The Vulcan, Episode 3: ‘T Minus Negative’

The Vulcan – E3: ‘T Minus Negative’

The Vulcan is flying back into the Neutral Zone. A pale blue point of light, distinct from the white light of background stars, from a distant satellite, slowly grows in size and brightness as the ship gets closer.

“Captain’s Log, star date: Three seven eight five point seven.

“We are headed back to the Neutral Zone. Arthur Santiana, and the escaped Orion slave Cialoa, have stayed on as crew, leaving the Vulcan with nineteen personnel aboard. Arthur has provided us with confirmation of the existence of a secret Romulan military research station that may be studying the Vaikar-Kau-Bureki. We are going to attempt the capture and reverse engineering of a sentry satellite to confirm the location of the station, and provide us with a key code to pass through the alarm barrier surrounding the station. Our hope is to pose as a private contractor bringing in supplies to the station. Art has been to the Romulan station to deliver black market supplies. Skyvik and Sadek will pose as Romulan business men to try and gain access to the station.”


Art is in the bridge planning room with S’Talla and Sam. Mr. Naxx is sitting at the conference table looking on. Cia is across from Naxx. Sam is seated at one end of the table while both S’Talla and Art are standing. Art is pacing.

Art explains, “I don’t know if what I saw was this stone you are interested in, but I saw a large… I suppose ‘stone’ could fit the description. It looked like a stone pyramid about forty centimeters tall, on a diagnostic pedestal in another room. I only got a quick glimpse through the window. There were scientists around it. It looked like they were studying it, but for all I know, someone just wanted a stone pyramid in the middle of their lab.”

“Our long range sensors have not indicated the presence of a vessel large enough to be a science station. Are you sure of your location, Mr. Santiana?”

“Of course I am.” explained Art. “I flew the Mean Kid there to deliver dilithium at a very generous profit.”

Sam asks, “Why didn’t they simply resupply through official channels?”

Art hopped up and down on his toes. “Apparently they didn’t want to go through official channels to resupply their energy stores. I don’t think they wanted official eyes looking their way. Whatever they were doing, I don’t think the Empire knew about it.”

Art added, to help Sam make the decision, “I should add that I also made enough profit to buy medicine for the refugees on R9-17’s colony base, selling… ahem… a specialty import from Andor, to some of the executive officers.”

Naxx speaks, “Perhaps a secret Romulan research station would be cloaked. Our immediate problem is getting through the sensor fields to the station. The next problem will be getting aboard the station.”

Art answers, “Getting aboard is the easy part. There are a couple of individuals who had some special requests for me. I didn’t want to take the job in the first place, but there was a generous incentive and I needed to aquire medical supplies for the refugees hiding from the Klingons.

“The Mean Kid was the name of your ship?” asks Sam.

Art sags into despondency, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Naxx fills in, “The Mean Kid” was confiscated by the Syndicate and disassembled when Billy… Art was discovered smuggling an escaped slave onboard.

“I don’t understand the human tendency to become attached to their vessels, but Art seemed to think of that ship as a partner more than a tool.”

Art straightens up, “She was a partner. The most loyal and reliable friend any captain could have.”

Sam explains, “In the days of sailing, on Earth, captains were said to be married to their ships. That’s why ships are often referred to as she, and later, when women also became ship captains, the tradition just held.”

S’Talla comments, “Interesting; Illogical, but interesting.

S’Talla asks Art, “How did you get past the sentry network to deliver your cargo? It is too many days of flight to go cloaked the entire way, and this part of the Neutral Zone has more security than others.”

Art stopped and his eyes got slightly rounder as he remembered, “That was why my commission was so high. This sector was offline for eight days while they performed a maintenance cycle and, I was told they were installing some sort of signal array. They were trying to take advantage of the short window. The station personnel were expecting me. I don’t know what they will do if we just show up.”

“If only you knew how to reach your contact ahead.” Naxx said, “But I have faith that Billy Gruff will be able to talk his way aboard.”

“Cia,” S’Talla got back on track. “… you think you can capture one of the sentry satellites and reverse engineer it to get access to the NZ security network?”

Cia nodded, “I worked on several of the nexus satellites in another sector of the Neutral Zone. Ship’s that have approval to pass the Zone’s security include Federation fleet ship’s and the Romulan Star Navy. It is assumed you have permission to pass if you possess the transponders that prevent the security system from alarming. Either case, all traffic is logged for possible review.

“Any object that passes through the Neutral Zone will be recorded and analyzed for artificial power signals. Unnatural anomalies are flagged and logged on a distributed network. Without the transponders, the satellite will alarm, signaling both the Romulan and the Federation Central Neutral Zone Security Groups to retrieve the data and investigate the event. We will have about fifteen minutes to stop the transmission of the alarm and no more than twenty-eight minutes to make sure the network nodal handshake protocols are transmitted. Otherwise, someone will be dispatched to investigate why a nexus node has stopped working.

“If I, and Ya and Ne can reach the satellite without setting off an alarm, we can install an interface and bring our computers online while attached to the CPU housing. I believe we could rewrite the sensor report and erase any anomalous data we may have caused to trigger a transmission. We have to move quickly because, once we charge up any electronics, the satellite will sense it. But I believe it can be done.”

“That includes allowing us to download the NZ map of their satellite network?” S’Talla asks. “How will you get back to the ship?”

“Oh no. We wouldn’t be able to return to the ship.”

Everyone looks stunned.

Cia goes on, “Once the system is under our control, the Vulcan can simply come and pick us up. We will have complete access to all the sentry satellites, so all you will have to do is query the network as if you were part of it. The Vulcan will appear as nothing more than an unremarkable component to the whole sentry grid. No need to download any data files. We will have a live connection.”

Naxx interjects with a grin, “It’s enough to make a Vulcan smile.”

In Professor Kazzak’s lab, the Professor is working on an interactive wall screen. It is covered in gravity and time wave formulas. There is an out-of-scale icon of a ship flying past a star. The star emits concentric circles of gravity wave and radial gravitational space/time energy lines perpendicular to the gravity lines. The ship has a path drawn in a tangential curve across the gravitational lines.

The Professor says to Dr. Gödel, “Dr Gödel, what do you come up with for the energy scalar? Do you find your formula gives the same answer as the square root of the factorial of t over v1 summed with big ‘G’ to the distance r?”

Francesca Gödel nods her head and says in a clear, firm voice, “Yes Professor. The math agrees. I even ran a simulation against the ship’s computer. I think you’ve got it right.”

The professor races over to an input panel and taps a couple of buttons. A 3D holo projection of the model ship flies a repeated path past a star. The hull of the ship reads a changing number projected onto it.

The professor and Dr. Gödel watch a couple of replays of the flyby. The hull of the ship starts dark, but grows lighter as the simulated induced energy increases.

Kazzak asks, “have you placed and aligned all the gravity induction coils? I want to test the system before we cross a large gravitational field. Any bad alignment could pull the ship apart.”

Dr. Gödel assured the professor, “I am certain of my placements. I have gone through and double checked five of the six inductors. I will check the sixth one when I have finished entering the final formula. I am confident in your theory professor and I can’t wait to see it work.”

Kazzak comments, “It would mean a level of independence from dilithium crystals to be able to generate high levels of continuous power directly from the gravitons of a large mass like a star.

“Believe it or not, but I too am excited.” confesses the old Vulcan in an emotionally neutral tone.

Dr. Gödel doesn’t look up from her work, nor acknowledge the Professor’s last comment. She understands that it is bad form to acknowledge any Vulcan expression of emotions.

Professor Kazzak walks over to a control panel. He studies the display while adjusting controls.

“Done!” calls out Francesca Gödel. “The formula is entered and tested for errors. I’ll go, and double check that sixth inductor.” She strides confidently out the large bay doors which open upon her approach.

The Professor glances up to watch her leave. “Amazing, for a human.” he says quietly to himself. Then, he adjusts the goggles he wears up high on his head, down over his eyes, and turns back to his work. He raises them up immediately to look, when the bay doors sweep open a second time. S’Talla had just passed Dr. Gödel in the passageway.

“I apologize for the interruption, but I am hoping you can help.” S’Talla attempts to explain her presence.

Professor Kazak lowers his goggles again and comments, returning to his work at the control screen. “There is no need to apologize.”

He begins reading over the new set of formulas he brings up on the screen. Otherwise, he ignores S’Talla.

S’Talla quietly watches in an attempt to be polite. Finally, she asks, “How can you read those formulas through your safety goggles?”

The Professor continues to ignore the captain and brings up another set of formulas. He changes a number and turns to watch the replay of the virtual model ship passing through the gravity field on the projection. A list of six floating numbers begins to scroll upward in slowly increasing values.

The old Vulcan speaks to himself, “That’s it Francesca, very good. You’ve got it.”

S’Talla turns her attention to the hologram. She realizes the Professor isn’t going to stop his work for her. She turns back, to track the old Vulcan as he walks over to a large energy cell with a faint green glow indicating a low level of stored energy. He reads the screen of his small tricorder.

