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No More Tomorrows

Posted on Jan 05, 2019 @ 12:12am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Jan 05, 2019 @ 12:12am

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

= No More Tomorrows =

from “Navigating Through Chaos”)

SCENE: Bridge
STARDATE: [2.19] 0105.0356

“Bridge here,” Jake said, a wave of relief washing over him as he did so. Main Engineering had been out of contact since the last shipwide tremors, and during the several minutes of silence, Jake’s mind had been hard at work conceiving of a dozen horrifying scenarios that had everyone stationed down there dead and the rest of the crew with no way to disable the still rapidly-deteriorating warp core. Now, hearing Eve Dalziel’s voice on the other end of the comm, Jake was glad to know that all hope wasn’t lost. "What happened down there?”

[[Commander…]] Eve started, and even through the comm-link, the hesitation in her voice set Jake’s guts to a nervous churn once more. [[Jake. It’s Maynell.]]

Jake felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “John?”

[[He’s… he didn’t make it,]] said Eve gently.

And all at once, that hopeless feeling surged through him once more. Beneath him, his legs wanted to collapse. Jake wanted to sink to the deck, to rest his brow against the bulkhead, and simply wait for the end to come. John Maynell had been a friend; Jake had known him since he’d been assigned to the DISCOVERY, four years ago. Maynell had gone through the Neo-Essentialist crisis with him, had survived the destruction of the DISCOVERY and the flight of the PHOENIX away from Earth. Maynell had been there during Arthur Embry’s mutiny, and when the fractured Federation had skirted dangerously close to open civil war in the skies of Elandipole. He had served with distinction during the Battle of Earth and the end of the Neo-Essentialist threat, and beyond. He had been one of the most trusted officers that Jake had ever served with… and now he was dead.

BaShen. Varn. Perry. Chaucer. Rochemonte. And now, Maynell. So many taken in so little time, and if their situation didn’t vastly improve in the near future, soon Jake and everyone around him would be joining them.

So, he inhaled, then exhaled, and steeled himself. There would be time for grieving later, if they were lucky.

“What happened?” he asked.

[[We aren’t sure, Commander,]] came the voice of Malin-Argo. [[The plan seemed to be working. Phase variance was within acceptable parameters. Then the readings changed.]]

[[We were hoping the ship’s sensors got more information than we did,]] came the voice of Dr. Eden.

Jake exchanged a glance with Byte and Jasmine. “We detected some kind of reaction from the alien vessel,” he said. “Shortly before the phase-variance differential collapsed. From what we can tell, it seems as if the alien ship didn’t want to let us go.”

[[Do you think they might be hostile?]] Eve asked.

“We can’t know for sure, but at this point, whether they’re actively hostile or not is irrelevant,” Jake said. “If we don’t find a way to disentangle from them, it won’t matter what their intentions were.”

[[Commander, there’s something else,]] Dr. Eden said. [[Before the test began, we detected a secondary warp signature, with a phase variance within point-five per cent of the PHOENIX’s own warp field.]]

Jake furrowed his brow. Beside him, Jasmine looked confused.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“It means the alien ship’s technology is similar to ours,” Jake said.

“Is that unusual?”

{{Given what we know and what we have theorized, it is unusual,}} said Byte. {{The aliens appear to exist inside a parallel time-continuum, outside of phase with our own. Warp field signatures vary a great deal across the known warp-capable species in our own time continuum, even among powers with roughly equal levels of technology.}}

“So these aliens have the same warp technology as we do,” Jasmine said. “Is there some way we could use that?”

Jake’s eyes widened. “Yeah. And some way *they* might use it, too.”

Jasmine blinked. “I don’t understand.”

“For a start,” Jake continued, “it suggests that their attempts to solve this problem would be nearly identical to our own.”


SCENE: Main Engineering

Dr. Eden and Malin-Argo traded a surprised look. Eve Dalziel glanced at one, then the other, and not for the first time had the irritating notion that all the engineers aboard the ship had gone and developed some means of telepathic communication while nobody was looking.

