Everything was gone. The cities and towns that once made up the colony, the relay station in orbit of the planet, and the starship that had tried to come to their aid. Outpost 17 had been utterly destroyed and it was all his fault. All that remained on the planet was his lab. The lab that led the monster that had done all this destruction. But he was responsible, the monster had been his idea and he had created it. He thought of his son, Reginald, and his wife Erica. Erica, who had died in his arms after the Dominion had attacked New Bajor. They had been on holiday there. With those thoughts behind him, Doctor Thomas Barclay closed his eyes and died. The lab had been severely damaged by the monster, but some of its systems were located deep beneath the surface. And those systems included and emergency beacon. Its transmission steadily screamed for help. And ironically, that scream had sealed the fate of the outpost.
Lieutenant Reginald Barclay walked into Enterprise's main engineering as if he had never left. Since Voyager had made it back home in one piece, Reg had seen no reason to stay with the Pathfinder project. And the EMH-Project on Jupiter Station was running smoothly. So Reg had packed up his things and gone back to serving on the Enterprise.
"Reg, can you give me a hand here?"
"Sure, Geordi, what's the problem?"
"I'm trying to re-balance the plasma relays on deck fourteen, but every time the I've the port units running the way I want them to, the starboard units shut down."
"Perhaps we could re-balance both at the same time."
"That's what I need your help for.
I'll handle starboard if you'll take care of port."
They went to the master systems display and began the procedure.
"I've completed inputting the instructions." Reg said.
"Good, execute on three. One..two..and execute!"
Their fingers stabbed the right button.
"It looks like everything went all right."
LaForge shook his head.
"No, the EPS-grid must still adapt to the changes. So it's too early to tell."
That was when engineering went dark.
Picard had been in discussion with Riker and Troi about the ruins on Alpha 626, had being the operative word. Because no he was on a dark bridge with no way to contact anybody outside. So he started with the people inside.
"Report, mister Data." He demanded.
"We appear to have lost all power to the bridge, sir."
"I know that, Data, but why?"
"There were no abnormal readings on sensors before the power failure, sir. Therefore the cause must be from within the ship."
"Did anyone notice anything out of the ordinary on the internal sensors?"
There was a series of 'negative's from the bridge crew, but then one of the junior engineers spoke up.
"Captain, there have been some minor problems with the EPS-grid on deck fourteen all week. Doors that got jammed, lights that flickered, replicators that overcooked steaks, things of that nature. Perhaps the EPS-tap for that deck has broken down. Commander LaForge had to correct the software four times this month, normally you correct it and it's good to go for another two months."
"The safety protocols would shut the deck concerned down as well as decks one and sixteen." Data added.
"I hope the engineers down there know that it at stake." Riker began. "Because it they don't get power back soon, Starfleet will have to sent a ship to tow us back to a starbase."
"Get that finger out of my ear!"
"Get that shoe out of my nose!"
Crewmen Harry Rodriguez and Thomas McReilly were two engineers assigned to maintenance on deck twelve, but their quarters were on deck fourteen. And now that there was no power, there also was no gravity. So the two had floated into one another in the corridor.
"What happened?" McReilly asked.
"I don't know, maybe we've been attacked."
"Does it matter? Someone tries to kill us at least once a week."
"Don't get me started, last week it was the Breen, the week before that it was the Orion Syndicate. And the month before that we got infected with a alien computer virus that nearly caused the ship to crash into a starbase."
"Not to mention the problem of getting insurance. All you have to do is mention the Enterprise and they kick you out."
"But that doesn't change the fact that we're floating out here."
"The EPS-tap probably burned out. Come on, it is this way to the maintenance hatch."
"Are you sure we should fix this without orders?"
"The coms are down, so there is no way to get orders. And if they were up and running, Commander LaForge would send us anyway. So let's do this, the sooner we get this fixed, the sooner I can go to bed."
They swam over to the tap.
"Okay, let's see what's wrong?" McReilly said.
"The power output is good, the plasma levels are fine and the ion regulator is misaligned again. That's the third time this week."
"Grab hold of something, because I'm resetting it now."
The lights came on and the systems went back to normal. Reg nearly fell back to the deck. He had grabbed the warp core just in time.
"Crusher to LaForge. Geordi, what is going on down there?
I've got injured people and broken equipment from all over the deck."
"Sorry, doctor, but we've had a temporary breakdown of the EPS-grid on deck fourteen. So you'd better expect more wounded, LaForge out."
"Picard to LaForge."
"LaForge here, captain."
"What just happened? I've got reports of wounded flooding in from all sections and none give any explanation about the cause."
"We lost the EPS-tap on deck fourteen for a moment, sir. I'll have the whole system overhauled the next time we stop at a starbase."
"Hmm, the sooner the better. We are setting course for starbase five at once, Picard out."
As the Enterprise raced towards starbase five, another vessel was already approaching the station. The USS Horizon was a Galaxy-class starship. Well, actually she was half of a Galaxy-Class Starship. Starfleet had the maximum of twelve of such vessels in service at the moment. But an administrative error had caused the fact that Utopia Planita Yards had build a saucer section to many.
