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[2006: MAR-APR] *WINNER* The Last Entry


Guest kaldore1
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Guest kaldore1

INTERFACE NOW ACTIVE

GREGORIAN DATE: April 19, 2606

Please input name to continue.

[Data input.]

Recognize Denison, Commander Elizabeth by voiceprint. Stand by for microcellular scan.

[Data input.]

Microcellular scan complete. Identity confirmed. Proceed.

[Data input.]

Redirecting to temporal incursion database.

Searching for keywords “apple, power, drain, unknown”

Stand by.

Working…

Working…

Working…

One entry found.

Entry contents are classified. Input Level X clearance to continue.

[Data input.]

Denison, Commander Elizabeth cleared for access to entry codenamed “Poison Apple.” Entry consists of captain’s log entries (Captain Mitchell Thomas, Starship Ebudae, stardates 58432.8-58438.1).

Would you like to access it?

[Data input.]

ENTRY EVENT ONE:

Captain’s log, Stardate 58432.8.

Though the Ebudae is a new ship, and I a new captain, I’m already settling into my new life. My crew is mostly young, save my Vulcan science officer, and I’m pleased that I have the opportunity to work with them at this integral point in their careers.

With our shakedown mission over, we have received our first true mission: We are currently en route to the Gamma Hydrae star system. Though I have not been given specific orders as yet, I was assured in a written communiqué that the Ebudae’s presence in the far-flung system is warranted.

We shall see.

ENTRY EVENT TWO:

Captain’s log, Stardate 58434.2.

We arrived at Gamma Hydrae, only to find the system deserted. Without any meaningful orders, I elected to begin sensor sweeps. In the mean time, I drafted a quick message to Command asking for orders. I didn’t expect a message back for some time, as we were out beyond Romulan space. In fact, our proximity to the Romulans had me worried; if scans didn’t reveal anything and I didn’t receive a quick answer, I was prepared to take Ebudae back to the Federation.

However, just as the sweeps had identified the system as dead and empty, I received an answer from Starfleet. The text-only message directed us to enter orbit around the third planet and scan above its upper polar region. There, we would find a sensitive device; we were to beam it aboard and return to Federation territory.

I ordered the ship into a tight orbit of the third planet, and we found the device straight away. We beamed the device aboard and set a course back into friendly space.

[Log records silence for approximately forty-two seconds.]

I have just received an urgent message from the science lab. Pause recording.

ENTRY EVENT THREE:

Captain’s log, supplemental.

I have just returned from the science lab, where Chief Science Officer T’Jyv informed me that the object we had just beamed aboard appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be a Terran…well, apple. Incredulous, I insisted that she show the apple to me, which she promptly did.

I try not to run my ship as tightly as some, and I thought that perhaps my young crew was playing a joke on me. I decided to play along, but this only irritated my CSO. She scanned the apple, and showed me the results: Nothing. Whatever the “apple” was, it was impervious to her tricorder’s scans. I ordered her to isolate the apple behind a containment field and use the ship’s computers to scan the apple more thoroughly.

“Scan the apple.” What utter nonsense.

In any event, I have sent another message to Starfleet, asking for more information about this situation. I have not completely ruled out the possibility that this is a joke; if it is, it is in extremely poor taste.

ENTRY EVENT FOUR:

Captain’s log, stardate 58435.3.

As before, Starfleet has responded much more quickly than I believed possible. The nature of their response is also quite vague, as it is nothing but a series of numbers.

0002051401051420190104121115201425112012

The numbers are not part of any identifiable code. I have passed the number string along to my senior officers, to see if they can make any more sense of it than I. In the time since receiving the message, I have retired to my ready room, where I have been trying to break the code.

[Log records silence for approximately thirty-nine seconds.]

I have been summoned to the science lab again. Pause log.

ENTRY EVENT FIVE:

Captain’s log, supplemental.

