2:1 (Pursuit) Edit
It has been four months since the battle against the Terran ship in the nebula. They had already crossed deep within unknown space but Captain Malcolm was pleased to report that a sense of community had fallen over the crew as each of them continued to perform to the best of their ability. Report to who he had not yet figured out yet. He must admit however, being so far from home for so long has not helped morale.
In the holodeck, Lieutenant Commander Paul Miller and Ensign Katie Staan continued their fencing training. At this point Paul had practiced enough that now he was capable of holding his own, even winning several rounds.
"It's the new eye," Katie would excuse.
Approaching the end of their session, Lieutenant Charlie Marteez entered the holodeck.
"Charlie what are you doing here?" Katie asked pulling her helmet off and was visibly panting.
"I just got off duty," Charlie said. "Paul you ready?"
"Ready for what?" Katie asked.
"Me and Charlie have been doing movie nights." Paul explained.
"Oh? Why didn't you two tell me and Sam?"
"I'm sorry I didn't think you'd mind," Paul said. Katie turned and gave him a look of surprise just as the room gently vibrated and the lights dimmed for a brief moment.
"That's not good." Paul said as he made haste out of the room.
That disturbance was caused by the USS Odyssey dropping back into normal space. The shutters over the warp coil grills on the nacelles strudded to slowly slide open. The shutters over the port nacelle only opened a quarter of the way before jamming in place. Not allowing for the coils to link, the energy build up was forced to relieve itself through radiation, the least efficient form of heat transfer, especially in a vacuum. Being so inefficient, the energy build up resulted in the port nacelle grills overheating and this back fed through the system all the way to the quantum warp engine.
Steam and smoke poured out of the engineering lab as energy continued to feedback into the system.
"Cut the power, shut down the warp core," Paul ordered as he entered Main Engineering. The tall cylinder containing the blue and white plasma ceased to pulsate and slowly turned grey. The warp coils stopped increasing in engery but remained incredibly hot.
"Back up generators online, fire suppression systems are kicking in." Sam said monitoring the situation on a console.
"What is going on?" Captain Malcolm said as he strode into Main Engineering.
"Captain the warp coil connection was interrupted when the quantum engine shut down sequence failed." Paul reported.
"What caused it?" Malcolm asked.
"I don't know maybe it's because of you ignoring my warnings," Paul argued and Malcolm looked away. "Captain we are pushing my engine too far. We can only sustain a Underspace bubble for a maximum of 18 hours before it becomes too unstable. That does not mean 20 hours of sustained flight. 18 hours."
"Miller, we have five years to get to Sagittarius and find the source of that signal. Five years. That's the deadline I'm concerned with. If we stop every time you tell us we won't make it for another 6 years, and the sacrifice this crew made would be for nothing."
"All due respect captain, but if we carry on the way we are, we wouldn't reach it for another 60 years." Paul said.
"How long will this take to repair?" Malcolm asked, evidently frustrated at his chief engineer.
"A-about a day, but we will need to keep the warp core offline while we make repairs to the nacelles." Paul said. "But captain, in my opinion, this will keep happening until I don't think we could repair it any more. This is why we have safeguards."
"Write me up a report," Malcolm said. "Send it to me and I'll look it over."
Before Paul could respond, the captain disparted Engineering leaving the lieutenant and his officers quiet and concerned.
Paul and Charlie fitted themselves with spacesuits as they prepared for their space walk.
"Sorry about cancelling movie night," Paul said. "You didn't have to do this, I know you'd just gotten off duty."
"Nah it's okay," Charlie assured, putting his helmet on. "I had nothing to do anyway."
The two walked onto a platform in the middle of the room. Charlie pressed a button on the rails and platform rose. Just as it seemed like they were about to be crushed by the ceiling, a hatch opened placing them within an airlock tube. The hatch sealed itself below them and then a second hatch unlocked and opened. They rose up onto the surface of the Odyssey's hull surrounded by the starry blackness of space.
The two held onto the railings to prevent them from floating away. Paul engaged the magnetic pads on the heal of his boots and stepped onto the surface the hull while Charlie instead chose to pull himself over the railings before engaging the magnetic boots still a good 3ft off the ground. They marched across the hull towards the nacelles.
Just as they approached the pylons, Paul looked over his shoulder and saw a figure approaching one of the windows close by. The figure waved and then moved back to whatever they were doing.
"Workbee A to Miller, this is Staan." Katie's voice came over the comm as Paul and Charlie stood over the warp coils on the port nacelle. A small shuttlecraft exited the shuttlebay and flew over to the nacelle, forward lights and robotic arms engaged.
"We read you Workbee A, what can you tell us of the damage?" Paul said.
"Severe warping of the durainium screens, the entire system for retracting the screens has been blown off."
"Well if we can get that back online the screens should retract regardless," Charlie commented. "The system is basically replicator technology after all."
Paul nodded and knelt down to remove a bulkhead on the nacelle. Underneath was a series of conduits and circuits scorched black.
"Looks like the commad pr- the command processors has been damaged. That must be why the retraction system wouldn't respond." Paul said. "I'll need to reroute the back up processes to bypass the damaged systems."
"You know what won't matter if we don't repair the mechanism itself." Charlie pointed out. Paul nodded and Charlie stepped towards the edge surrounding the warp coil grills.
"Be careful, those screens are still radiating at about 500 degrees kelvin." Katie reported.
"Now ensign when am I not careful?" Charlie said. He disengaged the magnetic boots and stepped off the edge, floating for a moment. He fired the space suits manuvering thrusters downwards enough to give him enough momentum to fall, but before he touched the screens he activated the magnetic palms on his gloves and grabbed the edge. Out from his backpack, he pulled a plasma torch and got to work.
Hours past and captain Malcolm had began to become inpatient with the repairs on the port nacelle. He sat in the captains chair reading over yesterday's report. The chief medical officer and his wife, Ellie Malcolm, had put in a request for a days worth of medical supply gathering in a near by system.
Just as Malcolm stood from his seat to head for the newly fitted bridge replicator, the proximity alarm sounded.
