Threat detected in Grid 3456A. Federation starship, Argonaut-class. Threat level moderate. Proximity to particle 010 is unacceptable. Assimilate particle 010 immediately. Assimilation of Federation starship is not required. Elimination of threat imperative.
Bringing weapons online. Shields online. Preparing for combat. Beginning scan of threat vessel shields. Vessel has dropped out of warp. Time to intercept is seven minutes.
Torpedo launch detected. Graviton manifold warheads detected. Threat to particle 010 is extreme. Increase speed.
Anomaly detected in Federation combat tactics. Torpedoes have been fired in non-standard pattern away from particle 010. Threat is unknown. Adaptation to new Federation combat tactics required. More information is required for adaptation. Engage.
Hailing Federation starship now.
Mission Day 99
“Warp drive shut down in five…four…three…two…one…” and true to T’Val’s words, the warp drives of the Atlantis came to a stop, depositing the starship within firing range of a white dwarf and far, far closer to such a star then most regulations would ever allow. But when Tikva had said how close they needed to be as quickly as possible, she had to give credit to T’Val for accepting the orders, devising the timing and then executing it flawlessly.
And not running them into an ultra-compact stellar object at superluminal speeds.
Though that would have done the trick you know?
What, killing us so it’s not our problem?
Well, that, but slamming us into a white dwarf at warp nine with a couple thousand tons of antimatter on board probably would trigger a supernova. Should ask Camargo about that.
Don’t tell Evil-Tikva about this, she’ll get ideas.
Before T’Val she never would have thought about a Vulcan helm officer, but she had to admit that T’Val had the knack, that intuitive feel for flight. Though she probably simply called it study, practise and skill. A series of subconscious logical decision trees on what to do and when.
“Torpedoes away,” Adelinde said in quick succession after the white dwarf had gone from not being there to occupying the entirety of the viewscreen. “Two minutes until they have reached their destinations.”
“Then just a few minutes to let the Borg arrive and then we blow up a star,” Mac chimed in as he looked to his Captain. “This is seriously genius and stupid and I’m so glad to be part of this plan.”
“Should be,” Tikva added with a smile. “I talked Ensign Krek into including the entire crew as co-writers on their scientific paper. Blow up a star, get an article written with your name on it. Fame, glory, accolades galore.”
“Those only tend to go to the important names on a paper,” Camargo piped up from Science.
“Ah well, something I can brag about at the next Captain’s dinner. ‘Oh, you aren’t a published scientific paper writer? What a shame.’” Tikva mimed the conversation, earning a couple of chuckles.
“I’d be careful Cap,” Mac said. “Plenty of actual scientist with four pips in red these days.”
“Don’t remind me.”
Before anyone else could continue, Adelinde spoke up after a series of chirps on the Tactical console behind the command chairs. “Sensors have finally identified the Borg vessel over the white dwarf’s interference. A scout ship, weapons and shields are prepared for battle. Incoming hail.”
“Put it through,” Mac said straight away.
The bridge went quiet and the sounds of mechanical workings filled the space before a cacophony of voices all speaking in unison but out just enough to add dissonance to the sound as they spoke. “We are the Borg. Leave this system immediately. Comply or you will be destroyed.”
Tikva looked to Mac, confused. They all knew what the Borg should have said. This, this wasn’t the Borg. Though, for her own part she was giving Mac the look, the entire bridge crew really, as a piece of performative art. She was expecting something to be off with the Borg, just wasn’t prepared for what exactly.
“Come and make us,” Tikva said and then raised a hand to let Adelinde know to cut the comm channel.
“Scout has just dropped out of transwarp. One minutes until weapons range with us.”
Waiting to a count of five, Tikva stood and wondered forward to the helm. “Hand over the helm to computer control Lieutenant.”
“Aye ma’am,” the vulcan woman said as she entered in a few commands. “Helm is answering computer control now.”
“Twenty more seconds to get the capacitors charged ma’am, then we’re dumping them and all the spare power into the main deflector for one hell of a push.”
“Good, good.” Tikva was nervous but doing her best not to show it. She wanted someone to actually be flying the ship, but the timing was just to close, only the computer could get it all right with millisecond precision. She wanted to be flying, that was more it than anything else.