Admirals Owen Paris and Kathryn Janeway had seen no reason to waist a perfectly good saucer section and ordered that the Horizon be turned into as a complete starship as possible. The space inside the saucer that was normally meant for future upgrades would be used for the operation. And so, the Horizon had ended up at starbase five for refitting.
Admiral Peter Zhukov had always been considered a renegade. His grandfather had been the chief engineer on the Enterprise-B and his father had held that post on the New Orleans and later on the Excelsior. But Peter had more of a knack for command, but broke the rules just as often as every Zhukov that had every joined Starfleet. A line that could be traced all the way back to Zefram Cochrane. One of his ancestors had been an engineer on the Phoenix base. Today, at age thirty, he had become the youngest admiral in starfleet ever and assumed command of starbase five. He was sitting at the Engineering console in the Operations Centre, when his tactical officer spoke up.
"Sir, we've just received three hails."
"Tell me one at a time."
"The first is from the Horizon, they request permission to dock."
"Permission granted, park her where you like. All the docks are empty."
"The second is from the Enterprise.
They are having problems with their EPS-grid and want to come in for an overhaul."
"Tell the Horizon to hurry, there are more guests at the party then planned."
"The last one...ohh no...is a level one distress call from Tempus Prime."
Zhukov jumped out of his chair and ran to the panel.
"Outpost 17, we have to send a ship and I mean now!"
"We can't, sir. The Enterprise is in no shape, the Horizon is only half a ship to begin with and there is no as much as a single workbee with sensor range."
"Get me Starfleet Command."
"Channel open, I've got Admiral Paris."
"Put him on."
Owen Paris appeared and Zhukov began explaining the situation.
Captain Nivor Qin of the Starship Adelphi drummed his fingers on his armrest. He looked around the bridge of the Ambassador class starship.
"How long until we get there?"
"Two minutes and twenty-one seconds, sir." The Conn officer replied.
The Adelphi had been exploring the Darnos Nebula when her new orders came in. And even at her maximum speed of warp 9.5 it had taken her six hours to get to the outpost.
"Outpost ahead, sir."
"Go to yellow alert and drop to full impulse."
"Yellow alert it is and the impulse drive is engaged."
The sound of the alert klaxons confirmed the rapport.
"Science, I want scans of the planets."
"Lieutenant Farrell, how are we doing on orbit?"
"We are entering orbit now, sir."
"Science, I need your report."
"The planet has been struck by multiple objects that, based on the pattern of the impact, came from orbit. The impacts caused fires, earthquakes and floods that devastated the planet's surface."
"Are there any survivors?"
"There are no survivors on the planet's surface or in the remains of the relay station."
"The remains of the relay station?"
"Yes, our sensor indicate that the station's main reactor has imploded."
"Could the implosion have done the damage to the planet?"
"Only if the shockwave reached the surface, which is not possible here. The shockwave has a maximum range of five kilometres and the station's orbit in at sixty kilometres above the planet."
"But it could have knocked the objects out of orbit..."
Qin was thrown out of his chair.
"Sorry, sir." Farrell began. "But there is Vor'cha class cruiser firing at us."
"Red alert, all hands to battlestations! Tactical, return fire."
"Sir, all life-signs on that ship are Orion."
"Damm, that means it's the ship that attacked the Enterprise two weeks ago."
The Adelphi avoided the enemy fire and her phasers struck the Vor'cha amidships.
"Got him!" The tactical officer said.
"I've found his cloaking device and I can take it out with the phasers. But we need to get within ten thousand kilometres to do it."
"I can do it, sir."
Adelphi charged towards her foe, and then she drove her phasers into the enemy ship like a tiger drives its teeth into its prey. The bleeding cruiser limped away at one quarter impulse, but then suddenly flew into the distance.
"They've gone to warp, sir." Farrell reported.
"Get me Admiral Zhukov."
Zhukov looked as calm as ever.
"Admiral, we've just encountered the Orion that attacked the Enterprise. We need your permission to go after him."
"Permission granted, happy hunting. Zhukov out."
The standard view of the stars was back.
"We are leaving, maximum warp!"
The tiger turned and leaped after its prey.
Zhukov walked to the dock where the Enterprise was located. He could have beamed aboard but he need time to think. The decks of the sovereign-class ship were heated and light, but the news he had to bring made him cold and dark inside. He reached LaForge's office and went inside.
"Is there a problem, sir?"
"I've got a piece of bad news for one of your crewmen, and you should be the one to tell him."
He gave LaForge a PADD and left. Geordi read the message, then he sat behind his desk and cursed.
"Why now, it was going so good."
"Is something wrong, Geordi?"
Will Riker stood in the doorway. LaForge handed him the PADD. Riker's cursed was worse then Geordi's.
Riker passed him the PADD.
"Lore!" Data spat.
Which was the closed thing to a curse that Data ever said.
"Lore indeed." Geordi began. "Who's going to tell him?"
Two fingers pointed back at him.
"I had to try."
