Disclaimer: The Star Trek, Stargate and Harry Potter franchises, characters, concepts, plots, worlds, ideas and any other similarities are not mine, nor do I claim any right to this story. This is solely for my entertainment only and for the release of my crazy fantasy, not for any intentional copyright infringement or for the purpose of any monetary gain. A big source of my inspiration and thus credit for many ideas and similarities goes to super writers Orson Scott Card and Peter F. Hamilton.

"Captain to the bridge!"

Riker groaned into his pillow. Beside him, he could hear Deanna moan and turn to her side; clearly she was ignoring the call and trying to stay asleep. He reached for his com-badge on the bedside table and after tapping it asked: "Report!" Deanna gave a slight sigh. Riker sat up as he listened to his XO Commander Vale.

"Captain, we dropped out of warp, our primary systems are offline, secondaries are malfunctioning, however, emergency systems are holding and online, several hull breaches, they are contained so far, however..."

'Great, this was the good news. Here comes the bad,' Riker thought, now fully awake and already getting dressed. Deanna was also throwing on her uniform.

"...our warp core suffered minor damage. Engineering is on it, Sir, but the nacelles suffered some structural damage."

"I'm on my way."

Both of them now fully dressed started for the door. Suddenly, the alarm sounds mixed with the red lights of Red Alert flashed and rang in their quarters. The main computer announced:

"Warning! Warp core breach in 15 minutes!"

'Minor damage, eh!?' Thought Riker as he and Deanna practically ran out of their quarters and towards the nearest turbolift. 'Xin had better be on it!'

"Riker to Ra-Havreii, report!" he ordered his chief engineer.

"Captain, I'm a little busy right now! Something collapsed our warp field in such a way that it super-heated the plasma in the core. I'll keep you updated as much as I can, but I have to stop the breach."

"Acknowledged Xin."

He was feeling more irritated by the minute. After checking the time, he realized he only slept two hours. Deanna, sensing he was a bit cranky, started to rub his shoulders. Riker's tension floated away. He stretched and looked Deanna in the eyes. "Thanks," he said, just as the lift doors opened to the bridge.

Riker strolled onto the bridge, followed by Deanna. Everybody was busy coordinating repair efforts and trying to find the cause of their problems. Finding Christine, he started walking towards her. "What the hell is going?" he asked on the way, trying to ignore the seemingly well working relationship between his First Officer and Chief Science Officer.

Vale turned to him from the science station. "We're still working on that, Sir. Weapons, shields are propulsion down. Navigation, communication and sensors are erratic at best. Life support is stable. There were a few injuries from ruptured plasma conduits; Ree is taking care of it. Our main concern now is the core and limiting the damage that is being done on the nacelles-"

Riker cut her off. "Being done? Are we under attack? What do yo-"

"Unknown origin, Sir. Best we can determine as of now is something is preventing us from establishing a warp field of any kind, stable or otherwise. When it first collapsed the field, it created some kind of wave that propagated through the plasma conduits into the core damaging several key systems on the way."

"That doesn't explain why key systems are offline. They are designed to function under stress and damage, not counting numerous back-up systems and secondaries," stated Deanna. Lieutenant Commander Jaza Najem, the chief science officer, smiled and offered his answer.

"They are, however, the systems aren't functioning due to different reasons. The propulsion systems are obvious. Shields and weapons, on the other hand, are a mystery. The systems themselves are functional, undamaged and powered, but something is preventing them from functioning."

This raised some eyebrows. Jaza, unfazed, continued in his report.

"Communications are even more confusing. Subspace is totally inaccessible, for unknown reasons, which brings us to sensors and navigation. Navigation is probably suffering due to being directly tied with propulsion; otherwise it can function only on the EM spectrum. Sensors are operational only in the EM spectrum and even that is being dampened in the ultra-high energy levels. That's the problem, because those are the energy levels at which the warp field operates in the EM and our only way of discovering the cause."

Several seconds passed as everyone seemed to digest this information. Before any of them could respond, however, the lighting seemed to flicker and then stabilize at normal levels. The red alert was dropped and the voice of Xin Ra-Havreii sounded over the com:

"Engineering to bridge."