“Closing on the subspace flexure,” Adelinde responded. “It’s scanning us, but it seems like the flexure is more important. They’ll be on shortly.”
“Rrr?” Tikva asked.
“Well fire when ready will you,” she responded, getting nervous, her words a bit terser than she wanted them to be. She couldn’t risk the Collective getting their hands on Omega and that meant catching them with no chance to collect the molecule and get away.
The bridge was quiet for a moment before the large Gaen jammed a rocky finger on his console and a sequence of computer timed events took place.
Alert, anomaly detected. Graviton manifold warhead detonations have been detected. Threat to particle 010 is negligible. Federation behaviour is unknown. Omega Directive is not being followed.
Anti-graviton beam has been detected from Federation starship. Target is secondary stellar object. Beam has shut off. Federation starship has jumped to warp. Threat to particle 010 has dissipated.
Warning! Anomalous behaviour from secondary stellar object detected. Electron-degeneracy pressure has been overcome. Supernova imminent. Threat to particle 010 overwhelming. Attempting to beam aboard particle 010.
Subspace interference from star instability preventing transporter function. Supernova in prog….
And then there was silence…
Followed by a roar, carried forth into the void by the outpouring material of a dying star’s last hurrah in the cosmos. As pressures ramped from electrons collapsing into protons fusion was restarted in the core of the white dwarf. Carbon, to heavy to burn save for in the largest of supergiant starts start as fuse and temperatures being to rise uncontrollably. No method is left to allow the star to regulate its internal temperature and the star’s core explodes, imparting enough energy to every atom, every subatomic particle to unbind the star.
Everything explodes outward to race across the cosmos, leaving nothing behind, sweeping forth with such raw energy that the only thing left is the white dwarf’s partner, ravaged by the explosion, it’s outer layers ripped off and forever changed.
“We are at warp one,” T’Val announced as she studied her instruments. “We are out pacing the shockwave quite handsomely.”
“Confirmed that the Borg scout has been destroyed.”
“Subspace flexure has disappeared from sensors. Oh wow! We were so damn close to that white dwarf; I’ve got some awesome scans of the supernova up close just before we jumped to warp.” Camargo was a kid in a candy story with her stellar interior scans. Most starships didn’t get that close to white dwarfs unless they had to. None ever got that close and purposefully set one off in a cataclysmic detonation.
“Mac, you have the bridge, I’ll be in astrometrics.”
This time when she entered, the two personnel didn’t even need orders. They saw their captain, locked their consoles and left Astrometrics, though both were giving her somewhat disapproving glances as they did so. She could guess way, asking them to stop in their work scanning a type 1a supernova up close, but that was minor compared to what the real mission was.
“Doors locked,” the computer announced when she’d finished entering her command codes.
“Computer, scan for Omega molecules.”
“No Omega molecules within range of long-range scanners.”
She sighed. Her shoulders relaxed and tension evaporated out of her instantly. Tension she didn’t even realise she’d been carrying as it had been there for days.
Reports needed to be finalised, logs and records encrypted and locked away. Debriefs done where they could be done. Then there would be the reports from her crew, the scientific anomalies, the write up about a supernova.
Hello tension my old friend.
Hello! Let’s get those shoulders all tensed up again!
Mission Day 1400 HR
There was a sea of blue assembled as Tikva sat down at the head of the table, every other seat taken up by a Science staffer from Astrophysics and Stellar Cartography, as well a few of the Pure Physics people aboard ship who sat across multiple science teams.
Gabrielle sat at the opposite end of the table and was smiling like the Cheshire Cat as she looked to her Captain. She’d assembled everyone hear to present initial discoveries and findings to Tikva as well as to acknowledge the work everyone had put in to make Ensign Krek’s plan a viable one.
It was going to be a long hour, but seeing as it had only been a little over two hours since they’d blown a star up, some initial findings were perhaps worth suffering through. Let them all know she was interested, and she was, just not right now.
She should have declined, made Mac do it, but this was important to crew moral, so she’d taken the hit, let Mac take the next one.
“Thank you for joining us Captain,” Gabrielle started. “Hoping you don’t mind, but the agenda is still fluid. Hoping we can cover the Krek Method of stellar detonation, then move into high level findings and then cover any initial differences with a normal type 1a.”
