Meandering Corridors of Time, part 2
Commander Donna Reed stared off into the emptiness. The bridge sparked and shuddered around her, but she didn’t notice or care. Reed had withdrawn deep within herself. Her whole body trembled with shock and fear as panic overtook her. He was gone. The Captain was gone and there was no way to get him back. How could she let this happen again? In the short span of only a few months, she lost two captains: first Peterson and now Reming. It seemed as if she’d reached a new level of incompetence. She leaned forward, placing her head in her hands and sobbed quietly. She cried for herself and for the captain she failed.
Lieutenant Commander Parks frantically struggled to keep the shields on line as multiple asteroids bounced across the Condor’s outer hull. "Commander? Commander Reed?! The ship is losing hull integrity! The shields are failing! Orders, sir?!"
Reed looked up and wiped the dew from her eyes. She surveyed the situation with mild surprise. "Uh…divert life support from decks six and seven to the emergency force fields and to the shields."
"But Commander, there’s more than thirty people on those decks…"
"Carry out my orders, Parks. Either we lose the decks or we lose the ship. Ensign Smith, how long till we’re out of the asteroid field?"
"Impulse engines are down to thirty percent. I estimate another six minutes."
Commander Reed reached for her comm. badge. "Bridge to Sickbay. Doctor Tedmoore, start an emergency evacuation of decks six and seven."
"I’ve been monitoring the situation from down here, Commander. The evacuation is already in progress."
"Very good, doctor. Bridge out."
While the ship backed its way out of the forest of rocks, the slow retreat of asteroids displayed on the viewer was being partially obscured. Plasma bleeding from the port nacelle flowed passed the forward hull as the ship backed into the flow. Without waiting for the order, Parks switched the view screen from a forward view to a rear view. The new view gave the false impression that the ship was moving forward. Reed didn’t react to the change in view. The stale silence coaxed her back into deep thought.
Reed began to wonder about the many mistakes she made in her life. She wondered about the many times she let events unfold without intervening. Too many times. She wondered what Starfleet would do to her. Reassign her. Force her to resign. Of course, they wouldn’t blame her. Reed, however, would blame herself. She would spend the rest of her life wondering what she did wrong.
"We are free of the asteroid field," said Ensign Smith barely above a whisper.
"Better get this over with," Reed said to herself. "All stop, Ensign Smith. Mr. Parks, get the repair crews to work. In the mean time, I’ll be notifying Starfleet on the situation."
Captain Philip Reming snapped back into reality with a jolt. The last thing he remembered was the alien Utbut firing a weapon at him. To Reming, it was as though no time had past. He immediately took notice of his surroundings. He was no longer in the conference room of the Condor. He was now standing in the corner of a small white room. In the center of the room stood the alien named Utbut.
"Hello, Captain Reming," said Utbut. "Very soon, we will be overlooking my world; the world you created."
Philip Reming felt his body fill with equal parts of anger and hopelessness. He wished his current situation was part of some complicated practical joke. The strong feeling of depression evaporated that idea. For a moment, anger swelled inside him, but Reming pushed that emotion aside. Getting angry would not help his situation. He looked down at the floor and took a step closer the lizard man. "Will I be allowed to return to my ship at some point?"
Utbut chuckled. "Captain, I doubt it."
Reming looked him in the eye. "What will your people do with me?"
"I honestly don’t know. My task was to find you and that’s all."
"Your people…the Susu…will be surprised to see you."
"Oh yes, without question. My quest was considered to be honorable and quite impossible."
"You will be treated as a hero."
Reming noticed Utbut take on an air of superiority. "Oh yes. I can just imagine what they will say when my ship comes into view. What a surprise it will be."
"But who will they be more interested in seeing: You or your prize?"
After Reming’s comment, Utbut’s demeanor quickly changed. "I have to go. I must be at the controls when we enter normal space."
As Utbut made his way out of the room, Reming considered attempting to take over the ship. His first obstacle would be to escape the room he was in. He decided to watch his captor carefully as he exited the room Reming was started when Utbut spun around to face him just before stepping out the door. "Get the idea of escape out of your head, Captain. There is no escape."
Commander Reed slammed her hand down on the desk. "Admiral, I refuse to give up! We need to perform a thorough search. We’ve already gathered a lot of information –"
"Please, Commander. Remember whom you are addressing," said the gray hared gentleman on the small viewer sitting on the desk. "Now, I understand how you feel, but you yourself said that the technology this alien used was far superior to anything we have. We don’t have the time or resources to spend on such an endeavor. Besides, even if we were able to duplicate the alien’s propulsion system, it might take years to do so. We must come to the realization that Captain Reming is lost."
Reed dropped her head in exasperation. "Admiral, please."
"I am sorry, Commander." The admiral leaned back in his seat before continuing. After a long pause, he continued. "I see here that you’ve been the first officer of the Tree Wea…uh…Condor for three years. You know the ship and her crew better than anyone does. Therefore, I am promoting you to the rank of Captain of the Condor, effective immediately."
Reed raised her head to look the Admiral in the eye. "Sir?" She was expecting a reassignment or discharge, not a promotion.
The admiral’s eyes softened and a small smile creased his face. "Congratulations, Donna. You are now the Captain of the USS Condor." After dropping the compliment, the Admiral disconnected the channel, returning the display to black.
Reed continued to stare at the viewer, wondering if she actually heard what she thought she heard. "My own command?" she thought. "Did he just give me my own command?" She often hoped this day would come. She just never realized it would come so soon and so suddenly. She would now be in charge. She could now run the ship the way she wanted it run. Soon enough, however, her mind quickly drifted from the elation of achieving the rank of Captain to the despair over the loss of Captain Philip Reming. The tempting idea of becoming Captain made her next decision even harder to accept.
