“Opening the Doorway”
“Approaching Barzan II, captain,” the ensign at the helm reported. Knox could feel the ship shudder slightly as it dropped out of warp and switched to impulse power. The viewscreen showed a desolate-looking green world. With a toxic atmosphere, Barzan II was barely class-L and deadly to most life forms, except for the humanoid Barzans themselves. “We are receiving a signal from the planet’s surface. Premier Bhavani is ready to beam up.”
“Beam her directly to the bridge, ops,” Knox said, standing up from the command seat. In short order an elderly woman in a long flowing gown materialized, leaning heavily on a walking stick. “Welcome aboard, Madame Premier. I’m Captain Jonathan Knox,” he said, stepping towards her.
“The last time a Federation ship visited my world, my people lost the only valuable resource that we ever had. I’m hoping this occasion will be more auspicious, captain,” she noted.
Initially thought to be the only stable wormhole in the galaxy, the wormhole in the Barzan system had nearly led to a massive increase in prosperity for her people, but it turned out not to have a fixed endpoint and was thus worthless. It remained a scientific curiosity until it vanished seven years later during an encounter with the starship Voyager a pair of Ferengi traders accidentally destabilized it entirely. With no activity for almost two decades, it started reappearing six months prior to the Sagan’s visit and Starfleet Science had been feverishly working to figure out how to stabilize it in the hopes of reaching the vessels attached to Task Force 38 in the Delta Quadrant.
After months of negotiations, the Barzans had come to an agreement that they would allow the Federation to build an orbital verteron array and starbase, if Starfleet could prove in theory that they had the technology to stabilize the wormhole. It was too quick to negotiate their full accession to the Federation, but it was the most significant move in their bilateral relations in decades.
“Our understanding of wormholes has increased significantly since the Enterprise was here,” Knox said with a smile. “With your permission, we’ll set course for the phenomenon and begin the experiment.”
“Of course. I’m told you have a rather strict time table to adhere to,” Bhavani said. The XO stood up and gestured for the woman to take his seat, which she gratefully did.
Bhavani was correct. The Sagan had to be exactly in the right position at exactly the right time to use its main deflector to attempt to ‘catch’ the wormhole when it reappeared, while three other science ships tens of thousands of lightyears away performed a similar process on their ends to restore the wormhole to its natural course. Starfleet had been able to track the places the wormhole was jumping to and had realized that it was cycling through two specific locations in the Delta Quadrant but the only stable point it appeared in the Alpha Quadrant was its original origin point—when it wasn’t skipping randomly around the quadrant.
“With any luck, we’ll be able to make Barzan II as important as Bajor,” Knox said. “Helm, plot course for the aperture and engage at half impulse. Ops, ready the main deflector for the verteron pulse and configure the shields to begin anti-graviton saturation.”
“Ready, captain,” the officer at ops reported as the small Nova-class ship made an about-face and zoomed off towards where the wormhole was expected to appear. They wouldn’t get another chance for almost three months, so they had to be quick.
The idea was that the three science ships would be able to “hollow out” subspace at the three known terminuses by saturating them with anti-gravitons and verterons to create pockets that the wormhole aperture would naturally want to slip into during its cycle—something not possible without doing all four points at once, as once the far end jumped, it would need to be caught again immediately.
“30 seconds, captain,” the science officer reported.
“Begin anti-graviton saturation,” Knox ordered. There was a slight hum as the shield generators engaged, producing a diffuse field of anti-gravitons to counteract the graviton pulse that had destabilized the wormhole in the first place. The seconds ticked by until finally the wormhole’s mouth appeared—tiny and spinning rapidly. “Activate the verteron beam!”
A burst of green energy shot out from the main deflector dish, making contact. The wormhole gradually got larger and started spinning more slowly.
“Begin broadcasting our IFF through the anomaly,” the executive officer ordered.
“Aye, commander. We’re receiving a transmission from the starship Asimov in the Delta Quadrant,” the ops officer reported. “It’s working!” The Sagan kept up the beam until the wormhole grew to very close to its original size. “Sir, detecting a probe coming through the aperture.”
“Status on the probe?”
“It’s intact and functional, sir. The biocylinders onboard read that it’s safe for organic matter to pass through the wormhole,” the operations officer reported, excitedly. There was a momentary cheer from the bridge crew.
Knox smiled and turned to Bhavani. “If everything goes to plan, the next cycle should get us in contact with the Einstein in the Gamma Quadrant, and then the Earhart in the Delta Quadrant,” he said.