“Have we settled on Krek Method?” Tikva asked, looking to the Tellarite Ensign and was again met with that defiant, challenging look.
“The team won’t let me call it anything without my name in it, so it’ll do,” they responded, then cast their glare to a few others in the room, all smiling like fools. “Besides, now it’s purely mine and not theirs.”
“Now hang on,” a Lieutenant started to protest with a jovial tone, then stopped when he looked to Camargo and got a death glare, then looked towards Tikva. “Sorry ma’am. Krek rightly does deserve the recognition.”
“As long as your names on principle co-authors,” she responded and looked to Krek who for their part nodded in the ascent.
“That settled,” Camargo retaking the reins of the meeting, “let’s get started on the method itself for everyone.”
And the lecture began thusly.
“Computer, activate ECH,” she said after securing the door and actually fell back onto the locked door, resting against it for a moment.
And again, the figure materialised before her. “Emergency Command Hologram at your service.” Then it noticed Tikva standing with her back against the door, looking exhausted. “Take it things are going well then?”
“Omega is all gone, nothing on sensors but a supernova and no more Borg either,” she said as she pushed off from the door, “so we can end the Omega Directive.”
The hologram, previously rather emotive, just freezes, it’s expression not changing at all, or reacting to Tikva’s movements. It took her a moment to realise what was happening, then the ECH disappeared then reappeared. “Emergency Command Hologram at your service,” it said with the same swagger. “Captain Tikva Theodoras,” it said after getting its bearings. “I don’t believe I need to be active if you’re in command.”
“Huh,” she said to herself, taking her seat and looking at the hologram. “Omega, what do you know about it?”
“Greek letter, represents angular velocity in physics, religious connotations,” it went to continue but she raised a hand to stop the program.
“Right, guess that was the clean-up algorithm running its course.”
“Ma’am?” it asked, looking at her confused. “Nothing, nothing. Computer, deactivate and delete the ECH from memory.”
For its part the ECH just stood there, but the computer was the one to chirp up this time, asking for verification, then a command code, then another verification before deactivating the ECH and then purging the program from the computer.
She had a command crew, she had a XO she trusted and if things were so bad a hologram needed to take over, the ship was probably to badly damaged to run it anyway. She shook her head and then pulled over her computer terminal. “Computer, being Captain’s log, encrypt under the omega directive.”
A few chirps, then confirmation the log was started.
Tikva had let Mac in for a quick change before change of shift and instead ordered him to sit while she went for a secret compartment in her Ready Room for a bottle of ouzo, which she kept for situations just like this. Two glasses were set down, the bottle whose label was only in Greek was uncorked and shots poured in quick succession, careful not to spill any.
“What’s the occasion?” Mac asked as she sat back down, collecting his glass as she did and sniffing at it experimentally. “Ouzo? Really?”
“Símera ímastan o Promithéas,” she says, then downs her shot, setting the glass down carefully afterwards.
“Today something something Prometheus?” Mac asked, then followed suit, though the look on his face told Tikva all she needed to know about his taste for ouzo. Her supply was safe from being pillaged it would seem.
“Today we were Prometheus,” she corrected. “Good catch though.” She poured herself another shot, then offered one to Mac who stopped her. A shrug, then she finished pouring, looked it over and downed it as well.
“It’s this fucking not being able to tell you why we did what we did that’s pissing me off,” she finally offered. “The ouzo was by way of thanks for being there, for not questioning it much. I bet other officers across the fleet would have been prying, been angry, been demanding answers. We had it easy, I’m guessing mind.”
“This sort of things common?”
She shook her head. “No idea. I literally only heard about it when I called the Commodore to find out why I couldn’t unlock my own damn ship. Gave me a promotion on the spot right there so he could tell me what was going on.”
“Wait…what? Promoted you?” He looked pissed off at that revelation. She could feel it to, radiating from him like a heat. She was younger and higher ranked then him when she came aboard and now learning she’d been promoted just over some incident she couldn’t tell him about. The anger was reasonable, at least from his own perspective.
