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Delicate Maneuvers

Posted on Dec 22, 2018 @ 7:11pm by Commander Jacob Crichton & Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Dec 22, 2018 @ 7:12pm

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

“Delicate Maneuvers”
(Continued from “Ducks In A Row”)


Scene: Main Engineering
SD: [2.18]1209.2016

The turbolifts had recently come back on line, and while that was a huge step forward in the ship’s progress, it had done nothing to stem the rising concerns caused by the crew’s sporadic, horrific jaunts into the future. The general summation was that they were entangled with an out-of-phase alien vessel and despite the fact that they weren’t moving, they were still on a proverbial collision course with destruction.

Eve, as the Counselor, wasn’t tethered to any one area of the ship. She had decided for the moment to linger in Engineering, feeling her presence on the Bridge wouldn’t be of any specific use, although her lack of expertise in warp mechanics wasn’t doing any favors for the short-staffed department either. She’d done her best to stay discreetly out of the way, while keeping in constant communication with Owen and Lysander, and whoever else felt the need to bend her ear.

“So… are they trying to help us, kill us, warn us, or none of the above?”

Kass snorted. [[Hell if I know. You’re the head shrink. I was hopin’ you could tell me.]]

“Sorry, no,” Eve answered with frustration. This wasn’t the first time the Cardassian born woman wished she were an empath. There was a pause. “You’ll keep me posted if you ‘see’ anything else?”

[[‘Course I will. Thytos out.]]

Eve sighed, clasped her hands behind her back, and observed the controlled chaos near the heart of the PHOENIX. Warp theory, while a requirement for graduation from SFA, was by far not Lieutenant Dalziel’s strong suit. But judging by the snippets of conversation she’d heard between the Bridge and Main Engineering, the plan that they could modulate the engine’s frequency in an attempt to slip away from the unknown ship they had collided with was an understandable and logical option for a situation that was anything but.

Doctor Eden and Malin-Argo had arrived back from their meeting with Captain Kane to implement this, seemingly on much more of a unified front than they had been before. While Eve had been across the room, hashing through Kassandra’s latest foray into the near future, the two professionals’ discourse had developed from adversarial to collaborative, even though it was clear they did not always share the same ideas and conclusions. “The modifications to the warp core are the most important part of this,” the Grazerite continued, surveying the department.

“Agreed,” Lorraine Eden responded. She brandished a small PADD. “I’ve taken the liberty of making some calculations regarding potential vessels’ signatures we can emulate.”

Malin-Argo put his skepticism aside as he reviewed the data. The guest scientist may have been of an advanced age, but her assertions were sharp as was her tongue. She had outlined efficiently the differences between Klingon and Vulcan signatures and their own. “I have a concern.”


“If we adopt the warp signature and stance of a Klingon ship, wouldn’t that possibly cause an incident if there were a nearby enemy to the Klingons?”

“We have a bit bigger problems than a little skirmish here,” Eden replied crisply. “We *must* extricate ourselves from the other craft, post haste. Otherwise there won’t be any of us left to argue with some potential hostiles. The two ships I have proposed are the closest in signature while still being distinctively different from our own.”

The Chief considered this information. “The Vulcan signature would be more favorable, less natural enemies. But we could also modify without a specific template.”

“We’ve got less than three hours. How long would it take to define this unique template, as you suggest?”

Malin-Argo was composing his thoughts before replying, but then his attention was pulled towards one of the Propulsion Engineers who had been quietly working a few feet away from Maynell. “Petty Officer Braith?”

The man looked over at them with sadness, his ebony eyes a hallmark of his Betazoid heritage. He had put his tools down. “It’s hopeless… Sir.”

“Is that an opinion?” Malin-Argo queried, trying not to sound like a rebuke of the non-com’s obvious distress.

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd that in all the future visions we’ve had, not a single one of them has us being able to escape?”

Malin-Argo thought of attempting to reason with or rationalize the man’s conclusions into something more hopeful, but he looked too crushed to accept that. “Perhaps it’s time you take a break,” the normally taciturn and duty-bound CEO said, turning to Eve. “Lieutenant, if you would-”

She nodded, gesturing to Braith. “Let’s have a breather.” He hesitated, but agreed with his superior’s suggestion.


Scene: Corridor

They took a few steps away from the entry, Braith leading the way with Eve close behind. The Betazoid man gently sank down to the floor, ruffling his hair, attempting to clear his mind of the emotional load that he had unintentionally taken on.

Lieutenant Dalziel observed the man for a few seconds. He looked stressed and frazzled, which wasn’t surprising for the situation they were in. He certainly wasn’t alone in those feelings. But this had the taste of something more urgent and unusual. “Is this the first time something like this has happened?”