CSO T’Jyv called me to the science lab with some disturbing new information. It appears that while she was investigating the number sequence, the apple changed somehow. This is a very imprecise description, especially for a science-minded Vulcan like T’Jyv, but she assures me that the transformation the apple went through was bewildering, even for her. She increased the strength of the containment field and immediately summoned me. A moment later, the field began fritzing, as though it were encountering contact of some kind, but T’Jyv assures me that nothing was touching it physically. After a few more seconds, the containment field failed. T’Jyv evacuated the lab, and I met her in the corridor mere moments later. Based on her report, I decided to seal off the lab until we knew more, and we returned to the bridge.

None of the senior staff had had any luck with the number sequence, though by now we’d run it through every Starfleet code in the book. For the moment, we abandoned the strange message and turned our attention to the apple. First Officer Adama suggested beaming it into space, so that the safety of the ship was assured, but I disagreed. We’d seen no proof that the apple was anything other than an enigma, though by now I was fairly sure it wasn’t a joke. Instead, I had begun to think it was a test; I was a new captain, after all, and I thought it made sense for Starfleet to stage a mission. Hell, they might even have planted people among my new crew to test my responses. What if Adama was a plant? Or T’Jyv?

[Log records silence for approximately thirteen seconds.]

Where was I? Oh, yes, the apple in the lab. T’Jyv immediately started running scans of the lab, but the apple was as impervious to the ship’s primary scanners as it had been to her lab equipment and the tricorder.

A moment later, I received an urgent message from Engineering. Power was being rerouted, the chief engineer reported; had I ordered a deflection of power to the science lab? I told her to cut power to that section immediately. It appeared that whatever the apple was, it had more power over the ship than we thought.

The power cut went smoothly, and T’Jyv returned to attempting to scan the apple and decipher the code. I left Adama in charge and retired to my quarters to think.

ENTRY EVENT SIX:

Captain’s log, stardate 58435.9

They say that a captain is so in tune with his or her vessel that he or she can detect the slightest change in it. Though I’ve only been with Ebudae a short while, I already know it’s true. After all, it’s what woke me in the middle of the night. I knew something was wrong a second after I’d woken up, for I could no longer hear the minute rumblings of the engines.

We had stopped.

A moment later, my comm badge chirped. It was, as I knew it would be, Adama, calling to inform me that the science lab had begun draining power again, and the chief engineer hadn’t had any luck in rebuffing it this time. The apple seemed almost to be…learning.

I shuddered when Adama said that. It brought up memories of the Borg, and that was the last thing we wanted. Still, I was fairly confident that an Earth apple implied a Starfleet test; nevertheless, I had to go about my duty as if it were a real mission.

I ordered Adama to redirect power from shields and weapons directly to the science lab. Apparently he did so, because a moment later, I felt the hum of the engines begin again. It had worked, Adama reported. The lab was being funneled the power allocated to shields and weapons and wasn’t suckling the power from the others systems.

By now, I was fully awake, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. I quickly dressed and headed up to the bridge, where I relieved Adama and discovered (rather unsurprisingly) that T’Jyv was still on duty. She informed me that she’d made a discovery.

She had still been unsuccessful at determining what the apple was, but she’d tried scanning the outer surface of the apple. In this search, she’d been successful, and she'd found fingerprints and DNA traces.

Of course, being Vulcan, she’d already run the DNA through the computer and come up with the results. The DNA came from four different individuals, all assigned aboard the same Starfleet vessel. T’Jyv quickly brought up the records of all four: All killed in the line of duty. According to the report, the ship had suffered a warp core breach and had been lost with all hands aboard.

Alone, that report would have been enough to make me suspicious. But then, T’Jyv called up more information.

The ship had been lost in orbit of the third planet in the Gamma Hydrae system.

I ordered an immediate reverse course at warp 9.

ENTRY EVENT SEVEN:

Captain’s log, stardate 58436.5.

