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The Ghost Of Starship's Future

Posted on Oct 24, 2018 @ 1:43am by Commander Jacob Crichton & Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Oct 24, 2018 @ 1:43am

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

“The Ghost of Starship’s Future”

(Continued from “The Prophecies of Cassandra”)


Scene: Engineering
SD: [2.18]1022.1523

If it was possible for a Grazerite to become befuddled, Eve guessed their unconventional arrival had done it. A Counselor and a Marine in Engineering was quite possibly the personnel equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

“Where did you come from? The Bridge?” He demanded with authority.

“We were on tha way there, ‘til all tha fightin’ started.” Kass probed the gash on her head tentatively.

Seeing the alarmed look developing on Commander Malin-Argo’s face, Dalziel stepped in, wincing, her hand pressed to her side. “She means figuratively. We were in a turbolift that malfunctioned.”

The CEO’s mouth drew in a tight line, as if he were ruminating about something. He was on the verge of replying quickly, but thought better of it and instead gestured to a triage area. “Major, Lieutenant, please avail yourselves of the staff that have come from Sickbay.”

Eve nodded. “Thank you, Commander.”

The two women headed toward the makeshift trauma center. “He don’t know what ta do with us,” Kass muttered, grumbling.

“Perhaps,” Eve admitted. “But let’s get patched up and leave him to his own devices. Maybe something will come to him... eventually.”

“Heh. He struck me as too high-tone to ever have a doubt about crisis control.”

“That’s the first mistake- for anyone to believe they can control a crisis.”

The triage area was as orderly as one could expect from something thrown together in a pinch. There were patients, and then there were those caring for them. They seemed to be working in tandem, a choreography of sorts as the wounded were made duty-ready again. However, there was a notable exception to that accord.

“Hurry up,” Lorraine Eden snapped, as the medic ruefully completed the exam. “We have to get this show…” she searched for the words, gesturing with her frail hands, “going.”

“On the road,” the medical officer gently corrected.

“Balderdash,” the old woman replied. “I’m standing up,” she announced to everyone and no one in particular, wholly done with this process.

Rokossovsky eyed the scientist warily, resisting the urge to help her up in any capacity, knowing she’d blame anyone within earshot if she stumbled.

“Quit hovering!” She scolded as she awkwardly brought herself up to a slightly trembling, but upright, position. It was then that Doctor Eden’s wizened face, a study in irritation, glared with sharp green eyes at Eve’s uniform. “Not another glorified boo-boo expert,” she fumed. Kass and the older woman eyed each other warily, with the Marine keeping her mouth shut. She’d had enough verbal sparring for the moment.

“No,” Dalziel said as she ironically grabbed a regenerator and gently tended to Kassandra’s scrape. “I’m the ship’s Counselor. You must be Doctor Eden.”

Her face curled up like she was smelling spoilt milk. “I never understood the need for such a thing aboard a Starship. Counseling? Glorified hand-holding is more like it. I mean, either you are capable of performing your duties or you’re not. One shouldn’t need to be coddled every step of the way like a small child. If you will excuse me,” she snipped, moving towards the hub of the warp core assembly.

“I see the reports are accurate,” Eve quipped as she probed Kassandra’s forehead and scalp, making sure any abrasions had been treated.

“What reports?”

“The reports about her attitude,” she answered softly.

Kass smirked. “Told ya. A ray of fuckin’ sunshine.”

Eve thought of Karri Crow and her long-unfulfilled need to get the approval of her former instructor. This little run-in with the ship’s guest cemented in the Counselor’s mind just how improbable that outcome was going to be, as she finished the regenerator treatment. “How does that feel?”

Kass moved her neck to one side and touched her head. There was the ghost of an ache but it was a definite improvement. “Better. Thanks.”

Dalziel lifted her tunic and began to wave the device over her bruised rib cage, when all hell broke loose… that is, if you defined hell as a pissed off octogenarian.

“You must have done something wrong!” Doctor Eden yelled in a surprisingly strong voice. She was practically clutching the Master Systems Display, her eyes narrowed in accusation at Malin-Argo.

“Pardon me?” the Grazerite shot back with thinly veiled contempt.

