The Space Men Play Star Trek Adventures, Part IX

This series is submitted by Star Trek Adventures Uber-Fan Daniel Li

Episode 2×1 “A World with a Bluer Sun”

By Marco Rafala

From These Are the Voyages

Airdate: June 18, 2023

USS Lexington diverted from a survey mission in the Beta Quadrant upon detecting an old-style Starfleet distress signal from an uncharted M-class planet unusually orbiting a wormhole. Upon entering orbit, Cmdr. Sabin (unjoined Trill M, Chief Science Officer) scanned the surface, identifying a 22nd Century Earth Starfleet shuttlepod transmitting the signal, and nearby, the wreckage of a 22nd Century Romulan bird of prey. The planet had no indigenous intelligent life forms but there was one human life sign near the wreckage. The crew immediately concluded that they had stumbled across the remains of a forgotten battle in the Earth-Romulan War. 

Tectonic plate activity allowed Sabin to conclude that the wormhole had only recently appeared in the system, changing the gravitational effects on the planet and creating worldwide earthquakes and tsunami. Scanning the wormhole itself revealed that it was unstable, with anomalous, fluctuating gravity readings, with some sort of object at its center, apparently a small vessel of some sort. This object appeared to be there and not there in rapid succession, as if flitting in and out of existence. A probe launched toward the wormhole was crushed by the intense gravimetric distortions before providing any more information.

Cmdr. Athytti (Andorian F, First Officer) summoned Dr. Grelox (Denobulan M, Chief Medical Officer) from sickbay to join her and Sabin on an away team to investigate the crash site. The three of them beamed down near the shuttlepod. Sabin examined the Romulan wreckage and found that it carried scarring from atomic warheads and pulse cannons consistent with the 22nd Century. However, the tricorder readings dated the wreckage at only 6 years old, despite (by the Earth calendar) the war spanning 2156-2160, when the current year was 2271, over a century later. As for the shuttlepod, it was intact although covered with the same blue moss that blanketed the Romulan debris, except for the access hatch, and bore the registry of the Atlantis NX-06, an Earth starship reported lost and presumed destroyed during the war.

Grelox, scanning for the human life sign, was able to determine that it was close by and moving. Indeed, the next moment, a male human with long, tangled hair and beard in the tattered remains of a 22nd Century Earth Starfleet uniform emerged from behind a boulder. Grelox waved and shouted to get his attention, and the man responded by nocking his bow and arrow, shooting Grelox in the chest. Athytti drew her phaser and stunned the man as Grelox fell to the ground, unconscious. Sabin determined that the wound was not life-threatening but Grelox would require proper medical attention to remove the arrow and prevent infection. The other man had psychotropic substances altering his perceptions and mood. Athytti called for emergency transport, sending Grelox back to the ship. Sabin placed the now unconscious assailant in restraints and sent him back to the ship as well. Lexington crewmembers took Grelox to sickbay and the other man to the brig.

However, at this time, the wormhole inexplicably began growing and pulling the Lexington out of orbit. The power drain was enormous and would have fused the dilithium crystals in the converter assembly, disabling the ship, if not for Ter’Rec (Tellarite M, Chief Engineer) and his team’s quick thinking in rerouting power from enough nonessential systems to keep the engines operational.

The away team wrapped up by accessing the shuttlepod’s chronometer, indicating it landed 2 years earlier, and log entries from one Lieutenant John Kearney (presumably the man with the bow and arrow), armory officer on the Atlantis. During the war, the Atlantis pursued a Romulan bird-of-prey into this uncharted system and shot it down, sending Kearney and two others down to the surface to retrieve wreckage for analysis. However, the Atlantis shortly thereafter disappeared from orbit and the planet began undergoing major seismic and environmental disturbances. The blue moss poisoned and killed the other two crewmembers in separate incidents, leaving Kearney alone with supplies running out. Sabin’s tricorder scans found a major concentration of the psychotropic substance in the nearby river, which Kearney must have been using as a water source. He took a sample of the water before he and Athytti beamed back to the ship.

Sabin walked onto the Lexington’s bridge to find Cmdr. Thalon (Andorian M, Chief of Security) begging Capt. Birdsong (Human F, Commanding Officer) to let him fire photon torpedoes at the object in the center of the wormhole, which she refused. No sooner had Sabin sat down at the science console than he noticed a tachyon anomaly and scanned for a closer look. Recognizing it as a cloaked 22nd Century Romulan plasma mine, he yelled “minefield!” and routed his sensor data to navigation. Lt. Iban (Risian M, Flight Controller) immediately took evasive action, dodging the mine in the ship’s immediate path, the perimeter alert klaxon began blaring, and Birdsong called for tactical display and the main viewscreen lit up with green dots indicating a Romulan minefield blanketing the system. Iban found a clear spot but the Lexington was being pulled slowly but inexorably into the wormhole. 

