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CH07: S [D??|????] It's All Relative, Mate


USS RELATIVITY | TIME: UNKNOWN




Joint post with @Auctor Lucan

The sickbay of the USS Relativity was ready. The ship's medical staff, doctors, nurses and holographic aides, all waited in anticipation. They had all been briefed on what was about to happen, numerous biobeds setup. The lighting flashed red, armed security personnel standing at the door, everyone tense.

This wasn't the first medical emergency that the crew had dealt with lately. The treatment of the crew of the USS Theurgy, saving them from the ravages of the Niga virus, had been an enormous strain om the Relativity crew, even with their 29th century technology. This promised to be a far lesser medical crisis; the standard crew complement of a 24th century Nova-class starship was only eighty, and many of them were likely already dead or impossible to save.

For all that, everyone was still anxious. No matter the century, everyone was still scared of the Borg.

Finally five columns of swirling particles appeared in the center of the Sickbay, almost immediately coalescing into five individuals. Four of them collapsed to the deck immediately, all hurt or partially assimilated to some degree, but the fifth remained standing. He looked like he'd been through hell. His uniform was dirty and still smoking, green blood on his hands and face, his eyes wide and frantic...and in one of his hands was a phaser. Evidently, the Ops officer had failed to filter it out during the transport, which was yet another sign of the frazzled state of the Relativity's crew.

The man looked around frantically, hyperventilating, shaking as he took in his surroundings. "Who-who are you!?" he shouted, phaser half-raised. "Where am I?"

One of the doctors, a short Bajoran woman, stepped forward carefully, the man's eyes snapping right to her. "Lieutenant?" she said soothingly, hands raised and palms held outward. The other medical staff waited around the edge of Sickbay,, frustrated, not yet able to help the wounded. "I'm a doctor. You're on a Federation ship. Can you tell me your name, Lieutenant?"

"My...my name?" the man blubbered, looking around like a cornered animal. "Alis...Alistair. Alistair Leavitt. Lieutenant. What...the Borg! We need to get out of here, I need to get to the Bridge, we need to get out of here! There's a monster, a Borg monster, we need to run, we need to run!"

The doctor nodded. "Don't worry, Alistair, we're safe now, I promise, but we need to help your friends. Can you give me your phaser, Lieutenant?"

Alistair looked down at his phaser as if he'd forgotten it was there, and he absent-mindedly dropped it to the deck. Immediately the group was swarmed by medical personnel, Alistair led away by a nurse to one of the biobeds. The nurse switched on a white holographic privacy screen, all sound from outside the screen stopping.

"Okay, Alistair, I need you to sit on the bed," the nurse said patiently. Alistair complied, his hands still shaking, still stinking of blood, smoke and sweat. "You're in shock, Alistair, so I'm going to give you something to help you calm down. Is that okay?" Alistair didn't seem to understand for a moment, but finally he nodded hesitantly, and the nurse smoothly pressed a hypospray to the side of his neck. Alistair immediately relaxed, eyes drooping, and the nurse laid him out gently on the bed as the traumatised man drifted off.



Hours later, when Alistair awoke, it was gradual. His eyes snapped open upon remembering the Borg and the nightmare aboard the Eclipse, but Alistair recognised the calming effects of some sort of medical treatment. Now able to think straight, he looked around, the privacy screen having been dropped, to see the other survivors all still unconscious. The sickbay was unlike anything he had ever seen before, all the medical personnel wearing uniforms that were still clearly Starfleet, but quite different to his own.

He sat up, noting that he had been cleaned up and put into a medical smock of some sort. A nurse immediately came over, and a frustrating half hour followed as the nurse and then a doctor ran checks on Alistair. They didn't answer any questions save that he was aboard the Federation ship Relativity, and that they were perfectly safe. Eventually, after they were done, Alistair was given a clean uniform (the uniform of his own time), and was escorted by a security officer up to the Bridge.

