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[2006: MAY-JUN] Sacrificial Choice


Nemitor
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Well, it looks far better with formatting, but heh - if you want the PDF file, let me know.

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Sacrificial Choice

By Nemitor Atimen

The small bridge shook with a fierce intensity. The science console sparked, and the lights flickered.

“Report!” Although he was only a Commander, he spoke with an authority commanded by only a select few. His crew responded immediately.

“A spacial anomaly is appearing off the port bow! We are experiencing high intensity spacial rifts!”

The ship was extremely small, only a crew of three, and was designed for deep space research. The bridge was normally only manned by one or two officers, and the Commander had just sat down when the anomaly appeared.

“Back us off immediately.” The shaking weakened until it was almost nonexistent. “What’s going on?” said the shortest officer, an Ensign straight out of the academy, as she rushed onto the bridge. She was the youngest out of the group, and almost never followed protocol. She saw no need in it on a ship of this size, so far away. The Commander thought otherwise. He quickly explained to her what was going on, as he had to do on countless occasions before.

They sat there for a few seconds while all three of them scanned the anomaly, and tried to assess the danger they were in. After a bit of scanning, they realized that they were in no immediate danger. The Commander turned to face his crew. There was no meeting room, so they held meetings on the bridge. There was a ready room, but Foster believed it to be 'uncomfortable' to host meetings in there. He had a good reason, which was that it happened to be attached to his quarters.

“Commander Foster, we are planning to study this anomaly right?” Foster turned toward the Lieutenant, the one who had spoken, and took a deep breath.

“Yes, Lieutenant, we are going to study it, but not for long. Just long enough for us to determine what it is and if it is dangerous whatsoever.”

“But I thought we just checked to make sure it wasn't dangerous?!”

“No, I said we weren't in immediate danger, that’s different.” the Ensign had only been on board for a few weeks, and the Lieutenant was more of her mentor and teacher than her superior officer. Commander Foster sat with his head in his hands. He was a firm believer in protocol, and disliked informality in the work environment. He had become easier going over time, but this new Ensign was making his temper wear thin. The missions he commanded were sometimes up to a few years long, so he supposed he had to get used to her. What was worse was that his first officer even agreed with the Ensign on the rank and protocol, at least, sometimes...

Commander Foster yawned loudly, lifted his head from his hands, but only a few inches, enough to look straight at the others. He now spoke in tired whisper, making sure the officers in front of him were paying attention, “Ensign, Lieutenant, study the anomaly. I want a report on my desk in two hours. Any later, and were going to leave this sector and call in a larger science vessel. I’ll be in my ready room.”

The others looked at the Commander who had put a hand to his mouth to scuffle a yawn, and nodded, hurriedly rushing into the turbo lift. Foster sat there for a while, relaxed in the command chair, watching the anomaly. It was dazzling, lights and colors spiraling toward the center, and then expanding. The stunning visual was hypnotizing, and mesmerized him for a few minutes, until he walked in to his small ready room. When he arrived, he really began to relax in his more comfortable desk chair. Yawning again, he accessed the console, and a few seconds later multiple images of a galaxy class vessel appeared. He sat, staring, and reminiscing on the good times past. The times before the choice, that almost cost him his entire career in Starfleet. The one that landed him on a twenty-year-old science vessel with a crew of three. He slouched in his chair, completely relaxed, and his consciousness faded.

“Captain Foster! We believe our phasers can go directly through the barrier. We can destroy the second vessel when it enters range!”

“Hold your fire.”

“Sir! This is a direct violation of Starfleet protocol! We must destroy the second vessel before…”

“I said, hold your fire!”

“Commander Foster! Commander!” Foster heard a new voice, and felt his shoulder being prodded gently. He awoke to see both officers in front of his desk with padds in hand.

“Huh?” He was completely confused now, oblivious to how they entered his ready room without him authorizing it.

“Sir, you were asleep. The computer opened the door for us.”

“Well I’ll have to get that fixed. Alright, what is that thing outside.” The Commander wiped his eyes, and took the Ensign’s padd.

“Sir, we believe it to be a...”

The Ensign suddenly interrupted the Lieutenant mid sentence, looking very anxious, “A window”

The Lieutenant gave her a dirty look, and then faced the Foster once more. At this statement, Foster stopped slouching in his chair, and for once sat upright, “Window? You're being vague.”

“Well, we think it’s like a... well... a window to another time or place.”

“Which is it.?”

“Well, it could be either – we have no idea.” Foster sat there for a few seconds, and then it hit him. He was overwhelmed with fear, his smile disappeared, and his head fell back in his hands.

“Leave me.”

“What sir?”

“I SAID LEAVE ME [...] IT!” the Commander jumped to his feet when he yelled this, throwing the padd against the wall. The two officers in front of him were horror stricken, eyes wide. They had never seen Commander Foster do this. He realized his fault, took a few deep breaths, and addressed them.