“What does that mean?” she asked impatiently.

Malin-Argo turned to look at her, his expression dour. “If these aliens are using similar warp technology, it means their understanding of warp theory would be roughly equivalent to ours. If we assume their intentions are not hostile, that they have found themselves in this predicament as unexpectedly as we have, we can also assume their attempts to resolve the situation would be roughly equivalent to ours.”

“So they would have tried doing… whatever is we just tried, with the PHOENIX’s warp field?” Eve asked.

“In theory,” Malin-Argo. “If both ships altered their warp fields along the same parameters and at the same moment, it would pull them back into phase with each other, which would have caused the damage we experienced.”

“So it could have been an accident,” Eve said, her eyes drifting to the spot where Jonathan Maynell had died. “They might not have been trying to hurt us at all.”

“Absurd,” Dr. Eden said contemptuously. “They would have had to enact their plan at the same time we enacted ours. Even if we assume a similar level of technology, that wouldn’t imply identical patterns of reasoning. They could have tried the same tactic an hour before or after we tried it ourselves.”

“It would be significant coincidence,” Malin-Argo allowed. “But it’s not impossible.”

[[That would be coincidences on top of each other,]] Jake said from the other end of the comm. [[They just happen to have similar warp technology, and then they just happen to try the exact same plan as we do, at the exact same moment?]]

“What’s the alternative?” Eve asked.

Dr. Eden frowned. “It’s also possible - and in my estimation, far more likely - the alien vessel detected what we were attempting, and took steps to prevent it.”

“So… they *did* stop us from leaving,” Eve said. She felt like they were going around in circles. “Why would they do that? From what you’ve said, it sounds like they’re in as much trouble as we are. They should want to get out of this as much as we do, even if their intentions *were* hostile.”

[[We’re still in the dark here,]] Jake said. [[There’s no point in speculating about their intentions, we need to focus on what we do know. Whether it was deliberate or not, it seems likely the alien vessel prevented our last plan from working.]]

“So what do we do now?” Dr. Eden asked.

“We could try again,” Malin-Argo suggested. “If the results of the last attempt really were just a coincidence, it’s possible a second attempt could succeed.”

“Or it could cause even more damage to the PHOENIX,” Eden countered. “And it might leave us without the ability to be proactive on our end.”

“It sounds like you’re saying it’s us or them,” Eve said. “Either the alien ship survives, or we do.”

Eden turned to Eve, her expression haughty. “That seems the most pragmatic way to approach the situation. How many of your crew have already been killed? We need to assume the aliens are, at the very least, unconcerned with the damage they are causing here, and
we should respond in kind.”

“We don’t know that’s true,” Eve countered. “In fact, given the similarities we’ve detected between our two ships, I think it’s entirely possible that our only way out of this is by working together with them.”

“I had forgotten how irritating Starfleet idealism could be,” Eden snorted. “We have no means of establishing communication with them, nor any reason to believe they would want to talk to us even if it were possible.”

“What about the jumps through time?” Eve asked, her voice rising to match Eden’s. “For all we know, that could be the aliens attempting to communicate with us somehow.”

“A theory, based on sentimentality, which we have no time to pursue,” Eden said, waving this off. “The way forward is *through* the other ship, not *with* them.”


SCENE: Bridge

[[The way forward is *through* the other ship, not *with* them.]]

“Enough,” Jake said, rubbing his eyes. “I agree with Lt. Dalziel.”

[[Commander,]] Dr. Eden said, her voice high and reedy over the comm. [[Even *if* we assume the aliens are not hostile, we have no way of contacting them, and no time to waste trying to develop one!]]

“I’m not so sure about that,” Jake said, turning to Jasmine. “Lieutenant Yu has a theory about how we might establish communication with the alien ship. It shouldn’t take long for us to implement. If we can find a way to talk to them, I think that’s our best shot at getting out of this.”

