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The Unimaginable

Posted on Aug 02, 2016 @ 11:28am by Commander Jacob Crichton & Thomas Varn
Edited on on Aug 02, 2016 @ 11:29am

Mission: Fortress: Earth

= The Unimaginable =

(Continued From “Burn”)


“There are moments that the words don’t reach.

There is suffering too terrible to name.”

- “It’s Quiet Uptown”, Hamilton: An American Musical



Scene: Cindy Rochemonte’s Quarters

Stardate: [2.16] 0801.2217

Jake had stepped out of the turbolift easily enough, and had managed the painfully short walk down the corridor to Cindy Rochemonte’s quarters in spite of the weak feeling in his knees. But when he had reached her door, he froze. The door’s flat, off-grey surface seemed to stare at him accusingly, telling him to go away, that he could at least wait another few hours before ripping out his friend’s heart.

**Let her have one last night of good dreams,** the door seemed to say.

No. There could be no putting this off. She would find out soon, and Jake didn’t want it to come from an official report. She deserved to know, and Jake wanted to make sure the news came from him. Not because it would make it easier to take - there was no possibility of that, not with this - but because he wanted to be there for her after she found out.

Jake mustered his courage and pressed the chime on Cindy Rochemonte’s door. He stood there for a full 30 seconds, feeling more and more like he was making the wrong choice. Jake pushed those thoughts down and pressed the chime again, and finally he could hear soft movement from behind the door.

A moment later, the off-grey surface of the door slid open. Cindy Rochemonte stood there, dressed in pajamas, her eyes somewhat bleary. She’d been off duty for hours, and wasn’t due to come back on duty for hours more. She’d been pushing herself just as hard as Jake had, and had done so this whole voyage, from Earth to Elandipole and back again. Like much of Jake’s engineering staff, Cindy had learned to take her sleep when she could.

So, as Jake had suspected, she had been asleep when the city of Paris was destroyed.

“Jake,” Cindy said, her eyes clearing up a little. Jake could imagine the calculation processing through Cindy’s still-groggy mind. Jake had never visited her at her quarters before. If she was late for work, he would have used the comms and saved himself the walk. If he was here, getting her out of bed in the middle of the night, it meant something was wrong.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Cindy,” Jake said. “I…”

Jake’s breath hitched, and the words caught in his throat. He swallowed, and started again.

“I’m sorry.”

“What is it?”

Jake told her.

He remembered what happened next in snapshots. Cindy collapsing, Jake stepping forward to catch her. A sound, a cry so hopeless that it seemed to drain all the color and light from the world, and it was coming from her. Other doors in the corridor opening, their tenants stepping out to see what the commotion was, and Jake telling them to go back inside. Then Cade Foster was there (Jake hadn’t called him, and decided one of Cindy’s neighbors must have), and he was pressing a hypospray into Cindy’s arm, and a little while later, she slept.

Jake had moved Cindy to the couch. He stood a few paces away now, his arms crossed, as Cade knelt beside her, running a few final checks on her vital signs. Satisfied, Cade stood up and turned to Jake.

“She’ll be fine. She’s sleeping now.”

Jake nodded. “Thanks.”

“This is just a temporary measure. She’s probably going to need counseling.”

Jake sighed, and looked down at his sleeping friend. “I know.”

“I’ll talk to Dalziel,” Cade said. There was no trace of the usual mocking derision in his tone. Cade stood, head almost bowed, his eyes not quite on Jake’s own. It made the doctor look old, weathered, almost frail. In spite of himself, Jake wished Cade would square his shoulders, roll his eyes, and shoot off a few insensitive remarks about Jake being left alone in close quarters with an unconscious subordinate.

But Cade did not do these things. Instead, he took a final look at Cindy, then looked back to Jake. He nodded, an acknowledgement rather than an agreement or affirmative, and turned to go. Jake let him get almost all the way to Cindy’s door before he stopped him.

“Foster. Thank you.”

Cade didn’t turn around, but he stood there a moment longer. Then, without saying another word, he stepped out into the corridor. Cindy’s door swished shut behind him.