LaForge went out to deliver the bad news.
Reg was working on his report on the overhaul when the bell rang.
Geordi and Deanna Troi walked into him quarters.
"Is something wrong?"
"Reg, we'd better sit on the couch." Troi said.
They sat in the living area.
"Reg, we have some bad news." Geordi began. "It is about your father."
"He is dead, Reg."
Barclay put his hands over his face and burst into tears. Troi simply held him.
"It's all right, Reg, just let it go."
LaForge let out a deep sigh and joined them.
"Picard to LaForge. What is the status of the EPS-grid?"
"I call you back later."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said: I'll call you later. LaForge out."
He took of his combadge and tossed it across the room.
A cranky Jean-Luc Picard walked onto the bridge.
"Ensign Thomas, what the current status of the EPS-grid."
"The grid is fully operational and all repairs are complete."
"How long until we have to leave for sector 305?"
"Ten minutes and twelve seconds, sir."
Picard steamed back into his ready room.
"Computer, locate Geordi LaForge."
The computer scanned the ship and said.
"Geordi LaForge is not aboard the Enterprise."
"When did he leave?"
"Contact with combadge 44371-WH-6 was lost one minute and thirteen seconds ago."
"Where was the combadge at that time?"
"The quarters of Lieutenant Reginald Barclay."
The bell rang.
Riker entered the room.
"The Adelphi's reports on Outpost 17 have arrived, sir. I think you should see them right away."
"There was a distress call from Outpost 17 just before we arrived. Doesn't Lieutenant Barclay have relatives on that planet?"
"He had, father lived there. The outpost has been utterly destroyed, sir."
"That was what I expected. Has he been informed?"
"Geordi and Deanna just told him."
"Is that all we needed to talk about, number one."
"Yes it is, sir."
Riker headed for the bridge.
"Just for the record, because I know you are going do it anyway, give him the week off. And we'll see what to do from there."
The doors slid shut behind Riker.
A month had passed since Barclay had been told about his father. Reg had gone back to work after the week of leave, but he was different. He had become cold and distant, and the look in his eyes was cynical. So LaForge had walked into Troi's office and asked the counsellor what she sensed.
"I sense bitterness, pure bitterness. He has changed so completely, that it is as if he is a different person."
Picard walked into the room.
"I'll come back later."
"Captain." Troi began. "We need to talk about Reg."
"Yes, we do."
Picard sat next LaForge.
"I'm no counsellor or doctor, but I can see that man blames himself.
Now, what are we going to do about it?"
"We're going to have to find a way inside, sir." Troi began.
"We must break through his shell of sarcasm."
"Riker to Picard."
"Picard here, go ahead number one."
"We are approaching Starbase sixteen."
"You know the procedure."
"And Lieutenant Barclay wants to see you."
Speak of the devil. Picard thought.
"I'm coming, Picard out. Counsellor, I suggest you come with me."
They go into the nearest turbolift.
Starbase sixteen was a spacedock-class station. It orbited Earth Colony Three in about a day. Riker was in the command chair. Picard left the turbolift and walked to him.
"Where is Barclay?"
"He's waiting for you in the ready room."
Picard continued to the chamber and Troi sat left of Riker.
"Lieutenant, what did you wish to see me about?"
"The investigation of the incident at Tempus prime is not complete. Although the Adelphi returned and buried the corpses, she never did confirm her theory about the implosion of the relay station's reactor. The Starship Horizon is being sent to wrap up the investigation and rebuild the colony. In short, I want to transfer to the Horizon."
"I'll have to discuss this with Commander Riker."
Barclay left and Riker entered.
"Did he ask for the transfer?" He asked.
"Yes, and I have no grounds to deny it."
"I got the report about the Horizon just before he arrived."
"Will, see if there are any other openings aboard the Horizon. And especially in the medical section."
"You planning to send a spy over there."
"Exactly, and Alyssa Ogawa is the perfect candidate."
"I'll see to it, sir."
Riker headed out on his 'secret' mission.
Dorian Collins checked her rank pins one more time. Yes, she really was a Lieutenant Junior Grade. Then she took a deep breath and went to her senior officers meeting. On her way she repeated the names out loud.
"Me..conn, Lieutenant Reginald Barclay...engineering, Lieutenant-Commander Alyssa Ogawa...medical..."
The turbolift changed direction.
"Lieutenant Darian Wallace...tactical, Ensign Thomas MacWright..science, Ensign Peter Archer..ops and the first officer and captain have not arrived yet."
She sat next to Archer.
"Okay." Ogawa began. "I'm the highest in rank, since neither the first officer or the captain are here. Collins, how far is the outpost?"
"The outpost is sixty-two point seven lightyears away. The Horizon is equipped with a warp drive that is based on the warp sled that was first tested aboard the Starship Excalibur-A. At our maximum cruising speed of warp three it would take three point one years to get there."
Wallace went place.
"So Starfleet arranged for the Starship Adelphi to tow us to the border of the system at warp seven, but from there on we will be on our own. I estimate the journey with take a month and one week at that speed."
