Dr. Bob's minions tire away endlessly to help the good Doctor in the name of science,
but with what little downtime they get they would like to share with you fine people!
Star Trek: Maximillian - Beyond The Final Frontier
While my book is getting ready to publish, I thought a good thing to put here would be my first book, which while Star Trek fan fiction based on a organization I belong to, is good, and worth reading. In my own opinion.
O C C U R E N C E
If you were to lay out a flat map of the Alpha Quadrant, formatting a three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional area, then at the leftmost edge of space you would find the Archer Observatory. A smaller version of the standard Federation starbase, yet still maintaining the familiar mushroom-shaped design, Archer housed an eclectic mix of cultures, from standard humans on up to the stranger life forms, such as the Gorn and the Anticans. Those housed there were both of species belonging to the long-beleaguered Federation, and also those that were, if not on friendly terms, then at least not currently at war. The reason for the observatory’s existence had trumped the usual need for the various species need for dominance, and so there had been surprisingly few disagreements, and peace among the many.
The observatory itself was designed and functioned as a makeshift listening post, but at times, especially over the past several standard years, it had held a number of interesting experiments, many overseen by high-ranking official of the Federation itself. Although the official designation of the observatory was that it was a neutral ground for all races to better the galaxy, it was well understood that the Federation was the grand overseers. Lately the rush for technology had slowed, and the new center for research had been established in sector 001, where the Pathfinder project was well underway.
At this moment, the research had been set aside to allow for celebration. It was the beginning of a new year aboard the observatory. Although the many races that inhabited Archer had different dates and times that they celebrated, they had come together to agree on one time, lest everyday become a celebration. While that may have been good for morale, it certainly wouldn’t have provided a quiet place to get any work done. And while many of his officers were celebrating this new year, the highest ranking Admiral and current overseer of the projects currently taking place on the observatory was taking a stiff drink, thinking about how much he would rather be on Earth, contributing something to the cause, instead of just ‘overseeing’ projects he either knew nothing about or didn’t have the clearance to know anything about.
Admiral Dennis Winslow sat the glass back down on the table as he leaned back on the wooden chair, staring out the window at the sun in the sky and tried to get his mind off of the things that always seemed to accompany him when he thought. But try as he might he could not lose himself in this particular fantasy. Even though there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary, his sitting and drinking on a balcony overlooking a city skyline, his brain reminded him that nothing here was real, not this drink, despite the taste and even the familiar sting, not the feel of the chair beneath him, and certainly not the cool ocean air that was blowing against his skin. His imagination betrayed the illusion, and he thought he could still see the green holodeck lines surrounding him, constantly reminding him that despite appearances, he was still just in a box.
He sighed heavily, but didn’t make a move to turn the computer program off. He still felt he needed this. You just never knew how much you’d miss sky when you stay away this long; he had remarked to one of his subordinates, who had promptly suggested the holodeck. Admiral Winslow had long disliked the mixture of holograms and programs, thinking that it represented the end of human evolution. And indeed his thoughts continued after the short hour he had spent inside. Maybe it was just because, despite the sting of the alcohol, there was no lasting effects, no buzz to distract him, and because of how far from home they all truly were, there was no access to anything but the synthesized alcohol that most crews of starships had learned to loathe. Sighing again, he looked up. What he wouldn’t give to not have to enter a room and pretend to see a blue tint to his surroundings, a sun or two, or a cloud going about its business, flowing by in the endlessness of atmosphere. He counted the days until his tour at Archer would end, and he could return to Earth, to his office in Starfleet Headquarters. And for a minute when he closed his eyes this time, he was finally able to lose himself in the sound of the ocean and the feel of the air against his face, the sweet sweet ocean smell in his nostrils.
At least his job wasn’t hard, he thought. Once you got past all the regulations and by-the-book nonsense that could make an operation such as this difficult, the Archer experiments, or ‘Project Sunburst’ as the main program had come to be called, were a piece of cake. Sure, they had had their share of close calls, many of which had vaporized large chunks of the station itself, but that was one of the unfortunate side effects of working with untested and sometimes only theorized forms of energy. He spent most of his time studying the history of the projects, but usually only became frustrated with how little real information there was. Everything was classified to the highest levels of Starfleet, and the only real information now suggested that the experiments were just an offshoot of the Pathfinder project; dealing with unstable energies with potentially dangerous consequences should something go wrong. This was the official word why the Observatory was placed so far away from most populated sectors: fewer questions to answer if something did go wrong.
