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November 25, 2388 - A Window to Home

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  • November 25, 2388 - A Window to Home


    The USS Khepri makes a stunning discovery about the Epatha Gateway, one that everyone had been hoping for but few had actually believed would ever happen. Unfortunately, complications almost prevent their discovery if not for the actions of the research team and Starfleet officers in both quadrants.


    November 25, 2388


    Kartelan Station (Starbase 38)
    Kartelan System, Gradin Belt

    USS Khepri
    Epatha System, Gradin Belt

    Outpost Curtiss
    Taugan Sector


    Michael Drake ( JonM )
    Commanding Officer, Kartelan Station
    Commanding Officer, Task Force 38

    Captain Wyatt Hickerson ( Confusedfire )
    Commanding Officer, Outpost Curtiss

    Commander Aurelia Chang ( zyrell )
    Executive Officer, Kartelan Station

    Lieutenant Colonel Will Braxton ( Moss )
    Marine Commanding Officer, Kartelan Station

    Lieutenant Adhiron Edir ( JonM )
    Research Team Lead, USS Khepri

    Last edited by JonM; 12-28-2017, 06:16 AM.

    BFCC / BFXO / BFIO / TF38CO / TF93CO

  • #2
    The USS Khepri hung in a low orbit over the Epatha Gateway, as close as it could get without the gravitational forces pulling it in. Damaged during the Battle of the Round Table to the point it would never see deep space again, rather than mothballing it completely, Task Force 38 turned it into a research facility. It was the way of the quadrant now, repurposing what limited assets they had for whatever they needed, as there were no reinforcements coming from home.

    The Khepri carried no diplomats, counselors, security or intelligence staff, and it had only a single nurse for basic maladies. Instead of the traditional staff, the ship was filled with an eclectic group of officers, enlistees and civilians recruited from throughout the task force for their scientific and engineering prowess. The targeting systems had been replaced with additional astrometric sensors, and its torpedo tubes now served as microprobe launchers. It was little more than a mobile laboratory for Kartelan Station, but it served a critical purpose: study the Epatha Gateway in the hopes of finding a way home.

    "Lieutenant, I'm detecting major changes in subspace harmonics," reported Warrant Officer Shravat from the operations station on the bridge. Working swiftly, the Andorian sensor systems specialist turned relativistic physicist rechecked the telemetry coming in from the eighteen monitoring satellites they'd deployed around the gateway over the past two months. "Epatha appears to have found a new partner."

    The research team on the heavily retrofitted bridge let out a collective sigh. Over the last month, the wandering wormhole had collapsed no less than forty times as its subspace axis drifted. Each time, after a period of anxious waiting, the gateway paired with a new exit terminus. Task Force 38 treated it as an intermittent yet reliable way to travel between the Round Table and the Gradin Belt, and many within the Delta Exploration Initiative hoped it might provide a way home. The folks in this room had more tempered expectations. They knew they had only a rudimentary understanding of the strange stellar phenomenon beneath them.

    "Based on Dr. Lockwood's latest model, can you compute the Gateway’s new axial bearing?" asked Lieutenant Adhiron Edir, the Trill stellar cartographer in charge of the team, as he descended from the command island to the secondary conn that now served as the primary stellar cartography terminal.

    Every nine days, the gateway connected with a complex region of space in the Aether system of the Round Table. That was how the USS Equinox had found it in the first place. Since then, the Khepri's team had sent probes through the Gateway to find a neutrino pocket between Epatha A and B, a sheer negative density sinkhole on the other side of the Gradin Belt, an empty region of space designated by the USS Voyager as The Void, and a dark matter nebula at the furthest edge of the Gamma Quadrant. Many of Epatha's other connections had proven untraversable thus far, either because the aperture was too small, the exit terminus too unstable, or the transitional gravitational eddies too strong. But that didn't stop their research. There was still hope, however slim, that one day they might find a traversable connection to home.

