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The In-Betweener

Posted on Feb 09, 2019 @ 11:05pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle


(Continued from "Under The Circumstances")


Captain's log, supplemental - the time ticking down to a warp core breach, my First Officer is dead and the bridge destroyed, and there is a dangerous probe contained in Engineering. The situation is now critical, and we may not make it through this one alive...


Location: Null-space
Stardate: [2.18]0209.1405
Scene: Whiteout

Jasmine Yu was no longer alive.

At least, that's how it looked. She was not in the real world anymore - it had dissolved from her vision completely as the subspace isolation field had activated, phasing her from one existence plane, now en route to another. There was something uniquely metaphysical about this whole experience, like she was bypassing the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. As she passed between universes, she was neither here nor there, an in-betweener who was defying all natural law, as hard science thumbed its nose at one reality in favour of another.

The Phoenix cargo bay had first become a blur, looking as if a myopic person had removed their eye-glasses. Then the shapes were gone, but the colours remained, a strange kaleidoscope that melted and flowed like ice becoming water. As the isolation field moved her further out of phase, those colours began to bleed into one another, blending into a brightening white light that soon encompassed the entirely of her vision. She closed her eyes, but the white light was there, omnipresent and blinding - she had often looked into space from a viewport and marvelled at the unending nothingness, and this was like the same thing in reverse.

As she felt panic begin to well within her, she lifted her hands to her face, saw the fingers flex, ran her eyes up along the arms of her black jumpsuit to the red banding, and touched her own face. She was still real.

Jasmine was no expert in multiverse theory; her father was the family scientist, not her. She had been required to take various hard science classes at the Academy, though, and thought furiously to try to recall the minutiae of those lessons. Ever since Starfleet had formed almost two centuries ago, multiversal phenomena had been documented, but it was not until repeated contact occurred with the dimension known as the Mirror Universe that the existence of a multiverse became an accepted scientific fact. The natural barriers between universes varied in strength, too - it was easier to "cross over" into some than others - but this was not even the most startling aspect to understanding the multiverse. Through the bizarre physical phenomenon known as quantum superposition, the number of universes in existence was both infinite and finite at the same time. It was entirely possible that an infinite number of Jasmine Yus were having the same experience right now across billions of universes, or equally possible that, among all those myriad dimensions, she was the only one.

If she remembered correctly, she was in the space between dimensions. There was some kind of horrific mathematical equation that proved that such a space, composed of utter nothingness, needed to existed, but Jasmine didn't remember it. She focused on staying in control of her own moment - to breathe, to feel her body and be aware of her own thinking - and not to linger on the idea of living a life trapped in a place between realities. That was not going to do her any favours - down that road lay madness.

Something caught her eye through the haze, and she focused on it instead. There were no noises of alarm from her belt tricorder, and she wondered if the phasing was almost complete. The thing that she was staring at seemed to be a simple point in a vast tapestry of white three-dimensional space, but as she watched, the point began to expand in all directions in a blurred way, forming lines and surfaces as a new 3-D image began to register across all her senses. It took a moment for her mind to process everything together, but when she did, she caught her breath in fearful surprise.

She was standing in a corridor of some kind, but the edges were all blurred and out of focus, like she was dreaming the whole thing. Her vision didn't stretch very far either, but from what she could make out, the corridor curved around to the right ahead, disappearing out of view. There were no distinct features visible anywhere through the haze, and she couldn't hear anything, but when she lifted her hand and tried to touch the wall next to her, it was gratifyingly solid.

She reached for her tricorder and opened it, but nothing was registering. It was impossible to say whether or not the phasing was complete, so she decided to hold still and wait for any new changes.

Three dimensions, she thought. That's good. Whatever domain the aliens inhabited, it seemed more and more like home. Hope sprang anew as she considered the possibilities - if she could communicate directly with them, it might in turn be possible to get them to stop whatever they were doing, before they inadvertently destroyed the Phoenix.

Her vision wasn't clearing up any. Everything was fuzzy and indistinct, like she was wrapped in a cotton ball, but she decided that she could see enough to begin moving forward. First, though, she needed to report in.

She tapped her communicator. "Yu to Byte."

It took a moment, but her heart leaped when the android replied. Its voice sounded tinny and faraway, and there was some distortion, but she understood. [[I read you, Lieutenant. I am here in the cargo bay.]]

Jasmine smiled. "I thought you told me the communication would be only one way?"