Winslow knew what it meant when it was classified so high that even he, a two-star Admiral, couldn’t even begin to see what was left unsaid. It meant Lyon. He cursed the five-star Admiral in his head, not caring how many stars he wore on his uniform. Lyon was wrong to send him or any other Admiral out here when there did not seem to be any reason for it, at least that he could see himself. Any one-star or even a highly regarded Captain could run this place. If Lyon wanted this place to be overseen so badly, then let him do it himself, but as for Admiral Dennis Carter Winslow, he had more important things to do with his Starfleet Career!
As he fixated on his anger, an old wound in his mind reopening, a voice sounded out of the sky. Not wise and all-knowing, but instead merely the voice of the untested, in this case a lowly lieutenant that was manning the communications center. “Admiral?”
“Go ahead.” Winslow said, gruffly.
“Sir, there is a situation down here…”
Winslow let out a heavy angst-filled sigh and then stood. “I’m on my way.” He shook his head as he ordered the computer to end program. After all the time he had been here, now over a year, most of his young crew were still nervous when reporting to him, seemingly always requiring him to look over every little thing. Oh well, he thought, at least it would make the time pass a little faster. He began to whistle a tune, “I left my heart in San Francisco” as he walked out of the room.
“The War Room”, as it was referred to throughout the observatory, was in fact anything but. Consisting of a large circular area with the requisite viewscreen and stations, it really didn’t resemble anything more elaborate than a standard starship bridge, and was nothing compared to the larger, better known stations throughout the Federation. The main thinking behind its makeup was it was the people that made Archer Observatory what it was, not the construction of it. This line of thinking had ended up doing nothing but fueling jokes throughout the observatory, none of them repeated in the presence of its commander, whoever it happened to be at the time. Even the stations themselves consisted of nothing more than the standard sensors, communications, and so on. It was from the rear area, from the lift, that Admiral Winslow entered, walking down the steps directly to his relatively comfortable chair, in the center of the room. Tapping the armrest a few times to reveal an impressive array of information, he turned to the Commander at the sensors station. “What is this about?”
“Visual.” All thoughts of the celebration of the New Year were forgotten by the commander, who had been pulled away from his own unique celebration, an Andorian rite that he didn’t feel like explaining to his ‘pink-skin’ leader. As the commander spoke, the viewscreen erupted into the sight of space. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the usual blackness, save for some specks of white light expanding from far-off stars and planets, and a dense cloud of gas hovering just to the right of the screen, it’s reddish hue extending its light onto the observatory. The commander spoke again. “About fifteen minutes ago we registered a gravimetric swell, but when we took a look, nothing was there. We thought the sensors were malfunctioning, and ordered regular checks of the area, and just now, we saw this.” He turned to the viewscreen. “Magnify quadrant b-53.”
The view suddenly zoomed into an unimpressive part of the blackness, and revealed an unexpected sight. A swirling mass of blue energy, at the center lying…nothing. A blank, black space, somehow darker than all of the space around it, and giving the impression of somehow being emptier than all the great emptiness that surrounded the observatory and the universe itself. Admiral Winslow frowned. “What…is that?”
“Unknown. We’ve scanned it, thrown a probe at it, even sent out a hail in its direction. All we know is that it’s completely two-dimensional; with no discernable mass or density…I can’t even tell you what kind of energy it is. The computers are completely baffled.”
Winslow rubbed his chin. “Threat analysis.”
“Thus far there’s been no sign of anything threatening coming from it. The probe will arrive in a few moments; we should know more once it gets there.”
The admiral sat back. “Put it on screen, Commander.” He thought for a moment, and then tapped his communicator, hating to interrupt their celebration for something that likely would turn out to be nothing, but better safe than sorry. “Command personnel, report to the war room.”
As he awaited the arrival of his most trusted officers and advisors, Winslow studied the screen, more specifically the probe that was rushing toward its target. It was essentially a small cone. Unimpressive in looks but fairly remarkable in its ability to gather information on levels and scales far beyond even the best starships in the Federation had. As with everything else here, it was still considered a work in progress and the final designs hadn’t been confirmed yet. Therefore, a cone it remained. Function, not form. “Just like here.” Winslow thought.
As the first group began to enter the room, the probe was nearing the energy swirl. It slowed, and then stopped; beginning active scans on the energy. “What’s the distance between us and the ‘occurrence’?” Admiral Winslow asked, knowing he could have just checked his readouts but thought best if everyone had access to this information.