"Report, Commander."

"Captain, the breach has been contained. Unfortunately, I had to take the warp core offline and shut down all the plasma conduits. We're running on emergency fusion generators for now."

"What about impulse power?"

"The generator and systems appear undamaged and functional, however Sir, until we do a complete assessment of the structural damage to the nacelles, I recommend not moving. I'll have a complete report for you as soon as possible, Sir."

"Very well, I'd like a report on the status of the ship ASAP, Riker out."

Riker turned to Vale, "Commander please coordinate the damage assessment and repair efforts. I'll be in my ready room, you have the bridge." He turned and walked towards his Ready Room.

Xin Ra-Havreii was not having a pleasant day. After a whole day of a complete over-haul and alignment of secondary plasma injectors he was just about to hand over the shift to the beta team when this mess happened. He heard the problem with core before the engineering crew started reporting it. He ran towards the main matter-antimatter reaction control console and started working, trying to slow down the reaction rate.

The Dilithium crystals were being exposed to higher temperatures and pressure, therefore accelerating the reaction rate, forcing the temperature and pressure of the electro-plasma higher, which in turn affected the crystals again, creating a feed-back loop.

'This shouldn't be happening,' he thought.

Normally the escaping plasma cooled the crystals, by taking the heat with it and thus slowing the reaction rate. Although it cooled the crystals, this was generally a long term process, thus there was also a plasma coolant system. This not only served to regulate the temperature of the core but all the plasma conduits within the ship. Cooling the crystals was dangerous in itself, because if the crystals cooled sufficiently, they become non-porous to antimatter. In that state antimatter would react with the crystals themselves, causing an uncontrolled runaway reaction and a warp core breach. The crystals were kept in a porous state by high-frequency EM fields, which heated the crystals quiet efficiently. This had a drawback too as with higher temperatures Dilithium decrystalized faster into waste products.

Of course, the source of antimatter could be simply turned off, however that would take the warp core offline, which would cause further problems down the line. For example, you can't just turn it off in mid Warp, you need to dissipate the subspace field gradually or you risk tearing the ship to pieces. Further, it would result in a ship-wide power failure if the backup wasn't brought online in time. Most systems, notably weapons, shields and, obviously, propulsion, needed the output of a warp core to function in their full capacity. Then there are the physical limitations of the core itself. There is always a quantity of antimatter within the crystal and also the reaction chamber that is past the point of return to containment. Depending on the amount, a breach may be contained by erecting force fields around the core, but that is rarely the case. Usually a breach occurs during periods of great stress on the ship itself. Greater power is needed and the core is operating near maximum output with larger quantities of antimatter in the reaction chamber. Force fields can only help so much; they are nowhere near as powerful as shields, which were by design meant to withstand a reaction of orders of magnitude greater amounts of matter and antimatter. In nearly all of the cases of an imminent breach, there is only one final option; dumping the core and getting as far away as possible by any means possible.

The core was equipped with magnetic constrictors, or tiny safe pockets, around the rim. The antimatter could be siphoned off into the pockets and kept safely in 'temporary containment' until either manually removed, if the breach is prevented or contained, or destroyed along with the core when it was dumped.

Therefore, when dealing with a potential breach you always first try to contain it by returning the reaction rates to normal, preferably by fixing the problem, but patching it up temporarily also works.

During normal operation the reaction was being maintained and regulated by the main computer, the primary system, with the engineers occasionally adjusting it to compensate for energetic needs through-out the ship. The primary system had safety protocols and breach prevention subroutines, which were continuously being upgraded and developed and became unique to each ship, warp core, set of hardware, main computer, even engineer or crew. They were helpful, but ultimately a breach always needed a hands-on approach.

Thus after the primary regulation system was switched to manual, every subsystem, console or read-out had to be under supervision. The secondaries were support systems of the primary ones. They were even more important, because they controlled the limits of the primaries. Individual tweaking and coordinating between secondary systems always helped getting the maximum needed output and desired results of the primary subsystems.