The shock of everything hadn't quite worn off, but Alistair at least able to think straight. He had already made some observations of the Relativity crew, their behaviour, and of the ship itself. He was growing more and more uncomfortable by the minute as some ugly conclusions began to form. What the hell was happening?

They got to the Bridge, a place that was similar to what Alistair knew in some aspects and completely alien in others; for one thing, where was the command chair? Why was everything so weird? Why was a transporter room there? Alistair didn't have much time to look around, though, as the security officer guided Alistair to what was surely a ready room, and then tapped the chime.

Alistair was admitted with a chirp, the doors parting for him, and inside, the Captain of the USS Relativity sat by his desk, finishing reading a holographic screen in front of him. When the survivor of the Eclipse was led inside, Ducane eventually stood up, and with a tightness to his gait and the set of his jaw, he approached the Lieutenant and extended his hand. "I am Captain Juel Ducane. Welcome aboard the Relativity, even though your stay will be short."

"Thank you, Captain, I'm Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt," Alistair said faintly, shaking the other man's hand. He hesitated, then glanced around him pointedly, making a sweeping gesture. "So...uh...this ship. This ship is what I think it is, isn't it? And you, you're...I mean, you're my bosses' worst nightmare. Time travelling Starfleet. A whole ship full of potential Temporal Prime Directive violations. This has been a really weird day..."

In another time, of any century, in which the Infested were non-existent, Ducane might have smiled and been a bit more easy-going. As it were, he folded his hands behind his back and squared his shoulders. "This is a Timeship, and our mission is of such urgency that even if I could tell you more, knowing you were on secondment to Temporal Affairs in our century, you are needed in your origin point of time. Your profile makes you the only viable candidate to both deliver a message, and fight to prevent the future you've just witnessed."

As realisation set in, Alistair looked crestfallen. "So you...uh...you're not just here to rescue me. Okay, that's...uh...alright." He took a deep breath. "Excuse me, Captain, but the rest of my crew...are they going to be okay? And, uh, what are you going to do with them? Return them to Starfleet Medical on Earth, back in 2381? The DTI hospital on Vulcan?"

"Yes," said Ducane in answer and slowly began to pace the ready room. "Those whom we managed to save will also return to their point of origin in the timestream, but neither of them are fit or able to deliver the message, much less aid in this mission. Only you."

At the reassurance, Alistair nodded, taking more deep breaths. The shock of it all was still fresh; he could still smell the blood and acidic smoke, and the memory of Captain Sullivan's brutal and excruciating death was still painfully fresh in his mind. Alistair stepped around Ducane towards a window, noting from the view that the Relativity wasn't at warp. Alistair even tried to absent-mindedly identify the star patterns, but they were completely unfamiliar.

"Okay, Captain," Alistair said with fresh resolve, turning around to face Ducane. The lieutenant stood straighter than before, his hands clenched tight behind his back. "I know my temporal mechanics. A timeship like this couldn't have come from the future you saved us from, not when the Borg had just assimilated the entire Federation. That was an aberrant timeline...well, this is an aberrant timeline, I'm guessing we haven't left it yet. Tell me what I need to do...uh, please."

Ducane clenched his jaw, checking himself before saying too much, the delicate balance of foreknowledge that the Lieutenant had not to be broken, lest the survivor would have his memory engrams treated in the same manner that Sarresh Morali's were. Ducane was not about to fork the timestream even more than the Theurgy actively did every day, hour and minute by being imprecise and careless. "You will have heard of the Theurgy from the media channels before the Eclipse's accident. Regardless what your opinion was, or how much you relied on what Starfleet Command said about the renegade A.I. and the defection of Captain Ives, I am telling you now... that the Borg woman who tormented your crew is of the same nature as the officers that now lead Starfleet. The Theurgy is their target because Captain Ives and his crew learned the truth about them. This is why they used the danger of the A.I:s presence to mandate a non-communication policy with the Theurgy - telling you all that the A.I. might cripple or take over your computer cores through a mere subspace frequency opening. Your message is to the Theurgy, and I suggest you offer to aid the crew as well... since if you still wish to serve the Federation, there is no higher purpose than saving it right now."