Reming examined the door where his captor exited. He dismissed Utbut’s warnings about escape. Reming wondered how Utbut could have known what he was thinking. It didn’t seem to matter. He had to try and get out. Although there was no visible handle or hinge, he did notice that the door opened outward. Reming therefore considered exerting an enormous amount of force on his side of the door to push it open.
Reming backed up to the far side of the room and started running. Just before impact, he turned his shoulder toward the door. He hit the door hard. To Reming’s surprise, something did move, but it wasn’t the door. He did the moving. He bounced off the door and crashed onto the floor. He was about to get up, but the ringing in his head talked him out of that. Instead, he stayed on the floor and began to think about his first officer, Donna Reed.
He started thinking about her long braid that hung down her back. It was woven so tight, he wondered if it made her head hurt. He wondered what she looked like when her heir wasn’t in a braid. She must have let her heir roam free when she showered. That idea got Reming thinking. He began to imagine Reed stepping from the shower, with her tight body glistening and long wet hair clinging to her damp chest.
"Captain Reming, please stand up. I have something to show you," announced Utbut.
Reming looked around the room for an idea of where his voice was coming from. He couldn’t find any hint of a transceiver, but again, it didn’t seem to matter. Reming begrudgingly stood up.
"Thank you, sir. Now take a look at this."
Reming was stuck by an overwhelming feeling of dizziness, as the room suddenly became transparent. His arms frantically reached out for something to grab as he struggled against the sudden change in his surroundings. Reming concentrated hard and forced himself to adjust to the new situation.
Through the transparent walls Reming could see blackness and stars. Through the floor, he could see the approach of a huge green and blue sphere. Reming realized what he was looking at was Utbut’s home world. Even though he knew he was still safely inside the confines of the spaceship, Reming still had to fight the awesome feeling that he was falling.
The planet that grew closer was amazingly beautiful. Reming gazed at the great oceans and lush jungle like-land masses. He could see the lights of great cities lining the fringes of the massive continents. He could also see ships floating across the land, water and sky.
As he gazed upon the wonderful world, his thoughts inexplicably returned to Donna. What was she doing now? Was she looking for him? Would he ever see her again?
Donna Reed - now Captain - stepped into the conference room. Already seated at the table waiting for her to arrive were the Condor’s most important personnel. On one side of the table sat Lieutenant Commander Michael Parks. Beside him, sat Ensign Nicholas Smith. Across from the Ensign sat his sister, Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith and Chief Medical Officer Edward Tedmoore.
Reed didn’t bother to sit. Instead she stood behind her chair, leaning against it with stiff arms. "First of all, let me fill you all in on some news. I’ve just finished speaking with Starfleet, explaining the events of the last few hours. Unfortunately, Admiral Paris denied my request to recover the Captain." The statement forced the sounds of disappointment from those in the room. Without a pause, Reed continued. "Since the loss of the captain creates a void at the highest command level on the Condor, I’ve been appointed Captain of the ship. Any questions?"
Her query hung in the air for a full thirty seconds, before someone finally spoke. "Congratulations, miss Reed. You will make an excellent captain," Doctor Tedmoore said.
Reed ignored the doctor’s comment. She merely took a moment to look each person in the eye. When her stare met Carol’s, it triggered the chief engineer to speak. "Uh…Captain, what do we do now?"
Reed dropped her head down and quietly cleared her throat before continuing. "I’m going to tell you. Regardless of Starfleet’s orders, I fully intend to get Captain Reming back."
"You would defy a direct order from Starfleet? You will be court marshaled!" said the Doctor, clearly agitated.
"Only if they find out, Doctor. Look, we all know about your clandestine communications with Starfleet in order to keep them informed of the progress of your communing experiments. I’m also sure you abuse this privilege by passing on all matter of information about the personnel on this ship to them as well. That’s why I changed your computer access level. You will not be able to contact Starfleet and tell them what I’m planning." She expected Tedmoore to erupt in anger, which would fit his personality perfectly. To Reed’s surprise, he didn’t. He simply folded his arms and stared down at the table.
"How do you propose saving the Captain, sir? We have no idea where he is?" asked Parks.
"We now know that Philip left several items back on the planet Gamma-Alpha three several years ago. That accidental act stated a certain chain of events in motion to where we are now."
"And how does knowing that help us?" asked Carol.
"We know what went wrong and approximately when. All we need to do is go back and correct it. I’m talking about time travel."
"Wait, wait, wait, run that by me again."
"Well, how do you want me to spell it out?"
"Explain simply enough so Nick can understand it."
Nick glared at his sister. "Hey, I understand…some of it."
"We will go approximately eighteen years back in time. We will beam down to Gamma-Alpha three and retrieve the items Phil left behind as a child. Then get off the planet before it disappears. By doing this, an alternate timeline will be created. In the new timeline, no alien race will evolve on Gamma-Alpha three. Therefore, no alien from this alien race will come looking for Reming.
"But we know the alien race does evolve, and therefore, will evolve. The time-space continuum will not allow the paradox," said the Doctor, still staring at the table.
"That’s just a theory. It’s never been proven."
"You know time travel has only been successfully attempted on a hand full of occasions. Dare I ask, how do you propose we do it?" asked Carol
"You four are the brains of the outfit. I expect all of you to figure that out."
"The Enterprise did it more than once using the slingshot effect. Why don’t we try that?" asked Parks.
