The USS Farraday, en route to Earth for refit or decommission, encountered odd subspace message fragments and tiny black holes in and around the Regula planetoid. The fragments indicate the involvement of an Admiral Kirk, which is odd considering Kirk was only recently promoted to captain of the Enterprise following the Nero incident.
Captain’s Log, Supplemental: During our survey of the Regula 1 planetoid for the Federation, evidence has appeared of an unprecedented cosmic event. I have contacted Starfleet Command and informed them of my intent to investigate the traces of protomatter that may be either the cause of this, or a byproduct. This is the first time this theoretical form of matter has been seen outside of a laboratory. We are en route to the Mutara nebula under impulse power, but I have ordered the warp drive kept ready in case the situation becomes dangerous.
Parkhurst filed his log entry and turned his attention back to the sensor telemetry. The door to his ready room chimed and without looking up from the readouts from the planetoid, said “Enter.”
Commander Lennox stepped in, his eyes moving over the data cards set aside for review, each marked “Farraday NCC-0987″. He ran a hand through his hair and put his hands behind his back.
“You wanted to see me, sir?”
“Yes I did, Anthony,” Parkhurst replied. “We have at least ten minutes before reaching the nebula. I wanted to take a moment to discuss your posting as First Officer aboard the Farraday.”
Lennox blinked. “If I recall correctly, you requested I take the position after Commander O’Neill got his diagnosis.”
“Yes, I did. But it’s your third posting as First Officer. In fact, the captain of the Miranda volunteered to keep his ship off of her patrol route for nearly a month rather than lose you to a provisional desk job.”
“Captain Shepherd’s a great teacher. I learned a lot from him.”
“Yet not enough to learn when to seek your own command. You’ve had plenty of experience, numerous commendations and you’re admired by junior officers like Cadet M’Rann and Lieutenant Skirov.”
“I didn’t know I’d been on the ship long enough to make that good an impression on your science officer,” Lennox said as he sat across from the captain.
“She’s a decent judge of character,” Parkhurst observed. “She helped bring D’Sarl into Starfleet Academy over the objections of her somewhat esoteric family. Some Orions, after all, don’t have a lot of respect for organizations interested in peacekeeping and upholding the law.”
“They’re poorer for D’Sarl’s loss,” Lennox agreed.
“But we were discussing you, and your prospects,” Parkhurst pointed out, leaning back in his chair and steepling his fingers. “Command is in your future, Anthony, even if you feel you are unprepared for it. I have every reason to recommend you for posting in your first command at the earliest opportunity once the Farraday returns to Earth, and Captains Shepherd and Anderson are likely to add their votes of confidence as well. The only thing preventing your promotion is you. I wanted to know more about your thinking.”
“Most of my experience is on system patrol boats. I wanted more time in deep space.”
“Do you prefer chasing anomalies to chasing pirates?” Parkhurst asked with some bemusement.
“I feel both are necessary undertakings for Starfleet. I know that since the Kelvin incident, we’ve taken a more aggressive stance in terms of ship design, tactical studies and overall strategy. But we still have a lot of space to explore. That’s what brought us out here in the first place, after all. To seek out new life and civilizations, not to blast them into submission.”
“I can understand, Commander.” Parkhurst stood and looked out the window. “That’s what prompted me to enlist in the first place. The appeal of the unknown, the prospect of some new discovery, all the mysteries of deep space. I considered myself more a scientist than a captain, but here I am.” He turned to regard his First Officer. “What about you? Clearly command was not foremost in your mind when you enlisted.”
As Lennox considered the question, the comm panel on Parkhurst’s desk beeped. “COB to Captain.”
Parkhurst touched the control. “Parkhurst here, Chief.”
“We’re approaching the nebula perimeter,” Stone reported. “Lieutenant Skirov reports tactical displays will not function, shields will be inoperative and visual sensors will be severely impaired.”
“Acknowledged, Chief, we’re on our way.” He turned to Lennox. “Shall we see what secrets await us in the nebula, Commander?”
Lennox stood. “After you, sir.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Sonora Fairchild said, rubbing her neck. “I’m sorry to trouble you for something so insignificant as a headache.”
“Sickbay isn’t exactly overflowing right now,” Ilal replied, tending to her medications without sparing the civilian a glance. “If anybody wanted to inconvenience me, now’s a great time to do it.”
Sonora blinked. “Treating patients is an inconvenience to you?”
“I have equipment and medications to inventory. There are new crew members whose medical histories I need to review. Two of my nurses barely know the meaning of the word ‘triage’. I have a lot of work to do.”