Jake stood where he was for a while, his arms still crossed, leaning up against Cindy’s mantle. He’d never seen her quarters before, and was not surprised to find they were warm and inviting, like Cindy herself. She had a small table, with only two chairs, and a vase with flowers in full bloom set at its center. Artwork adorned several walls, much of it impressionist - Jake thought he recognized a Van Gogh, but the others were unfamiliar. A bookcase, with not very many books there, maybe, but the ones that were there were honest to goodness *books*, leatherbound covers and yellowing pages. Not very many photographs that Jake could see, though Jake had limited his survey of Cindy’s quarters to only the main living area in which he now stood. He didn’t want to overstep himself.

Jake was aware of Rochemonte’s infatuation with him - though Jake could sense it was more of a crush than anything serious - and while he appreciated her friendship, he had been careful to keep her at a professional distance. Whatever it was that Cindy felt for him, it had never gotten in the way of their working relationship, and Jake had come to have a profound respect for her abilities. Cindy had struggled with self doubt, and with making friends, but during their time on the PHOENIX, Jake had watched her develop relationships with other members of her team, and to grow into the role of leader. Despite her sometimes awkward exterior, there was steel in Cindy Rochemonte, and Jake had no doubt that should would make a fine Chief Engineer in her own right some day.

Unless she never came back from this, that is.

Eventually, Jake settled into a chair beside Cindy’s couch. He was due back in Main Engineering himself in a few hours, so that the work on the phase cloak that would get them around the Aegis Shield could begin in earnest. Until then, Jake meant to sit vigil at his friend’s side, not wanting her to come awake again alone and with the knowledge of what had been done to her city, her country, her home. But even with the most noble intentions, Jake’s persistent exhaustion started creeping up once more, and eventually, a thin sleep claimed him. He dreamed of Xana, his wife.


Jake opened his eyes, to find that Cindy had awakened before him. She had not moved from her position on the couch; instead, she sat on the center cushion, with her legs pulled up in front of her and her arms wrapped around them, hugging them to her chest. She wasn’t looking at him, or at anything Jake could discern. Instead, Cindy seemed to be staring off into the middle-distance. In the dark gloom of her living room, Jake thought he could see tears shining on her cheeks.

Without turning to look at him, Cindy spoke.

“They’re all dead,” she whispered.

Jake rubbed his tired eyes with the heels of his palms, then sat forward.

“I know.”

“Maman, Papa…” Cindy said, and fresh tears welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. “Jennifer and Tommy…”

Jake didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say. He leaned forward, and rested his hand on one of Cindy’s, and gave it a gentle squeeze. Cindy did not look at him, and made no sign or acknowledgement of Jake’s touch. Instead, she closed her eyes, sending more tears running down her shining cheeks. She choked out a single sob, then another, her mouth pulling itself downward in grimace. Jake looked away, feeling stupidly self-conscious as Cindy Rochemonte cried out what was left of her heart in front of him.

Eventually, the crying gave way to quiet sniffles, then silence. Cindy remained on the couch for a while longer, her face now almost serene in the dim light of her quarters. At one point, Jake stood, walked over to the replicator mounted on the wall near her kitchenette, and ordered a glass of cold water from the computer. He brought the water to Cindy, who accepted it robotically and drank. She finished half of it, then leaned forward to set the glass on the coffee table in front of her couch.

Jake glanced at the chronometer. He was due back in Main Engineering in 10 minutes, but he didn’t like the idea of Cindy left alone in her quarters. He thought about calling Chaucer; Cindy and the Gorn had bonded in their time serving together, perhaps because Cindy remembered all too well her own status as an outsider when she had first come aboard. There was no telling how Chaucer would respond to a situation like this, though Jake was reasonably sure the Gorn would want to do whatever he could to help. Jake had just started to raise his hand to his comm-badge when Cindy’s voice suddenly cut through the silence.

“I’m going to kill him.” Her expression never wavered as she said it, and her tone was cold.

Jake lowered his hand. “Edgerton?”

Slowly, Cindy nodded.

“Specs…” Jake started.