"All senior officers to the bridge." Someone said over the intercom.
They filed out. A Trill stood next to the first officers chair. She turned and spotted MacWright.
"So, you're the latest host of the MacWright symbiont?"
MacWright was the oldest and most famous symbionts of the Trill.
It and its hosts had been responsible for dozens of military victories for the Trill and later the Federation. The symbiont had been born in the year 1780.
"And you are?"
"Commander Jeriyll Dovz, the first host of the Dovz symbiont. And the first officer of this ship."
The only other alien officer was Archer, who had an Andorian grandmother. He did not have antennas, but his skin was bleu.
"Commander." Collins began. "Where is the captain? And who is the captain?"
"I do not know, and was hoping that you could tell me."
"I have no idea. Does anybody know who the captain is?"
There were negative nods and 'no's.
"We joined the crew without knowing who the captain is? Do we even have a captain?"
"He is scheduled to beam aboard in five minutes." Wallace said.
"In the meanwhile." Dovz began. "Take your stations."
Bridge of the U.S.S. Horizon
Ogawa and Barclay went to their sections, and the other took their places on the bridge.
Since the Horizon had no counsellor, there we only two seats in the command section. The normal captain's chair had been removed and the left chair had become the command chair.
"The five minutes are up." Wallace reported.
There was the sound of a transporter and someone materialized in the middle of the bridge. The man who now stood there was unlike what anyone had expected. He was not in uniform, his eyes were green and his hair was wild.
"Hello, fellows and ladies, my name is Gary Rogue. I'm the guy in charged of this boat."
"This is our captain?" Collins whispered to Archer.
"Do you have a problem, Conny?"
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"Conny, that is your job, lassie Collins. You fly this boat."
"Yes, captain. What I meant was that you are not the standard captain, sir."
"And that is good, because there is enough standard on this boat already. We have standard gear, standard uniforms and of course Starfleet standards to life up to. If everything becomes standard and easy, then life becomes meaningless. Because then we will never be able to improve ourselves. So think beyond the lines and never say 'standard' again."
"I will try and thank you for the lesson, sir."
"No problem, Conny. Now, I need to get prepared for the big moment. Numero uno, you're in charge. Keep the place together and prepare her to sail out."
Rogue exited the bridge.
"Where did Zhukov find this guy?" Wallace asked.
"I have no idea." Dovz replied.
"Well." Archer began.” This is going be an interesting month."
All he had done was kick in a open door.
Alyssa Ogawa entered Ten-Forward after a exhausting shift. She sat at the bar and ordered something.
"You looked wrecked." An unknown voice said. "And we haven't even left yet."
"Captain Rogue, won't you join me?"
Rogue sat next to her. He looked a world apart from when he was on the bridge. His hair had been taken care of and he was in uniform.
"Well, do you want to babble about it?"
"Not really, sir."
"Okay, tell me about the state of mind of our chief conny. Is she still experiencing problems about the Valiant-mess?"
"Not as far as I know, sir. Could I ask you a question?"
"Sure, do it."
"How did you get into Starfleet?"
"I know that I don't fit the profile that Starfleet has for her officers. And you want to know why I wasn't thrown out like a rotten apple."
"I didn't mean to be rude."
"No, it is all right. I used to live on Aqua Victory Prime and had never even thought of aliens."
"That planet's technology level is equal to Earth in 1900."
"Exactly, I used to drive a steam-locomotive for a living. One day a Starfleet shuttle crashed on our planet. I healed the crew, fixed the ship and flew it to a starbase."
"And they couldn't send you back because of the risk of breaking the Prime Directive."
"That was on my twenty-third birthday, about three years ago."
"Why did you choose the name Gary Rogue?"
"My parents called me Gary and the shuttle was called Rogue."
"Dovz to Rogue."
"Rogue, talk to me."
"We are ready to launch."
"Good, I'm coming up."
"Good luck with the launch speech."
"Thanks, I'll need it. And get some sleep, and no 'buts' because that's an order. I need my med-boss awake and ready."
Rogue walked out.
Barclay stared out the window of his quarters. He had spent most of his time preparing the ship for the journey to the outpost. The bell rang.
Collins steamed into the room.
"Do you intend to keep this crap up all the way to the outpost!" She blurted at him.
"I beg your pardon?"
"You are hiding your true feelings about the death of your father. And don't deny it, because I did the same thing after the Valiant. So I know exactly what to look for."
"The door is back that way, use it."
A furious Collins steamed back outside and nearly rammed MacWright.
"What's gotten under your skin?"
He is in extreme emotional distress, but to proud to accept help."
"And that makes you mad and sad. Come on, you need a drink and some good advice."
They entered MacWright's quarters.
"I don't understand him, ensign."
"We're off-duty, so it's Thom."
"He completely locks himself out, Thom."
"These things need to deep treated with diplomacy, patience and a trick or two."
Collins let out a deep breath.
"I can't pull rank on him and order him to get help."
"Only the CMO, first officer and captain can do that. So leave it to Commander Dovz. Now, about that other think that is on your mind."