At first Ra-Havreii went through standard procedures in this type of situation, barking commands as he furiously typed command after command into the console. His alpha team was at various other consoles or running towards the systems themselves, already knowing what he was doing and assisting him, working like a well-oiled machine. Beta team was helping out also, knowing the steps and assisting were they could. No man or woman was spared. Every hand, feet or brain was helpful in this kind of situation. Secondary systems were being monitored and manipulated into supporting the rapidly failing primaries.

The standard red alert imminent core breach warning started to sound. The engineering crew was unperturbed.

Ra-Havreii first lowered the EM field in the reaction chamber to the minimum safe temperature and then aligned the superconducting magnetic field in the two plasma conduits to channel the electro-plasma away from the Dilithium crystals as fast as possible, to try and cool them down even faster. He increased the circulation of the plasma cooling system. His console was sending a live feed of all of his commands and stats to the other consoles, so his team knew what he was trying to achieve. They rerouted available power to the plasma conduits, slowed the input of antimatter to a bare minimum, all the while constantly checking if power levels remained normal through-out the ship. Further, reinforcing or redirect the energy flow where needed and preparing the plasma coolant system for overuse and major abuse. The beta team was meanwhile scanning the core with tricorders, sending more accurate readings to all consoles, preparing for the worst by opening floor and wall panels for quick and easy access to repair the secondary and primary hardware, if it began to fail under the added stress and unique usage, getting out toolkits and even medical and first aid kits in case of an accident. Each of them soon had a tricorder and some tool in each hand, receiving instructions from the alpha team and fixing or customizing hardware according to needed specifications.

Ra-Havreii's eyes bulged as he saw that his first steps had the exact opposite effect as intended on the reaction rate, it was climbing through the roof. Just then the captain called:

"Riker to Ra-Havreii, report!"

Quickly sending out instructions through his console to slow the electro-plasma down, increase the output and efficiency of the theta-matrix compositor to prevent the rapidly decrystalizing Dilithium due to overuse from doing just that and to start a level one diagnostic on everything. Only then did he answer the captain.

"Captain, I'm a little busy right now!"

He started the pre-eject core protocol check sequence, frowning, that the temperature was still rising quickly, albeit a bit slower. He increased coolant levels and circulation to two-thirds of maximum capacity and started the pre-ignition check sequence for the fusion generators.

"Something collapsed our warp field in such a way that it super-heated the plasma in the core."

He sent out wake-up calls to gamma team and called in every engineer assigned to him on the crew, telling them to drop everything and get here faster than Warp 9.

"I'll keep you updated as much as I can, but I have to stop the breach."

The diagnostics started to come back. Something was messing with the electro-plasma, whatever it was it wasn't a onetime event, it was still happening.

"Acknowledged Xin."

The nacelles were being battered, the subspace field they were generating was clashing with something and it was losing. The effects were being channelled by the plasma itself into the core. Not good. He was fighting a battle which was doomed from the start. Realizing this, he started the warp core shut down sequence and barking out:

"We're taking it offline!"

The engineers started securing systems and hardware, preparing for the possible loss of all power. Some hardware needed power to literally exist, so they secured and reinforced their surroundings for the inevitable blow-outs. Antimatter, plasma and coolant flow and the high-frequency EM field was almost constantly adjusted now in a beautiful symphony of death as it slowly took life from the reaction chamber. The magnetic constrictors were checked and put on stand-by.

Seeing the pre-ignition check sequence for the fusion generators in the green, he started the ignition sequence. Normally they generated plasma, which was then funnelled into the power transfer conduits, or PTC, the secondary and main stage of the warp plasma conduits, which was the primary power distribution grid. This enabled some semblance of normal ship operations, although every system was limited by lack of power; warp capability up to Warp 2.5, shield, sensor range and weapon strength suffered equally and many secondary systems whose hardware efficiency depended on power levels would be limited as well.

However seeing as this problem was distributed by PTC, he quickly switched the fusion generators to their secondary mode of operation, directly producing electricity and feeding it into the main electric power grid. He also quickly started a level three diagnostic of the grid, making sure there wouldn't be any fluctuations.

