It had been a few days since he had been placed in command of the newly commissioned N.C.X. Raptor. Despite the success against the Urthean attack not that long ago, Fleet HQ was demanding that the vessel goes through a full shakedown test before it was returned to active status.
Harry had been on a few Shakedowns mostly after refits were completed, they were long and boring yet necessary. Sometimes all it took for a critical failure to occur was the unavoidable occurrence or individual error. All it took was for a stem-bolt not to be tightened, for a bulkhead to be improperly sealed or even a computer component installed wrong. Also from the meeting, he had last night in Commander Stiles' office via viewer conference the higher-ups were eager to start using the ship as a testbed for future technologies.
He also needed to get familiar with most of his crew, whom he was still largely unfamiliar with. Stepping into a turbo-lift, he scanned his eyes over the names and their last assignments. It seemed to him that most of the crew was made up of a hodgepodge of the former U.S.S Drake's crew and a mix of station personnel. A few of them he did know, casually at least.
There was a lot of ground to cover and with the Fleet backing up starbase 186 for once they wouldn't have to worry about outside interference. Harry Martinez looked at this mundane duty as an opportunity to see if this menagerie of crew members could function as a whole unit. With there only being thirty-five crewmembers there was no reason that they couldn't get to know each other. It would be a lot different from the bigger cruisers Harry was used to.
The turbo-lift slid to a stop and opened into the entry foyer of the Raptor's docking ramp. Still thumbing through the tests Fleet HQ was demanding the Raptor to perform. He casually nodded to the guards who stood posted at the docking door.
Everyone had been ordered to assemble in the Raptor's mess hall.
Harry arrived and was glad to see that most of the crew was there. Even Ensign Land was present and awake for once. Everyone was chatting amongst themselves and
"ATTEN-SHUN," Jakar shouted over the din as Harry entered. "Captain on deck."
Everyone immediately quieted down.
Harry thanked Jakar, it was unusual being referred to as Captain even though he hadn't achieved the rank yet. Jakar, his tactical officer insisted on it as a matter of tradition. Harry, reluctantly, agreed that if a flag officer was aboard that they would address him properly.
Harry cleared his throat and began. "I suppose you are all wondering what this meeting is about and I promise you I will be brief and to the point," Harry said. "Fleet Headquarters has ordered that we begin shakedown tests of the Raptor despite our success a few days ago."
A quiet groan went around the room, Harry waited for it to pass.
"They are requesting a full test of all the ship's capabilities and equipment. They want us to record and document everything in detail. The reason being, they hope to press the Raptor into service as an active testbed for new technologies. They want this done as soon as possible. As of attending this meeting, you are all now on active duty and we will begin as soon as possible." Harry said as flatly as he could. "I suggest you put off the complaints, the way I see it the sooner we get it done the better."
Fara who had been sitting in the front row, her arms folded across her chest and venom in her expression was the first to shoot a paw in the air. "Excuse me, sir, but why wasn't I informed of any of this."
"Trust me, Ms. Phoenix. I just found out about this last night, if I had any warning I would have let you know."
Fara scowled and rolled her eyes.
"Is the Raptor ready for this?"
"If you mean the repairs are complete," Fara replied. "Yes." "Well, then you had better get started," Harry said walking up to her and holding out one of the stacks of data pads he had. "Your assignments, pass them out to the rest of the section leaders," Harry said with a smile.
Fara scowled but took the pads and did as told.
"I expect to leave space dock within the next half hour so all of you better snap to it," Harry announced loudly. "Dismissed."
"AAAAUGGH I hate shakedown duty!" Land complained to Terri-Lu the communications officer, firing up the flight control console.
"Do you ever do anything but complain?" Terri said smoothly placing the coiled like a receiver on one of her spines near her ear.
"Well yeah but complaining comes easiest." Land smirked. "Have you ever been on one of these before? It is dullsville with a capital "D"."
"Since I properly maintain and monitor the equipment that I use." Terri said rather calmly. "It won't take me long to do the checks required, I log everything I do so I'll be spending most of this little task, listening to subspace chatter and enjoying a good book."
Land looked dumbfounded for a moment. "You keep a log?"
"Yes," Terri said smirking. "I'm probably one of the few communications officers who stay on top of their paperwork. Perhaps if you maintained your station you won't be pulling your hair out filling out reports for the next two hours."
"I just started flying this tin can!" Land protested smacking the control console. "I barely even know her and HQ wants me to start poking around inside her and see what's what?"
"It's all standard regulations." Terri chuckled. "If you'd read them once in a while it'd save you a lot of headaches."
Jakar couldn't help but chuckle at that from his station.
"Yeah laugh it up I'm sure you keep up with miles of paperwork."
"I do," Jakar said smiling one of his rarely seen smiles. "When you sleep as little as I do you'd be surprised at what you can get accomplished."
At that moment Harry entered the bridge and quickly sat in his command chair activating the adjoining displays. "Are we underway yet Mr. Land?"
"No, not yet." Land said sitting down in his chair.
"Then I suggest you get to it, are all stations secure?" Harry asked typing into a small pad.
"All stations are green for launch." Terri Lu replied sitting down in her chair.