"Wait a second, I can’t believe we’re actually considering this! We all regret what happened to the Captain, but it happened. Shouldn’t we consider the ethical implications here? We’re talking about erasing an entire species from existence. Do we have the right to do that?" asked Carol.
"I was wondering when someone would come to that. Okay, we’ll handle this in a democratic fashion. Whoever is against doing what I propose, please raise your hand," said Reed.
Carol went to raise her hand when she saw Doctor Tedmoore raising his. She’d be damned if she ever sided with as that bastard. As it turned out, everyone felt the same as her. Other than the Doctor, no one raised their hand.
"I guess that’s it then. It’s decided. We go."
Philip Reming lay face down on the floor watching the world in front of him grow larger. Having is arms extended away from his body gave him the feeling he was flying. He watched the round shape of the planet grow wide and flat as the ship entered the atmosphere. Once inside the atmosphere, Reming could see smaller ships surrounding him. Reming surmised them to be escort craft. By now, the word of Utbut’s return must be spreading.
Any hope Reming once had of returning to his universe had evaporated. When hope left him, so did all other emotions. He was alone. He was only one of his kind - an enigma. An impossibility in an impossible world.
Even Utbut deserted him, but Reming knew why. Reming was getting to him – trying to force a wedge between he and his people. Reming must have hit closer to the mark than he had realized. Maybe that’s why Utbut thought it best to keep his distance.
Utbut sat in the pilot seat, slaving over the controls. He tried to keep his mind on his work. It was not an easy task to land a ship designed for deep space travel. Already, the word of his return was creating a buzz all around the world. Utbut noticed the congratulations from high planetary officials poring though the communications terminal. His heart swelled with pride for his homeland. However, his feelings of happiness were smothered by the feelings of another.
Even at this distance, Utbut’s mind could touch the mind of his captive locked in the observation room. Utbut didn’t want to make contact with his mind, but, for some reason, he couldn’t help but reach out for it. He didn’t know why he could read his thoughts. Perhaps it had something special to do with the brain waves of these humans. Maybe his brain was able to intercept their brain waves, allowing him to see into their mind. But, for whatever reason, Utbut found the new ability to contact someone’s thoughts to be thoroughly addicting.
When Utbut was in touch with Reming’s feelings, he knew how profoundly depressed Reming had felt. He felt Reming’s yearning to return home. Utbut even felt Reming’s deep seeded need to return to the female named Reed. Utbut also felt the pervasive hopelessness that blanketed all of his other emotions.
Now, it seemed to Utbut, that Reming was devoid of all feeling. All the emotions he once felt were gone. Reming was empty, drained of all emotions.
As Utbut pondered all the emotions Reming once felt, he began to wonder: was he doing the right thing? Was it right for him to pluck this being from his world and bring him here? Had he made a mistake?
Ensign Nicholas Smith sat back, feet propped up on the conference table, leafing through the comic book that sat beside the other items left behind by the strange lizard man. As he read page after page, he eventually lost himself in it completely. He was so focused in the pages of the book, he completely ignored the shouting going on around him.
"NO WAY!" shouted his sister and chief engineer, Carol Smith. "The ship won’t survive the slingshot maneuver!"
"Why not?" asked Parks. "The Enterprise did, and it was a constellation class."
"You idiot, it wasn’t a constellation class, it was a constitution class. The constitution class was built to withstand such stresses. The Challenger class wasn’t. Trust me, this ship will not survive it."
"Well, that’s it then. I guess it can’t be done. Can I go?" said the smiling Doctor Tedmoore. He considered the whole idea of time travel to be something of a joke. To him, the sooner the plan to save Reming was dismissed, the better.
Carol placed both hands flat on the table and leaned over to Tedmoore. Her eyes were narrow and dark. "You know, I don’t hear you contributing any ideas to the conversation."
"Look, I’m a doctor, not a physicist. I don’t even know what the Hell you’re talking about."
"Well, let me educate you. The trick with time travel is getting past the speed of light. Once you break the FTL barrier, or Faster Than Light barrier, time travel is possible."
"But I thought we could go faster than light already. I mean, thanks to the warp engines, we do it all the time."
"No, our speeds are relative to the speed of light. The warp engines create energy fields that push the ship into subspace. In subspace, the ship’s mass is reduced, allowing it to travel at extremely high velocities. The greater the warp field, the faster the ship moves. We never actually go faster than light while in normal space. Why don’t you know this?"
The doctor opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted by the sound of Parks’ fist hitting the table. The force of the blow shook the table, sending the relaxing Ensign at the other side backward onto the floor.
Carol gave Parks a perplexed look. "What’s with you?"
"I got it!" Parks ginned. "We can use photons. Photons can borrow past the light barrier, right?"
Parks raised a finger to continue, but stopped. He realized he had no idea where to go next. He had walked straight into a dead end. Discouraged, Parks dropped his hand and sunk back into his chair.
"What about using one of those quantum flywheel things we were testing a while back? I think we still have one in cargo bay one," Ensign Smith said as he pulled himself up from the floor.
Carol couldn’t believe what she just heard. Not only did her brother piece together a complete idea, but the idea nearly made sense. "What did you say?"
Nick scratched his head. "Did I say something wrong? I’m sorry."
"No, maybe we can use the quantum flywheel somehow," said Parks.
"Wait, what the Hell’s a quantum flywheel anyway," said Tedmoore, a bit agitated. He hated feeling left behind in a conversation.
"It’s a kind of energy storage device"
"Oh, it’s a battery. So how’s that help?"