“*Don’t* call me that.” Cindy’s eyes flashed to his now, and Jake saw surprising fire there, hot enough to almost make him flinch. “That isn’t my name.”

Jake blinked. “I know-”

“My name is Rochemonte,” Cindy continued, pronouncing her surname without hiding a single trace of her native accent. “And I am going to kill that treacherous fils de pute for murdering my family.”

“I think that’s the plan,” Jake said slowly. “But Cindy, this isn’t the time for you to think about that. You’ve-”

“Isn’t the time?!” Cindy was standing now, almost towering over Jake, Her cheeks were red, but it was not the blush that usually bloomed whenever she was in Jake’s presence. Jake could see fury, burning hot behind her eyes. “Richard Edgerton just murdered my family. This is the *only* time.”

“Okay,” Jake said, putting up his hands, hoping to calm her. “Okay. But first, you need to talk with someone in counseling, you know the captain’s going to make you-”

“No,” Cindy shook her head. “I’m going back to work.”

Jake frowned. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea right now.”

“All that time, running away from him,” Cindy said, her hands now balled into tight fists. “I’m not running anymore, Jake. Not after this. And I’m not letting anyone stop me from finishing this. Not Edgerton, not Captain Kane, and not you.”

“That’s not up to you, or me,” Jake said. He stood now, not liking the way staring up at her made him feel. He didn’t recognize much of his friend in her right now, and whoever this furious creature that now stood before him was, Jake had a feeling she would not be turned aside. “Cindy, if you think you can help, then we need you, but I can’t let you pose a danger to this mission or to yourself. Is that clear?”

“He *murdered* my family!” Cindy cried, staring just as defiantly up at him as she had been staring down at him only a moment before.

“And he’s going to pay for it,” Jake said. “But not now, and not with you like this.”

“You don’t think I can do it?”

“I didn’t say that. You’re in no shape to-”

“I don’t need you to *rescue* me!” Cindy scowled. “I don’t need your protection, or your permission. You either put me back on team, or you can just stay the hell out of my way.”

“At ease, lieutenant!” Jake barked suddenly. Years of ingrained habit kicked in, and Cindy stiffened, but only for a moment. She looked at him like he had just betrayed her, as though pulling rank here, now, was a violation of the trust they had built up in their time as colleagues. It made Jake feel guilty, and slowly his eyes dropped to the floor. The silence stretched out between them, and somewhere in that silence, the fragile cord of their friendship was tested, tested…

And held.

“You need me,” Cindy said finally, her tone soft. “And I need this. But I won’t beg you, Jake.”

Jake looked up at her, saw the set of her features, and the fire in her eyes. She was right; with the Aegis Shield still standing between them and reclaiming Earth, the PHOENIX would need every capable engineer available to find a way around it. He would need Rochemonte at his side if they were going to finish this.

Slowly, Jake nodded. “Okay. You’re in.”


Scene: Main Engineering

The room was still and thick with anticipation and grief as the news of Paris trickled down through the grapevines of the ship. Faces twisted and contorted out of anger or fear for those they loved, many weighed heavy with the knowledge their home, their families will never be seen again. Many slowly moved to embrace and comfort their friends and colleagues, all but Thomas who remained standing at the station allotted for him to use. Voices and whispers could be heard, mixed with the soft sobs and uncontrolled tears of those that grappled with the devastation that had not been seen since years long gone by.

Thomas had been looming over the workstation that had been assigned to him for what would seem like hours to those who had begun to watch him. His stance had not changed from the position he took when he approached the console; but, there were slight shakes and movements of the muscles in his face and neck as if trying his best not to give in and show a throbbing pain that was somewhere deep inside.

His mind, was as if it had become more machine than man, demonstrating disconnection from the emotions that were somewhere deep inside. The only expressiveness that seemed to bubble to the surface was the overall feeling of annoyance as others seemed to think it was best to continually coddle one another instead of pressing forward to stop the devastation from happening again.