"Captain, we are detecting a displacement in the quantum field," Reka reported.
"On screen." Malcolm ordered.
The viewscreen displaced a section of space 300 million kilometres off their dorsal hull. A streak of blue lightning shot through the cosmos as a large vessel was dropped into the space in a flash of light.
"Vessel identified as Federation, USS Rodney NX-208819." Riley reported.
"It's admiral Galeb." Malcolm said. "Red Alert. How long until they are in weapons range?"
"2 minutes, captain."
"Fellas, bridge is ordering us back inside." Katie said. She piloted the workbee craft and provided the two on the nacelle with flood lights and using the arms to shift the larger bulkheads.
Paul looked up in relative to the Odyssey, there in the distance was a federation ship inbound.
"Acknowledged," Paul said placing the bulkhead back where it belonged.
"Wait!" Charlie shouted, forgetting that there was no audible sound in space and he activated his comm. "Wait, I'm not done here."
"How long will it take to finish?"
"Another hour at least."
"Guys it doesn't look like we have that much time, I need to get the workbee back inside."
"Go both of you get back inside, I'll finish here."
The platform lowered back inside as Paul removed his helmet. He headed towards the comm and removed the space suit piece by piece.
"Captain, I'm inside but Marteez is still on the na- the nacelle." Paul stammered.
"What's he still doing out there?" Malcolm asked over the comm.
"He is still working on retracting the screens." Paul said.
"Miller we need to jump to warp."
"No, if you restart the warp coils you'll kill him."
On the bridge, Malcolm asked how long could they stay out of weapons range of they divert power to impulse engines.
"Forty minutes but without the warp core active, we'll be pushing the reactors." Reece said.
"Okay set a course in any direction, full impulse, keep then out of weapons range."
The Odyssey turned and engaged full impulse away from the inbound Rodney.
Paul and Katie entered Main Engineering. Officers continued to work overtime to repair the damaged systems. The two moved across engineering to a communications station and they linked to Charlie's helmet comm just as Sam moved over to them.
"What happened?" She said.
"Charlie is still on the nacelle, he still needs an hour to rebuild the retraction mechanism, but without the warp core active, we will be in weapons range with the Rodney in forty minutes and we can't raise shields while he's out there, and if we go to warp, we'll kill him." Paul explained.
"Thanks Paul, I'm glad you have faith in me," Charlie said over the comm.
"How are you hanging on out there?" Sam asked.
"Good, luckily there's no air resistance in space otherwise I would have been ripped apart already." Charlie said. "I am moving onto repairing the dematerialisation sequence for the screens."
Katie placed her two fingers to her ear as a comm signal came in for her. She excused herself from the group and answered the message.
"Ensign Staan, this is the captain," a voice confirmed.
"Yes I read you," she responded.
"The USS Rodney is increasing in speed faster that we expected, they are gaining on us and will be in weapons range in only 20 minutes if we don't change that." Malcolm said. "I believe you specialised in the backup reactors fitted on this ship?"
"Yes I did bu-"
"I need you to give it more juice."
"Captain, those are miniaturized fusion reactors, if we push them any further then we might damage the relays."
"I don't want to damage the relays, I just want more juice. Can you do it?"
"Yes I can do it." Katie said giving it some thought.
"Good you have 20 minutes before they get in weapons range."
"But captain, Marteez is still out there."
"Ensign I understand you are friends with the lieutenant, but Admiral Galeb is not responding to our hails. They are following protocol in case of a dangerous rogue element. If they catch up to us, they will destroy this ship and take whoever survives prisoner. So please. Don't make me make it an order."
"Aye captain." Katie agreed.
The Odyssey pressed on through space. With the miniature fusion reactors that acted as the back up power generators fuelled the impulse engines but without the warp core active, the USS Rodney was quickly closing the gap.
Katie worked on increasing the reaction rate in each of the generators however any modifications threatened to compromise the relays ship wide. As a result she managed to reroute power from as many systems to the impulse and thrusters. Combining the two systems together increased the Odyssey to just below the Rodney's speed which bought them another half an hour which she hoped would be enough time for Charlie.
"Ensign Staan to bridge, that's the best I can do," she said.
"Good work ensign."
"I will have to stay here to monitor the power output, it's not a stable supply."
Charlie continued his work on the nacelle. He slid a tray out and started working at the crystallized structures and the bio-neural gel pack linked into the structure. He glanced up and saw the USS Rodney shining in the distance as the brightest star.
"Marteez, we need you to pay attention." Paul said over the comm in his helmet.
"Yeah understood." He responded and he started the last stretch of the work.
"The USS Rodney will be in weapons range in 2 minutes, captain." Riley reported.
Malcolm nodded and flicked a switch marked 'Main Engineering' on the console fitted to the captains arm rest.
"Malcolm to Miller, times up," Malcolm said. "I need that nacelle back online."
"Bare with us captain." Paul said over the comm.
On the nacelle, Charlie had just began to finish his work. He slid the tray back inside and the screen fitted to the side lit up. An orange light covered the surrounding bulkheads as Charlie looked up to see a phaser beam slam into the Odyssey's glowing impulse engines.
The force of the energy pushed Charlie sideways and he shouted in pain as his back scrapped against the still scorching screens.
"Charlie are you okay?" Sam's voice said in his ear. Charlie used the magnetic gloves to pull himself away from the screens.
"I'm fine," he said panting. "You should have control over the retraction sequence."
"Good now get yourself inside so we can raise shields." Sam said.
Another blast hit just below the port pylon, shaking the structure he so desperately clung on to.
Each section of the screens sequentially shone blue before disappearing one by one. At that moment, Charlie pulled himself up on to the hull just as another orange blasted it's way directly in front of where he ran. The bulkheads surrounding him detached from the hull leaving Charlie spinning helplessly as he watched the Odyssey shrink before him. There was nothing he could do, the magnetic locks or even the manuvering thrusters.
