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The Fall of Jake Crichton

Posted on Aug 13, 2020 @ 7:48am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Aug 13, 2020 @ 7:48am

Mission: Dog Days Of Summer

= The Fall of Jake Crichton =

(Cont’d from “Thanks! I Hate It”)


SCENE: Outside Captain Kane’s Quarters
STARDATE: [2.20] 0812.2315
TIME INDEX: Shortly after Jerome’s “The Boy, I”

Kane started slowly, choosing his words carefully.

“I believe Billy may be from a parallel universe.”

Standing a small distance away, Jake Crichton’s eyes widened slightly.

“What makes you say so?” Jake asked.

“Some of the things he said,” Kane replied, glancing over his shoulder at the closed door to his quarters. Inside, Billy Crichton slept under the pale-blue glow of a holographic Xana Bonviva… a woman who was not his mother, at least not if Kane’s theory was correct, but her mirror image from across a dimensional divide. “He claims he’s never heard of the Federation, for one thing. He made references to some kind of leader, a monarch perhaps, whom he calls ‘the Crown’. And his demeanor, his points of reference… they’re vivid, more than just the wild imaginings of a little boy. He’s *been* there, Jake.”

“And now he’s here,” Jake said, running his fingers through his hair. He paced a few steps away, then turned back to look at Kane. “This might be good news.”

Kane raised an eyebrow. “How do you mean?”

“If Billy’s from a parallel world, we might be able to isolate something in his bio-scans that can help isolate *which* world,” Jake said.

“You’re referring to its trans-dimensional coordinates,” Kane said.

Jake nodded. “Based on Billy’s age and appearance, and his genetic similarity to Ben, he’s got to be from a universe that’s relatively close to our own on the X-Z axes. That already gives us a good idea of where to start looking.”

“Okay,” Kane said, holding up a hand to cut off a stream of technobabble. Jake was talking fast, his eyes seeming to flit in all directions, and Kane didn’t want him getting any more worked up. “Say it’s possible to use Billy's bio-scans to find out where he came from. What then? Traversing parallel dimensions is dangerous, and even if you were successful, you’d have an entire universe on the other side to explore trying to find Ben. A rescue mission would be impossible.”

“Sure,” Jake said. “But I don’t think we’d have to *go* anywhere.”

Kane’s eyes narrowed a bit. “What do you mean?”

“We already know Billy and Ben are genetically identical,” Jake said. “If we can identify the trans-dimensional coordinates of Billy’s point of origin, I might be able to modify the ship’s transporters. I could use Billy’s transporter signal to try to lock on to Ben in the other dimension.”

Kane would have said such a thing was impossible, but he’d worked with Jake Crichton long enough to know that he’d find a way to make it work. Still, there were massive holes in the plan… holes that Jake, in his increasingly manic state, either didn’t see or didn’t care about.

“Commander, what happens to Billy?” Kane asked.

This caught Jake’s attention for long enough to get him to stop pacing. He looked at Kane.

“He’d be back in his own universe,” Jake said. “Where he belongs. And Ben would be home.”

“You have no idea what kind of situation you’d be sending him into,” Kane pointed out. “He could be killed outright.”

“If the situation he beams into is dangerous, it means Ben is in danger too.”

“We can’t risk Billy’s life to save Ben,” Kane pressed. “He’s a child, Jake.”

“So’s Ben.”

“Billy’s a civilian and a minor,” Kane continued. “He is not able to consent to participating in any such plan, and it would immoral to force him into it. I’m sorry, Jake, there’s no way I can sign off on this.”

“I can’t just do *nothing*,” Jake said. “Captain, this could be my only chance to get my son back.”

“We have to find another way,” Kane said, his tone resolute.

Suddenly, Jake slammed his palm hard against the corridor wall, so hard and fast that even the unshakeable Michael Turlogh Kane nearly jumped back.

“That’s not good enough!” Jake said.

“Commander Crichton,” Kane barked. “I recommend you compose yourself immediately.”

For a moment, Jake looked like he might have another outburst, but instead he turned again and took another few steps away, rubbing at his eyes as he went. He stopped after a few paces and turned back to Kane.

“So what am I supposed to do?” he asked quietly.

