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Author's Note: - The first few chapters are near identical to the events in the ST:TNG Episode 'Yesterday's Enterprise.' This story you might guess starts as an alternate of an alternate timeline.
Studying the main screen at the fore of the bridge, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, tried to focus on the ship that seemed to be emerging from the greenish nebulous cloud that had mysteriously formed right before the Enterprise, the Galaxy-class battleship that was the fourth in a succession of ships after Kirk's ship to bear the name.
Getting up from his command chair, Picard proceeded to the centre of the bridge, to stand just before steps that led to the slightly lowered flight control station. "Ensign," Picard said commandingly. "All stop. Let's not get any closer before we know what were dealing with."
"Aye, Sir." Ensign Wesley Crusher, the young dark-haired flight control officer in his late teens, responded inputting the command into his station. A beat later, he added, "Now reading all stop," as the ship arrested its forward motion slowing from a quarter light speed to nothing in a matter of seconds.
Looking back towards the starboard rear of the bridge, Picard addressed the attractive blond-haired Lieutenant Natasha Yar, his tactical officer/security chief, currently occupied the tactical station. "Lieutenant," he asked. "What are our sensors reading? Is that an enemy ship?" Picard needed to know before he could make further decisions. If he made the wrong one, he could risk destruction of his ship to enemy fire. Starfleet needed all the ships it could get. The war with the Klingons, Picard knew, was not going well.
Lieutenant Yar shook her head at the readings, not getting the answers she needed. "I'm getting too much interference, Captain."
As Picard retook his command chair, he glanced to his right, exchanging a look with his executive officer, Commander William Riker, giving him a silent order. Go and give her a hand. Without another word, he got up and went to her station and started conferring to each other. Moments later, their work apparently bore fruit.
"It's clearing now, Captain." Yar informed Picard. "It's definitely Federation. Accessing registry…"
Looking up from the tactical station, Riker added. "It looks like they had a rough ride."
"NCC…" Yar said. "One-nine-seven-seven…" She paused as she realised, that the entire bridge crew was looking at her "…USS Challenger."
Military Log, 08/17/2366-0445: -While investigating an unusual radiation anomaly reported by Starbase 105, the Enterprise has encountered what can only be described as a ghost from the Federation's past: The USS Challenger. A refit Constitution-class starship, believed lost eight decades ago.
"Confirm that." Riker ordered.
Monitoring the readouts at the operation station, at the port rear of the bridge, mirroring tactical, the android Lieutenant Commander Data spoke up. "Confirmed, Commander. Analysis of hull and engine materials conforms to engineering patterns and methods of that time period."
Looking up from his station, Ensign Crusher looked back to Data. "But that cruiser was destroyed almost eighty years ago.
"Presumed destroyed." Data corrected him. "The USS Challenger was last seen near the Klingon Outpost on Narendra-III exactly eighty years, one month and three days ago."
"And now their here." Riker said thoughtfully.
"Has it been adrift for all those years?" Picard asked curious. "Or, has it travelled though time?"
"That is a possibility," Data said. "If that hypothesis is correct, then the anomaly we just encountered would be a temporal rift in space."
"A rift?" Picard asked, getting up again and approaching the main screen to get a better look at the condition of the vessel. The screen currently showed a view of the ship's port side. He could see three points of obvious torpedo impacts. One forward and starboard of the impulse engines, a second near the bridge on the port side. The third was on the secondary hull near the deflector dish. He could also see a gash from the impact of disrupter fire near the base of the nearer warp nacelle pylon.
"Possibly a Kerr loop from superstring material." Data expanded. "It would require a high energy interaction in the area to be formed. The rift is certainly not stable. It could collapse at any time."
"Captain," Yar said looking up from her station. "I'm able to scan the interior of the ship now, sir."
"Report Lieutenant." Picard ordered approaching her station to get a look at the readings for himself.
"Heavy damage to warp field nacelles and hull-bearing struts. Internal space frame is-" Yar broke off as a new alarm sounded on her console. "Life signs, Captain! Readings are sporadic. Looks like they have taken casualties. But most are still alive."
"Bridge to Sickbay," Riker said tapping his com-badge. "Emergency teams. Standby transporter rooms."
"Belay that order, Doctor. " Picard said overruling Riker.
"Respectfully…" Riker put forward. "Regardless of where they came from. They are here now and need our help."
"Commander," Picard went on. "If that ship has travelled through time, then we are dealing with variables that could alter the flow of our history-" Picard cut himself off as the tactical console indicated an incoming transmission.