"Can we get a transporter lock?" Paul frantically asked as Charlie's signature slowly withdrew from the USS Odyssey. Sam ran across engineering to the transporter station. She fiddled about with the controls right before the room shook once more, the console she worked at exploded and she was knocked to the floor.
"Medical teams to main engineering." Paul said lifting up Sam from the floor. "Miller to bridge, we need a transporter lock on Marteez right away."
"Negative, commander," Malcolm's voice said over the comm. "We had to raise shields, we were taking too much damage."
Charlie used this thrusters to stabilise himself in the blackness of space. From inside his helmet, his calls for assistance where only met with static as he watched the orange beams being repelled from the ship by a blue hugging shield.
The Odyssey shrank from view before the nacelles shone bright and the ship zipped off to distant space at warp speed.
Charlie panicked, not thinking that captain Malcolm would ever leave one of his crew behind, he saw the looming mass known as the starship Rodney passed over him. He felt himself dematerialise as the structure of a transporter room formed around him. Two security officers in cold uniforms pointed their rifles directly where he now stood.
Sam sat in sickbay unconscious with burns from her face. Chief medical officer doctor Ellie Malcolm ran a dermal regenerator over her burns and reassured Paul and Katie that she will recover.
"I should have been there," Katie said. "If it wasn't for those reactors."
"It wouldn't have changed anything." Paul said.
The captain entered the room and Katie fell silent at the sight of him. She crossed her arms and turned to the bed as Malcolm asked for a engineering status report.
"How are we shaped up like?" Malcolm asked.
"Hull breaches on decks 5 through 8, internal sensors and transporters are down, wa- warp engines are functionally normally, thanks to lieutenant Marteez." Paul reported. Katie glanced over at him before returning her attention to Sam. "Permission to speak freely, sir."
Malcolm nodded and Paul stepped forward, speaking quietly to not draw too much attention to themselves.
"What the hell are you doing? Leaving Charlie behind? Is that the kind of captain you are now?" Paul asked and Malcolm looked away frustrated.
"Do not mistake my decision for pride in it," he responded. "I had to choose between 1 life and 384 lives. I made that decision and I need all of you to carry out my orders, but do not think that I am comfortable with that decision."
Charlie sat in the sickbay onboard the USS Rodney. He was being given a physical by the ships doctor, James Coal, while the ships commander Admiral Galeb and first officer Rown addressed him at phaser-point.
"Lieutenant Charles Marteez, Starfleet service number 984-592-115, you are under arrest in association to a traitor and for the murder of the crews of the USS Delaney." Galeb said.
"Can you do this later, please?" Doctor Coal said as he gave Charlie a oral scan.
"I told you already, we were not responsible for what happened to the Delaney." Charlie said when Coal lowered his instruments.
"Ah yes it was the incursion of an evil replica of the USS Odyssey from another universe." The admiral responded.
"The ISS Odyssey." Charlie corrected and he was met with the admirals fury.
"Do not answer me back, Lieutenant!" he shouted. "You think this wild story of evil clones and parallel universe's would justify the murder of hundreds. Your actions and attitude are a disgrace to that uniform. Once the doctor is finished with you, you will be sent to the brig until we intercept your ship."
Admiral Galeb and and Commander Rown walked down the corridor together. Dean Rown watched as more armed officers stood to one side to give way for their superior officers. Many of them looked uneasy and uncertain, any man could tell that they were not comfortable with firing on another Starfleet vessel, traitor or not, but the admiral did not seem to notice.
"You believe him don't you?" Galeb asked.
"Was it obvious?"
"This is why you were demoted commander," Galeb said. "You let your personal opinion and interpretation cloud your judgement."
"I arrested two friends for espionage under my command."
"And one of which turned out to be a murderous traitor who you let walk."
"That is my decision, it is my ship-" Rown said before Galeb interrupted.
"Was." He said. "Was your ship. And that is why it is not your decision now."
The admiral continued on his way as commander Rown resented those comments. He looked about the corridor, many of the crew still believed that his demotion was unjust at the start of the war. Marteez had told him his story of the ISS Odyssey and the Sagittarius signal and now, looking at the reaction of the admiral, was considering if it were true.
Doctor Coal completed his physical of Charlie and began to pack away his instruments. The captured lieutenant stood up and was being escorted out the medical bay by the security officer until the commander Rown intercepted them once reaching the door.
"Crewman, you're dismissed." Rown said.
"Sir, I'm under orders to escort the prisoner to the brig." He explained in confusion.
"I understand that but I'll take it from here." Rown said. The crewman reluctantly nodded and handed his rifle over to Rown as he departed the room. Rown glanced back into the medbay before and saw that Doctor Coal watching him just as he led the lieutenant out into the corridor. Did the doctor know what he was going to do? That was a question he would not concern himself with at the moment.
The two walked down the corridors together. They turned and cut across passages, soon Charlie estimated that he was taking them to the forward section of the secondary hull. Specifically if the Rodney is designed with the standard internal configuration of Starfleet, was to the forward torpedo launchers.
"It was Charles, wasn't it?" The commander asked quietly. Charlie nodded. "Good. I want you swear to me that you are telling the truth."
"It's all true, the Terrans, the signal, everything." Charlie answered. "We have evidence on the Odyssey."
"Very well but don't let me down." Rown said as he continued to lead Charlie through the ship. "Because if you are lying to me then I will have no choice but to follow Starfleet's orders."
The two entered the launch bays. Inside was stacks of photon, quantum and tricolbalt torpedoes, except for one. A photon torpedo casing was empty, split open and resting on a separate launch railings.
"Okay, there's a combat drill in ten minutes, when that happens I'll launch you in this torpedo casing. The Odyssey should pick up the transponder as it passes by." Rown explained.
"Wouldn't bridge detect it?" Charlie asked as he climbed into the casing.
"Don't worry, I still have much of the crew who still supports me." Rown said. Just as Charlie began to close the casing, Rown stopped him and handed him a padd. "This is an analysis of how we tracked you, the quantum warp engine produces a specific faint subspace signature."
"Got it," Charlie said, placing the padd in his uniform jacket. "And thank you."