Kane sighed. “You should get some rest. This has been weighing on you for days now. If we’re to have any chance of thinking through this, we need you at your best.”

“Rest,” Jake repeated. “How am I supposed to sleep, knowing my son could be… could be…”

“We don’t know that yet,” Kane said. “Billy may have more to tell us, something that might provide more clues for where we can start looking for Ben.”

Now it was Jake’s turn to sigh. Finally, he closed his eyes and nodded.

“Okay,” he said. “Okay.”

Then he turned, and started walking slowly up the corridor, away from Kane.

“Commander,” Kane said.

Jake stopped, and turned to look back at the captain.

“I haven’t given up on your son,” Kane said.

“Neither have I,” said Jake, then he turned and continued up the corridor until he was out of Kane’s sight.


SCENE: Science Labs
TIME INDEX: The next morning

The science labs had finished their retrofit, and the HCARS system now cast them in soft oranges and blues. Jake stood before one of the large central holoemitters, above which hung a holographic representation of Billy Crichton, lying flat and overlaid with a yellow grid. Red blossoms of light flared and blinked at several intersections along the grid, flashing in their respective positions once or twice before winking out and appearing at another intersection. Jake watched these spots of red light as they seemed to dance along the surface of his son’s body.

No. Not his son. But someone who looked just like him.

A few feet away, Dr. Crow sat, her hands plunged into a curved wall of orange and blue light arranged to resemble the controls of a standard console. Jake turned now to look at her, noting the way the holographic controls seems to respond to even the faintest movements of her fingers. It seemed Dr. Crow had not yet mastered them – occasionally, the size of the controls seemed to grow or shrink, causing Dr. Crow to trigger incorrect commands, which in turn produced an irritated squawk from the computer.

“Blasted holograms,” Dr. Crow said, as the computer squawked loudly at her again. Then, she looked at Jake. “Apologies, Commander.”

“Don’t mind me,” Jake said. “You’re doing me a favor, looking at this.”

“Is the boy alright?” Dr. Crow asked. “That scan should never have hurt him, I still don’t know what could have gone wrong.”

“He’s fine,” Jake said. “Eve and the Captain have been looking after him.”

Dr. Crow nodded. “Of course, you’ve been preoccupied. I hope we at least captured something that might help you find your son, Commander Crichton. If that poor boy suffered for nothing…”

She didn’t finish, and Jake didn’t say anything, so their attention fixed once more on the holographic display at the center of the room. The image of Billy shimmered and vanished, replaced at once with a display of the boy’s central nervous system: the brain, the heart, and a forest of veins, stretching out into a vague, bipedal shape. As before, the yellow grid overlaid the image, and pulses of red light flashed along the intersections of the grid even more rapidly than before. Jake noticed the pulses seemed to be gradually moving upwards, appearing more and more rapidly in and around the brain.

Dr. Crow flexed her fingers, and once more the holographic image changed, this time becoming a large-scale representation of Billy’s brain, with the same yellow grid overlay. Red pulses now flashed along the intersections of the grid with such rapidity that Jake had to look away, blinking his eyes a few times to clear his vision.

When he looked back, he saw that Dr. Crow had stood up from her position and stepped closer to the side of the holodisplay, near where Jake himself was standing. As he watched, she plunged both her hands into the display, then spread her arms apart, resizing the holoimage as she did so. The display was now showing what Jake guessed was a neurological map of Billy’s brain. Purple pulses of light traced across millions of tiny, wire-like connections – the firing of neurons, Jake guessed. He had a good working knowledge of starships and other mechanical constructions, but he had to admit he was lost in the woods on things like this; he turned to Dr. Crow with one eyebrow lifted.

“Is this good?” he asked.

“Hmm?” Dr. Crow said, turning to look at him. “Oh, the image. It’s outside my area of expertise, of course, but based on what I can see, he has a fully healthy, normally-functioning brain and central nervous system.”

“Ok,” Jake said. “So… what are you looking at?”

“Some of the energy readings,” Dr. Crow said, turning back to the holodisplay. “They’re unusual for scans like this. They’re faint, so faint I probably wouldn’t have found them if I weren’t being so thorough… but they’re definitely there.”

“What kind of energy readings?” Jake asked.