[[That is usually the case when transmitting through an isolation field. It is likely that the similarity between our universe and the alien universe is causing less subspace interference then we anticipated. Is the phase complete?]]

"Yes, I think so. Everything is hazy, but the aliens appear to inhabit a three-dimensional reality like us."

[[Their probe was indicative of that fact, but you have now confirmed it. Have you made contact?]]

"Negative." Jasmine looked behind her, but the white-gray haze blocked her vision. "I think I'm in some kind of corridor. Maybe a building? The corridor ahead curves around to the right." She shook her head. "I don't know, Byte. The aesthetic seems familiar. I was expecting something bizarre."

[[Interesting. We already know that the aliens are humanoid. If we consider Hodgkin's Law, then perhaps parallel development may be applied to culture and biology equally.]]

Jasmine shrugged. There was no way to know. "I'm going to move forward now." She checked her tricorder, directing it to wide-range scan, before slowly walking down the corridor. As she moved, the tricorder began doing its work - a data stream appeared, scrolling down the main screen. "Are you receiving my tricorder data?"

[[Yes, but it is incomplete. Several readings are duplicated or corrupted. That is likely because the subspace isolation field is interfering with the function of the tricorder.]]

"You can process the data faster than I can. Keep me updated." Jasmine rounded the corner, and saw another corridor stretch out ahead. Up ahead, though, there was a portal in the left-hand wall, sealed by what looked like a sliding door, and another portal away at the end of the corridor. "I think there are some rooms ahead. I'm going to see if I can interact with the doors."

It turned out she didn't have to. As she approached the portal on the left, it suddenly opened with a grating, hissing sound, and a humanoid figure emerged from it. Jasmine froze where she stood, but the alien gaze no indication of having seen her. It turned to face her direction and walked at a seemingly nonchalant pace past her, heading back the way she had come. As it passed, Jasmine peered at it, and lifted a hand to see if it would notice, but there was no reaction.

"Byte, one of the aliens has just passed me by. It didn't seem to be aware of me at all."

[[Acknowledged, Lieutenant. I am processing your tricorder data now. Were you able to conduct a visual inspection?]]

"Yes, I saw it, but it was just like seeing one of them on the Phoenix. A three-dimensional humanoid gray shadow." Jasmine snapped her fingers. "Damn! I touched the wall earlier, so I must be solid to some degree! I should have tried to tap it on the shoulder or something!"

[[I recommend caution, Lieutenant. If your subspace field is breached, you will be stranded in your current phased state. However, extrapolation of your tricorder readings indicate that the alien is organic and eukaryotic, with specialised tissues and organs.]]

"They're alive like us?"

[[I cannot be certain, but that seems likely. Cross-referencing your tricorder data with the internal scans of the Phoenix, I discount the probability that they are artificial life-forms like myself. More tricorder data will be useful in constructing a hypothesis.]]

"I'll do my best to help." Jasmine was standing at the portal that the alien had emerged from. She reached and touched it, jumping back when the door opened with the same grating hiss, revealing a small circular room beyond. The room was empty and featureless save for some kind of control panel on the wall by the door. Colourful lights seemed to be blinking from the panel, but they were blurred and indistinct, and Jasmine was loath to touch them. "The room the alien emerged from is quite small. I don't think it can hold more than three or four of them comfortably. It's about the same size as one of our turbolifts. No other features apart from what looks like a computer control panel."

[[Fascinating. If the aliens have developed artificial intelligence, it would fit our profile of them being just as technologically advanced as we are. Perhaps they also have integrated computers into all aspects of their lives.]]

Jasmine stepped back, and the door grated closed again. She turned to face the door at the end of the corridor. "Maybe. I can see another door at the end of this corridor. I'll check it out."

[[Very well. What is the status of the alien structure? Are there any signs of damage or power failures?]]

"No. Everything looks like it's in perfect working order."

[[Understood. Given that the aliens do not appear to be panicked or under any state of alert, coupled with the lack of damage or power failures, we must assume that they have not been as badly damaged by this encounter as we have.]]

"Agreed." The thought of it made Jasmine's stomach sink. The Phoenix's situation was critical, and there was a very real possibility that she would not be saved. Her survival depended on many different factors all lining up to extricate her shattered hull and crew from a deadly countdown to destruction. Whatever was going on, the alien ship seemed to have the far better of the situation.