"Don't mention it." Rown said as he closed the torpedo casing.
The Odyssey had kept within a lightyear of the Rodney. Keeping themselves outside the Rodney's sensor range but keeping them within their own. Miss Gillian called Malcolm to the bridge when they picked up a transponder signal not far from the Rodney's position.
Malcolm ordered the Odyssey to wait until the USS Rodney moved away.
"Captain, the object appears to match the dimensions of a photon torpedo casing but I am detecting a lifesign inside." Reka reported.
"What is it?" Malcolm asked.
"Lieutenant Marteez?" Malcolm said. He stood from his captains chair and moved over to the science station.
"It's possible." Reka said. The beaked alien looked over to his captain that stood next to him and Malcolm felt uncomfortable how close the beak came forward and the captain gently moved back to the walkway on the bridge.
"Transport that lifesign to medbay," Malcolm said pointing a finger to Gillian. "Warn Doctor Malcolm we have incoming."
Charlie was transported on board the Odyssey. Almost immediately Paul set up a engineering team to modify the quantum warp engine to mask the subspace signature and soon after made a jump to maximum Quantum Velocity out of the system leaving the USS Rodney in the dust.
Malcolm sat in his quarters and stared at his computer screen. If Starfleet was so determined to follow them that they would divert such an important carrier like the USS Rodney, Malcolm thought, then how many other ships would they send? Starfleet and the Federation have dozens of ships with experimental drives that are far beyond the maximum warp speed. The USS Wright, the USS Eros, and reportedly the new USS Enterprise 1701-F that was currently under construction were only three of the ships fitted with the Quantum Slip Stream drive. The USS Monash, the USS Tarla-Sul, and the USS Palatua fitted with Borg inspired Transwarp engines. And of course the USS Rodney with the Displacement-activated Spore Hub Drive. Not to mention at the launch of the USS Odyssey, at least three more Miller Classes had begun development: the USS Aquarius, the USS Star's Light, and the third unnamed vessel which one of the names that were being considered was the USS Richard Malcolm, but he would doubt that name would be approved after what happened.
Ellie stepped through the door into the quarters and greeted her husband sitting in the dark.
"Come on you need some light in here," she said turning on the lights to at least mid brightness. "Space is dim enough as it is." Malcolm squinted at the sight of the brightness, covering his eyes with his hands.
"How is the lieutenant?" Malcolm spoke dropping his hands onto the desk.
"You mean Marteez? Yes the minimal life support in the torpedo casing caused some minor oxygen deprivation and the stress of the g-forces fractured a couple of bones but I patched him up. He should be good for duty in a couple of days." Ellie rattled off and she moved over towards the computer. She placed her arms around him from behind and saw Malcolm put on the fakest brief smile he could. He also had a blue mug of strong coffee next to the computer. Both signs she knew something was weighing on his mind. "Rich, is something wrong?"
Malcolm let out a brief sigh. "El, did I make the right decision?"
"You mean how you left Marteez behind?" Ellie asked and Malcolm nodded. She took a deep breath, and knelt down next to the chair Malcolm sat on. "I don't know. I honestly don't. It wasn't Starfleet, but out here, if we have any hope to do this, then maybe we can't be all the time. But we still have to try."
Malcolm sat there for a moment and simply nodded.
"Four months and it's just hit me."
"What did?" Ellie asked.
"Nothing. I just have a feeling that the longer we are out here, the more I'll have to tell myself that."
2:2 (Slow Down, Fast Up) Edit
The USS Odyssey was designed for a long range mission and the comfort of the crew was in mind. The ship did have a fairly small crew compared to it's size, with a length of just over 500 metres but only with a crew of 385 officers and enlisted personnel. Learning from the Galaxy classes, the comforts of space flight were contained to decks 9-11, containing such commodities such as rec rooms, lounges, the galleys, a salon, holodecks, gym, screening room and of course a bowling alley. Decks 1-8 and 12-21 were kept strictly professional use for the maintain and function of the ship. Bridge, brig, medical bays, deflector control, air locks, science labs, engineering labs and many more including the brig. Unfortunately this was where the ships helmsman, Anderson Reece, was kept behind a containment field in the brig as Captain Malcolm scolded him. "I cannot believe what I'm seeing," Malcolm said angrily. "Captain I can explain." Reece attempted before Malcom interrupted. "One of my senior officers accused of assault against the chef." "Him and I got into a disagreement, Alice is doesn't like meat but he refused to use protein replacements in-" "So you threw a punch?" Malcolm asked. "It was more like a push. Over a table." Reece explained. "You are damn lucky, Mr Reece," Malcolm said. "Chef is not pressing charges, he said he admires a man who knows what he wants. But the real question is, why not just replicate it if you were so determined?" "Alice doesn't like replicated food." "Ah well I can understand that." Malcolm said dropping his angry tone. "Can I go now then?" Reece asked coy like. "Of course," Malcolm said waving his hand before heading out of the brig, turning to face Reece still in the cell. "After you have been processed through the appropriate release investigation, that should take no less than 26 hours." "No wait wait!" Reece shouted as Malcolm slid the brig doors behind him.
Malcolm passed through the corridors on deck 11 returning to the galley. Soon after stepping out the turbolift, he heard a voice call after him. "Captain!" She said, it was Lavivia, a Cardassian woman who was partnered with the Ambassador Kaden. The two stayed on the USS Odyssey after being debriefed on the situation over the Sagitarrius signal. They believed that her skills in temporal physics and astronomy, and his negotiation skills as an ambassador would be helpful to their mission but the past four months have been nothing but quiet despite the encounter with the USS Rodney. In response they worked together to set up a salon and shop for those off duty on deck 11. "Ah what can I do for you?" He said continuing on his way. "Kaden and I wanted to invite you and the doctor over one night for dinner." "Oh?" "It's the least we can do for allowing us to stay on board." "No having you two on board is reward enough." Malcolm assured her, smiling and turning back to his path. "Well thank you, you're too kind captain," Lavivia said. "But the truth is that being the only two Cardassian civilians on board, it's difficult to make friends." "What about the salon?" "I do get to interact with many people thanks to that but it's still difficult." She explained. "So how about it?" "I'll talk to El but we should be able to arrange one night." Malcolm said. Lavivia smiled just as the comm beeped him Malcolm's ear. He tapped his ear twice and responded "Malcolm here." "Captain we've just dropped out of quantum speed and we are picking up some highly unusual readings in a nearby star cluster." Reka said over the comm. "Alright set a course, I'll be up in a couple of minutes." Malcolm said. He turned to Lavivia to say his farewell before continuing on his way to the galley.
