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Part of USS Thyanis: Children of the stars

Part 1 – The Signal

USS Thyanis
Late April 2401
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Late April 2401 – USS Thyanis – En route to Starbase 86 – Warp 6.5


 

The doors to the Thyanis infirmary hissed open, and Wallace strolled in, enjoying a bite of a replicated apple. Juice dribbled down his chin as he chewed the succulent fruit.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Molly quipped as she noticed her commander approaching. She was busy re-stocking one of her trolleys with her most used medicines, ready to face another day of minor scrapes, stomach upsets, and sprain injuries.

Wallace grinned, glancing around the familiar sickbay. “But not the Captain, it seems,” he replied with a jest. He wandered over to a display, pretending interest as he took another bite.

Molly paused in her work, tracking Wallace’s circuitous path. “Are you trying to wear out my carpet?” she asked, amusement in her voice.

Recognising the failure of his avoidance tactic, Wallace submitted to approaching Molly more directly, slight trepidation in his voice. “Actually, I need to discuss something with you, a delicate matter,” he said, taking a seat on a stool near her workstation.

Molly looked up from her tasks. “Harris?” she guessed. 

Wallace sat forward. “Yeah… Look, it’s none of my business what happened between you. I just wanted to make sure you can handle—”

Molly cut him off with a raised hand. “Let me stop you there sir!” 

Wallace shifted in his seat, realising his approach shared as much subtlety as a photon torpedo. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to suggest—”

Molly raised her voice. “With all due respect, sir, this isn’t something I’m fond of discussing. You have my word that my duties won’t be affected.”

Understanding his mistake, Wallace stood. “I apologise for overstepping. Carry on,” he said, departing without offering unnecessary advice.

As Wallace left, Molly focused on her work, conflicted by her response. She knew her reaction was warranted, yet she could not shake the feeling of offense.

 


Main Bridge – a short time later


 

Wallace entered the bridge, so absorbed in his thoughts he was unprepared for the abrupt interruption of his first officer. “Captain, we’ve been detecting an anomalous reading approximately two light years from our present location,” Harris reported

Wallace was unprepared for the urgency in Harris’s voice, but quickly shifted his focus back to command. “What sort of reading?” 

A young Vulcan science officer broke away from her station and approached, her demeanor focused and professional. “Sirs, If I may, long-range sensors detect elevated emissions in the S-band frequency, approaching 3.8 gigahertz.” 

Wallace listened, nodding as he registered her input. “Lieutenant T’Nira, I appreciate your thoroughness as always, but we do have a schedule to keep. Launch a class seven probe and maintain course”

Harris exchanged a glance with T’Nira. She nodded at Harris, encouraging him to elaborate. “With respect, sir, there’s more. The frequency is a transmission… In English.”

Wallace’s eyes widened, his curiosity piqued. “English? You mean it’s been translated?”

Lieutenant T’Nira repeated the significance, her logical tone unwavering. “No, sir, the transmission was made in English. Logic suggests it is of Human origin.”

Wallace’s interest deepened. “Starfleet hasn’t used S-band communication in over two centuries, who the hell could be transmitting on that frequency all the way out here?” He moved closer to the science station, joined by Harris and T’Nira.

T’Nira slid her fingers gracefully across the display, presenting a detailed analysis of the signal’s waveform and complex equations. “I have located the source of the transmission—a G-type star system 1.94 lightyears from our present location. The system is largely unmapped due to frequent and intense ion storms in that sector.”

Wallace pretended to understand the technical data on the display, but his focus was on the curious element of this discovery. “You said the transmission was made in English? What does it say?”

Harris leaned over the console to add his input. “It’s just two words on repeat, Help Us.” 

Wallace’s intrigue mingled with concern, a subtle unease in his demeanor. “A distress call?”

T’Nira offered her logical analysis. “While I cannot offer a definitive explanation at this time, this does appear to be a distress call.”

Harris’s voice was firm. “Sir, whichever way you look at it, we have to alter course to investigate.”

Wallace stroked his beard as he considered the information before him, a tinge of apprehension shading his thoughts. The signal’s request for help was clear, yet the choice of the S-band frequency intrigued him. It made no sense for anyone to transmit on that frequency unless they were truly desperate. “Agreed. Number one, alter course and engage at maximum warp.” 

As he took the command chair, a flicker of excitement ignited within him, yet a subtle caution tempered it. The thrill of exploration, of unearthing the unknown, surged through him, rekindling a spark that had lain dormant amid the routine of his years. He kept his emotion concealed, but a sense of foreboding lingered beneath the surface, a shadow cast by the allure of the mysterious signal.

Wallace’s gaze became entranced by the starlit expanse, his eyes reflecting a blend of eagerness and uncertainty. As Harris assumed the helm, Wallace knew they were all stepping into the unknown, embracing the impending adventure and the secrets it might unveil.

 


Six weeks earlier – Hospital bay – Starbase Bravo


 

Wallace admired the pristine interior of the medical bay as he perched on the edge of the Bio-Bed, shirtless; he was busy slipping his boots back onto his feet while he waited for the doctor to return with his scan results.

