Main Bridge – USS Thyanis
“Approaching the L5 Lagrange point Commander, switching to maneuvering thrusters,” Harris reported as he skillfully piloted the Thyanis into position
“Excellent, let’s try hailing them,” responded Wallace, eager to try and make contact and fastrack the evacuation.
“Erm…No need sir, we are receiving an incoming transmission ourselves,” said Harris
The bridge officers all took a quick glance at each other, checking that they were all feeling the same sense of relief. “On Screen,” Wallace commanded as he stood to get a better view.
As Harris opened the channel, the view screen turned a sinister blood red, there was definitely an image of a person there but it was heavily distorted and plagued by static artifacts. The audio was equally as unreadable and no one on the bridge could make sense of any of it.
“Oppenheimer Station, this is the federation ship Thyanis, Do you read?” Wallace attempted to make contact, hoping this was just a glitch in the comm system. “Try to clear it up a little!” he directed to his bridge crew, hoping someone would have the skill to do so.
“It’s no use, signal strength is at one hundred percent, it’s possible the station might have a malfunction with their communication equipment,” Harris replied, one hand on the helm as he glanced back at his C.O.
“Bring us to transporter range” Wallace immediately ordered, if they couldn’t communicate ship to ship then they would just have to beam aboard and speak face to face.
“ENGINEERINGTOBRIDGE!” an almost unrecognisable voice came over the intercom, high pitched, squeaky, and speaking so rapidly it sounded like a recording played on fast forward.
“Chief is that you? What’s wrong with your voice?” Wallace asked, confused and only able to identify Martin Catterick by his distinct accent.
“Get a team on it Chief, then meet me in the Transporter room,” Wallace replied, “Garcia you’re with me, Harris you have the bridge!”
As Wallace and his escort made their way aft Tan took the center chair and allowed a junior pilot to take the conn, Dr. Xan remained at her science station busy typing away on the console and scratching her head.
Deck 4 – Engineering
Chief Catterick closed the channel and from the table console sent the ship’s communication equipment into a diagnostic mode before collecting a Tricorder, toolkit and giving his parting instructions to a nearby ensign.
“Run a level 3 diagnostic and see what you can do to fix the bloody coms Ensign, and keep an eye on that injector imbalance, if it looks like it’s gonna breach the threshold limits, shut the core down,” he instructed with authority.
Martin was no stranger to ‘gremlins’ mucking up a ship’s systems, while it was rare for ships to experience multiple malfunctions simultaneously he had to take into account that the ship was still not 100% from their battle with the Breen and did not yet consider it a cause for any great concern.
As he packed up his things, he made his way out of the engineering bay and caught a glance of the Commander and LT Garcia coming down the ladder at the end of the corridor. He decided to wait for them and discuss the issues en route.
“What’s happening with my ship Chief?” Wallace asked with a concerned look on his face
“Not quite sure sir… She took a real beating as you know and it could be we missed something at Farpoint, but what’s strange is all the malfunctions started in the last five minutes.” Said Martin as the trio made their way down the corridor.
Meanwhile – Main Bridge
“You think this cloud could be what’s causing the communication problem Doctor?” Harris asked as he gazed at the viewscreen; he could just about see the station coming into view through the dust, old Regula class with some minor modifications.
Xan was still busy frantically typing away at her console, she was so focused she didn’t even hear the X.O’s query
“Woah…now that’s the stuff of nightmares.” The junior officer at the helm said out-loud prompting everyone to take a look at the viewscreen.
As the dust cleared, an imposing and sinister image became apparent – Oppenheimer station, as if the name didn’t trigger nightmares itself; it appeared blood red. Every window, every navigational beacon, the main shuttle bay even the ordinarily white hull shared a deep sanguine hue.
“It’s just the dust filtering the light crewman, hold your course,” Harris instructed not overly concerned.
“NO… It isn’t!” Dr. Xan said out loud, her first word all morning.
“What?” Harris retorted.