“You sound like you expect us to go into combat.”
Ilal shrugged, closing up the hypospray case and setting it aside. “It’s always a possibility in Starfleet. The organization hasn’t always done its utmost to endear itself to other species. It took quite a bit for my people to even consider helping found the Federation in the first place.”
Sonora nodded. “We couldn’t have made it without the Andorians.”
Ilal snorted. “Make sure you never forget that. And now if you’ll excuse me, as I said, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done here.”
“Of course. Thank you again, doctor.”
Ilal made some sort of vocal noise of acknowledgment. Sonora left sickbay and found M’Rann walking in her direction. Smiling, Sonora smoothed her skirt and inclined her head respectfully.
“Ancestors bless you, Midshipman M’Rann,” she said.
“And you, Doctor Fairchild,” he replied with a similar gesture. “I am surprised you know the traditional Caitian greeting, even if it isn’t in my native tongue.”
Sonora chuckled as she walked with the cadet. “I unfortunately don’t have capability for the sub-vocal nuances of the Caitian tongue.”
“Nobody’s perfect. I hope our detour is not an inconvenience for you.”
“Starfleet’s mandate is to explore, and that’s what the Farraday is doing. I’ll just do my best to stay out of the crew’s way. I know you’re not used to carrying passengers.”
“We do have the advantage of not being a warship in that regard. Being assigned to scientific and surveying missions means that civilians with special privileges can get fast, relatively safe passage from one place to another.”
“Well, I appreciate the patience everyone has shown with me,” Sonora said.
M’Rann nodded as they arrived at Sonora’s quarters. “Let me know if you need anything. One of the duties of a midshipman is to look after civilians.”
“You’re joking,” Sonora observed with a smile.
“A little,” M’Rann replied. “However, the nebula we’re entering is somewhat violent, so-”
The deck pitched under their feet as M’Rann spoke. Sonora grabbed a hold of the edge of the door as the Caitian reached out to steady her.
“So I’ll stay in my quarters,” she surmised. “Thank you, Midshipman.”
M’Rann nodded and headed to Engineering. The compartment was filled with chaos, with Forrester shouting orders to the enlisted crew as they ran from one position to another to regulate the warp engines and keep them ready for activation. M’Rann raised his arm to get Forrester’s attention, and the chief engineer walked over.
“I’m a bit busy, Midshipman, this’d better be good.”
“It’s a full report on the primary hull subsystems, Commander,” M’Rann replied.
“I don’t exactly have time to read it, in case you haven’t noticed what’s goin’ on.” Forrester’s expression was sour. “We shouldn’t be doin’ this. The Farraday should be goin’ home, not gallopin’ around like she’s fresh outta drydock. Can’t imagine what the captain’s thinkin’.”
“He’s an explorer, sir,” M’Rann ventured. “This is unprecedented phenomena…”
Sparks flew from a subsystem within the engineering compartment. Forrester whirled and looked towards the problem, tossing the datapad back to M’Rann.
“Yeah, unprecedented phenomena, I get that. I just hope the captain gets the fact that the old girl’s in need of a few new parts!”
“Sensor readings, Lieutenant Skirov.”
“One moment, Captain,” Skirov said, adjusting controls on her console. “There’s a great deal of interference from the nebula’s static discharge.”
“Any problems from the proximity or navigational systems?” Lennox asked, standing near the helm.
“I haven’t run into anything yet,” D’Sarl replied, then glanced over at Lennox. “Sorry, sir. That was a poor turn of phrase.”
“No need to apologize, Lieutenant, we haven’t run aground yet.” Lennox turned to Skirov. “Any major concentrations of protomatter?”
“4000 kilometers off the port bow, sir.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Parkhurst answered. “Helm, adjust course, maintain speed.”
“Captain,” came the voice of Ensign Chambers at Tactical, “Chief Stone reports all departments ready.”
“Where is the COB?” Parkhurst asked.
“Down in Environmental Control, sir. There was some concern that the nebula’s static discharges would disrupt ship’s systems beyond tactical and shields.”
Parkhurst nodded. The Farraday shook slightly and Skirov’s console indicated a warning.
“Massive buildup of protomatter dead ahead, sir. The configuration of it is… odd.”
“Odd in what way, Lieutenant?” Lennox asked, moving towards the science station.
“Most protomatter observed until this point has appeared sporadically. This buildup appears almost manufactured.”