The doors to the bridge slid open. Malcolm, now holding a mug of tea, stepped onto the bridge just as the Odyssey dropped out of warp 50 AU's from the border of star cluster. "Report." Malcolm said as he sat down in the central captains chair. "The readings appear to be 37 Quark Stars in an unusual orbit of each other." "Quark stars?" Malcolm asked. "They are a highly unsual and rare hyperdense form of neutron stars. The federation had only ever came across one Quark star, never observed in such a cluster. I recommend we move closer for more detailed scans." Reka said. "Ops how long until we can engage the quantum warp drive?" Malcolm asked. "Should only take 12 hours for the field generators to re-align." Gillian said. "You have 12 hours to take your scans commander," Malcolm said. "Helm, take us closer, one quarter impulse." The USS Odyssey approached the cluster, taking care to keep far enough from the stars to avoid the gravity wells. Suddenly the entire crew felt the ship abruptly stop. The bridge officers lunged forward but many of the caught themselves on their stations and sets except the helmsman who slammed his head against the station. "Medical teams to bridge. What the hell was that?" Malcolm said ad he ran across the bridge to the helm. "We are caught in a pocket gravity well." Reka reported and Malcolm sat himself in the helms station. "It is pulling us in." Malcolm said. The Odyssey fell towards the cluster, traveling on a erratic path but one thing was clear, if they don't escape soon, they will impact one of the stars. "Firing ventral thrusters, increase power to structural integrity." Malcolm ordered. "Structual integrity field not responding captain," Gillian reported as the Odyssey continued towards the Quark Star. "Deploy armour." Malcolm ordered. The bridge continued to shake as several bulkheads buckled under the stress. Formally black strips along the saucer now shone blue as large segments of armour stretched across the hull, hugging the windows and nacelles and encasing the entire ship. From bow to stern all ventral thrusters engaged, firing at full strength and the Odyssey rapidly decreased in speed. "Molecular armour at 90 percent. 80 percent. 70 percent. Armour holding at 65 percent." Gillian reported. "We are stabilising near the edge of the cluster," Malcolm said. He tapped his ear twice and repeated his request for medical teams however he was met with silence. He repeated again and the comm remained silent.
There was a displacement in the mycelium network, with a crack of blue and white lightning that cut across space before the USS Rodney was dropped there where it was once not. They performed scans for any subspace disturbances that might indicate the Odyssey's quantum warp drive but they found nothing. Rown was quietly pleased that Charles Marteez was able to mask the signature, on the other hand, Galeb, unaware with what Rown had done, was nothing less than furious. "It took us four months to trace their signature!" Galeb shouted, slamming his padd down onto the table and the glass cracked underneath. "But when we had them in our grasp, they escape! How did they figure out how we was tracing them?" "Marteez must have downloaded our engineering files before he escaped." Rown said. "I must say commander I do not believe that he could have overpowered someone like you." "This just proved to me that I need to hit the gym more." Rown said, attempted to crack a smile but Galeb did not appreciate the attempt. Rown looked down before preparing himself to leave the admirals presence. "I'll increase security around our weapons systems and brig so this won't happen again, we should also rework our software access codes." Galeb sat there and simply stared at him. Rown met his eyes, uncertain on if he was suspicious of his first officer and secret relief struck him when Galeb nodded.
Rown exited the turbolift into the corridor deep within the ship itself. He put on a strong face for the crew, unsure about the prospect of hunting another federation starship so far from home. But this calm face was torn down when a voice came over the intercom. "Medical teams to the mess hall, Doctor Coal has collapsed." It said.
Reece was awoken from unconsciousness to the slight pricking sensation upon his cheek. One by one the hot shards of a melting bulkhead dropped in the tiniest pieces onto his face. He was quick to dart out from under the bulkhead and looked about the brig, putting his fingers to check the damage on his cheek. The lights struggled and flickered, the tables and chairs thrown across the room much like how Reece had been thrown against the bulkhead. The forcefield containing him was now inactive. Reece called down the corridor for anyone he could find as he stepped out of the brig. He tapped his ear twice to call for anyone to report in but what he was met with was a burning high pitched screech that felt as if it were to damage his ear drums. Luckily for him before his ears began to bleed he ripped the comm out of his ear and took a moment to think of what to do next. He was currently on deck 9, the same deck as the primary sickbay. It's a start.
"Is there anyway to pull away?" Malcolm asked Reka, his science officer. The two stood on other sides of the science station. "Negative captain," Reka explained. He pointed towards his screen that displayed an analysis of the Quark Star. "An objects gravity is directly proportional to its mass. It is often considered that a neutron star is one of the densest form of matter as all that mass compressed into such a tight space that the neutrons are stacked together. It's been theorized that if a neutron star was massive enough then those neutrons would be compressed so much that even the quarks themselves are pressed together. Those levels of density and mass would exert a gravity that even full impulse couldn't break free." "Can we jump to warp?" Malcolm enquired. "Warp core is bit responding." "Well none of our systems seem to be responding for three hours now, even the turbolift. Nothing seems to be wrong on our end, everything below deck one seems to just not responding. Are you okay, commander?" Malcolm asked. He pointed towards a small stream of yellow blood coming out of his nostril above the beak like structure on Reka's face. Reka glanced his away from his captain and took a moment to wipe away the blood. "Yes I'm fine captain." Reka reassured.
