|Star Trek: Phoenix - Return (S1 E9)|
|Written by Andy Davenport|
“Not again!” Simon shouted the words in anger and despair as the science station console blew just before the shields of the faux Phoenix were raised. The changeling knew exactly where to target as it commanded the Alpha Flyer super shuttle on a strafing run. The first two torpedoes were aimed at the nacelles, followed by a round of phaser fire, yet all that was achieved was depletion in shield strength as the bubble shimmered with the weapons impact. As the craft flew over the saucer section, the Founder commanded phaser bolts at the bridge. The Flyer was rocked with returning phaser fires and torpedoes, which although grazed the shields, had caused significant depletion.
What the sensors hadn’t reported to the changeling was that at the point of the rear fin of the craft, an opening in the shields the size of a drawing pin head had been made, and that with more direct hits on the shields, that gap would increase as energy would deplete and remaining energy re-routed to protect vital systems. As that would continue to expand in size, it would be ultimately be picked up on sensors, and the weakness exploited should the opportunity arise. The changeling’s plan showed years of experience of years of creating battle strategies. Disable the warp nacelles rendering the possibility of creating a stable warp field null, followed by taking out the torpedo launchers and phaser emitters, locate the torpedo storage area and attempt to set them off, target the bridge to increase fear, and ultimately ram the navigational deflector array. As the craft continued its strafing run over the predetermined target areas, the changeling commanded the vessel to perform its plan to the letter. The Founder knew that it could end the battle instantly by weakening the shields over the deflector array, and command a ramming course, but it sadistically wanted to lengthen the torture and damage. The shields of the faux Phoenix held but it was only a matter of time before they failed in areas. The bridge was a hive of activity as Q stood watching the crew work efficiently and display natural cohesiveness, as they tried their best to subdue the attacking vessel whilst at the same time attempting self preservation. It was then that one of the younger members of the crew, who had been hastily motivated into putting their navigational skills into practice, (instead of performing their usual monotonous duties in the lower decks), announced there was an incoming vessel. (Although the starship was automated, it had been discovered that key consoles would still accept manual commands to a point and that the computer accepted voice activated commands also). “She’s definitely Starfleet....but i’m picking up no registry, class of vessel, or name....exiting warp in seconds....damn she’s fast!” Q found that although they were in the midst of a battle situation, the crew would briefly glance in his direction, as if silently requesting him to snap his fingers or perform some kind of wizardry to stop the enemies attack. “Yes. I am the mighty Q. But i am now mortal. Punishment by the Continuum for my alleged past misdeeds. Misunderstood by....” The first officer of the faux Phoenix abruptly cut the newly mortal Q off. “Shut the hell up Q! Now’s not the time. Later is! Helm! Evasive pattern Sulu Theta!” The command instantly moved the starship out of the aggressor’s line of fire, whilst counterattacking with a few well placed quantum torpedoes of their own. Than the familiar bright light of the warp exit illuminated the area as an obsidian black, four nacelle starship exited. The starship to the crew’s eyes seemed a mix of various classes of Starfleet vessels such as the Sovereign, Prometheus, and Dauntless Class. The changeling seeing the newly arrived starship deemed it instantly as the bigger threat, and ceased its attack on the faux Phoenix. As the crew watched the battle on the viewscreen, the image was suddenly replaced with the steely and determined visage of Admiral William Ross. “Captain, we’ll take it from here. I’ve been tracking this changeling for months. Exodus out.” As the Delta Flyer targeted all weapons on the Exodus, it seemed to have no effect on the starship. Underneath the saucer section, a pair of metallic doors slid apart as some machinery that resembled a focus mini navigational deflector exited from within. Locking into place it soon became apparent to the observing bridge crew that it was a weapon of some kind. A sharp, pulsating red particle beam sliced through the vessel like a hot knife through butter. The Delta Flyer disappeared in an explosive fireball, and the space it once occupied was now present with the shuttle’s scattered remains. Admiral Ross appeared on the Phoenix viewscreen just as Lieutenant Miller issued a sigh of relief. “Captain, what is your ship status? Our sensors show that you took a lot of hits, but isn’t a detailed reading. I presume you are still space worthy enough to continue on with your journey?” If anything Simon realised that the changeling was acting like a territorial animal focusing on self preservation. It was anxious and frightened about the fact that an invasion force was heading into the Gamma Quadrant with the intent of wiping the Founders from existence. It had clearly infiltrated Starfleet Command, impersonating those in power who would have the influence to have the matter investigated. “Admiral. Bill. The changeling told us everything. Your plans to make the Founders extinct, wipe out the Vorta, destroy the Jem Hadar, everything.” The Admiral’s expression clearly changed as he turned momentarily away from the viewscreen, whilst tipping a wink to the weapons officer in a way that Simon couldn’t see. “Then, i’m afraid Captain that your knowledge, like the Founders will have to be wiped from existence too.” Q had only experienced a short time as a mortal, and during that time had realised that although humans don’t live forever, his time would be cut shorter than anticipated.