[[And if you’re wrong?]] Eden insisted.

Jake sighed. “Then… we’ll proceed with the assumption the aliens are hostile. But we’re going to try talking first. Is that understood, doctor?”

There was a long moment of silence from the other end of the comm. Then, finally: [[I hope you know what you’re doing, Commander.]]

**Me too,** Jake thought.

“Commander Malin-Argo,” Jake said. “How long will it take for you to prepare a class-one probe?”

[[Half an hour,]] Malin-Argo said. [[Probably less. May I ask why?]]

“We’re going to try sending it into the alien’s time continuum,” Jake said. “Depending what we find, we’ll move on to sending personnel.”

[[I see,]] Malin-Argo said. [[After that last collision with the alien vessel, a lot of systems have gone down again. Industrial replicators are offline, but we have a few class-one probes in storage. The biggest obstacle would be getting down to the probe bay to manually prep one.]]

“How long do you think that would take?” Jake asked.

[[Turbolifts are spotty, but I should be able to make it in twenty minutes.]]

“Okay,” Jake nodded. “Get down there, ASAP. I’ll have Lt. Byte meet you, he’ll have the specs for the subspace isolation field we want to use.”

[[Understood. Main Engineering out.]]

Jake turned and smiled weakly at Jasmine.

“Up for another walk, lieutenant?”

Jasmine squared her shoulders. “Ready and willing, sir.”

Jake nodded. “Go with Lt. Byte. Once we get some readings from the probe, the next step is sending an away-team through to the other side. Byte makes the most sense, and if you’re still willing, I’d like you to go with him. Byte and Malin-Argo can modify one of the emergency transporter bands for you.”

“I won’t let you down,” Jasmine said.


Ten minutes after Byte and Jasmine had left to rendezvous with Malin-Argo, the turbolift doors parted. Jake looked up, and his expression brightened.


Michael Turlough Kane lurched onto the bridge, looking a little bit worse for wear. In spite of the cuts and bruises, he seemed in good shape overall, which was more than could be said for much of the PHOENIX’s crew.

“Commander,” Kane said. “What have you done to my ship?”

Jake couldn’t help but laugh. “I might have scratched the paint a bit, sir.”

Kane smiled back, though it was mostly humorless. “What’s the situation?”

Jake brought Kane up to speed, outlining the failed warp phase variance attempt that had led to the death of John Maynell. Jake felt a fresh stab of grief as he recounted that detail, but if Kane was similarly affected, it didn’t show.

“At this point, I thought our best chance was to try to establish communication with the other ship,” Jake said. “Lt. Yu theorized that a subspace isolation field could protect a crewman from the other continuum. Best case scenario, we start talking with them, but lacking that, I figure we’ll at least have more information to base our next move on.”

Kane considered this for a moment, then nodded. “Agreed. What about Main Engineering?”

“The warp core is still on its way to a breach,” Jake said. “If communicating with the other ship doesn’t work, I don’t think we’ll have time for anything else. If we want to save the PHOENIX, we might need to find a way to destroy the other ship.”

“Based on what we know, would that be possible?”

“Their tech seems to have a lot in common with ours,” Jake said. “If it comes to it, I think it would be possible to affect their ship, maybe find a way to accelerate the damage to their own warp core… assuming there is any, of course.”

Kane’s expression darkened. “And does that mean they could do the same to us?”

Jake nodded. “Unfortunately, yeah, it probably does.”

Kane paced the bridge for a moment, one hand stroking his chin thoughtfully. “Well, I suppose that could be good news. From a certain point of view.”

Jake frowned. “I don’t think I follow.”

“In theory, if they wanted us dead, they could do it at any time,” Kane said. “The fact that we’re still here could mean they’re not in any more of a hurry to destroy us than we are to destroy them.”

“I guess that’s one way of looking at it,” Jake said.

Kane turned to look at him. “I would have thought you’d come to that conclusion yourself, Jake.”