“Lieutenant... prepare to send a wave of theta band radiation, and a communication on this frequency. Ensign, bring us in closer.” Foster walked over to where he had thrown the padd, picked it up and entered the frequency. He then handed it to the Lieutenant, who with the Ensign, almost ran out of the room.

Once they had left Foster slouched back once more, but now full of distress and fear. He knew this day would come, and he knew there was no avoiding it. The day he had seen fifteen years ago... the day that was out of time... the inevitable day he knew would come.

He then realized what he had to do, straightened his collar, and walked on the bridge.

“Sir, we are picking up activity in the anomaly.”

Foster responded very matter-of-factly, in a dull monotone, “I know. Bring us closer, and hail the vessel in the anomaly. Audio only.”

“Sir, we are picking up no vessel.” The Lieutenant said, annoyed at the Commander.

“Lieutenant, I am ordering you to hail them.” His voice was stern, and a direct command. The Lieutenant knew it was a bad idea not to do it, and hailed blindly, into the anomaly. He motioned toward Foster, giving him the sign the channel was now open.

“This is Commander William Foster to the Federation starship Archimedes.” The voice of a second man echoed through the bridge.

“This Fleet Captain William Foster of the starship Archimedes to unknown vessel - stop playing your game. Leave the vicinity immediately, or we will open fire when in range.” The connection was severed, and both the officers looked at Foster, eyes wide and jaws dropped.

“What was that?!” The Ensign had her mouth gaping, dumbfounded.

“Take us in closer Lieutenant. I want our short range sensors to be able to get a clear reading.” The Lieutenant, although shook up, and extremely confused, tapped in the coordinates.

“Wait!” the Ensign was how standing, her face twisted in complete and utter confusion, “How the hell does he know all this stuff?! I mean, this isn't a coincidence is it?”

The Lieutenant hesitated... his finger hovering over the full stop command, but Foster just sat there, his fingers twitching. He spoke up, in a quiet, but commanding voice.

“Look – fifteen years ago, I was a fleet captain. We came upon a trans-dimensional temporal wormhole. It seemed like five hundred years in the future, in a similar dimension, a race of beings built a device to create an anomaly. This anomaly would allow them to travel to other dimensions. By going further in the past, they can more easily conquer other dimensions. Not all of the invaders wanted our dimension conquered. A select few gave us tactical information.

"With this information, we found the location of this anomaly. After arrival, we soon realized that we were not alone with these aliens, but a separate ship, from the future, was watching the scene progress. That ship had me on it, from the future, the current present. They destroyed the enemy vessel.”

“But sir, how did he know it was you?”

“You’re right… he didn't trust me, until I gave away information that only I would know. I made a choice then, fifteen years ago, and that choice demoted me to a Commander. We must complete what I have been destined to do. If you are not with me, I will feel no remorse transporting you into the vacuum of space.”

Silence followed the Commander's harsh words, which he spoke in with the highest authority. The Ensign returned to her position, and the Lieutenant moved his finger back. The Ensign spoke, and for once actually followed protocol.

“Sir, we are picking up visuals of two vessels now, right beyond the threshold of the anomaly”

“On screen” Two ships appeared, one around a hundred times the size of the other. The larger one had a massive figure, looming over the smaller one. The entire alien ship glowed, pulsing with activity.

“We're being hailed – audio only.” the command was given to open the channel, and the voice of a younger Foster was heard.

“Unknown vessel, we demand you reverse course immediately, or you will be destroyed.” The other Foster's voice sounded with anger, and impatience. His voice made clear that he was a determined man, ready to risk all to save lives. The Ensign looked at the Commander, and he had a glow in his eyes – both men, the same man, would risk all.

“Foster – this may seem unusual, but I am you from fifteen years in the future. We have encountered a window to the anomaly, and cannot enter the threshold. You have the information on the vessel in the anomaly and know its threat. The vessel must be destroyed, or this entire dimension will be annihilated.”

“How do I know you are telling the truth? This could all be an elaborate scheme.”

“You have an illegitimate son named John. He is currently on Betazed being raised by foster parents.” the channel grew silent... this had hit the spot. No one else knew this, other than himself. His son had brought him great sadness – and he was sure no one else knew.

“Alright, what do you plan to do to assist us?” this was spoken in a whisper; he knew well they stood no chance against the alien vessel.

“Get at least three light-years away, and prepare for the anomaly to be destroyed. You will have to go to warp. I’m going to break the window, and bring the door down with me.”

The young Foster nodded, and the older one gave one more word of advice, “When you get back to Earth, you may experience some problems. No matter whatever happens, don't leave Starfleet, and get your son. You can handle him on the ship.”

The connection was cut, and he looked at the Lieutenant and spoke slowly “Lieutenant, set in a collision course with the anomaly, maximum warp. Ensign, shields to full.”

“Commander, the ship can’t survive the impact!” The Commander remained silent, as did the entire bridge.

“This is a suicide run!” the Ensign panicked, all the while the Commander sat motionless, his hand twitching once more.

"I Know"

Edited by Nemitor
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