We arrived in orbit around Gamma Hydrae III without incident, and I ordered scans of the planet. T’Jyv quickly relayed that there was no residual debris or antimatter in orbit; however, there were tritanium signatures on the planet’s surface. Well, there was the answer; most new Federation ships have tritanium hulls. It appeared as though the ship had crashed rather than suffering a warp core breach.

With further scans of the crash site, T’Jyv located the ship’s log recording unit. We beamed the unit aboard, and though badly damaged, it did contain fragments of some logs, including the captain’s last entry.

[Log pause: Recorder is accessed, and log plays.]

“……fear this will be the final log entry of the Starship……device of unknown make……wave, our systems started……alone in the dark, and my crew……fine crew, even though it……”

[Recording ends]

Though distorted, the voice sounds deep and male, by human terms, almost like my own voice or First Officer Adama’s. Although much of the final log is missing, what’s left seems to pertain to the situation the crashed ship had with the apple. It mentions a “numerical message,” as well. Could this be similar to the string of numbers we received? The senior staff has redoubled their efforts in decoding it, though I don’t know if we’ll have any luck.

For the time being, I have elected to remain in orbit of the planet.

ENTRY EVENT EIGHT:

Captain’s log, supplemental.

T’Jyv has finally broken the code. Thank the gods I chose a Vulcan to be my science officer!

She began by assuming that the code may not have been as complex as we’d originally thought. We’d been working as if it were something like a fractal encryption, but what if it was as simple as an alphabetical code? Moreover, what if it wasn’t a code at all, but simply alphabetical substitution? Since alphabetical substitution would present no more than twenty-six numbers, she broke the sequence of forty numbers into twenty groups of two:

00 02 05 14 01 16 14 20 19 01 04 12 11 16 20 14 25 11 20 12

The highest number in this grouping was twenty-five, solidifying her assumption.

She then further assumed that the message was directed at the apple. If she was right about the alphabetical substitution, the “code” was not a code at all, but simply a series of numbers designed to trick us into inventing complexity where none existed. However, the problem became HOW the alphabet was being substituted. A strict “A=1” translation failed, as did “Z=1”. T’Jyv’s next breakthrough occurred when began to truly consider the message’s recipient. The message was directed at the apple, so what if it was coded directly for the apple? Or…even directly as the apple? She began arranging the alphabet as spiraling outward in a counter-clockwise direction, forming an apple-shape, and then read the letters in the traditional English Standard form, from left to right, putting them in such an order so that P became one, O became two, Q became three, and so on:

O P Q N R G F H S B A E M I C D L Z Y T J K X U V W

When she substituted the numbers for letters, she obtained the following message:

P R I O R I T Y O N E A C T I V A T E

It appears that the message’s timing and the apple’s “activation” was no accident. I have ordered a review of the “Starfleet” message. I must proceed, for the time being, as if this was not a test; reviewing the message to see if it is authentic seems to be a prudent step. Nevertheless, until I receive confirmation that the message has a Starfleet signature, I am losing confidence that this series of events is indeed any type of examination.

ENTRY EVENT NINE:

Captain’s log, supplemental.

The power diversion was not as successful as originally thought.

Power has failed all over Ebudae, leaving us with only limited emergency power to systems such as life support and artificial gravity. For the time being, I have ordered everyone to stay put. T’Jyv assured me that we are in a high enough orbit that even with the engine failure, our orbit will not degrade.

We are now stuck on the bridge, awaiting word from Engineering.

ENTRY EVENT TEN:

Captain’s log, stardate 58437.2.

I was awakened after several hours had apparently passed by a loud noise. I was more than a little confused as I looked around the darkened bridge, because I hadn’t remembered falling asleep. To my surprise, every member of the bridge crew was also asleep…except one. T’Jyv was seated at her station in a position of meditation. I made my way over to her, though it felt as if I were swimming rather than walking. I shook her shoulder, gently at first, then more insistently. Her eyes snapped open a moment later, and she filled me in on what had happened: Life support was slowly failing, and the human members of the bridge crew had fallen prey to the low oxygen levels. When I told her about the sound that had woken me, she relayed that she’d also heard such a sound, though she’d been in state of deep meditation. She theorized that it had been the sound of an outer hatch blowing somewhere on the ship, though she couldn’t be sure.

