Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 11 : Tomorrow Today Yesterday

Tomorrow Today Yesterday – 6

USS Atlantis
January 2401
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Captain’s log,

Atlantis has apparently found itself stuck in a time loop if the pronouncements of two lieutenants and an ensign are to be believed. And the evidence before us. For now, I’ve ordered the ship to maintain course and speed and asked for a briefing first thing in the morning well before we arrive in the GSC-9587 system.


“So, what have we discovered?” Captain Tikva Theodoras asked as she stepped into the busier-than-usual conference room with Lieutenant Commander Gantzmann in her wake.

Assembled were the usual suspects of the senior staff as well as the three individuals whose middle-of-the-night interruptions had spurned this particular gathering. Ensign Linal Nerys, who was sitting in her seat with her arms crossed and brow furrowed in a slight scowl, Lieutenant Junior Grade Samantha Michaels, who was smiling, excitement all over her face at being at the big table, and finally Lieutenant W’a’le’ki, who had sat in such august company before on more occasions than Michaels and was busy in conversation with her department head.

“A fair few interesting bits it would seem,” MacIntyre said from his seat beside Tikva. “Lieutenant T’Val, if you please?”

The Vulcan helmswoman nodded before she spoke up, her voice clear and rich. “Initial scans had detected only thirteen warp trails, all matching Atlantis. We refined our scans during the course of the early hours and managed to detect a fourteenth trail. No other trails are forthcoming and the state of the last few indicates it may be unlikely we would detect them. Apparently, we have flown over this exact stretch of space multiple times.”

“Any threat of subspace anomalies forming?” Tikva asked.

Atlantis’ warp field geometry would require us to traverse this exact stretch of space thousands of times at our current velocity before we would have any detectable impact on local subspace conditions.”

“Well, let’s not do that shall we,” Tikva stated, then turned her attention to Camargo.

It took a moment before Camargo and W’a’le’ki both realised everyone was staring at them, lost in a very, very quiet technical talk. “Sorry,” she said very quickly.

“Still not used to the rank?” Velan teased from across the table.

Camargo smiled, even sat us straighter at that. “Give me a few days at least, okay?” She then tapped at the padd in front of her, then another tap and the main screen in the conference room cable to life, necessitating almost half those in attendance to turn to face it. “GSC-9587 according to the sensor readings from the USS Motu Maha. Not great, but good enough to show a few terrestrial worlds, one M-class even, a couple of gas giants and even spot when the fireworks started.” The display changed to highlight the M-class world and showed the recordings of large blossoming radiation sources.

“What the Motu Maha didn’t see however was this.” The display cleared and was replaced with an outline of a large structure, with no further detail beyond that. “A large space station in close proximity to the system primary.”

“Forty-five million kilometres from the star,” Michaels added from a few seats down the table. “The station isn’t stealthed, just the entire hull is covered in a material that acts as a solar collector and heat radiator, depending on if it can see the star or not. It makes it very hard to see on sensors.” She leaned forward to look down the table. “We had to be in the system last time to see it, how’d you do it this time?”

“Lieutenant,” MacIntyre spoke up, “perhaps if you didn’t interrupt and let the Commander finish?”

“Sorry sir, I just…” Michaels stopped momentarily, then collected herself. “I’m wanting to know for next time.”

“Narrow band active long-range scanners on the higher subspace bands,” Camargo provided, watching as Michaels sat back, repeating the words to herself over and over again. “Anyway, yes, all we got was the station silhouette as it’s transiting the disc of the star. A large sphere with these towers at its north and south poles. If the hull is a solar collector, and at that proximity to the star, it would have access to massive amounts of power. An order or two of magnitude greater than Atlantis itself.”

“So anywhere between a Canopus- to a ­Guardian-class starbase?” Rrr asked.

“Oh easily,” Velan answered. “No fuel concerns, a nearly unlimited power supply – either an incredible fortress with nothing to defend or an experimental research facility with massive demands.”

“Hasn’t fired on Atlantis yet,” Ensign Linal spoke up. “Not least I can recall.” Her head snapped to the door as it opened, admitting Fightmaster, who made his way to T’Val’s side to whisper something and hand her a padd. “I don’t recall any hostile action in the system at all.”

“Well, that’s reassuring at least Ensign,” Rrr said. “No other signs of life in the system I take it? Or unusual chroniton or tachyon emissions?”

“Not that we’ve detected.”

“You may find this interesting,” T’Val interrupted, handing the padd over to Camargo. “Navigational sensors have lost track of all warp trails approximately thirteen light months from the system primary.”

“Thirteen?” Camargo asked, then shook her head as the answer came to mind. “The M-class planet orbits roughly every thirteen months. It’s a lightyear in local time.”

“And that means what?” MacIntyre asked.

“Don’t know,” Camargo replied. “But I’ll let you know when I know more.”