Slowly taking in a deep breath Thomas could feel his mind calming and the muscles in his neck loosening as the whispers, and soft sobs began to fade in the background almost disappearing as everyone seemed to push on through their work. It was the silence, the wonderful sound of silence that Thomas had come to cherish and now it was slowly filling the room only hindered by the hum of the ship’s engines. Unfortunately, for Thomas, it was short lived as a sound began to peel back to layers of somber and reverent thought replacing it with grander gestures of empathetic resolve and consolations.

Cindy Rochemonte arrived a few moments earlier than normal today, only to prepare herself for those that would want to in their own way, “help.” She was contented in the knowledge that she had friends and colleagues that were so connected that they would do their best to ensure that she was doing well. As she moved to her regular station her eyes stopped at the lurching form of Thomas Varn, remembering that he was ordered to work with everyone to develope a way through the Aegis network. Her thoughts jumped, flashing through the faces of her childhood as they seemed to fade away leaving a looming figure of Richard Edgerton laughing in the darkness. Cindy stopped walking and slowly closed her eyes, the pain, anger, and rage once again doing all that it could to bubble out from inside.

Standing there, only inches away from her station Cindy felt her hands and arms physically begin to shake as tears, reluctantly allowed to escape, slowly rolled down her face. The sudden reaction from the crew around her was almost instantaneous as some began to break down once again, and others began to console once more. **I will not let him win,** she screamed in her mind pushing back all that she could desperately trying to cork the volcanic eruption of emotions that would occur if she were to be unsuccessful.

There was nothing that she could do, there was no where she could run, and finally all that she had held in since the confrontation with Jake this morning was forcing its way through. **This is it,** she thought barely containing the sobs, **I can’t stop it.**

As all seemed to burst forth, suddenly there was nothing as she felt a hand gently touch her arm. Before pulling her close into a comforting embrace. Standing there holding their friend close were several members of the engineering staff allowing their collective presence to ease and share her pain. No words were spoken, and no condolences were exchanged only the sheer feeling that someone else was there with them, someone else was hurting permeated the entire room. As others looked on and took courage and strength from the scene, many couldn’t help but smile as at the group formed of several officers of several different species.

In a single moment, without trying, a group seemed to paint an elaborate tableau of what the Federation was truly meant to be. The scene moved others to join in or form their own small band; but, unfortunately for Ensign Stiles Orion, who was in engineering to deliver a transporter functionality report, it moved him to speak with Thomas Varn.

“Will you be alright sir,” Stiles asked softly moving closer to Thomas than anyone in engineering had been, even those escorting him and watching over him from Security and the Marines.

Thomas did not look up from his console only continued to work leaving the young ensign in the awkward silence that had begun to grow. Stiles looked around seeing the scene before him allowing it to strengthen his resolve, “Excuse me, Mr. Varn. Will you be alright sir?”

Thomas’ fingers stopped in mid formula slowly moving from the console down to his side. His eyes and head never moved from their position but his voice seemed to grow in intensity, breaking through the silence with heavy tones of annoyance, “Why are you asking me that?”

Stiles slowly swallowed before looking back at the rest of engineering, and the groups that were slowly separating moving to watch the exchange, all but the group around Cindy. The resolve that was once steadfast and firm within Stiles slowly drained away as he looked around before, realizing he had made a mistake but was too far gone now, “Well, you see, you see sir... Paris.”

Taking another deep breath Thomas continue to look at the screen, “What about it?”

Stiles’ eyes widened as the horrible thought that he may have just informed Thomas Varn about Paris and this was the first he was hearing of it. Several gasps could be heard around the room as others began to come to the same conclusion, “Well sir... I’m sorry to tell you this; but... Paris... It was destroyed, sir. Devastated.”

As others in the room began to move closer to Thomas expecting to have another that would need to feel the encompassing power of collective grieving and consoling Thomas’ voice cut through the air like a knife, “So?”

The air around Varn seemed to grow cold as he slowly lifted his hands back up from his side and began working on the problem at hand. Stiles, who up to this moment had felt sorry for the man, was almost instantly given to tears and disbelief himself at the response.

**so, So, SO** Cindy screamed in her mind the volcano that was laid dormant by group around her had unleashed once again by one man. There was nothing anyone could do, as none of them expected it, to stop Cindy as she almost threw others out of the way making closing the distance between her and Varn to only a few feet.

