Captain Órlaith McClellan stepped off the shuttle at the spaceport in San Francisco. The air had that unique California smell. A combination of saline from the ocean, and native fauna that she had no way of identifying .
She could have used the transporter facility adjacent to the spaceport, but she opted walk. It was a beautiful day with a soft blue sky and puffy white cloud, and the temperature was perfect.
She strolled down the road and made a right down Archer Street. After a nearly two kilometer walk she stepped onto the main campus of Starfleet Command. Working her way across the main quad to the Cochrane Building she entered.
She paused at the directory to check her destination and took the turbolift to level four. The doors parted and she stepped out onto the ASDB floor. She followed the corridor to the end where it opened up to a lobby. “Captain McClellan here to see Admiral Talon,” Órlaith announced.
The receptionist went to her computer and checked the schedule. “The Admiral is waiting on you captain.”
“Thank you ensign,” Órlaith smiled.
She crossed the lobby and entered the office on the left. Admiral Rebecca Talon looked up from a holographic model of a starship. “Órlaith how are you?”
“Captain,” Órlaith grinned widely, “Admiral I mean. I’ll never get used to calling you that.”
“Don’t worry Commander. I will never get used to calling you captain,” Rebecca teased. There had been a time when the Admiral’s hair was red as Órlaith’s own thanks her Irish mother. Now, that hair had faded to white and grey. Rebecca crossed the office and filled a cup with black coffee, and another cup with a two sugars. Rebecca handed Órlaith the sweetened coffee.
“You remember how I like my coffee.”
“If I’m not mistaken it was I who got you started on this vile stuff.”
“Yes ma’am, you did. Never touched the stuff before you made me your CAG. How are the girls?”
“Aimee and Liv? Umm… well, depends. The twins were serving on the Hippocrates. Aimee is a full doctor now, and Liv… well not so well. After the Hippocrates mission was scrubbed Livvy was tapped by Starfleet Intelligence for a mission into Cardassia. I don’t know all the details. Most of it was classified, and even I am not on the need to know list.” Rebecca took a sip of her coffee and sat down on the edge of her desk. “At any rate she lost a pip and no captain will touch her with a ten foot pole. She dang near got booted out of Starfleet altogether. I think her relationship to me kept that from happening.”
“I can probably give her a second chance,” Órlaith offered.
“I might take you up on the offer, but don’t think that’s going clear your debt to me. That’s a favor to Liv not me.”
Órlaith smiled, “If I didn’t know better I would have thought you had a bit of Ferengi in you Ma’am.”
Rebecca shrugged, “You never know what ended up in the wood pile. Congratulations on that fourth pip and the Gettysburg by the way.”
“So, speaking of that fourth pip. That’s why you are here.”
Órlaith cocked head, “I had wondered what the head of the ASDB would want with me.”
Rebecca stood and circled around her desk and offered Órlaith a seat before taking her own. “It’s not ASDB that wants you. As your former captain I volunteered to give you this briefing”
Órlaith raised an eyebrow as she slid into the chair across from her former captain. She had known Rebecca Sandoval.. now Talon for a long time, and this was the most cryptic she had ever been.
Taking a sip of her coffee she sat back, “Okay, what is this about?”
“I miss your bluntness Órlaith. What I am about to tell you is reserved for Captain’s and flag officers only. What is said here is not to leave this room understood?”
Órlaith raised and eyebrow in surprise again. Sitting up she set the coffee on the desk in front of her. The Admiral had her full undivided attention. “Crystal clear ma’am.”
“Good.” Rebecca entered several commands including a voice print ID to unlock the information and the holographic ship was replaced by a three dimensional representation of a molecule that slowly spun on its y-axis..
“Omega,” Admiral Talon stated. “If, while on your adventures, your ship were to encounter this molecule it will lock out all stations with the Greek symbol of Omega. Only your command codes will disengage the lockout. You are not to discuss this with your crew. You are to immediately contact Starfleet Command and we will send in a specialized team.”
Órlaith stared at the hologram for a moment before looking over at Rebecca. “I am unfamiliar with this. If I remember my chemistry correctly, that is one hell of a complex molecule. I would say it’s highly unstable, and certainly not naturally occurring.”
“It isn’t, and yes, it is highly unstable. It’s the most powerful substance that we know of. It contains the same energy of a warp core in a single molecule. We surmise that a chain of these molecules could sustain a civilization. It was first synthesized in the 22nd Century by a Starfleet physicist by the name of Ketteract. He synthesized a single molecule of Omega for only a fraction of a second.” Rebecca entered commands and Omega was replaced by a half destroyed space station. “This is the result. This was a classified research facility in the Lantaru sector. The explosion killed Ketteract and 126 scientists were killed. An unexpected consequence was encountered by rescue teams: Subspace ruptures extending out several light years. These ruptures made it impossible to form a stable warp field. Sublight speeds only.”
“So Omega destroys subspace? If one molecule could do all that, what would happen if there were two or dozens?”
“Space travel as we know it would cease to exist,” Rebecca replied. “This power is why Starfleet suppressed all knowledge of it. Can you imagine what would happen if the Federation’s enemies were to get a hold of this? I don’t think I have to illustrate the consequences here.”
Órlaith sat back in her seat as if she had been suddenly handed the weight of the entire universe on her shoulders. “Wow that’s… Well that’s something ma’am.”
“Fortunately you don’t have to do anything about it. Just make sure your crew are ignorant of Omega and you call Starfleet Command and we will take care of the rest.”
“Good.” Rebecca turned off the holographic display. “You are dismissed, Captain.”
Órlaith stood, snapped to attention and made a smart about-face and headed for the door. “Órlaith?” Rebecca stopped her at the door.
“Yes, Admiral?” She asked looking back.
“What are you doing tonight?”
“Nothing ma’am. I was planning on reporting to Gettysburg tomorrow, but tonight I have no plans.”
“Why don’t you come by my family ranch in Santa Fe for dinner. Say 19:00?”
Órlaith smiled, “Sounds fantastic ma’am. Just don’t cook anything too spicy.”
Rebecca laughed and shook her head, “See you then Órlaith.”