“Yes.” He had a hangdog expression. The people of Betazed were well aware of their ability and how to mitigate their reaction to and absorption of others’ emotions. But either that wasn’t working, or something was different this time.

“When you told Commander Malin-Argo that none of the ‘visions’ you’d seen shows us escaping, just what did you mean by that? How could you be that specific?”

Alesud Braith exhaled deeply. “That wasn’t the best choice of words. What I should have said was that collectively I am sensing apprehension, concern, and negativity. We’re allotting resources to put out little fires all over the ship, trying to get ahead. But you can’t get ahead of the future. And there is confusion, too.”

“Confusion about what each of us are seeing when we phase forward?”

He nodded. “Trying to interpret the meaning of what is being seen has preoccupied many.”

Eve felt that the officer was holding something back, even as she unraveled his feelings. “Brushing against the unknown is part of the job, isn’t it?”

“The energy of a ship in danger is not something I am unfamiliar with...” Braith hesitated.

“What has you so unsettled, then? It might be important.”

“I am not only sensing the crew, but the ‘others’ as well. It’s the aliens… I can *feel* them.”

Eve nodded. "What do you sense from them?"

"They're... confused," Braith said. "I think. couldn't say for sure if they're aware of us, but they know something is wrong. I think they're trying to fix it, just like we are. And that's what has me worried."

Eve didn't have to ask what Braith meant by this. Though she wasn't an expert, she knew full well how quickly a warp core could become dangerous unstable, and the thought that the aliens might do something to the PHOENIX's warp field - intentionally or not - didn't sit well with her, especially not while the ship's engineering staff was still trying to figure out what was going on.

"Too many cooks," Eve nodded.

"I'm not picking up any hostility," Braith said quickly. "So I guess it could be worse. But..."

"We're doing what we can," Eve said, reaching out to touch the Betazoid's shoulder. "Don't lose hope. The fact that you can sense the aliens could be a good sign. That might mean there's a way we can communicate with them."

"If you--"


She was standing at the Master Systems Display. Though she couldn't turn her head, she was aware that Captain Kane was standing next to her. On the other side of the MSD, through a haze of flickering holograms displaying the outline of the PHOENIX, she could see Lorraine Eden, frowning down at her own console.

Then, Eve felt the strange sensation of turning her head without consciously deciding to do it. It was strange, yet felt somehow familiar, but she didn't have long to consider the experience. As she turned, she could see the ship's warp core, its surging blue pulses firing off in erratic arrhythmia that she didn't like the sound of. Slumped at the base of a work station in front of the core was a figure she didn't recognize, yet also knew somehow to be that of Malin-Argo. She realized she was looking at the whole tableau from behind a shimmering blue haze - someone had erected a containment forcefield around the warp core, with Malin-Argo trapped behind it.

"We need to get him out of there!" Kane thundered beside her.

"It's too late!" Dr. Eden said, looking up at him. "The radiation levels are spiking. If we drop containment, it could kill everyone aboard this ship!"

"She's right," Eve felt herself saying. "It's too late, captain."

**Too late for what?** something inside of Eve wondered distantly.

Kane looked between Eve, Eden, and the slumped form of Malin-Argo behind the forcefield. Eve watched as his expression shifted from anger to uncertainty, before finally hardening into a look of cold certainty.

"What about the modifications?" he asked. His tone was grim.

"The Commander was successful," Eden said, after consulting her console once again. "But as long as that rift is open--"

**Rift?** Eve thought. The word sounded important.

A new sensation, even stranger than feeling herself move without first willing it. Eve thought she could *feel* memories blooming to life in her head, appearing at first as a jumble of insensate images before quickly, naturally, smoothing into something like a coherent narrative. The explosion on the bridge. Jake's death. Malin-Argo completing the modifications to the ship's warp signature, and the sudden and unexpected activation of the PHOENIX's main-deflector. The rift had appeared seconds later, in time with the surge of fatal radiation from the warp core. Malin-Argo's final act before collapsing had been to activate the containment field.

Beside her, Kane slapped his comm-badge.

"Main engineering to Lieutenant Yu."

[[Lieutenant Yu here. I've reached Deck 21. Closing in on the Main Deflector dish now.]]

"You have to hurry," Kane said. "The rift is widening. Whatever the alien vessel is doing is reacting with the energy surge from the PHOENIX."

[[Understood. Yu out.]]

**Why this feel so familiar?** that distant voice inside of Eve's head wondered again.

"Captain," Eden said. "Radiation levels are growing in tandem with the spatial aperture. If we don't find a way to close the rift, that stasis field isn't going to hold."

"Lieutenant Yu will disable the Main Deflector," Kane glared at her. "By any means necessary."