“Yeah, well,” Jake said, a little distantly. “Maynell’s death is a lot to take. I guess… I don’t know if learning this whole thing was a tragic misunderstanding would really make me feel any better.”

“It won’t,” Kane said quietly. “But, all things considered, it’s better than the alternative. You can’t save everyone, Jake. Not all the time.”

Jake nodded. “With all due respect, captain, I think I’ve learned that lesson a dozen times over since I took the assignment aboard the DISCOVERY.”

Jake thought he saw a profound sadness in Kane’s single green eye, though the gold-irised prosthetic replacement was as unreadable as ever. The captain looked like he might be about to say something else, but they were interrupted by the sudden chirrup of the ship’s comm.

[[Elgin to bridge,]] came the voice of Asta Elgin.

Kane activated his comm. “Go ahead, ensign.”

[[Sir, we have a problem.]]

Jake and Kane exchanged a worried glance, both men steeling themselves against whatever new calamity was waiting in the wings.


SCENE: Main Deflector Array

“This shouldn’t be possible,” Asta Elgin said, frowning at the readings from her tricorder. “All power to the main deflector has been cut off. I’m not getting any readings on any power supply from the PHOENIX routed to this location.”

[[But the dish is powering up?]] Kane asked from the bridge.

Asta nodded. “Aye sir. Not only that, but these readings… they’re unlike anything I’ve seen before.”

She waved her tricorder over the control console again.

[[Theories, ensign?]] the voice of Jake Crichton asked.

“It looks similar to the modifications Dr. Eden made before we began the initial experiment,” Asta shrugged. “Before we got into this whole mess. But the readings don’t match up 100%. I’m seeing a huge potential for radiation spikes.”

[[Dalziel reported a vision where radiation affected Main Engineering,]] Crichton said. [[There was something about the Main Deflector dish being active too. That’s popped up in more than one vision, according to the reports we’ve managed to collect so far.]]

Asta examined the readout on her tricorder again, and the blood suddenly began to drain from her face.

“I have bad news, sir,” she said. “The future is now.”

Before her eyes, the main deflector console began to blink into life.


SCENE: Bridge

The ship shuddered. Jake reached out to steady himself against the turbulence - he’d gotten good at that over the last few hours, he realized - then moved to the Ops console.

“The main deflector dish is active,” he said, turning to Kane. “We’re firing off some kind of energy beam.”

“Do a sensor sweep,” Kane said. “Find the target.”

Jake ordered the sensor sweep, checked the results, then turned back to Kane. “It’s a point in space about 1000 meters in front of the ship. I’m reading a huge spike in beta radiation particles, plus energy readings similar to the transwarp experiment that Dr. Eden was conducting.”

Kane frowned. “Theories?”

“You know how we were just talking about how the aliens didn’t want to destroy us?” Jake asked. “I think maybe that ship has sailed. This has got to be them.”

Kane activated his comm-badge. “Bridge to Main Engineering.”

[[Main Engineering here,]] came the voice of Eve Dalziel. [[Captain, what’s going on?]]

“The main deflector dish has activated,” Kane said.

[[How is that possible?]] Eve asked. [[I thought we shut it down!]]

“It appears our uninvited guests have turned it back on again,” Kane frowned. “What’s the status of the warp core?”

[[I’ve managed to stabilize the reaction for now,]] came the voice of Dr. Eden. [[But we have another problem. We’re showing huge spikes in radiation around the warp core. I’ve sealed it off with emergency forcefields, but if this energy build-up continues, they won’t hold.]]

[[Sir, I saw this,]] Eve Dalziel said, her voice urgent. [[Malin-Argo was killed. He isn’t here now, but I don’t think that bodes well for anyone still down here.]]

“Have we had any word from Malin-Argo or Lt. Byte?” Kane asked.

[[Not yet,]] Eve said. [[Orders, captain?]]