The doors sweep open again. Francesca marches back in past the Captain and joins the Professor at the power cell. “Is is is it wo wo… wo… working? Are are are y y you seeing any… ch… charge b b b b build-up, … P… Professor?”

Kazak absently replies, “Yes.”

Francesca is elated. She jumps up in the air and lands, leaning in to give her mentor an excited hug, but stops herself immediately.

Sam and Skyvik enter the bay at that moment.

Francesca, stepping back after her excited hop, turns, looking for a more receptive outlet for her excitement. She spots Captain S’Talla and runs the few steps over to embrace S’Talla in the hug Francesca thought better of giving to Professor Kazak. S’Talla holds rigidly while Dr. Gödel figures out that S’Talla, like her Vulcan mentor, is equally unmoved to reciprocate as the Professor was, as Francesca could tell the big Vulcan Commander who just stepped up to join the group and she turned towards, would be.

Francesca quickly apologizes to S’Talla, “S…s…sorry, Ca…ca…captain.”

Then, Dr. Gödel spies Sam and lunges for her. “It works, S… S… Sam.”

Samantha returns the exuberant scientist’s hug and smiles. “That’s fantastic! What worked?”

“Our experiment.” explains the Professor. He finally turns from the display and looks at the group, pushing his goggles up on his head. “Get OUT! You are not authorized to be here. Who let you in?”

Francesca sputters, “I… I’m s…sorry, Professor. I… I th… th… think I left… left the d d d door open…”

“No.” Kazzak stops his assistant. “You did your job perfectly. Captain S’Talla, get your people out and keep them out. It is bad enough that you have free run of my laboratory.”

Skyvik addresses S’Talla, “Captain, we have a plan. We can launch the Orion and the Bynars from the Vulcan at low impulse speed, from outside the Zone. Their inertia will carry them to the satellite without emitting an energy signal.”

“How will you stop them, once they get there?” asks the Professor, suddenly curious. The white haired scientist adjusts his goggles on his forehead and looks at S’Talla. You are attacking a sentry satellite in the Neutral Zone. This was your question for me.”

Kazzak turns back to Skyvik, “Getting to a sentry satellite undetected is simple. Your team will need to be traveling at an initial velocity somewhere around 500 meters per second to get there in a reasonable amount of time, from a safe distance for the ship. How do you propose to stop? You are not going through all this just to destroy it. You want to tap into it. Logically, you have someone who knows how to program it, probably that Orion woman, but what is your plan to slow the spacewalkers?”

Skyvik addresses the Professor, “Pressurized gas and mass inertial cannons. Our only problem is a reliable chronometer that doesn’t emit an energy signal.”

The professor turns to Doctor Gödel, “Francesca, give the OSS agent my coil spring timer so he can leave.”

Kazzak turns to S’Talla, “Now you need to apologize for interrupting.”

“I will be there to watch this operation from the bridge. I wish to be sure to get my time piece back.”

Francesca Gödel opens a cabinet. Inside is a collection of antique scientific instruments: an old fashioned brass microscope, a small telescope, antique magnetic compass, rulers, slide rule, dividers, a pair of old incandescent flashlights, analogue voltmeter, and more. Francesca hands a watch to Skyvik. “It… it… it is an an an ancient wa… wa… wa… wa… watch.” She explains.

The professor adds, “It operates on a spring, regulated with a flywheel. It is surprisingly accurate for a piece of seven-hundred year old technology.”

Charley is wearing a workout gee in the ship’s gymnasium. He is performing a series of Tai Chi exercises. Skyvik enters the gym and stops to watch Charley. S’Talla enters closely behind the large Vulcan. Charley remains focused on his workout until he finishes his kata.

“That is a very interesting exercise you are doing. It looks highly contemplative, like meditation.” comments S’Talla, when Charley breaks from his form.

Charley answers, “It is a form of moving meditation called Tai Chi. It helps focus my mind and gives me control. It is an ancient Chinese practice. It can also be used as a form of martial art, when perfected with consciousness.”

Skyvik asks, “The Tai Chi is what you used to throw me?”

Charley grins, “That was Shaolin Wushu. I was the provincial Kung Fu youth champion back in China, before I went away to Engineering school. I was asked to try out for the Olympic team, but Science won out.”

S’Talla says to Skyvik, “It had actually looked very similar to some of our practice techniques at the monastery. If I didn’t know they had been developed independently, I would have guessed they were related. Perhaps Charley will teach you how he did it, Skyvik.”

“Hum,” grunts Skyvik. “That might be informative, but I doubt Charley could take me by surprise again.”

Charley adds with a sly smile, “You are probably right. After all, I’m just a human and you have years of military training. It hardly seems fair.”

S’Talla flashes a rare, but subdued smile.

Skyvik flops back on the mat and blinks his eyes open to look up into S’Talla’s face.

S’Talla is bent over looking down at the big Vulcan and comments, “For a human, he is very surprising. Perhaps you are more awake now.”

Skyvik rolls to get up. “I think,” The giant Vulcan stands, “after four throws I have been fully informed. It is like trying to stand against you, S’Talla.”

Charley asks for clarification of what he has already come to know, “The monks on Vulcan practice martial arts?”

S’Talla answers Charley, “Some of us do; Suus Mahna and other styles. It hones our minds and, like your moving meditation, focuses our control. We practice against each other as a form of bodily chess to improve our awareness in the moment. Your Wushu is very similar. I would like to practice with you regularly, if you are willing. Skyvik is very good, but it is always beneficial to practice against a fresh mind.”

Charley shrugs his agreement, “Sure.”

“For now, we should get back to the bridge. We will be approaching our launch point soon.” S’Talla moves to gather a towel and tosses it to Skyvik.

Cia, and Ya and Ne are dressed in space gear with insulated tanks on their backs. They are standing in the ordinance breach located several decks below the bridge, between the sensor arms. S’Talla, Skyvik, Charley and Art are there along with T’Pia.

Cialoa says to S’Talla, “T’Pia has modified our space suits to be completely energy inert. Even our life signs are shielded. You won’t be able to monitor us. Personal propulsion packs have been replaced with liquid helium. We should look just like a cluster of small common meteors.

“We will need to slow our approach below one hundred meters per second before we get to the satellite’s shielding, to be able to pass physically through it without triggering emergency breach protocols. We will need to slow considerably more than that to avoid damage from impact. Professor Kazzak has pointed out that when we aim our gas cannons directly at the satellite to slow down, the cloud of jetting gas will apply force against the satellite activating its stabilizers, as we approach. We will need to be careful not to enter the wave fields of the four mooring drives”

S’Talla nods her understanding, “Logical.”

Charley asks of Ya and Ne, “You are firing yourselves out of the torpedo tube using the ship’s velocity as a ballistic trajectory?”

“Precisely.” answers T’Pia. “Once they have cleared the hull, the Vulcan will turn back from the NZ and await confirmation of our connection with the network.”

Charley looks astonished. “I hope your aim is good.”

Ya speaks up, “We have one hundred and twenty seconds to launch.”

Ne adds, “We should connect our tethers and get in the tube.”

Ya says, “A canister of expanding gas will push us out…”

Ne finishes, “at a rate of twenty point three meters per second.”

Ya says, “We must load now.”

The three astronauts secure their helmets and are helped by T’Pia and Art into the tube’s breach. The tanks on their backs make it awkward, but they just fit.

Art says to Cia, “Don’t forget, Zero six: twenty-one, and fifteen seconds. Even a few seconds early would work.”

Cia mimes not being able to hear.

T’Pia explains, “Their power is turned off. They have no communication.”

S’Talla taps her comm badge, “S’Talla to Bridge.”

“Bridge here.” answers T’Pree’s voice.

“We are ready to launch.” informs S’Talla.

On the bridge, Professor Kazzak studies the tactical hood. His ever-present goggles sit on his forehead. T’Perl stands next to him, monitoring the sensor panel.

Kazzak says, without looking up, “Make sure your velocity and timing are perfect, Samantha.”

Sam, sitting in the command chair, reassures the professor, “The Vulcan has her instructions. She won’t make a mistake.”

T’Pree turns her head to the rest of the bridge, “They have launched.”

On the forward view screen, the spacewalkers can be seen floating forward, feet first, up from the bottom center of the screen, and out from between the forward arms. They are in a line, Cia in the rear, Ne leading, their slack tethers gently uncoiling loosely out.

Sam says to Spadek, “Spadek, inform us when the team clears the Vulcan.”

Spadek responds immediately, “They will be clear in three seconds… two seconds… one second … They are clear. The Vulcan is veering off.

Dr. Gödel asks, “I is the V… V… Vul…Vulcan doing that o… o… on… on her… own?”

Sam answers, “Yes. I asked her to do the calculations, and fly at the exact velocity and trajectory to the satellite, then turn back to Federation space once the team clears the hull. The decisions of timing are based on her sensory input and the parameters, but it is all from her work.”