Xan began a multi-spectral scan of the station, she hoped with every fiber of her being she was wrong but she kept working and blocked out all other distractions around her. Moments later, her fears were confirmed and she reported her findings, “Sir, I’m reading gravimetric distortions along with increased curvature of space-time,” Xan replied, using her symbiant’s past expertise and astrophysics to guide her theory.
“Gravimetric Distortions?…Space-time? What are you saying?” Harris asked, confused as ever. He was a skilled pilot but he simply did not have the aptitude to piece the puzzle together for himself.
“I’ve been picking up strange readings since we entered the system, Im saying it’s not dust… The light from the station…It’s Red Shifted!” Xan explained, glancing up from her console only to realise that no one truly understood what she was trying to explain. She had to put the fruit of her observations in plain English.
“There’s got to be a quantum singularity on board that station, it’s the only phenomenon that would explain these readings!” Xan added.
Harris took a few steps over to the science station to observe the data for himself, he may have been somewhat of a layman when it came to astrophysics, but he could read a computer display and interpret the data. “Wait… A quantum singularity?… Do you mean a Black Hole?” Harris asked, becoming even more confused. “Surely that can’t be right, I mean shouldn’t the station be imploding or something?”
“Not necessarily, If the singularity is small enough it might be contained, the Romulans use the same technology in their warp drives.” The Doctor replied, still trying to resolve some of the data herself.
“It’s the only explanation that fits… The redshift, the communication problems… I think what we are witnessing are the effects of General Relativity.” She added.
“I’ve seen plenty of Romulan ships, and I’ve never seen one with readings like this,” Said Harris.
“No, you’re right… which means this one isn’t properly contained!… The Romulans use a precisely calibrated graviton matrix to contain the relativistic effects of the singularity to the core itself, It would appear that whatever matrix the station is using isn’t functioning properly.” Xan paused for a moment, she recognized that the effects of relativity increased exponentially as they approached the station, as did the moment of gravity.
Suddenly her voice broke with a cry of urgency, “Sir! we need to recall the away team now!”
Harris wasted no time, he tapped his comm badge but only received an error chirp. “Coms are down…Get down there, Molly!” Harris ordered, trusting that Xan had good reason to be concerned.
Deck 4 – Transporter Room
The trio of officers approached the entrance to the transporter room, discussing the parameters for their away mission. Commander Jones entered his access code into one of the wall consoles and unlocked a small phaser armory concealed behind one of the walls that lined the corridor. He handed out sidearms to his colleagues before collecting one of his own, it was of course protocol that away teams should not leave the ship unarmed unless the landing zone was confirmed as secure.
“It’s times like this I wish we had a bigger crew,” Wallace said as he holstered his phaser to his belt. “Thyanis is only small but I know how much love and care it takes to maintain her Chief.”
“Probably just some teething problems sir, like I said she did take a beating when we engaged the Breen,” Martin replied as he checked his weapon’s power cell for proper charge.
The three officers proceeded through the doors with Martin approaching the transporter console, Wallace and Lt Garcia making their way directly onto the pad.
“Hmm, I guess the transporters are also on the blink,” Martin said as he tried to plot a path for the transporter beam and input proper landing coordinates.
“Should we take a shuttle chief?” Garcia asked, always nervous and skeptical about transporter travel. She never could get used to the idea of essentially being vaporised and trusting a computer to put her back together exactly how she was.
“No, I’ve got it. Just need to boost the annular confinement beam.” Martin proudly replied, “Setting energisation for fifteen seconds.” Martin engaged the program, sliding his fingers along the console to trigger the transport sequence before jogging the short distance to the pad himself to join the away team.
The countdown ran its course and Garcia braced herself as she felt the sensation alike millions of tiny ants crawling over her skin as her body deconstructed and her consciousness was about to be briefly suspended for a nanosecond.
The doors suddenly burst open as Dr. Xan stormed into the room only to be horrified to see the away team partially de-materialised. She ran to the Transporter console and began desperately typing away to abort the transport sequence.