"Okay, we first program the main deflector and the shield generators to lace the outer hull with tachyons,"
Carol wore a puzzled look. "Okay, then what?"
"Well, tachyons are funny particles. We know that tachyons can travel faster than light, which is what we want to do, right?"
"Yeah, so? Get on with it."
"We also know that the less energy a tachyon has, the faster it moves. So how about this: we tinker with the quantum flywheel to draw energy from the tachyons on the outer hull. That way, we’ll be able to control the flow of energy to and from the tachyons. By tapping the quantum flywheel into the shield generators, we can drain the energy from the tachyons, speeding them up and pushing them over to the other side of the light barrier. With any luck, the tachyons, and the ship, will jump effortlessly past the speed of light."
"But how do we keep all the tachyon particles synchronized? If some of them have more energy than others, we’ll wind up vaporizing the entire ship."
"Uh…I don’t know. How about this: we polarize the tachyons. That should keep them synchronized."
Carol nodded in agreement. The idea was taking shape in her mind. "So, the more energy we draw from the tachyons, the faster we go and the farther back in time we go. We can then slow ourselves down by returning the energy stored in the flywheel to the tachyons. I think it’ll work."
Tedmoore leaded forward drilling his finger into the tabletop. "Wait a minute here. We don’t have anything. This is supposed to be a round trip, you know. How do we get back to our own time?"
"With inverse tachyons"
"Inverse tachyons. We replace the tachyons lacing the ship with inverse tachyons. Their properties are opposite to tachyons. We use the quantum flywheel the same way as before, but instead of moving backwards in time, we move forward. It’s Easy."
"Yeah, easy for you," said Tedmoore, He took a second to look over at the young Ensign seated across from him. He wondering if Nick was as confused as himself. The insipid expression on Nick’s face answered his question.
Leaning in the corner of the room, nearly hidden in the shadows, stood Captain Reed. The four at the table had forgotten she was present the whole time they argued. Now that the discussion had concluded, she stepped over to the table. The seated individuals stood up as she approached. "How much time will it take to prepare the ship?" asked Reed.
"Oh…uh…I estimate it to take about six to eight hours," stammered Carol.
"Get to it. Dismissed."
Captain Reming awoke with a jerk. He must have dozed off during the ship’s decent to the surface. He was somewhat disappointed when he realized the walls and floor were once before opaque. As he rose from the floor, wiping the drool from his chin, his captor walked into the room.
"Captain Philip Reming, I am pleased to welcome you to my home."
The comment made him cringe. Reming knew he’d probably never see his home again. Then, Utbut’s demeanor turned somewhat soothing. "Captain, I promise your stay here on my world will be a pleasant one. I’m sure we can provide you with a comfortable life here. After all, you helped create us. You will be honored," he said with sincerity.
Reming was taken back by Utbut’s statement. He didn’t know how to react. Why the sudden change in Utbut’s personality? Reming was more confused than ever. A respectful nod was Reming’s only response.
Reming noticed Utbut begin to fidget and shift nervously. "Come, there is a small group of officials waiting for us. We must go see them."
Carol Smith was used to getting her hands dirty. Her years in Starfleet saw to that. Over the years, she rebuilt a warp core assembly; refitted deflector arrays; and crawled through countless Jefferys tubes. And now, once again, she found herself crawling around the cargo bay with her sleeves rolled up. "Okay," Carol said as she wiped the sweat out of her eyes, "You should be getting power now."
Nicholas Smith tapped a contact on the console positioned near to the Quantum Flywheel. "Umm no, still nothing."
Carol closely studied the problem and came up with a solution. She whacked the flywheel assembly with her baled fist.
"Ah, now I’m getting power," Nick chirped.
"Good," said Carol as she stood. "I think we’re done down here."
"Why leave the flywheel in here? Wouldn’t it easier to setup in engineering?"
"Yeah, probably, but I was worried about an overflow. If this thing should go critical, we’ll need to get it off the ship as soon as possible. I’d rather not depend on the transporters. If things get hairy, we can decompress the cargo bay and ejected it into space."
Nick listened to his sister and understood her thinking perfectly. But, while she spoke, a new question came to him. "This plan to save the Captain - do you think it will work?"
"Oh definitely not. This is probably the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard."
"But, then, why are you going along with it?"
"I don’t know. I think it has something to do with the time I was under the control of the Cardassian virus. When we hijacked that Starship, that captain Harkness guy was about to destroy us. Donna told me Reming stopped him. He’s the reason we’re still alive now. I guess I feel like I owe him."
"You know, if we’re successful, we won’t remember any of this."
"It’s not that we won’t remember. Actually, none of this would have happened. We’ll be on a completely different timeline."
"Whatever." Nick shook his head to clear the fog. "Do you think it’ll matter that we won’t remember…that is…never know what we did?"
Carol thought a minute, "Nah."
Carol smacked her comm. badge. "Carol to Bridge. Mike, we’re ready down here. What about you?"
"We’re all set up here," said Parks. "The deflectors are programmed and ready. You ready to make history?"
"Soon enough, we’ll be history."
Reming was struck with a blast of hot air, as the outer airlock door swung open. The force of the air was so strong, it nearly knocked him over. Reming quckly gained his balance and took his first look at a new world.
The sky was a dark blue, like that of an overcast day on Earth. As he looked up, he couldn’t discern anything that reminded him of clouds. He did recognize on thing in particular. A bright orb, entirely too large for comfort, hung above his head. The heat from the alien sun was so intense, Reming could feel pirspriation beginning to cover his skin.