    "Zero-seven-one mark three-seven-two-four by one-four-one mark six-four-one-one by zero-six-two mark six-nine-nine-eight," reported Warrant Officer Shravat as Lieutenant Edir's hands flew across the controls. Plotting a vector in space wasn't as easy as simply drawing a line across a map because space wasn't linear. Everything from a Wolf-Rayet star to a subspace fissure bent spacetime.

    The team on the bridge looked up at the main viewscreen as the interstellar plot began to pan outward. First, it showed the region between Epatha and Kartelan. Then it zoomed out to sector scale, the line still mostly straight. As it pulled back further, Lieutenant Edir began to warp and bend the axial vector based on known curvature-inducing phenomena from the astrometrics database, an aggregate of the knowledge collected by the member races of the Federation since they first pointed their telescopes to the sky and recorded what they saw.

    As the viewer pulled back to a scale of forty thousand light years, the room let out a collective gasp. The vector bisected the Beta Quadrant, crossing the far side of Klingon space and the Federation-owned Raeyan Sector.

    Adhiron, the host Adhiron, wanted to jump up and down and scream with joy for this could be a connection to home. "Prepare a probe!" The room was abuzz with excitement. But Edir, the symbiont within his body, recognize his responsibility as team leader and urged caution: "This alignment may have potential, but remember, just because it bisects the Beta Quadrant does not mean that is where it terminates nor that it will be traversable. Let's wait for results."

    A week ago, they'd computed another vector that bisected Federation space. That one had been a dead end, dumping out into the middle of a binary pulsar less than a thousand light years away. It had been an enormous letdown for the team, even though everyone here knew that they could only project direction, not length or aperture size. The latter properties could only be determined by traversing the gateway.

    "Probe away," reported Chief Petty Officer Matt Gilman from the tactical station. Only a few months ago, Chief Gilman been serving as a guided munitions specialist on one of the vessels destroyed during the Battle of the Round Table, but now, instead of shooting torpedoes at enemy ships, he was guiding probes through intense gravitational eddies.

    As Lieutenant Edir stared at the metrics coming back from the probe's descent into the wormhole, he couldn't help but wonder how all this had come to be. Four years ago, Adhiron, an unjoined Trill, took a commission in the Delta Quadrant to escape disappointment and embarrassment after the Symbiosis Commission turned down his application for the fourth time. For three and a half years in the Delta Quadrant, he'd worked as a night shift maintenance supervisor on Delta Quadrant starbases, going nowhere quickly.

    The Chief Petty Officer gave them a play by play of the trip: "Aperture size of 1,600 meters. Tetryon flux of 0.005. Gravimetric pressure at 89% of tolerance. Emerging through the exit aperture in 5... 4... "

    Adhiron, as of just a few months ago an unjoined Trill stalled in his career path, would not have been anyone's first choice to head up the research team on Kartelan Station. In fact, he wouldn't have been a choice at all, but the Battle of the Round Table had changed everything. He'd been off duty when the battle began and spent most of it on a fire suppression detail until the order was given to head for the escape pods. An unremarkable story, if not for the aftermath. Commander Selik Edir, the Trill stellar cartographer responsible for charting the Round Table, was fatally wounded during the battle. With no connection to home, Lieutenant J.G. Adhiron was the only compatible host for his symbiont, and that was how Adhiron came to take on the collective wisdom of a stellar cartographer, two research scientists and a freighter captain. The adjustment hadn't been easy, but it was necessary. They needed a wizbang stellar cartographer. With Selik dead, he was all they had.

    "Probe is through." Warrant Officer Sharvat's voice pulled the Trill from his thoughts. "Astrometric sensors unable to locate referential objects. I can't tell you where it's emerged."

    "Do we have visuals?"

    The astrometric display of the axial vector disappeared from the overhead, replaced by an image of deep red, white and blue hues blocking out the space beyond with three stellar bodies hanging in the foreground.