“10,000 yards, sir.” The Captain at a station behind him reported.
“That’s awfully close…”
“Yes, sir.” The overeager Captain agreed, as he tapped a panel, moving the probe closer to the energy, hoping for better readings than what he was receiving. He looked over his readings, and glanced back to the Admiral. “Preliminary scans report…nothing, sir. As far as the probe’s concerned, it’s as if there isn’t anything there.”
Winslow frowned. “But there is something there…push it forward. I want to see if it’s some sort of cloud or gas…”
“Aye, sir.” Barker pushed a few buttons, and the probe moved again, silent and swift through the darkness. As it neared the black nothingness in the center, which had a diameter enough to swallow a Galaxy-Class starship, small blue electric sparks began to extend from the surrounding swirl of blue energy. As they watched, the captain tried to slow the movement of the probe, which had not stopped or even slowed, but he wasn’t having any luck. “Sir,” He said nervously, “The probe is being drawn into the energy!”
“Call it back, Captain.”
“No effect…It’s like it’s in some kind of tractor beam!” The Bajoran was beginning to sweat.
They watched in awe as the probe impacted with the dark center of the energy, and begun to be absorbed into it. Within thirty seconds, the probe had entered into it as easily as it had moved through space, and there was now no sign that it had ever existed at all.
“Admiral!” The captain’s eyes widened. “Probe readings lost! It’s just…gone…”
“Calm down, captain, it can’t be ‘just gone’, check your…” He was interrupted by the commander.
The swirl had begun to speed up, undulating and waving as only a two-dimensional flat object in three-dimensional space could do, and the darkness in the center begun to flash yellow and white.
Winslow moved towards the edge of his seat. “What…?”
Suddenly, an incredibly bright flash of light filled the viewscreen, temporarily blinding the crew and forcing them to cover their eyes. After the light had dissipated, Winslow hurriedly blinked his eyes along with the rest of his crew to look back at the screen, showing now bits and pieces of machinery floating in space. The probe that had entered the hole.
Winslow stood. “No…”
As they continued to watch, the swirl began to move faster, around and around, blue streaks and sparks flowing through it and arcing out in all directions. The middle was now flashing more colors, more intensely and faster and faster as it twisted and turned in on itself. Then there was another bright flash, and as quickly as it had appeared it had vanished, leaving only a trace of dust…and an object.
The object was a somewhat crystallized shape, with a tall spire reaching up and down, coming to a sharp point. It was roughly the size of a small vessel, around an Akira-class, and not very long at all. It reflected the space around it, completely opaque…and it was moving directly towards the station.
Any other leader of any other station or even ship would have ordered battle stations, or some sort of defensive strategy. Not here. Not Admiral Dennis Winslow. This was why Lyon had placed him here, after all. Not because he was particularly brave or skillful. No, but because of his grace under pressure, and when it came down to it if there was a job to do there was never any question or delay. Without missing a beat he sat heavily in his chair, tapping panels even as he gave orders. “Comm., send an emergency distress signal to Starfleet, containing the information I am sending to your station now. No…not Starfleet, but to Admiral Robert Lyon specifically. Encrypt it at the highest levels.” He looked down to his armrest, saw the words “Starburst point”, and approved the message.
The Comm. Officer frowned. “I don’t understand…”
“Just do it!” He snapped, losing decorum for a brief moment before looking back at the screen, watching as the crystal smoothly approached. It slowed, and stopped, facing them, as though running a silent scan. As though anticipating the next question, the commander shook his head. “I can’t make anything out. It’s not showing up on our sensors at all.”
Winslow nodded, and turned back to his comm. Officer. As he did so, one shard of the crystal form began to glow eerily. Winslow sighed one last time, as he asked, “Has the message been sent?”
“Good…good.” He sat back, his fingers folded, and he began to hum the song he had been singing earlier. He closed his eyes, losing himself in memory.
The light from the shard began to extend out towards the observatory, and as it hit the outer hull, it suddenly began to bubble and melt away. The heat extended through the hole immediately, and the only solace that could be taken was that those on the station did not realize their death, only that it happened. They were disintegrated by the light immediately as it hit the station, it having flooded the inside instantaneously. The now superheated observatory began to break up, pieces flying and spinning off into the endless reaches, to float forever.
Mere seconds later, as what was left of the once proud Archer Observatory floated off into nothingness, the crystal form began to move, floating and building up speed. But there was no hurry, no rush. Oh no, it would get there exactly when it needed to.
Previously on Minion Musings...