'Wouldn't want sensitive systems crashing or consoles overloading,' he mused.

The generators were now running and the electric grid diagnostic was clean, so he switched the change from plasma to fusion, calling out:

"We're now on fusion!"

Engineers were making sure the transition went through smoothly and checking every system on the ship was responding to the change without too many hiccups. Although in this situation, where nearly every system was not functioning within specified parameters, it was a bit tedious. The main concern was if they were getting a stable amount of power, no matter the strange feedback they were getting from other queries.

Ra-Havreii joined the shut down orchestra and closed the antimatter flow down, started-up the magnetic constrictors. The plasma pressure, temperature and amount dropped immediately. Engineers were now double checking and rechecking antimatter containment in storage. The ones scanning the core were helping locate all the antimatter and directing the magnetic constrictors' fields to those locations. The reaction rate, which dropped considerably when the source of antimatter was closed off, was now reaching zero rapidly.

The core stopped its quiet humming; the matter-antimatter reaction stopped and the lights flickered slightly. The subspace field the nacelles were generating dispersed. The ship lost its protection from micro-meteorites and interstellar radiation as the main deflector dropped the field it generated. It reset itself automatically to the parameters without a subspace field, tried to realign with the local interstellar conditions, failed, but nonetheless kicked in and initialized.

He checked to He ordered to triple check if all of the antimatter was confined and if the magnetic constrictors were holding and stable. When he was given an affirmative, which came fairly quickly with all the people on the job, he gave the order to stand down red alert and called the bridge:

"Engineering to bridge."

"Report, Commander," sounded the voice of Captain Riker through the com.

"Captain, the breach has been contained. Unfortunately, I had to take the warp core offline and shut down all the plasma conduits. We're running on emergency fusion generators for now."

He checked the status of the electric grid and was satisfied that it was stable and fully operational. He assigning two people to constantly monitor it and correct any fluctuations and ordered the antimatter extraction process to stand-by. He also assigned a monitor subroutine on the main deflector.

"What about impulse power?" Riker asked.

Ra-Havreii looked at the status of the level one diagnostic he ran earlier. The results were all in the green, no damage to the hardware or systems. Knowing what Riker wanted to know, he checked the reports for ship flight readiness.

"The generator and systems appear undamaged and functional, however Sir, until we do a complete assessment of the structural damage to the nacelles, I recommend not moving. I'll have a complete report for you as soon as possible, Sir."

"Very well, I'd like a report on the status of the ship ASAP, Riker out."

Returning his attention to the incomplete shut down procedure, he checked once again with his engineers if the antimatter was all contained and then proceeded to switch off the EM field heating the Dilithium and turned the plasma cooling to full capacity for core. Closing of the core and isolating it from the PTC would speed up cooling time. He checked on the deflector once again. It was functioning within specified parameters, but that was just it, it shouldn't be. The initialize protocols would be prevented by their safety subroutines from engaging the deflection field due to unknown conditions. Yet the field was up and running, seemingly without a flaw. 'Just another question to the list,' he thought.

He set orders for a level five diagnostic of every square centimetre of the ship. Quickly realizing he was going to have to conscript as much of the crew as possible, he contacted Commander Vale about assignments.

"Commander Ra-Havreii to Commander Vale."

"Commander Vale here."

"Commander, I would like to do a ship wide diagnostic and I would like to request more personnel."

"Yes, Commander, I just went over your request and have started assigning people to you. The first shift should be report within the next hour. I suggest have you drawn-up assignments by then. I'll send you a list of the people I'm assigning and it may be a good idea to team them up in pairs with your engineers."

"Good idea Commander, thank you, Ra-Havreii out."

Ra-Havreii began the process of drawing-up diagnostic assignments, dividing them by priority, difficulty and needed expertise. His alpha team meanwhile was already scrutinizing every speck of dust in engineering. Beta team was already on-route to the nacelles, with a stern warning from him to watch out and keep an eye-out for anything. Gamma team, which had come in over the course of the crisis, was now helping with diagnostics and monitoring the ship status.