"I've fallen in love with Peter Archer."
"Auw, does he know?"
"He is clever enough to know without me telling him."
"Yes, he is."
"All senior officers to the bridge." Dovz said over the intercom.
"Launch in two minutes, launch in two minutes." The computer added.
"We'd better get going." MacWright said.
They arrived just in time.
Everyone was at his station for the launch. Rogue was standing next to Archer's console.
"Is everything ready to go?" He asked.
"Yes, captain." Dovz replied.
"Okay, here we go. Conny, cut the ropes."
"Aye, clearing are moorings."
Rogue took his seat.
"All moorings are cleared."
"Numero Uno, ask the dock master for the okay."
"Dock control one, this is the Starship Horizon, NCC-74302. We are requesting permission to depart."
"Starship Horizon, you have been cleared to depart."
"Collins, throttle up to full thrusters."
"Full thrusters ahead, aye."
The Horizon flew out of the dock and turned to meet the Adelphi.
"The Adelphi has locked on her tractor beam." Archer reported.
"Collins, are we ready for warp seven?"
"Then tell them to hit it."
The two ships leaped away from the base.
"Our warp field is stable and holding."
"Peachy, and now I guess I'm supposed to give a speech."
He leaned to Dovz.
"Don't worry, commander. I hate speeches, so I 'll keep it short and no-one will fall asleep."
"Understood, captain. You are on shipwide speakers...now."
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Gary Rogue speaking. I am the Horizon's commanding officer and that means I have to give a speech after launch. We are going on a one of the coolest missions of all time, to explore new worlds. In the process, we'll probably have to throw some of our theories and preconceptions out the window. But that's all a part of the mission. I won't say it will be easy, and maybe some of us or we'll all die on this mission of ours. That is also a part of our mission we will have to deal with. Always remember that this mission is who we are and what we do. Now use that thought during your work and kick some ass. Rogue out."
"Well done, captain."
"Thank you, commander. You're dismissed, and that goes for all the other off-dutiers as well."
Rogue and Archer remained on the bridge, as the rest was relieved by the Alpha-shift crew.
Thomas Barclay walked into the main science lab of outpost 17. It was a round chamber dressed in bleu and grey. The room had nine sub-sections, and his was the one the farthest in the back. Today Barclay was feeling like he was close to fulfilling his mission: To get her back. And this project would ensure that he would achieve that.
“Good Morning, doctor.”
Peter Ericson was Barclay’s assistant.
“Morning, Peter. Okay, let’s get busy.”
“Computer, what is the stardate?”
“Computer, activate device 01-Delta. And raise the temporal shields.”
“Activating and raising.”
Barclay waited for the device to come to live.
“We have arrived at Outpost 17, sir.” Collins said.
Rogue looked at her and nodded.
“Take us into Normal circle, Collins.”
“Okay, MacWright, I want a full scan of that relay station.”
“I’m scanning it now.”
“Tell me what you see.”
“The debris pattern is wrong. When a reactor is destroyed by an implosion, the shockwave pushes at of the debris away. And you get a field of debris around the source.”
“What is the pattern here?” Dovz asked.
“The station is four kilometres above its normal orbital altitude and the debris is in a string shape.”
“Could the station’s thrusters have moved it?”
“No, the thrusters were the first thing to fry. This station was wrecked by a shockwave coming from the planet.”
“I’m going over there.” Rogue said.
“Captain, I object.”
“I didn’t take this job to let you have all the fun.”
“And what are you hoping to find on that station?”
“Its logs and maybe some answers inside of them.”
“What am I supposed to do in the meantime?”
“Three things: Worry, keep the ship in one piece and use the sensors to turn that colony inside out. In want to know what happened to these folks and I want to know yesterday.”
It was remark he would regret ( later?).
The device was working. The readings they were getting were getting better by the second.
“The test cylinder is almost through.”
“Excellent, deactivate the protection on sensor six and prepare for another incursion test.”
The room ‘wrinkled’ for a few seconds.
“Incursion 276-Alpha-Charlie complete.” The computer said.
“The readings are on display six.” Ericson said.
“Prepare a new cylinder.”
Ericson got to work.
Captain’s log, Stardate 55310.4.
I have gathered an away team to check out the station. Our objective will be to retrieve the last logs of the station, so they can tell so what happened. I’ve picked the control room as beam-in point from the team. The team has three members: Me, Alyssa Ogawa and Reginald Barclay. We’ll be wearing spacesuits for protection.
The shimmer of the transporter vanished.
“What a mess.” Ogawa said.
“The place looks like someone went at it with a plasma torch and then finished the job with a hammer.” Rogue added.
“I think I found the crew.”
There were two corpses on top of one of the panels.
“I thought everybody had been buried.” Barclay said.
“Everybody…that’s a poor choice of words. Captain Qin had orders to leave the station alone. Let’s just get the logs and leave.”
Then a jolt went through the station. They were still standing in the control room, but now it was intact. And there were no corpses in sight. Barclay checked the sensors.
“The station is in her normal orbit.”
There was second jolt and they were back in the wreck.
