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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 11 : Tomorrow Today Yesterday

Tomorrow Today Yesterday – 10

USS Atlantis
January 2401
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“…but this is just in case. The buoy has all the technical data we’ve recovered so far to get you into the space station the troublesome trio have told you about. We’ll be updating it all the way up to the reset and if you’re listening to this without remembering you recorded this, then we obviously didn’t succeed in turning it off. Best of luck this time around.”

Sitting across from Tikva in her ready room were Mac and Velan, with the rest of the senior staff standing behind them, minus Terax who had deigned to remain in his domain conducting further exams. Silence settled over the room, stretched out a moment and just as Mac was about to speak the message continued, interrupting him.

“Oh, just to prove it is yourself,” the other Tikva said, “you moved the ouzo bottle two days ago when you were reorganising. You know where.” And with that, the computer then played the familiar little chirp to indicate the message had ended.

“You moved the ouzo?” Velan cut in before Mac. “That’s your great security message to yourself?”

“I literally haven’t told anyone, so it’s pretty good,” she defended herself. “Mac?” She turned her attention to her first officer, giving him the floor her past self and Velan had stolen from him.

“Roughly half the buoys memory is full. We must have been beaming data into it as quickly as we were translating it.” Mac smiled and turned in his seat to look at Gabrielle who was standing next to Rrr. “You two have been doing the first-order look over the data, what’s it look like?”

“There’s a lot of technical data on the station and, mundane operation stuff,” Camargo said as she nudged Rrr, which had more of an effect on her than them but earned her a playful smile. “But a lot of data on the stations’ time travel device too.” The last few words had been dragged out, uncertainty in her voice as she spoke them as if she had wanted to use other words instead. “And a middle ground that Rrr and I have our people pouring over right now. W’a’le’ki is leading the investigation on that right now.”

“As for the mundane stuff,” Rrr spoke up, “we’re looking at door codes, signals to spoof sensors, a set of instructions to activate the station’s external comms system, how to drop a translation file into the computers so we can read their consoles. But also maps, the start of a structural scan of the interior and operational manuals. It looks like the download to the buoy got cut off which we’re putting down to the time resetting.”

“Keep at it. We’ll be at the station in a few hours, I want everyone as prepped as possible so we can try to deactivate this thing and stop it from looping again.” She watched a few heads nod, then looked at Velan. “The buoy?”

“Right, so, this is going to cause headaches,” the Efrosian said as he sat forward. “The buoy we picked up has indeed the exact same serial numbers as a buoy we presently have in stock. We dropped off a different buoy this time and have noted all of this in the records. But yes, we’re up one buoy.”

“But if we got reset, shouldn’t the buoy have as well?” Mac asked.

“Not if it was outside the effect. But somehow the ship was reset to exactly how it was thirty-six hours before the reset, save for the memories of a few junior officers.”

“So this spare buoy just popped out of nothingness?” she asked. “Or was it part of some sort of energy-mass conversion from the star?”

“I told you this would cause headaches,” Velan crowed. “None of us in this room are temporal mechanics experts. And even if someone said they were I’d doubt it out of sheer principle. We should just accept we have a space buoy now and let someone back at the Vulcan Science Academy, Max Planck and Luna City University have the mental breakdown trying to sort it all out.”

“We are not dumping a flight of shuttles off the side of this boat only to try and collect duplicates on the next loop,” she found herself saying in quick order, then sighed and planted her face in an open palm. “Sorry, but all of you were thinking some variation of that.”

“Can you blame us?” Mac countered, earning a few chuckles, even a series of clicks from Ch’tkk’va, the closest a Xindi-Insectoid got to laughing. “The planetary survey scans included as well indicate there might be survivors from their self-induced nuclear winter. With that in mind, we can be better set to get a team onto the station and free up Atlantis for that investigation when we arrive.”

“And with confirmation the station is unoccupied, I would suggest a minimal Security presence can handle their needs and we keep the hazard teams in reserve for any planet-based activities.” Ch’tkk’va had timed their entry into the conversation as always appropriately. “Though I would have to excuse myself from any away missions due to the conditions.”

“Average temperate of negative thirty degrees Celsius, I think everyone would try that one, but yes, I understand Lieutenant.” She gave Ch’tkk’va a brief nod, understanding their biological reasonings for avoiding the cold. “I have every confidence you can manage any away missions from aboard the ship.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“Now, as for the rest of you, I think we all know what you need to do, so be about it.”

“Questions I take it?” she asked of the two that stayed behind once the others had left. Mac hadn’t left his seat and Adelinde had claimed Velan’s after the door had closed.