“What did you say,” Cindy Rochemonte screamed, her voice piercing the veil of silent reverence like a hot knife through that of flesh, directing all her anger towards the coated form that was Thomas’ back.

Thomas’ body posture remained as it had since he was allocated to the terminal he was using, he slightly hunched but his head was tucked downard almost disappearing from view hidden by the brim of his coat. The quick and sudden out lashing of Cindy didn’t seem to phase him in the slightest as his hands and mind continued to work on the task at hand.

Cindy, whose face had turned shades of red that would make a blood worm jealous, could be seen clenching her fists tightly as her arms and back became rigid. The very tips of her fingers began to almost dig into the soft flesh of her palm pushing blood away from the vessels that reside there. Her muscles tensing began to physically shake as he raised her arms, trying desperately to think of something, anything to do with her hands before running them through her hair, “I said what did you say?!”

Thomas’ form slightly relaxed has his shoulders moved back into their normal position and his arms rested at his side. Taking a deep breath he turned slowly before looking the distraught assistant chief engineer in the eyes, “I believe the word I said was, so.”

Cindy’s face dropped, as if somewhere inside she had hoped that she had misheard the man she saw die, only to quickly give way to anger and desperation burning in her eyes. The others around them could only watch on in shock and horror as someone they had learned to work with was showing a side of herself they had never imagined could be possible, while the disgust of Thomas’ response remained, like bad fish sitting on the dip in your tongue.

The air in the room grew thicker as sympathetic gazes slowly transformed into angered stares. Yet, even with all those around him seeming to one by one want his head on a platter, Thomas stood there unfazed, undeterred, and lacking any general emotional response at all. The overall mannerisms and change that Thomas had displayed was something that hadn’t shocked Jake, but was something he wasn’t fully prepared for at all. The comments about this Varn, made by Barton, before his departure were beginning to become more and more assertive giving way to the belief that what Barton believed could be true.

Sure, there were armed guards here watching Varn’s every move prepared to strike if he were to twitch the wrong direction, and Thomas knew the eventual fall out from the two unconscious, well probably regaining conscious, marines would be a hindrance more than likely; and, yet there was still something there something familiar about the man. Jake shook his head as he watched before slowly moving for an almost hysterical Cindy before catching her shoulder with a gentle touch moments before she lunged at the coated scientist with all that she had.

“Lieutenant,” Jake said. Cindy froze. “Take a walk.”

She turned to look at him. “You heard what he said to me-”

“I know,” Jake nodded. “Cool off.”

Cindy cut her eyes between Jake and Varn. Jake thought she might cry again, but it seemed Cindy Rochemonte was through crying. Instead, she glared icy daggers at Varn, set her chin, and gave Jake a final, defiant glance over her shoulder as she turned to leave. She stalked out of Main Engineering, not making way for any traffic. Several younger officers actually had to leap out of the way to avoid being bowled over as Cindy stormed off.

Jake watched her go until the doors of Main Engineering closed behind her, then whirled around and fixed his eyes on Varn.

“My office,” Jake said. “Now.”

Varn had barely looked up from his console throughout the exchange. He still didn’t look up now.

“Now is not a very good time.”

“That’s an *order*, Mr. Varn,” Jake said, fighting to keep his tone even. He didn’t want to make any more of scene than had already been made. There was far too much work to do to have his engineering teams standing around and watching their department heads openly arguing with each other.

“I’m not technically reinstated,” Varn said, still not looking up from his workstation. “No orders.”

Jake had had enough of this.

“Computer,” he said. “Lockdown workstation four.”

[[Workstation four locked down,]] the computer reported.

This got Varn’s attention. The winged man took a single step back from the workstation, then whirled around and stalked over to where Jake was standing. Jake didn’t flinch, but neither did Varn, and suddenly the two men were standing so close that their noses almost touched. For a moment, Jake thought Varn might even take a swing at him, and his mind traced back to the conversation he’d had with Barton while they’d still been working on the dropsuit.