Meanwhile, in sickbay, Grelox regained consciousness on a biobed after Dr. Jorus and Chief Dwayne (supporting characters) removed the arrow and mended his flesh wound. At Grelox’s insistence, a security team brought the sedated Lt. Kearney to sickbay, secured him to a biobed in physical restraints and a paralyzing force field, and let Grelox examine him. Between the advanced sickbay facilities and the water sample recovered by the away team, Grelox had no trouble identifying the psychotropic substances built up in Kearney’s body and an antidote for them, as well as calculating the right amount to administer. Grelox applied the antidote with a hypospray and left it to work its way through his patient’s body.

Now that the maneuvers to avoid the minefield brought the Lexington closer to the wormhole, Sabin’s sensors identified another ship trapped and being pulled in, the Atlantis NX-06. Lt. (j.g.) Xellein (Orion F, Communications Officer) was unable to open communications with the Atlantis. Sabin’s scans indicated that the ship had 50 human life signs onboard from a last listed crew complement of 83. Most of her systems were offline except for basic life support, including her transporters Determining that they lacked sufficient power to beam everyone off the Atlantis, the senior staff decided instead to send an away team to investigate and determine evacuation options. Athytti, Ter’Rec, and Grelox went to Transporter Room 1, where Ter’Rec pinged the Atlantis’ dead transporter system to create a temporary advantage for beaming through the interference, and the three of them materialized on the transporter pad on D deck.

Almost immediately, the away team became alerted that something was seriously wrong by the sound of weapons fire, shouting, and loud footsteps in the corridor outside the transporter room. They observed two squads of half a dozen Atlantis crewmembers exchanging phase pistol fire, one squad wearing gold armbands and the other wearing red armbands. The squad in gold were carrying an unconscious heavyset woman in a red armband with three pips on her uniform, presumably the chief engineer. Athytti decided to intervene by subduing the Atlantis crew, and she and Grelox set their phasers to area stun and popped out into the corridor to open fire. Athytti hit the red squad and the six of them went down like so many sacks of potatoes. Grelox missed, however, and the gold squad escaped into the Jeffries tube and up a ladder, closing the hatch behind them.

Ter’Rec accessed the sole functioning computer console in the maintenance room across the corridor from the transporter and was able to determine that most nonessential systems were offline to shunt power to engines and life support. The crew had long since kept the hull plating polarized to reinforce the structural integrity field but this was a temporary solution now on the verge of failure. Numerous fissures in the hull formed, requiring most outer sections of every deck  to be sealed off. A deck (the bridge), as well as E and F deck and the hangar between them, had been decompressed entirely. The hangar contained Shuttlepod 2 and an unidentified alien small craft. Though interesting, the away team could not think of a way to reach the hangar in a timely fashion, with the need to find and don EV suits and make their way through damaged and destroyed decks, and still complete the evacuation. Atlantis had about 6-8 hours at most before structural collapse would destroy the ship. The hull would fall apart long before she was pulled through the wormhole. Ter’Rec could tell that someone had locked out the majority of the ship’s functions and rerouted them to main engineering, something he could not override from this console. At this point, the Lexington away team became racked by indecision, concerned that Atlantis crewmembers might move in and attempt to retake the transporter room, and that by proceeding further into the ship to reach main engineering, their escape route would be cut off.

To guard their backs, Athytti requested a security detachment from the Lexington. Ensign Bagheera (Caitian M, Security Officer) and five enlisted security personnel beamed over to the Atlantis transporter room, deploying pattern enhancers around the defunct transporter pad and placing the six unconscious Atlantis crewmen in restraints before positioning themselves to cover the D deck corridor and guard the approaches to the transporter room. Grelox decided to wake up one of the prisoners and interrogate him before the away team proceeded, and used a hypospray to revive one Crewman Hadley according to his insignia and name tape. Hadley woke up and promptly panicked at seeing Bagheera standing over him. Grelox launched into a long expository speech about how the Romulan War has been over for a century and humans created a Federation with other species, including theirs. Hadley was uninterested in this topic, but became very talkative, urging the away team to get off the ship and save themselves as quickly as possible, before “the alien” killed them too. Grelox asked for an explanation and the Lexington officers thus learned the sad story of the Atlantis and her crew.