He would hold alpha team here until the shut down procedure was complete and the diagnostics of the core underway, which should be in about an hour or two. He would pull half of beta back, and along with half of gamma and the new 'recruits', they would be assigned various tasks to take this ship apart. The rest of gamma would continue in engineering. Then alpha would get some mandatory rest so they can pull a 20 hour shift tomorrow. When alpha came back, beta would rest and so on, so there would be two teams constantly working. 'Thank God for coffee!' he thought.

He decided to check if anything serious needed immediate repair. He groaned inwardly when he saw the list. Several hull breaches, sealed for now and not the immediate concern, a couple of disruptions in the power grid, these are the primary concern, several ruptured plasma conduits, the last on the list, and a few broken consoles. The nacelles would need a complete overhaul. Frankly, he thought they were lucky that it was only that.

He pulled half of alpha team to repair the damages around the ship and made sure they check the sector grid and check in with the people monitoring the grid before and after they repair it. We don't need those things blowing-up again. He yawned; this is going to be a long week.

Captain William T. Riker of the USS Titan was going down the corridor towards a meeting with his senior staff. He wasn't looking forward to it, because he partly knew what was going to be presented to him. The last two days have been literally hell in space. First, en route towards the furthest reaches of Orion's Arm in the Milky Way Galaxy, on a mission of pure exploratory nature, they where knock out of warp and stranded. They were now stuck in the middle of a gap of empty space a hundred light-years wide. After the initial crisis of an unstable warp core and irritating and strangely clumsy state of the art systems, everyone on board rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty. There was a lot of damage done to the engines and some minor repairs around the whole ship. Surprisingly, the incident had a tremendous affect on the crew. Moral had never been higher as everybody pitched in where they could, even Will did his fair share of repairs and diagnostics. He was never more proud of his hand-picked crew than now. It meant a lot to him, that his choices were the right ones and the crew seemed to reaffirm him at every chance they got. True, the mission had been a bit of joke, since the only exploring they did was when they had to fight for their lives with their nails and teeth. Despite the laughs he had over this, Will always thought that that was the true nature of exploring space. You never learn more than when your life is on the line. Maybe it was a bit morbid of him, especially since he had a crew to look after. There were always victims, however he never believed in the concept of acceptable losses and never will. He was ready to sell his soul to protect his crew and when it came to it he would put his life on the line for. Maybe this was why the crew was so determined. They knew that he would always protect them to the best and beyond of his abilities. Further, they knew that if they died, it wouldn't be in vein and that he would assure they died doing the right thing. All this probably caused the crew to bond so thoroughly under his command. He could rely on anyone of them. This made Will very proud and very humble. They were his family in a way and they knew it.

This was why he dreaded the meeting. He helped out and he knew the extent of the problems when he did the repairs and diagnostics. If they were any indication as to what he could expect from a ship-wide diagnostic, it would not be nice.

He was brought out of his musing by a very heated discussion already present in the Meeting Room.

"...damn it Jaza! What do you mean you don't know anything? And what are you saying we're essentially dead in the water until Jaza figures it out?" A very frustrated Commander Christine Vale sounded from the other side of the room.

"Just what I said Christine, you could probably find more logic in Tuvok's illogical way of life!" That was distinctly Lieutenant Commander Jaza Najem, trying to make a point, but obviously not succeeding.

"As he said, Christine, I can't wrap my head around it! Nothing makes sense. We ran the diagnostics three times through the main computer, which took far longer than usual. We even tried a custom diagnostic and what a waste that was. Always the same result! Everything checks out, but nothing is working. We purposely took apart a plasma relay in the forward phaser banks, put it back together, everything fit down to the last nanometre, all the independent tests show it's the best one we've got, would put Utopia Planitia to shame, but once we put it back into the system. Nothing. It's as if the phasers don't want to fire, which I hope is not the case!" That was the ranting of a Commander Ra-Havreii, his Chief Engineer, who was evidently the most put off that the ship he designed doesn't feel like cooperating.