“It’s a rather technical explanation,” Dr. Crow said, a little guiltily.

“Give me the picture book version, then.”

“I’m sure you know, the brain uses glucose to produce energy,” Dr. Crow said. “Glucose stimulates the creation of neurotransmitters that are necessary for healthy brain function. The scans are showing some irregularities in this process.”

“Irregularities in the brain,” Jake repeated. “Are you saying the boy could be dangerous?”

“Oh, no no no,” Dr. Crow said, waving this off. “The variance is extremely slight, that’s why it wasn’t picked up on any of the previous scans of young William.”

“Billy,” Jake said automatically.

“Ah, of course,” Dr. Crow nodded. “Billy’s brain activity is still functionally identical to any other healthy boy of his age. But if you look close enough, it seems there are some minute differences in the way his body metabolizes glucose.”

“How minute?” Jake asked. “Would they be detectable by other scan types? Long-range, say?”

Dr. Crow considered this. “Now that you know what to screen for, I suppose it’s possible you could recalibrate a long range scan to detect the irregularity. I’m not sure how useful that would be, surely your subject would show up far more reliably on any number of standard long-range scans.”

“Yes,” Jake said, his eyes on the holo-display. “I suppose you’re right.”

“I wish I could be of more assistance,” said Dr. Crow. “I can keep pouring over these results, see if there’s anything else that might help—“

“That’s okay, doc,” Jake said, turning to smile at her. “You’ve been a big help.”


SCENE: Jake Crichton’s Quarters
TIME INDEX: A few hours later

Dr. Crow was right – the minute irregularities she’d discovered in the scans of Billy’s brain would be of extremely limited value to anyone trying to pinpoint someone’s location over a long-range scan. There were any number of other biodiverse markers that the sensors could screen for, and ones far easier to detect at extreme range than a slight difference in metabolizing glucose. And besides, as Jake himself was discovering, making those modifications to the sensor suite was no small amount of work, requiring an investment of time that made the entire process prohibitively inefficient.

All of which might have stopped him… except that Jake didn’t need those readings to *find* anyone; he already had a perfect sensor signature, right at hand, for what he was trying to do. Instead, Jake was going to put Dr. Crow’s discovery to an entirely different end:

Teaching the ship’s computer the difference between Billy and Ben Crichton.


SCENE: Bridge

Captain Kane was off duty, Commander Crichton had been on a leave-of-absence since his son had disappeared, and so that left Lieutenant Byte with the conn. The HCARS retrofit was well underway – Byte, of course, had adapted to the new system instantly, but he’d observed that some among the organic crew were not having such an easy time with it.

Take Hector Solorzano, for example. Heck sat at the Ops station, surrounded by a shimmering field of light, at which he was currently swatting as though it were a swarm of stinging insects.

“Hydroponics humidity control?” Heck said incredulously, to nobody in particular as far as Byte could tell. “No! That isn’t what I want! Would you just--- dammit!”

Byte had no personal reason to object to any given word over another, but his years spent living and working within the Federation had instilled in him a sense of professional decorum that could not abide a commissioned officer using curse words at their station. Byte immediately stepped up to Lt. Solorzano’s side.

{{Is there a problem, lieutenant?}} the android asked in a neutral voice.

“Sorry, it’s just this stupid mach—“ Heck started, turning to look at who’d spoken. When he saw his direct superior standing behind him, staring back with emotionless, cornflower-blue eyes, Heck’s sentence masterfully folded into a newer, better, more diplomatic one: “—surely not, sir, I’m just, ah, negotiating a platform of mutual respect between me and our new shipboard interface.”

{{Understandable,}} Byte said. {{Have you completed the recommend course of holosimulations to familiarize yourself with the new HCARS system?}}

Heck’s eyes dropped. “Uh, well, I kind of skimmed the first few…”

{{They are available by appointment in the main holosuites aboard the PHOENIX and Starbase 56,}} Byte prattled on. {{Once the refit has been applied to your quarters, they can also be called up from your personal terminal, though of course your personal decorating choices could potentially inhibit a fully immersive—“

Then the entire ship seemed to rock under their very feet. It was enough to derail Byte’s weirdly non-judgmental haranguing, but such things were often a precursor to loads of uncompensated overtime, so Heck decided that, so far, this day was a wash.