Sure or not, it appeared to me that something was happening below, though I had no idea what. I ordered T’Jyv to do what she could to awaken the rest of the bridge crew and attempt to evacuate the ship; in the mean time, I would head for Engineering and attempt to restore power myself.

As I entered the Jeffries tube, she turned to me and gave me the Vulcan salute, following by telling me that it had been an honor serving with me.

I wish I could have told her that it was illogical to say such a thing.

ENTRY EVENT ELEVEN:

Captain’s log, stardate 58437.9.

As I moved through the ship, I encountered more comatose crewmembers. I roused as many as I could and told them to head for the escape pods, but this is such a new crew that few knew where they were.

In the abandoned engineering section, I arrived just in time for artificial gravity to fail. I drifted slowly toward the only remaining console with power, stopping ten inches and a thousands miles away from where I needed to be. I reached out as far as I could toward the console and brushed it with my fingers. It was enough: I grabbed hold, and pulled myself toward it. I considered my limited options, and decided to decompress the science lab and blow the apple into space. I quickly keyed in the commands, and…

Nothing happened.

The computer chided me: The science lab was already decompressed. Did I want to cycle the outer doors shut so that I could decompress it again?

Whoever had tried to blow the apple out into space had not been successful. It had survived, and it was still draining power from the ship.

That was it, then. We’d failed.

I’d failed.

There was only one thing left to do: Prevent the apple from harming anyone else. The crew of the crashed ship had evidently tried and failed, so it was up to me.

With no power, I could not induce a warp core breach. My last choice was to crash the ship Ebudae, and hope that without shields, we’d be vaporized in the atmosphere or destroyed on contact.

I could only hope that some of the crew had made it to escape pods.

ENTRY EVENT TWELVE:

Captain’s log, stardate 58438.1.

The last bit of power in the good ship Ebudae has gone to the thrusters, nudging us into a lower orbit. I am recording all this on my tricorder, my one bit of light in the dark; I will transfer this log to the log recorder, which I know has its own power supply. Nevertheless, I fear this will be the final log entry of the Starship Ebudae.

I will attempt to explain what has occurred, in case the apple is not destroyed and any vessel discovers it again.

[Log records silence for approximately twelve seconds.]

I first assumed that the apple was a joke or a test, but it is not. It is a device of unknown make and power which was activated remotely after we received a message purporting to be from Starfleet. Before we could finish analyzing the carrier wave, our systems started to fail. Though we tried to reroute power, we were unsuccessful; I finish this final log entry alone in the dark, and my crew has…I don’t know. I hope that they have abandoned ship, though I fear the worst.

If you are receiving this message and encounter this “apple” device, destroy it immediately. If it resists destruction, beam it into space. What happened to my ship must not be allowed to happen again.

[Log records silence for approximately fifty-eight seconds.]

It has been good serving with this fine crew, even though it has been for far shorter than it should have been.

[Log recorrds silence for three minutes, nine seconds.]

Captain Mitchell Thomas, Starship Ebudae…end log.

Temporal archive for entry codenamed “Poison Apple” ends here.

[Data input]

Temporal transporter activated.

Transporter chamber scanned. No lifesigns and one device present.

Regulation scans fail to penetrate device.

Temporal scans reveal device is chroniton-powered energy absorption technology (CPEAT) housed within vaguely spherical shell. General warning: CPEAT is still experimental, and you are requested not to utilize the technology without proper experiment access.

[Data input]

Experiment access accepted.

Please input temporal coordinates.

[Data received]

Coordinates input. Stardate target: 58432.8.

Energizing….

Edited by kaldore1
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