Harry looked over at the Engineering station and tapped his com station. He felt like irritating Fara a bit more. "Ms. Phoenix will you be joining us on the bridge."
"Just one darn minute!" Fara spat back. "I'll be up there soon, everything checks out down here."
"Very well chief, no rush," Harry smirked. "Mr. Land do we have permission to leave space dock."
"Aye, sir." Land said nodding prepping the launch commands.
"Spacedock has acknowledged permission to disembark." Jakar replied.
"Very good," Harry said clapping his hands. "Let's get this test over it, Mr. Land separate the umbilicus and clear all moorings."
"You know." Land said offhandedly. "You shouldn't rattle her like that."
Harry smirked. "She needs to be rattled, it'll make her focus a bit more."
In the docking foyer, an alarm sounded and solid airlock doors began to close over the circular opening of the Raptor's docking port. Along the Raptor's hull auxiliary couplings blew their seals and drew back into their respective compartments. The docking tub retracted back into the Raptor and its protective hull plating slid over the opening The Raptor's impulse engines and warp nacelles charged and began to glow as the ship came under primary power once again. There was a resounding "thunk" heard throughout the station as the massive magnetic hardpoint clamps released the ship from their hold. The ship was now free-floating in its bay.
Fara came onto the bridge and threw herself down into the engineering station powering up the display.
"Nice of you to join us, Chief." Harry said casually.
Fara issued a quiet snarled and went to work.
"We're free-floating." Land reported.
"Very well take us out, one-quarter impulse," Harry ordered. "Fara, are the Warp Engines up for a decent break-in."
"As ready as they'll ever be, how hard are you going to push them." Fara asked warily.
"Well…" Harry said looking at the orders. "Fleet HQ wants to know how fast we can go, they figure that since you have a modified Warp core for a larger vessel equipped in the Raptor, they want to make sure it can withstand the warp stresses of the higher speed ranges."
"It should," Fara replied. "I don't think we've even tried anything above seven five."
"Very well once we clear space dock, we'll run it up to full speed slowly. They want through readings for each speed." Harry said looking up to see the ship slid between the open bay doors of the Starbase" He then turned to his Lt. O'mara. "Mrs. O'mara I want those sensors running in top form."
"I'll d.. do…my best sir. This isn't exactly top of the line equipment I am working with." O'mara replied.
On the screen the doors of Starbase 186 slid past and before them lay the vastness of space.
"Helm set a course for bearing 045 Mark 312," Harry said checking the readouts on his console. "Warp Six. Well start at a good pace and push it from there how are the engines, Ms. Phoenix?"
Fara was hunched over her console leaning on the chair. "Everything looks five by five warp intermix efficiency is at 99%. Nothing unusual."
"Aye, sir," Jack said entering the coordinates into his console. "We're all set skipper." He said over his shoulder.
"Then, by all means, ensign," Harry said leaning back into the captain's chair. "Engage."
The deck plate began to hum as the warp coils fired to life generating the warp field around the ship and with a muffled roar the ship lurched forward into warp flight. The stars began to streak by on the screen.
TNG Tribute Story.
Takes Place before "One Lost Shadow." After "Introductions"
Based on the ST:TNG episode "Time Squared."
See copyrights and ownerships page. This is a work of fanfiction and not intended for financial gain, or the lawyers will kill all of us.
So far the tests of the Raptor's systems have been successful. There have only been a few minor operational problems that are computer-related but nothing critical. The warp engines have performed well they can sustain a flight of 9.7 for at least two hours. We are currently sitting a light-year out of Confederation space in the Mirobi sector a fairly sparse area of space that is ideal for such tests due to its vastness and lack of star systems.
We will be underway shortly as soon as Fara's people are done going over the Warp Coils, once we recharge and get mobile, it's on to the tactical systems.
Harry sat drinking a cup of coffee watching the screen waiting on word from engineering. It was nice simply enjoying the quiet, although he was sure Jack Land was asleep at his post and doing a good job of appearing to be upright from behind.
Jakar was busy going through all his diagnostics before the weapons tests began, and Michelle O'mara was currently monitoring sensors at her station. Suddenly there was a disgruntled grunt from Jakar.
"Problem Chief?" Harry asked.
Jakar nodded and pointed to his console on the wall where the torpedo launcher controls were up. "Yes, the forward launcher has appeared to have jammed for some reason."
"It's probably a malfunctioning magnetic clamp." Jakar grunted standing up.
"That's unusual I thought that only happened in certain models of torpedo launchers and aren't they outdated?" Harry said.
Jakar smirked. "Yes, but during the construction of this vessel, especially the later additions we had to improvise on what parts we got. I will take care of it, I don't want to delay Ms. Phoenix by bothering her with this."
Harry frowned. "Do you need help?"
Jakar shook his head. "I'll be fine I'll just replicate a new clamp and slap it in." He disappeared between the aft portside bridge doors.
"Improvise?" Harry said sipping his coffee. "Lieutenant Lu, I don't recall anything about improvising anything about this vessel in the reports you gave me?"
"Sir?" Terri said suddenly muting the earbud and looking at him.
"I thought this ship was "per say" state of the art with modern equipment."
"It is. Mostly, Sir." Terri said looking a bit flushed.
Terri bit her lip. "There were omissions in the report."