Will sat down in the chair at the head of the meeting table and looked at Deanna, who was clearly a little bothered by the frustration of the three individuals, but also was trying to hide a smile since she saw him walk into a ranting Meeting Room. Next to her was Commander Tuvok, Tactical Officer, who after acknowledging him, turned back to following the discussion with avid interest shown by a raised eyebrow.

Dr. Ree and Lieutenant Commander Keru, his Chief Medical Officer and Chief of Security, turned to greet him with nods after he sat down, but resumed their more private discussion about tighter security and potential medical emergencies in case of hostiles onboard. There had been a constant disagreement between Will and Keru about the nature of their predicament, but in the end Will conceded that until they could adequately describe what had happened, they were vulnerable and thus the need for greater security. Dr. Ree then offered to keep a number of people, who received, at least, some basic medical training and education, on stand-by. They were probably coordinating for a medical officer to be on some of the patrols. This wasn't a bad idea and brought him back to why he was here. Christine, Jaza and Xin were still at it, but noticeably at a more speculative line of thought, because there were no further outbursts. They still hadn't noticed him, so they must be onto something.

"Right then, shall we get started?" Riker asked to get everybody's attention.

The three at least looked a bit embarrassed, but he couldn't tell, because Jaza and Xin weren't human and Christine knew how to mask her emotions really well. They took their seats with "Captain" "Yes, Sir" and "Yes Captain".

Riker decided to start with Xin to get everybody up to speed about the ship.

"So Commander Ra-Havreii, what is the final damage report and status of repairs and ship in general?"

"Captain, there wasn't much more to add to the initial assessment in general. A few more ruptures due to stress, several micro-fractures in the hull or hardware. With the ship-wide diagnostic we were able to locate every faulty component and I'm pleased to report that everything is now repaired except for the nacelles. Functionality of the systems is a completely different story. While we are certain that the systems themselves are operational, from a hardware and software point of view, some somehow they still fail to run up to specifications or at all. The warp core is ready to be brought online, however I must strongly advise against doing so, since we still do not know the origin or nature of the problem. The nacelles themselves are the most difficult. Nearly all of the plasma injectors suffered stress damage and have to be removed, repaired and cleaned. The warp coils are in a similar state. Luckily they are more robust; however several still fused or were altered in such a way that they have to be replaced. The nacelle hull has suffered minor damage. We expect repairs to be finished in six days at most. It would be sooner, but I'm unwilling to risk it, we'll be transferring the components and repairing them manually. We have impulse capability; however, I'm not recommending it, until we repair the nacelles and figure out if they will be able to withstand movement without further damage. As for the systems; weapons and shields are not functional, sensors are limited but functional, navigation is now as fully functional as can be expected with the status of the sensors, propulsion is known, communication is also as fully functional as can be expected without access to subspace. Life-support is fully functional, as are replicators. The deflector is operational and stable. The fusion generators are stable too. We have enough fuel in storage and together with the Bussard collector it can last nearly indefinitely. From a technical point of view, the ship is like from dry-dock, not assuming the nacelles, of course."

"Thank you, Commander. Dr. Ree what's going on in sickbay?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary only the usual ailments with repair and maintenance crews, Captain. The injured from the incident have all been discharged, with a clean bill of health, three hours after it occurred. Momentarily I am setting up a contingency team of emergency medical personnel in case the worst happens. I am also trying to find personnel with both tactical and medical expertise for the security teams."

"Thank you, Doctor. Commander Keru?"

"In addition to previous reports, Sir, I can only add that inner-ship sensors are fully functional and all systems seem to be secure. Security teams are formed and schedules are set up and already being executed. I have been playing with the idea that we may have a corrupt program within the main computer."

"Are you suggesting a virus?" Ra-Havreii asked.

"Yes," answered Keru.

"You do realize such a program has not been seen in nearly two-hundred years? Our processors are considered impenetrable. The only theoretical threat is an artificial intelligence, which our current technology is nowhere near to creating."

