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Second Sight

Posted on Dec 28, 2018 @ 3:04am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle


(Continued from "Delicate Maneuvers")

Captain's log, supplemental - as Engineering and Dr. Eden prepare to initiate the warp freqency change, I have had enough of remaining cooped up in sickbay. A captain's place is with his crew.


Location: USS Phoenix, adrift in space
Stardate: [2.18]1227.1805
Scene: Primary sickbay- deck 12, saucer section

"For the last time, Doctor Bartlett, I feel fine." Michael Turlogh Kane rolled his eyes in annoyance as the Phoenix's chief medical officer ran a medical tricorder over his head for what felt like the tenth time today. "I don't know why you insist on keeping me here when I am physically fit for duty. It's been over a day since I was brought here and I haven't suffered any ill effects."

"That is not your decision to make, Captain," said Bartlett in the tone of an admonishing father. He stopped what he was doing and looked directly at Kane. "Unless you have a degree in medicine or neurology from a Starfleet-recognised institute of learning? No? Then kindly quit complaining." He got back to his scan, brow furrowed as he interpreted the tricorder's data stream.

Kane stayed silent. He had no medical training beyond a first-aid class he had taken back at the Academy - that was over twenty years ago now - and, in any case, Starfleet regulations were clear. The only two people aboard the ship that could command the captain were the ship's counselor and the chief medical officer. If Sidney Bartlett wanted to wax lyrical about the dangers of operating with a potential concussion, then Kane just had to shut up and listen.

Bartlett snapped shut his tricorder. "Well, good news," he said. "You'll be pleased to know that I've ruled out a bleed on your brain." Seeing Kane's eyes light up, the older man held up a hand. "Hold it, though. My original diagnosis stands. You must remain here under observation. I'm not satisfied that you're over that concussion you were brought to me with."

"Doctor, I cannot exercise any kind of command while I'm stuck here," said Kane. He was getting annoyed, but measured his words. "The ship is going through a crisis and my place is on the bridge."

Bartlett sighed and looked at the ceiling. "Why are all ship's captains such irritating control freaks?" He shook his head and spoke pointedly. "A little longer, Captain Kane. If you suffer a brain haemorrhage while in the centre seat you'll paralyze your much-vaunted command. In short, sir, sit down and be quiet."

Kane watched helplessly as Bartlett moved away, checking on the sleeping Stephanie Trimble and a couple of the walking wounded who were still draped like threadbare curtains around sickbay. Bartlett said something to Dr. Suvek, then went into the ICU room, where Karrington Crow languished comatose.

Kane eyed the doorway, beyond which lay the corridors of deck twelve. It was about thirty feet away across the room, and he was determined to reach it. He shook his head a little, seeing if he felt any dizziness, but there was none. He slapped himself on the cheek, but his arms and legs did not falter. The wooziness he had felt earlier was gone now.

He could give Bartlett credit for wanting to be thorough - after all, the man had just started his assignment here - but there were acceptable risks to take, and keeping the captain of the ship cooped up and away from the action was not one of them. If he was more paranoid, Kane might have assumed that Bartlett had some kind of ulterior motive - after all, it had not been that long ago that rumours had started to spread through the Phoenix that Starfleet was slowly-but-surely bringing in a cadre of new officers to replace those who had led the fight against the Neo-Essentialists. Pure bunkum, probably, but Bartlett was one of these new officers, and Aerdan Jos was now back in Starfleet Medical.

Kane swung his legs off the biobed and got vertical. His feet touched the floor for the first time in a day, and he stood up straight, taking a deep breath and stretching our his arms. Still nothing untoward. He started walking towards the door -

- only for Suvek to appear before him. The Vulcan doctor reared up like Cereberus, his dark eyes narrowed in suspicion. "And where do you think you are going, Captain Kane?"

Kane pointed at the door. "I'm going back on duty."

Suvek raised an eyebrow. "I regret to inform you that Doctor Bartlett has left orders that - "

"I'm not interested," said Kane, cutting him off in his best no-nonsense tone. "I'm leaving."

"I will not attempt to impede you," said Suvek, "but should you feel any kind of negative cognitive symptoms, please make haste to return."

Kane eyeballed him for a moment. "I'll be careful."

He moved to the door, which hissed open at his approach. It was like stepping into a whole new universe, full of possibility.