The ground was dark and flat, like that of a shuttle pad. This was obviously some kind of landing area built especially for Utbut’s ship.
After two steps down, Utbut and Reming stood firmly on the ground. Without a hint of any noticeable prompting from Utbut, the outer airlock door closed silently behind the both of them. From almost out of nowhere, a lizard being, much like Utbut, but smaller, stepped in front of them. After a quick study of the individual, Reming decided that this was a female.
The very nervous lizard-woman grabbed Utbut’s hand and shook it. "Greetings, Utbut. We are pleased of your triumphant return." She turned to Reming and bowed graciously. "My name is Poopoo. I am deeply honored to meet you, great creator. Welcome."
"Uh, thanks," said Reming.
Poopoo quickly turned her attention back to Utbut. "Please, we must hurry, sir. The people have learned of your return and, well, things have turned ugly, I’m afraid."
The bridge of the Condor was electrified with anticipation as the crew prepared for their journey into the past. Lieutenant Commander Parks sat at his station, configuring his console for the elements he’d need. From the Captain’s chair, Donna Reed poured over the status reports coming though her personal console. Ensign Smith was busy brushing the hair away from his face.
Off the turbo lift walked Carol Smith with purpose in her stride. She took a position behind the Captain’s chair and in front of a console. "Computer, transfer Engineering control to this station." The computer chirped once just before the black control panel flickered to life. "Captain, I think we’re ready."
Captain Reed turned to Carol. "Fine, let’s do it. Mister Parks, did you program the computer with the star date I specified?"
"Yes, sir. I will drop us out of FTL speed exactly seven seconds after we pass the speed of light. If all goes as planned, we will be at the exact time the last shuttle departed from Gamma-Alpha Three."
"Taking into account our heading, we should also be very close to the planet itself," added Ensign Smith.
"Captain, all hands report ready," said Carol.
"All right. Here we go," mumbled Reed. "Mister Parks, lace shields with tachyons."
Mike closed a single contact. "Shields laced, sir."
Mike closed another. "Polarized."
"Carol, begin charging the Quantum Flywheel."
"Aye, sir," said Carol as her hands fluttered over the console. "Tachyons will reach FTL speed in five…four…three…two…" Miss Smith never spoke the final number. At the instant her lips formed the word, a brilliant flash of light pervaded every micro-millimeter of the ship at the exact instant the ship vanished from normal space.
Once her eyes recovered from the bright flash, Reed bolted to her feet and spun to face Carol. "What happened? What went wrong?"
"Uh, nothing," blinked Carol.
"It worked! Captain, we’ve done it! " squealed Parks with glee. "We’re traveling faster than light!"
"Since the tachyons are completely covering the ship, we’re isolated from any adverse effects," said Carol.
Parks quickly turned his attention back to the console in front of him. "Oh, oh, I’ll be bringing us back to normal space soon."
Reed quickly took her seat. "How soon?"
Nick leaned over to Parks. "You missed four."
"I missed what?"
"No, I said four."
"YOU IDIOTS! STOP THE SHIP!" yelled a livid Carol Smith from the rear of the bridge. "Oh hell, I’ll do myself." Carol placed her hands on the console, triggering the Quantum Flywheel to reverse its process. A second later, another bright flash of light accompanied the ship’s jump back to the slow side of the light barrier.
"LOOK!" shouted Reed, pointing to the image on the view screen. "Oh no, what happened?"
On the viewer, a planet grew larger. Without checking their coordinates or studying a star chart, they all knew what planet it was. It was Earth.
"How the hell did we get to Earth?"
"The excess FTL speeds combined with gravitational forces must have effected out course," uttered a stunned Parks.
"But, what year is it?" asked Ensign Smith. Carol was once again ahead of her slow-wited brother. She was already running the calculations needed to find the answer.
"According to this, it’s…it’s…2529."
"What?" said Reed, "We went forward in time? But we were supposed to be going back."
"Captain, it’s 2529 B.C."
Ensign Smith moved his hands awkwardly across the helm controls. "Uh, Captain? We have another problem. We’re locked in a decent trajectory. The impulse engines are not responding and the warp drive is off line. We’re going down!"
"Carol, what’s going on? If we don’t get this ship under control soon, we’re going to crash."
Carol Smith slammed her fists on the engineering console. "The Flywheel must have caused some kind of feedback loop. In order to get control back, I’ll need to take the Flywheel off –line and reinitialize all ship helm control systems one at a time."
"At least ten minutes."
"We’re going to hit in half that time," said Parks.
"Get going. Carol. Parks, you go with her. Nick and I will see what we can do to give you more time."
As Michael Parks stepped onto the turbo lift with Carol, Reed took his seat at the Operations station. "I’m raising shields. See if you can get the atmospheric flight controls on-line. They’re on a different system."
Nick closed the proper circuit causing the computer to initiate several functions around the ship. Five outer hatches covering hidden compartments flew open. These once hidden compartments housed the anti-gravity engines. The engines moved forward and locked into their proper place, waiting to be activated.
Curved structures appeared from hidden compartments along the large support frame that connected the warp nacelles to the main hull, giving the ship a more aerodynamic profile. As a backup to the anti-gravity engines, large forced air trust and lift engines were also uncovered along strategic locations beneath the ship.
"Okay, atmospheric systems are on-line," said Nick just as the forward hull struck the atmosphere. The force of the impact sent Donna and Nick struggling to keep their seats.
"I’m trying to level our descent. Where are we headed?"
