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Under The Circumstances

Posted on Feb 01, 2019 @ 5:41am by Commander Jacob Crichton & Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Feb 01, 2019 @ 5:42am

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

“Under the Circumstances”
(Continued from “Probing Questions”)


Scene: Main Engineering
SD: [2.19]0126.1212

A pained hush had fallen over the department ever since they had temporarily lost contact with the Bridge. After a pause as fraught with worry as Engineering’s lack of response to the Bridge a short time earlier, due to their own plasma fire, Kane had announced the relocation of the survivors to the Battle Bridge. Unfortunately, both delays had coincided with the loss of lives. Now, Jake Crichton’s name would be added to the list of casualties, following many others. Too damn many.

It had been a particularly trying time for Engineering, as most of the victims had come from their own ranks. Jake’s death had been a natural extension of that, having been “Chief” before the Grazerite had assumed responsibility for the Flagship’s engine. Facial expressions could not conceal the shock and sadness, but their brains and bodies and training took over as they tried to stem the tide of disaster.

Eve stood among them all, simply observing, trying to stay out of the way. She was still out of her element, but she belonged wherever the potential for inconvenient, disruptive emotions existed. Anywhere on the ship would have been an opportune place to be right now, especially her current locale. But it seemed like everyone instinctively knew that time was too precious to spend it on anything other than trying to extricate themselves from the position they were in.

Lorraine Eden was frowning at the console in front of her. There had been several pivotal moments since the accident when Doctor Eden had not behaved like a distinguished Scientist and Instructor. In the face of circumstances beyond their understanding, her frailties and fears had taken over. She had managed to recover the majority of her demeanor, but there was still an occasional haunted look in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” Eve asked gently.

Her lips pursed in a grim line. “Despite our best efforts, we haven’t been successful at preventing the core from overloading.”

“How much longer do we have?”

“A little under an hour. The stability of the containment field will then deteriorate to a point of no return. I’m sorry, child.”

“No need to apologize, Doctor. I know you and the Commander have done everything in your power to fix this. We’d already be gone without your help.”

“The end result is the same,” Eden said resolutely. “But I’m an old biddy. It’s no great loss if I go. But the rest of you, having the preponderance of your lives in front of you… “ For once, words seemed to fail her.

The Counselor then thought of the injured in Sickbay, some of whom not even conscious, unaware of what was happening. She thought of Karri Crow in particular. Eve wondered if the Science Officer would have still wanted acknowledgment from her former mentor, or if merely seeing evidence that Eden was as ‘human’ as the rest of them would have been validation enough.

Two Marines barged in at that moment, brandishing energy batons and shields, making a beeline for Doctor Eden. Eve stepped in front of Eden as an involuntary reflex. She recognized Private Nguyen, or Win-Win as she was known, but couldn’t place the Corporal accompanying her. “What are you doing?”

Malin-Argo rushed in a few seconds later, somewhat winded but still managing a mask of professionalism. “I’ve been advised there’s an out-of-phase probe headed this way. The Marines are here for observation only,” he finished strongly, as if to remind them of their orders.

The Counselor relaxed slightly. “Has there been any word from Jasmine?”

The CEO shook his head. “Not as of yet. I’ve left Byte to monitor the-.” Another Marine interrupted. [[Massimo here, Commander. You should be expecting our little guest any second now.]]


Eve saw a diminutive movement over the Grazerite’s shoulder, and blinked. It appeared like there wasn’t anything there, but then she saw what looked a ripple in the fabric of the room. It was almost atmospheric, a brilliant sun shining on faraway desert sands, the illusion of an oasis. “Sir, look.”

Malin-Argo followed the Counselor’s gaze, then without further hesitation slapped his badge as he hastened to the nearest console. “Captain, the probe is entering engineering, we’re attempting containment procedures.” He manipulated the controls deftly. The Marines and Lorraine Eden looked on, transfixed. “Doctor, go to my office. I’d like you to be the first to see any data we capture from the probe.”

Eden glared at Eve. “You’re coming with me, girl,” she admonished. Dalziel followed the woman, but she backed up for a few steps instead of turning away immediately, wanting to see what the staff was doing. “Don’t dilly-dally,” Doctor Eden said with an acid tongue, and Eve focused her attention on the elderly Scientist as they neared Malin-Argo’s office, a space Eve had seen more of in the last day than she ever imagined possible.

Meanwhile, Malin-Argo was orchestrating his team on strengthening the forcefield.

“Elgin, can you manage more power to the array matrix.”

“On it,” Asta replied, moving a few feet to the left. Petty Officer Braith assumed Asta’s former station.

The field they were building around the probe was an irregular one, looking more like static than something that could actually protect them. But slowly, it began to appear more substantial.

“Containment appears successful. Requesting permission to perform more in-depth scans.”

[[Permission granted,]] Kane replied, showing no signs of conceding. [[Major Thytos has reason to believe the object will try to communicate with us.]]