"Omissions?" Harry said stopping sipping his coffee. "What kind of Omissions…"
"Oh, I told her…." Terri sighed realizing something slipped she shouldn't have let it.
"You told who, Lieutenant?" Harry said grimly.
"Sir, There were some problems during the final stage of the Raptor project." Terri finally said.
"Problems?" Harry said raising a brow still looking very irritated.
"Problems with distributions, equipment getting lost or not just arriving," Terri said frustrated. "We had to make do with a few parts here and there."
"Make do..." Harry said.
"I told Fara that she needed to include these changes in the dossier we gave you but she insisted on not sharing those changes with you."
"How many of these little changes am I not aware of?" Harry said drumming his fingers on his coffee cup.
"The Forward Torpedo Launcher, two of the turbo lifts, the warp plasma conduit, half the power relays, two of the warp coil sections, ….."
Harry held up his paw. "Ok, I get it."
Terri looked down at the ground looking a-bit embarrassed and worried.
"I appreciate your honesty. I just hope that if there is a little detail like this again in the future you will be more forward with it. Is that understood Lieutenant?"
"Sir, Yes sir." Terri nodded.
"I will speak to Chief Phoenix, until then if there is anything with this ship that changes, that I don't know about, I want to know about it before anyone else does, from now on, is that absolutely clear?"
Terri nodded. "Of course sir."
"And as for you Mister Rivas," Harry said turning to Don who seemed to flinch realizing the gaze of his CO was now targeted on him. "You are the operations manager, why did these little details slip past you? Why is my Communications officer a bit more informed than you are?"
The Cornerian wolf spun in his chair to face Harry and folded his arms. "Sir, I was placed here to serve as the liaison between Arspace Dynamics and Starfleet. No offense this was supposed to be my ship and believe me I am not too happy about this either. The problem is Chief Phoenix. I have had multiple confrontations with her over this on the deadlines and delays this project has had over the last 18 months and so far she has met them. If I had known about this I would have this ship put to a fleet yard for a thorough once over."
"Were you aware of these delays?" Harry said sipping his coffee.
"Yes but Fara kept assuring me she had solved the problems." Rivas shrugged.
"You didn't think to look into it?" Harry growled. "My orders were to get this project done by the deadline or it would be scrapped," Rivas said. "We didn't have much of a choice."
Harry was starting to get angry when a meek voice from behind chimed in.
"C… c Commander, I have s-s-s-something on sensors."
Harry took a deep breath and let it out. "We will continue this later, with Ms. Phoenix, is that understood both of you."
"Yes, sir." They both replied.
Harry walked across the bridge, punching the back of Jack's chair jarring him back awake, to O'mara's station and said. "What is it, Lieutenant?"
"I'm picking up a single vessel, its adrift sir." Lt. O'mara reported. "It appears to be a shuttlecraft."
"A shuttle out here? That's unusual." Harry said. "Scan it for life signs."
"One, very faint." Michelle said.
"Very well, Mr. Land take us to one-quarter impulse and move to intercept." He set his cup down in its holder and tapped a com button on his command console. "Bridge to Shuttlebay, be ready to tractor in a shuttlecraft."
"Aye Sir." A voice replied.
"Strange…" Michelle muttered.
"Sensors detect energy scouring on the hull, some of the signatures indicate a close proximity to a warp core breach, the others are something I h-h-haven't seen before."
"Can we beam the pilot aboard?" Harry asked.
"Negative, the unknown energy would in.. int ...interfere with the transporter." Michelle replied.
Harry saw the ship's tractor beams snag the drifting craft and drag it below the view of the top of the saucer. "Medical team, report to the shuttle bay immediately." He added hitting the com switch. "I suggest you get down there as well, Lieutenant. I want a full report."
Michelle nodded nervously and got out of her chair heading for the bridges forward exit.
Michelle exited the turbo lift on deck four and walked down to the loading ramp were Dr. Okan was waiting with two EMT's. He nodded to her as she quietly waited on the other side of the ramp. Knackt, Fara's chief assistant soon arrived shortly after her with a tool case.
"How quick can you get into that shuttle?" Dr. Okan asked Knackt.
"You don't worry about that I'll get the door open easy as pie." The rat smirked tapping his tool case.
The signal tone sounded as the shuttle was brought into the bay, and decontaminated. The doors parted and Knackt headed in first with the Medical team behind him and Michelle bringing up the rear. Knackt walked up to the shuttle and sat his tool kit on the damaged nacelle and pulled out the tool and quickly went to work on the door.
Michelle felt a bit useless and fidgeted with her tricorder when she thought she had seen a double image. She rubbed her eyes and then realized that was indeed what she was seeing. The number on the shuttle was a 5 and along its side it said. Shuttlecraft Angel Island N.C.X Raptor.
Sitting across from her was the same shuttle on the other side of the bay.
"Um… D-d-doctor." She stammered dropping her tricorder.
"In a moment, Lieutenant." Dr. as Knackt popped the seal open on the door of the shuttle and scuttled out of the way, making way for the medical team.
He climbed into the cockpit and scanning the pilot before he turned the chair to face him. Vitals were weak but viable, he then paused when he looked at the pilot's face as he checked his pulse at his neck.