For the first time since Mike and Carol left the bridge, Nick looked up at the viewer. The image of the Earth growing flat before his eyes made him swallow hard and struggle to control his nauseating sense of falling. As the ship plunged passed thick white clouds, the view of great brown and green lands framed by blue waters paralyzed him with shock and fear.
"Nick? NICHOLAS SMITH!"
Nick pried his eyes from the view screen. "Yes…yes, sir. Sorry, sir. We…we’re headed to that big brownish green area right in front of us," he said while making unsuccessful attempts to keep is eyes off the viewer.
"COMPUTER, time to impact," asked Carol, crawling behind the quantum flywheel power lines.
"Impact in four minutes, forty-seven seconds," the computer replied dryly.
Carol frantically grabbed the proper tools to separate the connections. However, the sweat on her hands caused her grip to slip. In aggravation, Carol wrapped the power lines around he arm and pulled hard. The power linkages sprung free with little difficulty.
"Smith to Engineering. Mike, the flywheel is now disconnected from the conduit. Begin the restart process."
"Aye, sir. Restart process will be complete in six minutes."
"Not fast enough. We’re not gong to make it," Carol sighed to herself.
From inside the cramped ground car, Utbut watched his beloved city burning before his eyes. Sitting beside him, sat Captain Philip Reming. He too was shocked by the scene outside. He had only witnessed such turmoil once before. Years ago, in school, he was shown recordings of riots that took place centuries ago in Earth’s history. He never imagined he’d see such a specticle first hand.
He could see the people, lizard people, that is, fighting and beating one another. He could see others setting fire to buildings. Smaller groups of citizens huddled together in fear of their lives. Officially dressed people used smoke and water cannons in an attempt gain control over the mobs. Their efforts were unsuccessful. The rioters were greater numbers than themselves.
"It’s like this all around the world," said Poopoo while driving the car through the crowed streets.
"What’s going on? What’s happening?" asked Utbut, sadly.
"The balance between the Divine Creationists and the Rigid Disciplinists is gone. It seems either side was content to boast their beliefs for eternity, comforted by the fact that neither side’s beliefs would be proven with any real certainty. Now that you have returned, and proved the Divine Creationists to be right, they believe themselves to be superior to the Rigid Disciplinists. Rigid Disciplinists, of course, took exception to this. Words of disagreement turned to shouts. Shouts tuned to violence."
"Rigid Disciplinists? Divine Creationists?" said Reming, severely confused.
Utbut tuned to him. "Remember back on your ship, I told you about the Divine Creationists. Those are the people that believe a superior being was the creator of all life on our world. Poopoo and I are both Divine Creationists."
"Yeah, and I turned out to be the creator. Lucky me. But who are the Rigid Disciplinists?"
"Those are the people that reject our theory. They believe all life is a result of series of chemical reactions, and nothing else. They believe that everything in the universe can be explained using pure science."
"So the Rigid Disciplinists are at war with the Divine Creationists. Now I understand."
As the small ground car struggled its way through the mayhem, it was attacked by the angry mob several times. At one point, the car was rocked so hard, Reming expected it to tip over. If it weren’t for Poopoo’s excellent ability to accelerate unexpectedly, it probably would have.
Utbut leaned forward to Poopoo. "Uh, where are we going anyway?"
"To see the leaders. They want to meet with us."
"We’re going to get out of this," said Captain Reed, attempting to convince herself. The anti-gravity engines were at full output, but were making little effect on the ship’s rapid decent. By now, even Ensign Smith knew how desperate their situation was.
Nick sat at the helm with his hands over his eyes, waiting for the inevitable spat. "I don’t get it," he yelled, "We should have leveled off by now."
"I know. I think the forward anti-grav engine is off-line. It must have gotten damaged when we hit the atmosphere. Power up the air brakes. I got an idea."
Nick ran his hands over the controls. Hitting a final contact triggered the jet engines to ignite. Then, before covering his eyes once more, Nick took another look at the viewer. "WOW! Look at that. It’s…it’s…"
"The Sphinx," said Reed.
Indeed, it was the great carved sculpture known as the Great Sphinx of Giza. As the awesomestone structure of a lion with a head of a man grew ever closer, Nick noticed something odd about it. "Look, it’s got a nose."
"Not for long," said Reed. Taking the controls once more, she commanded full power to the lift engines, pitching the ship sharply to the right. The swift turn caused the forward hull to crash right into the nose of the relic, ripping it clean off. Seconds after the clearing the collision, the ship began to level off.
"That did the trick."
"The impact must have knocked the forward anti-grav engine back on-line. We’re leveling off."
"Engineering to Bridge," spoke the voice of Carol Smith. "Captain, we’re got the warp and impulse engines back up and running."
"Take your time, Lieutenant. No rush," sighed Reed.
The U.S.S. Condor, once again under the control of the crew, winged its way high into the upper atmosphere of planet Earth. Except for a few clumps of rock clinging to the forward hull and some damage to the sensor array, the ship survived the ordeal quite well.
Captain Donna Reed fell backward into the Captain’s seat and rubbed her head. "Well, that was…interesting."
"That’s one way to describe it," said Ensign Nick Smith, piloting the ship through Earth’s stratosphere and into space. He was trying hard to stop his hands from shaking.
"Man, that was close, wasn’t it," Michael Parks said as he and Carol Smith stepped off the turbo lift to the bridge.
"And that’s another way to describe it."
"Did anyone notice where we almost hit?" asked Carol, taking her post at the engineering console.
"Unless I missed my guess, I’d say somewhere in Egypt," said Reed.
"Really?" said Mike, taking his place at the Operations station. "I wish I could’ve see it."
