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Questions and answers from the past


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Questions and answers from the past.”

“Captains log, Star date 239006.08. We have completed our sensor sweep of the southern plasma storms in the badlands and are now preparing for the trip to Deep Space 9 to take on supplies and get some well deserved R&R on both the station and Bajor. Life as a Captain certainly differs from how I envisioned it all those years ago but I have a good crew and a good ship.”

“If I am honest, the crew was a little disappointed that mission went so routinely. When you speak of the badlands, it conjures up an idea of turmoil and strife. And why shouldn't it. After all, this is where the USS Voyager disappeared and where the Maquis made their stand against both the Federation and the Cardassians. Of course, that was long ago.”

“I for one look forward to partaking in a few games of Dabo in Quark's bar and maybe using one of the holosuites. I hear they just took delivery of several programs based on various vacation spots on Risa. Maybe I might be able to strike a deal to obtain some of those programs for the ships own holosuites. Computer, end log.”

The computer chirped it's acknowledgment of the command as Captain Barnabus put his feet up on his desk. He was short for a Terran male, around 5 feet 2 inches and quite stocky as well. His jet black hair was trimmed and well groomed. It shone in the dim light of his ready room. He took a sip of his orange juice and let out a heavy sigh. For most of his career he had dreamed of commanding a top ship of the line like a Sovereign class or an Intrepid. However, with his history in the sciences, Starfleet had decided that his talents would be best suited to the USS Hawking, a Nova class vessel that had been designed for short range research missions.

At first he had detested the idea, but over the months he had come to love the ship and her crew. They had been through some grand times together, and the odd unfortunate mishap. But as his former commanding officer Alison Rowe had once taught him, “The good times bring happiness, the bad times bring you all together.” He took deep comfort in those words. Only two weeks prior the ship had lost an ensign to a transporter malfunction caused by a previously unknown subspace distortion near Gamma Hirolis. Although the transporter officer managed to abort the transport saving three other members of the crew, the ensigns pattern had been damaged beyond recovery.

==============================================================================

Barnabus had been amazed at how fast the crew rallied around each other to provide comfort, support and empathy. They gave Ensign Theras one hell of a send off before her body was transferred to the Kyoto to be returned to her family. It was moments like the funeral and wake that helped him realize just how fortunate he was to have received this post.

As he went to take the final few sips of his orange juice his thought process was broken by an announcement from the bridge. He was of course used to such announcements when he was in his ready room but what he heard piqued his interests as a scientist.

“Captain, the ships sensors are picking up a massive spike in neutrinos approximately 2 light years from our current position. Of note is the fact that the area of space they have been detected in is unusually benign with no stellar phenomenon of any interest known to exist there.”

It was the voice of Commander Tolath, a tall stick like member of the Vulcan race approximately 6 feet 7 inches in stature and weighing only 12 and ½ stone. There was of course no emotion in his voice as he spoke but Barnabus knew that the Vulcan was just as interested in these new readings as he was. He spoke calmly into the communications line.

“Understood commander. Lay in a course at warp six. Please notify Deep Space 9 that we will be delayed and inform the crew that shore leave has been postponed for a short while. I shall join you on the bridge momentarily. Barnabus out. “

He closed the line and stretched out in his chair letting out a short yawn while he did so. Sleep could wait, it wasn't everyday that your ship detected a massive spike in neutrinos in a relatively benign area of space as the Vulcan first officer had so eloquently put it. Deciding that there was no rest for the wicked, the 53 year old man stood from his chair and walked from his ready room onto the bridge.

Where the bridge had been silent maybe 5 minutes ago, it was now a hive of activity. Every station was manned and all personnel were going about their tasks without needing any input from their commanding officer. This brought a smile to Barnabus' face. They knew him well enough to understand their roles. Lieutenant Bathor, a Bolian sat a science. He was the chief science officer on board the Hawking and proud of his job. He relayed information regarding the neutrino levels as more became available.

Lieutenant commander Holmes sat at the helm constantly making minor adjustments to the vessels trajectory to ensure as smooth a ride as possible. Barnabus always thought his skill as a pilot was wasted as the chief of operations on the ship, but he was glad to have him and to count him as one of his close friends.

Barnabus took his seat in the center chair and looked out at the view screen. It would be a while before they arrived at their destination and Barnabus hoped this little detour would be well worth their while.