    "Implement action plan Alpha One!" the Lieutenant ordered excitedly, the first time he'd actually gotten to give those instructions. "Notify Kartelan Station we need support and get the Admiral on the line. NOW!" This time, it was the symbiont, through the memories of Commander Selik, who had given up all restraint.

    BFCC / BFXO / BFIO / TF38CO / TF93CO


    • #3
      Meanwhile on Kartelan Station...

      Although duty required Admiral Drake to spend most of his time in the Tower, a structure several clicks away that served as the command and control facility for Task Force 38, he preferred, whenever possible, to get out and walk among the scientists researching their best shot at ever seeing home again. That's why, on this particular afternoon, he'd decided to take a stroll through the Village, a set of makeshift modular shelters rigged together to serve as their research hub on the Kartelan moon.

      "How are your children adapting to life on the moon Aurelia?" asked Admiral Drake as he and his executive officer crossed a gangway between a large silo, where researchers were modeling the environmental conditions of the gateway, and a dome that housed a graviton interferometer.

      Commander Aurelia Chang hadn’t known the Admiral very well before his appointment to lead Task Force 38, but she had grown to appreciate him since then. “They are adapting,” she answered but knew that there were issues as they were cut off from home. “They are complaining the lack of luxuries that we have in the Delta Quadrant compared to what they had back home or when we lived in China.” She shrugged. “You know kids Admiral. You can’t trade them in for more well behaved models but you wouldn't really want to either.” She smiled at that, thinking what her own parents would have thought, especially her mother.

      The Admiral smiled back, seeing the maternal affection in his executive officer's eyes. Oh, how he wished he could see his children again. He'd given so much for them over the years. He let his career fall to the wayside to watch them grow up, and he didn't regret a minute of it. It was only once they went off to the Academy that he went back to the stars again. He made time for them whenever they had shore leave, but now, separated from them by 40,000 light years, he wished he'd made even more.

      “What about you Admiral? Are you settling into the new position?”

      "The research teams are making great progress, and our efforts to establish a foothold here in the Gradin Belt seem to be going well. I'm a bit worried about our alliance with the Turei though," confided Admiral Drake. "We may someday find ourselves at odds with their rules of engagement - or lack thereof - when it comes to Vaadwaur survivors and have to choose between giving up our morals or making an enemy of them." The task force was desperate for allies in its isolation, but the Admiral wasn't sold the Turei were a wise choice.

      Aurelia nodded. “Yes, we may have issues eventually with them sir. I think we need to have a set rules of engagement for our own areas of operation in the Delta Quadrant. Starfleet rules are all well and good for standard situations, but I think that we are way too far out of our depth that we could easily go above what we are allowed based on the Prime Directive. I think we have the rights to protect ourselves and ensure that the citizens are protected. Do you think we could do that?”

      The Admiral shook his head. Aurelia's thinking was not foreign to him. He knew the story of Captain Ransom, and he would not soon repeat it. "Although it's rarely discussed, Voyager was not the only Starfleet ship to be stranded in the Delta Quadrant. There was another ship, the USS Equinox, but we rarely talk of them because of what their desperation led them to do. I will not let us be discussed only in shameful whispers because we abandoned our values."

      Admiral Drake knew that, if things got tough, his position would not necessarily be popular. Today, maybe, but in a year or five years, likely far less so. The Turei, for instance, controlled access to the Underspace, a set of subspace corridors that offered great potential to get closer to home; however, if the Turei acted on their desires to commit genocide against the remaining Vaadwaur survivors, they would have to shred their non-aggression pact with the Turei and stand up for what was right. Thankfully, no Vaadwaur survivors had surfaced thus far, but he knew that it was only a matter of time - as was the case with so many things.

      The two both contemplated those words as they stepped off the catwalk into a large research dome. Admiral Drake drew to a stop on a gangway, looking at the massive graviton interferometer before them. "That's why the work we do here is so important Commander," he said, pausing for a second before expanding on what he meant. "Hope. As long as we give our people hope, hope that we may someday reconnect with the Federation, we give them a reason to hang onto their values and their humanity, and reason to press on in the image of Janeway, not Ransom."

