, particularly with the station shuttle bay. ‘They could have parked the entirety of Atlantis’ small craft in here, with room to space to hold a tennis match between each one.’ definitely gives us that sense of space, nicely done! Oh and then the end! I need to know more!

    January 30, 2023
  • Ohhhhh dang. That was a good setup for the payoff. Nice and technical, the sort of smooth scientific operations of a bridge that I think you're very good at conveying in your writing - you combine the right level of detail with the right pace and the right amount of characterisation. But then it swerves HARD at the end. I am very here for the bosun's whistle being the 'reset' point of this time loop if that's how it goes...

    March 31, 2023