"Told ya it wouldn't be a big deal," Knackt smirked walking up to Michelle as she picked her tricorder off the deck and started to scan the shuttle.
"D-d-d-did you notice the name on that sh—sh shuttle." She said to Knackt.
"What are you talking about?" Knackt said looking at her a bit confused.
Michelle pointed at it.
Knackt looked and made a startled squeak when he saw the name on the shuttle. "That's weird."
"N-n-n-no kidding." Michelle replied.
"Okan to Martinez…." Okan said hitting his com badge.
"Yes Doctor, what is it?" Harry replied.
Okan signaled to his team for an emergency transporter tag. They entered the shuttle and were a bit stunned at what they were seeing. "I think you better get down to sickbay and see our guest asap."
He said applying the tag to the pilot's uniform. "Okan to Sickbay, two for emergency transport."
In the chair, looking a little worse for wear, was the unconscious Harry Martinez.
Harry arrived in sickbay and stopped short when he saw the unconscious form of himself in the medical bed.
"One second, commander." Dr. Okan said motioning. "I just started a full biological profile and I would appreciate it if you stayed out of the way."
Harry put his hands up in a placating manner and walked back to stand by the doctor's office as he watched. The person, whomever it was definitely looked like him, the same build and everything it was almost like looking into a mirror. Harry leaned against the wall and waited patiently, his thoughts drifted toward the reports that they now had two identical shuttlecraft as well and he still needed to have a little one on one with his chief engineer about a few technical details.
"Is that a person…" Harry started to ask. "Or some sort of construct, android?"
"As far as I can tell he's you," Okan replied. "Brain waves, genetic profile, everything he's you. " he then paused. "However his brain patterns seem out of sync, I've never seen anything like it before.
Okan finally motioned him over and walked over to the main display and activated a restraining field.
"Doctor?" Harry asked.
"It's more for his protection, he's in a weakened state I don't need him thrashing around."
"Understood, I understand he's in poor shape but he has some questions to answer."
Okan nodded. "I'll revive him but he's not going to be very lucid."
"Understood," Harry grunted.
Okan walked over to a stand with hypo sprays laid out on it and grabbed a stimulant and carefully placed it against the unconscious Commander's neck and injected it. However, suddenly the master diagnostic display started to make warning noises and the indicator arrows started sliding towards zero.
"Doctor?" Harry asked.
"I don't understand…" He said quickly thinking before running over to grab a neutralizing agent. He quickly injected it and the readings returned to positive.
"I don't know…" Dr. Okan said. "the stimulant I injected him with seemed to have the opposite effect. I've never seen a reaction like that before."
Harry looked a little frustrated. "Doctor I appreciate the fact you want to keep him alive but the fact that there is a duplicate here is a very pressing matter I would like to get to the bottom of."
"Understood sir." Okan nodded.
"I'll be on the bridge.." Harry said taking one more look at his doppelganger and leaving the sickbay. "Martinez to O'mara." He said touching a wall panel outside of sickbay.
"I want that shuttles logs asap is that understood."
"Y yes sir." She replied.
The duplicate Angel Island sat in the middle of the shuttle bay with all its hatches open and Fara's engineering teams crawling over every piece of it.
Fara hooked up the umbilical power to the shuttle and finished fastening the clamps. "Ok, Michelle we're ready to power up."
Michelle nodded sitting in the pilot seat of the shuttle. "Ok, I'm going to try to get it going." She opened the shuttles manual power controls and started activating it. Soon the main control boards lit up.
"That's encouraging," Michelle said. "Powering up shuttle right now." She said entering the commands. A slow hum began to fill the interior of the shuttle and then all the panels started to short out.
"KILL THE POWER KILL THE POWER!" Michelle shouted as Fara dove for the controls on the umbilical and disengaged the power. "Fara! I th.. th… thought you said you had it hooked up right.?!" She said molting a few feathers out of fright.
"I did, every damn shuttle in the fleet uses the same power." Fara growled.
"Well, this one doesn't obviously!" She said putting out a small fire on one of her arm feathers. It's almost like you hooked it up backward!"
"Well I didn't, this isn't the first time I've done this," Fara said rather indignantly and scanning the shuttle with a tricorder she fished out of a kit set up on the nacelle. "Ok… the emergency grounds kicked in… that's weird That's only supposed to happen in case it is hooked up wrong. But you have to be almost retarded to pull that off because you have to almost beat the connection on there to make it do that." Fara puzzled. "It's hooked up right I double-checked it."
"Well try reversing the polarity of the power source," Michelle said after a moment of thought. "What have we got to lose?"
"Sure.." Fara said going back to fidget with the power source. "Now try it."
Michelle opened the manual panel reset the breakers and tried again. This time the shuttle powered up with no problems. She looked over at Fara and shrugged.
"I'll be damned." Fara muttered seeing the lights kick on and the impulse engine starting to hum again.
Michelle cracked her feathery fingers. "I'll access the ship's logs now." She started typing and bringing up the shuttles records as Fara climbed in behind her. As the time readouts began to flash on the main display. "Wait, hold on a minute," Fara said pointing at the console and crowding Michelle in the cramped pilot's area. "Look at that." She said pointing to one of the log entries.
