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Too Far, Too Fast

Posted on Oct 05, 2018 @ 5:32am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Oct 05, 2018 @ 5:32am

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

= Too Far, Too Fast =

(cont’d from “Away We Go”)


SCENE: Main Engineering
STARDATE: [2.18] 1005.00218

Grazerites did not blush, but as Malin-Argo stood next to Dr. Karrington Crow, one might have been forgiven for imagining the faintest hint of a flush glowing in his cheeks. He never relaxed in the engine room, but he never seemed ill-at-ease. Instead, he always seemed in control, like a spider at the center of its web, poised and ready to spring at the first sign of struggling prey. Yet now, as the PHOENIX’s chief science officer seemed to flutter around him, checking and rechecking the various consoles and readouts to ensure that the modifications they’d been sent by Dr. Eden had been appropriately applied, Malin-Argo did not seem poised. He looked like a man who wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself.

It wasn’t a physical attraction; Grazerites and humans had some superficial commonality in their physiques - bipedal, two eyes, two ears, that sort of thing. Yet there were - quite literally - worlds of difference in bone structure, especially in and about the face and upper torso. There was no way that Malin-Argo, the proud and stoic Grazerite, would find anything to admire in the curve of Dr. Crow’s jaw, the slender swoop of her neck as it met her shoulders, the way her hair splashed across her back in layers of wavy curls…

At least, that’s what he told himself, as he pulled somewhat absentmindedly at his collar and tried to focus his attention on the Master Systems Display.

“Main deflector readings all green,” Dr. Crow said. Her voice sounded distant, as if she wasn’t wholly focused on what she was doing. Malin-Argo had also noticed that the woman couldn’t seem to stand still; even when she wasn’t buzzing from one display to the next, she seemed to continually shift her weight from one foot to the other, and her fingers drummed lightly, nervously, along the surface of the consoles she visited.

Malin-Argo cleared his throat. “There has been no change to their settings in the last 4 minutes, doctor,” he said. “Since the last time you checked.”

“Hmmm?” Dr. Crow turned her face to his, looking as if she had just remembered something important. Then, her face brightened into a smile, which made Malin-Argo’s cheeks feel hot again. “Yes, of course, Commander. I’m worrying too much.”

“Just nervous energy, I’m sure,” Malin-Argo said, inclining his head towards her while not quite knowing why. “We are all eager to get started, and Dr. Eden is nearly half an hour late.”

“Yes,” Dr. Crow said, her voice going distant again. “Has someone been sent to check on her?”

Malin-Argo nodded. “I informed the bridge when she failed to report. Commander Crichton asked Lt. Yu to look in on her. I’m told they should arrive soon.”

“Good, good,” Dr. Crow said, though Malin-Argo noticed that she didn’t look that relieved.

“Warp core is a little hot,” Ensign John Maynell said, staring at the humming blue of the PHOENIX’s beating heart with a hint of apprehension on his face.

Malin-Argo frowned. “What makes you say that, ensign?”

Maynell turned to look at him. “You can feel it. The pulses are coming too quickly.”

Malin-Argo grumbled a little. Maynell was one of Crichton’s people, and in his time under the PHOENIX’s former Chief Engineer, he’d developed a tendency towards holistic approaches to maintenance and engineering that annoyed the Grazerite to no end; hand-wringing about how the ship “felt”, instead of basing his concerns on concrete data. Perhaps part of what Malin-Argo found annoying was that these instincts were sometimes right, but in this case, he’d had his eyes on every major ship system all morning, and he saw no cause for concern.

“It’s not a problem, is it?” Dr. Crow asked, sounding a little worried.

“We are operating well within safety protocols,” Malin-Argo said, shooting Maynell an annoyed look. “I would not permit this experiment to put the ship in danger.”

Just then, the doors to Main Engineering opened. Jasmine Yu entered, with the frail form of Dr. Eden noticeably supporting herself against one of her arms.

Dr. Crow went to them at once. “Dr. Eden, are you alright?”

“Fine, fine,” Dr. Eden said, waving off Dr. Crow’s concern with her free hand. “Just… a bit of a slow start this morning.”

Dr. Crow’s eyes went to Yu. “Is everything alright?”

“I don’t appreciate being talked about as if I were not here,” Eden said sharply.

Yu shrugged one shoulder. “She seems… very spirited this morning, doctor.”

“That goes for you as well,” Eden said, now turning her glare at Yu. “Now then, if you are all quite finished with fussing over an old woman, I should think it’s time for us to get started, yes?”

Dr. Eden let go of Yu’s arm, and made her way towards the Master Systems Display without any noticeable difficulty. Dr. Crow watched her go, her expression a mixture of concern and annoyance.

Malin-Argo stepped up to the console beside Dr. Eden. “Everything has been prepared, doctor. The bridge is standing by.”

“Good,” Eden said, not even sparing him a glance. “Tell them we’re ready to begin.”

“If I may say so,” Malin-Argo continued. “I’ve looked over your research notes. I must confess, there are parts of your theory I don’t quite--”

“I’m not your professor and this is not a classroom,” Dr. Eden said, her eyes flashing with irritation as she finally looked at the Grazerite. “May we begin?”