"Our situation is unique. As far as we know, our technology is not the problem; initiating certain systems, with our functioning hardware, causes problems. Those systems are primarily offensive and defensive in nature. Weapons, shields, communication, propulsion, sensors, it's almost like we are being disarmed before approaching neutral territory. I admit the idea is far-fetched; however an investigation would be only prudent. What if we stumbled, accidently into a domain controlled by an unknown intelligence?"

"Captain, I believe the idea has sufficient merit to warrant an investigation," Ra-Havreii finally stated.

"Very well, can you spare some engineers to look at the main computer?"

"Yes Captain, I can."

Riker pushed forward. 'This is already a long meeting and there is still much to cover,' he thought.

"I recommend we assign this a higher priority. If it may find a solution to our current situation, I say we invest the most time into that." Deanna stated. Christine could only agree. Riker ask Ra-Havreii if he didn't mind.

"No problem Captain. I'll assign more personnel, who specialize in system analysis and computer languages."

Riker turned to Jaza.

"Commander Najem, what have gathered about our situation?"

"Our science officers have discovered that we are, in fact, in an elliptical orbit. The source of the gravity well, in which are caught, is not visible on the entire available EM spectrum."

"You're saying that we are orbiting something which emits zero or no radiation whatsoever? Could it be a singularity?"

"We have no way of knowing, however, we do know its mass. It is precisely two Solar masses. This is within the known threshold for the collapse of a neutron star, although it may still be one. We can't know for certain until we get our subspace capabilities back. The semimajor axis of our orbit is fifty-seven million kilometres; with a periastron of thirty-five million kilometres and the orbital period is a little over 61 days.

Whatever is causing our systems to malfunction and is preventing from accessing subspace is at the centre of our orbit. It's most probable however, that its influence is limited. Since we were at Warp 6 when we were caught, it's safe to assume we travelled up to half a million kilometres inside the sphere of influence before we stopped and were caught by the gravitational field into our current orbit.

Our orbit is very eccentric and after passing periastron it will begin to circularize, meaning that the apastron will get shorter with each passing orbit. Including the distance travelled after we dropped out of warp, the maximum radius of the sphere of influence is eighty million kilometres."

This got a loud outburst of reactions. Will thought about the amount of energy a field that size had to require. This isn't getting any prettier. From the others' reactions and stunned silence, they all were thinking along the same lines. 'We're in, waist deep and it's starting to smell really badly,' thought Will.

He needed to hear the rest of the reports and then they could start cooking a plan to leave, quietly and quickly. He turned to Deanna:

"Counselor, how's the crew holding up?" Although he had a pretty rough idea, he wanted to hear her side of the story. Deanna, sensing that he was confident, but in need of assurance, said:

"The crew is holding together admirably. Moral is still high and they are pretty confident you can get us out of this. They have faith, trust and knowledge of your leadership skills Will. You won't let them down."

"Thank you, Deanna. Can you sense anything out there?"

"There is a presence. A very strong one, but I can't read anything beyond that. I have this really cold feeling every time I focus on it. It seems, wrong in a certain way. I can't place it at all, but at the same time it feels like I've seen it before."

Everyone was holding their breath while she was speaking. When she said she had cold feeling, the hair on the back of Will's neck started to stand and it gave him the goose bumps. He had a really bad feeling this whole thing was going to get even more twisted.

"Commander Vale?" he beckoned.

"The teams are on schedule, nothing of importance in the issue of crew matter, Sir."

"Good, what about you Commander Tuvok? Do you have anything?"

"As the Tactical Officer I find myself with very little to do due to the inoperability of key systems under my command. However, I have volunteered to be part of the patrol guards and to further train anyone who wishes it. I may have alternative ideas to potential offensive and defensive scenarios. For example, we may explore the possibility of manually launching a torpedo or polarize the hull against offensive weaponry of an energetic nature."

"Sounds promising. Please coordinate with Commander Ra-Havreii and Lieutenant Commander Keru."

"I find it also troubling as to potentially what known race could have achieved this. The possibilities are unsettling at best."