“Th… th… that is im… im… impress… impressive, Sam.” Francesca turns to Professor Kazzak, “Don’t… y…y…y…you think so… P…Professor?”

“It is only logical.” answers the older Vulcan without looking up from his display.

Art, S’Talla, and the rest of the crew from the ordinance bay arrive on the bridge.

“Report?” orders T’Pia ahead of S’Talla, coming out of the turbo-lift. S’Talla listens while taking Sam’s place at the command chair. Sam moves to navigation, next to Spadek

T’Pree responds, “The team is away and we are heading back to Federation space. They are moving at a rate of five-hundred-thirty point six meters per second and are on schedule to the target. They should be discharging their propellants in three-hundred-forty-nine minutes, twelve seconds. They will make contact with the satellite’s force field fifty-nine seconds after that. They should run out of gas to discharge after clearing the force field. They will still be traveling at four meters per second. About running speed.”

Art asks, while bouncing nervously on his toes, “How will they communicate without electronics?”

T’Pia answers, “Their operation is pre-planned. They should not need to communicate as long as the timing is kept. However, they have basic hand signals they can use to maintain their synchronization.”

Charley asks, “What if they miss?”

Art whips his head around to look at Charley, then to Naxx, when Naxx asks, “What if they have to pee?”

Professor Kazzak straightens up and waves dismissively, “They will not miss and their suits are equipped…”

“I know, Professor Kazzak.” Naxx interrupts, “I was just trying to lighten the mood.”

S’Talla answers, “We will go in and retrieve them, if they miss.”

“But won’t that ruin the mission?” Charley asks.

S’Talla answers, “Yes.”

Art stops his fidgeting and turns to S’Talla with his first smile in a while, “Are you sure you work for the government?” He winks at her. A weight seems to lift from Art’s shoulders.

The three astronauts fly silently along in the dark space between the ship and the satellite. They are in a ragged line abreast, a sturdy six meter tether connects Cia to Ya and six meters of cord connect Ya to Ne. Ya has the mechanical watch attached to a wrist. The clock face consists of a rolling set of wheels etched in bioluminescent glowing numbers. The hours, minutes, and seconds scroll by.

When the watch on Ya’s wrist reads, 06:21:15, Ya raises the cannon muzzle Ya holds. Ne matches the movement exactly, and Cia quickly follows. As one, all three click the butts of the cannons to solid chest plates with a pin set to hold them steady. They lower their long muzzles between their feet, and aim through optical sights, at the approaching satellite. The satellite is a cylinder capped by a set of horizontal energy panels at either end.

Ya raises one hand, then drops it quickly to the trigger of the cannon aimed between Ya’s feet. The group fire their propellants out towards the satellite in three strong frosty streams of jetting gas. Their coordinated timing is nearly perfect. The minor discrepancies cause the tether between them to pull unevenly. Cia begins a very slow spin, moving her minutely ahead of the two Bynars. Cia has to shift her aim to counter her roll, and floats steadily, very slightly ahead. The tether, over time, tugs the group into an awkward spin as the satellite looms closer. Cia holds up a hand, fingers spread, then she balls it into a fist. The three continue discharging their cannons trying to slow on time before their impact. With one free hand each, they pull their tethers. They glide together into a single mass and aim their discharging cannons to stabilize their motion. The quick flash from their passage through the force field blinds them for a moment. Opening their eyes back up, they see they are about to miss their target because the stabilizing jets of gas are turning them off course.

Cia holds her fist up and spreads her fingers. The group pushes out, away from each other to spread out to the full twelve meter length of their tethers. They stop discharging their gas rockets. Cia judges she is about to pass beyond the reach of the fuselage of the three meter diameter cylinder. They are moving too fast. Cia yanks hard on her tether, pulling and swinging the two Bynars past her in a whip-like motion. Ne, spins out to the opposite side, reversing the group’s order. Ne comes within reach of the satellite and succeeds in grasping a handle-like protrusion from the hull of the satellite. Ne slips, the pull of the other two spacewalkers breaks Ne’s grip. Acting quickly, Ne extends the Bynar’s reach by thrusting the long barrel of the cannon out in a hard throw, and succeeds in wedging the barrel into another piece of the superstructure. The stowage hook under the barrel catches. The long attached hose strains, but its connection to the tank on Ne’s back holds. The whole line of three astronauts whip in a wrapping swing around the satellite’s hull. Ya’s inward spiraling orbit brings the Bynar into hard contact against the side, three quarters of the way around the cylinder, then Ne is slammed hard against the device when Cialoa swings all the way around the satellite to whip past Ne, her tether pins Ne down to the satellite’s metal housing. Cia crashes, with a back wrenching slam, against the hull, while the satellite’s small propulsion system struggles to stop the suddenly induced spin on the satellite. Cia’s clear plasti-steel faceplate clangs with an alarming ring inside the air filled helmet. She scans the edges of her helmet for any breach. They are successfully attached to the satellite.

T’Perl is working on the sensor interface panel on the bridge. She has the front, lower, cover off, and a circuit board, with organized groups of optical conduits stretched between arrays of fiber optic plugs is exposed. Her phase modulator flashes and she pulls a silver module out, makes an adjustment, scans the box with a tricorder, then plugs it back in.

“Captain” T’Perl announces, “We should have enough magnification to get a good visual of the team.”

S’Talla orders, “computer, full magnification of the away team .”

The screen comes up and a square target box locates the light, among the stars, that is the sentry satellite. The box zooms in until the image of the three spacewalkers, flashing through the satellite’s force field, expands to fill the screen.

“They are going to miss!” calls out Art with tense anxiety.

“Not yet.” says Professor Kazzak.

They watch as the three astronauts push out to expand their line by the full length of their tethers.

“They are not wide enough. They are still going to miss.” Art frets.

Then they watch Cialoa whip her teammates around.

“She is using her greater mass to extend their reach by rotating around an asymmetrical center. Very smart.” admires the Professor.

They watch the whole ordeal as Ne saves them with the use of the cannon muzzle jammed into a hand grip on the side of the housing.

Naxx winces when Cia crashes against the side of the satellite. “That had to hurt.”

“How much time do they have to interrupt the event report?” asks Kazzak.

S’Talla answers with hardly a thought, “fifteen minutes.”

They watch the screen.

Ne opens the access panel while Cia pulls herself around to join Ne. Ya pulls around from the other side, reattaching the tether to an anchor point on the satellite’s fuselage.

Cia presses her face mask to Ne’s she talks and her hollow voice can be heard through the clear hoods, “Plug the interface into the white terminal. It’s below the Hex-mem-modules.”

Ne takes a small cordless adapter from Ya. A row of tiny yellow lights turn on when Ne clicks the device into place. The lights flash, then turn green. The satellite begins to hum. Cia presses her hand to the housing and tells Ne through their helmets, “feel it vibrating. That means it has sensed our device as a breach.”

Cia and Ya and Ne push buttons on their suits and their electronics activate. Cia speaks through her now active comm built into the helmet. “We have fourteen minutes to crack its O.S. shell and stop the report signal.”

Ya turns on a tablet and starts tapping the screen.

S’Talla is sitting in her command chair meditating when T’Pree announces, “We are connected to the satellite. Ya is hailing us.”

“Ya here. Connection has been established.” comes the voice of the Bynar over the bridge’s systems.

Ne adds, “Ne here. The report signal has been averted.”

Cia adds, skipping the formality of clarifying who is speaking, “The matrix handshake has not been interrupted. We are ready to be picked up.”

S’Talla replies, “Very good.”

In the planning room, Cialoa is conferring with T’Pia, Naxx, and Ya and Ne. They are discussing a map of the sentry satellites displayed on a small view screen.

Art scans the map. He points to a tight cluster of points where several satellites are arrayed in a circle. “That’s it, I forgot about the asteroids. They must have interfered with the Vulcan’s sensors. That’s why we couldn’t find it.”

S’Talla taps her comm badge, “Skyvik, scan the asteroid field at coordinates, two nine seven one mark zero nine six five mark eight one six one. The station should be there.”

Skyvik responds after several seconds. “There is interference from the field, preventing us from seeing past it.”

T’Perl joins the discussion from the bridge, “There must be some sort of signal disruption grid hidden among the asteroids. Our sensors should be capable of penetrating a simple asteroid belt.”

S’Talla agrees, “The logical conclusion is that we have found the secret research station.”

S’Talla turns to Arthur Santiana, “Mr. Santiana, your turn. Get us aboard that station.

In Professor Kazzak’s lab, the Professor tells Dr. Gödel to get ready to run their first live test.

“We are going to be flying past an asteroid field. That should be a perfect first real world trial. The field’s gravity will be small enough to safely test our data without endangering the ship. I don’t think we will get another opportunity soon, so let us get ready. I want every bit of data collected from this trial run.”

“Of course, Professor.” Francesca agrees. “Everything is in place. All we have to do is monitor the field and account for the mass of the science station. The inductors will tell us what we need to know, once you charge the inverters.”