      Aurelia nodded. “Understood. There is only so much we can do with the constraints we are under. It is why we really need to ensure that we have alliances more that just with the Turei. I know that Rear Admiral Macedo is going to be helping with this project and as an ambassador. I also know that he is a cagey man who won’t be caught flat-footed. I do have some concerns though since we are separated from part of our task force out here in the Gradin Belt. What would happen should the Epatha Gateway be destroyed? We have people near on both sides of the Gateway."

      That fear was one Admiral Drake shared with his executive officer. He didn't like the fact they maintained bases on either side of the Epatha Gateway, but he also understood there was no way around it. The Gradin Belt was far from the Borg devastation now memorialized as Hestia's Hearth, and it was the stable terminus of what was currently the Task Force's only prospective way home, yet because of their colonies and relationships in the Round Table, they couldn't abandon that theatre either. But if something were to happen to that strange cyclical wormhole, rather than being one group of lost vessels, they'd be two half groups of lost vessels. Not a particularly good prospect and a critical reason why they had to protect and study the Gateway.

      Standing on the catwalk, the Admiral was about to offer another thought when his combadge beeped. "Sir, sir, sir," a voice said in an excited staccato. "I have a message from the USS Khepri from the Epatha System. Marked urgent. They've... they've implemented... action plan Alpha One."

      Admiral Drake looked at his opposite number, who wore an expression of equal shock.

      "Tell them we'll call them right back. And tell Colonel Braxton to get over here on the double."

      And with that they went in search of a terminal at a frantic pace, both understanding what that meant. The Khepri was their mobile research vessel in the Epatha system, and Alpha One was their protocol for when a traversable connection was established with known space.
      Last edited by JonM; 12-19-2017, 04:51 AM.

      BFCC / BFXO / BFIO / TF38CO / TF93CO


      • #4
        Back on the USS Khepri...

        "Repeater array has exited the terminus. Clean signal, no damage," announced Chief Gilman, but his triumph was short lived. "But we're not picking up any comm chatter. Either Starfleet has vacated the Raeyan Sector, or the nebula's dense gaseous composition is messing with the communications array."

        "Can we adjust the carrier frequency?"

        "Negative sir," replied Warrant Officer Sharvat. "At least not from here in the amount of time we have." A team down on Deck 3 had poured over Dr. Lockwood's subspace model of the Epatha system. By their estimates, axial alignment would last only fifteen minutes - and that timer started three minutes ago. "If we had a full sensor suite over there, we could probably figure out the modulation to cut through the interference in a couple minutes, but neither the probe nor the repeater have that sort of payload."

        "Can we prep another probe with what we need?"

        "No sir," replied the Chief without a moment of hesitation. Lieutenant Edir shot him a look. How was he so certain? "A payload of that size wouldn't fit in a probe."

        They couldn't let this slip away. Not when they were so close. The next time the stellar bodies of the Epatha system would be in the same relative positions would not be for forty five days. That was a long time to wait. Lieutenant Edir wasn't sure if it came from him or one of his symbiont's memories, but all of a sudden he felt a burst of courage: "How about the Khepri? Does she have the sensors you need?"

        "Why yes, of course..." answered the Warrant Officer before trailing off. He could see the fire in the Lieutenant's eyes. "Sir, we aren't cleared for line duty. We don't even have a damage control team on board." Not to mention, they didn't have a captain either. Lieutenant Edir, while having inherited the lifetime of stellar cartographer, was not a starship captain.

        "Petty Officer Reisman," shouted Lieutenant Edir. "You fly us back and forth from Kartelan Station. Think you could fly us through the Gateway?"

        The flight controller standing in the back of the room observing the seen gulped. "Sir, I'm a runabout pilot."