“Field promotion, but it’s going to have to be ratified. I likely wouldn’t have gotten it for a few years yet it not for this stupid incident but apparently it’s four pips and up only.”
He didn’t say a word, just glared at her. She could feel jealousy welling up with that anger as well.
“I put in your paperwork for a promotion about an hour ago as well with my report to the Commodore. Told him he better make it happen or I’m coming to steal a pip off his collar for you.” She poured another shot, offered Mac one and this time he didn’t stop her. “I’m fucking serious about that Mac. We’ve been out here three months and you’ve gotten some kinks worked out. A promotion will get your career back on track and I want it that way.”
Mac stewed for a moment more, then consciously let the anger go. She could feel the tension easing as he picked up the ouzo shot and downed it in time with her despite his earlier hesitancy. “Fucking field promotions.” He studied the empty shot glass for a moment, then set it down. “I’ll pry the damn pips off the Commodore’s collar myself.”
“After I get mine you will,” Tikva added and was rewarded with a smile from her XO who stopped her from pouring any more ouzo.
“We start drinking and neither of is us going to be much good. I’ve still got the back half of a shift to do and you’ve got dinner waiting.”
Tikva smiled at that, then grabbed the topper and replaced it on the bottle before setting it on a small counter behind her desk, in clear view, right next to her picture of the Fantastic Four. She looked at that picture for a moment and smiled, the idea of telling them about a promotion, but without a reason why would drive them all mad.
“Right, right. Let’s blow this place,” she said, standing up, collecting both shot glasses and placing them in the replicator for recycling.
“Starkillers first,” Mac offered at the door and Tikva accepted, though gave her best scowl at him for the ‘Starkiller’ comment.
“Right you lot, settle down,” Matthew Williams said as he tried to corral the others seated at the table with him. Seven others, including himself, sat around the long table with him at the head of it.
The rules for this little meeting were simple enough – no ranks, no talk of work and no electronics of any sort, save for a single padd that was crippled save for the calculator on it just in case that was ever needed.
There was paper before everyone, pencils and erasers, dice of a variety of sorts and a clear wipe grid sheet for when he needed it. Little figurines were strewn around as well as it was everyone’s responsibility to replicate some and bring them forth.
“Before we get into the recap of last session, anyone seen the latest scans of the supernova?” he asked, specifically looking to the who science division folks in the gaming group, though everyone was distinctly out of uniform right now.
“Hey, don’t ask us, the bigwigs are all hoarding the data for themselves. Though Camargo said she’d make a simulation for some lectures in the holodeck in the next week or so.”
“Kinda scary though, don’t you think?” Jessica Chu asked. “We’ve got the kinda of power onboard to blow up stars.”
Wy’run Trel leaned forward. “Only the right kinda of stars. We had to ring that one just right and then push it over the edge to get it to go boom. Though with all the prep the last two days on anti-Borg measures, I bet this was all a weapons test after all. Figure out how we could blow up stars to kill Borg star systems.”
“Oh shut up Trel,” Hadley, one of the non-coms, spoke up. “That’s just straight up overkill. Besides, must be better ways to kill star systems.”
“Didn’t say star systems, I said Borg. Bet they can’t adapt to straight up stellar explosions of unfathomable power.”
Matthew raised both his hands to get everyone’s attention and kill the conversation before the session got derailed before it started. “Okay, okay, enough rumour milling. Let’s get started. Wy’run, give is a recap?”
“Sure. So, last session ended with our intrepid Captain Gavalore,” he said looking to Jessica with a smile, “getting secret orders from the King about a rare magic that had been discovered, something he could only entrust to Captains of the Guard. She wasn’t allowed to tell us anything about the quest, but had to capture this magic immediately before it ravaged the land or the …”
“You seem tense,” Adelinde said as she was cuddled up on a coach again with Tikva in Four Forward, watching stars streak by once more. In a few more hours there would be a planet there, hanging for all to see, others to visit if safe. But right now, it was just the infinite void and streaks of light as Atlantis violated classical physics rather casually.
“I can just hear the game those folks are playing,” she said, adjust a shoulder and then readjusting after Adelinde moved in response. “It’s kinda hitting close to what happened here.”
“Ah,” the larger woman said in response. “The secret orders, not telling the crew, not even being able to trust your senior staff with the secret.”