Malin-Argo set his jaw. “I merely wanted to say--”

“I am well aware of my genius and have no need to have it reinforced,” Eden said. “Signal the bridge.”

“Doctor,” Dr. Crow said, stepping up behind Eden. “I’m sure Commander Malin-Argo was only--”

“I’m glad you feel you have all the time in the world, lieutenant,” Eden said, turning to scowl at Dr. Crow. “The feeling is not mutual. Now may we… *please*... signal the bridge?”

A few seconds of silence ticked by in Main Engineering. Finally, Malin-Argo reached for his comm-badge.

“Main Engineering to bridge. We’re ready to begin.”


SCENE: Bridge

“Acknowledged, commander,” Jake Crichton said. He turned to look in the direction of the doors that lead to the CO’s Ready Room. Kane was in there, with the group of new officers who had joined the crew. Jake thought that Kane might at least come out to watch the experiment as it was conducted, but the doors remained closed; it seemed his dislike of Dr. Eden extended to a dislike of her experiment.

For his part, Jake wasn’t holding his breath. Eden’s theories, while complex enough that he had to admit he didn’t understand them all, boiled down to a way to use an intermittent neutrino-graviton pulse from the main deflector to simulate the effects of a wormhole. Even if Eden’s theory was correct (and Jake had to admit, based on what he could understand of it, it seemed at least conceptually plausible), Jake had no idea how she expected to control the exit point of any artificial wormhole separating points in space much further than 2, maybe 3 AU’s away from each other with any kind of accuracy. Transwarp space, the realm of subspace through which ship’s traveled at transwarp speed, was not like normal space; the further the distance a ship traveled, the less accurately they could pinpoint their exit vector. A starship could set a point for the other side of the quadrant and wind up popping out on the other side of the galaxy; even the Borg limited their transwarp traffic through known conduits and hubs, and before they had become the egalitarian cyborg federation they were now, they’d still had the benefit of a few hundred years of throwing disposable automatons at the problem of mapping even those established routes out.

All of this meant that, even if Dr. Eden’s theories were correct (and Jake had to admit it felt like a pretty big “if”), it seemed like they were at least several decades away from using Eden’s “artificial wormholes” for anything approaching reliable navigation. Even so, the possibilities were intriguing - the Federation would finally have the width and breadth of the galaxy within its reach, leading to untold opportunities for exploration, diplomacy, and discovery. Jake even considered that fleshing out this science of this technology might be something he could devote his time to, after maybe another 20 or 30 years, when he’d finally had his fill of the excitement of life aboard a starship. He had to admit, “Crichton” and “artificial wormholes” seemed to fit nicely together.

But of course, that all depended on a successful test today. The course they had plotted would take them to the edges of the Wolf 1061 system in an instant; lightyears of space crossed fast enough that, in theory, the PHOENIX would detect itself at its starting position even as it came out on the other side. Jake had to admit, he was eager to begin.

He turned to Byte at Ops. “Activate the main deflector dish. Helm, lay in our course. We’ll move in as soon as we get the go-ahead from Dr. Eden.”

{{Aye sir,}} Byte acknowledge.

Jake watched on the main viewscreen as the shimmering blue beam from the main-deflector began to slice through the midnight blanket of stars that surrounded them.


SCENE: Turbolift

Eve Dalziel looked up as Kassandra Thytos stepped into the turbolift. She smiled.

“Going my way, major?” she asked.

“Too early,” Kass grumbled, turning to face the turbolift doors beside Eve. “Bridge.”

“I hope we’ll get there in time for all the fireworks,” Eve said. “From the briefing information that Jake sent us, Dr. Eden could be on the verge of something groundbreaking.”

“Eggheads and their toys,” Kass said, shaking her head. “Not sure it’s the best idea to make the galaxy a smaller place.”

Eve looked at her. “You’re not curious about everything the Federation could discover with this kind of transit technology?”

“Wrong uniform,” Kass shrugged. “You’re in the hearts and minds business. I’m in the spray and pray business. Sometimes, ‘new life and new civilizations’ means ‘new weapons and new ways to get your ass shot off’.”

“I guess you’re right,” Eve said, suppressing a smile. “It would be a whole lot safer somewhere far away from the frontier. Like a nice, bucolic farming planet, maybe.”

Kass shot her an angry glance. “That ain’t funny.”

Even so, Eve Dalziel laughed.


SCENE: Main Engineering

“No effect,” Dr. Crow said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, Dr. Eden, but it seems--”

“Increase the power to the main deflector,” Eden said, ignoring Crow.

Malin-Argo stepped up beside Dr. Crow. “We’re nearly at the upper-limits of our safety protocols,” the Grazerite said. “Much more, and we risk an overload to the warp core.”

“But we’re not there yet,” Eden said, her old eyes flashing. She turned to Ensign Maynell. “Right?”