The ship shook again and Skirov looked over the various readings. “Microsingularities forming, sir. I’m reading three – check that, five, within our forward arc.”
“Any danger to the ship?”
“Not yet, sir,” Skirov replied. “Though I believe we’ll be seeing a lot more singularities within the next few minutes.”
“Full stop,” Parkhurst ordered. “Helm, back us away from the buildup, slowly.”
D’Sarl moved to comply but the Farraday shuddered in protest.
“Captain, the helm’s unresponsive,” she said. “Thrusters are operational but the impulse engines…”
“Gravitational pull from the microsingularities has exceeded normal impulse capacity,” Skirov reported. “They’re growing at an exponential rate. Some are merging into larger singularities.”
Lennox looked to Parkhurst. “We should adjust course and warp out, sir. It’s getting too dangerous.”
Parkhurst shook his head. “We won’t leave until it’s absolutely necessary, Commander. We can’t miss this opportunity.”
The Farraday was buffeted even more strongly, almost knocking people down. Lennox pulled himself back up from the kneeling position he’d been forced into. “Captain, I have to protest. The safety of the ship needs to take precedence over the scientific opportunities. I know we’re out here to search for the unknown, but if the unknown destroys the ship, it isn’t likely our findings will make much of a difference.”
Parkhurst looked evenly at the First Officer, who didn’t look away. After a long moment, Parkhurst turned to D’Sarl.
“Helm, bring up the escape course. Be ready for warp speed on my command. Lieutenant Skirov, put sensors to maximum gain. Gather as much information as you can within the next 60 seconds.”
The bridge crew worked to obey the captain, as Lennox moved to stand by the central chair.
“I understand, Commander, that your dissertation was on the role of compromise in the early days of the Federation,” Parkhurst said in a low tone of voice. “I trust you recognize this as just such a compromise.”
“Absolutely, sir,” Lennox replied.
“Good.” Parkhurst raised his voice to it’s normal level. “Lieutenant Skirov, report.”
“Protomatter activity and singularity growth continue to rise in tandem, sir. The root cause of the phenomenon is still unknown.”
“Keep on it, Lieutenant,” Parkhurst said, as the ship again groaned and shook in protest.
“Engineering to Bridge,” came Forrester’s voice. “Cap’n, we’ve got some problems down here. Whatever’s goin’ on outside is playing havoc with the warp field dynamics. Warp speed’s gonna be hard to muster let alone maintain if this keeps up.”
“Suggestions?” Parkhurst asked.
“A little more power fed into the core might boost the field integrity.”
“Coordinate with COB in Environmental control, Mr. Forrester. Don’t leave us short on life support but pull what you can from other systems.”
“Aye, sir!” Forrester responded.
“D’Sarl, as soon as we have a stable warp field, get us out of here,” Lennox said.
“Yes, sir,” D’Sarl replied, not having to be told twice. She kept her eyes on the viewscreen, despite the fact it was full of static. There was the occasional glimpse of the swirling clouds of gas being drawn into the microsingularities, but the flashes of clarity on the screen did little to assuage her uneasiness.
“Protomatter is continuing to build,” Skirov reported. “At this rate, sir, it’s going to reach a state of critical mass in less than two minutes. By that time, if the growth rate of the singularities continues, there will be enough gravitational shear to tear apart the nebula and anything inside of it.”
The Farraday was shaken violently. The bridge crew gripped consoles and railings to try and stay upright.
“Engineering,” Parkhurst declared, “we’re going to need warp speed.”
“We can try it, Cap’n,” Forrester replied, “but I can’t promise anything.”
“Environmental Control to Bridge,” the deep voice of Chief Stone cut in. “Captain, if the warp engines should fail we could lose the other systems as well.”
“That’s why we’re leaving now, COB, before the protomatter reaches critical mass.” The captain looked towards the helm. “D’Sarl, get us out of here. Best possible speed.”
Nodding, D’Sarl touched her controls and reached for the warp control lever. However, as the ship tried to veer away from the growing and chaotic danger, it seemed to do so under protest, lights flickering and bulkheads groaning.
“The pull of the singularity cluster is too great!” Skirov cried. “We can’t exceed its gravitational pull!”
“It’s pulling us and the protomatter towards it,” Lennox surmised. He used the railings to guide himself over to the science station. “Is it possible that antimatter would be repulsed by the cluster, rather than attracted?”
“It’s not as if the antimatter has a negative magnetic charge while regular matter has a positive one,” Skirov dismissed, then her eyes narrowed in thought. “However, if we release antimatter into the cluster, it will react with the protomatter causing a mutual annihilation that might disrupt the concentrated gravitational force of the cluster. Captain, we need to jettison an antimatter pod.”