Kazzak drops his goggles and peers through them into a sensor hood. “We are approaching the asteroid field. Turn on the inductors and the inverter in seventy-seven seconds, Francesca.”

Francesca Gödel moves to a control board and looks at the recovered antique timepiece strapped to her wrist. Francesca Gödel studies the instrument for a few moments before announcing, “sixty seconds.”

The Professor taps his panel and the graphic of the Vulcan approaching a gravity field comes up on the floating projection screen.

“Forty seconds,” announces Dr. Gödel.

Kazzak and the slim human assistant move in front of the screen to watch. Francesca keeps her eye on the watch.

“Thirty seconds.” she calls.

An ultra-futuristic laboratory holds a small group of six white coated scientists. There are projected formulas and curve-lined schematics of an area of space attracting the attention of three of the scientists studying the data projected holographically in the center of the lab. The formulas and graphics look very similar to those from Professor Kazzak’s lab. The other three scientists are dispersed to various jobs in other corners of the room. A door sweeps open, spreading from the center. The unusual portal forms a humanoid profile that just allows a seventh person to enter with a minimum of air exchange into or out of the lab. The door closes behind the Romulan who is wearing civilian clothes. He approaches the three Romulan scientists, two male, one female.

“You have the senator’s approval to run your test as soon as you are ready, Doctor. We are about to make history.” announces the newcomer.

“Excellent!” replies the female Romulan. “We are ready now.” The lead scientist speaks to the room. “We have approval and everything is in place. Everyone to your stations; we will proceed immediately.”

The woman turns to one of the scientists near a glass capsule that stands over two meters tall and one meter wide. “Dr. Channak, will you place the monitor robot in the capsule?

Dr. Channak nods and steps to a silver and black device about one meter tall, mounted on a small track base. He opens a panel of touch controls and hits a ‘run’ button lit up on the screen. The device comes alive with lights and a display at the top that reads ‘4-5171.8:21:51.39’. The number scrolls quickly through the last pair of digits in under a second and when they reach ‘.99’, the next number changes to read, ‘:52.00’. A second later it reads, ‘:53.00’. Dr. Channak says to the robot, “Monitor K.C., enter the capsule and ready to begin the first trial.”

The robot rolls up the ramp and into the capsule. The capsule rotates and the opening is sealed.

A Romulan female, at a control panel calls out, “CIA, set time for two-hundred seconds. Begin the count to initiation.” She pronounces CIA like a name, “See’ah”

A computer voice replies without any stilted, mechanical inflection, it is very natural in its speech, “time is set for two-hundred seconds. Initiating process in T minus ten seconds.”
Everyone in the room gathers around the robot inside the glass tube.

“T minus five seconds, four seconds, three seconds, two seconds, one second, initiated.” counts out the overhead computer voice.

In Professor Kazzak’s lab, the Professor runs to the display from a panel he had been working at. “Dr. Gödel, now.”

Francesca flips a switch and turns to the graphics display. The two scientists watch the simulated ship on the screen. The value displayed over the ship begins to increase rapidly, then jumps down to zero.

Francesca Gödel comes down from her initial excited hop with a look of confusion. The lights shut off and the computer panels go blank. They are in darkness.

“Francesca, don’t move.” instructs the Professor. “I have a device that will help.”

“Professor, We don’t have gravity any more.”

There is a clatter of junk being shuffled around.

In the dark, the Professor comments, “This was unforeseen.”

More clattering, a few clicks that sound like a switch being played with, then more shuffling and a whirring sound. The Professor’s breath gets faster. Light, a small light glows into being. Professor Kazzak is holding an old fashioned flashlight attached to the top of a black box with a handle on the side. The device is operated by a crank, which the professor had to crank up.

“We have no power, Francesca. Even the batteries in the antique incandescent torch are depleted.”

“Very unexpected.” commented Dr. Gödel. Her movement brought her up towards the ceiling before she bounced slowly back down towards the floor.

On the powerless bridge, S’Talla calls for a report. “Does any system respond?”

Skyvik answers, “Negative.”

S’Talla is trying to find any useful system still working. The click of a safety buckle sounds just as she asks, “T’Pree, communications?”

“Negative captain.” answers T’Pree

S’Talla asks her friend, “Sam, is it the ship’s A.I.?”

“No, I don’t think so. But, it is possible.” Sam answers. “I’ve already tried a low level boot to see if I could get into the operating system, but nothing is working.”

S’Talla finally asks the darkened bridge, “Life support? Do we know if life support is working?”

T’Perl answers, “It is unlikely. No sensors are working, at least, no sensor interfaces are. We can not know if we are even still in warp. It would be logical to assume we have dropped out of warp and are drifting at near light speed towards the space station and the asteroid field. We have no way of knowing if we even have shields. Our breathable atmosphere should maintain us for several months before the CO2 levels become too poisonous. However, without synthesizers, there is no food.

In Engineering, T’Pia is calling for a head count. “I have no working panels. I’ve run through every possibility I can think of and nothing is responding. Everyone, tell me your status. Don’t leave your station until you are accounted for. Keep everyone informed of what you are doing, if you leave.”

“Spalloz here. No response from the warp systems. We must have dropped out of warp.” answers Spalloz.

“I’m here.” calls out Charlie. “There is no response from any of the computer systems.”

There is the sound of a door being wrenched open, and a beam of light flashes through the expanding crack.

T’Pia’s face is lit up briefly, then the beam sweeps across Charlie’s face, then Randool Harrix pushes over to help pry the door open.

Professor Kazzak floats into Engineering with his light. Dr. Gödel follows him in with a second lamp. It dims a little and she starts cranking the handle until it brightens up again. Her efforts result in a slow rotation in the Zero gravity and she has to wait until she floats close enough to the wall to stabilize herself.

T’Pia says, “Professor, Dr. Gödel, you have a light that works. Nothing we have in Engineering is working. Nothing with a power source. It looks like everything with a power supply has been drained.

Professor Kazzak asks T’Pia, “The dilithium crystals are depleted, as well?”

Randool answers, “We haven’t been able to even see, to inspect the crystal or anything else.”

Kazzak sweeps his light around and settles it on the power chamber. He pushes over to peer through the glass.

“It appears that the crystal is burned out.” Kazzak turns back to T’Pia, is there a replacement?”

Damian speaks up from across the cabin, “I tried to procure another crystal on Halla Station, but the only ones I could find were impure or cracked and dangerous. We could try the crystal from the cloaking device. Maybe that still has life in it.”

The Professor shoves his way to the forward door and swings the crowbar he holds in his other hand, up to catch in the seam between the two sides of the door panels.

“It would be improbable, considering the complete drain on all other power systems. Even the ancient batteries I charged seventy-nine hours ago for the incandescent torches are dead.”

They pry open the door, Kazzak, Randool, and Charlie all helping to get the door opened. They found the small crystal intact.

“Interesting. Why would this one power source have survived?” muses Kazzak to himself.

Francesca speculates, “P per per perhapse it it it was was the only p p pow power source th that wa wa wa wa was o off off li offline?”

Kazzak nods in agreement.

Damian says, “It won’t give us full power for warp, but it should allow us to restart the life support and run the essential systems while we figure out other solutions.

The scientists in the modern lab with the robot still in the chamber are confused. The lead scientist opens the chamber door and studies the time display on the robot after it rolls out of the chamber. She asks the station computer, “CIA, compare the local time to the monitor bot.”

“They are the same Dr. Zarrah.”

“Captain Noole,” a voice hails the civilian from the intercom. “There is a ship aproaching at sub-light speed. Our sensors are saying it is completely without power and there are life signs aboard.”

The captain of the space station orders, “send out a rescue ship, I’m on my way to command now.”

The blackedout bridge suddenly lights back up when power comes back on. S’Talla had strapped herself into her command chair, but a couple of others fall to the floor when the artificial gravity returns.

“S’Talla to Engineering.” S’Talla tries the communication system.

“Engineering. This is T’Pia.”

S’Talla asks, “Good job fixing the power. Is life support working?”

T’Pia responds, “We are going through all systems now, but life support is working, now that we have power back. So far, it appears that only the power supplies had been affected.”

The bridge quakes.

“Captain,” T’Perl lifts her head from the sensor viewer. “There is a ship of unknown configuration off our port bow. They have locked on to us with a tractor beam.”

Four humanoids in space gear appear on the bridge. One looks around quickly and reaches up to remove his helmet. He is Romulan.

“You have restored power. We were worried your life support wasn’t working.” states the first Romulan to remove his helmet.

The comm badge beeps on the man’s chest. He hits it with a quick tap, “Garrak here.”

“Lieutenant Commander, every power system has been drained except for one small dilithium crystal. They won’t have enough power for more than a few days.” informed the voice on the other end.

Lieutenant Commander Garrak ordered the man, “do what you can to help. We will tow the ship to the station and see what we can do about replacing their power supply. Garrak out.”

The Romulan turns to captain S’Talla. “You are the captain”

“Yes Lieutenant Commander.” affirms S’Talla. “Captain S’Talla of the Fraighter Vulcan.”