“I trust you all, but I was under orders.”
“Orders can be bent.”
“Not these ones.”
Tikva could feel a steady affection from Adelinde whenever she was around, but that last statement earned a wave of…respect? It was respect – for following orders even when one didn’t want to.
Yah, but she doesn’t know what provisions those orders had. Violate the Prime Directive if you need to. Start an interstellar war. Flat out kill someone if you had to.
Oh yah, that would have sucked. Luckily, we got Omega in the middle of nowhere.
Wait, we could have started a war?
Shut up Stupid-Evil-Tikva, you’re late to the party.
“Well, if you ever want to talk about it, or ever can, I’m here for you love,” Adelinde said, nice and quiet like in her ear then nipped lightly at it, getting the response she wanted when Tikva squirmed under the innocent little assault.
“Gods do I wish I could. But the only day I’ll every be able to talk about it is when you get briefed on it by the Admiralty.”
“Oh, now that does sound intriguing,” Adelinde said. “Dinner, cuddle…holodeck for a spar or should I drag you to bed for another massage? Because you are still a little tense.”
“That a joke about my height?” Tikva snapped, turning to give her best pout.
“No, but maybe it should be.”
“Spar it is then. Going to kick your ass.”
Science Lab 2
“So what?” Goresh asked back as they finished plugging in the portable scanning array into an isolated computer to read the data on it.
“Did it work? Did you scan the fake subspace flexure?”
Goresh turned to face the nosy human, Jacob Waterly, and glare at them. “I just plugged it in Jacob. Even you can’t be stupid to assume I’m prescient.”
“Geez, sorry. Just thought you might have some foresight, or have read a display on the array.”
The array in question wasn’t much bigger than a couple of padds put together side by side on the long edges, but was covered in a variety of sensors. They got used when doing intense survey work as they covered way more channels than your average tricorder, could resolve more minute detail and work quicker, which was important in large scale bio-sign surveys, or mineralogical scans.
But this one, cut off from the ship’s networks, had been posted in a window, looking outwards. Goresh had known where the ship was coming out of warp, where the flexure was supposed to be and therefore knew just which window to put the scanner to get reads that weren’t being tampered with by someone on the ship.
“Huh, that just looks like gibberish,” Jacob said aloud as he had come around to stand behind Goresh, looking at the data as it came through.
“Because it is gibberish,” Goresh said in anger. None of the data made sense. Energy curves were off the charts across EM, subspace and gravimetric spectrums. They didn’t confirm to anything they could think of, in actual existence or in theoretical physics.
“Pah!” Goresh said, slamming a fist down on the power button for the terminal. “Nothing! The array stopped recording after one-point seconds because of buffer overload.”
“Should have co-opted one of the ship’s sensors.”
“Would have been detected Jacob. Use your brain you idiot.”
“Okay then, what do you plan to do about this then?”
“Not much I can do, save for confront the Captain.”
“Yah, that’s probably not a good idea. Plan B?”
“Get drunk off that still you’ve been building.” Goresh saw Jacob’s shocked look, then returned a glare until Jacob broke.
“Okay, you caught me. I’ve only got a real rough gin at the moment though.”
“Human spirits? Then I’m going to need a lot.”
Contact with Sphere 85426 has been lost. Sphere was investigating long range detection of particle 010. Federation starship, Argonaut-class was reported as in area.
Subspace anomaly detected via Telescope SS-4217 in grid 3456A. A sub-detonation stellar remnant has gone supernova. Remnant was classified as save from detonation. Dispatch multiple vessels to edge of lightcone. Event must be analysed with available light-speed data in order to reconstruct events.
Fourteen vessels have been dispatched. Arrival in five hours.
Vessels have intercepted lightspeed signals. Interferometric analysis has concluded that Federation starship is responsible for supernova. Methods unknown. Information lost in supernova. Resolution not sufficient to deduce method.
Particle 010 signal has been lost. Analysis concludes destroyed in supernova.
Federation starship identified as USS Atlantis.
Assimilation of vessel to be attempted by any vessel if opportunity presents itself to understand Starfleet stellar detonation technology.
Dispatching scout vessel to locate Federation starship.