“Right,” Tikva cut in. “We’ll be dropping out of warp at the edge of the system in about six hours. I want one more catch-up before then. Once we’re at impulse make directly for the space station. Mac, get an away team ready to explore the station. I want you to take Linal, Michaels and W’a’le’ki with you in case we are in a loop and you spot something interesting.”

“Hope they see it and remember it?” he asked.

“That’s about the gist of it.”


“So we’re still on the original timeline?” Nerys asked the door leading into the depths of the station hissed open and the away proceeded into the station.

“From what I think I recall, we’re about an hour ahead,” Sam offered, walking and scanning just like most of the team. “Though I don’t recall us bringing them along.” She indicated to the troupe of black-clad individuals leading the front, headed by Lieutenant Ch’tkk’va. Atlantis’ very own Hazard Team.

“Hmmpf,” was all they got out of Nerys. “Don’t see why we need them.”

“There iss an increassed chroniton count ssince we opened the door,” W’a’le’ki informed, loud enough for all to hear. “Not enough to be dangerous mind you, but it does hint that the station is rather extensively shielded.”

“So the source of the time loop could be the station?” MacIntyre asked.

“Mosst likely,” the Irossian answered. “It’ss not my field of expertisse,” she clarified, “but I’d give it better than average oddss.”

“Commander, can I make a suggestion?” Sam spoke up, continuing with the head nod she received. “We’ve got roughly an hour before this all gets reset. Could we focus on perhaps finding some sort of internal transport system? Or a map?”

“Giving up already?” Mac asked, then grinned after a moment. “You’re thinking of the next loop, aren’t you? All right then.” He gave a short whistle and everyone stopped, including the hazard team who had proceeded a fair distance ahead of them. “I want everyone looking for transportation or station maps. Consoles, wall decals, whatever that might indicate a way to operations, or a control room.”

Nods of affirmation, a few vocalisations, and everyone was back at it. An intersection nearly a hundred metres from the door had teams splitting off down separate white corridors, the only indication of which way to retreat being black marks left on the walls by the hazard team members.

“This place is huge and shielded even on its internal walls. We’re never gonna find anything quickly in here,” Sam said as she referred one more to her tricorder, intent on remembering as much as she could from the readings she and everyone else was taking.

“Why don’t we just modify a cargo grav sled and make a crude travel platform?” Nerys spoke up. “Then we don’t need to look for something. Drive straight down this corridor to the heart of this thing.” She pointed down the seemingly endless white corridor.

“Not a bad idea Ensign,” MacIntyre said as he approached the three women, having slowed down from conferring with the two hazard team members ahead of them. “By the way, if this isn’t some elaborate scheme on behalf of you three, next loop, just say periwinkle to me.”

“Periwinkle?” Sam asked.

“Periwinkle.”


Running down the corridor towards Port Royal, Ensign Linal Nerys was in two different types of trouble and likely about to be in a third. She didn’t care. The pounding headache, the absolute anger at having gotten nowhere last time, and the vague clues they’d learned was all working towards a distinct inability to care about such minor things as being late for her shift.

She rounded the last corner, saw Lieutenant Fightmaster as the doors to Port Royal closed on him. Just outside was the captain and commander, talking to each other, neither had seen or registered her. Why would they even deign to notice a mere Ensign?

“Commander!” she shouted out, closing on the two, who turned to face her. “Periwinkle.”

“Periwinkle!” came another shout as Lieutenant Samantha Michaels cleared the doors of Port Royal just as Fightmaster took his place, waiting for the door to open and admit the commanding officers of the ship.

“Aw shit,” MacIntyre said. “How many more of you are there?”

“Just W’a’le’ki, but she’s trapped in there,” Samantha said.

“What’s periwinkle?” Captain Theodoras said, looking to MacIntyre.

“We’ve got a broken clock situation.”

Comments

  • Ahhhh, I've loved catching up on the latest with the Atlantis and this is undoubtedly one hell of a great take on a time loop plot. I'm enjoying the reset button and how it changes ever so slightly each time. The mystery behind the alien station has me wondering if it is indeed the source of it or if there's something else at play here. And who will be the next person to remember the loop? I need to read more please!

    February 19, 2023
  • All of this is great, but my personal favorite is the periwinkle thread that got me even more interested and the payoff is brilliant - similar in theme to other stories but there are plenty of differences to imagine what exactly a broken clock situation could mean and how, in the end, are they going to fix it? Lots of answers, but so many more questions! Solid stuff - I really am enjoying this!

    February 21, 2023
  • Oh this is great! The reset and the use of the three who remember to try and advance knowledge of the loop is perfect! And ‘Periwinkle’ was the icing on the cake there. Quick thinking from MacIntyre. I need more!!

    March 6, 2023
  • Oooh, why does Mac have a safety word for a time loop? What's happened to HIM? Each loop is doing a good job of giving us something new, whether it's a new connection between characters or more advance on the plot. This one feels like more of the former - the crew is beginning to learn how to come together - which is proving very satisfying. Good stuff!

    March 31, 2023