Reece looked about the sprawling corridors of the USS Odyssey. He kept having to turn around and find new and different paths to the sickbay as several sections had become impassable, bulkheads had collapsed and coolant was leaking. He approached the large glass doors of the sickbay. Crewmen and officers were rushed inside by the nurses to tend to their injuries. "Lieutenant! There you are!" Doctor Ellie Malcolm called out as she saw him. "Do you know what's happened to the ship?" Reece asked. "The inertial dampeners must have failed, my staff have got their hands full dealing with concussions and broken bones from being thrown into bulkheads over the past three hours," Ellie explained. "Now come in and I'll deal with that head bruise." Ellie led Reece inside. She sat him down on one of the smaller secondary beds and from this corner Reece could see the many officers suffering from various head injuries, broken limbs and bones, or simply unnconcious. "Any fatalities?" Reece asked solumely. "Luckily not yet," Ellie said. "But there will be if that happens again." She ran a neural scanner over and around the bruise on his head. Reece soon swiped away her instruments as soon as the numbing subsided. "I need to get to the bridge." Reece said, halted by the doctor. "Good luck with that," Ellie said. "But we haven't had contact with bridge since this happened, and the turbolifts are stuck on the lower decks." "Then I'll use the the Jefferies Tubes and climb my way up." "You want to climb nine decks? Not with that injury." Ellie insisted. "Okay then you come with me then." Reece said and Ellie looked about the sickbay. "If you insist to go, I should go with you to monitor you." Ellie turned around and called over a nurse from the middle of the sickbay. "Nurse Cruford, you are in charge until I get back." "Yes doctor." He responded.
"Computer, disable security protocol 13-J." Malcolm said aloud. He and another officer had pulled the turbolift doors open but found a solid armour blade behind it blocking their way out. "Negative." The computer responded. "Disabling that security protocol will compromise structual integrity around the command bridge. External stress beyond safety limits to disable-" "Alright I've got it." Malcolm said in frustration. Reka suddenly collapsed over his station and caught himself before falling to the floor. Malcolm picked up a medical tricorter, performing a scan of Reka's fallen head. "If I'm reading this right, your system is flooded with gamma rays." Malcolm said. "It's to be expected being this close to the star." Reka explained exhausted. "It must be leaking though the shields." "Qucese physiology is more susceptible to radiation damage." Malcolm told him solumely. "How long?" "I'm not sure, but it won't be long more of the crew begin to show signs."
Reece and Ellie moved through the corridors towards the main Jefferies Tube access. Ellie of course did not approve of Reece's insistence to return to the bridge. Simply reckless in his condition. Regardless it was worth humouring him for now for her own state of mind. But it was not her state of mind that she should have worried for. They worked together to remove the bulkhead cover, which was removed safely to the side. A long two person wide ladder rose in the centre of the tube before eventually branching off into horizontal paths in the guts of the ship. However seconds after placing a hand on the ladder Anderson Reece felt the weight and weakness of a dazed state, only prevented from falling by the grasp of Ellie from behind. "I knew this was a bad idea." Ellie commented as she dragged him to lay upright away from the tube.
"No." Reece sighed. "I need to get up there doc, they could need our help." He brushed away Ellie's instruments forcing her to concede. In a typical situation, Ellie would not allow her patient who just almost collapsed to the floor climb nine decks worth but then she heard a noise emanating from the tube. The sound of hands grasping, shoes clanging against the metal ladder, and a distinctive voice. It was Lavivia, her grey hands was the first to appear then her scaled face as she pulled herself up. "El!" She exclaimed in happiness. "I'm so glad you're okay." The two shared an embrace at the sight of each other and Ellie described the situation in sickbay not far from where they sat. "... my staff have had their hands full for the past few hours." Ellie explained but was soon interrupted. "Hours?" Lavivia asked. "It has only been thirty minutes at most." Ellie looked puzzled. She reached into her uniform to her personal tricorter and slid it open simply to point out Lavivia's error. "The incident happened 1558, it's 1849 right now so that would make it three hours." She explained but Lavivia simply shook her head. "I was worried this might happen." She said, revealing the time displayed on her own tricorter. Ellie compared the two, Lavivia's clearly showing 1624 hours. Each tricorter was linked to the ships on board atomic clock so there should be no differences between the two in this respect. But there were. "What do you mean you thought this might happen?" Ellie asked curiously. "What is going on?" "It's a long story." She responded.
Reka drifted in and out of consciousness as Gillian and Malcolm attempted to provide him with any such thing he would need. Water. Food. Comfort. Anything. But Reka's deteriorating health had a massive effect on the bridge officers. Riley had gone as far to break open the weapons locker, projecting a stream of hot red energy at the armour blade. Shouting in frustration before Malcolm ordered him to reel it back. "A whole day! A whole damn day!" Riley shouted, throwing the phaser at the armour. Riley of course had not anticipated his own strength and sparks flew out of the phaser. "What about now?" "No change." An officer sat at the operations station. It was unbelievable for the head of security. How much could that armour take? And who designed it to encase the bridge? "He has a point." Jennifer said quietly as they attended to Reka. "The lower decks have been silent for a day, if anyone is left then Paul and El must be." Malcolm assured her. "They will help us." "You seem to be certain of that." Jennifer said. "You have any reason not to be?" Malcolm asked her raising one eyebrow. The trust the captain placed in his people was unwavering even in the trials he currently faced, trapped inside a near impenetrable armour and hid science officer struggling more and more to hold on. "Jen?" A drop of blood had emerged from Jennifer's nostril almost as quickly as she did.