Ensign Maynell suddenly looked very uncomfortable. “Uh… technically, we’re 8% below the upper-threshold of the pre-programed safeties--”

“Ensign Maynell is not in command here,” Malin-Argo cut in. “I am. Our sensors have not detected anything like the subspace effects your theories describe, doctor. Perhaps the time has come to cut our losses.”

“No,” Eden said. As she said it, the strength seemed to go out of her. She nearly toppled to the floor, only just barely catching herself against the console. Both Maynell and Dr. Crow went to her side, ready to hold her up, but she shrugged them angrily away and pulled herself back to her feet. “I’m fine! Continue the test!”

“You don’t seem fine, doctor,” Crow said, her voice full of genuine concern now. “The PHOENIX has a well-appointed sickbay, perhaps we should--”

“The test is not over!” Eden said. “Now increase the power to the main deflector, or so help me I will inform Starfleet Command that you deliberately countermanded my parameters for this experiment!”

Dr. Crow and Malin-Argo shared an uneasy look. Then Malin-Argo activated his comm-badge.

“Main Engineering to bridge. Dr. Eden is requesting more power to the main deflector.”

[[We’re already at 92% capacity,]] the voice of Jake Crichton replied. [[Is the doctor sure---]]

“Quite sure,” Eden snapped.

There was a moment of silence from the other end of the comm. Then: [[Commander Malin-Argo, your thoughts?]]

Malin-Argo seemed to consider the question. “I would not recommend pressing our systems beyond 97%, and that’s already higher than I’m frankly comfortable with.”

[[Okay,]] Crichton said. [[We’ll push to 97%. After that, we’re ending this experiment. I’m sorry, Dr. Eden, but the safety of the ship has to come first. Bridge out.]]

“You heard him,” Eden said, glaring at Malin-Argo. “Give me the extra 5%.”


SCENE: Bridge

{{Commander,}} Byte said, turning to look over its shoulder at Jake. {{Sensors have detected the beginnings of a subspace anomaly along the lines that Dr. Eden’s theory describes.}}

Jake rose out of the captain’s chair. On the main-viewer, he saw the shimmering blue-and-purple rippling of the starfield ahead; the nascent beginnings of an artificial wormhole, beginning to form just ahead of the PHOENIX’s position.

“Beautiful,” he whispered. “Helm, prepare to take us--”

And then the world exploded.


SCENE: Turbolift

Alarm klaxons filled the universe. Eve Dalziel opened her eyes to a world of smoke and pain. She lay in a tangled heap at the floor of the turbolift. Beside her was Kass Thytos, blood running freely from an ugly gash along her scalp. Eve couldn’t tell if she was conscious or unconscious, alive or dead.

She tried to sit up, and a flash of pain seemed to stab through her chest. She fought through it, maneuvering herself into a sitting position. It felt like a few of her ribs must be broken.

Beside her, Kass Thytos groaned.

“Kass?” Eve asked. Even speaking felt like an enormous effort.

Beside her, weakly: “...still… wasn’t funny…” said Kass.


NRPG: It took me a little longer to get this out than I thought it would, and I don’t want to put it off any longer since I know Jerome is planning to post soon as well, so I’ll call it here. For now, the important thing is that something has gone very wrong with Dr. Eden’s experiment; the ship is critically damaged, along with some of the crew, and the mission is now officially underway.

Kass and Eve are trapped in a damaged turbolift that was (formerly, at least) on its way to the bridge.

Jake is on the bridge, along with Byte. Kane is in his ready room, along with a few new NPCs (Jerome should be introducing them in his post). Jasmine, along with Malin-Argo, Dr. Eden, Dr. Crow, and Ensign Maynell are down in Main Engineering.

More details about the damage to the ship are to come. For now, what we need is a volunteer for the first “time-hop” post. To review: volunteering means we (being me and Jerome) will give you a choice your character will need to make. You’ll write the first part of a post detailing which choice your character decides on and send it to us. Then one of us will write a glimpse of the future your character receives, which will show the immediate outcome of that decision. Then we will send it back to you, leaving it up to you to decide if your character will go ahead with their choice and suffer the consequences or decide to change their mind and make things go another way.

Let us know in the chat if you want to be the guinea pig. If we get multiple volunteers, we’ll pick someone at random.

Remember, the key will be relatively quick turnaround times for the time-hop posts. Life happens, I get it, but I just don’t want to get into a situation where we’re waiting for three weeks for the post to come out. If you volunteer, please do your best to get your sections of the post out as quickly as you can. Jerome and I will be here to help if you need it.

Even if you don’t want to do the time-hop post, or if you volunteer but don’t get picked in this round, that’s no excuse to be resting on your laurels! The ship is burning around you, there are plenty of problems to solve or deaths to defy! We’ll get more info about the damage (and the cause of the damage) in Jerome’s post, but if you want a few details so you can start working, feel free to ask us privately and we can give you some information to go on so you can start working.

Good luck everyone! Don’t get sucked out into space, burned up in a plasma fire, or whatever else might happen on a critically damaged starship! Space travel is a dangerous gig!

Shawn Putnam


Jake Crichton

Executive Officer



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