“I’ll keep an eye out for it. Dr Eden is in my office, I’ll send the readings to her to look at. If the probe was looking for her, as Major Thytos suggested, then perhaps any message is meant for her.”


Scene: Malin-Argo’s office
Time Index: maybe 5 minutes later

While Eve watched, Doctor Lorraine Eden peered at the console, an unsteady stream of information trickling in, information they desperately hoped to decipher.

“It’s gobbeldygook,” she unceremoniously decided, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I don’t see a pattern yet. Tell me again why they felt the need to encase that thing in a forcefield?”

“There’s a concern it might be dangerous.”

“Bollocks!” Eden shot back. “The ship is going to explode unless we stop it. The probe may provide a way to stop that from happening, but even if it doesn’t, we don’t have time to pussyfoot around.”

Eve agreed. She opened a channel to the MCO. “Kass, can you explain exactly what you saw for the benefit of Doctor Eden and myself? The data we’re getting isn’t exactly providing anything solid.”

The Marine sighed. [[I was there.]]

“In Engineering?”

[[Yep. Byte was there, too. An’ that probe was followin’ tha Doc. I kept trying to shoot tha blasted thing, but it was trackin’ her too close. Then Byte said some such about it tryin’ to communicate with her and that was tha last before I came back.]]

“Was it attempting to harm her?”

[[Can’t say fer sure- that’s what makes it so got-dang frustratin’.]]

“Wait- you said the probe was moving. That means there was no forcefield in the future.” Eve looked at Eden. “Could the protective barrier be muddling the information we’re receiving?”

The Doctor shrugged. “I’m not certain. It might merit further study, if we had the luxury to research. But we don’t. And I’d rather die trying to solve a problem than lay back and watch the warp core detonate. I want to engage with the probe.”

“I’ve had visions of the future too, and thought I was helping us avert the death and setbacks I witnessed, but despite those oddly educated decisions, we’re in precisely the position I was trying to avoid.”

Eden slammed her white-knuckled, bony fist on the console. “Then don’t you see- that’s exactly why I need to get closer to that probe- playing cautiously hasn’t worked. We have nothing more to do but take risks- and this is a risk I want to take. I demand to have that forcefield removed immediately.”

Eve wanted to argue, but she had to admit the older woman had a point. From what Eden had told her, there was nothing more to be done about the PHOENIX’s warp core except to find a way out of this situation. Eve didn’t like the idea of adding any more names to the list of casualties, but they’d played things as safe as they could up to this point, and it hadn’t seemed to make much difference.

“Okay,” Eve said. “I can notify the captain that we will--”


She wasn’t in Malin-Argo’s office any more, though she supposed that the fact that she could remember that’s where she was *supposed* to be was a step in the right direction. Now she just wished she could remember what she had been about to say.

But although it seemed that Eve had managed to carry more awareness of her present along with her to this vision of the future, it also seemed that such awareness could not last very long. She felt herself pushed aside, felt all the concerns of the moment shuffled away and replaced with new concerns, and a sense of desperation that, while similar to what she had been feeling ever since they’d found themselves in this mess, was nevertheless much sharper and more immediate.

“It’s a code,” Dr. Eden was saying.

They were standing in front of the probe. After lowering the forcefield, the probe had simply crossed the few meters of distance separating it from where Eden had been standing, and then it had stopped. Eden was standing in front of it now, waving an engineering tricorder across the shimmering emptiness that seemed to comprise the probe’s surface. A few away, Eve and Malin-Argo stood side-by-side. Malin-Argo had an engineering tricorder of his own.

“Doctor, I am detecting waves of beta-radiation emanating from that device,” Malin-Argo said. “Increasing in magnitude.”

“Is it dangerous?” Eden asked, not looking back him. Her voice sounded distant, and Eve noticed the way her attention was transfixed by the readout on her own tricorder.

“Not yet,” Malin-Argo said. “But it will be. At the rate of increase, you have less than two minutes before fatal exposure.”

“Be quick, doctor,” Eve cautioned. Her hand was on the control for the forcefield, ready to activate it once more and trap the probe in place.

Dr. Eden didn’t reply. Her eyes flicked between the probe and the display on her tricorder. Eve could only see her in profile, but the old woman’s expression seemed almost manic; her eyes were wide saucers, and she kept licking her lips absentmindedly.

“The reaction is increasing in speed,” Malin-Argo said.

“Doctor,” Eve said.

“I recognize this,” Eden said, and it sounded like she was talking to herself more than Eve or Malin-Argo. “These are the calculations - my early calculations…”

“Doctor Eden,” Eve repeated, more sharply this time. “If you’ve found something, we’d better hear it.”

“For this experiment,” Eden said, tearing her view away from the tricorder screen to look at Eve. “My transwarp experiment. The probe is transmitting in simple code, but the message appears to match some of the earliest calculations for opening my transwarp rift.”

“45 seconds,” Malin-Argo said.

“We know the aliens have similar technology to ours,” Eve said. “Maybe they’ve calculated along similar lines. Maybe they’re trying to tell us what we need to do to get out of this mess.”