Alistair stared for a moment in sheer disbelief, jaw dropped. "Huh," he said blankly, eyes wide. "O...kay. Well, that's...er...well, shit. Pardon my language, sir," Alistair added hurriedly, smiling nervously. He took a deep breath, running his hand over his shaved scalp. "That's a real doozy you just dropped on me. Okay, let me get this straight. Captain Ives didn't defect. They're' not a mass-murdering shapeshfting psychopath. The Theurgy AI isn't evil. The crew are real crew, not holograms, and they're trying to save the Federation, not destroy it. I guess Ives' broadcast was faked...makes sense, I guess, it was so cheesy. Real supervillain cheesy. Starfleet Command have been replaced with...monsters. Evil monsters who want to cause chaos, and who have freaking superpowers and are invincible, based on what I saw when we fought that...that...thing. Great."

Alistair sighed, rubbing between his eyes. "It's a good thing you just saved my ass, Captain, and that you're from the future. Otherwise this would be too insane to consider. If I can help stop that...that nightmare, then I'll do anything, anything at all. We saw Betazed and Bolarus when we checked them out. Completely assimilated. Billions of people, turned into slaves. Earth...honestly, Captain, when we saw the record of what happened to Earth when the Borg attacked, I threw up right there on the Bridge. How do we stop all that from happening?"

Nodding slowly, Ducane might have been relieved to hear that the officer needed no more convincing, and that he was determined enough to do the right thing instead of putting his head in the sand and pretend everything would sort itself out. Though given the duress Ducane and his crew endured, there was no smile or reaction, just a stoic nod. "At the time of your return to 2381, the Infested have overtaken both the Romulan Senate and Starfleet Command, and they had a thalaron bomb detonate in Paris, right in the Palais de la Concorde. A new war stands at the door, and the Theurgy contacted us for direction. As you well know, we could offer them little, as a pre-emptive incursion might have constituted a multitude of Pogo paradoxes, in which interference to prevent events actually triggers the same events. We have, however, determined a number of indicators in the timestream that would open up some relevant intel. In other words, if the Theurgy manages to achieve certain development and trigger foreseen events, then we can reveal more without making the situation at hand worse than it already is."

The news about Paris hit Alistair hard, and he paled, his mouth dropping open in shock. He barely heard the rest of what Ducane said, still reeling from that revelation. He'd barely begun to process seeing Betazed and Bolarus assimilated from orbit, watching the recordings of so many Federation worlds either falling to the Borg or entire cities vaporising themselves rather than be assimilated. A thalaron device wiping out the Federation Council was miniscule compared to that, but Alistair felt nauseous regardless...especially because he knew, could glean from Ducane's words and expression, that unlike the Borg apocalypse, the Paris attack wouldn't be reset. It was part of the prime timeline now.

"Hold up," Alistair said faintly, raising both hands, still quite pale. "Paris. Just...uh...give me a moment. Was it...was it like the bomb on Romulus, that wiped out the Senate? Did any of the Council survive? Did the President get out?"

"President Bacco survived, that much has been confirmed for this iteration of the timeline you will return to, but I am unaware how many of the Council survived at this point." Ducane raised a hand to rub his temple. "My apologies, we have seen so many variations of that day that the minutiae - as morbid as it might seem - gets lost on us. Millions of lives lost, yet as for who? Specifically? You may want to confirm whom among the Council made it yourself. Are you all right, Lieutenant. Do you need to sit down?"

Alistair closed his eyes briefly, wincing at hearing the true scope of the calamity. He took a steadying deep breath, trying to recollect himself, painfully aware of how precious this time was, how important it might be; he couldn't afford to get distracted. "Alright. Okay. I'm alright, Captain. Tell me what to do."