Scen: Main Engineering, deck 37, drive section

Forty decks below, in the bowels of the ship, everything was in readiness. Those who were going to attempt to change the Phoenix's warp signature had assembled on the lowest level of Engineering, near the dilithium chamber and plasma controls. The whole process of creating and regulating a warp field was managed by the dilithium crystals - when exposed to high EM pressure and temperature, dilithium slowly became porous, allowing the anti-matter to seep through it gently. This reaction was detectable - in propulsion, the reaction was referred to as the piezo-electric field - and meant that a starship's sensors could detect the warp frequency (or signature) of another starship within range.

The warp signature of a starship could, therefore, be changed, by altering the flow of anti-matter through the dilithium. A little more or a little less would affect what kind of warp field was generated, but also affect the warp signature. That was what lay at the heart of Dr. Eden's proposal - if the Phoenix really was entangled with some kind of phased alien starship at the same point in space (but not in time), then changing the Phoenix's warp signature frequency might allow the ship to simply drift away.

Eve Dalziel was pretty sure she knew what was going on. Everyone else around her certainly gave that impression, but then, Engineering was not her domain, and the various rituals and spells that were cast down here were somewhat alien to her. Starfleet taught all its Cadets the basics of warp theory, but that was not the same thing as understanding the ebbs and flows of phased energy through a dilithium reactor.

"You look confused, dear," said Lorraine Eden. The older woman was standing nearby, watching the engineers get into position. "Having difficulty keeping up?"

Eve pushed the tip of her tongue between her incisors and bit down hard enough to cause herself a flare of pain. The words were condescending, but Eve had been a student of psychology for long enough to realise that Dr. Eden's focus was elsewhere and did not directly mean to talk down to her. The irascible old woman was riveted to the sight of Malin-Argo and Jonathan Maynell preparing the master system display, while Lynette Ryan, newly returned from the bridge, ran a diagnostic on the dilithium chamber. There were only a few minutes left before the attempt began. "I'm a counselor, not a warp engineer," she said as politely as she could.

"Of course," murmured Dr. Eden. The older woman blinked, and turned her head to Eve, pulling her lips into a taut smile. "Well, allow me to explain. Take water, for example. Water can exist in one of three separate phases - solid, liquid, or gas."

"Ice, water, steam," nodded Eve. "All of them composed of two atoms of hydrogen, one atom of oxygen. The same substance altered by an exterior force."

"Right." Dr. Eden held up her hands like she was cupping a hollow crystal ball. "Imagine a sealed spherical container, half-filled with water. Now, imagine we heat the water to its boiling point. What happens?"

Eve frowned. "The water turns to steam."

"Not all at once, and not immediately. It is a gradual process. When it is done, though, instead of being just liquid, the water now exists in two separate states." Dr. Eden nodded in the direction of the dilithium chamber. "That is what we are doing here. By altering the warp frequency of our dilithium reaction, we are metaphorically boiling the water of the Phoenix's phase variance. We will become steam, while the alien vessel remains liquid. We will no longer occupy the same point in space. By removing space from the space-time equation, we are left with time, and since we have already established that we do not share the same point in time as the alien vessel, we should be separated."

"I understand." Eve folded her arms. "There's a danger in your example, though. If too much water turns to steam, it creates more and more pressure on the sealed container. Too much, and..." She trailed off.

"Therein lies the rub," agreed Dr. Eden. "Let us hope your chief engineer is as impressive as his reputation makes him out to be."

Malin-Argo and Jonathan Maynell finished what they were doing and came over. The Grazerite acknowledged Eve with a quick nod, but turned to Dr. Eden. "We are almost ready, Doctor."

"There is no such thing as luck," said Dr. Eden tightly, "so let me say that I hope that we have considered all the probabilities and accounted for them."

"The Vulcans say that there are infinite possibilities in infinite combinations," grinned Maynell. He got the IDIC philosophy wrong, but Eve smiled at the sentiment.

Lynette Ryan joined them. "Diagnostic complete, Commander. Dilithium chamber and associated systems all working within normal parameters."

"Then let us begin immediately," said Malin-Argo, turning away from Dr. Eden and gesturing to Maynell and Lynette to take their stations. The Grazerite lumbered over to the master systems display, which had been transferred to a control panel on this level. Jonathan Maynell moved to the main plasma control system, while Lynette logged in to the dilithium chamber controls. Dr. Eden turned to her own workstation, monitoring all three systems, while Eve stood nearby looking on.