"No, you don’t."
"Captain, if you’re ready, we’re prepared to take the ship past the speed of light once again," said Carol, in her formal speaking voice.
"Have you made any modifications to prevent the feedback loop from happening again?" asked Reed.
"I modified the power control –"
"Carol, yes or no?" barked Reed. She was still trying to free the knots from her neck that formed during their free fall. Reed was beginning to regret the entire mission. Was rescuing Captain Reming worth risking the lives of the entire crew? She was beginning to wonder.
"Yes, Captain. I assure you, it will not happen again."
"Good, initiate the process as soon as possible. Let’s try to get it right this time, people."
Reming sat in front of a long table in the middle of a dark room. The table reminded him of the one in the conference room back on the Condor. It was long and black and it sat on top of a single pedestal. The chair was nothing like those on the Condor. It was hard and stiff.
The room itself was deep inside a large unattractive building in the middle of the city. Even though the room itself was far from the rioting, Reming could still hear the muffled shouts of anger and cries for help from the outside.
Utbut and Poopoo sat on either side of Reming, looking quite nervous.
"Who are we waiting for?" asked Reming.
"The leaders," said Utbut.
Reming shifted to face Poopoo. "I know that, but who are they?"
"Oh well, there are two of them. One of them, named Remia is the head of the Divine Creationists. The other, named Reggae, is the leader of Rigid Disciplinists."
"Why are we here? To watch them duke it out?"
"They want to talk to Utbut, and yourself, to see if there is some way to get control of the situation."
Reming stopped in mid sentence when two figures entered to room and took seats on the other side of the table. The mail-ish looking figure spoke first. "Allow me to introduce ourselves. I am Reggae and this is Remia." Reggae leaned forward a bit. "Let me get to the point. Utbut, your return with the creator has caused this war."
Remia grabbed her colleague’s arm. "It’s not Utbut’s fault. Your people cannot handle the fact that we, the Divine Creationists were correct all along." Remia spoke with a timbre in her voice that demanded respect.
Reggae pulled his arm free of Remia. "With all due respect, madam. This is not the time to for debate. We have a serious situation on our hands here. We need to find a way to resolve it."
"If I may speak, I think you are all giving me way to much credit here. I am not a god. Yes, I was the one that caused your species to be created, but…but…it was an accident."
Remia looked at Reming. "An accident? I don’t understand."
"It’s true, madam," said Utbut. "He is merely another being like us. Several years ago - years from his point of view - he left the sacred artifacts on our world by mistake. At some point after, this world was somehow moved to a new dimension, at which point our species spontaneously evolved."
"How do you know this?" asked Remia.
"Yeah, how do you know all this?" asked Reming, shocked by the revelation. "You were not present when Reed and I had that discussion."
Utbut ignored Reming, continuing to address Remea. "I read his mind."
"What?!" said Reming, as anger and surprise erupted within him.
"It’s true. We, the Susu, have the ability to read the thoughts of these creatures. I discovered this ability while on his ship. Try it."
Remia looked straight at Reming for a moment. A startled look grew over her face. She shook her head and quickly turned to Reggae. "It’s true."
Reggae then set his eyes into Reming’s. It was his turn to try. After a few seconds, he began to speak. "Your name is Philip Reming. You grew up on a planet called Earth. You are the youngest of three in your family."
"HEY, STOP IT!" yelled Reming in a panic. "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"
"Well, this changes everything, doesn’t it?" said Remia, softly.
"Indeed." answered Reggae.
"We all exist because of someone else’s careless error?" said Poopoo. "We are a mistake? How does this help our situation? I just makes things worse."
"May I make a suggestion? I have an idea that will stop the fighting and reunite our people."
"What is it?" asked Reggae.
"An interstellar war."
"An interstellar war. Our technology is greater than that possessed by his species. And our ability to read their thoughts gives us an added advantage over them. His species belongs to a community known as the Federation. This Federation is at war with another race known as the Dominion. Because of this, his Federation is weak. Using our inter-dimensional ships, we can travel to his dimension and take them over without difficulty. If we tell our people that his species is a threat to us, it will unite them toward a common cause – the destruction of the human race."
"I like it," said Remia.
"So do I. We’ll need to probe his mind to get as much information we can."
"But we don’t know what effect a deep probe might have on him. It could kill him," said Poopoo.
So he dies," said Reggae. "Remia, put together the misinformation needed to convince our people to stop fighting one another and prepare for war with the humans," Reggae.
"WAIT A MINUTE!" shouted Reming. "Look Bob Marley, or whatever your name is, you can’t do this! Utbut, you said I’d be safe here. What are you doing?"
"That was before I learned about the war going on here. I love my world and my people. I’ll do anything to save them both. I’m sorry, things turned out bad for you, but that’s life," said Utbut. His words were cold and quiet. The chill in his voice made Reming sick. At that very moment, Reming knew that his life was over.
With a sharp crack of static, the U.S.S. Condor winked into its new existence. Hanging in front of the ship was the planet Gamma Alpha Three. The crew of had done it. They had successfully reached the proper time and location they intended.
"We’ve done it, sir!" announced Michael Parks. "We’re here. All sensor’s indicate that planet to be Gamma Alpha Three. The last shuttle craft just jumped to warp. They didn’t detect our arrival."
"Fine. Nick, place us in a steady orbit around the planet. Carol, I want you and the Doctor to beam down and locate the items young Reming left behind. And hurry, we don’t know how much time we have before the wormhole will appear."