“If your teams had made the modifications correctly--”

“We followed *your* specifications to the letter, doctor,” Malin-Argo shot back. “If you are now unable to undo this mess that you’ve created, then I’m not sure what further use we have for you in my engine room.”

John Maynell was in an unenviable position near the both of them, standing on the opposite side of the MSD, closer to the warp core. Behind him, he could hear the warp core’s trademark thrumming, but it was not the familiar, steady heartbeat he had come to expect. It sounded… *off*, somehow… erratic… and too fast. “Commander, I don’t think now is the time-”

Before Malin-Argo had the chance to respond, the Doctor continued her tirade. “Don’t you *dare* try to pin the blame for this on me,” she shouted. “My theories were sound! I’m telling you, I have poured over them for nearly ten years!”

Eve cringed as the discomfort between the two strong individuals filled the entire department. There might be a use for her here after all, provided the principal combatants would stop trading verbal jabs long enough for her to interject.

“There is every indication that this experiment was rushed,” Malin-Argo said, his usually stony exterior even harder now as he refused to give an inch before Dr. Eden’s anger. “You have already cost several members of this crew their lives, and placed the rest of them in grave danger. If you want to make amends for that, I suggest you find something more useful to do than stand around trying to assign blame.”

“Useful.” She snorted. “Look who’s talking! Sir, your *job* is fixing this, not flapping your gums! The sooner the engines are operational-”

“The sooner you can damage the ship further? We have not even been able to fully assess the PHOENIX’s condition yet. We need data that can only be obtained by restoring communications and internal sensors.” He shot daggers at Maynell, although it wasn’t personal.

“On it, Sir,” he answered, doing his best to avoid the withering stare of the old woman who appeared far from agreeing with the Chief.


The change was subtle, so that for a moment Eve hadn’t even realized that something had changed.

Realization came slowly, and in stages; suddenly, Malin-Argo was no longer standing by the Master Systems Display, bellowing his will to the engine room. Suddenly, Kass was no longer there, nor anywhere that Eve could see. Suddenly Jonathan Maynell was not standing at Malin-Argo’s side, but was laying prone on the floor, his face and torso replaced by a hideous mess of blackened and twisted flesh.

“John!” Asta Elgin was shrieking, crouched over Maynell’s ruined form. “Someone get medical down here!”

“Ensign!” Malin-Argo demanded, his head cocked back over his shoulder as he sprayed a fire-suppressant over what, to Eve’s untrained eye, appeared to by a rather vital portion of the warp core’s coolant system. “To your station!”

“He’s still breathing!” Asta fired back, lancing this observation at Malin-Argo like a deadly accusation. “I can hear him still breathing!”

“The ship is in danger!” Malin-Argo roared. “To your station! I need a report on the alien vessel at once!”

Eve wanted to cut in, wanted to tell everyone to slow down, wanted to ask what exactly it was that she had missed over the space of only a few seconds. Yet when she tried, she found herself quite unable to- it was as if the muscles that had animated her all her life were no longer there, as if *she* were no longer there. She felt a sudden, all-encompassing and sublimely horrible disconnection from everything she understood of physical reality; whatever it meant to exist in her body, to experience the world as a mortal being, Eve understood that she was suddenly, terribly removed from it.

Asta Elgin tore herself away from Jonathan Maynell’s still-living, yet ruined, form, and turned towards the nearby console.

“Readings are hard to pin down,” she said. “It keeps phasing. Best that we can tell, it’s still here, still part of the PHOENIX.”

“We need to shut down the warp core,” Malin-Argo boomed. “If we can’t deactivate the warp sequence before we find a way to disentangle ourselves from the alien vessel, there’s no way we’ll--”

He never got a chance to finish. While Eve Dalziel watched, the world dissolved before her eyes in a wave of terrible, unyielding light. In her final moments, she had time to lament that while this place had robbed her of her agency, it had not seen fit to take away her sense of pain…


Scene: Engineering (present)

She gasped, once more feeling the breath in her chest and control over her limbs. As Eve relaxed her posture, the regenerator fell out of her hand and clattered on the floor.

The noise caused several people in the vicinity to stop and look at the Counselor, including Maynell, once again unharmed, Malin-Argo, and Doctor Eden.

“What are you staring at, young lady?” she asked harshly.