**He said it,** Barton’s voice whispered in Jake’s mind. **’I’m not me.’ And he’s not.**

“Why did you do that?” Varn asked. His tone was steady, controlled, but Jake thought he saw the truth of it lurking at the corners of Varn’s mouth, the way they pulled slightly downward, and the way the left side just barely twitched. “I was in the middle of something.”

“You’re standing in my engine room,” Jake said. “I don’t give a damn if you’re reinstated or not, in here you will respect my orders or I will have you escorted back to your room to wait out the rest of this war on the bench. Is there an understanding between us?”

“Captain Kane-” Varn began.

“Is not here right now,” Jake finished. “So I’ll say it again. My office. Now.”

Varn stood for another moment, as if weighing his options. Then, he gave a reasonable (though clearly artificial) smile and stepped aside, extending an arm out in the direction of Jake’s office.

“Very well,” the winged man said. “Please lead the way. *Sir*.”


Scene: Jake’s Office

Varn followed Jake into the small office, and no sooner had the doors closed behind them than had Jake whirled around, his expression a mask of barely contained rage.

“You want to tell me what the hell that was back there?” Jake demanded.

“You’re the one who shut off my workstation,” Varn remarked, not impressed by Jake’s sudden flash of anger. “I was hoping you would know what this was about.”

“That woman just lost her entire *family* in the Paris attack,” Jake said, gesturing off in the direction Cindy Rochemonte had left in. “She is a respected officer, and a *friend*, and you will show her some basic human decency!”

“She should be in her quarters,” Varn said. “Where her obvious trauma isn’t going to get in anyone’s way.”

“What are you-”

“She was wasting time,” Varn said. “Her own, and that of the other crewmembers going out of their way to console her. Her emotions are practically rolling off in her waves. I’m no empath, Commander Crichton, and it was *still* extremely distracting. She’s in no fit state to be working, and we don’t have time to mollycoddle her through this.”

Jake shook his head. “What the hell happened to you, Tom? You didn’t used to be like this.”

“I died, apparently,” Varn said. “Ask your friend Rochemonte, I’m told she had a first-hand view.”

“Yeah,” Jake nodded. “She watched you die saving the mother of your child. And then a minute later, she saved the mother of your child too. And if you really are Thomas Varn, that would matter to you.”

This seemed to catch Thomas off guard.

“That... has nothing to do with my job here,” Varn said. “Or yours, I might add.”

“My job-” Jake started.

“Your job is to use what I create to get us around that shield,” Varn said. “I can handle the science, but you’re still going to have to find a way to integrate it with a runabout. I suggest your time would be better spent working on that than wasting my time with…”

Varn halted, as if trying to select the proper word. Finally, he found it.


“Trivialities?” Jake asked. “Are you serious?”

“I’m not laughing.”

“Okay,” Jake said, shaking his head. “You wanna play Vulcan, be my guest. But think about this: Cindy Rochemonte might just be the best damn engineer on the ship, and yes I’m including myself in that assessment. If we’re going to get this working, we’re going to need her help, and she can’t help us if she’s too busy kicking your ass all over this engine room. You want to be part of the team? Then be part of the team.”

“And what will that require?”

Jake shook his head. “At the very least, it requires knowing when to keep your damn mouth shut. Even the android could figure that one out, and he doesn’t have any emotions. So what’s your excuse?”

Thomas’ eyes swirled as mixed emotions played in his head with the sudden news that seemed to light the darkness and darken the light all with one motion. **My child…** he thought to himself standing there feeling a desperate truth clawing at him. It was true that Kane had generally snapped Thomas into line by shoving the truth of Sylvia being in danger if a fight broke out in space and he was not there to protect her as he had promised; but, now a child had been added to the equation and instantly Thomas felt something more. He wasn’t able to place his finger upon the feeling; but, the intense desire to protect Sylvia and the child now resided where the desire to protect Sylvia had once been.