As the Exeter and Crimson Talon were engulfed by the rift, it promptly sealed. The theoretical studies into the research of isolytic subspace weapons such as this had all pointed to the same conclusion. If anything is pulled into a rift or tear in space created by an isolytic blast, it would be crushed instantly. But the theories and studies also highlighted that telemetry readings from probes before they met their demise had indicated that the laws of physics didn’t apply. It was surmised that the laws would have to be completely re-written with the new knowledge acquired. But with all that knowledge gathered from testing, studies, and theories, here they both were, the crew of the late starship Phoenix aboard a 23rd century Constitution Class starship, spiralling out of control alongside a 23rd century Romulan Bird Of Paradise. In this case, the theories and studies were open to debate as both vessels were very much intact, and making history. If history hadn’t already been made in such a scenario, the vessels had yet to make it through the ordeal to ensure that history would record the event. Ensign Markey had surmised that they had all been possibly listed as missing in action. Although Chief Engineer Mumford had felt as happy as a pig in mud aboard a vessel from an era he was originally displaced from, he started to feel an odd sensation. It was then that the sensor board on his station lit up like a Christmas tree, as a blinding bright light appeared to open up before the Federation and Romulan starship. Turbulence levels suddenly increased out of nowhere as the stresses placed on both vessels threatened to shred them as they were enveloped by the light.
Sodak was still in awe, (as best as a Vulcan could show that they were in awe), at his discovery of a live ancient city once home to one of the first races of the galaxy. The guardian left behind to take care of the magnificent metropolis had explained that soon it would be home again to the returning Primaxians. It was his purpose to maintain and eventually prepare for his fellow guardians return. Manyx and his mate Delix had led a busy but rewarding life until her abduction, by the very same people that Sodak worked alongside. Sodak had explained to Manyx that Starfleet and the Federation hadn’t altered their primary mandates, and that their mission was still one of peaceful exploration. Manyx and his kind were aware of all that went on throughout the galaxy, and had watched the eventual formation of the Federation, as well as giving it a slight helping hand along the way. The alternative which would have been the eventual expansion and conquest of the galaxy by the Romulan Star Empire. The galaxy under an iron rule with no freedom to choose was unacceptable to the Primaxians. Sodak had explained that he had heard of the shadowy organisation created to do whatever needed to be done in the background where the ideals of the Federation would be compromised if acted out in public view. Manyx had understood that a chance discovery of his mate on a supply run would be too big an opportunity to them to pass up. Manyx also knew that his mate would be dead as the shadowy organisation would have no doubt discovered that they could download her memories, and if they had downloaded all her knowledge her survival would be doubtful. A full download of a Primaxians memory capacity was the same as a mind wipe to a humanoid. A humanoid, particularly a Terran with no mental resistance, would end up a shadow of their former self, and confined to a care institute for the remainder of their life. However, the difference was that for a Primaxian it meant a complete systems shut down; death. Manyx knew that she would have also wanted a traditional burial, which for their species was a short step to a higher plane of immortality. With the right maintenance, they endured a lengthy lifespan, but were not indestructible. The tradition of recycling the body and using it to maintain other elder Primaxians or even to help create a new member of their race was a regular practice. Sodak noticed it was partially similar to the United Earth Donor Program, where humans would sign a consent form where should a death occur, their organs, where applicable would be used again, which in turn saved many lives. Even in the 24th century, there were still some diseases that remained a mystery and were a long way from coming close to finding permanent cures. Manyx had been preparing over time Conception; a machine that basically would give re-birth to Primaxia. Once primed, the machine would emit a series of pulses that would radiate out in waves throughout the planet, triggering the planets regeneration back to the paradise it once was. The only side effects of the pulse would be that although the wave would dissipate, any starships, platforms, or stations in the system would be rendered inert. They could be repaired, but would need to have complete overhauls which could only be provided by a major repair facility. Knowing this, the cloaked Starfleet Starbase and armada would be rendered useless, which Manyx felt was fitting vengeance for the loss of his beloved Delix. His thoughts were confirmed that she was no more as sensor readings indicated that the cloaked armada was heading his way, which could only mean that they had discovered the location of Primax, and his existence. They were coming for the secrets of Primax and technology that was far too advanced to fall into their hands. Turning away from the console to face Sodak, he uttered; “It is time to bring about a new dawn for Primaxia, and it is time for you to right a wrong and redress the balance.” Sodak raised an eyebrow in response “Fascinating.”