“Doctor, we are being hailed by the relay station.”
“Put them on.”
A lieutenant with brown hair and bleu eyes appeared on the main viewer. She looked troubled.
“What is wrong, Lieutenant Jennings?”
“We may have a security breach. About one minute ago, three life-signs appeared and disappeared on the station’s internal sensors. And they did access our sensors. It could be Romulans wearing some kind of personal cloaking device.”
“I’ll have security go to condition one right away, Barclay out.”
“Okay, what in the nebula was that?” Rogue asked.
Ogawa scanned the area.
“Mister Barclay, get the logs so we can split.”
“The optical linear chips that held the logs have melted together, sir. They’re useless now.”
“That’s great, just great. Join starfleet, they say. See the galaxy, they say. And what do you get….droppings, pure droppings!”
“Dovz to Rogue.”
“Rogue, let’s have it.”
“We might have found something on the planet.”
“Good, beam us out.”
The transporter engaged and…
...the cylinder was through.
Ericson had been waiting for this chance, and at the moment Barclay was having lunch. So he had send through another test-cylinder. And the readings were going through the roof. Ericson had done a dance of joy in the lab.
“Is there something going on here?” Barclay asked.
“Bah!….I mean, Doctor. Why are you back from lunch so early?”
“Because you misaligned the third coordinate and the cylinder landed in Doctor Rodriguez’s dinner.”
“Sorry, doctor. I thought the readings on the bad-mood sensors were a bit high.”
“You’re going to have to figure out how to run this thing without me sooner or later. And I in this case, I prefer sooner.”
Ericson began from scratch.
Dovz was standing next to the Conn.
“Are we sure about this?”
“Yes” Collins said. ”It is the only structure left in a good enough state to hold any records that could be intact.”
Rogue joined the conversation.
“What have we found?”
“There is building that survived whatever happened. It also appears to be the location of the distress beacon that alerted Starbase five.”
“Are there any life-signs?”
“Negative, sir.” Collins said.
“Dovz, MacWright, you’re with me. Have Barclay and Ogawa met us in transporter room two. Collins, enjoy the centre seat.”
The away team left the bridge.
“He left me in command.”
“So.” Wallace said. “That’s his call to make.”
Collins sat in the command chair and a crewman took her station.
“Rogue to Collins.”
“The chair is nice, isn’t it? The entire away team is ready and we’re beaming down to the planet now.”
She closed the channel.
Ericson walked to the other side of the lab, put his finger in his ears and waited for the blast. Doctor Rodriguez didn’t disappoint him. The man was furious as he steamed into the chamber.
“There is a test-cylinder in my tomato soup. And it’s the third time this week. You hear, the third time!”
Barclay tried to interrupt, but it was already to late. Rodriguez had spotted Ericson.
“You did this to me on purpose! You!”
And for the third time that week, the security guys came in and dragged Rodriguez to the brig.
“Ericson, it’s time.”
“For what, doctor?”
“Prepare the installation for incursion Omega-Zero-One.”
“The first real manipulation?”
“Yes, the test period is over.”
“I’ll go get the subject.”
Barclay simply nodded in approval.
They had beamed down into a pile of rubble. Small fires were lighting the scene here and there, but of what remained of the outpost was quiet and dark.
“This is the place.” MacWright said.
The outside of the lab had been severely pounded.
“Open her up.” Rogue ordered.
The crew of the Adelphi had repaired the doors, so the could simply push the right button.
“What does Qin’s report say about this place?”
“That is was the main science lab.” Dovz said.
“This was my father’s workplace.”
“Captain.” MacWright said. “There is blood in the brig.”
“What did Qin say about the brig?”
“They found the remains Herman Rodriguez inside.”
The corridor ‘wrinkled’ for a second.
“I’m picking up temporal distortions. They’re coming from the lab and are getting worse.”
“Okay, we’re going down there to check it out.”
“But no more tricorders, they could be amplifying the distortions.” Dovz added.
“From now on we’re on our own sensors, so keep your eyes open.”
They moved on.
“Everything is ready, doctor.” Ericson said.
“Prepare to energize.”
A small box that had been chosen as subject dissolved.
“Phase one is complete…it’s approaching the barrier.”
“Reset the coils.”
“It’s through….phase two complete.”
Ericson looked up from his controls. The room was warping and changing. It seemed to calm down after about twelve seconds.
“Did we do it?”
“Yes, we did.”
“I have to go, lock up the device.”
Barclay ran out.
Another wrinkle went through the lab.
“This is it.” MacWright said.
“It looks like an ordinary transporter.” Ogawa said.
“The middle pad has been adjusted to become a Temporal transporter.
That’s why it’s giving of these waves.”
“What is the last thing they beamed?” Rogue asked.
A box full of Immuforme-B to New Bajor….during the Dominion war.”
Barclay cursed and cried.
“Reg?” Ogawa asked.
“He tried to bring her back.”
“My mother, she died when New Bajor was attacked. The doctors had run out of Immuforme-B.”
Barclay and Ogawa sat on the transporter platform.