==============================================================================

The journey to their destination was uneventful. Barnabus could understand why Tolath had described this area of space as benign, especially when compared to the plasma storms in the Badlands which they had only just finished studying. The bridge was still a hive of activity when the Vulcan first officer spoke up.

“Sir, we are approaching visual range. Bathor has informed me that the sensors are detecting matter/antimatter signature, possibly Federation in origin.”

Barnabus took a few moments to process the information in his mind before speaking up. An increased neutrino level was one thing, but a Federation matter/antimatter signature. There were no Federation ships, civilian or other wise scheduled to be passing through this sector.

“Put it on the screen commander.”

Nothing could have prepared them for what appeared on the screen. In the left corner was a wormhole. This of course being what they were expecting. However, in the center left was what appeared to be the remains of an Oberth class starship. Barnabus broke the almost deathly hush on the bridge.

“Can we magnify the image on the center right of the screen.”

“Negative at this range Captain.” Tolath replied in his normal emotionless tone. “However we should be able to increase magnification in approximately 5 minutes.”

Commander Holmes spoke up almost immediately. “If we increase speed to maximum rated, I can have us in the general vicinity In the same amount of time Captain.” He looked back to Bathor at science. “Are the neutrinos likely to cause any problems with navigation?”

Barnabus listened to his officers with intent. They really were a well oiled machine, making the right suggestions and asking the right questions at the right time. If the situation weren't so serious, he might have actually taken pleasure in it. Bathor spoke up.

“Unlikely, however, there seems to be some sort of temporal distortion emanating from the wormhole. I do advise caution and suggest we maintain a distance of at least 250 thousand kilometers from the anomaly.”

“Understood.” Barnabus replied. “Make it so. I want a constant sensor lock maintained on both the wormhole and the ship at all times.”

As estimated, five minutes later the vessel dropped out of warp at the site of the wormhole. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Flashes of amber, crimson magenta and violet intermixed with radiant blues, reds and yellows. Sitting 300 thousand kilometers from what appeared to be the mouth of the incredible phenomenon were the battered bruised and broken hull pieces of an unfortunate Starfleet vessel. Only partial identification markings remained on what had once been a fine ship of the line. Barnabus and the crew sprung into action.

“Tolath. I want you and Holmes to work on establishing which unfortunate ship this was. See if the computer can't piece together a complete registry number and name from what we have.” The acknowledged as he turned his head to face Bathor. “Mister Bathor, I would like you to ascertain where and indeed when that wormhole leads, how stable it is and if it poses any threat to shipping in the area. The rest of you monitor the ships systems. The moment anything changes, notify your superiors immediately. Am I clear?”

There was a brief pause before a unanimous “Yes sir” was spoken. Barnabus retired to his ready room and prepared to write a supplemental Captain's log.

==============================================================================

For three hours the ship had remained at it's position near the edge of the previously unmapped anomaly. It had felt like an eternity. Progress was slow on all fronts through no fault of the crew. The computer was having a hard time deciphering and matching the markings on the vessel whilst the sensors were unable to penetrate to the other side of the wormhole. The science department had proposed sending a probe to the other side but the idea was quickly mooted owing to the gravitational sheer being read inside the anomaly and the presence of various temporal distortions. The last thing the ship needed was 'Temporal Investigations' poking their noses in on them.

As if on cue Bathor spoke up from his console with a slightly agitated tone to his voice. Normally this wouldn't phase the Captain however with what was beginning to transpire on the viewscreen and the groaning coming from the hull he could only imagine it was bade news.

“The Wormhole is collapsing violently and at an alarming rate Captain. It is sending out massive pulses of neutrinos and deuterium particles. Shields are holding but at this rate, the ship will be torn apart by the shock waves in less than 7 minutes.”

Barnabus didn't even need to think about his next response.

“Helm, move us away from the wormhole at full impulse, yellow alert” He tapped his comm badge. “Commander Tolath and mister Holmes to the bridge immediately please.”

The ship shook again as the ship turned to fly away from the anomaly. All eyes on the bridge were glued to the screen as the wormhole continued it's demise. Bathor continued to scan the anomaly. It was highly unusual for a wormhole to collapse in such a violent manner but then, by the looks of the wreckage they had found and the temporal signatures, this was no ordinary wormhole.