The Exodus Class U.S.S. Exodus picked apart the faux Phoenix effortlessly. Under the constant bombardment the shield percentage of the vessel rapidly fell. The bridge felt like it was going to rip apart with every direct hit. Captain Hodgkinson was set firmly in his chair, gripping the arm rests, issuing commands, and cringing with every blow that the vessel received. Q paced around the bridge, when he wasn’t being thrown to one side and nursing the unfamiliar sensations of the pain of bruises and bashes. If he was immortal, he would have snapped his fingers of clapped his hands and swatted away the attacking vessel as if it were annoying fly. But then if he was immortal he wouldn’t be in his current predicament. The fact was that he was facing death for a second time in a short period, and there wasn’t a thing he could about it accept assist the crew as best as he could. It would have been easier if the elders of the Continuum had simply executed him. But a joke he had played so many times on others had backfired, and now in an ironic twist of fate, the joke was now on him. Testing out the limits of his lungs and vocal chords, Q emitted his frustration for all to hear. “Aaaaahhhhh!” Everyone stopped in mid task as all eyes were fixed on him and his random screaming. Now Q experienced the sensation of embarrassment as his cheeks flushed bright red. Shaking his head, a bedraggled Andy commented; “Great Q. That’s just great. I am sure the attacking vessel has heard you and is now considering turning tail at high warp. Thanks for the contribution.” Suddenly a wailing sound emitted from a console, swiftly followed by extreme turbulence. Sharon’s hands whizzed over the console making the audible announcement. “There’s a subspace rupture occurring practically right on top of us!” Sighing heavily, Simon responded; “Great!” “But that’s not all. There are two vessels coming through as well!” Simultaneously, the Captain, First Officer, and Q sighed. “Great!”
“We’re exiting subspace!” announced Lieutenant Dantuma. It was then that both Craig and Duco noticed the bizarre effect travelling through the subspace plane was having on Ken. He appeared to phase in and out of the space time continuum as they got closer to the lip of the exit aperture. Putting his hand in front of his face, it appeared to shimmer in and out of existence, which meant that he could no longer perform his duties and assist his fellow officers when they currently needed him the most. Both the Exeter and the Crimson Talon had yet to re-establish control as they continued to pirouette through the opening and into the unknown, as Chief Engineer Kenneth Mumford completely disappeared. As the two vessels exited the tear, the Romulan created anomaly just hung there in space. It didn’t move forward or in any direction that would be threatening to the vessels in the vicinity. Apart from the various spectrum of shimmering colours it emitted and the multitude of information it registered on sensor arrays, it was stationary. It showed no sign of closing at any given moment as it continued its shimmering waves and ripples. The tear had been a direct conduit for travel from the 23rd century to the 24th for the starships, yet whether this was a one off happening was yet to be discovered. The rupture in the fabric of space was well within UFP territory, which meant that although it was created by the Romulans, they would have no say in any analysis or studies. Commander Kul mused to himself that an appropriate name for the anomaly would be Romulans Tears, and no doubt anger, not tears, would be expressed at the loss of such an opportunity. However, he pondered that he would take a chance and head to Romulus to see whether he would be hailed a hero or an outcast. He was confident that it would be the former and that history would have recalled him and his crew as Romulan legends. With the successful test of the weapon that had surpassed all expectations, with a few extra surprise results as an addition, he anticipated that with the advance of a centuries technology, the weapon could be improved upon, ready to bring the Empire’s enemies to their knees. Although it was clear that the Federation was still present in this time, he hoped that the Empire had gained significant footholds and resources in its expansion during his absence. Maybe even, he also hoped, that the Klingon dogs he despised would have conceded territories to the Romulan Empire. Taking one last look at the tear dancing against the stellar backdrop, he ordered his helm officer to lay in a course for Romulus at maximum warp. Glory or death awaited them. As the viewscreen static cleared aboard the U.S.S. Exeter, Craig and Duco were overcome with an assortment of emotions and questions that had arisen because of the situation presented before them. They were overjoyed at seeing the Phoenix, although unbeknownst to them it was a clone and they had no idea of the events that had transpired in their absence since the skirmish between the Phoenix, Klingon vessels, and Vullian starships. Although the Phoenix seemed to be in distress with various clouds of gas and smoke emanating from ruptures throughout the