“Keeping my mouth shut, as you say, sir, was what I was doing,” Thomas stated his mind focusing back on the task at hand his voice once again laced with annoyance, “but after repeated attempts at talking to me, would it not have been equally as rude to ignore the little ensign that wanted to ensure I would be ok? And now, if you would excuse me, sir. I would like to return back to the task at hand, so the rest of that planet which we are desperately trying to save doesn’t turn into an irradiated ball of goo... unless you wish to sit here and discuss the loss of millions when you and I know that array has the potential to kill billions. You’ll excuse me if I mourn another time, when some insane nut job has the ability to level all organic life on the planet at a whim. Not just humanoids, oh no, that wouldn’t be enough, he’ll kill the whole planet. Oh, and would you like to know how and what it does to organic material? Do you know? I do...”

Jake could only stand there and listen as the flood gate slowly opened on Thomas and for once, someone saw something of humanity still left in the man. There was pain, not like the pain that had been witnessed by Ja’Veen when Thomas made the broadcast to the science officers in the fleet as it was more, much more.

Thomas’ face had slightly turned red along with his eyes as his voice elevated, “Now, would you kindly unlock the station so I can go back and figure out how to get us down there before everything below that death device ends up destroyed?!”

Jake nodded slowly, “Computer unlock workstation four.”

[[Workstation four ready,]] the computer reported.

Thomas sighed before he replaced the hairs that had gone astray in the small tempest of emotions he allowed to arise before turning and exiting the room.


Scene: Main Engineering

Time Index: One Hour Later

Standing around the table Jake had gathered all those that were called to work on the project while Thomas kept his distance from Cindy and looked on. The science and the engineering were sound but moving what they needed to do into a form that would work with a runabout was the problem no one seemed to be able to answer.

“Now, we all know what we have to do,” Jake started looking from each face. “Mr. Varn has graciously agreed to help with the science side of the task. What we are trying to accomplish is a type of cloak, a phase cloak allowing us to pass through the network, even the arrays themselves, without being detected.”

“We should have the schematics of any vessel currently equipped with similar technology in the computer banks,” Cindy stated using a padd to begin a general search for the technology.

Jake nodded, “Good; but don’t forget to reach out to the others ships to make sure we have the latest information. Our computers haven’t been in regular contact with Starfleet since we launched the Phoenix. Asta I want you prepping and preparing one of the runabouts, make sure that everything is above grade on all it systems. If there is any doubt, replace it. I'm assigning Chaucer to work with you and go ahead and grab Murdo, Buchholz, and Diaz to assist. The workload is light enough for Kiros and Brodeur to handle without those three for a while.”

Asta Elgin nodded, slowly looking up to Thomas who was standing beside her at the table before pulling up the maintenance list of the current runabouts aboard the Phoenix and turning to Chaucer who had moved near her. Jake looked around before finally addressing the elephant in the room, “I know that tensions are high at the moment, and not many of us are comfortable for one reason or another; but, this could end it all. We pull this off and what has happened doesn’t happen again. Mr. Varn, walk us through it.”

Thomas nodded stepping forward activating the console before him bring up a holographic image of what he was working on, “I’ll do my best to make this quick. To put it mildly, everything we know and love operates at a certain phase allowing us to see, hear, and touch one another. What we are attempting is to allow a runabout to be removed from that and operate at a phase not generally found in this universe while simultaneously cloaking it. Now, there have been test with this ability by both the Klingon and Romulan empires. The Federation has dabbled in this technology as well, with somewhat more success.”

“Cindy, search for any information about the Romulan and Klingon versions of this, we don’t want to miss anything,” Jake started looking on as a image of a runabout appeared on the holographic display.

Thomas slowly watched as the image enlarged before nodding and beginning the program that he had written. Everyone watched as the runabout seemed to cloak but illuminated so that everyone could seen before passing through the aegis network, “This is our desired goal; however, I would advise caution as what we are building as the potential to do more harm than good if something goes wrong.”

The holographic image suddenly reset showing the runabout cloaking before being engulfed in a rift like aperture disappearing completely. Eyes slowly lifted to Thomas who ended the program and looked at everyone slowly, “If something goes wrong we may open a interphasic rift. If we enter such a rift, the runabout and all those aboard will be lost.”

“Will there be any way of bringing them back,” Crewman Dizrat asked before taking a breath from his apparatus, “Or do we know that yet?”