It was not a safe nor smart idea for Ellie and Lavivia to drag Reece up the jefferies tube. Each of them took turns to hold onto him as they pulled him up another deck. As they climbed, Lavivia explained the situation to the two. The external sensors form the observation lounge had told her that the ship was struggling to break free of the gravitational pull of a Quark star. She had theorized that the gravitational strength would cause time dilation on an extreme scale. She calculated that time would be perceived to be passing slower the lower decks you went. Lavivia demonstrated this when she pulled out her tricorder and dropped it. Reece and Ellie watched it fall, slowing as it dropped several decks before reaching a complete stop, suspended in the air. "There's the same effect between us, you do sound lightly slower," said Lavivia. "I thought you were just a stylist," said Ellie. "I feel like I've been underusing your skills." "I studied temerporal mechanics in the Detapa Insitute of Technology on Cardassia." She responded. "I headed my own team before we came here but there is no room for civilian scientists on board." "Why did you leave that then?" "Whatever is out in Sagitarrius has to be more interesting then just sitting in boardrooms," said Lavivia. "You sound like Richard." Ellie commented. "How do you feel?" Reece had halted in his climb grasping at the rungs. With a click, Ellie locked her tether in place and scanned Reece's bruise before shaking her head. "You think you can make it to the bridge?" Ellie asked and Reece simply responded with a certain 'no.' Ellie looked around the tube and saw the huge white number '7.' "Engineering is on deck 7, we can check on them in there," said Ellie.
Ellie and Lavivia had put their arms around Reece as they entered engineering and called out for help. Paul appeared from underneath the pulsating blue warp core and at first his face lit up but that was soon diminished when he saw the state Reece was in. "How long had it been up here?" Said Lavivia. "Nearly 26 hours." Stated Paul. "What is going on? We've had nearly no contact from the rest of the ship." "We are currently trapped in the gravitational pull of a Quark star." Said Lavivia. "Hang on that would cause extreme time dil-time dilation." Said Paul. "Exactly," she said in response. "I have only experienced about forty minutes, and Ellie has three hours." "That would explain why so many systems aren't responding." Said Paul before he drew his attention towards Ellie, who had lent Reece against the bulkhead. "Is he going to be alright?" "With rest his head isn't that bad, but he can't make it to the bridge." Ellie explained. Paul then asked if Ellie could leave Reece's side for a moment and she told him it would be safe. Ellie was gestured to the other side of engineering where Ensign Staan lay against the bulkhead, pale and nose bleeding. Charlie moved aside to allow for the doctor to sit down and scanned her head. "We were repairing the internal sensors when she just collapsed, we've been trying to make her comfortable since." Paul said. Ellie continued to scan with a look of confusion on her face. "This wasn't caused by any injury like Lieutenant Reece was, her system is flooded with gamma radiation." Said Ellie. "What could be causing that?" Charlie asked. "Lavivia said that we are near a Quark Star, those things project alot of gamma radiation out into space." Said Paul. Ellie stood up and began to perform a scan on Paul now. "Have you been feeling headaches? Nausea? Fatigue?" Listed Ellie. "Headaches and fatigue, yes. Nausea, no." Answered Paul. "Your system is flooded as well." Ellie said closing her medical tricorder. "My guess is all of us have been exposed to enough radiation to kill us within a week if left untreated." "You can treat us, right?" Sam said emerging form the corner. She had been helping Charlie look after Katie since she collapsed and was now confident in letting her rest.
"Of course, we've had treatments for radiation sickness and radiation poisoning for decades." Said Ellie. "In medbay I should be able to purge all our systems of gamma radiation and undo any DNA damage, but it would not matter the more we get exposed and could take too long to treat everyone on the upper decks without the turbolifts." "Well those won't respond until we shut down the molecular armour..." Paul started to say before Charlie finished it for him. "... And doing that would rip the ship apart under these stresses." Both Paul and Charlie shared a look with each other. It was good, Paul thought at least, that his team had made it their priority to learn the ins and outs of the Odyssey even in such unusual circumstances. "What I'm most interested in however," said Ellie. "Is why me and Lavivia aren't showing any symptoms yet. Lieutenant Reece's were caused my head trauma, not radiation, but we are not showing any symptoms." "The 'upper decks'." Lavivia said quietly. This did not stop everyone else to turn to her however. "Well you said you could not get to the upper decks in time, but even with the turbolifts offline you will be able to get to the lower decks in time." Everyone looked at her in confusion. "See you and I are not showing any symptoms because we have not been exposed to the radiation for as long." "The time dilation." Said Paul. "That means that the bridge..." "It means that the bridge will be almost untreatable levels." Said Ellie. "We need to pull away from that star." Charlie stood up and moved across the engine room. "We can reroute helm control down here and drive us out ourselves." "The thrusters are already at full power, if those aren't strong enough to escape then none of us could do it." Said Paul shaking his head. "I could.." Reece now struggled to come to his feet, holding an ice bag to his forehead. "I could do it."
"To anyone still conscious, this is the captain." Malcolm had begun to transmit a message ship-wide. Not that he thought anyone would respond, but he thought it best now that the last of the his bridge officers had fallen unconscious and he himself struggled to stay awake. The bridge appeared to spin around him, there was a screeching ring in his ears, and even his skin had begun to hurt. If all those times listening to Ellie blather on about her patients during their early dates didn't go to waste, he knew it must be late stage radiation sickness. "I don't know if anyone is left." Malcolm said. "Of the bridge crew I am the only one left. Miss Gillian, Lieutenant Riley, Ensign Davies have all fallen unconscious, and Commander Reka is now in critical condition. Luckily no one has died yet but I have no doubt people will start dying. There is nothing more I can do. So i have sent out a priority one distress call on all known frequencies. Our only hope now is that the Rodney picks up the distress call and tractors us out. I suppose I'm leaving this message so they might find it and realise that we are on a mission to save the federation, not betray it. With that spore drive they could complete our mission in a matter of hours. "In truth, as I look back now, 5 months we've been out here, and the first anomaly we encounter has already ended it? I've allowed myself to become obsessed with getting to the source, so much that I would abandon one of our own. But now I realise that I would rather have been anywhere else then in command of this mission. I just want to go home. Before the Terrans. Before the war. Before everything, back home." Malcolm sat there looking at the arm of his chair, blood spilling out of his nose. A LCARs screen built into the arm, highlighted with silver in the chairs leather and wool. It's screen displayed the request to save the recording. Malcolm took a moment struggling to think. Cough and Malcolm stored the message in his personal files.
