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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 4, 2388


    Kartelan Station (Starbase 38)
    Kartelan System, Gradin Belt

    USS Khepri
    Epatha System, Gradin Belt


    Michael Drake ( JonM )
    Research Coordinator, Kartelan Station

    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; 09-22-2017, 11:57 AM.

  • #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.