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Part of USS Polaris: A Place Removed from Space

As the Days Wear On

Briefing Room, USS Polaris
June 2400, Mission Day 4
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“Here we are, stuck in a region of spacetime where general relativity does not apply, above a dead world with technology impossible under our laws of physics, and you’re not willing to acknowledge these two things are related?” asked Commander Lewis incredulously. He’d been in the intelligence business long enough to distrust coincidences.

“Correlation does not equal causation,” countered Commander Lockwood, an academic who looked down on his colleague from Intelligence as little more than a gun toting adrenaline junkie in charge of a goon squad. “As opposed to your line of work, in mine, we prove our conjectures before stating them as fact.”

“But Commander,” jumped in Captain Devreux in one of the rare moments where he agreed with the suspicions Lewis always seemed to have. “What if they are related?”

“If they are related, then they are related. And if they are not, they are not,” Admiral Reyes cut in from the head of the table before the conversation devolved further. She had hand-picked each of these senior officers, and each was excellent at what they did, but they had very different temperaments, and stress was high four days into being stranded without any hint of how to get back to Federation space. “Does a connection, or a lack thereof, change the approach you are taking to getting us out of this situation, Dr. Lockwood?” she asked, using his academic title out of respect.

“No, not at all Admiral,” replied Lockwood in a far more respectful tone to Reyes. “The reality is that without establishing a new model for the parameters of this spacetime, it will be impossible to develop new forms of the Natario and Alcubierre metrics.” Glancing across the table at Commanded Lewis, Dr. Lockwood then added for the benefit of his unlearned colleague. “Which means no warp drive.”

Admiral Reyes knew better than to ask how long that would take. What the former endowed chair at the Daystrom Institute had ahead of him amounted to essentially reinventing the laws of subspace physics. Even with the cracked scientists they’d been blessed with courtesy of the Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity that the Polaris hosted, it would be no simple – or short – effort. And she just hoped Lockwood didn’t crack before then.

Shifting gears, Reyes turned to address Captain Devreux, who on a vessel of this size doubled as representative for most of the traditional departments to avoid overflowing the briefing room: “Where do we stand operationally Captain?”

“Besides our inability to leverage subspace travel, sensors or communication, the ship is in good shape,” reported the Captain. “The small amount of damage we suffered when our warp field collapsed has all been repaired, and we’re staying at tactical alert in case any surprises present themselves. Other than that, with limited workload while at all-stop over a dead world in a dead part of space, and at the recommendation of Lieutenant Hall, we are keeping the crew busy with preparedness drills, professional development, and organized activities.” He then glanced over at their Chief Counselor to expand on that last bit.

“Most of our crew grew up with the story of Voyager, and many of them knew someone impacted by the ordeal of Starbase 900,” explained Lieutenant Hall. “It is in the silence of dead time that memories and fears surface, and thus, we are running programs to keep everyone busy. Morale and counseling staff have coordinated a range of R&R activities from sports tournaments to group holodeck excursions to book clubs and more, in an effort to keep everyone busy. We have also asked all line officers to keep a close eye on their people for any concerning signs.”

Across from Lieutenant Hall, Commander Lockwood glanced down at the table for a moment. He didn’t just know someone stranded when the Borg attacked Starbase 900. He was one of them. If he hadn’t been, he wouldn’t be sitting here now, with officer pips on his collar, stranded again; instead, he’d probably be sitting comfy at Daystrom. Quickly, Lockwood pulled himself back together. This was different. That time, they’d been tens of thousands of light years away, not something surmountable with a few equations. This time, they just needed to figure out how to establish a warp bubble to transit 1.7 light years.

While Lockwood had only lost his composure for a moment, Reyes noticed it, and she was sure Hall would have as well. The former intelligence officers were all highly attuned to subtle tells, and Lockwood was not a particularly stoic or guarded person. Inwardly, Reyes suspected Hall had made that reference intentionally with Lockwood in the room. She didn’t get into counseling because she loved people. She got into it to analyze them. But nonetheless, Reyes made a note to arrange for Lockwood to get a visit later.

“What about the physical health of the crew, Doctor Henderson?”

“A few broken bones and minor cuts from the rapid deceleration before inertial dampeners kicked in, but nothing of note,” Commander Henderson, the ship’s Chief Medical Officer, replied. “In fact, I think we’ve had more injuries from holodeck programs keeping the crew busy than anything else. If it wasn’t for Captain Devreux’s fencing tournament yesterday and Commander Lewis’ routine disregard for safeties during Hazard Team training, I think my medical staff would be bored out of their minds.”

Lewis smiled smugly at the callout. It wasn’t real preparation for what the team would face in battle if you didn’t have to breathe through the thick mucus and blood that runs down your throat when you take a hard hit.

“And what about the organic matter we brought back from the excursion planet-side?” asked Devreux, referencing one of their finds besides the mysterious AdS-based computer. To him, this was an interesting mystery worth unlocking to make the best of their situation.

“Through analysis of the collected specimen, we can confirm the planet denizens are from a carbon-based humanoid with the Galen sequence,” Henderson explained, referencing the common genetic structure seeded throughout the galaxy by proto-hominids 4.5 billion years ago. “But beyond that, whoever once lived here, their genetic structure is divergent enough to say fairly definitively that they are not a species we have in our database.”

“Given where we’re located, why don’t you send the sequence over to my team too?” asked Commander Lewis. “We’ll run it through a few other databases we have.”

Henderson nodded and sent a note off to his team to forward the information to Commander Lewis. Given their proximity to Romulan territory, Henderson could infer what sources the Chief Intelligence Officer was alluding to, sources that Starfleet, if they had them, certainly couldn’t acknowledge within the medical databases available to starship medical and science officers.

“Alright, well thank you everyone for all your hard work on this,” Admiral Reyes said, closing the briefing. “Let’s keep an eye on our people, cognizant of the situation we find ourselves in, and other than that, Dr. Lockwood, anything you and your team needs, you let us know.” Lockwood nodded.

With that, the Admiral rose, and her senior staff did the same.


Quickly, the group hustled out of the room, while Admiral Reyes turned to look out the viewport of the briefing room. For her entire life, the light years of travel were measured in hours or days. But today, standing there alone in the quiet looking out beyond, those stars felt further away than ever before.