The Centaur arrived in the Ioleuth System just at the edge of it as their sensors had not only detected a single planet, but it also had life on it, as the one single planet orbited the Sun in what was considered ‘The Green Zone’. It was a little surprising, but not rare to find a star system with a single planet that orbited this zone and has a civilization on it. But there was something else that their sensors detected. In a best descriptive explanation, the system did have one single planet but it had three orbiting bodies. A Space Station is the third, most outer body that orbited the sun, where the planet with the civilization was obviously the second-middle body, where there was a Research Station the first orbiting body around the sun, though more in the Venus location than anything.
Carter stared at the Space Station that was on the view screen, his arms crossed over his chest as he felt the pit in his stomach growing. He was hoping to avoid this, but it looks like he will have no choice. “What do the sensor say?”
Gomo was the first to respond, “Analysis of the Space Station indicates that it is primitive. Life signs indicate that they are native from the planet in orbit of the Ioleuth star. Why they would build a Space Station this far away from their planet, is beyond me. If we were to compare it with the Earth’s Solar System, the station is right where the asteroid belt would be. That is quite far from their home.”
Carter let out a small sigh and thought… Maybe they are a Warp Civilization, so maybe there is no risk… Then he noticed small vessels docked with the station. “What about those vessels. Can you give me an analysis on them?”
This time Gomez responded, “They are small crafts, possibly five, maybe ten crew compliment. Twenty if there was an emergency. As for their engines, they have what appears to be impulse engines, although more like the kind Starfleet used to have, back on the NX Class vessels. Sensors are not picking up any matter-antimatter chambers or reactors and no nacelles either. I think it is safe to say that the Prime Directive would be applied here.”
Carter closed his eyes and cursed under his breath. Not what he wanted to hear at all. Now he has no choice, the next few words will certainly put the crew against him. Unless…. “I want the Bridge cleared. Now. Except for Ryker, Gomo, Gomez and Vakai.” Carter ordered, where he then noticed the looks he was getting. “That’s an order.” He said with a raised voice and now those who weren’t called hurried to the turbolifts and left.
“Sir?” Vakai asked.
Carter sighed and shook his head. “I can’t tell any one of you anything of what’s going on. Only this. Our mission is to follow the Omega Directive to the letter. I don’t know what is going on.” He chose his next set of words carefully, not at all going to say what was needed to create the molecules, “These clusters, like the one we destroyed before, are suppose to be incredibly rare, and they are not naturally made…at least…we’ve never seen them made naturally before. Point is, many of them are appearing all over the quadrant and we do not know why and the entire Quadrant, maybe even the entire Galaxy, is in danger.”
Vakai frowned, “Just because of these clusters?”
Carter nodded his head, “When you become Captain, Vakai…you will understand. I know I have already said that before, but trust me…what I have to say next, is going to test all of us…that is why when it comes down to it…I will be the one who pulls the trigger, understand?”
“What are you saying, Captain?” Gomez asked.
Carter turned to look at her then to Gomo. “I am re-assigning you to the Communications Station. I will man the Weapons Station from here on out.”
Gomo looked confused but he did as he was told and walked over to the Comms Station.
Carter then looked at everyone slowly before saying what he knows will put everyone on edge. “As of this moment, the Prime Directive no longer applies on this mission.” Carter said before he took his place behind the Weapons Station. “We will still avoid contact with the Pre-Warp Civilization as much as possible, but if sensors show any of those clusters, we will have no choice but to destroy those clusters, even if it means interacting with this Pre-Warp Civilization.”
“How can the Prime Directive not apply here?” Ryker asked.
Carter looked at him. “Because of the Omega Directive superseding the Prime Directive. I can only hope that this never happens again when either of you become Captain, because believe me…this is far harder than it looks. I am putting your trust in me in jeopardy and believe me, I want nothing more than to explain everything to you, but I just can’t.”
Vakai looked down at the floor as he thought for a moment before looking back at Carter. “So Starfleet does have some dark secrets, like the Romulan Star Empire or the Tal’Shiar. I thought Starfleet was different.”
Carter sighed, “It is different from them, you all know that Starfleet is much different from any other organization. But yes…like any other organization, Starfleet has some dark secrets. Now, are we going to have a problem continuing this mission or do I have to take full control of the ship on this console?”
Vakai looked at the others, all looking back at him as they exchanged looks. Vakai then closed his eyes as he processed the information before opening them and looking directly at Carter. “We will continue with the mission, but we will write our complaint into our reports to Starfleet Command.”