“Ensign Linal,” Mac stated. “Has Doctor Terax said anything?”

“Not yet. I was about to go down to sickbay and ask him about her. And the other two as well. If they’re our only link outside of passing messages to ourselves via message buoys, I don’t think we can afford to lose them.” She watched him nod his head, then rise to his feet. “Mac, get a few hours of rest before we arrive. You’re going to be busy and we’ve all had a long night.”

“And early morning. You need some rest as well.”

“Captain’s prerogative to burn the candle at both ends,” and she turned her gaze to Adelinde with a wry smile, “and a few spots in the middle too.”

“I’ll leave you two to it then and be back on the bridge in four hours.” And with that, he was gone.

“Commander Gantzmann,” she said, looking at Adelinde, who hadn’t relaxed from her professional stoic demeanour.

“Captain Theodoras.” The reply wasn’t harsh or cold, but it wasn’t warm either. “You need some rest as well.”

“Lucky for me I have a cot to nap on in my ready room.” A brief head nod in the direction of the retractable couch, which could change as need be, was answered with a disapproving look. “I’m fine.”

“You had a long day and were planning an early night, then went right back into it. You need a break.”

“Who’s telling me this, my tactical officer, or my girlfriend?”

“Yes,” came the response from Adelinde.

“Smart ass.” She pushed back from her desk, then got to her feet, met by Adelinde doing the same. “Mutiny this is.”

“Respectful advice.” She wrapped her arms around Tikva in an embrace as she rounded the desk, holding for a brief moment, or eternity, one of the two. “Go see the Doctor, then bed. I’ll make sure to wake you thirty minutes before we arrive.”

“Join me?”

“Hmm.” There was a final squeeze from the taller woman, and then Adelinde turned her loose. “I’ll be down in thirty minutes.”

“How’s the patient?” Tikva asked as she stepped into the primary sickbay aboard her ship and the domain of her ship’s chief medical officer, Doctor Terax.

The space was nearly double the size of the sickbay on the previous Atlantis and larger than all the combined ones of her previous commands, though those little boats had little need for much more than a supply closet and a corpsman for all the trouble they got into. It wasn’t just a single space but part of a larger complex of wards, surgical bays, labs, supply spaces and offices in the immediate adjoining sections of the primary hull, repeated in miniature in the secondary hull where she knew Terax had banished Doctor Pisani. She’d yet to figure out if it was out of respect for her skills or dislike for her personality since Terax was a master and reigning in his emotions, giving her nothing to work with.

“Resting,” Terax responded, not looking up from the console he was entering data of some variety into. “Medically induced mind you.”

“Any more insight into why she just launched into Petty Officer Daniels?”

“Compromised inhibitions.” He stopped his data entry, looked up at her with his perpetual scowl then waved her to join him in his office. Once seated and privacy granted by a closed door, he brought up a neurological hologram. “All three of them are showing a chroniton build-up within their bodies but mostly within their brains. The primary concentrations are in the memory centres, which for Bajorans and Humans are similar enough, but Lieutenant W’a’le’ki’s neuro-physiology is slightly different as to present elsewhere within her brain.”

“And this is what’s allowing them to remember the loops?” she asked.

“Once the build-up reached a critical level yes. Though Ensign Linal seemed to be affected almost straight away from looking at my own medical records from previous loops.” Referring to oneself in such a manner was proving to be an interesting grammatical challenge for all aboard the ship. “Aside from the memory centres it is still building up elsewhere in the brain. For Ensign Linal this has impacted her impulse control. Lowered inhibitions, someone angering her…” he trailed off, not needing to continue.

“So from all accounts she was sprinting to Port Royal, PO Daniels bumped into her and she proceeded to lay into him because she couldn’t stop herself?”

“Someone bumps into you, steps on your toe or doesn’t hold the turbolift, do you get not angry?” Terax challenged.

“Sure, but not assault someone angry.”

“And welcome to a brain working normally, with proper learned inhibitions and behaviours. Now take those away and what do you get?”

She nodded her head. “An angry young woman who snaps and assaults someone.”

“Or a Vulcan experiencing Pon Farr, or a Betazoid experiencing the Phase.” Terax’s examples only drove the point home and she knew he chose the second one to make it relevant to her. “I would suggest that Ensign Linal’s cause is because she’s more sensitive and has a higher chroniton buildup than the others. They are both at risk as well with enough loops.”

“So I take then your recommendation is we resolve this as quick as we can?” His nod in the affirmative was all the answer she needed. “What about PO Daniels?” She chastised herself for not even thinking of the young man before now.