“That big an incursion…” MacWright began.
“…could screw up the timeline forever, I know.” Rogue added.
“Dovz to Horizon, leave orbit! Leave orbit, now!”
The warning was to late.
Barclay reached his house. He swung open the door and spurted inside.
Did it work?” He mumbled. “Did it?”
Then he walked into the garden. She was taking of the flowers.
“Hello, I’m home.”
Erica Barclay left her work.
“Why are you home so early?”
“I had a lunch break and missed you.”
He hugged her.
“I’ll be right there, you go and replicate something.”
“Whatever you say.”
He walked to the living room and went to work. Then he heard something, so he went to check the front door. It was himself, the one he had created by changing the timeline. The alternate Thomas Barclay stared at him. Then the ‘original’ Barclay drew a phaser and vaporised the alternate one. He put the phaser away and returned to the living room.
“What was that?”
“What do you mean?”
“I thought I heard something.”
“Ohh, that was a stray cat.”
They sat down and had lunch.
Something was very wrong. Ericson had shut down the transporter completely. But there were still distortions coming from the device, and the strain on the space-time continuum was getting bigger and bigger. Ironically, it was only matter of time before there was some kind of eruption. Ericson had called the doctor and told him what was happening. But the call had been taken by the doctor’s wife, and that had unleashed suspicions in Peter’s mind. Barclay had made all the computations and now he knew why. He was looking at Erica’s old file, and the way it had gone before.
“What is wrong?” Barclay asked.
“You caused a major shit in the timeline.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You didn’t just ‘restore’ your wife, you restored dozens of people.
You caused a whole chain-reaction!”
“I know, but this timeline is better.”
“No, it’s not. Because two days after the Dominion war ended, the Jem’Hadar started fighting amongst themselves.”
“Serves them right. They’re mindless fighting machines anyway.”
“They’re no…you….you…Borg! This is not about her, this is about your own petty search for revenge. Well, Ahab, you’re going to pay for this sooner or later.”
“Is that a threat?”
“A simply fact of life.”
Ericson’s temper had exploded and now time did.
“Temporal vortex to port!” Archer reported.
Collins leaped out of the command chair.
“Break orbit! Full impulse ahead!”
But the Horizon was already caught in the distortions. The vortex grabbed the ship and shot her into the past.
“Evade the planet!”
“To late!” The crewman at Conn yelled.
Horizon plummeted into the atmosphere and crashed into the colony. She exploded, knocking the relay station out of her orbit. Large chunks were ripped of the small station and disappeared into deep space. A terrible chain reaction was taking place on the surface. In less than ten minutes, the planet had turned into a raging ball of fire. Explosion and explosion made the area rattled and tremble and twenty-three minutes later it was over. Outpost 17 and her people had died a horrible death.
Ogawa, Dovz and Barclay sitting on the transporter platform, while Rogue and MacWright were fixing the unit.
“Captain.” MacWright said. “I have something.”
“What is it?”
“One of the temporal sensors is on-line.”
“Scan the timeline for the Horizon.”
“I’m scanning now. Done…displaying readings.”
“What?” Dovz asked.
“The transports caused a temporal vortex that pulled the Horizon out of orbit, which destroyed the colony. It’s a paradox.”
“We came to find the cause and became the cause.”
“But why did the transports cause the vortex?” Ogawa asked.
“Simply.” MacWright said. “ New Bajor is on the other side of the Bajoran wormhole. And a wormhole is a warping of time and space. There was a reaction between the temporal field of the wormhole and that of the transporter beam.”
“The Bajoran wormhole is beyond the range of even this transporter.”
“He boosted the signal by bouncing it through every Federation transporter between here and the wormhole.”
Ogawa looked at the display.
“Including the Enterprise, which explains why we had trouble with the EPS-grid.”
“Wouldn’t that result in pattern loss?” Dovz asked.
“All he needed to do was get one Hypospray across intact, so the rest of the box could be missed.”
“Can we undo the timeline?”
“There is only one way to do that. Someone has to beam into the past, show him these readings and talk him out of it.”
“I’ll do it.” Barclay said.
“Hold on just a bloody minute, Reg.” Ogawa said.
“You would have to chose between your mother and your job.”
“I already have, the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few or the one. And if Dad did change the timeline, then she was here when it happened. She died again, but this time he killed her.”
“Are you sure about this?” Rogue asked.
“Yes, I don’t want my father to be remembered as the man who destroyed Outpost 17 because of an impossible quest. My mother will die, but my father will live and have a clean conches.”
Barclay stepped onto the platform.
“You’d better leave your phaser here, or you’ll trigger the security sensors.”
Reg handed the weapon to Rogue.
“I hate transporters.”
“Don’t worry.” Rogue said. “We’ve got Thom behind the controls.”
“Can’t we send someone else?” Ogawa asked.
“Would you believe this if you heard it from a total stranger?” MacWright said.
He handed Barclay a PADD
“Here are the readings.”
“Energize.” Rogue ordered.
Reg dissolved into the phased matter stream.