Michelle blinked at the screen. Every single log entry timestamps were at least 6 hours ahead of their current time.
"Check out the last one," Fara said. "Before the shuttle lost power."
Michelle nodded accessed the log and put it on the overlay viewer of the shuttle.
The picture was hazy at first but soon it showed the interior of the shuttle bay and a lone figure stood watching the shuttle depart.
They both looked at it. "Isn't that Lt. Rivas?" Fara asked.
"I think so." Michelle said.
The screen flickered again showing the shuttle looking back onto the Raptor that that seemed to be in the middle of some sort of vortex as the shuttle flew away from it. However, suddenly a bolt of energy shot out from the swirling vortex and struck the Raptor. The lights and engines on the ship suddenly went dark and it started to careen out of control before another energy bolt hit it and the ship exploded.
All that remained was the swirling vortex, and the log terminated.
They both exchanged shocked glances.
"W.w. need to get this to Harry.." Michelle choked out.
"No kidding." Fara said reaching for the data extractor.
The Bridge crew of the Raptor was assembled in the Raptors Ready room seated around the table in the small conference area that the ship had. Fara and Michelle stood beside the master display console that played the shuttles log footage.
The room was eerily quiet except for the dull hum of the engines of the ship.
Michelle broke the silence. "According to the shuttles log entries, the Raptor will encounter that anomaly in three and a half hours. We also recovered this, it's the last personal log on the shuttle." She said hitting another control button on the table.
I have just witnessed the complete destruction of the U.S.S Raptor with the loss of all hands save.. myself.
"Th th that was all we could recover, we couldn't get anything else." Michelle said quietly.
Harry stood up and began to pace around the table his hands placed behind his back as Fara and Michelle took their seats. "So now we have to consider that everything we have just seen is.. going to happen, in a matter of a few hours. The ship will be destroyed and for some reason, I'll leave the ship. Suggestions, discussion, anything."
"I've already done a preliminary scan of our course ahead, there are no threats to us along our present course," Jakar said.
"I've been talking to everyone within subspace radio distance," Terri added. "No one has seen any unusual activity either."
"Lieutenant?" Harry asked Lt. Rivas.
"Logically it's already happened." He grunted. "If that is what's going to happen to us how do we even know what to do? We could change course, we could stop, regardless of what we do we don't know what action will prevent this from happening."
"That's a real cheery outlook," Fara grumbled. "We're dead if we do dead if we don't."
"Regardless," Rivas said glaring at Fara. "I think our best bet is to just continue as we were." Harry thought about it. "Agreed. However, we need to understand whatever decisions have been made were thought to be right at the time this… first happened." Harry rubbed his brow, this whole situation was perplexing and he had hoped Doctor Okan had some answer for him. "We will continue with the shakedown cruise and deal with the situation as it occurs."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
"Dismissed," Harry said. "All except you Fara."
He waited until everyone had returned to their posts and left the room.
"Fara I need to talk to you about some eccentricities with this vessel."
Fara shifted in her seat but remained calm. "What are you talking about Captain?" She asked although her tone suggested she knew she was in the hot seat.
"I'm talking about the rather large amount of equipment that you have scavenged to keep this vessel operational."
"Oh, that." Fara said tapping her fingers on the desk.
"You are aware that Starfleet has some very strict guidelines about what equipment is requisitioned for starships, especially prototypes," Harry said bluntly. "I trust you have at least looked at these during the development of this starship."
"Yeah, sure." Fara said drumming her fingers a bit more rapidly.
"I understand there have been difficulties in the creation of this starship and some hurdles that had been overcome," Harry said. "But what I don't appreciate is you not being forward about it, I asked you for a full brief on everything about this ship and if it wasn't for my bridge officer's honesty I would not have known about this." His tone was dangerous as he spoke with a level tone. "Why didn't you share this information with me?"
"I… Well um…" Fara said nervously before Harry put up his hand.
"Save it," Harry said. "In light of the current situation at hand, it seems a bit pointless… but if we survive the next few hours. I want you to understand something." Harry said steepling his fingers and leaning forward. "If you ever, do anything behind my back or anyone else's again, I will have you thrown in the brig." Harry glared. "Is that understood chief?"
"And if we get back, I want a full debriefing on the status of this vessel I want to know everything you haven't told me. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Commander." Fara said nodding looking down at the table.
"Dismissed." Harry said curtly.
Fara got up and quickly exited the room.
Harry sighed, stood up and walked over to the window to watch the stars streak by with his hands behind the back. This whole situation was bothering him, it was frustrating him beyond belief. Suddenly the com chime sounded.
"Captain, this is Dr. Okan, our guest has regained consciousness."
"Very well," Harry said glaring at his reflection in the viewport. "I'll be down shortly. "
Harry arrived in sickbay and saw his doppelganger lying on the central med table looking about and mouthing words to himself.
"How long has he been awake?" Harry asked.
"Not that long..." Okan said keeping a watchful eye over him.
"As he tried to talk?"
"Not yet he's just been like that so far, however, his brain waves are a bit more stable than they were."
"Can you hear me?" Harry asked. His double looked at him and stared blankly. "What happened to you? Why did you abandon the Raptor?" Harry said growing more impatient. His double looked at him with an expression of terror and confusion and made some half-choked sounds. "GOD Damnit Tell me something anything!" Harry said grabbing him by the shoulders and giving him a shake.