The air of readiness that pervaded Engineering was almost palpable. Malin-Argo lifted his head. "Engineering to bridge. We are ready to begin the procedure."

[[Understood,]] came Jake's voice in reply. [[Good luck, Commander. Moving to Yellow Alert status now.]]

The channel closed, and a moment later the Yellow Alert wall bars began to flash, accompanied by the insistent tone the computer generated whenever that status was assumed. All through the ship, Eve knew, non-essential personnel would be clearing the decks, and all departments would begin monitoring their systems with extra vigilance. This was unknown territory they were sailing into.

A few seconds passed as everyone focused themselves. Then Malin-Argo got the ball rolling. His meaty hands moved over the MSD. "Spooling up anti-matter chamber spin reversal system. We'll begin at point-two-five per cent and gradually increase. Status of anti-proton injection seals?"

"Nominal." Lynette was riveted to her display screen.

Malin-Argo nodded, a Human gesture he'd picked up the last few months. "Plasma relays?"

"Ready," stated Jonathan Maynell.

"Very well. Increasing anti-proton flow by point-two-five percent." Malin-Argo made the adjustment.

Eve looked at the warp core. It was often likened to the beating heart of a ship - a place that nobody could easily access, yet was responsible for powering everything that made the Phoenix a working space vessel. If something went wrong with it, it could lead to the death of the ship and all the organic hearts that beat aboard her. Was it Eve's imagination, or had the familiar deep thrum quickened a touch?

"Our phase variance has shifted to match," reported Dr. Eden. "No unexpected variables detected. Continue the procedure, Commander."

If Malin-Argo was irritated at her tone, he did not show it. "Increasing anti-proton flow by point-five per cent."

Eve looked around. When the ship jumped to warp speed, nobody aboard her could feel anything thanks to the inertial dampers that maintained a constant gravity and stopped everyone being splattered all over the walls by the sudden acceleration. It was kind of like that right now - she couldn't feel anything happening, but the engineers were talking like something was, and that in itself made the experience a strange one.

"Phase variance matches," said Dr. Eden. She was frowning now. "Odd."

"What is odd, Doctor?" said Malin-Argo, an edge to his voice.

"I am detecting a second warp signature, not our own," said Dr. Eden. "Its phase variance measures point-five per cent less than our own."

She said it so matter-of-factly that several seconds passed before Eve processed her words. A second warp signature - surely this was proof of the existence of the alien vessel, amazingly existing at the same point in space, but at a different point in Time?

Lynette Ryan and Jonathan Maynell were staring at one another in wonder. "If their warp signature was matching ours, it means that our engines function in the same way, right?" asked Lynette. "They generate a warp field in the same way we do?"

Maynell nodded. "Yep. Incredible."

"If they are at a similar technological level to us, maybe we can communicate with them?" asked Eve, looking at Dr. Eden.

The old woman raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps."


Scene: Primary Sickbay - deck 12, saucer section

Kassandra Thytos blew in to sickbay like a dust devil, her sensor net primed to look for Kane, but she stopped dead in the middle of the room when she couldn't detect him. There were plenty of other signatures to read - Asta at her side, Suvek standing in front of her, Steph Trimble sleeping on a biobed - but no Kane.

"Major Thytos?" said Suvek in a quizzical tone.

"Where's the friggin' boss?" Kass snapped at him. "Y'all kill him off or sumthin'?"

"Captain Kane discharged himself from sickbay several minutes ago," said Suvek. "Against Doctor Bartlett's orders, I might add. He did not say where he was going."

Next to her, Asta nudged her arm. "I really need to get to the deflector dish."

"Y'all know what that sumbitch's done? Ah bet mah ass 'gainst a Nausicaan in heat that he's run off ta Engineerin' or the friggin' bridge!" Kass made a fist with her punching hand. "He knew we were comin'!"

"Computer," said Asta, "locate Captain Kane."

The computer responded immediately. [[Captain Kane is in a turbolift. Destination - main bridge.]]

Kass turned to Asta. "Git yore butt ta the deflector dish. Ah'll catch up with Cap'n Discharge."

Asta nodded. Stepping into the corridor outside sickbay, they split up and went their separate ways.


Scene: Main bridge, deck 1 , saucer section

Everyone on the bridge was monitoring the events in Engineering with equal amazement. Sotaar was at the conn, ready to activate thrusters if needed. Jasmine was working the tactical station behind Jake. Byte, at Ops, was doing most of the work right now - the android's eyes flickered across its display panel as the data from Engineering came in.

