Star Trek Odyssey – Isle of the Sun Chapter 10

CHAPTER 10

“Captain, please! Do something!” Owen shouted.

Janeway looked back from the co-pilot seat and studied her bereft pretty officer. With all six seats in the shuttle occupied, Owen was left standing in the aisle, hands braced on the backs of Crewman Thorold’s and Ensign Vorik’s chairs.

“We’re doing everything we can, Chief,” she said.

Other than Thorold and Vance, every member of the away team was tapping furiously on their consoles, running all manner of scans, conducting diagnostics on the shuttle, and reestablishing contact with Voyager.

“Lieutenant Tuvok’s hailing us, sir,” said Harry.

Janeway tapped a couple keys, and Tuvok’s face appeared on the shuttle monitor.

“Captain,” said Tuvok. “Do you require assistance?”

“Get the ship’s sensors trained on the energy signature of the wormhole,” said Janeway. “Find a way to reopen it. In the meantime, we’ll be coming back aboard.”

“Captain, there’s no time!” said Owen.

Janeway froze for a moment, composing herself. Then, she addressed Owen calmly. “Stand down, Vance,” she said. “You’re not seeing things clearly. Thorold, give him your seat.”

Thorold got to his feet in a flash.

“I’ll stand, sir,” said Vance, “If it’s all the same.”

“I said stand down, Chief!” Janeway shouted. “Now sit in that chair and get ahold of yourself! That’s an order.”

Owen honestly didn’t know if he was capable of sitting down at the moment. She was back there on that station, trapped with a malevolent hologram that could literally turn off her breath with a thought! Every moment he spent on this shuttle doing nothing, the chances of getting back to her in time seemed more remote. He looked from the empty chair to the captain, who was still watching him expectantly, and he forced himself down into the seat.

The moment he sat down, Owen went to work on his console, checking the shuttle’s weapon systems. To his surprise, the phasers weren’t even online. What if they found a way back through the wormhole? He couldn’t let the station catch them with their pants down. He started warming up the phasers, just in case, and then his console went dark.

At first, he thought it was a malfunction. He looked around at the others, still going about their business like normal, and realized the truth–he was being cut off. The captain didn’t trust him with a live console all of a sudden. Owen clenched his fist and brought it down on his console screen as hard as he could.

“Chief Vance, you’re relieved of duty,” said Captain Janeway, sounding calm once more. “You’re to report to sickbay as soon as we’ve docked.”

“Captain, I’m fine,” Owen spoke through clenched teeth. “I can help! I need to…”

“I know what you’re going through, Chief,” Chakotay interrupted. “You’re just going to have to trust us, though. We’ll do everything in our power to get her back.”

Owen met Chakotay’s commiserating gaze, and a powerful urge to scream, shout, rail and rage started welling up in his breast.

She’d been right there. He’d held her in his arms. They’d outsmarted the station! They’d won! How could she have just vanished again, after all that? He took a deep breath in and made himself let it out slowly. The impulse to rage and bellow wasn’t subsiding. All he could see was her face, smiling up at him from the transporter pad. All he could feel was the ghost of her hands touching his cheek and his neck. The shuttle needed to dock soon, or he was going to lose it completely in front of the captain and the whole senior staff.

It was all his fault. He’d let Lucy down, every step of the way. She was mutilated by that pod in the first place because of his inability to protect her. She’d felt alienated from the crew because he’d failed to stand up for her when she needed it most, and that was why she’d been all gung-ho to return to the station. She’d thought she had to prove herself.

He should have talked her out of it. He should have done whatever it took to keep her from going back there. He should have acted faster when the hologram started toying with her in that tribunal chamber. He shouldn’t have hesitated, he should’ve just started firing right then–no, that was wrong. He shouldn’t have fired at all. That was the excuse the station had needed. It threatened to hold the captain or Chakotay over the damages, but it was obvious she was the one it wanted all along, and dammit, she just couldn’t help but play the martyr. Why couldn’t she just… Why couldn’t he stop her from…

Owen wasn’t going to be able to contain himself any longer. Out the forward viewport, Voyager’s shuttlebay doors loomed large, but he wasn’t going to make it.