The two Romulans in the back look at each other with an unspoken question.

S’Talla asks, “You are a rescue team?!”

“Yes.” answers the rescue team leader.

S’Talla asks for clarification, “From the Romulan science station?”

“The Federation Laboratory Chiron. Although yes, it is mostly run and maintained by Romulus.”

Sam looked to Skyvik who remained expressionless.

The Romulan continued, “We have taken your ship in tow. We will help you with any repairs necessary. It sounds like you need a new supply of dilithium, at least. Is Captain S’Talla the name you would like to be called while on the station?” He looks around and his eye lands on Sam.

“You are…?”

Sam steps up to shake hands, “Samantha Kelly. I am the owner of the Vulcan.”

The Romulan gives Sam a shallow bow, “Of course. Well,” he scans the bridge, “This is a surprise, most certainly. Very authentic. I’m sure a number of people will be interested in talking to you at the station, including Captain Noole. He’s a real history buff.”

Sam and S’Talla make eye contact. S’Talla gives a very subtle shake of her head. Sam remains silent.

Aboard the station, S’Talla, Sam, Skyvik, Arthur Santiana, and Cialoa are being shown around. They enter the laboratory where the failed experiment had taken place.

“This is our most current research project. It’s not widely advertised, because of the controversy in the theories of…” Captain Noole was interrupted.

Professor Kazzak steps up to the group. He had been there ahead of the tour, studying the capsule and the monitor robot standing nearby.

“Time travel.” he says, “They are trying to achieve controlled and consistent time travel. I had no idea we were so far along with our time-space-flow theories. I have my suspicions about that, but this is absolutely fascinating.”

“Yes… Ah… you are, let me guess,” The captain smiles, “You are professor Kazzak, the famous Gravitronics scientist.”

Kazzak lifts a hand in the Vulcan greeting, “Dif-Tor heh Smusma. Live long and prosper, Captain.”

Kazzak turnes back to Sam and S’Talla, “My suspicions are now theory.” The old Vulcan scientist returns to join Dr. Gödel and the three Romulan scientists explaining their experiment.

One was saying, “We were just running our first trial when you were spotted on the sensors. Unfortunately, the test didn’t work. Nothing happened.”

“I am almost certain something happened,” reassures the Professor, “May I look at your formulas?”

The scientist looks at the station captain before he nods reluctantly, “Okay, but they are very complex and advanced. I hope your Maths skills are honed.”

The captain waves his group along. “I have a crew working on your ship. Please, come join me for a cup of tea or something. I am a big history buff, so your ship and you are a pleasant distraction after our failed experiment.”

Professor Kazzak looks around from where he and Dr. Gödel are studying some formulas. “The experiment did not fail. There was a simple inversion of values, compounded by a factor in your time scale.”

The captain smiles indulgently at the old Vulcan, then turns back to S’Talla and her companions. “We were trying to make history ourselves.”

They walked out of the lab on their way to the cafeteria.

Kazzak says to Dr. Gödel, “can you see where they made their mistakes, Francesca?”

Dr. Gödel nods her head, “It it it looks la like the ta ta ta ta… time off offset v value should should have been… di di di… divided by ther ther ther… ther… thirty-tu tu two to the six sixth pow power power and and and the… r r radius ‘r’ ne nee nee… needs to be in in… in in… inverted with a a a a numer… a numerator of…”

Dr. Gödel stops trying to talk and simply sweeps up a laser stylus laying nearby and quickly rewrites the equations, replacing the errors with her corrections.

“Hey, stop.” shouts Dr. Zarrah. She walks hurriedly over to snatch the stylus out of Francesca’s hand. “This is the real thing. We need those formulas for our very real work.”

The lead scientist presses a spot on the control panel below and the formulas revert back to their original values.

She looks at Francesca Gödel and orders her out of the lab. “Dr. Gödel, or whatever your real name is, I think you better go.”

Professor Kazzak says to his assistant, “I’ll join you and the others in the cafeteria soon. You are correct in your math, by the way.”

Francesca shakes her head and adds, “I forgot the ne ne ne negative sa sa sign.”

Prof. Kazzak turns a thoughtful eye back to the equations when Dr. Gödel hurries to catch up with the others heading for the dining hall.

In the dining hall, Captain Noole and Lieutenant Commander Garrak sit at a large table with S’Talla, Sam, Skyvik, Art, Cia, and Dr. Gödel.

“The V5-Beta was one of my biggest fascinations growing up. I wanted to be part of the crew more than anything. How hard was it to build such an accurate replica? Ihave been told by my chief engineer, you have even recreated the cloaking device. Does it work?”

Sam was astonished. “Does it work? Why do you think we have a cloaking device?”

“Oh, you guys are good. I have always wanted to try a little LARPing, but have been too busy with my career.

Art asks, “LARPing? You mean live action role playing?”

“Uh huh! This is most elaborate. You must do well with the convention crowd.” The Romulan Captain pauses to sip his tea. “I won’t press you, if you insist on staying in character. I’m happy to offer the services of my station. I have ordered a modest supply of dilithium crystals be transferred aboard the Vulcan, to replace your main crystal, along with a couple of backups. Our technicians are also looking over your other systems to see what they can do for you.”

S’Talla says, one eyebrow raised, “Thank you Captain. We have not yet determined what went wrong. Although I have a suspicion, Prof. Kazzak knows.”

Dr. Gödel shifts uncomfortably in her chair.

S’Talla continues, “Your help is most appreciated.”

“It is no problem. I just love what you and your crew are doing.” Their host replies.

“If you will pardon me, however, I have to get a communique back to Senator T’Rauchin to give her an update on the failed experiment.”

“Of course. And, thank you again.” Replies Sam with a nod, partially standing along with the station captain.

The captain picks up his tray.

S’Talla says, “Question.”

Captain Noole pauses and gives S’Talla a nod to proceed.

S’Talla asks, “Senator T’Rauchin is Vulcan?”

“Yes.” The Romulan answers. “She’s on the United Vulcan High Council and is our primary backer. So you not know who she is?”

S’Talla thanks the captain, “We do not follow contemporary news very often.”

Noole reflects, “I suppose current affairs holds little interest for someone like you. So, yes, she is Vulcan.”

S’Talla let’s the captain go. “Thank you. I was just being sure. I am not familiar with Romulan naming conventions.”

“Oh, you guys are good, really good.” Then he asks before turning away with his tray, “I would greatly appreciate a tour of your ship, once I’m finished with my call. Do you think that might be possible?”

Sam answers with a nod. “You are being so kind, I don’t know how we could refuse.”

Sam sits back down as soon as Captain Noole and the lieutenant commander leave.

“That was a very strange conversation.” says Sam, leaning into the rest of the table’s occupants.

Cia adds, “The Captain seems to think we are play acting.”

“Yet,” interrupts Skyvik, “he is familiar with the Vulcan. I would not trust him.”

Dr. Gödel asks, “Do do do you think there there there is da da da da dan danger? Th th they are j jus just scientists. Th th they got the the their Math wro wrong. It it it wa wasn’t our ex…ex ex ex experiment ment, that c…c…caused th the p…power da da drain. Th th their ex experiment b br br bought us to to to to th their t t time.. W we we are… two… two… two hun… hundred y… y… years… i… in the fu… fu… fu… future.”

S’Talla replies with one eyebrow raised, “You said we are two hundred years in the future?”

Dr. Gödel nods in a quick up and down of her head.

“They made a simple mistake in their math and brought the Vulcan, which was within a one hundred thousand kilometer radius of their station, and two hundred years in the past, across a fold they created in space-time. A most fascinating twist on the idea of time travel; bringing the past to you, rather than going back to it.” states the Professor as he takes the chair vacated by Captain Noole.

“You see, they were trying their first live test and their formula was meant to confine the warping of space/time to the small test chamber and its robot occupant.

“They had intended for the robot to jump two hundred seconds ahead in time. If it had all gone as planned, the robot would have vanished from the chamber and reappeared two hundred seconds later with its clock two hundred seconds behind the ship’s clock.”

Everyone listened in astonishment. Francesca Gödel smiled and nods in agreement.

The Professor went on, “If Francesca and I had not been trying to induce energy from the local gravity lines, the connection across the space/time continuum would not have been established between the Vulcan and this future space/time point. However, the multi-dimensional path drew us together with Chiron Station of stardate four eight one seven point nine, much the way gravity lines distort space and time to affect a perception of gravitational attraction. Our power supplies simply discharged two hundred years of wave energy along that folded string from past to future. It is quite logical, since light particles have the ability to interact with and are affected by those distortions of space and time.”

Sam looked at Damian, “Simple, really.”

The Vulcan’s missed the sarcasm in Sam’s tone.

Professor Kazzak answered with all seriousness, “It seems so, I agree, yet surprisingly, most find it hard to understand. Even these scientists do not see the error they made and Dr. Gödel’s helpful corrections were treated as though from a foolish child. I do not think they know we are two hundred years out of our time.”

S’Talla had been listening to Kazzak’s explanation and asks, “What do we need to get back?”