Carter nodded his head, “As you should, all of you. I believe that if the Captain is capable of trusting their crew, that the Captain should be allowed to brief only a select few of the situation and to keep it only between them and no one else. I know, each and every one of you here, are capable of understanding a classified mission when there is one, and I believe you are all capable of keeping it that way. But the Omega Directive is extremely clear on what I can and cannot say. If I say much more…to either of you…myself and those who have been informed, would be kicked out of Starfleet and imprisoned. So I hope that will explain the gravity of the situation and why it is so difficult for me to carry out my orders without any of you having my back.”
Vakai shook his head, “You misunderstood, sir. We have your back. But whatever happens beyond this point, we will write a formal complaint to Starfleet Command.”
Carter smiled then nodded his head again. “All right. So. I see that sensors did not detect any of the clusters on the Space Station. Ryker, take us to the planet so that we may scan it. We shouldn’t have to run a deep scan, these clusters, as many as there appears to be in this sector, should pop up quite easily. But we have to get close to each and every body, otherwise these…ghosts…will throw us all over the place.”
Ryker nodded his head, “Aye sir, plotting a course to the planet, and proceeding at full impulse. Our course will have us avoid the Space Station entirely, hopefully outside their sensor range and eye sight.”
“Sending you their sensor range right now,” Said Gomez. “It’s quite primitive so we should have to avoid it too much.”
“Got it, adjusting course.” Said Ryker.
Time will then pass, as the Centaur will approach the planet and run its scan, finding zero traces of the cluster on the surface. What Carter did find was the substance that was needed to naturally synthesize the Omega Molecule, but only traces of it, which told him this civilization had mined all of it already. They also found two small orbital stations, much like the ISS back in the Twentieth Century Earth. So they proceeded towards the Research Station, and that is where Carter became more worried. The Research Station was made out of the same materials as the Space Station, which indicated that it belonged to the same civilization. Problem was, it was quite bigger than the Space Station they encountered, about the size of a Regula Station, and the worse part of the problem was what was in the largest, heavily insulated room. Massive cluster of Omega Molecules, over several hundred million of them. Carter then instructed Gomo to tell the Don S. Davis to come to their location, nothing more. Thus, the Centaur waited for the Don to arrive.
Gomez had been keeping an eye on the station since they approached it and noticed some changes, such as their sensor system were changing to a more narrow band, aimed directly at the Centaur. “Crap.”
Carter turned, “I’m sorry?”
She turned to face the Captain. “I think we have been detected, sir.”
“She’s right,” Said Gomo as he stared at his display. “We are being contacted by the Research Station.”
Carter cursed under his breath again, “Do not answer. How long till the Don arrives?”
“Ten more minutes.” Ryker responded.
Vakai turned to Carter, “What do we do now? They know we’re out here.”
“We will just have to pretend we can’t hear them.” Carter said, that is until the intercom started spitting out an odd alien language. “What’s going on?”
Gomo looked to Carter, “They opened a channel, they’re speaking directly at us. The Universal Translator is working it out right now.”
“We are the Mankirans. To the Alien Vessel. We mean no harm. We just want to talk. Please respond. We know you are there. We know you can hear us. Why do you not answer? Can you understand us?”
“They may be Pre-Warp but they appear to be quite aware that they aren’t the only living beings in the galaxy. Otherwise they would be more afraid to talk to us.” Said Gomez.
Carter sighed, “I suppose it won’t matter anyway, because as soon as the Don arrives, we’re taking the cluster from them and we’re going to destroy it.” Carter shook his head at the thought of communicating with them but since the Prime Directive no longer applies, he might as well take this opportunity to do something he would of never been able to do under different circumstances. He looked to Gomo and then nodded his head, where he heard the chime in the intercom that Gomo had established a link with the open channel. Carter took a deep breath, “My name is Captain John Carter.” He decided to leave out the ship name and who they are with for the time being. “I apologize for our delay in responding to your communication, we were just…curious as to why a station like yours would be located between the Star and the planet in which your people came from.”
“So you have been to Mankira. Did they send you to ask about our progress?”
Carter shook his head, even though they were only communicating by audio and not by video on the main screen. “No. In fact, we never did contact your government on the planet. We…are just a survey vessel, we were only interested in the life that we saw here in the system. But we had no intention of contacting you, or interfering.”
“I see. Well we have this space station here because we wanted to learn more about our Star and see what kind of potential technology we could come up with our research. We were kind of hoping that we would come up with a break through in interstellar travel. I see that your vessel is quite unique from ours and we know you’re not from our system. How do you travel between star systems?”