The only thought in her mind at this moment was the guilt she would feel if she was unable to save their patterns from being captured and scattered by the intense gravity of the Singularity, and how the away team knew nothing of the danger they were in.
As soon as the last trace of the away team disappeared from the pad, the room illuminated again and their patterns re-emerged from thin air – though still phasing in and out of cohesion.
Xan struggled to re-integrate their patterns, she only had a basic understanding of the equipment and was using all her past experience in science and physics to bridge the gaps in her knowledge.
“DAMMIT!” she exclaimed slamming a fist down on the console in frustration.
Tears began to well in her eyes as she felt powerless to save the away team, she watched in disbelief as the remains of their patterns slowly began to fade, knowing that in a matter of moments, they would slip from her grasp and be lost forever.
Just as her hope was about to deplete, she noticed the available power to the pattern buffer was being enhanced remotely; probably from the bridge. Not wasting a nanosecond she re-initialised the materialisation sequence and felt the lump in her throat dissolve as all three crew members began to appear before her eyes.
Wallace was disorientated at first, for a moment he had a sensation of being outside the ship looking down on his crew from another plane that he could not describe, it was a surreal out-of-body experience that was unlike anything he could explain. In the moments after the transport concluded he regained his balance and noticed the Doctor rushing towards him with a medical Tricorder.
“Doctor!, What the hell just happened?” He asked, still trying to fight the queasiness the transport sequence had caused him.
“It will take some time to explain, for now, I need to get you all to sickbay for a full workup!” Xan kept her explanation brief, her Tricorder was reading some residual effects of the transporter that she wasn’t sure how to interpret and right now her priority was the health and wellbeing of the away team. Explaining herself would have to wait.
Meanwhile – Elsewhere in the system
The wide-lobed Ferengi plunged his hand into a wriggling bowl of Tube Grubs and collated a thick handful of the unpalatable creatures before shoveling them into his mouth and devouring them whole; he smiled at the satisfying after-taste on his pallet but also an equally joyful sensation of the small worms wriggling their way down his oesophagus.
“Daimon, the Hew-mon vessel appears to have dropped out of warp. What are your orders?” reported a subordinate helm officer, turning in his seat to meet his master eye to eye.
“Position us above the north pole of the nearby planet, we can use its magnetic field to conceal us from their sensors!” Daimon Tal commanded, his body language unable to hide his excitement, and his mouth almost drolled at the thought of all the Latinum his customer had offered for completing this task.
“Pek, You have the bridge, It’s time I reported on our progress to our buyer!” Tal said as he almost skipped across the room to his office door, sealing himself inside as he approached his extravagant desk and opened a channel on his console.
The screen was dark and there was only audio but Tal didn’t care to gaze upon the face of his buyer. It attracted too many liabilities and allowed him a defense of plausible deniability should the F.C.A ever decide to conduct an audit of his affairs.
“Ferengi! – What do you have for me?”
“The Federation vessel has arrived, How would you like me to proceed?” Tal enquired, picking his fangs for the remnants of his meal.
“Isn’t that what I’m paying you for Ferengi?… Do whatever is necessary but remember; I want my merchandise intact and the scientist alive! And under no circumstances is the Star-fleet ship to leave the system… They have served their purpose, now take care of them Daimon!”
Tal couldn’t contain a nervous laugh, “Now wait a minute, we never agreed to…”
“What we agreed, is that you would deliver the technology to us without any Federation complications… The Starfleet ship is a complication that we cannot afford, eliminate them! Or you will find that the terms of our bargain will alter further!”
“It’s not that simple, If I open fire on a Federation ship, I could lose my license… or worse, Start a war!” Tal pleaded, his expression turning ever more concerned.
“In a few months, the Federation will be of no consequence to you, and you can retire a wealthy little Ferengi!.. Now see to it and do not contact me again until you have what I need!”
Tal submitted he didn’t like the idea but the prospect of his fee was too great to ignore, “As you wish…”
“Remember Tal: Victory Is life!”