"Receiving a distress signal from the Challenger." Yar informed them. "Audio Only."
"Uh huh." Picard prompted.
A moment later a voice came across the bridge. "This is Captain Robert Styles of the Federation starship Challenger to any Federation ship. We've been attacked by Romulan warships and need assistance. We've lost warp drive and life support is failing."
"There's no record of a Romulan assault on the Challenger." Riker said puzzled.
"Voice message ended, Captain." Yar said cutting off the speakers. "It's just their automated beacon now."
"Open a hailing frequency," Picard commanded as he and Riker both took their respective seats. "This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise. Standby to receive emergency teams."
"Sir?" Riker asked puzzled. Picard had just done a one-eighty on his decision not to send emergency teams.
"Commander," Picard said, his voice grave and serious. "We will take this one step at a time. Stabilize their power systems and life support. Tend to their injured. And above all, avoid all discussions of when they are."
"Aye, sir, " Riker said as he tapped his com-badge. "Bridge to Sickbay. Emergency teams. Standby transporter rooms."
"Lieutenant," Riker said addressing Yar as he headed to the turbolift. "You're with me."
After Riker and Yar had left the bridge, Crusher who had been quietly monitoring the navigation reports picked up an incoming message. "Captain," he said. "Message from Starfleet monitoring station. Klingon birds-of-prey heading towards this sector.
"Battle alert, Mr. Crusher." Picard acknowledged the alert. "Condition Yellow."
Riker finished materializing on the Challenger's darkened bridge. What light the bridge had, was eerily red from the emergency lights. Taking an instant survey of his surroundings flashing his wrist-light around, he noted the bridge was of the traditional design utilised during the mid 2280's.
Roughly circular, two exits at the rear of the upper encircling level either side of a standing console showing various schematics of the starship. Around the remainder of the darkened bridge, he could see several other stations. All three on the left side of the bridge were sit-down stations; the station to his immediate right, next to the starboard turbolift was what he remembered as an old style science station. The others were standing, like the one at the rear. He could see at least half a dozen of the bridge crew slumped in their chairs. Three others were lying near their stations, having died from an obvious explosion near the blank main screen. He found it strange that he noted the uniforms they wore were the same as the one he wore himself. The blue jumpsuit uniform that had been in use since Captain Archer's time.
Looking to the centre of the bridge, in the sunken command area, He could see that Doctor Beverly Crusher, was already moving off from where she had arrived and was scanning for survivors with her tricorder. Pointing at the three crewmen near the main screen, she confirmed what Riker had already surmised. "Dead."
Beside him, Yar had stepped down to the command area, while Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge headed up to one of the consoles on the upper level, trying to get some information out of it.
Still circling his light around, his light caught movement from the command chair. Moving over to it, he shone his light at the officer, allowing him to see the occupant. He was a mess. Suit covered most of his uniform and his head had obviously been bleeding bad. The blood encrusted into his hazel moustache with more blood seeping from a wound above his left eye. "Captain Styles?" He asked, confirming his guess.
"Yes." His voice was croaky weak. He needed obvious medical attention.
"I'm Commander William Riker," he informed Styles. "Our emergency teams are boarding your ship." Looking up, he addressed the Doctor who had been tending to a crewman slumped over what Riker thought was the tactical/security station on this ship. "Doctor?"
Coming across, she gave her report while quickly scanning the captain. "Four others are still alive. The rest of the bridge crew is dead." Her diagnosis was prompt. "I'm reading internal injuries I can't treat here. I'll have to get him to the Enterprise."
Styles, becoming more alert, looked up at the mention of the flagship. "Where are you from Commander?"
"We'll explain later." Riker tried to put off.
"You'll explain now!" Styles tried to put some force into his voice.
"We're from a Federation ship," Riker reported neutrally. "We answered your distress call. Your ship is in good hands. But, we need to get you to our sickbay."
Putting her tricorder away, she tapped her com-badge. "Crusher to transporter room. Two to beam directly to sickbay."
"Standby for transport."
A moment later, Crusher and the injured captain disappeared in the sparkle of the transporter effect.
Moving to the flight control station, Riker joined LaForge where he was running a diagnostic on the controls. "It's pretty bad, Commander." LaForge said putting a tool back in his engineering holdall. "Looks like they were in a hell of a fight."
"If you can't restore life support," Riker told him. "We'll have to evacuate the ship."
"I think I can do it," LaForge told him. "But I'm going to have to do it from engineering though." He got up and headed towards the exit, tapping his com-badge. "LaForge to Damage Control Team Alpha. Meet me in Engineering, Deck Sixteen."