Carter sighed, “I am afraid I cannot tell you that. I wish I could, but we’ve learned in the past that, showing or even telling a civilization, such as yours, about how we travel, comes with grave consequences. We’ve had seen civilizations take the knowledge that we shared and ended up destroying themselves with it. We took measures to make sure that never happens again.”
“I understand, Captain. But, you’re not just curious about the location of this station, are you?”
Carter smirked, “I guess you’re the clever one. No, we’re not. We detected a rather large cluster in your containment chamber and we were rather curious about it. We’ve never seen it before.”
“Ah yes! It is quite amazing! The large cluster we have consist of almost four hundred million molecules of…incredible energy. What is truly surprising, is that we only had enough material on our home world to create maybe five hundred thousand of these molecules.”
Carter frowned, “Then where did the three and a half million come from?”
“We truly do not have a clue, Captain! They just appeared, in our containment chamber. It is astonishing and absolutely incredible. It is going to solve our energy crises completely. We might even be able to power a starship of our own with just a single molecule. It might even be our breakthrough for interstellar travel.”
Carter sighed and shook his head. “What about the risks? Do you know what might happen if…it became unstable?”
“We have detected a slight instability but we’ve been correcting. In fact, we have the most brilliant minds here from Mankira and we’re several steps ahead. I believe we are capable of containing it.”
Suddenly, Carter’s display notified him that the Don was approaching. Which led to Carter letting out another sigh, “I am afraid that I was not completely honest with you, sir. But I do know what it is you have in your containment chamber and I am afraid that I have no choice but to stop you and your colleagues from experimenting with it any further.”
“What? What do you mean? What right do you have?!”
“Look, I wish I didn’t have to, but I can’t tell you the dangers that these molecules have. The risks are far too great, the damage that these molecules will cause is…” Carter paused and closed his eyes, refocusing himself to not say anything that would violate the Omega Directive. “I’m sorry, but I have my orders.”
“You can’t do this!! We need this! How dare you come here and-“
Carter took direct control of the communications at the Weapons station and terminated the comm link. “Sorry but further communication would just be a waste of time at this point. I am signalling Lieutenant Commander Walker on the Don to proceed.”
They watched as the Don got close enough to begin transporting the cluster from the Research station to the resonance chamber in their main cargo hold.
“Sir,” Gomo spoke up. “Message from Commander Walker. He says they got most of it but some how the Mankiran’s found a way to shield a small cluster from transport. The Don can’t get the rest of it anymore.”
Gomez frowned and started to run a detailed scan before turning to look to Vakai and then Carter. “They some how created a Transport Inhibitor around small clusters of it and now they engulfed the entire station. We can’t transport anything in or out of there.”
Carter cursed under his breath and looked over the detailed scan. “Damnit. We can’t use any weapons to disable the power source without destroying the station and possibly causing the remaining molecules to destabilize.” He smacked the edge of the console with the palms of his hands as he cursed some more under his breath. “Hail them.”
Gomo nodded his head as he went to re-establish communications with the station, which they accepted, so he nodded his head again to the Captain.
Carter looked at the station on the main viewer. “You need to turn your inhibitor field off.”
“Not without guarantee that you will return what belongs to us!”
“I can’t do that, sir. You have no idea how dangerous these molecules can be if they destabilize and they will destabilize.”
“You don’t know that!”
Carter slammed the palms of his hands on the edge of the console again. “Of course I do! My people tried it, nothing can contain the molecules, nothing can keep them from destabilizing and the damage they do…” Carter pursed his lips to keep himself from saying more. He recollected himself, “Sir…I am so sorry about your research and your people. But this will do far more harm than you realize, it will not help your people.”
“I don’t care! We don’t care! We want it back! You’re wrong and we will succeed!!”
“Damnit man, listen! You need to lower that field or I will have no choice but to destroy your station!” That got everyone, well the four of them left on the Bridge, to look at Carter.
“You would threaten our lives, over this?! Just because your people failed, does not mean we will.”
Carter shook his head, “The risks are far too great, sir! It cannot be contained!”
“You’re wrong. Return our property at once.”
Carter closed his eyes and lowered his head where he was silent for a moment, long enough for the Mankiran’s on the station to ask them to return the molecules, again. Carter opened his eyes and looked down at the Weapons Console. “You leave me no choice. May the lord have mercy on our souls.” He spoke quietly as he loaded up five of the special torpedoes and targeted the containment chamber in various points and sections in hope the torpedoes will destroy the molecules without destabilizing them and stranding them in this sector.
“Captain, we can figure this out.” Vakai told him.