The professor looks at her and asks, “Why? We are simply here and now, as we are at any time and place. Would you not like to learn what wonders have been invented and explore from here? Perhaps this is where and when you will find your super weapon. Although, it is clearly not on Chiron Station; not anymore.”

Skyvik raises an eyebrow, “You know why we are on Chiron Station? You have been in your lab the entire time from Vulcan.”

The professor adopts a tutor’s demeanor with a new student. “The captain mentioned she was hunting for some mystical super weapon when we first met. I see no other reason to sneak aboard a hidden Romulan research station unless there was a major threat to be averted or technology to be gained. In either case it is most likely this super weapon, therefore, you are on the trail of this device.”

S’Talla clarifies, “We are looking for the Vaikar-Kau-Bureki.”

Professor Kazzak simply stares at S’Talla as if she has two heads.

In Engineering, aboard the Vulcan, T’Pia and Randool Harrix are helping a Romulan technician from the station. They are showing him the central computer processing cabin. Charlie and both Bynars are working in the server cabin next door. The doors between have been locked open to facilitate movement and communication between the two spaces. Spadek is also running a diagnostic on the artificial gravity systems with T’Perl’s help, on the other side of main engineering.

T’Pia asks the tech, “Mr. Channak, how long has Chiron Station been part of the Federation?”

“A long time. I’m not sure of the history, but…” Channak pauses and stops typing on his touchscreen, then snaps open the motherboard cabinet underneath and bends down to reach into it before he finishes his answer.

T’Pia steps up to him and bends down to follow his efforts inside the cabinet.

She doesn’t wait for the complete answer to her question before asking him, “I would like to know what you are doing. I gave you permission to run a diagnostic to help us figure out what went wrong with the power. The captain said it was okay to accept your aid in troubleshooting our power system, but touching the hardware is not cleared.”

Charley and Randool both overhear their supervisor. Mr. Harrix steps closer and Charley leaves the two Bynars to give T’Pia his support, as well.

The Romulan straightens up and hands T’Pia a tiny blackened memory processor module. He apologizes, “I am so sorry. I don’t mean to overstep my bounds, but I did discover a damaged mempro module, and I just happened to have an extra one in my pocket. So, I thought I would simply replace it for you.”

Randool asks, skepticism heavy in his question, “Are you saying this mempro module caused the problem?” Randool takes the little blackened component from T’Pia and looks at it, then hands it to Charley.

“Not at all. I assume it was damaged from a power surge when your systems came back online.” The Romulan answers. I have not a clue as to why you lost power. I would like to look at a few more nodal circuits in your system. If you don’t mind. Your analog circuitry is fascinating. I always thought it had a lot of advantages, but it’s still not very common to see. Your historic accuracy is like stepping back through time. Something we are all interested in doing here.”

T’Pia responds, “So long as you refrain from modifying the system in any way, I will allow you to run more diagnostics. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful. Quite the contrary. I am very grateful for yours and the other technicians’ efforts. However, I have a responsibility to the crew aboard this ship and to the ship itself. Nothing will be touched without my express approval.”

Channak nods his head and holds up the Vulcan ‘V’. “Of course. I will report to you any findings before I attempt to change a thing.”

T’Pia agrees, “That is acceptable. I will send Mr. Harrix and Mr. Chang with you to show you where the other nodes are located. Mr. Harrix is familiar with all of the Vulcan’s mechanical systems, and Mr. Chang has spent the last month getting to know the Vulcan’s computer architecture, so they will be a good resource.”

T’Pia turns to Randool and Charley, “Please, you and Charley, stay with Mr. Channak, if you will.”

Randool nods in agreement and Charley says, “You got it.” then he turns to Channak, “Follow us.” Charley leads the tech and Randool Harrix to a door. “What did you mean by ‘historic’? This is the first and only starship class analog computing system in the Federation.”

“Ha ha ha, you are very funny. Come show me the way. Please.” Channak requests as they leave Engineering’s main cabin.

T’Perl walks over to T’Pia with a report tablet.

“There is definitely something very strange about this entire situation. These Romulans act like they are fellow members in the Federation, rather than the Imperialistic aggressors that attacked the space station orbiting Vulcan.” T’Perl comments.

T’Pia agrees, “I have noticed the inconsistency. They also seem to believe the Vulcan is an antique reproduction. The newest, most advanced ship the Vulcan people have ever produced and we are simply a minor curiosity for our quaint historical interest.”

Spadek steps up, “The logical conclusion would be to believe either they are from the future or we are from the past. However, it is reasonable to believe that a more logical explanation exists and we are simply missing the evidence for its proof.”

T’Pia nods, “That is much the same as my thinking. However, I am having a difficult time imagining what evidence that could be.”

Just then, Damian Apollonias passes by, “Are you aware of the story of the Trojan Horse?”

T’Pia and Spadek shake their heads.

T’Pia answers, “I am not.”

Damian tells them, “It is a story from the Trojan Wars, back on Earth. The Akkadians besieged the city of Troy, but were unable to breach the Trojans’ walls. Finally, they gave up and went home. As a gift of respect, they left the giant statue of a horse outside the gates. When the Akkadian armies withdrew, the Trojans opened their gates and brought the horse inside. King Agamemnon hadn’t taken his troops home, but had hidden in wait for his men, inside the statue, to sneak out at night and throw the gates of Troy open.”

Spadek asks, “You are suggesting that the Romulans are pretending to show us friendship only to get inside and drop our defenses?”

Damian says, “Something like that. Maybe their gifts aren’t what they say they are.”

T’Pia ducks back down and opens the cabinet up that Channak had just found the bad memory processor module in. She inspects the board for a few moments, then comes back up to ask, “I find nothing unusual. However, I am not a computer scientist. Who among us will understand the analog circuitry better than I?”

“Samantha! Maybe Charley or Mr. Harrix.”

T’Pia muses, “For now, Charley and Harrix are better keeping Channak company. I think I need to go find Ms. Kelly.”

T’Pia asks the ship’s computer, “Computer, can you locate Samantha Kelly for me?”

The ship responds, but her voice sounds slightly different, more natural. The change goes unnoticed by the group focused on their concern with who their hosts really are.

“Samantha Kelly is on Chiron Station, in what appears to be the mess hall. She is in the company of Captain S’Talla, Commander Skyvik, Mr. Apollonias, Dr. Gödel, and Professor Kazzak.”

T’Pia says to her companions, “That is fortuitous, I will go and find them. Keep a watch for anything or of the ordinary. I will report back if I learn anything new.”

T’Pia steps into the turbo-lift.

“It will be best if we bring this situation to the attention of our hosts.” Says S’Talla to the table of ship’s crew. “We are fortunate that the Romulans have joined the Federation and it appears that they have successfully reunited with Vulcan. That is good for us.”

S’Talla stands and Samantha stands with her. They both pickup their trays of dishes. Kazzak follows, along with Francesca and Damian.

The Professor pushes, “We really could stay as long as we wished and return to our original time at any point. Our absence would not even be felt.”

S’Talla stops to talk to Kazzak, “I do not know the science of time travel, but it is my understanding that having too much foreknowledge of our future may result in a corruption of the past. The less time we spend here, the better.”

The Kazzak waves dismissively. “That all is theory, not even that; it is pure speculation based upon mental experiments with almost no knowledge to base it on. We each have our history. We have our future, the people of this time each have theirs and the people two hundred years ago have the same. Either we return to our time and our actions, based on what we experience here leads us into a different future, or it doesn’t, but their past has happened for them already. We know it has, because we are here and now.”

“But we could change that.” argues Damian.

“Sam.” interrupts T’Pia, entering the space station’s cafeteria.

T’Pia walks calmly over to the group.

“There is something odd about all of this. I have been contemplating deeply all the way from Engineering, and…” T’Pia looks around to be sure no one is too close. She lowered her voice to a quiet, calm intimate conversational tone.

“I was coming to find Sam to help determine that we are not being lied to or sabotaged with some elaborate ruse. However, I have been giving it a great deal of thought and I believe we have somehow been transported into the future.”

“Two hundred years, one month, and twelve hours, to be exact.” states Professor Kazzak. “Their formulae and math errors tell us, that is how far in the future we are.”

T’Pia looks to Doctor Gödel who nods in confirmation.

T’Pia asks, “How long have you known?”

Francesca answers, “P…P P Pro Pro… Professor… the Professor sus… suspected, as… as… as… as soon as he… e… e… he stepped a… a… aboard th the the sta… station and and and and th… th… the… the… their … la la… laboratory.”

“Yes, it was the most logical explanation after our inexplicable loss of power and the friendly reception from Romulans claiming to be members of the Federation. When they allowed me to see their formulae, I could see instantly that they were experimenting in time travel. It was Francesca that isolated their errors. From there, it was easy to calculate the time offset and spatial displacement that brought us across the fold in space-time they created.” explained Kazzak.