Eve slowly picked up the device, unable to answer right away. Was what she had seen an inevitability? Or was it merely an augury? The information was an unwelcome burden, even as it signaled an opportunity to work while they were still alive. However, it brought a responsibility with it that frightened her.

“Lieutenant, are you still unwell?” It amazed her that the Chief Engineer’s voice, while purely businesslike, came across as more friendly and soothing at the moment than that of their guest.

“I’ll be fine,” she managed after an uncomfortable pause, as she focused her attention on the venerable scientist. She refused to be powerless now that she had control over herself again. “Doctor, I apologize for what I am about to say.”

“Oh, spare me your feeble attempts at etiquette. Out with it, girl,” Eden replied.

“Regardless of how we arrived here, and what damage the ship has sustained, what matters most at this moment is coordinating modalities to keep us operational and out of danger. Your attitude is detrimental to that goal and won’t be tolerated.”

If the old woman was offended, she did not show it. “And I willfully submit the opinion that the incompetence of this ship and her staff was a detriment to *my* experiment.”

“Feel free to put that in your report, Doctor,” Malin-Argo said, still annoyed but more measured than he had been a few minutes ago. “Because berating the crew is not going to change the fact that *something* went wrong, despite our differing viewpoints as to the cause.”

“Exactly,” Eve jumped in. “Mister Maynell was clearly trying to communicate to his superior officer a moment ago and you were too busy arguing to allow him that need. That is endangerment.” John Maynell registered a mild astonishment at the mention of his name.

“Is this true?” the Grazerite bellowed at the junior officer.

“I can... feel something’s off in the core, Sir. I agree that comms and sensors need attention, but if you will permit me to follow this hunch, I need to perform a level one diagnostic.”

Lorraine Eden folded her arms and proceeded to interrupt, again. “You’re wasting your time trying to direct me, Counselor. You can’t scare me. You are *not* the Captain of this ship.”

“No, I am not. But I am fully accountable for the well-being of every individual aboard, including Captain Kane. If *anyone* is deemed unfit for duty, they will be relieved.”

“I am not an officer. Furthermore, I am not unfit!” Her arms were held taut at her sides, bony alabaster fists clenched in rage.

“There are several regulations that address the consequences of impeding the staff in their efforts to perform their duties. You’re fast approaching guilt for at least one. If you persist in this manner, I will have the Major show you to the Brig or otherwise detain you. And I will personally see to it that you never get to ‘play’ with a Starship again. Have I made myself clear?”

“My research is legitimate, unlike your tactics,” she said with derision. “But I will comply with your demands. On the record, I consider this harassment.”

“Duly noted, Doctor. And thank you for your cooperation.”

Eden snorted faintly and moved a few feet away as a show of good faith.

Malin-Argo was finally given space to respond to Maynell’s request and did so. “Go ahead with the diagnostic. I can’t spare anyone else to assist at present, but come to me directly with any concerns if and when you find them. Understood?”

The Ensign nodded, relieved, and went to carry out his amended orders.

In the meantime the MCO sidled up next to Eve Dalziel. “Thanks a lot for draggin’ me inta this,” Kass mumbled.

“I just threatened to arrest someone’s great-grandmother.” The realization wasn’t pretty, but neither was exploding the entire ship. Eve would rather have the first one than the second.

“I’ve seen ‘good cop, bad cop’ plenty of times, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it done without the ‘good cop’.”

“I didn’t like it much myself.”

Thytos grinned. “That’s funny, ‘cause I enjoyed it.”

Eve lowered her voice, not wishing to alarm anyone. “Kass, I really need to talk to you. Something happened back there and I need to make sense out of it.”

“You read tha riot act to a mouthy senior citizen, that’s what happened.”

“No, that’s not it,” Eve asserted sotto voce and approached the Grazerite, grabbing Kassandra’s arm and dragging her over. “Commander, may the Major and I use your office? We need to discuss the procedurals and consequences if Doctor Eden does not behave yourself.”

If Dalziel had known better, she could have sworn Malin-Argo was smiling at the two of them. “Certainly, carry on.”


NRPG: Thanks to Shawn, Ranjani and Alix whose work was used to build upon the story under Shawn’s careful nudging ;-)

A sort-of JP by...

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


Shawn Putnam


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