But Carter wasn’t listening to anyone, as he felt that the Directive was giving him no choice. He must destroy these molecules, once and for all. Carter looked up at the view screen, “I’m sorry.” He said softly before pressing the fire button and two torpedoes were spat out, one by one, racing across space towards their target before making contact. Two torpedoes were definitely overkill for such a primitive station, and they were more than enough to completely destroy the molecules that remained in the Mankiran’s containment chamber, but they were enough to ensure that the Omega Directive was followed.
Carter then looked down at the console and read over the sensor data. “Looks like we got all of them. Sensors aren’t even detecting any more in the Sector.” He stepped away from the console, “You have the Conn, Lieutenant Commander. Have all Bridge personnel return to their posts. Inform me once the Don is ready to release and destroy the resonance chamber.” And that, Carter went to the turbolift and left the Bridge.
“I can’t believe he did that.” Said Gomez.
Ryker turned in his seat to look at Vakai. “You’ll tell us all about it…once you become Captain, right?”
Vakai looked to them and then shook his head. “I can’t even being to imagine what is so dangerous about these…molecules. But if I become Captain, and learn about it…I don’t think I will be able to tell anyone, much like our Captain can’t.”
Gomo shook his head, “Maybe I should of stayed a Non-Commissioned Officer. All this responsibility is giving me far too much stress.”
Vakai sighed and sat down in the center chair. “You and me both, Gomo.”
“You were a Non-Com?” Gomo asked.
Vakai smirked, “I meant the stress.”
“Ah. Yes, of course.”
Vok sat there with his left hand on the edge of his arm rest, and his right hand stroking his thick goatee as he leaned so far forward in his seat while his eyes were staring hard at the main viewer. He saw everything and heard everything. Since these Mankiran’s had established an open channel with the Centaur, there was simply no attempts to encrypt the transmissions or secure the channel, so they heard it all. Of course, nothing incredible was given away since Carter did keep himself from saying anything that would have violated the Omega Directive, but it was enough to go on. “Molecules that have enormous energy potential…”
His intel officer leaned over the weapons console that was just behind the Commander’s chair. “Potential to be a powerful weapon!”
Vok smiled at the sound of that and grinned, a toothy grin that would give even some Klingons the shivers. “I think we have found the very thing that will help me revive the House of Duras…. Is it true, the larger vessel has most of the molecules on board?”
“Yes, my lord. We now know what to scan for and the large cluster of these molecules are located in the vessel’s primary cargo chamber.” Reported the science officer.
Vok stroked his goatee some more before standing up. “Status on their weapons and shields.”
“Smaller vessel’s weapons are powering down. Both vessels are completely defenseless right now.” Reported the weapons officer.
Vok grinned with a hearty chuckle. “Good. Power up our weapons and load the tubes. I want us hot and ready so that the second we decloak, we inflict as much damage on them as possible. But don’t destroy the larger vessel! I want those molecules for myself!”
“Yes, my lord! Targeting shield emitters and weapon ports.”
“Don’t forget their engines. I don’t want them warping away.” Vok ordered.
The weapons officer acknowledged.
Carter sat there at his desk, leaning back into the seat with the back of the seat up against the wall, sipping on a bottle of green whiskey. He sat the bottle down on his desk when he heard the chime to his door go off. “Go away.” His voice was rough and filled with remorse.
But this person wasn’t going away, as they entered a security clearance, which unlocked the door and opened itself for the individual. It was the Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Summer Pearce, once again paying Carter a visit.
Carter snorted, shaking his head. “Starting to regret giving you my codes.” His voice still the same as he lifted the bottle up off the desk and took another swig.
She sighed and pressed the button on the door panel that closed and re-engaged the door lock before going over and grabbing the chair on the other side of the desk, dragging it over beside his chair and sat right on down beside him. She then took the bottle from him and took a swig herself, just waiting for him to spill his guts out.
Which didn’t take long at all, as the alcohol was sinking in, suppose it didn’t help that he was drinking on an empty stomach. “I killed a bunch of innocent people…primitive people…over a stupid old fraking directive. And I can’t tell anyone why.”
She looked to him, studying him for a minute before handing the bottle back. “You can tell me.”
Carter shook his head, “No. I can’t. Not unless you and I want to spend the rest of our lives in prison.” He told her before taking a swig.
She smiled, “You act like your quarters has ears.”
Carter looked at her with a frown, “Of course it doesn’t! I’ve checked my quarters hundreds of times.”
She then took the bottle from him and took a swig before saying, “Then you don’t trust me.”
Carter frowned deepened. “That is not what I said.”
She smiled and handed the bottle back. “Then you should be able to tell me. I’m capable of keeping confidential information to myself, you know. The things I know about you and your-”
“Ssshhhhhh!!!!” Carter shushed her loudly.