Reece stood behind a console in engineering as holograms rose out from the floor all around him. From there he could see the ship and the star surrounded by two concentric rings, one following the Odyssey, the other was lined with red and hugged the star. That was the kill zone, the point where the stars gravity will rip the ship apart despite the armour. Charlie had reported in that they now had warp and impulse power just as Sam finished setting up the holographic generators. Ellie's voice came over the comm informing them that she was ready to treat the bridge officers as soon as they were away. "Remember if you feel nauseous take that hypospray immediately." Said Ellie. "Yes I remember." Reece said securing the hypospray on the console. Reece placed his palms on the screen and after 5 seconds interactive control holograms rose out to chest and eye height. "Armour holding at 60 percent." Said Paul. "Okay I can work with that." Said Reece as he slid his hands onto the controls like a weightless translucent glove. "We've got one shot at this, drop ventral thrusters on my mark, standby on impulse and warp drive." All the engineers at all of their stations nodded. "Eject plasma out aft thermal vents." The map displayed the Odyssey's rear section, blue plasma vented out from the two large struts and just below the shuttlebay before being caught into the stars gravity. Like a stream the plasma fell into the star at an angle, circling half the equator before causing a giant eruption of white surface plasma. One by one, Reece gave the mark for the thrusters to be disengaged and the Odyssey was flipped bow first towards the star. The blue core behind them pulsated faster and faster, green specks swam inside the core and the red highlights shone brighter. "Armour dropping to 50 percent." Reported Paul over the increasing wurl of the engine. "Full power to the impulse drive, open the ram scoops." Said Reece. The Odyssey fell further and further towards the star, through the plasma trail. The plasma they had ejected had now had caused spurattic eruptions form the star, flares of hot, dense material, and the Odyssey flew right through them. And the Odyssey was picking up more and more speed. The nacelles scooped the material that fused with the dilithium and supercharged the warp coils that Paul hoped would give them enough power to escape. Reece held the controls in the position that'll gain them the most speed. The Odyssey now was rapidly approaching the kill zone, and at the very last moment and a flash of blue, the Odyssey had jumped to warp.
Rown entered the medical bay. On the far end bed lay sprawled under the sheets was Doctor Coal. Looking no less sickly than normal, but Rown immediately saw Coal was weak and tired. "A visit is not necessary, captain." Coal said calmly. "Why didn't you tell me the spore drive was having side effects?" Rown asked, ignoring that Coal just referred to him as 'captain.' "You all read the report, extensive navigation of the mycelium network causes severe white matter build up in the human brain." Said Coal sharply. "How is it my fault that you ignored that." "How long have you been having these side effects?" Rown asked straining the importance of the answer. "Nearly four months." Said Coal. "Four months?" Rown said in shock. He lent in and placed one hand on the bed sheets. "If you told us about this sooner we could have sorted out another officer to share the load, or even a full time replacement for you to monitor." "No this is something I must do." Coal insisted. "But why?" "Because I know that the Odyssey are not the traitors we think." Said Coal quietly. "Whether that be these duplicates from another universe or what, I know that Ellie Malcolm, her captain, and all of that crew are not capable of slaughtering a ship full of people. And chasing them across the universe is meaningless." "You have been changing the coordinates mid-jump, haven't you?" Rown had finally put two and two together. "Everytime we think we were on them you changed the coordinates to protect your friend."
Rown placed his weight back into his feet and turned away from Coal. "Doctor I think I would have done the same." "You did do the same." Coal emphasised. "You gave Marteez a way to modify their engines to avoid our detection." Rown paused, unsure on how to act. He had spent the last few weeks ensuring no one was suspicious of him for giving away his we was tracing the Odyssey to Marteez. "So what now?" He asked. "You could tell the admiral. You could get some poor sod to get in that glass chamber and jump you to every system in the known universe to find the Odyssey." Coal suggested, it was not something Rown was considering. "But I know you won't. I trust and respect you enough to know that. And there aren't many people I can say that about. But you know why I know I can? Because you did not even flinch when I called you 'Captain'."
The Odyssey now sat comfortably three light years into empty space. With the time dilation no longer taking effect, and the armour disabled, the medical staff was able to treat the entire crew of radiation poisoning. Paul had insisted that they took a three day delay to their departure at Quantum Velocity until he had taken time to purge the warp coils of the exotic materials. "Oh how has Ensign Staan been?" Lavivia asked. Malcolm and Ellie had taken Lavivia and Karen's offer of coming round for a night. Typically the two Cardassians would have the darkest and warmest quarters on the ship, but this night they put the temperature and lighting controls at the medium between Cardassian and human comfort. "Yes she's recovered after I cleared her system." Said Ellie. "I told her what happened and all she could say was now long it would take to perform a full system clean out of any exotic elements." "It's hard to imagine all that happened." Said Kaden. "Down in the lower decks only a good thirty seconds past after I climbed down." "Thirty seconds, try four days." Said Malcolm. He dipped a piece of bread into the stew and took a bite, stopping at the slightly metallic taste. "Is this bread replicated?" "Yes sorry captain, I know you don't like replicated food but it's all I could do in time." Lavivia assured him. "No, no it's quite alright." Said Malcolm warmly. "But yeah what was it like stuck on the bridge for that long?" Ellie asked her husband. "It was... terrifying." Malcolm said, for a moment dropping the typically jokey attitude before changing the subject. "Does this mean I get my birthday a week earlier?" They laughed but Ellie saw what he was trying. Looking back on those days she could tell made him uncomfortable, in response gave a gesture for Malcolm to give the two the good news. Malcolm cleared his throat and placed a small box on the shared table. Kaden reached over and picked it up, unhooking the lock and lifted the lid so he and Lavivia could see. Inside was two small metal diamonds with flat faces and silver finishes. The Starfleet badge. "We've been talking and I've come to the conclusion that we've been ignoring you and the contribution you could bring to our mission." Malcolm explained. "Welcome to the crew." Kaden and Lavivia thanked him and they returned to their meal and conversation.