“What was that?” Heck said, turning back to the holographic controls he’d still not quite mastered.

Byte, evidently unflappable, had already started his retreat to the CO’s chair, slapping his comm-badge as he did so.

{{Bridge to Engineering.}}

[[Malin-Argo here,]] came the Grazerite’s reply. Malin-Argo, due for a transfer away from the ship, had not yet disembarked; it seemed his final days aboard the PHOENIX were not to be as restful as he’d hoped. [[There’s been… some kind of energy pulse from the warp core.]]

{{Does it pose a danger to the ship or the starbase?}} Byte asked.

[[Unknown,]] Malin-Argo said. [[Preliminary readings suggest it doesn’t, but… these are readings I’ve never seen before. We need some more time before we can make a recommendation.]]

{{Understood, keep us informed,}} said Byte. {{Yellow Alert.}}

An instant later, the voice of the PHOENIX’s captain, Michael Turlogh Kane, cut through the bridge.

[[Kane to bridge. What did I just feel, Mr. Byte?]]

{{Unknown, sir,}} Byte said. {{Preliminary reports from engineering suggest minimal danger, but I have sounded the yellow alert until we can ascertain—}}

[[I’m coming up,]] Kane said, and cut the transmission.


SCENE: Deck 2

Jake Crichton stood a few meters away, just around the curve in the corridor. From his position, he watched as the doors to Kane’s quarters opened, and the captain stepped out. Kane did not hesitate – he turned immediately and began making his way in the direction of the nearest turbolift… in the opposite direction from where Jake was standing.

Jake counted silently to 30, plenty of time for Kane to summon a turbolift and step into it. Then, Jake moved forward.

The doors to Kane’s quarters were locked, but Jake had been Chief Engineer aboard the PHOENIX for years before he’d taken the job as CO. With all that experience, and being generally something of a technical genius besides, Jake supposed he could have made mincemeat out of most of the ship’s routine security even at the best of times. But now, with half the systems shut down for retrofitting and the other half adapting to the new system, it had been a cakewalk for Jake to design a simple tunneling algorithm, tied to his personal tricorder, that cut through the door’s security protocols in a matter of seconds.

The doors opened, and Jake stepped inside, even as the deck beneath his feet suddenly rocked sharply once again. Jake paid this no mind; instead, he moved into Kane’s living room, and found Billy, huddled up in a far corner of his bed. The boy was bunched up, hugging his own knees, and his desperate pale-blue eyes flashed immediately to Jake as he approached.

“W-what’s h-happening?” Billy asked, blinking away tears.

“It’s okay,” Jake said, his voice low and even. “I’m going to get you out of here.”

The ship rocked again beneath them.

“I’m scared,” Billy said.

“I know,” said Jake. “Come with me.”


SCENE: Bridge

Kane stepped out onto the bridge. Byte, who’d been standing near Lt. Solorzano at the Ops station, turned immediately and approached.

{{The disturbances appear to be coming from intermittent disruptions in the deuterium flow,}} the android said, as Kane settled into the CO’s chair.

“Bridge to Engineering,” Kane said, not yet sure if he should sound annoyed or grimly resolute.

[[Malin-Argo here.]]

“What the hell is going on?”

[[We’re trying to figure that out, sir,]] Malin-Argo replied. [[We’ve detected inconsistencies in the deuterium distributions subsytems--]]

“Simple terms, please,” Kane frowned. “We’re still tethered to Starbase 56, I need to know now if that’s about to become a catastrophic problem.”

[[Deuterium is one of the elements that fuel the matter/antimatter reaction at the heart of the warp core,]] Malin-Argo explained. [[But something’s gone wrong with the flow – we’re reading intermittent disruptions in the release of deuterium into the warp core, and as it’s playing havoc with the ship’s systems.]]

“The warp core has the hiccups?” Heck Solorzano asked.

The PHOENIX suddenly rocked again, as though it had just gone over a particularly aggressive speed-bump.

Kane closed his eyes. “And this shaking?”

[[Failures in our inertial dampeners,]] Malin-Argo said. “Well within stress-limits to maintain our tether to Starbase 56, but if these continue or get worse..]]