        "But could you do it?"

        "Ummm, maybe... yeah, I think so." He'd flown Sovereign and Akira class ships in the simulator, and for the last two months, he'd been flying the Nova back and forth between Kartelan Station and the Epatha Gateway. That simple warp jump was a far cry from flying through a turbulent subspace tunnel with gravimetric eddies and tetryon interference.

        "That's good enough for me."

        Around the bridge, various people exchanged stares. Besides the connection to the Aether system, no one had actually flown through to any of the other termini. Was he being premature? Would the Nova class ship, stitched together with shoe string and good intentions, even survive the trip? Was this about adjusting the repeater or running home?

        BFCC / BFXO / BFIO / TF38CO / TF93CO


        • #5
          Back on Kartelan Station...

          Petty Officer 3rd Class Jindal rushed around his office frantically, trying to make room for the two command officers now cramming into his tiny office with him. "Sorry sir... and ma'am…" he was saying as he slid a pile of papers to the side of the desk, revealing a comm terminal. "I don't make many calls." As one fell to the ground, the Admiral could see the man had been mighty busy developing equations based on the results from the graviton inferometer, although he found it a bit quaint the man used pencil and paper for it.

          "It really is okay Mr. Jindal." Admiral Drake could sense the nervousness and embarrassment of the young gravimetric specialist. "We're here invading your space, not the other way around. We just need a line to the Khepri."

          "Yes, yes, if you'll give me just a second, sir," replied Mr. Jindal, fumbling over his words as he worked the controls of the terminal. After a moment, he paused, looking confused, and then started typing again. "Sir, you said the Khepri was in the Epatha System, correct?"

          "Yes. The message, marked urgent, originated from the Khepri in the Epatha system." It seemed an odd question to ask. Everyone here at the research station knew about the Khepri. It was their eyes and ears over Epatha.

          "Sir, I'm afraid the relay isn't able to acquire the Khepri. It reports that the Khepri is not in the Epatha system."

          The petty officer stepped to the side, gesturing for the Admiral to take a look. Having an Admiral breathing on his neck was making him mighty nervous. Maybe, on account of his nervousness, he'd made a mistake in trying to set up the link. But a subspace comm connection was pretty straightforward. Specify the ship, or if you want to be extra certain, the ship and the node, and it either connected you or it didn't. After issuing a couple quick commands on the terminal, Admiral Drake concurred. The Khepri was nowhere to be found, not in the Epatha system nor anywhere within range of that subspace communications relay.

          "It's not there."

          Aurelia was shocked by what she just heard. “What do you mean the ship isn’t in Epatha System? From what I heard, the Gateway only goes one other place we know of, and that connection shouldn't open for a few more days still. We have some runabouts as well as fighters we could send out to search for what happened.” She wasn’t sure she liked what this entailed but maybe they could find out what happened to the Khepri and potentially save the crew.

          "While we've only used the Gateway to get to one place so far," the Admiral said with a twinkle in his eye. "We've successfully sent probes through it to a half dozen other termini so far. Never a ship though..." His voice trailed off. The message from the Khepri said they were implementing the Alpha One protocol. That meant the Gateway had aligned with a terminus in Federation space and that they should be sending through a communications repeater to attempt to establish contact. It didn't mean the whole ship going through. But, given its absence, that was the most likely answer.

          Could the crew, if you could call that smattering of Starfleet and civilian scientists a crew, have made a break for it? Maybe. That would certainly be a dereliction of duty, but desperate people could do desperate things. He hoped they were better than that.

          With that thought, the door behind them opened, hitting the petty officer who let out a grunt.

          'This is one small room,' thought Lieutenant Colonel William “Bill” Braxton as he entered the room. Even though he was the Commanding Officer of the Thirty-Eighth Marine Expeditionary Unit, Bill did not have much dealing with the science area of the base. He had been working on getting a layout of the Thirty-Eighth, but frankly it was a damn mess since they were spread out all over the place.