"COMMANDER MARTINEZ!" Doctor Okan shouted stepping around and forcefully dragging him away from the med-table. "Please do not accost my patient.. er.. yourself!"
"That "thing." Is not me!" Harry glared.
"He's as much you as you are." Dr. Okan snapped back at him. "He's just delirious he's probably experiencing some sort of hallucination from the brain wave distortions. The last thing he needs is you accosting him. Now kindly GET OUT of my sickbay before I have you confined to quarters for being unfit for command."
Harry glared at him and then broke his hold and stepped back. "I'm sorry Doctor." Harry said taking a breath.
"If he is ready to talk I'll tell you." Okan glared. "Please leave, sir."
Harry glared one more time at his double and then left the sickbay.
He was now officially in a fugue as he walked the corridors of deck two. This situation sucked, he was potentially looking at the loss of his first command in a matter of hours. He felt completely at a loss and impotent to do anything about it. He sulked as he strode his way over to the raptors mess hall. When he entered a few crew members were sitting quietly eating as he walked up the stepped platforms up to the viewports that were currently open.
He took a deep breath and tried to focus, his anger was getting the best of him and he needed to stop letting this bother him. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen.
"Captain?" He heard a familiar voice behind him, he turned to see Terri Lu standing behind him.
"Lieutenant?" He asked.
"Can, we talk?" she asked. "You know, off the record."
Harry nodded. "What is it, Terri?" He asked.
"I'm… scared. Sir." She said quietly sitting in front of him in the alcove.. "I.. I don't want to die." She brushed her hair out of her eyes. "I know we don't exactly have it easy and danger is part of our jobs but this…" She crossed her arms and rubbed her forearms with her hands. "Is a bit much." She started to sob a bit. "I'm sorry." She said wiping her eyes.
"Lieutenant, you have permission to cry." Harry chuckled reassuringly. He gently put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it.
Terri nodded and chuckled a little bit through the tears. "Are you scared?" She asked.
"I am angrier than anything right now," Harry replied. "There has to be a way out of this, I won't accept it as a finality."
"Yet it's already happened.." Terri said trailing off her voice warbling.
"Lieutenant," Harry said sitting beside her. "I assure you I will do everything in my power to make sure that nothing happens to any of us." Harry's face suddenly took on a vision of determination. "And I will not leave this ship unless it's my only option I have left."
"Are you sure you can find a way?" Terri said with a bit of hope.
"I will find a way, that I promise you." Harry replied.
Harry walked down the entrance ramp of the shuttle bay and approached the duplicate Angel Island sitting in the middle of the bay. The only sound was that of the red alert klaxon, the only activity in the Raptor's shuttle bay.
He stared at the shuttle with a look of despair mixed with contempt.
"There has to be a solution I refuse to except abandoning the ship as my only option". He paused taking a deep breath. "Something I'm not seeing something I'm not understanding I refuse to accept what has happened as a finality."
However, time was running out.
He turned on his heel and headed for the exit as the doors closed behind him as he ascended the ramp heading for the bridge.
A few hours later.
Harry sat on the bridge staring at the screen, on his master systems screen a timer was slowly ticking down.
"Anyone see anything out there?" He asked watching the time tick down below 30 seconds.
"Running a full scan sir, nothing on sensors," Michelle reported. "I am running a full spectrum as well and I am detecting no anomalies."
"Mr. Land I hope you are awake and paying attention."
"Skipper there is nothing in our course I'm keeping an eye on it." Jack said reassuringly.
Harry glanced at the chronometer, only a few moments now.
Suddenly an alarm sounded and the ship suddenly dropped out of warp.
"Report!" Harry snapped suddenly.
"We've dropped out of warp sir," Jack said looking perplexed at his board. "I have no idea why."
"Engineering?" Harry said hitting is com button. "Why have we stopped?"
"No clue sir, I'm working on that right now.." Fara replied over the speakers.
"Captain…" Michelle spoke up. "We appear to be over some sort of gravity well, I think it may be what pulled us out of warp. Putting it on screen."
There was a moment of stunned silence as the screen changed views looking down into the gaping maw of some sort of vortex stretching almost impossibly downward into time-space.
"All hands to Battlestations Red Alert," Harry said getting up out of his chair. "Fara I need emergency power now."
"You got it, sir." Fara replied.
"Mr. Land, Punch it." He said walking up to behind the con.
"Aye, Aye, skip." Land replied engaging the warp.
The ship seemed to pull away from the anomaly for an instant and then suddenly it was wracked by a tremendous shudder as some sort of opposing force holding it in place. Harry braced himself against Jack's chair as Fara suddenly appeared on the bridge and transferred engineering controls to her station. She stared at the display and furrowed her brow. "Commander the Raptor's engines can't take this strain to much longer."
"Understood, Mr. Rivas divert all power from secondary systems except life support to the warp drive." Harry snapped over his shoulder. "Steady as she goes Mr. Land."
"We're at maximum warp Harry." Land shouted over the roar of the protesting warp engines.
The ship shuddered and bucked again a few consoles shorted.
"Captain I'm giving her all she's got if we keep this up we'll tear ourselves in half."