The security guards came running in as Reg formed. But they grabbed Rodriguez instead of him. Thomas was standing in front of the platform (with his back to Reg). The older Barclay was about to say something, but Reg spoke up first.
Thomas turned around.
“We need to talk.”
“Sure, Peter, take a break.”
They walked to the mess hall. The place was empty.
“Do you want lunch?” Thomas asked.
“No, dad, I know what you’re trying to do here. And it won’t work.”
“How did you get here in the first place? Picard doesn’t give shore leave easily.”
“I beamed here from the future.”
“So it does work?”
“The machine might, but what you plan to do will not. I beamed back to prevent a disaster you will cause if you try to do this.”
Thomas did a step back.
“You’re not my son.”
“Are you going to try to draw this?”
Reg was holding the phaser Thom had been wearing.
“I didn’t forget my Starfleet survival training. And I saw you murder the other you.”
“This is nonsense, you know I would never kill! That phaser is for defence only.”
“You already have, because you killed the real and kind Thomas Barclay when you changed into the monster I am seeing today. You’re not my father.”
“They killed me, when they took her away from me. Those filthy Jem’Hadar!”
“And you’ll kill her if you do this!”
“What are you raving about! I’m going to bring her back and make them pay.”
“You created a temporal paradox when you tried to bring her back. And because of that paradox, she died again!”
“But I’ll have the memories of six extra years with her.”
“No, the other Thomas will. You’ll have nothing but her blood on your hands and that of everyone else on the colony.”
“The colony has nothing to do with it.”
“And how do you know that!? I’m the one from the future. Look at the readings, man, look!”
Reg gave Thomas the PADD.
“Made with your own temporal sensors. You killed the colonists! You killed all of them!”
Thomas plumped into a nearby chair and began readings.
“I did all this?”
“No, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You know how these things work: The longer ago, the bigger the change. For all we know the Dominion could have saved our asses from the Borg someday.”
Thomas dropped the PADD and hid his face.
“What have I done.”
Reg hugged Thomas.
“It’s going to be all right.’
Ericson came in.
“What is going on, doctor?”
“Show him the readings."
Ericson read the readings in shock.
“What do we do now.”
“Go to the lab and seal of the our subsection.’
Ericson headed out.
Jean-Luc Picard shifted in his command chair.
“Picard to LaForge.”
“What is the status of the EPS-grid?”
“It’s fully functional.
Don’t ask me how, but the problem seem to have straightened itself out.”
“There will be plenty of time to run diagnostics later, but at the moment I need full warp power.’
“You have it, sir. LaForge out.”
“Ensign Fleming, set course for Starbase seventy-one at maximum warp.”
“Course ready, captain.”
“Make it so.”
The Enterprise dove into the starscape.
“I am picking up the signs of the timeline returning to normal.” MacWright said.
“Good, now we have to step outside or we’ll end up with two of each of us.”
“There is one thing I don’t understand.” Ogawa said.
“The building has temporal shields, so it won’t change when the timeline does.”
“Yes, it will.” MacWright said.
“The shields keep the thing on the outside from changing the things on the inside. But the things on the inside CAN change the things on the outside.”
“Then why did all this debris damage the lab?”
“Because it only keeps out time and not objects. And when Reg changes event on the inside, the disaster won’t happen.”
“Which means the debris will never exist in the first place.”
“You guys are giving me a headache.” Rogue said.
They stepped outside and faded out.
Ericson was overseeing the dismantling of the transporter. While Thomas was purging the memory banks together with Reg.
“So what are you going to do now?” Reg asked.
“I’m going to pick up my life again, maybe I’ll go and teach at Starfleet Academy.”
“Have you picked a subject yet?”
Thomas managed a faint smile.
“All the memory banks are empty.”
“I’m going to help Peter.”
Thomas headed for his subsection and Reg walked into the corridor. There, he set the phaser on setting ten and vaporised himself.
“Reg, could you give me a hand with this, please?”
Thomas looked around.
He walked to the corridor and found the phaser.
Thomas swallowed hard.
Then he pick up the still warm phaser and said. “Right, we can’t have tow Reg’s and risk another paradox.”
He headed for a com-terminal and requested a channel to the Enterprise.
The alternate Reg soon appeared.
“Hello, dad, why are you calling?”
“Nothing special, I’m just showing a healthy interest in my son…”
Captain’s log, stardate 55310.4.
We have just completed a standard supply mission to Outpost 17 and are now being towed back to starbase five by the Enterprise. The outpost had enough emergency supplies for a year and should be just fine. Doctor Thomas Barclay has left the colony and joined us for passage to the starbase. I’m still one officer short, although Alyssa Ogawa has joined the crew as Med-boss. I offered Reginald Barclay the job of chief engineer, but he declined. He said he liked his job on the Enterprise too much to leave and I heard he is up from the post of assistant chief engineer under LaForge. And finally, Dorian Collins and Peter Archer are having their second date tonight. All in all, things are going great on this space-boat of ours.
With regards, Captain Gary Rogue of the Starship Horizon.
- The End -
|Last modified: 10 Apr 2012