outside, as well as visible sparks and the odd fire that they assumed would be attempted to be taken care of by the relevant officers. Near to the Phoenix and seemingly powerless, inert and adrift was a vessel that to Duco was unrecognisable, yet tinged with slight familiarity. “Who mashed together a Dauntless, Sovereign, and Prometheus Class?” Craig responded; “That is the Exodus Class U.S.S. Exodus that i was hoping to one day Captain. As far as i’m aware it was still on the drawing board, but clearly i am misinformed.” They witnessed the Romulan vessel leave the area and wondered where they would go now that they were temporally displaced. After all, a return to Romulus was a double edged sword which would be met with either death due to dishonour and failure, or a welcome for heroes. Eager to return to familiarity, Duco attempted to check in with the Phoenix. “Phoenix. This is Lieutenant Dantuma and Ensign Markey of the Constitution Class U.S.S. Exeter, reporting in.” After what seemed like an eternity, and minutes of fizzing and crackling noises, as well as Duco repeatedly attempting to raise the Phoenix, they finally received a response, which was the Captain himself. “Welcome to....zzzz....the 24th century....crew of the U.S.S. Exeter as well as the U.S.S. Phoenix....we require your assistance....zzzz....zzzz....we would like to beam over the remainder of the crew....abandon the Phoenix....and tow the Exodus to Earth....zzzz....crackle....” The com link finally improved and a normal conversation could be had between both vessels. Simon explained briefly what had occurred and that the Exodus crew were to be incarcerated in the brigs of the starships to face trial for attempted genocide at the Federation Council in San Francisco. He explained that a crew would remain stationed on the Exodus to ensure that Admiral Ross and his crew wouldn’t try any funny business and stay where they were meant to be; behind the security forcefield of the brig. Although Craig and Duco requested that if they have been listed as missing in action, than the record should be rectified. Also, they insisted that Ken be kept as listed as missing in action. “Gentlemen, we’ll have a debriefing on the Exeter, as soon as the crew is transferred, but our first task is to assemble a team and secure the Exodus. Let’s get started. Hodgkinson out.” As the viewscreen on the faux Phoenix returned to its view of the starfield, Simon pointed at Q. “That team includes you.”
Bill Ross was ready. The veteran of many key skirmishes during the Dominion War such as the Battle Of Chin’toka and the defence of Selted V, was ready. He was ready to do what he deemed right for Starfleet, the Federation, and the quadrants. But his immediate high ranking officers were not, as his first officer Commander Layton expressed in his deep southern drawl. “We’ve all lost those dear to us thanks to the bloody war, but genocide of an entire species doesn’t redress the balance. It’s definitely against Starfleet’[s credo and hell, i’m not even sure the higher ups of Section 31 would agree with your plan. But Starfleet against Starfleet is one step too far.” Tugging at his tunic he sneered at Layton, “Your comments are duly noted Commander. Helm, lay in a strafing course on the Phoenix and leave no survivors.” Before the officer could even announce the readings of the suddenly forming rupture, the turbulence, shockwaves, and rupture itself was upon them.
Sodak had lost track of everything from time to the multi layered chambers and corridors that Manyx was leading them through. Manyx had requested that Sodak not make any scans or recordings openly or secretly, as he reasoned that the galaxy wasn’t ready to share the technology. As Sodak took in mentally as much as his highly evolved Vulcan mind could, he found himself more and more distracted. Thoughts of his colleagues and friends filtered into his mind as he started to wonder if they made it clear in time. Then his mind wondered to thoughts of Counsellor Walker’s wellbeing. Sodak wondered that with all the thoughts and the feelings triggered, would he ever become a fully logical Vulcan. He mused to himself that if he ever made it back to Federation space, that he would put in for some shore leave, although he knew that part of the process after a starship has been destroyed was that it was mandatory for the crew to have time off for a break; a period of convalescence and reflection. The chambers they walked through were metallic and seemed hollowed out in a spherical fashion. Manyx footsteps clanged and echoed as they briskly walked on to a destination unknown to Sodak. He could make out something a few chambers ahead where the final chamber appeared to end and open out. As they exited the corridor and final chamber, Sodak found himself in a gargantuan chamber with banks of displays and consoles built into the walls. The chamber was a perfect circle with several elevated gangways leading to a smaller circle within, which had monitors being tended to by drones. It was then that Sodak noticed what was at the centre of the whole chamber, and recognised the crackling stone shape almost immediately. “A Preserver obelisk.”