“Permission to hit the head, sir?” he asked Chakotay, who sized him up with a glance before nodding his permission, and Owen vaulted out of his chair and lurched over to the refresher, locking himself in. The moment he was alone, his rage and grief erupted out of him, and the others in the small shuttlecraft were polite enough to pretend they couldn’t hear it.

 


 

“Get in,” said Hux.

Lucy and he stood in the room with the frosted pillars that Lucy had seen on her first visit to the station–the ones that held biomatter in stasis. She assumed, now, that they held other prisoners of the station.

A moment ago, she’d been haranguing the imperturbable hologram in the tribunal chamber, unwilling to let him get a word in edgewise. She’d been almost willing to take the burden of being the station’s hostage before, but coming so close to cheating that fate had reminded her how unjust this situation really was. Whatever his legalistic excuses may have been, Hux didn’t have the right to imprison her in this stars-forsaken pit at the bottom of subspace.

Then there was a flash of light, and now they stood in front of one of the pillars. Its glass-like, cylindrical wall was rendered transparent, and an opening the width of a doorway faced Lucy.

Lucy looked from the pillar to her jailor, and she crossed her arms over her chest. “No.”

Hux raised an eyebrow. “Ms. Kang… Lucy…”

“It’s Ensign Kang, Mr. Hux,” said Lucy.

Hux shook his head. “Not anymore, I’m afraid. You’ve been lawfully confiscated by the Delurididug Trade Hub. You’re no longer a member of Starfleet or a citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and you’re no longer bound by their laws or regulations.”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “Says who, you? You’re just a derelict hunk of space junk left over from a dead civilization, long faded from the annals of history. Neither I, nor Starfleet, recognize your legal authority.”

Hux shrugged. “I know that’s your opinion, but it’s at odds with your legal reality. The Delurididug Trade Federation exists here, regardless of whether it does or doesn’t exist elsewhere, and you’re now a part of it, same as me. So, I’ll tell you again: get… in… the… chamber.

Lucy shook her head. “Make me.”

Hux sighed.

> root/query access:> executive initiation :: override

Lucy was scandalized. She had an override? “I knew it, you liar!” she said as she stepped into the tube.

“I don’t lie,” said Hux.

It was only after she was standing inside of the pillar that she had the wherewithal to even consider resisting his order, and the willpower to step back out again was slow in coming. It didn’t stop her from speaking her mind, though.

“You said you wouldn’t modify my executive functions. You’re such a liar! This whole ordeal was just a trap, wasn’t it? You staged everything, just so you could capture a Starfleet officer.”

“You’re mistaken,” said Hux, “on all counts.”

The clear walls flowed into the open doorway like water, leaving no trace of the opening in the featureless glass.

“I look forward to talking again soon, Lucy,” said Hux, and the pillar began to fill with an odorless white fog.

Lucy looked around, hunting for a flaw in the glass, a hatch in the floor, or something that might offer even a glimmer of hope for an escape. “I can’t say the same,” she said.

“Try to keep an open mind,” said Hux. “We’re going to do big things together.”

His imperturbable, tone-deaf demeanor made Lucy want to murder him. “I’m not doing anything for you, morceau de merde!” she screamed, and she ran at the wall full-tilt, leading with her shoulder. Absent fear, Lucy had no natural impulse to shield herself from harm, and for once, she chose to embrace that fact and throw her full mass, hard as she could, against the transparent barrier.

She bounced off of it like a pinball, landing sprawled out in the middle of the fog-shrouded chamber. If she was hurt, she couldn’t tell, and she didn’t care. Lucy climbed back to her feet and hunted for Hux through the glass, but she could hardly see beyond the fog that enveloped her anymore.

“It’ll take me a little time to get things ready,” said Hux.

She followed his voice and found the last traces of his silhouette through the featureless gray fog that filled her world.

“So just sit tight, ok?”

“Why don’t you sit on a–”

> root:> sleep mode/

 


 

“We can’t reopen the portal,” said Torres. “There’s no way.”

“There’s got to be something,” said Captain Janeway.

The senior staff was gathered once more in the deck one conference room. They’d been working the problem for three days, now, all the while monitoring the space where the wormhole once was, looking for signs of activity.