Kane looked at Jake, his expression. “We can’t delay any longer, commander.”

Jake nodded. “Agreed, captain.”

Kane returned the nod, then looked up. “Dr. Eden?”

[[Here, captain.]]

“Are the modifications to the warp phase variance still prepared?”

[[I can implement them at any time, sir.]]

“Do it,” Kane said. “We’re getting out of here.”

Jake turned to Sotaar at the FCO station. “Lieutenant, plot a course away from that rift. Maximum impulse.”

The Vulcan FCO complied, yet almost as soon as the PHOENIX began to move, the ship began to shudder again, even more violently than before. Kane held onto the armrests of the captain’s chair, but then a particularly violent tremor catapulted him out of the seat to spill onto the deck.

“Captain!” Jake said, moving to his side.

[[Bridge!]] the voice of Dr. Eden shouted. [[Radiation levels are lowering! Whatever you’re doing, it’s working!]]

“We’re at 1300 meters from the rift,” Sotaar reported through gritted teeth. “1350. 1450.”

“Keep going!” Jake shouted, over the sounds of groaning durasteel, as he helped Kane back to his seat.

“1500 meters!” Sotaar shouted. “Sir, I’m detecting some kind of power surge from the rift--”

All at once, the bridge of the PHOENIX began to crumple around them. Bulkheads were torn loose, consoles were ripped from the floor and sent caroming around the bridge, knocking those officers too slow or unlucky enough get off their way aside with lethal indifference. As Jake watched, a tear appeared in one of the walls, a curtain of winking stars revealed behind it in the split second before the forcefield sprang to life to cover it. All around them, Jake could see the indistinct outline of *something* - the other ship, he realized, suddenly there, nearly physically present *inside* the bridge of the PHOENIX, and tearing through anything in the way of its impending manifestation.

“We have to evacuate the bridge!” he shouted, though he wasn’t sure if anyone could hear him over the noise.

One of the flying consoles almost struck Sotaar, but the Vulcan was fast. He hurled himself aside as it smashed its way through the FCO station, which in its turn was catapulted aside as even more of the alien vessel bled into their dimension. Jake grabbed the Vulcan and didn’t bother shouting orders. Instead, he only pushed him towards the maintenance hatch near the aft of the bridge, then turned back for Kane.

The captain was shouting, but Jake couldn’t hear what he was saying. Instead, he followed Kane’s gaze, in time to see the flicker of green as the first wave of plasma fire began to pour out of a ruptured conduit near the main holodisplay. The plasma fire caught, held, and rapidly began to spread, racing towards where Kane was standing.

Jake leapt towards the captain, pushing him back, towards the maintenance shaft.

He wasn’t fast enough.

As he fell, he saw Kane stumbling back, away from him, a perplexed expression on his face. Jake had time to realize that Kane was looking at *him*, before the plasma fire leapt across his legs and began to climb greedily upward.

Jake Crichton had just enough time to hear Kane shout his name, even as Sotaar was wrapping an arm around him to drag him towards the maintenance hatch. Then, there was nothing except the fire. It was, in the end, mercifully quick.

The maintenance hatch closed, even as Michael Turlogh Kane continued to shout Jake’s name.

Above them, the bridge burned.




Yes. You read all of that right. It didn’t quite come off exactly as I wanted it to (this was a pretty tough week at work and it’s really late here, but I want to get this finished), but Jake Crichton has died. We will talk a little bit more about what that means in the weeks to come, but for now I will say that I’ve been building towards this since the mission started, and also I want to stress that I am *not* planning to leave the game.

For right now, let’s focus on wrapping up this mission. We’re in the final stage now, which means one more round of future posts before the finale. As before, please let me know if you’re ready to go or what your schedule looks like over the next week or so, and I will figure out who’s going to be on deck.

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

SUSAN: I did get your post snippet, but for reasons that are probably now obvious, it didn’t really fit in with what I was working on. Sorry I couldn’t include it!

Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer


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