Riker looked Tuvok over. 'A Vulcan, admitting something upsets him? This must be worse than I thought,' speculated Will quietly. Vale took up the mantle on this question:

"Let's see, probably can count them on one hand. There are a few that come to mind in Federation space. But we know them, at least somewhat, and they haven't indicated that have been this far out, nor that they hid a star. Off the top of my head comes one I hope I'm wrong about. The Borg."

Tuvok decided to answer. "High unlikely, although, a fair assumption. However, I must remind you that while the Borg would have sufficient technological knowledge and enough power sources, before our return on board USS Voyager from the Delta Quadrant, then future Admiral Janeway successfully sabotaged the collective leaving only a fraction of a percentage left. Even those vessels unharmed by the neurolithic pathogen would be acting as separate collectives. This phenomenon obviously would have required a much larger amount of cooperation. In addition, the surrounding space would have been heavily occupied by their vessels and we would have been located and assimilated by now."

Everyone shuddered at the thought. A small while in silence passed before Jaza spoke up.

"I read about the Voyager mission. Wasn't there an incredibly technologically advanced species that was responsible for you being stranded in the Delta Quadrant? The Caretaker, I believe?"

Again Tuvok answered. "While possible, both known members of its species that travelled to our galaxy are confirmed to be extinct."

"Commander Tuvok, what other species that you have encountered in the Delta Quadrant could potentially be behind this?" asked Deanna.

Tuvok appeared to think it through for a moment. "There are several that immediately come to mind, however only one could be potentially hazardous. Species 8472."

The group gasped. Will thought about it; 'great, just when I thought I heard all the bomb-shells today. If it truly is them there might be an invasion off the quadrant. Just when we settled all our wars, here's another potential outbreak of death and destruction.' He was brought back to reality by Jaza, who clearly studied the Voyager missions in greater detail than Will predicted or thought possible.

"It's possible I suppose," Jaza murmured, while he mulled it over. His eyes widened when he realized something; "More than possible! Very likely! They can cross over to our space only via a singularity, which is potentially at the bottom of this gravity well. In the Delta Quadrant, they were preparing for invasion. Then Captain Janeway persuaded them into a tentative truce. They might not have accepted the proposal as fact and came here anyway; only this time they masked their base! We have to get out of here and contact Starfleet!"

Jaza was now all worked up. The others were quietly thinking it over. Riker decided to get the Vulcan's opinion; "What do you think Commander Tuvok? Is it possible or even probable?"

"Possible? Certainly. Probable? More than any other option. However, I would recommend against jumping to conclusions, we are after all in an unexplored area of space. The star or singularity itself could have been travelling through this region from the beginnings of this galaxy. I would recommend extreme caution."

"Thank you, Commander Tuvok, your analysis is very much appreciated," stated Riker.

Just as Will was about to dissolve the meeting and retire to his quarters with Deanna, Ranul Keru said; "Who knows, maybe this is a practical joke! Anything is possible!"

Something in Will seemed to snap into place and all of a sudden everything seemed to fit rather smoothly into place. A deep anger and fear rose in him out of nowhere. Deanna sensed it immediately and looked at her husband questioningly with a fear in her eyes. 'What cold scare him so much?' She thought. She looked over the others. All of them saw something in their Captain break and were a little afraid what could do this to a person like him. Suddenly, Tuvok pinched his nose and closed his eyes. Deanna sensed the feelings of unease, disbelief, anger and resignation rolling off of him in waves. Tuvok composed himself and then addressed the Captain;

"It's unavoidable, Captain. Hopefully, you may learn something about our predicament. As my dear friend Admiral Janeway would say: No time like the present! She too had endured the same hardships."

Riker groaned in resignation. He looked up and caught everyone's eyes.

"I sure hope we're wrong about this Tuvok."

He looked into Deanna's eyes and said; "I love you Deanna, no matter what."

Deanna was overwhelmed by his mixture of strong emotions. The resignation at what is about to happen, the fear for the lives of his crew and friends and herself. His unquestionable love for her and her only was enough to make her dizzy. She could hardly breathe out; "I love you too Will."

Riker straightened and composed himself. "Here goes everything!"