“We need the antimatter for the warp engines, Lieutenant,” Parkhurst pointed out.
“We have a total of five pods of antimatter,” Lennox replied. “If we jettison only one, and breach its containment system, it might produce the effect she suggests.”
“If it doesn’t breach until it’s within the cluster, will it still help us?”
“No, sir,” Skirov said, “it needs to breach in the midst of the protomatter.”
“Lennox to COB,” the First Officer called, touching the comm panel on Skirov’s console. “Chief, do we have enough power for a phaser blast?”
“Most of the phaser power’s tied into the engines,” Stone replied. “I might be able to power up one of the point defense turrets, though.”
“Good enough.” Lennox turned to Ensign Chambers. “Think you can hit it?”
“I’m damn well gonna try, sir,” Chambers said with a nod.
Lennox looked at Parkhurst, who nodded in approval. “Bridge to Engineering,” Lennox called, “jettison AMP 5 on my mark.”
“What?” came the incredulous reply from Forrester. “Are you insane? We need that to power the engines!”
“When I give the word, Forrester, you need to jettison the pod. Just the fifth one. That’s an order.”
There was a pause. “Aye aye, sir.”
Lennox moved back towards the helm. “D’Sarl, use the thrusters to adjust our heading. Point the engineering hull towards the cluster – specifically, the hatch that Commander Forrester’s about to blow.”
“I’ll try, sir, but we’re having a hard time just maintaining our position given the strength of the cluster.”
“I know.” Lennox patted her shoulder. “Do the best you can.”
She nodded, biting her lip. “Yes, sir.” She adjusted the Farraday’s heading as Chambers reported from his station.
“Point-defense turret on-line, sir. I’ll have a good angle for the shot.”
“Excellent.” Lennox moved towards the back of the bridge, finally finding an empty seat and sitting down as he gripped the nearby console. “Bridge to Engineering: Now, Mr. Forrester.”
From the belly of the Farraday’s upper hull, a panel blasted away from the ship, propelled by explosive bolts. Attached to the panel was a cylinder two meters long and a meter in diameter, slowly falling towards the growing cluster of singularities. In the middle of that cluster was a glowing, seething and expanding mass of protomatter. As the pod fell, nearly touching the mass, a turret popped up from the port side of the Farraday’s dorsal primary hull and swiveled towards it.
“Target acquired, sir,” Chambers reported.
Lennox took a deep breath. “Fire.”
Bolts of blue phased energy spat from the turret, striking the pod as it tumbled away. The point-defense weapon wasn’t usually enough to breach a spacecraft’s hull, but it managed to strike the containment system of the pod. In moments, the pod was no more, its matter coming into contact with the antimatter it contained.
“Direct hit!” Chambers cried.
“Warp speed now!” Parkhurst ordered.
As he did, the antimatter and protomatter met. The Farraday’s engine warped space around the ship even as a wave of inexplicable power washed over it. Suddenly, the ship was catapulted through space, at a much higher rate of speed than the warp engines could generate and without any sort of navigational control. The ship and her crew spun end over end.
In Engineering, conduits came open and crewmen scrambled for respirators and radiation suits. Forrester climbed towards his console near the engine core, holding onto a handrail for dear life, and reached towards the emergency shutdown for the engines. After a failed attempt that nearly sent him careening through the compartment, he reached up and slapped the control.
The warp engines shut off in an instant and, without the distortion of space around the ship, the energy that propelled them dissipated. Slowly, the Farraday righted herself, and Forrester slapped the comm panel.
“Engineering to Bridge! Cap’n, engines are reading full stop! Is everybody all right up there?”
On the bridge, consoles sparked where they’d split open and emergency lighting bathed the room in a ghostly fashion. Lennox crawled towards the central chair, which had spat Captain Parkhurst onto the deck. A support from the ceiling had buckled during the accident, causing a long shard of metal to fall like a guillotine. Parkhurst was pinned to the deck, the fragment of the support all but severing his head. He stared towards the ceiling, blood covering his uniform. Lennox touched the comm panel on the captain’s chair.
“Engineering. This is Commander Lennox. Captain Parkhurst is dead.”
STAR TREK and all associated technology and concepts are copyright Paramount Studios. No intention of credit or profit is intended. The USS Farraday and her crew are original creations of Joshua E Loomis and are protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Some rights reserved.