"That's precisely what I mean," Eden frowned. "No one on our side activated it. That means the aliens are most likely responsible. And since we do not know how they managed it--"

"Yu might not be able to turn it off again," Kane finished for her. "I am well aware of the situation, doctor. I said by any means necessary."

The realization hit Eve in a horrifying rush. "She's going to blow up main deflector control, isn't she?"

Kane looked at her, and in spite of his stony expression, Eve could see the guilt playing at the corners of his eyes. "It might not come to that."

"Jasmine is going to *kill* herself to save the ship?!" Eve shouted.

She was angry, she could feel her rage at both Kane and the unfairness of the situation churning in her guts like a volcano about to erupt. But underneath it all was that strange, distant voice.

**Too many cooks,** it said.


"--say so."

Eve blinked. Her hand was still on Braith's shoulder, but the Betazoid was looking at her now with a puzzled expression.

"Counselor?" he asked.

“It happened again…” she trailed off, trying to fight the halo of anger that lingered around her, to prevent Braith from sensing her distress. But that would have been impossible; Braith was too perceptive and Eve was too honest. “I’m sorry,” she added, as if that would atone for the confusion she was causing. “I need to go back in there,” she said as though she was trying to convince herself and not the troubled propulsion specialist. “Are you able?”

The CPO brought himself to his feet. His expression was still haunted, but he displayed a determination that had not been there a few minutes before. “Let’s go.”


Scene: Engineering

The only thing that had changed since Eve’s exit was that Malin-Argo was no longer speaking to Doctor Eden. He was gone. Eve watched Braith resume working and allowed herself a moment of relief. “Where’s the Commander?” she then asked the elderly scientist.

Lorraine Eden gestured to his office. “He is attempting to make calculations to adjust the warp signature. He was not satisfied with the templates I designed.” She spoke with a huff, albeit less pronounced than when the experiment began. “He asked for a fifteen minute delay, which I felt was acceptable since he insisted he must be the one to perform the calibrations himself.” She gave the Counselor a once-over with her critical eye. “What’s the matter, child?” she snapped. “You’re shaking.”

Eve glanced in the direction of the Chief’s office, then back to the old woman. “I’ve had another future experience. I need to speak with both of you.”


Scene: Malin-Argo’s office
Time Index: a few minutes later

Considering Eve had interrupted the Grazerite while he was essentially trying to save the ship, and she was already an interloper, the fact that he was hearing her out was no small thing. Doctor Eden, even though she was more prickly than the CEO, appeared to be as compliant in listening to Dalziel’s account of yet another disaster just beyond their space-time.

“Despite the fact that Major Thytos and Ensign Elgin are, at this moment, en route to deactivate the deflector, you’re trying to tell me it was somehow reactivated around the time I went in to complete the necessary adjustments?”

“I’m speaking as plainly as I can,” Eve struggled. “The devil is in the interpretation.” She had left no details out to the best of her recollection, including the rift that had opened and the deadly radiation flooding the warp core.

“Are you saying we shouldn’t attempt to modify our signature?” Malin-Argo barked. “Or that we should use the Doctor’s designs instead of my own?”

“I don’t know. I was sent back with the message ‘too many cooks’ in my subconscious.” She still wondered if the thought had been implanted or not, if she was being led astray.

“That could mean nearly anything,” Eden bristled.

Eve looked down at the floor, disgust in her gray eyes. “That’s my point- we’re being allowed to see these things but we have no way of knowing if our decisions are preventing anything, or if we are playing right into the hands of the worst outcome.”

The Chief paced back and forth, noticing the worried looks on the womens’ faces. “Then... a compromise is in order,” he said cryptically.

“What are you proposing?” Doctor Eden asked.

He took the PADD Eden had left on the desk. “Instead of extrapolating a new set of adjustments, I will use the Vulcan pseudo-prototype you offered. But I insist upon being the one to perform the calibration.”

“Even knowing what might happen?”

Malin-Argo eyed the Counselor squarely. “Especially knowing that. I can’t willingly subject one of my staff to that outcome. You know as well as the rest of us we don’t have any more time to debate.” He strode toward the door with purpose.

“But you *will* be wearing protective gear. Surely you have the time to do *that*,” the crotchety Doctor shot back.

“We’ve already had enough losses,” Eve said in agreement with Eden- a rare first.

The Grazerite’s eyes narrowed. “That does not send a very comforting message to the floor or my people. But I will capitulate to your request.”


NRPG (from Shawn): This post references Ran's post "Saving Lives", but you might notice some discrepancies between the two. At least one of those was just a typo on my part (in Ran's post, it was supposed to say "I've reached Deck 21", not "We've reached Deck 21"), but the others are intentional. Always in motion is the future. ;-)

NRPG (from Susan): I have no idea where any of this came from. No, really.

A Joint Post by

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


Shawn Putnam
a GM


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