Ducane walked over to his desk, and whilst still standing, he accessed the holographic interface with a couple of hand gestures. "While you were treated in sickbay, the Theurgy crew accomplished a number of things, and they need to know what is next. That... is where you come in. You will be able to tell them as much as they need to know, and not any more than just that. Better yet, having seen what you have, you will not just be motivated to serve in the interest of preventing that future you saw, but you will also be able to advocate just how real the threat is, and how important it is that the Theurgy crew doesn't fail. Any doubts or lack of resolve on the part of the officers on that ship may prove catastrophic."

Picking up a 24th century PADD lying on the desk, Ducane walked over to Alistair and handed it over to him, which was now filled with intel that were for meant for Captain Ives and his Senior Staff.

"Tell them what you saw. Open the eyes of those who doubt. The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire."

Alistair shuddered. "I've been through that fire already, sir. Don't worry, I couldn't be more motivated for this." He glanced down at the PADD, nodding, before looking up. "Captain, uh...before I go. It's temporal psychosis, right? You and your crew? Most of you look to be in stage one, but I saw a couple of engineers on my way up here pushing into stage two."

"Since we are a ship without port, we are doing everything we can to mitigate the consequences for the crew," Ducane said quietly, not about to deny what was plainly underway. His words were quiet, eyes fixed ahead of himself. "At this rate, we have entered a state where temporal narcosis is spreading through our bodies. Microscopic disruption of spacetime within the bloodstream, since most of the officers on this ship shouldn't have been born during the future you saw. The condition weaken us, cells being entropied, our bodies failing. Sickbay is doing what it can to keep us on our feet."

"I'm sorry, Captain," Alistair said sincerely. "I hope this whole temporal nightmare gets fixed before your crew have to go through too much of this. I'll do everything I can to end this. I don't know how much I can do, I'm just a guy, but I guess it's better than nothing." He sighed. "Where are you sending me, sir? And, uh, when are you sending me, relative to the Eclipse getting yanked through that wormhole?"

This was a matter Ducane was more forthcoming with, though the answer was still ambivalent. "We will have to watch the timestream and make that call the moment before we power up the temporal transporter, since conditions change rapidly, and we have to make sure your deployment happens at the most opportune time. We have foreseen a couple of options, however, one being in the Federation Embassy on Qo'noS, and the other being on Praxis, where an away-team of the Theurgy might discover one of the contingency plans of the Infested."

Ducane walked towards his desk, and with a couple of hand-gestures, he summoned a holographic image of the damaged moon over the Klingon home world. "The partial collapse of Praxis was caused a subspace shockwave. The Infested could try to create a reaction with the dilithium that remains in the moon, directed toward Q'onos in what will be an extinction-level event - rendering the surface uninhabitable. With the aid of House K'Tal, the Theurgy may be able to establish a of subspace field enveloping the moon, which would serve to accelerate the dilithium decay and render it inert, permanently removing such a threat. Problem is, this solution is not always discovered in time. That's where you may come in."

Having said as much, Ducane turned to the Lieutenant to gauge if he understood the assignment. "Any questions on that?"

Alistair was still struggling with the feeling of being overwhelmed, but that, at least, gave him something solid to focus on. "A million, but none you can answer," Alistair said, rubbing between his eyes. "I studied the Praxis event of 2293, so I know what's involved. A subspace field on that scale is kind of insane, but I guess a Theurgy-class starship might be able to do it, especially if the Klingons help." Alistair was starting to feel somewhat nauseous, but there was nothing for it. "I'm ready, Captain. I mean, I feel like I want to puke for an hour straight, but I'm as ready as I can be."

As stoic as he might be, a fleeting smile did cross the Captain's stony features. "If you make it through the first couple of hours of your assignment, there will be time to adjust and process all of this on the Theurgy," said Ducane grimly, knowing he was asking a lot of the Alistair. "Good man. I will have the bridge prepare the temporal transporter, and we'll look at what the time stream shows before we energise it. As changing as the currents are, we'll be able to perceive the opportune time and place to send you."

Ducane stood up and adjusted his uniform, about to lead the officer out to the bridge. "It's time. Good luck, Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt."

- FIN

 
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