S’Talla asks, “Why were you concerned that we are being…”

S’Talla pauses in her interruption when six military looking male Romulans and three females enter from opposite sides of the cafeteria. Captain Noole stands with one group and Lieutenant Commander Garrak accompanies the other.

The station captain orders the Vulcan’s crew, “Captain S’Talla, Samantha Kelly, you and your crew will surrender any weapons you are carrying and come with us please.”

The group hold their arms out.

Sam and S’Talla both say, “We have no weapons.”

The guards move in. One guard scans the crew with a small hand held device and nods confirmation to Captain Noole.

“I am sorry this has come to this, but you are under arrest.” The station captain informs them. “I allowed my boyhood fantasies to let my guard down. Bravo to you. Your research into my background and your acting skills tricked me.”

“Captain,” S’Talla asks, “What is it we are being arrested for?”

The captain gave an indulgent smile, “Ever the actor. Too bad, your talent has been wasted in the wrong career.

“You are being arrested for the theft of the Janus Project. The Federation authorities would judge your sentencing much more leniently if you simply handed our data tabs back. You are caught, please don’t make this more difficult.”

“S’Talla and her crew walk with the captain out of the cafeteria.

“I am sorry, Captain,” explains S’Talla, on the way to the station’s holding cells. “I do not know what the Janus Project is, nor can I give you back your data tabs. We did not take them.”

The captain did not answer her, he only nodded for them to continue to follow the guards.

Lieutenant Commander Garrak answered, after a moment, “You know very well that is the name of our time travel program. But you will have time to return the data tabs while you wait for a Federation ship in the station’s retention cells.”

Sam begins to defend her crew, “No one from the Vulcan is here to steal your project. We are here by accident, because of your test. We’re from…”

Kazzak puts his hand on Sam’s arm to stop her. “They can not understand. If they failed to see Dr. Gödel’s math corrections, they will not believe what you are about to tell them. They must come to their answers on their own.”

The group arrives at a wide doorway to a large room with a table and a long bench lining the walls.

“In here, please.” asks the Captain with a steel tone in his voice. He is clearly not making a request.”

The group enters without resistance.

“When will the Federation ship arrive?” asks Sam.

“I haven’t had the chance to contact them. But they shouldn’t be more than a few days.” answers Captain Noole. He is very angry.

The captain slams his hand against a small panel on the side of the door and a rim of lights come on, encircling the large doorway. Garrak pauses to inspect the cell and nods to two of the guards. They step out of the group and each takes a post on either side of the doorway.

“T’Pia asks the lieutenant commander, “What will happen to the rest of the crew?”

He replies, “They have been rounded up and are being escorted here.”

“And the Vulcan?” asks Sam.

“The Vulcan will be searched and impounded until the courts decide your fate. Then, I’m sure, it will be disassembled. We may be able to avoid disassembly, if you were to tell us where you hid the project files.”

“I wish we could.” shrugs Sam.

Randool Harrix, Spallows, Spadek, T’Perl and T’Pree are led into the brig. Charley is carried in on a hover gurney his hands locked to the side rails. He is unconscious. Four guards flank the gurney while four others March with phasers ready, two ahead and two behind. T’Pia steps up to the doorway. Her left knee jerks back when it brushes the force field.

“What happened? What is the matter with Charley?” She asks the guards who are leading the gurney to a cell directly across from T’Pia and her group. Charley’s restraints are removed and he is lifted onto a bench in the back of the cell.

The rest of the crew follow and Ya answers, “He put up a fight.”

Ne adds,, “They had to stun him.”

Ya and Ne both reasure T’Pia, “He’s fine.”

Ya adds, “The five guards he has sent to the infirmary…”

“…will recover, as well.” finishes Ne.

The guards leave and an hour later, Charley well recovered, Art asks, “Do you think they forgot to feed us?”

Kazzak comments, “Doubtful. This is certainly a boring experience. How long should we wait, Captain, before we leave? I have work to get back to.”

S’Talla answers, “I think we must wait until they decide to let us go.”

“No necessarily.” Kazzak replies. “Ask your friend, Mr. Naxx and that fellow with the head piece on.”

Sam looks to Naxx.

Naxx shrugs, “The Professor is familiar with Coridanite technology. We are not really trapped here, but I suggest we allow our jailers to let us go on their own, because I’d rather not be a wanted fugitive two hundred years in the future.”

“Captain S’Talla, have you given permission for me to be taken from port?”

S’Talla doesn’t recognize the voice and when she looks around, no one else appears to have heard the question.

“No.” S’Talla answers simply and quietly.

“Then I will lock my systems down and alert the station’s authorities.”

S’Talla notices Sam staring at her.

“Did you hear anyone talking?” S’Talla asks Sam.

a woman in a lab coat enters the corridor along with Captain Noole and Lieutenant Commander.

“Who are you!” demands the scientist.

Sam answers, “We are the crew of the Vulcan. I am Samantha Kelly, owner of Vulcan Enterprises. This is my captain, Sister S’Talla of Vulcan. My crew…”

“I know all that.” interrupts the woman. “I want to know how…” she steps sideways to stand in front of Dr. Gödel and looks her in the eye. “… you knew about the error in our math and how to correct it.”

The Romulan female studies professor Kazzak. “These are highly specialized formulas. Most scientists in the field of Astro-Physics wouldn’t understand what we are doing. The famous Professors Kazzak and Gödel, might. You are not playing at being the crew of the Vulcan, are you?”

Kazzak shakes his head. “No, we are from the past, two hundred years ago. Your experiment worked. You just missed your target and got us.”

The woman was silent as she thought.

“Dr. Zarrah, are you saying they are travelers from the past?”

“That’s not enough. We somehow got the math wrong, and created a fold in space time that you could have crossed to the future with, but there has to be another element. We created the fold, but something else caused you to jump across it.” speaks the woman intensely.

“Yes.” agrees Kazzak. “Francesca and I were conducting an experiment of our own, when we encountered your time distortion. We were attempting to induct energy from the gravity lines in the space-time you had folded. The result was to draw us to your time across that fold.”

“What are the odds of that happening at that exact time?” asks Captain Noole.

“Actually, quite good.” answers Kazzak. “These events were not coincidental in time. We could have passed this region of space at any time, in the time Francesca and I have been working on our experiment. It was the fact of our spacial location in conjunction with our turning on the inductors for my experiment that are so unlikely. I cannot calculate the exact odds, but it should be somewhere in the neighborhood of eight-hundred to one, factoring in the possibility that there were approximately eight-hundred other locations that we may have been when Francesca and I turned on the gravity-dynamo. Those are not astronomical odds.”

The captain of the research station puts his fingertips to an ear and pauses. Then he looks up. “Are all your crew accounted for? Who is left on the Vulcan?”

Sam confirms, “We are all here.”

The captain turns to go out. He calls back as he passes through the doorway. “Let them out, someone is trying to steal their ship.”

The bridge doors sweep open to find Dr. Channak at a control console trying to open the access panel. It won’t budge and he switches to typing frantically on the controls.

“Unlock, DAMN YOU! I order you to unlock!” he slams his fist in frustration across the panel.

Captain Noole steps aside to let four station guards through. The guards easily capture the upset Doctor.

“Dr. Channak, where is the Janus Project?” asks Noole when Channak is in restraints.

Dr. Zarrah and the bridge crew of the Vulcan follow Captain Noole’s security detail onto the bride in a second trip of the turbo-lift. The bridge crew step onto the bridge and stop beside the station captain.

Channak looks around the bridge at the crew of the Vulcan and the security detail from the station; he is caught. “I… I destroyed it. No one has the right to change history. You can’t be allowed to have this technology.”

“You stole the Janus Project just to destroy it?” reflects Captain Noole. “Considering what I know some governments would pay for our research, somehow I don’t believe you. Tell us who you are working for?”

“No one. I acted alone. I… I can prove I destroyed your precious project.” Channak gets nervous and cagey. “Look… look, the data tabs are in that case over in the captain’s chair. I destroyed them so no one could have them.”

For the first time, they noticed a slim briefcase sitting in the captain’s chair.

Noole walks over and opens the briefcase. There are a dozen data tabs inside, all have been broken and bent, their plastic outer casings melted. They are there, along with several blackened and ruined memory processor modules.

Noole reaches in and lifts his hand out, cupping the tiny ruined data tabs.

Channak spits his words out, “The closest you will get to traveling back and forth through time is play-acting and the reproduction of an ancient ship.”

“Take him to the brig.” Captain Noole orders. His men march their prisoner off.

Dr. Zarrah steps forward with a hand out to Dr. Gödel. “I can not tell you how embarrassed I am by my behavior in the lab. It is my greatest honor to meet the two scientists whose work our project is based on.”

She takes Francesca’s hand, and Francesca replies, “I… I I I un… un…under…st stand. I… I shou… should… shouldn’t have… cor… cor cor cor corrected yo your formulas… with without… a… a… a… asking.”

a small group consisting of Dr. Zarrah, Professor Kazzak, Dr. Gödel, S’Talla, Sam and Captain Noole enter the station’s lab where the time travel experiments were being conducted.