Jake knew that Jonathan Maynell was right. It was an incredible thing that the aliens were using similar propulsion technology to the Phoenix, and the fact was igniting a fire of hope on the bridge. Warp-based technology likely meant a similar level of technology throughout the alien society - with a bit of study, perhaps even a way could to be found to 'speak' to their technology or communicate with them directly.

He got to his feet and moved to Byte's shoulder. "It seems to be going well."

{{Indeed, Commander,}} said Byte. It gestured to the display panel. {{The phase variance is now at point-seven-five per cent.

"How feasible would it be to begin work on directly contacting the aliens?" asked Jake.

Byte cocked its head. {{It may be possible, sir. There have been several incidents of Starfleet vessels undergoing alterations in their phase variances. Once we are clear of this phenomenon, we could - }}

The android's words were cut short by an awful shudder that ran through the ship, a ripple that seemed to roll right through the Phoenix's guts and shake it to its core. Jake staggered, reaching out to Byte's chair to avoid being thrown to the ground. The red alert klaxons blared into life as everyone reacted in alarm, adding to the sudden crazy cacophony.

"What the hell was that?" Jake looked around, but no sooner had the words left his mouth than a second shudder ran through the ship.

Jasmine Yu at Tactical was fast on the ball. "Structural integrity is down to eighty-four per cent!"

"Report, Mister Byte!" said Jake.

The android's features were impassive even as it called out the danger. {{Commander, there seems to have been some kind of response from the alien ship. The phase variance differential is reducing quickly - now passing point-six-one percent and falling.}}

"They're pulling us back in!" exclaimed Jake. He ran his eye over the sensor feed from Engineering - still no external variables were being registered, leaving the alien vessel as the only other variable. "Why are they doing that?"

{{The cause of the variance differential cannot be detected at this time,}} stated Byte. Jake strained to hear it over the din of the klaxons. {{Commander, there has been a power spike in the plasma controls. A plasma fire has broken out in Engineering.}}

A third shudder - the hardest one so far - wracked the bridge. "Bridge to Engineering!" he roared. "Abort the procedure!" When there was no immediate answer, he shouted again. "Engineering, come in!"


Scene: Main Engineering - deck 37, drive section

Jonathan Maynell was dead, and Eve Dalziel was reliving a nightmare.

All hell had broken loose. She shook her head as the memory of her earlier future-vision came flooding back, but it was real and alive and in the now. Everything had happened so quickly - the reversal of the phase variance, the sudden explosion of Jonathan Maynell's workstation, his face and torso being sprayed by white-hot plasma that melted him down to the bone. The awful smell of charred meat filled up Engineering as Jonathan Maynell's corpse - mercifully killed in moments - collapsed in a heap on the deckplate.

"John!" Lynette Ryan was shrieking, crouched over Maynell's ruined form. "Someone get medical down here!"

"Ensign Ryan!" 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 be a rather vital portion of the warp core's coolant system. "To your station!"

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, how all this had happened. A terrible feeling of deja vu was washing over her, seizing her heart in a paroxysm of fear. She had seen all this before, but now it was real. But there were some subtle differences - Asta Elgin had been in her vision, not Lynette Ryan, and Lorraine Eden was standing nearby where had not been before - and she couldn't figure out what it all meant, at least not yet.

Lynette Ryan tore herself away from Jonathan Maynell's dead form and turned towards the nearby console. "Readings are hard to pin down," she said. "They keep phasing. Best that we can tell, the alien vessel is still here - it's pulled the Phoenix back together with it! "

“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 survive!"

Eve looked at Dr. Eden. She older woman's eyes were full of fear, and Eve moved to her side, taking an arm to support her. "What went wrong?" she said.

Dr. Eden clung onto her like a child to its mother. "There's no way to know without a full analysis!" she said, emotion running through her voice. "Oh God, what's happening to us?"

Eve had no answer. She looked around at the chaos engulfing Engineering and struggled to come to terms with it. Her future-vision - one of death and tragedy - had, despite efforts to curb it, come true. She knew she wasn't the only one who had been afforded glimpses into the future, and her conversation with Crewman Braith had not been one to reassure her.


NRPG: It's for real, y'all, Jonathan Maynell is toast and the grimdark is pleased.

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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