Thomas eyes were the only thing that moved in the direction of the Benzenite crewman before he shook his head, “Bring them back? They would be lost in a void between universes. There’s no coming back.”

“What Mr. Varn means, is that we would make all efforts to save them; but, there has been no record of a successful attempt thus far,” Jake stated looking at Thomas now as if reminding him of the need to keep his mouth shut.

Varn briefly considered pressing the matter, as he was not entirely convinced he had impressed upon them the real danger of opening an interphase rift. In theory, slipping into the void between dimensions would mean entering some awful null-space, divorced from matter, energy, and even time itself. Provided they could even survive the experience, organic beings subjected to such a place would invariably be driven mad. And that wasn’t even the worst part. No, the worst part would be piercing the void, breaking through to some other side, some other world…

Then Varn saw the way Jake was still looking at him, and decided it wasn’t the time to get into details.

“We need something that will generate a chroniton field,” Varn said. “Previous attempts at phase cloak technology began with starship cloaking technology modified to produce chroniton particles, so I suggest we start there.”

“The Century has a cloaking device,” Jake said, looking at Thomas. “We’d have to talk to Admiral Marxx, but I’m sure they’ll let us borrow it.”

“A cloaking device is already designed to mask its own power output,” Varn said. “That will make it harder for the satellites to detect our ship as we pass through the shield. But once we’re through, we will need to find a way to re-enter normal phase. Otherwise, we’d pass right through the Earth and out the other side.”

“That’s where we come in,” Jake said.

Varn nodded. “Yes. Anyon particles can be used to neutralize the chroniton field, which would bring the ship back into normal phase. But because we will be phased, we will be unable to generate an anionic field ourselves, and because we will be below the shield, we will be beyond the reach of the rest of the fleet.”

“Can’t we just kill power to the cloak?” Elgin asked.

“That would de-phase the runabout,” Varn nodded. “But chronitons are absorbed by organic matter. Any crew would risk falling right through the shuttle, through the Earth, and so on and so on.”

“So there’s the problem,” Jake said, drumming his finger absently on the top of the holotable. “We can zap ourselves there, we just can’t zap ourselves back.”

“This is outside my purview,” Varn said. “I can tell you what you need to do, but you’ll have to get it working.”

“Maybe we could somehow generate the field first,” Jake mused. “Get a pocket of anionic particles somewhere high up in the atmosphere, then plot a course through it as we approach the planet.”

“Our scans indicate the Aegis shield would inhibit any such particle transmission,” Elgin said. “Whatever anyons that weren’t neutralized would be dispersed, and we’d run the risk of triggering the thalaron bomb.”

Suddenly, Cindy Rochemonte stepped forward. She was looking at Thomas, but when she spoke, it was to Jake.

“The tetryon compositor.”

Jake turned to look at her. “What about it?”

Cindy kept her eyes on Varn. Her expression was neutral, but her eyes seemed to flash in the light of the holotable. “I can modify the cloaking device so the compositor generates anyons instead of tetryons. If the initial burst of chronitons is large enough, it will keep us phased as we pass through the shield, and then we can let the anionic field build up from the compositor until the chronitons are neutralized.”

Jake was already nodding before Cindy had finished her explanation. When she had, Jake looked at Varn.

“What do you think?”

Varn considered the plan. “The theory is sound. If you believe you can make the necessary modifications, I think it could work.”

“I can,” Cindy said flatly.

“Okay,” Jake said. “So we have a plan. Lieutenant Rochemonte, I want to see a working model for your modification in two hours. Meanwhile, I think we have enough to take this to the captain.”

Varn nodded. “I agree.”

“The rest of you know what to do,” Jake said, looking around at the assembled team. “Dismissed!”


NRPG: So we have the bones of a plan to get us through the shield… assuming Marxx will let us borrow his cloaking device, that is.

A Joint-Post By…

Justin K. Owens

Thomas Varn

Resident Genius


Shawn Putnam


Jake Crichton

Chief Engineering Officer


and taking over for...

Cindy Rochemonte

Assistant Chief Engineering Officer



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