No. Harry thought. I won't give up.
The ship shuddered again and another klaxon sounded.
"Sir we have to stop if we keep this up if we don't tear in half we'll blow to pieces," Fara said pleadingly.
The ship shuddered again and the hull began to groan.
The whole bridge crew exchanged glances. The ship stopped gaining forward momentum and started to descend aftward into the anomaly
"Captain, we have to stop." Rivas said hopping up and running up beside him. The ship shuddered again and another klaxon sounded. "CAPTAIN." Rivas snapped.
"Decrease acceleration." Harry finally said. "Do what you can to control our descent."
Land nodded and backed the acceleration off. The engines roar became lessened and the ship slowly stopped its descent.
"Report.." Harry said.
"We seem to be holding at warp 7 right now." Mr. Land reported with a sigh of relief.
"Prepare a probe, type seven fire it into the vortex." Harry said breaking the silence.
"Aye Sir." Rivas replied heading over to his station and keying in the commands. "Probe is away."
On the screen the probe shot out the back of the ship, however, there was a sudden flash from a bolt of energy that destroyed the probe in an instant.
"Mr. Rivas if…" Harry started to say but suddenly a bolt of energy shot through the hull of the ship and knocked him to the ground.
Meanwhile, in sickbay, a similar bolt of energy slammed into the duplicate Martinez at the same time causing Dr. Okan and Nurse Twila dove for cover startled out of their minds.
While Harry was out he got the impression that something was calling out to him demanding he join with it. It was all so hazy and disoriented.
Harry lay on the deck in a daze. His head ringing as Rivas stood over him trying to rouse him and O'mara knelt beside him with a tricorder. "He's coming around." She said.
"Captain are you ok?" He finally heard Rivas ask.
Harry nodded feeling the pain recede as Rivas helped him back to his feet. "I think so… what just happened."
Michelle stood up. "I think it was some sort of scan, however, I'm not certain of the source."
Harry straightened his uniform. "Well, this just got a whole lot more complicated." He said staring into the swirling vortex.
"Now what do we do Captain?" Rivas asked.
"I … don't know," Harry said. "Everyone start working on solutions…." He said trailing off heading for the exit.
"Captain where are you going?" Fara asked as he approached the door.
"Whatever this thing is, it wants me…" Harry meekly thought put his hand on the door and shook his head. "Nowhere, I'm just lost in thought." He said thumping the bulkhead with his fist.
"What if we tried blowing the hell out of it," Rivas said. "We're sitting in a god damn escort vessel we could just dump everything we have at it and hope for the best."
"I hate to con contradict you, sir," Michelle spoke up. "But if whatever it is if it can take out a probe, it can take out a torpedo."
"Well if we can't go forward, let's just ram the Raptor down its throat." Land spoke up spinning in his chair. "What have we got to oose?"
"That is the stupidest idea I've ever heard." Fara said.
"So what are you suggesting we just sit here?" Land said.
"We could end up god knows where if we did that," Fara said frustrated glancing at her readouts. "But we can't sit here forever. At our current rate to hold our current position we'll burn our engines out in an hour."
"So let's go with my idea?" Land shrugged.
"No!" Rivas and Fara both snapped.
"Like blowing the hell out of it is any better, we're not even sure what "It" is." Land snapped at Rivas.
"Terri has there been any attempts for it to communicate us?" Harry said keeping his back to them.
"No sir, other than that bolt that hit you."
Harry sighed, the situation was getting grimmer by the moment.
His com-badge chirped.
"Martinez." he said quietly activating it.
"Captain," Okan said. "You are awake and would like to speak to yourself."
"Finally." Harry thought. "I'm on my way. Mr. Rivas, you have the bridge." He said exiting the bridge.
He arrived to see his other self struggling against the restraining force field. "Doctor Release me at once I have to leave this ship immediately."
"So now you talk?" Harry said
"Of course I talk you, idiot, now release me the entire ship is at stake." Harry snapped back at him.
"Release him, Doctor." Harry said after a moment of thought.
"Not when he's violent." Dr. Okan said glaring at Harry.
"Release him now I'll take full responsibility."
"Do you have any idea what it is you are doing Sir?" Okan said belligerently.
"Hell no, do it anyway." Harry snapped back.
"Fine." Okan said throwing his hands up in the air and deactivating the force field.
"Thank you, Doctor." His other self said hopping up and looking around agitatedly.
"Tell me anything you can."
"We were on a shakedown cruise, heading for the Irobi sector when we encountered an anomaly." He said stretching his legs.
"We are already at that part." Harry groused.
"Then I have to get out of here."
"Why?" Harry asked.
"The anomaly it wants me and me alone." He said testing his balance. "I have to get off the ship."
"Surely there has to be another option?" Harry asked as his double started heading for the doors and quickly following him.
"All other options were exhausted." The other Harry said kneeling and opening a hatch at a ladderway. "I have to get off the ship." He said climbing down.
Harry slid down with him to deck three. "If I leave maybe you will have a chance to get the Raptor out of here."
"You know that's pointless." Harry snapped as he followed his double. "We can't get out."
"It's a chance what more do you want?!" The other one said looking at him with desperation.