Tolath and Holmes arrived on the bridge to witness the wormhole in it's dying moments. They had been held up by a power issue in the turbolift which nearly left them stranded 3 decks down. Fortunately the auxiliary backup systems had kicked in before full power to the lift was resumed. Holmes relieved the ensign at helm, much to her obvious relief. She had no experience outside of a holodeck of maneuvering a ship in such conditions.

The view screen flashed a brilliant white as the wormhole finally collapsed sending out a final wave of neutrinos that buffeted the ship causing minor damage to the sensors. The shields had held and engineering was reporting no damage to the primary systems.

“All stop.” came the order from Barnabus. “Tolath, Holmes, Bathor. I would like to meet you in my ready room in five minutes. Commander Tolath, you have the bridge.”

With that, Barnabus took his leave from the bridge and retired to his ready room. He walked straight to the replicator ordering a tall glass of orange juice and a slice of melon, still unsure as to what exactly they had just witnessed. Oh sure, they knew it was a wormhole, but where had it led? Why had it never been discovered before? Had it collapsed or just shifted to another point in time and space. Hopefully his senior staff would have some of the answers.

==============================================================================

Tolath, Holmes and Bathor entered the ready room as requested. The looks on their faces told Barnabus that they probably had more questions than answers. No matter, Starfleet would be interested in the information they had managed to gather and would more than likely investigate the matter thoroughly. Bathor was the first to speak up.

“Captain. As you are well aware, wormholes can be conduits through time as well as space. From the information we managed to gather from this particular anomaly before it collapsed, and the age of the hull fragments we found drifting, I postulate that this wormhole originated at a point some 30 to 50 years in the past.”

Barnabus and the other officers mulled over this information for a few moments before Tolath chimed in.

“The computer has finished analyzing the data we were able to retrieve from the hull of the vessel. It seems we may have stumbled across the answer to a long standing mystery.” He paused for effect, gauging the reactions of the gathered officers. “The ship remains we encountered appear to belong to the USS Tycho, NCC -1977 listed as missing presumed destroyed in 2357 during the Cardassian war. Her Captain at the time was Martin Richards, a Starfleet scientist. They were mapping anomalies along the border.”

Barnabus took a long drink from his orange juice whilst contemplating the information he had just received. The USS Tycho. Starfleet had all but given up on ever finding the vessel or any signs or clues as to what had happened. At least now, closure could be brought to the families of the souls lost on the vessel. Holmes broke up, breaking his train of thought.

“If I may Captain. Although we don't have the proper equipment on this this vessel to perform a full analysis of the debris, we could store it in our cargo bay and transfer it to a ship or facility that does. I am sure Starfleet will perform an in depth investigation based on what we have found and perhaps find the answers we can't.”

“A wise course of action Holmes. Make it so.” Replied Barnabus. “Once the debris is in our cargo hold, lay in a course for Deep Space 9 at warp 6. I will join you on the bridge shortly. Dismissed.”

The gathered officers departed the ready room leaving Barnabus to quietly contemplate the recent events and think of his family. What would they do if anything happened to him in the line of duty? How would they cope if a similar fate befell his ship and crew? He wiped those thoughts from his mind and prepared to send a message to Starfleet command.

==============================================================================

“Captain's log supplemental. Following the discovery of a massive neutrino outburst a few light years from our course to Deep Space 9, I ordered my ship to investigate. Nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered. I have sent a detailed report to Starfleet Command regarding the discovery of the remains of the USS Tycho, NCC – 1977, an Oberth class starship that went missing some 33 years ago on a routine science mission during the Cardassian conflict.”

“Our brief investigation has left us with more questions than answers although myself and the crew have chosen to take comfort in the fact that a lot of families will finally be receiving an answer as to what happened to their loved ones. This chance occurrence has left me questioning life in Starfleet. What would my family do if something happened to me? How would they feel if I went missing? How would they cope without knowing my fate? I have chosen to put these thoughts to the back of my mind. My first duty is as a Starfleet Captain is the safety of my ship and and that means always focusing on the task at hand, rather than the meaning of life.”

“Now, more than ever, I plan to use my upcoming downtime to enjoy myself and explore facets of my life away from the pressures of the Captain's chair. Do I regret ever having joined Starfleet rather than becoming a family man? Not for one moment, though I do sometimes find myself wondering, when I am alone, what if? Computer, End log.”

END.

Lieutenant (JG) Richards

Chief of science

USS Mercury

(at time of submission)

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