          “So Admiral, where's the fire you need the Marines to put out?” Braxton asked as he zipped up his uniform jacket.

          "No fire, Colonel," laughed the Admiral as the marine squeezed into the small workspace. "I just invited you to witness history. Although, at the moment, history seems to have run off with itself." He stared back at the screen, which said it was still trying to acquire signal.

          Will looked at the man for a moment before shaking his head. Sometimes, he never really understood the Starfleet. He knew that back in the golden days before everyone was so close that they had been charged with peaceful exploration, but those days were gone. The Federation had been challenged by the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Borg, and the latest were the Dominion. It was his job to ensure that the science type had a chance out there where the unknown was becoming smaller every day.

          Admiral Drake was amused by the Colonel. Marines kept their heads down and focused on specific mission parameters so much sometimes that they forgot to look around. Colonel Braxton was not a foot soldier anymore though. He was now the commander of the 38th Marine Expeditionary Unit and one of Drake's senior staff. It might take time, but eventually he'd bring the marine around to appreciate the big picture.

          “Did you lose something, sir?” Bill asked.

          "Yeah, a Nova class ship we were using as a research lab," responded Admiral Drake before realizing that the Colonel probably had only a vague idea of what was going on here. "The Epatha Gateway is a lot more than just a connection between Aether and Epatha. It's a Gateway to an unknown number of termini. For the past two months, we've been sending probes through the Epatha Gateway every time it's subspace axis shifts to a new terminus in hopes that one day we find a terminus near home. Four minutes ago, the USS Khepri reported it was implementing action plan Alpha One - aka the Gateway connected to known space."

          The Admiral looked back at the screen, hoping that the status would change.

          “So we would have a way home,” Braxton asked as he looked at the screen.

          "That's the hope. They reported they'd implemented their action plan for having discovered a terminus into known space... before they disappeared."

          BFCC / BFXO / BFIO / TF38CO / TF93CO


          • #6
            Emerging into the Fourth of July Nebula...

            The Nova-class starship wove its way through the intense subspace eddies, or more accurately, bounced across them like a ragdoll in a washing machine. The Petty Officer at the helm was doing all he could to keep the bow pointed in the right direction. The Nova class vessel was nothing like the runabouts he'd flown his entire career, nor were the eddies like anything he'd trained on in the simulators. Just as a console exploded in a shower of sparks and alarms went off warning that hull pressure was exceeding tolerable limits, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel: red, blue and white hues through the exit aperture.

            With what seemed almost like a cough, the wormhole ejected the USS Khepri into the beautiful yet turbulent Fourth of July Nebula. In a mere thirty-four seconds, they had travelled forty thousand light years from the distant Epatha system back to the place they all knew as home.

            Lieutenant Edir stood in the middle of the bridge taking in the sight, for a moment forgetting the reality that the Fourth of July Nebula was a consequence of strange gravitational fields still not fully understood. It was only the focused composure of Warrant Office Sharvat starting to issue orders that pulled him from his stupor. "Helm, come about bearing one-three-one mark seven," the Andorian sensor specialist ordered. "And increase speed to full. Tactical, give every last ounce of juice to the deflector."

            From the conn, Petty Officer Reisman, who'd never piloted anything larger than a runabout outside the simulator, looked at the Lieutenant for confirmation.

            "Yeah, do it!" shouted Edir as he looked at a display in front of him, realizing they were about to hit a mass negative sinkhole otherwise.

            With that order, Petty Officer Reisman did his best. The bridge shook violently at the shearing forces as the flight controller missed the mark by two degrees. Still, it was enough at full impulse to pull them away, and, a few seconds later, things stabilized as they pulled out of the dense inner cloud of the nebula.

            "Current position?" asked Lieutenant Edir steadied himself against a support beam.

            Warrant Officer Sharvat bore the good news: "G1.95 by 42.4. The Raeyan Sector."