After about four minutes, the wormhole started to spin a little faster and contract, as the Sagan kept up the verteron beam. The other end was moving—and in short order they got the expected signal from the Einstein, and ten minutes later the process repeated and they were able to check in with the last ship. They had succeeded in anchoring the wormhole back to its original semi-stable configuration—enough to begin the years-long process of transforming this odd phenomenon from a mere curiosity to a reliable mode of transportation between the quadrants.
“As your people say, captain, a deal’s a deal. Tell your Federation that they may begin the next stage of the project,” Bhavani said.
During the next ten years, Starfleet began construction on a new starbase in orbit—Deep Space 38 for the five years it took to negotiate the Barzans’ accession into the Federation and then Starbase 38 thereafter—along with a substantial fixed verteron array that worked to further stabilize the wormhole, with the goal of bringing it back to its original period of 18 hours within the next thirty years, but by ten years had brought the wait time down to 90 days, where it would connect in turn with its two anchor points for 15 minutes each, enough to get a few ships at a time through to a point in the Gradin Belt and a location 500 light-years from Ocampa in the Delta Quadrant.
In the intervening time, the wormhole allowed single ships to pass back and forth at irregular intervals, establishing a temporary lifeline for the beleaguered Task Force 38. Starfleet took the time to get ready and prepare, with Vice Admiral Knox leading a renewed Task Force 38, with field operations under the control of Fleet Captain Elizabeth Hayden, from aboard the purpose-built Odyssey-class flagship specially-modified to survive for extended periods in the Delta Quadrant without Starfleet support, while itself supporting the other vessels in the Task Force. In 2399 the Delta Exploration Initiative would be reborn—to seek out life in all of its forms and restore relations with the people of the Delta Quadrant!
Updates from Task Force 38 Sims
- USS Arcturus – The Arcturus is getting ready to set out for the Delta Quadrant along with the rest of the Nacene Reach task group. Before she sets out, though, she’s been slated to participate in a war game to test the crew’s mettle before venturing off to one of the most remote areas of the galaxy.
- USS Apollo – With a brand new crew and captain, the Apollo is also getting ready to set out for new shores, having been assigned to track down a ship lost nearly ten years prior–the USS Banting.
- USS Ascension – Long-thought lost, the only ship of the Ascension-class has reemerged from a temporal anomaly near the Gradin Belt. How will their crew cope with a new time and a radically-altered astro-political landscape?
- USS Ganymede – Few ships or captains could successfully deal with the Malon, but that’s exactly what Captain Darby-Holmes and the crew of the Ganymede are doing–trying to make the Gradin Belt a safer place by reducing the amount of toxic radiation being dumped in it by Malon garbage scows.
- USS Meridian – The Meridian is fresh out of a refit with a new captain and is ready to keep the exploration vessels in the Nacene Reach safe.
- USS Newton – The Newton has been sent to investigate a spatial anomaly that is spewing forth both energy and entities from uncharted space.
- Outpost Kumalo – The only fixed outpost in the Delta Quadrant, Outpost Kumalo is still just a cluster of prefabricated buildings on a lonely planet, but the Federation Diplomatic Corps is beginning its outreach efforts anew in the Gradin Belt.
A New Sim and a New Task Force Executive Officer!
Starbase 38 is joining us as the headquarters of the Task Force. Located at the mouth of the Barzan Wormhole, this Guardian-class base is one of the newest facilities in Starfleet. It will be the last thing you see before you head toward the Delta Quadrant and the first thing to welcome you home to the Federation.
This game will be led by Stacks, who really impressed me with his proposal for that sim, but has also impressed me with his enthusiasm for the new model and our new shared canon. He has agreed to step into the TFXO, and I’m delighted to have him as part of the Task Force Senior Staff. He’ll be writing as Commodore Bahnstahl Tasker.
A New Fiction and a New Task Force Commanding Officer!
One of the reasons I’m doing a report in an off month is to introduce myself a little bit. I’m David and I’ve been in Bravo Fleet on and off since about 2004 and I’ve done a lot of things in various simming groups. I’m a university writing instructor by trade and I’m really looking forward to developing the Delta Quadrant. My character is Vice Admiral Jonathan Knox.
To that end, I’ve started a fiction called the Delta Exploration Initiative, which is a combination of the Task Force’s operational chain of command and a policy-making group that will analyze all of the fun stuff we find in the Delta Quadrant and bring back. I will be making monthly updates that I’ll add to the DEI’s BFMS entry and post in our Discord.
- Like the other Task Forces, we’re eagerly awaiting the premiere of Star Trek: Picard, next week. We’re hoping that it won’t impact our canon plan too much (and we don’t think it will, given what we’ve heard so far), but we’re going to have to be flexible in case it does.
- I’m developing a list of NPC vessels that exist in all four of our Task Groups (two of which are entirely NPC in nature at this point), so watch out for that and the first installment of the TF fiction later this month.