Lieutenant Edward Tedmoore walked into the trasnsporter room with tri-corder in hand. Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith was already standing on the transporter pad waiting for him.
"Come on!" she said. "We need to hurry."
"We just got here four minutes ago. Which brings me to my next question."
"You mean your last question - which is?
"How the hell are we supposed to search an entire planet for a few small items in a short amount of time?"
"The sensor array was damaged during our near miss with planet Earth, so we have to do it the hard way. We’ll start the search at the scholastic visitor site. Since Reming was probably there, It’s the most logical place to look."
"There’s nothing logical about any of this, my dear."
Carol was beginning to get annoyed. She knew he was stalling. "Oh will you just get up here so we can get on with it."
As the Doctor reluctantly stepped onto the transporter pad, a massive roar consumed the entire ship. The vibration sent both Tedmoore and Smith crashing to the floor. Immediately after the shock wave passed, the red alert alarm began to blare.
"I knew it. I knew we wouldn’t be able to change history," whined Tedoore, climbing to his feet.
"Oh shut up," said Carol.
"Carol, get up here," called Captain Reed over the comm. system. "We’ve got a problem."
Carol leaped off the turbo lift. Except for the trip on the lift, she ran the entire distance. She was out of breath and a little out of shape, as it turned out. "What’s going on?"
"According from what little information we’re getting from the damaged sensor array, it’s some kind of massive temporal disturbance," said Reed, pacing the floor in front of her seat.
"Not a wormhole, Carol. It’s the wormhole."
Displayed on the viewer was the disturbance itself. As each second passed, the swirling event grew ever larger. Seconds later, another shock wave rolled over the ship.
"I don’t get it. It just appeared. Were did it come from?" questioned Nick.
Carol was already examining what little data the sensors detected. An icy chill ran down her spine when she finally arrived at the answer. "Captain, we are the cause."
"I was afraid you’d say that," said Reed in a calm voice.
Carol ignored the Captain’s statement and continued with the explanation. "Normal space was already weakened by all the warp travel in the area. When we entered normal space, we created a small instability in space-time. That, along with the weakening of the fabric of space in the area caused the anomaly to form."
"Let me get this straight," said Parks. "We are the cause for the wormhole that sucks Gamma-Alpha Three to another time and place where a new race evolves. And that race will later come to our time and abduct Captain Reming. Is that what you’re saying?"
"That’s the universe for you."
Suddenly, another massive shock wave hits the ship with great force. "Warning, severe hull damage is imminent," spoke the computer. One could almost detect a feeling of urgency from the automatic announcement.
Carol leaned over the console and spoke as fast as she could. "Captain, do you want me to program the ship to make another jump back in time. Maybe we can locate the items faster if we –"
"No, I give up. No matter how we try, it won’t make any difference. Set course for our own time. Get us out of here, Carol," said Reed, ignoring the alarms sounding around her. She could feel herself sinking into deep depression as she realized at all the work the crew had exerted trying to save Reming was all for nothing. "Take us home."
"Fine, Captain. Initiating Quantum Flywheel…Now." Once more, a burst of white light filled the ship as it jumped passed the speed of the light. Moments later, the Condor appeared once more, back in normal space in the middle of an asteroid field. Carol checked the console in front of her in a panic. "Oh no, something went wrong."
Captain Reed eyes opened wide at the site of the asteroid field displayed on the viewer. "What? What happened?"
"We returned to soon. Something to do with the anomaly. It returned us back to our original location but seven hours too soon. Look!" shouted Carol, pointing to the viewer. The surreal sight surprised everyone. There, on the view screen was the Condor, the earlier version, locked in mortal combat with the alien ship.
"I don’t believe it! We’ve arrive at the moment of Reming’s abduction," said Reed.
"The alien is about to away. The Condor., that Condor, is taking a beating," shouted Parks.
Read sat down in the captain’s chair, rubbing her hands on the arms of the chair, contemplating her next move. With a flash of clarity, she knew what to do. "Parks, fire a quantum torpedo at the alien ship."
"But sir, we risk losing Captain Reming."
"I’ll take the risk. FIRE!"
The instant Parks closed the contact on his console, a single quantum torpedo flew from the Condor, striking the alien craft. The explosion ripped a gaping hole in the ship’s propultion system. In a blink of an eye, the anomaly growing behind the craft suddenly evaporated. The alien ship spun around to face the Condor that fired upon it. Suddenly, a massive energy burst fired from the alien ship and struck the Condor.
"That beam is tearing us apart!" shouted Carol. "We are losing hull integrity!"
"Send a message to our earlier selves. Tell them that the alien ship’s dimensional engines are off-line. Tell them to get Reming out of there!"
"I’m detecting a transporter lock. CAPTAIN, THEY’RE DOING IT!" shouted Carol Smith. "THEY GOT HIM. THEY GOT –"
Carol never had the chance to finish her sentence. The alien’s unrelenting beam ruptured the warp core. The U.S.S. Condor that had once traveled back and forward in time erupted in a massive fireball in space. The force of the blast stuck the alien ship with great force, completely destroying the tiny craft.
The remaining Condor, the original Condor, hung alone in space.
On the remaining Condor, Lieutenant Commander Parks spun around to face Commander Reed. "Sir, we’ve saved the Captain."
"Yes… I guess we have."
Borg Like Me, part deux, part two
|Episode Thirteen - Deep in the Delta Quadrant the Condor crew find an exploded Borg cube. With help from The Resistance they take action to find their missing crew in Borg space! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why it took 10 years to write 44 pages. Second half of Story One of Three in the Delta Story Arc|
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