            The Lieutenant looked around, the whole scene surreal. Several members of the research team were pulling themselves back off the ground with various s****es and bruises, and a couple consoles on the bridge were out of commission. None of this was going quite to plan, except the bit about being back in the Beta Quadrant.

            "Chief Gilman, please see to damage recovery and casualties." They didn't have a medical officer on board, nor a damage recovery team. "And grab whatever people you need to stitch this ship back together in… nine minutes." His makeshift tactical officer, one of only a few people who looked to have come through relatively unscathed, looked more than a bit skeptical at being able to carry out that order, but he hustled off the bridge on the double. "Mr. Sharvat, open a communications channel."

            The sensor specialist looked confused. "To who? Our range is limited."

            The Lieutenant paused for a second. Before his merger with Edir, the unremarkable Lieutenant J.G. Adhiron had supervised maintenance night shifts on Starbase 900, hardly concerned with anything happening in the greater galaxy. He didn't know which task force managed the Raeyan Sector, nor any facilities within the sector. Edir, the symbiont, had known slightly more, but he'd been a scientist in his previous life, not a command officer. The only facilities he could recall that should be in operation anywhere nearby were Camp Kovar and Outpost Curtiss. The marines were unlikely to be of help, especially in the nine minutes they had left, so that left the engineering support base. "Outpost Curtiss... Deep Space 20, Taugan Sector."

            "Stand by."

            The Lieutenant stepped back to the center of the command island and straightened his uniform as he stared forward at the main screen, waiting for it to connect.

            On the other side of the Raeyan Transit Corridor…

            Ensign Hugo Watters crawled out of the bulkhead on the Operations deck of Outpost Curtiss and turned to face Petty Officer Tyler, "Try it now Heather?" he suggested, indicating the console nearby. Outpost Curtiss was only ninety six percent ready to come online in less than one month, and most of the problems left were in Operations.

            Heather nodded and turned towards the console just as another console directly behind her went off loudly, interrupting her work. The Operations Petty Officer spun around. "Hold on a second sir," she remarked and walked over towards it. "We are getting a subspace message."

            "From Starfleet Command probably wanting to..." Watters started.

            "Captain Hickerson come out here… now!" Heather shouted towards the Ready Room.

            Wyatt had only arrived on the station a day earlier. "Report Petty Officer?" he asked as he stepped out of his office with his brow raised wondering what was so urgent to disturb him from the process of arranging his office.

            "We are receiving a subspace message from near the Fourth of July Nebula from the USS Khepri." Heather said without looking away, "I haven’t answered it because... You know..."

            Watters interrupted her: "That ship was lost in the Delta Quadrant along with..." His voice trailed away.

            "Put it on the main viewer." Wyatt said before turning to face the main view screen. The operations personnel had only just gotten that operational six hours earlier, which was a good thing.

            Heather looked up once she had transferred the communication channel and patched them through the subspace network. She nodded once and placed her hands behind her back and waited.

            "This is Captain Wyatt Hickerson of Outpost Curtiss..."

            As the video feed from the link established, the bridge crew of Outpost Curtiss were presented with a chaotic scene in stark contrast to their own, one that looked straight out of a war flick. The bridge of the Nova-class Khepri was a mess with inactive consoles, s****ed up officers, and a Lieutenant in science teal standing alone on the command island. Somehow though, the Lieutenant was smiling. "Captain Hickerson, this is Lieutenant Adhiron Edir of the USS Khepri. I am a member of a research team in the Delta Quadrant that's been searching for a way home. And, as you'll see, we've found it. But we do not have much time. This wormhole we just traversed is cyclical and wandering. Based on our projections, it connects to the Fourth of July Nebula for about fifteen minutes every forty five days. So currently we have... just shy of eight minutes."

            Wyatt crossed his arms and stepped forward. Outpost Curtiss presently had two Danube-class runabouts and no vessels capable of making anything higher than warp six. Even then maximum warp from the station would be far too late. He turned towards Petty Officer Tyler: "Does Starfleet have any vessels within range?"