“Understood,” Kane said. “Is this related to the HCARS refit?”

[[I can’t rule anything out at this point,]] Malin-Argo said. [[What I can say is that this isn’t like any system malfunction I’ve seen before. Failures in the warp core tend to be fairly simple to isolate and correct, or else they go out of control before any has a chance to do anything about it. But this… I’m sorry, sir, but it feels like somebody’s trying to waste my time.]]

The ship rocked again. Kane quirked an eyebrow.

“It seems they’ve gone to great lengths to do it,” he said. “What’s the solution?”

[[We’re looking at that now,]] Malin-Argo replied. [[There are… obstacles, related mostly to the systems that have gone offline due to the retrofit.]]

“Oh boy,” Heck said. “Seems like somebody knew just when and how to hit us where it hurt.”

At this, Kane’s eyes widened.

“Computer,” he said. “Location of Commander Jacob Crichton.”

[[Commander Jacob Crichton is in his quarters,]] the computer replied, in a tone that what somehow even more flat and lifeless than Byte’s.

“Location of Billy Crichton,” Kane said.

[[Billy Crichton is in the captain’s quarters,]] the computer responded.

Kane started to breathe a sigh of relief… and then it caught in his throat, as he realized that that wasn’t good enough.

“Computer,” said Kane. “Operational status of Transporter Room 1.”

There was a moment’s delay, as if even the computer intended to draw things out. Then:

[[Transporter Room 1 is fully operational.]]

For perhaps only the second or third time across his storied Starfleet career, Kane’s knees went watery, and he collapsed into the CO’s chair behind him.

“My god,” he whispered. Then, an instant later and with the tone of command firmly back in his voice: ‘Red Alert.”


SCENE: Transporter Room 1

The ship rocked once more beneath them as Jake and Billy stepped into the abandoned transporter room. The HCARS retrofit had already been completed, and Jake stepped confidently up to the holoemitter; an instant later, the holographic controls flared to life before him. Jake plunged his closed-fist into the shimmering pool of light, then opened his fingers like a blooming flower, sending up an array of subsystems and basic commands in various knots of shifting orange and blue that began a lazy orbit around the central point formed by the holoemitter.

Jake had practiced for this. He hadn’t slept in almost three days, so he’d had plenty of time.

It took only a few moments to isolate the transporter room’s controls from the rest of the ship, and an instant more to reprogram the pattern-sensors with the upgraded specifications he’d developed using Dr. Crow’s discovery in the science labs. The work had not been simple – some distant, wholly-patriotic part of Jake’s mind marveled at the security complexities and redundancies that complimented the Federation’s flagship – but it had been done all the same.

Nothing would keep Jake from his son, not even Starfleet.

“Is the ship going to explode?” Billy asked. The boy was standing not far from Jake, hugging himself for reassurance as the ship continued to rumble around him. Jake did not look away from the holographic controls of the transporter console.

“Don’t worry,” he said.

“I want to go home,” the boy said.

Jake turned, managing a smile. “I’m taking you home, buddy.”

In spite of everything, Billy returned the smile. “And you’re coming too?”

“Sure,” Jake said. “I just need you to step onto the transporter pad. Can you do that for me?”

“Ok,” Billy said. He complied immediately; why wouldn’t he? He loved his father.


SCENE: Corridor, outside of Transporter Room 1

“This is Lt. Procter,” Mackenzie Procter said, as she and her security team came to halt before the sealed doors of the transporter room. “The doors are not responding to override commands. Requesting permission to forcibly open them.”

[[Granted,]] came Kane’s voice from over the comm. [[I’m on my way now, but it’s imperative you get inside that room immediately.]]

“Understood,” Procter said, and then she nodded at two of her deputies. They stepped forward, approaching the door with security tuners in hand, when at once a forcefield sprang into life before the doors, so suddenly that they each dropped their equipment as they jumped back. A credit to their training, this sudden shift in circumstance did not delay them for long- they stepped forward again, only to find their access to the door – and more importantly, the control panel beside the door – stymied by the persistent, shimmering wall of blue energy.

Procter frowned, and hit her comm-badge. “Security to Captain Kane,” she said. “We have a problem.”