“Broken nose, bruised ribs, a few scratches.” Terax sounded bored by the injuries. “I discharged him about fifteen minutes ago and gave him medical leave from duties for the next day and recommended him to Counsellor Hu.”

“Fair enough.” She stood, forcing herself out of the seat. “When can I speak with Linal?”

“When she wakes up.” His answer carried a harsh edge at the end of it. “She needs rest, just as much as you do,” he continued as he moved his head around a little to look at her. “How long have you been on duty?”

“I’m on my way to bed for a few hours now.” She raised a hand to stop his protest before he started it. “I am going to be back on the bridge when we arrive in system. Mac is leading the away team and then we’re going to look at the planet we think there might be survivors. Then and only then will I try and get some more sleep.”

“You haven’t been sleeping well in weeks captain. Don’t make me relieve you of duty.”

She stared at him for a few moments, trying to decide if his words were a professional concern, a promise or a threat. But she couldn’t read him, emotionally or via body language and opted, in her state, to just let it be. With a perfunctory farewell, she left, letting her feet carry her to her quarters and the warm embrace of her bed.

As Atlantis settled into orbit above the world GSC-9587c, shuttles began to spill forth from her two shuttle bays, including the ship’s limited number of Valkyrie starfighters. Their flight paths were determined by the data from the previous loops, telling them where had been previously surveyed, much as the ship’s orbital path positioned it so its orbits would let it survey the world more completely this time too. Shuttles would pass over locations the ship’s sensors identified as interesting or were descending on promising sites already identified.

“Radiation is consistent with a variety of nuclear and antimatter warheads being used,” Rrr said from Ops. “Cratering along waterways and shorelines with some present around mountain ranges as well.”

“Targeting cities and military sites,” Adelinde said from Tactical.

“When you say nuclear, what exactly do you mean?” Lieutenant Commander Ra-tesh’mi Velan had ascended from Engineering to take on his duties as second officer in light of MacIntyre’s departure from the ship. And with Lieutenant Maxwell on the station helping the team there, someone in the Engineering leadership was getting to swan around right now.

“Radioactive particles in the atmosphere indicate fission all the way through to fusion weapons were used,” Rrr clarified. “Ground and air detonations for a more complete self-annihilation.”

“But why would they do this?” Adelinde asked.

“Because why wouldn’t they?” Tikva said, drawing attention from her bridge staff. “Something Terax said when I asked him about Ensign Linal. Compromised inhibitions due to the looping. How many times did the records say the station fired off because of Motu Maha?”

“One hundred seventy,” Rrr provided. Then she saw realisation settle on their face. “Motu Maha’s crew didn’t have anyone like Linal or Michaels, but the natives did. And eventually, someone in the wrong place got pissed off enough to…” They trailed off.

“It’s just speculation,” she quickly spat out. “We need to confirm if there are any survivors down there we can help out and see if we can’t find out why they did this to themselves. And why they built a giant time-reversing space station.” Heads around the bridge nodded in acceptance of the task before them.

“Velan, want the centre seat?” She held out a hand, the ship’s keys hanging by a loop off of one finger.

The man merely smiled before he reached out to accept the keys, tossing them in his hands to examine them. “Should come up here more often,” he commented as he settled into the seat she just vacated. “I’ll shout if anything comes up I can’t handle.”

“Please do,” she replied as she stepped into her ready room. A few hours of napping hadn’t been enough, but perhaps a few more would do the trick. As the door shut behind her she slapped at the controls for the cot, waiting for it to slide out fully before she settled herself onto it, then ordered the lights out, the window darkened to cut out the planet-shine and tried once more to sleep.


  • AHA! Up to date at last (for now). I love that Tikva's secret message to herself is something really mundane she probably hadn't BOTHERED telling anyone else. The banter between Tikva and Lin always feels very pleasantly effortless - they have a good rapport now, feel on an even keel, but they're still a compelling duo. Aaaand... there it is, the threat starting to kick in with Linal finally kicking off. That's a big problem. Nice work on story design, though - the buoy means that the characters remembering aren't as essential in their continuous relaying of information, so you can start to change their role in the functional parts of the plot. Namely, they're not now here to say they're in a time loop. They're there as a WARNING and a reminder that the crew must resolve things. AND - oh, AND they're there as a possibility of why this is all happening! Why the locals killed each other! That's really interesting. As Tikva points out, it doesn't explain why they built a giant time-reversing space station, but it does start to put things together. Loving this.

    March 31, 2023