“You don’t understand,” Eden said. “These are some of my earliest notes, calculations from ten years ago or more. Half of these I wound up throwing out, I couldn’t resolve them. This isn’t just my conclusions… it’s my whole thought process.”

As she was speaking, Eve noticed that Eden seemed to be sagging. She was too close to the probe, the radiation was already starting to affect her.

“Step back from the probe, doctor,” Eve said, her hand ready over the forcefield control. “We’ve gotten what we need.”

“Just another moment,” Eden said, her eyes once more fixed on her tricorder. “My god… this can’t be possible…”

“20 seconds,” Malin-Argo said.

“Doctor, it’s too dangerous,” Eve said. “You need to get away from that thing now.”

“No, no,” Eden said, shaking her head. “It won’t hurt me. Don’t you see? They haven’t been trying to hurt us. All this time, they’ve been reaching out.”

“Whatever it is the probe is telling you, we can talk about it after it’s contained,” Eve urged. “Step away now!”

“The reaction is increasing in intensity,” Malin-Argo said. “We need to contain it now.”

“Get away from the probe, doctor!” Eve shouted. Before her, Dr. Eden seemed to be wither, almost shriveling up, yet somehow she kept her feet, kept her hand fastened, claw-like, around the tricorder.

“I know…” Eden started to say, and she reached out to touch the probe.

Eve slammed her hand down on the control. The forcefield flashed to life, knocking Eden’s hand back so suddenly that the old woman stumbled back. Her feet went out from under her and she fell. Eve rushed to her side, too late to break her fall. The old woman was breathing harshly, and the hand that she had reached out towards the probe had turned an ugly red. The wrinkled skin had already started to peel, and Eve saw what she thought could be charring at the tips of her fingers.

“Commander?” Eve asked, turning back to Malin-Argo as she cradled Eden’s head.

“It’s contained,” Malin-Argo said after consulting his tricorder. “For now. If the reaction continues to increase, the forcefield won’t hold it back for long.”

“I know…” Eden said, her voice weak.

Eve turned back to look at her. “What is it, doctor? What did it tell you?”

“I know...” Eden repeated, “...who sent… the probe.”


Eden’s eyes fixed on Eve’s own. They were already starting to go distant, the light in them beginning to fade.

“Me,” Eden breathed. The single-syllable dragged into a wet cough. A single runnel of blood crept out of the corner of the old woman’s mouth and began to slide down her wrinkled cheek.


“--investigate the…” Eve said, but she trailed off. She blinked a few times, not sure where she was.

Dr. Eden looked at her impatiently. “What is it, counselor?”

Eve winced. The time-hopping gave her sense of malaise, even though their situation was bad enough without that. “This is so confusing.”

“Spit it out- You were ‘gone’ just now, weren’t you?”

Eve nodded. “Dalziel to Bridge and Engineering.”

[[What is it, Lieutenant?]] Malin-Argo was the first to respond.

“I’ve had another vision. The probe contains the entirety of Doctor Eden’s research on creating the transwarp rift, which means the only person who could have sent the probe would be the Doctor herself.”

Everyone held their collective breath, letting that sink in. “Then I insist upon scanning the unshielded probe myself,” Eden continued, this time for the benefit of the Captain and anyone else that was listening.

“I can’t let you do that,” Eve answered.

[[Why not?]] Kane asked, even before the irascible woman could rattle off a retort.

“The probe has the capability to emit Beta waves in an escalating, exponential cycle. That exposure will kill her within a couple of minutes, which is too short a time frame to determine anything other than that she is the sender of the probe, and that its appearance here was meant to help us.” Eve focused her next words on Lorraine Eden. “Doctor, I know you already have no qualms about laying down your life, but it would be pointless. We need you here to work on a solution.”

[[Why would a probe be sent to *help* us that contained Beta radiation?]] the CO inquired.

“That was not divulged to me in what I saw. As I keep telling Mister Malin-Argo, I’m not a Engineer. And the good Doctor knows I’m not a Scientist either. Their theories would be better than mine. I speculate either the radiation was required to allow the probe to phase back to us, or that it may be part of the message itself.”

Lynette Ryan, who was also on the Battle Bridge, chimed in. [[Maybe it’s an alarm of sorts.]]

“In what way?” Lorraine Eden asked, still unsettled at Eve’s revelation.

[[Maybe the more correct actions we take to save ourselves, the radiation dissipates?]]

[[A warp core hoverin’ on tha edge of meltdown ain’t incentive enough?]] Kass added. [[I still say destroyin’ it is on the table.]]

Captain Kane knew that while everyone was invigorated by the new information, focus was of primary importance. [[Nothing is off the table. You can all work on your respective theories. You have ten minutes, after which I want a report. If any of you have a breakthrough or another vision sooner than that, by all means report.]]

They needed more than theories and speculation. They needed answers. But they were running out of time.

NRPG: I’m really enamored with Shawn’s section. I cannot wait to see what’s next. Thanks again Shawn.

A JP by

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


Shawn Putnam
a GM


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