Harry growled and grabbed his arm. "I don't take chances with my crew at their expense!" He snapped.
The other Harry glared at him and quickly backhanded him knocking him back. "You don't understand." He said heading for the shuttle bay.
Harry spat some blood and touched his snout still tender from the blow.
The other Martinez entered the shuttle bay with harry trailing behind him and headed for the shuttle they found him in. He walked over to the bay controls and activated the main hangar door. A siren sounded as the door retracted and force field activated revealing the spiraling void beneath them.
"There is no escape there is no way out, this is the only way." The other Harry said walking over to the shuttle
Harry quickly walked over to a wall locker and pulled out a hand phaser out and armed it.
"Commander!" He shouted as the other Harry opened the hatch to the Angel Island.
He stopped and turned around to look at Harry.
"This didn't work last time, it won't work this time," Harry said. "If you leave the ship you will kill all of us."
"Do what you will I'm leaving." His double said turning to board the shuttle.
Harry tensed, he was on the edge of a precipice, a small tinge of doubt raced through him and he forced it down and pushed his thumb down on the hand phasers trigger.
"This stops now!" He snapped.
The weapon fired and a crimson beam that struck his duplicate who tumbled forward limply and slumped to the ground by the side of the shuttle. "Bridge." Harry said hitting his combadge and quickly leaving the bay. "Standby for orders, I'll be there shortly."
"Aye, sir." Rivas replied
Harry arrived on the bridge and quickly hopped into his seat.
"All stop on our engines, Mr. Land bring us around facing the interior of the anomaly."
"Aye, Sir." Land said. As the engines cut the ship began to sink even further into the anomaly as the ship quickly swung around a huger energy bolt leaped out from the anomaly and barely missed the Raptor.
"All systems full transfer all available power to shields and engines." Harry said. "Attention all hands, brace yourselves."
The Raptor's warp engines engaged and the Raptor raced down the center of the vortex.
The ship shook and shuddered as it encountered unseen forces passing through the gullet of the vortex.
"Steady as she goes Mr. Land." Harry said keeping his eyes focused on the screen. Ahead of them was a bright light it was so luminous that it made the bridge awash with its brilliance. He felt all eyes upon him and he remained fixed on that point in the center of the anomaly.
Down in the shuttle bay, unseen by anyone the fallen duplicate Harry and Angel Island started to slowly flicker and fade from existence.
The ship shuddered, again and again, more violently and still they pressed on till the brightness was almost blinding He felt Terri come up behind him and place her hands on his chair, he gave her a reassuring glance. Now we'll find out if I made the right choice.
Another vicious shaking and the ship protested by sounding various alarms, the glowing center's brilliance now washing everything out into monochrome and then suddenly….
It was gone.
The viewer only showed the passing of stars in warp space.
"Mr. Land?" Harry said.
Jack frowned at his readouts. "Skip, I don't know how to tell you this but… we're back on our previous course."
"Any sign of the anomaly?" He said looking over at
"Negative." Rivas reported.
He heard Terri sigh with relief behind him.
"Captain.." Michelle spoke up. "the chronometer." She said pointing to the display by the monitor.
Harry was amazed, it was reading the time as if the past several hours had never occurred. There was no accounting for it.
Harry stood drinking coffee and staring at the window in his ready room. He heard his door chime and announced the visitor could enter.
Lieutenant Rivas entered the small office.
"Don, what can I do for you." Harry said turning to the wolf.
"We've been over that shuttle bay and this ship several times now there is no sign of the duplicate you or the shuttle." Don announced.
"Today… has been a very strange day." Harry sighed.
Don nodded. "Yeah what do we make of this, it's almost like nothing even happened. Was it just a dream, or an illusion or what."
"Maybe we'll never know," Harry replied sitting at his desk. "I'm not even sure how to report this to Fleet HQ, or if I even should."
Rivas nodded. "So, how did you know?"
"The way to get out."
"I didn't," Harry replied. "It was the only thing we hadn't tried, the one thing that seemed to desperate to try." Harry said taking a sip of his coffee. "Mr. Land was right though, what did we have to lose?"
"We had some new orders come down the pipe sir." Rivas said handing him a padd.
Harry picked up the pad and scrolled through it. "Algion Prime. I haven't been there in a long time, the storms must have let up."
"Good," Harry said relieved reading the padd. "So they want us to get the research data off the post. I guess they weren't happy with what little they got years ago." He handed the padd back to Rivas. "Do you think we can handle it?"
"Fara says repairs are coming along well, we should be able to continue the cruise if we don't have any other bumps in the road along the way," Rivas reported. "Starfleet saw that it wasn't too far out of our way." Rivas shrugged. "So we got the job."
"Very well, to Algion it is," Harry said. "Is there anything else?"
"No sir, I'll go wake up our navigator and have him set course." Rivas chuckled excusing himself.
Harry sighed as Don left and put his hands behind his head and leaned back in his chair.
As he did behind him a shadowy form stood outside the same window it was humanoid in appearance and immune to warp travel outside of a ship or vacuum for that matter.
You did well, for a Marsupial I'll give you that.
… but your real test is yet to come.
The barely visible figure disappeared in a bright flash and Harry turned seeing something out of his periphery and only saw star field he returned to his thoughts and relaxed.