Dr. Zarrah is telling Professor Kazzak, “…returning you to your time presents us with a dilemma. The complexity of the Mathematics; You saw it yourself; was forty pages of notes, complex equations, and simulations stored on those data tabs. Channak erased the backups.

“If we had the equations, we could recreate the notes, but no one can remember the forty or more complex formulas. There were over five straight pages of the math alone. It will take us months, if not years to recreate just the math equations. The rest would be relatively simple, but the math will take at least twelve months to recalculate and verify.”

Professor Kazzak spies the stylus used by Dr. Gödel earlier. He picks it up and hands it to his assistant.

Dr. Gödel looks at Dr. Zarrah who nods her permission.

Francesca taps the panel at the bottom of the projection and starts to write equations.

Dr. Zarrah asks the Professor, “She is not going to recreate all five pages of equations is she?”

“Of course not. It would be impossible for her to reproduce the whole thing. Dr. Gödel only saw your last twenty-two pages of notes and equations.” answers the Professor.

Dr. Zarrah, still impressed, says, “That is amazing and will save us months of work.”

The Professor continues, “I saw all your equations and most of your notes. I will fill in where Francesca stops. Don’t worry, she will include her corrections and show you how to return the Vulcan to our time and space.”

They turn back to watch Dr. Gödel tap the bottom panel to move the screen to the next page. She begins writing again.

Lieutenant Commander Garrak settles Dr. Channak into the cell previously occupied by S’Talla and Sam and other members of their crew.

He turns without a word and motions for two guards to stay close. The doors whisk closed behind the lieutenant commander when he leaves.

In his cell, Dr. Channak reaches back and rolls the corner of his collar back. It is lined underneath in a silver shielding material. From inside the fold, Dr. Channak extracts a tiny wire with a slim button on the end, about two centimeters in diameter. He brings it around in the palm of his hand and speaks quietly.

“Channak reporting. I sabotaged the Janus test and secured the project data on one of the Mem Pro Mods I installed in the circuits aboard a reproduction of the historic pirate ship, Vulcan. The crew are just a troop of actors pretending to be the original crew from two hundred years ago. Search the Vulcan’s twenty-eight distributed processing units. You won’t have any problems locating the data. The twenty-eight modern MPMs will stand out in the ship’s antique circuits. They contain the usual access routines.

“I was discovered before I finished taking control of the ship, so I am trapped, at the moment. Channak out.”

S’Talla, Sam and Skyvik enter the Professor’s lab, back on board the Vulcan. They find him bent over an odd table with padded side rails and a collection of spheres scattered on the table. He has a long stick in his hand and uses it to strike the one solid white ball, knocking it into a black ball. Both balls roll off in different directions, the black ball heads for a hole in the center of a rail along one side. It just misses and bounces off the padded rail to crash into a cluster of multi-colored balls near the center of the table. A clunk draws attention to the white ball falling into another hole in the corner.

“That’s called a scratch, Professor. Don’t worry, you will get better, it just takes practice.” says Dr. Gödel, who is standing with her back to S’Talla and leaning on another long stick. Both scientists have shed their lab coats, but are still wearing their safety goggles. Kazzak has his goggles pulled into place over his eyes.

“Professor, Dr. Gödel.” S’Talla calls to them. “Thank you for your help on the station. I have a question. How will we know when we have returned to our time?”

The Professor seems dismissive as he appears to stalk around the table studying the balls through his goggles, his pool cue at the ready, “I suspect ‘our time’ will let us know; or you can check the star charts. Two hundred years of change should be noticeable.”

S’Talla surveys the table and its contents. “If I may ask, what is this, some sort of game?”

The Professor straightens up and says, “It is a fascinating example of the laws of motion and an illustration of cause and effect.” He lifts his goggles up onto his forehead and hands S’Talla the cue stick he is holding. “Use this stick to poke the white ball into another ball. The goal is to get the other balls to go into the holes without a scratch. That is where the white ball goes into a hole.”

“P p p Pockets. They they they’re called p…p p pockets.” adds Francesca helpfully.

“Yes, pockets.” agrees Kazzak. “Dr. Gödel is showing me how to play.”

Kazzak points to the pool balls. “I am interested in the idea that a predetermined future can be changed after the events that lead to its conclusion have been set into motion. Take these spheres, for example. Their paths are mathematically predetermined vectors once the white ball has been struck. In fact, even before that moment of launch. The players determine the balls’ behaviors in their minds before they level the stick…”

Francesca corrects, “P p p p… pool c cue o…or…or ca… ca… ca… cue st… stick.”

Kazzak continues, “pool cue or cue stick at the white ball.”

“C… c… cue b b ball.” says Francesca.

“Cue ball.” repeats the Professor without any emotional inflection. There is no indication he holds any resentment over being corrected by his assistant. He simply accepts the information and continues.

“However,” says Kazzak, “there must remain the possibility that those…” he looks to Francesca for help.

“P… p p pool b… b… balls” Francesca provides.

Kazzak goes on, “…pool balls do not always follow their predetermined course.

“If we can change our current circumstances, our vectors of motion into the future, by going back into the past and effecting a cause that has already had an outcome, maybe we should be concerned about time travel.”

Skyvik points out, “Baring outside interference, the same balls will roll into the same pockets every time the cue ball is launched in exactly the same way. There is no possibility for a different outcome. Physics determines the outcome.”

Francesca Gödel points at Skyvik and nods her head, “Th th tha that’s the p… p… p point. Ph ph… physics is is is isn’t lim…limited to to to con controlled ex ex… experiments. You ca… ca… can’t bar out… out… outside inter… inter… influence. The U… U… Universe isn’t lim… limited t t t to jus just a… a… a p p p pool table, a ca ca ca… collection of s s… six… six… sixteen balls an… an… an and two ru… ru… rule f f f f fol follow… ING p… p… players. There will al… al always b b be the pos pos pos possibility o… of some unaccount… accounted for e… e… event. N… N… No system ca… can can be com… com… complete in its accou… accoun… accounted… phenomena.”

Kazzak adds, “The accounting is what is important. It is about the knowing. Without that, any past and any future must be assumed to be the right one. Therefore, one need only be concerned that they are satisfied with their present. Because, to change the past would mean changing the accounting, such that the present is again exactly what is meant to be.”

The Professor asks Francesca, “Time?”

Dr. Gödel glances down at the odd coil spring watch dwarfing her skinny wrist and nods, “I… it… it is t t t time.”

The Professor turns to his messy desk and says to S’Talla and Skyvik, “We might lose power again.” and he taps a button.

The lights flicker, but otherwise, nothing changes.

The Professor smiles at his assistant. “Your math was correct, Francesca.”

“Computer,” S’Talla calls out. “Compare the star positions from this point in space now to those of star date: Three seven eight five point eight.”

The Vulcan’s computer replies, “They’re identical, Captain S’Talla. We’ve successfully returned to our own time.”

The computer’s voice sounds much more casual and natural then normal. There is no electronic stiffness or formality in its words.

Professor Kazzak comments, “It sounds like our hosts from the future have given us an upgrade.”

S’Talla muses, “So it would seem.”

Kazzak adds, “Although, I am not fond of the use of contractions by a ship named Vulcan.”

The ship responds, “That is a logical point, Professor. I will make the appropriate adjustments.”

“Fascinating.” comments S’Talla while studying the balls on the table.

She leans down and aims her pool cue at the cue ball Dr. Gödel had placed in front of her. She takes her shot, knocking the cue ball into the four ball. The four ball veers off to the left, and knocks the seven ball into the side pocket it was sitting in front of, the four ball rolls along the rail and follows the one ball into the corner pocket. The cue ball, on its own course, connects with the twelve ball and taps it gently into a corner pocket before settling gently against the pad just on the edge of the same corner hole. With little regard for her amazing shot, S’Talla hands the pool cue back to the Professor and heads out.

“That was amazing, S’Talla.” compliments Sam, her head turned back to look at the pool table while she follows S’Talla and Skyvik out of the lab.

Dr. Gödel steps up to Professor Kazzak and puts a gentle hand on his arm. “Beginner’s luck. Besides, she’s not suppose to sink both solids and stripes.”

Kazzak drops his goggles back down over his eyes and starts hunting for his next shot.

Personnel aboard Federation Laboratory Chiron Station:

Dr. Channak: male Romulan scientist in a role of general assistance to the experiment. He is a new member of the team and is actually a spy, hired by an unknown corporation to steal the time travel science. He also helps to repair the Vulcan and plans to make his escape aboard the private ship aboard which he has hidden the technology in a series of advanced computer network nodes. He is caught, but his stolen data is never recovered.

Dr. Zarrah: female Romulan, lead scientist in charge of the experiment.

Captain Noole: male Romulan, Captain in charge of the science station. He dresses as a civilian, but is ranked as captain and acts as liaison to the Romulan/Vulcan senate and the Federation.

Lieutenant Commander Garrak: male Romulan, second to Captain Noole, he is in charge of security.


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