The air in the room was frigid, a persistent reminder that he was more exposed than he liked. Goosebumps prickled along his arms, urging him to finish dressing and regain some warmth. He should have been eager to put this year’s physical behind him, but something gnawed at his insides, a lurking anxiety he couldn’t shake.

Footsteps approached from behind the curtain encircling his bay, making him brace himself for whatever news would follow. As the attending physician entered and drew the curtain behind him, Wallace felt exposed and vulnerable. “Sorry for your wait, Commander, things are still a little disorganised here,” the doctor apologised. 

Wallace continued tightening his boots, trying to hide his unease. “No problem doc, just eager to put this year’s physical behind me.”

The doctor’s silence hung in the air, punctuated by the tapping of his PADD. It was a silence that stoked the fires of anxiety growing within Wallace’s chest. “Something wrong?” he finally managed to ask, his voice strained.

The doctor, unable to delay any longer, dragged a stool to Wallace’s bedside and took a seat, locking eyes with the Commander. “It’s probably nothing to worry about, but we found some anomalous markers in your blood work. 

Wallace felt the words like a physical blow, each syllable a scalpel slicing into his chest. His throat went dry, and he struggled to find his voice.

“It could be anything from a simple infection to something more complex,” the doctor continued, “I’d like to run a few more tests to try and narrow it down.”

Wallace couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. His mind raced with fearful thoughts.

“I wouldn’t worry but, It’s important to keep an open mind at th—” the doctor started.

Wallace cut him off, his vulnerability laid bare. “That won’t be necessary, Doctor.” He snatched his jacket and swung it around his shoulders as he rose to exit the bay.

The doctor was stunned by his patient’s reaction, “But Commander, I really do think we should run these tests!” he insisted.

Wallace paused as he slid the curtain back, torn between the inferno of anxiety in his heart and a sense of obligation to his health. “Thank you for your time doc, am I cleared for duty?” 

The doctor, still dumbfounded by his patient’s reaction could only respond with honesty to the question, “Well, yes, but I really think it’s in your best interests to—”

“I appreciate your concern Doctor, but there are some things I would prefer to live my life, not knowing.” Wallace cut in as he resumed his course towards the door.

The doctor was stunned, but he knew what this reaction likely meant. He’d read Wallace’s family history. “Your father was diagnosed when he was 40, correct?” 

Wallace felt as if he had been struck by a phaser, freezing him in place; he bowed his head, tears forming in his eyes. The memory of his father’s struggle resurfaced, vivid and painful. He recalled the long nights at his bedside watching his father’s strength wane, and the feeling of helplessness that had never truly left him.

The doctor approached and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Treatment is most effective before the manifestation of symptoms. An early diagnosis is vital to slowing—”

“Thank you, Doctor. But we both know the outcome is the same.” Wallace interrupted, allowing his vulnerability to show. “ 

The Doctor nodded with respect, understanding his patient’s decision. “Nothing is certain, Commander, medical science advances every day. Just don’t leave it too late to decide”

Wallace stepped out onto the promenade, conflicted by feelings of anxiety, pain, and regret. Perhaps he should carefully consider the Doctor’s advice; but deep down Wallace was terrified that a diagnosis would mean he would be sentenced to an untimely demise in a hospital bed, linked to a dozen machines in a futile effort to prolong his suffering.

As he made his way toward the docking bay his route took him along a long gantry with panoramic viewports along both walls. 

He stopped and took a moment to gaze into the pressurised dry dock where Thyanis was currently berthed. She was powered down and in the midst of receiving extensive upgrades and repairs. Worker bees swarmed around her, removing damaged panels and installing new ones, their efforts a symphony of precision. Her nacelles were stripped bare, exposing intricate networks of power conduits. She was at the mercy of the engineers to try and restore her to full operational status and for the moment she appeared completely vulnerable and dependent on the support systems of the starbase. Wallace couldn’t help but draw parallels between Thyanis’s refit and a possible future where he too might be just as reliant on doctors to restore his own vitality.

Wallace felt the warmth on his back begin to fade and turned his attention to the opposite viewport. An aging Centaur class starship was departing from the upper spacedock above him, casting a cooling shadow as her saucer began to occlude the Mellstroxx sun. Her hull still weathered by the marks of many battles and adventures of old. She was a starship born out of the necessity of the Dominion War when Starfleet was losing ships faster than they could be replaced, but she still had a purpose. A dignified existence exploring the unknown.  

With every new class of ship that Starfleet commissioned, her future was ever more uncertain, but her graceful departure as the sunlight returned to warm his face reminded Wallace that there was no shame in seeking a dignified retirement. That ship’s mission may well be her last, but she wore her scars with pride and continued to safely convey her crew to new adventures as if she were fresh off the production line. 

As he gazed at the contrasting scenes, Wallace couldn’t help but feel the weight of his own choices. One side offered the prospect of extending his useful life, the comfort of the known, like his ship being restored to her former glory. The other side held the allure of the unknown, an uncharted path, much like the uncertain future he might face if he dared to embrace it.