            Heather was rather stunned her brother was one of those people who had become lost in the Delta Quadrant. She shook her head to overcome the shock just long enough to review the long range sensors. "Two vessels near the nebula. The USS Rhine and the USS Moscow, but…"

            Wyatt looked at her, "But?"

            "The Rhine is under the command of Lieutenant Commander J’Pola and the Moscow is moving in the opposite direction. By the time we got a message to them, they would be twelve minutes away at maximum warp," Heather said.

            Wyatt balled his right fist and struck the console he was next to causing a loud pop. "Is there anything else that you can tell us Lieutenant?"

            The Lieutenant Edir, for all of his excitement in the last few minutes, was a scientist at heart - or at least his symbiont was - and thus reason prevailed. "I would have said don't bother sending them anyways, Captain," he said calmly with his hands up cautioning the Captain to slow down. "You send them through and they'd be just as stuck as the rest of us waiting for forty five more days to pass." The Trill looked over at an Andorian behind the ops console. "We are preparing a large data file with all of our research and models, as well as some dispositional data about Task Force 38, to be sent over a subchannel. We survived the Battle of the Round Table, have charted new territory, and are making due for now. But we could dearly use some support and a plan moving forward."

            Wyatt nodded before turning to the Petty Officer: "Petty Officer Tyler set up a subspace link to the USS Khepri. Once that link has been established, set up another link from the station to Starfleet Headquarters."

            "Aye sir," Heather responded as she bowed her head towards the console. First, she established the link between the vessel and the station. Once the computer indicated a successful link, then she turned her attention to the link between them and Starfleet Command. She dispatched a subspace message directly to Starfleet notifying them of the data that was going to be coming through. "Ready."

            Wyatt watched her work and turned to face the viewer once more, "Go ahead Lieutenant."

            "Send it Mr. Sharvat," ordered Lieutenant Edir to his warrant officer who'd somehow ended up with the job of sensor specialist, operations, navigations, and now communications and intelligence.

            "Payload away."

            The Lieutenant checked the chronometer on his command console. Five minutes left. Now came the hard part, the part he hadn't discussed with his team and wasn't even sure he liked himself, even though he knew it the right and only choice. "Captain, we are now going to take our leave and prepare to return to the Delta Quadrant," the Lieutenant said, sensing the glares of those around him. They'd just made it home, and now he was turning them around. Thinking about it for a second, Lieutenant Edir decided it was something the whole ship should hear, so he switched on the ship-wide comm. "For the last six months, we have bordered on hopeless, but today, we restore that hope," the team leader continued, addressing both Outpost Curtiss and his own personnel. "Please move heaven and earth, Captain, and get us what we need, and on our end, we will return to the Delta Quadrant with the good news and await the day we see you all once again."

            Wyatt understood the need for them to return and inform those still trapped in the Delta Quadrant of the good news. He nodded, "I assure you and those that are on the other side of the galaxy that we will… Starfleet will work tirelessly to get you the supplies and support that you need."

            Heather Tyler looked at the viewer. "Please tell my brother… Tell Henry Tyler that his sister Heather cannot wait to see him again," she blurted out suddenly. The Lieutenant on the Khepri's bridge nodded with a smile. It was a reminder of the human element at the very core of the whole ordeal, the families that had been separated, the grief and the loss borne of the belief they'd never see their loved ones again. And it was why they needed to return to the Delta Quadrant.

            Wyatt turned around and looked at her, flashed a smile, and returned his gaze back upon the viewer. "And, please relay a message to those on the other side that your families haven’t given up hope on any of you." Wyatt could feel the burning and flushed expression of his Operations NCO behind him as he concluded before closing the channel:

            Last edited by JonM; 12-27-2017, 07:44 PM.

            BFCC / BFXO / BFIO / TF38CO / TF93CO