She moved towards the door at the end of the corridor, squinting to try to make up some more details. There was some kind of carpet on the floor, and the walls had a clean, albeit featureless, appearance. Was it her imagination, or was her vision improving? "Byte, I think the haze is receding somewhat."

[[The isolation field may be detecting and reacting to minute local conditions. Lieutenant, I have been processing your tricorder data and have concluded that a further point-zero-six percent tuning of the phase variance would move your properly into the alien universe. You would be visible to them in the same way that they are visible to us.]]

Jasmine thought about it. "We do need to make contact. Would it affect my chances of returning to you at all?"

[[It would increase the duration of your journey back through the veil, along with a slight rise in the risk of such a process. It is also likely that this communication frequency would be severely disrupted until you began your journey back.]]

"So I have a choice of losing your input in order to move closer to the aliens, or staying as I am?"

[[Yes, Lieutenant.]]

"Alright, Byte. Tune the phase variance. If I get into trouble, I'll use the tricorder to change the isolation field frequency and come back home."

[[Good luck, Lieutenant. I shall update the Captain and await your return. Commencing field variance tuning... now.]]

Jasmine didn't break her stride. The door at the end of the corridor loomed ahead, and as she approached, it opened, but the noise was much gentler now, just a simple hiss. Her vision was clearing too, and she could see that the exterior corridor was coloured a clean gunmetal grey. The door, too, was filled in with colour as she approached - it was a pleasing rust-red hue, with a small insignia and markings on it that might have been alien writing.

Without looking back, Jasmine Yu stepped through the doorway. The room beyond was much wider than the smaller one she had seen earlier, a two-levelled affair that swept downward in a hemispherical arc towards some kind of huge smooth screen built into the forward wall. The other walls were lined with the same kind of screens, blinking their coloured lights, and there was a sweeping dais on this upper level that overlooked the rest of the room. On the lower level, more panels and screens seemed to rise up from the floor.

There were several aliens here, all seemingly working on various control panels. Some - like the one on her immediate right - were sitting down, as were two more who were seated on the lower level, but all of them got to their feet when she entered the room.

Jasmine peered around at their indistinct form and held up a hand. "My name is Jasmine Yu," she said clearly. "I do not mean you any harm. Can you understand me?"

A burst of static crackled in her universal translator. The aliens were aware of her - they could *see* her now, and were retreating away from her. One of them - standing directly in front her beside the sloping dais - reached under its control panel and produced a device, pointing it right at her.

"Is that a weapon?" said Jasmine, struggling to see what was happening. "Don't shoot! I am not hostile! I want to talk!" She put her hands up in a surrender posture.

One of the aliens on the lower part of the room lifted its arm, and a burst of static indicated that it was saying something. The alien in front of her did not lower its device, but did step back slowly. All of them aliens were on their feet now and facing her.

Jasmine looked around frantically, trying to think of a way to signal that her intentions were not violent. It looked like the aliens moved just like regular humanoids - they sat down, stood up, and walked around, and were clearly able to speak, and therefore hear, one another. Even though their senses were similar, though, there was no guarantee that their cultural expressions were the same - they might be misconstruing her hands-up gesture as a prelude to an attack. She lowered her hands, instead holding them out and upturned before her, to show that they were empty.

The phase variance tuning was almost done. If she could just hold on for another few seconds...

The screen on the far wall was blank. There was an insistent chirping from her tricorder, but she dared not look down at it in case the aliens thought it was a weapon. She could see yellow bars of light flashing on the walls. The outlines of the aliens were becoming clearer, too - they had arms and legs and heads, and their skins were various hues that ran the gamut froma light tan to a gentle yellow. Their features, too, were coming into view - they had some kind of hair on their head, two eyes, a nose, and -

Jasmine stopped in her tracks and her arms dropped to her sides.

It was the bridge of the Phoenix.

Undamaged, clean, and with yellow alert bars flashing on the walls.

She could think of nothing to say, and neither could anyone else.

Captain Kane was looking at her. Jake Crichton was standing beside him. Sotaar and Byte were standing beside one another in front of the main viewscreen. Lynette Ryan was standing beside the bridge engineering station.

And in front of her, holding a tricorder in one hand, was another Jasmine Yu, looking at her incredulously.


NRPG: Don't pretend you didn't see this coming ;)

RAN: I don't think I've written like this for another character for a few years, so I hope Jasmine was portrayed alright.

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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