SCENE: Transporter Room 1

Billy was standing on the transporter pad now, still hugging himself. A shimmering haze of golden light surrounded him – not yet the full energy surge require for discorporation and transmission across space, but the beginnings of the computer’s pattern recognition and recomposition at the programmed destination.

Billy, on the platform, had started to cry.

“I want to go home,” the boy whined.

“Just a minute longer,” Jake said, his attention on the shifting holographic displays before him.

A few meters away, he could hear commotion from behind the sealed doors to the transporter room. Billy could hear it too, and that, along with another round of turbulence from the ship, pushed his tears into heavy, steady sobs.

“Dad, I’m scared.”

“You don’t have to be scared for much longer,” Jake said. He pulled and twisted and swiped at the holograms around him, zeroing in the modified controls, getting closer and closer to his intended target. He still wasn’t certain his modifications would work, and yet he’d bet everything – his career, his life – on success. The computer churned through its command, zeroing in on the only signal it could possibly detect… And suddenly, the display lit up green all around him. All the remained was the final command.

Jake Crichton looked up at Billy.

36 years of life seemed to crystalize before his eyes – how much of that in Starfleet? How much of that, dedicated to a philosophy of peaceful exploration? How much of that deferred, perverted, into acts of war? How much time had he spent, ducking phaser fire, reinforcing shields, doing whatever he could to enact or sustain violence against others in the hope that it would defer violence against his own?

Nearby, the commotion outside the transporter room door became louder. They’d overcome his forcefield, Jake guessed. He'd known they would – this was the Federation flagship, after all.

Jake stuck his hand into the holographic controls, and for a moment he thought he could *feel* the mass of the button, that final holographic command that would enact his plan, send the boy Billy reeling off into God knew what, all in the hope that it might bring his own son back to him. Jake’s fingers tensed around that photonic button, flexing gently as though there was a real resistance there…

The pounding on the door continued. Billy’s sobs continued. Jake sucked in a breath, and steeled himself. He looked at Billy.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Billy looked back, his pale-blue eyes indistinguishable from Ben Crichton’s.

“I love you, dad.”

The tears came at once to Jakes’ own eyes. He felt the weakness, starting in his knees, creeping up his spine. His mind raged, urging his fingers to tighten, to activate the control, to at last save his only son…

And instead, the hand fell away.

Jake Crichton sank to the floor, his own sobs now coming as freely as those from Billy. For his part, the boy rushed off the transporter pad, as if somehow sensing the moment had passed – and yet, his trajectory was not one of retreat, not one that would take him into the relative safety of the PHEONIX’s security officers and her captain. Instead, Billy Crichton ran to Jake, collapsing against him, arms wrapped around Jake’s knees, and together, man and boy cried, sharing a kind of pain that transcended the barriers between worlds, between universes, that seemed to rock the very foundations of reality itself.

And there they were found, only a few minutes later, as security personnel flooded Transporter Room 1, phasers drawn and aimed at the PHOENIX’s ExO. Procter came in a step behind, and immediately she reached out and pushed down the arms of her staff, angling the tips of their weapons away from the boy and his father, who still sat hunched against the rear wall of the transporter room, sobbing heavily, oblivious to what went on around them.

Captain Kane entered a moment later, and yet still he stood a distance away for several minutes, watching Jake Crichton and Billy as they clung to one another, not sure what to do with his anger or his disappointment.

At last, when it seemed no one in the room could bear it any longer, Kane stepped forward.

“Jacob Crichton… you are under arrest.”


NRPG: I thank you for your indulgence. This post isn't quite what I'd like, but I don't want to delay it any further; I think I’ve mentioned this to everyone here or there, but I am retiring the character of Jake Crichton. I still plan to participate in the game, but I’ll be starting a new character here shortly – expect a bio fairly soon.

It has been great fun playing as Jake, but I feel I have, for now at least, me to a natural stopping point in his arc. Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll show up again someday. ;-)

For posting purposes, Jake is not immediately leaving the ship – I’m hoping to manage at least one more post from his perspective before we officially set out on our next mission. But he’ll be cooling his heels in the brig until the folks with official titles can figure out what to do with him.

On behalf of Jake, it’s been a wild ride. Looking forward to where we all go next.

Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer


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