Torres shook her head. “The only trace of the wormhole now is a local increase in the dark and vacuum energy fields. It looks like the wormhole was slowly boiling the fabric of space the whole time it was open, and the hotter space got, the more energy was required to keep the wormhole open. Once the wormhole finally vanished, the concentration of dark energy caused space to rebound, forming a locally positive spacetime curvature. It’s like scar tissue, protecting this region of space from further subspace incursions. Just warping out of here is going to take noticeably more power than usual.”

“This may explain why there are so few examples of stable wormholes in nature,” said Tuvok. “It seems that space itself rejects them.”

“But even unstable wormholes have to go somewhere,” said Tom. “Even if it’s become microscopic, a hole in space can’t be erased. Or at least, that’s what they taught in the academy.”

Torres nodded. “True, but it could have become smaller than an electron and migrated to another galaxy by now. Wherever it is, though, there’s one place in the galaxy where I can say with virtual certainty that it isn’t.”

The conference room was quiet for a long moment.

“Is this it, then?” said Harry. “Is she gone? Did we lose another one?”

Janeway felt the same forlorn grief that Harry voiced. Voyager had been steadily hemorrhaging good people since they’d arrived in the Delta Quadrant. Just this year, they’d lost Martin, Hogan, Bennet, Darwin… the list went on, and it only got harder with each new casualty. Janeway had told Kang that she represented the future of Voyager, and she hadn’t been exaggerating. What hope did they have for the future, if they kept losing officers at this rate?

She supposed that was just one more reason to find a way back home as soon as possible. Janeway looked to Torres. “Do you have all the data you need to spot any other wormholes like this one going forward?”

Lieutenant Torres nodded. “I’ve already recalibrated the sensors. We’ll be able to spot one anywhere in a fifty lightyear radius with routine sweeps.”

“Good,” said Captain Janeway. “From now on, we’ll keep an eye out. Lucy Kang is not dead, people, and we’ll never stop looking for her. That said, there’s nothing to gain by sitting around here anymore. Let’s get back to our posts.”

With that, Janeway stood up from the table, and her officers followed suit. They filed out of the conference room onto the bridge, and Captain Janeway made her way to the center seat as her senior officers found their customary stations.

As Tom settled himself down at the conn, he looked back at Chakotay, a thoughtful expression on his face. When Chakotay returned his gaze, Tom said, “Commander, you spent more time on that station than anyone. Do you think that it ever planned on trading peacefully? Or was it all a trap from the get-go?”

Chakotay just shook his head. “I have a hard time believing what happened to Kang was a random accident, but at the same time, I can’t picture anyone creating such an elaborate ruse just to kidnap a single person. With the power that station held, it didn’t need to put on all the legal song and dance. It could have trapped the whole away team when we first came aboard, and we would have been powerless to stop it.”

“Why didn’t it, then?” said Tom. “Like you said, it’s hard to believe we just fell victim to a malfunctioning bit of hardware. It was like it planned everything from the start.”

Chakotay shrugged. “Maybe it did. Maybe both theories are valid. From what I could tell, the station is programmed to acquire anything it needs, so long as it doesn’t violate its Terms of Service. It wouldn’t be the first A.I. to exploit loopholes to get around the limits of its programming.”

“What would it need with Ensign Kang, though?” said Ayala.

“The same thing we do, I imagine,” said Janeway.

“What, a pair of hands to operate the station?” said Tom.

“More than that,” said Harry. “She’s a qualified specialist in bioneural circuitry, and the station has a similar technology.”

Janeway shook her head. “Beyond that, even,” she said, “Ensign Kang was one of the brightest young minds on this ship, lacking only the temperance that comes from experience. She wasn’t just a fine officer, she was an investment in the future of Voyager.”

Janeway stared ahead at the viewscreen, gazing into the murky depths of the Nekrit Expanse and contemplating the tens of thousands of light-years that still lay ahead. After a moment, she shook herself from her reverie. “And something tells me she will be again. If it’s at all possible, we will find her… someday. But we won’t find her here. Tom, set a course… for home.”

 

THE END

 

Lucy Kang will return in…

 

STAR TREK

ODYSSEY

In The Palace of Calypso

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this book, please leave a comment. I would love any honest reviews and constructive criticism, and on this site, comments are pretty much the only proof I get that anyone is even reading this.

And seriously, stay tuned! Lucy Kang’s story isn’t over. It’s just getting started!

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