She laughed, “What? You said it yourself, you checked your room hundreds of times. No one would know about-”
“All right already!” Carter huffed as he glared at her before taking another swig, a longer one then handed the bottle back to her. He took in a deep breath and sighed heavily, “Starfleet has a directive called the Omega Directive. Apparently some scientist used to run experiments on some molecule called Omega, and it had enormous energy potential. It would have changed the way we powered starships for centuries. Problem was, the containment failed, the molecule destabilized and it exploded. The scientist and his team, dead. Worse of all, it had the worse side effect that Starfleet had no way of knowing. It destroys subspace. You know the Lantaru Sector? When it exploded, it created subspace ruptures extending out several light years. It was impossible to create a stable warp field, can only travel at sublight speeds.”
She sat there, staring hard at him before mouthing ‘Wow’ and then took a long swig herself before shaking her head. “Unbelievable. Just one caused that?”
Carter nodded his head. “Ever since Starfleet found out, they closed all records, suppressed all knowledge. If word got out to any other space faring civilizations…like the Romulans…the Klingons…any one of them…it would lead to disaster.”
She nodded her head, “So what did you have to do?”
Carter sighed heavily and sat the bottle down on the desk before slouching some in his seat as he stared up at the ceiling. “The Don was able to transport almost all of the molecules from this research station that we found. Problem is, they found a way to erect a transporter inhibitor field around their entire station and kept a small cluster. I tried to tell them what I could without telling the only four officers I left on the Bridge with me, without risking their lives of imprisonment.” He said as his eyes lost focus, as he wasn’t staring at the ceiling anymore but more like through it. “They wouldn’t listen, nothing I said would make them understand. And I even if I was allowed to tell them more, without the risks to my officers…I don’t think they would have listened either way…”
She could see where this was going, “So you had to…?”
Carter closed his eyes and sighed heavily once more. “I pulled the trigger.”
She blinked, “Oh.”
“I just sent several dozen of Mankiran’s to their deaths with no explanation as to how dangerous these molecules are. And none of their families are going to know what happened. But it will only be a matter of time till the planet finds out that their research station is no longer transmitting and they will likely discover that an alien vessel destroyed the station and then at some point, discover that it was a Starfleet vessel of the United Federation of Planets and they will be demanding for answers.”
She shook her head, “I suppose I am to assume that the Prime Directive didn’t apply here.”
He shook his head, “The Omega Directive supersedes it. The dangers of the molecule, the risk to billions, maybe even trillions of lives…is just too great.”
She then grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “Then you did the right thing, John.” She turned in her seat and looked directly at him, grabbing his attention as he turned his head towards her and looked into her eyes. “As you said, one molecule destroyed subspace in a radius of several light years, right?” Carter nodded. “Then if more than one of these molecules destabilized…a dozen…a hundred…thousands…you saved billions of lives. Like the Vulcans say, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Carter scoffed, “Can’t believe you said that.”
She shrugged one of her shoulders. “To be honest, it’s no different from being a Doctor or any Medical staff on a starship. When we were at war with the Dominion, we had to choose who will get treated and who will not. Who can be saved and who cannot. When we were limited on supplies, it literally came down to a matter of choosing who we will save and who we will condemn to death.”
Carter sat up straight in his chair and sighed once more. “The War was hard on all of us, and you an I are the only few left on this ship that remembers how harsh it was. But this…this doesn’t make it any easier.”
She squeezed his hand, “It was never meant to. It was meant to prepare us for the worse, John. Not make it easy. It will always be difficult, no matter what. The point is, as long as we do it for the right reasons, long as we remember why we did it and for what cause…then our conscious is clean. Some day, you might have to answer to the Mankiran’s Government, then again, you may never have to. I’m certain Starfleet has some sort of protocol to handle this when the time comes.”
Carter smiled, “I suppose they do. Thank you, Summer.”
She smiled back and then wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips against his. Unfortunately, the passionate kiss only lasted for a few seconds when the ship rocked violently and the klaxon of Red Alert went off in their ears, along with Vakai’s voice piercing the air throughout the ship with ‘Battlestations! All hands to battlestations!’
-Captain Carter had to make the hardest choice and he made sure that it was him who did it. He was forced to destroy a pre-warp research station full of several dozen of people on board. Was really the only choice he had? Could he have done something else?
-Now, it appears that our little ‘rat’ has chosen to reveal themselves. The crew have no idea what the rat is after, but once they do find out, will they be able to stop a Vorcha Attack Cruiser from taking it? Or is the Centaur and the Don S. Davis outclassed? Stay tuned for the next chapter!