Four years into the Romulan War, Atlantis drove off two Romulan birds-of-prey attacking Earth Colony III, destroying one outright and pursuing the second into this uncharted system, where she shot that bird-of-prey down too. Captain Reinhardt Suarez sent a three-man away team down to the surface to bring back wreckage to study for the war effort. While the away team was on the surface, a wormhole suddenly opened near the planet, trapping the Atlantis in its gravity well. An alien lifeboat appeared, also apparently caught by the wormhole, and Suarez ordered it grappled and brought into the hangar bay. When a several crewmen went to the hangar to inspect the lifeboat, a creature lunged out and immediately absorbed one of the crewmen. It happened so fast that none of the others got a good look at the alien in its original form and could not describe it afterwards. Nobody was sure if this might be a Romulan, since nobody had ever seen one; Grelox of course knew that it was not and could rule out Romulan infiltration as a possibility. In any event, the Atlantis crew was now stuck on a ship trapped by the wormhole with systems failing and an intruder aboard who could look like anyone. The crew’s paranoia grew, tempers flared, and violence became commonplace. Captain Suarez kept a lid on things as best he could, but when trying to mediate an argument between Lieutenant Commander Mallory, the first officer, and Lieutenant Commander Darlene Phillips, the chief engineer, some sort of incident took place and Suarez was killed. Hadley was not present and could not say with certainty what happened, and there are as many stories and rumors as there are crewmen aboard the ship. What is certain is that immediately after Suarez’s death, Mallory assumed command and launched an inquiry that broke the last semblance of cohesion in the crew and broke them into factions mostly along Starfleet division lines, although security split between the command and operations factions. Phillips managed to take control of essential functions in engineering after the bridge suffered a hull breach and decompressed, but finally, after two years of deadly fighting and purges trying to find the alien, Mallory’s people launched a raid and captured Phillips–that was the firefight happening when the Lexington away team first beamed aboard.

The intercom buzzed tinnily to life, and Mallory’s voice proclaimed that she had Phillips in custody and was charging her with mutiny. The hearing would be held in the conference room on B deck. Those who wished to attend would approach through the computer core and surrender their weapons to Lieutenant Parish. They had one hour.

Hadley advised the away team that the operations faction would undoubtedly mount a rescue operation before the tribunal could try and execute their leader. He also mentioned that Lieutenant Ed Parish replaced Lieutenant John Kearney as the armory officer after Kearney was lost and presumed dead in the mission to the planet two years earlier. Grelox thought to check on the status of his patient and former assailant, with Chief Dwayne confirming that Kearney was awake and lucid and had read the away team’s reports on the state of his ship, and he wanted to help. Athytti agreed to have Kearney beamed over to the Atlantis in hopes that he could sway his shipmates, and in return sent the six captured Atlantis crewmen over to be placed in the Lexington’s brig. Kearney stepped off the transporter pad, clean shaven and in a freshly replicated Earth Starfleet uniform, saluted, and apologized to Grelox for shooting him.

Athytti, Grelox, Ter’Rec, and Kearney proceeded across D deck to main engineering, where they found about two dozen operations faction crewmembers loading up with phase pistols and rifles for the rescue mission Hadley warned about. They were quite surprised to see Kearney back from the dead and three alien officers in futuristic uniforms, but were much more focused on getting ready to kill some command faction people and rescue Phillips. Grelox again launched into his expository speech, but Ter’rec interrupted him with Tellarite directness.

“We don’t have time for this. This ship is falling apart. We’ve got the only way out. You can come with us and live, or you can stay here and die.”

“Screw this! Get me off this ship,” declared one crewman in a Bronx accent, slamming down his pulse rifle. One by one, the others lowered their weapons and agreed to proceed to the transporter room for evacuation.

Kearney and the away team then climbed to B deck, where Parish, guarding the door to the conference room, was happily surprised to see his old friend alive and gave him a big bear hug. He warns that Mallory is serious, and insisted on taking their weapons, Kearney’s included. The away team allowed him to take their weapons, but Athytti pulled rank, declaring that as the senior officer present she was assuming command of the Atlantis and would need Parish’s help to secure Mallory’s cooperation and the crew’s obedience. Parish then escorted the away team inside the conference room, where the tribunal was already underway. Command and science faction crewmen looked on from the audience as Mallory and her handpicked tribunal board faced Phillips, flanked by two security guards. Only the two guards and Mallory were armed. The crowd momentarily gasped as they saw Kearney alive, but Mallory was totally unfazed by his appearance. Mallory read out the charges, accusing Phillips of seizing control of the ship’s life support and other vital functions, mutiny against the acting captain, and murder of her shipmates.

The first prosecution witness, Lieutenant Verga, testified that he was the sole survivor of an incident where Phillips decompressed and sealed D deck. Phillips retorted that the alien invader was on D deck and she did what she had to to protect the ship, and two of her own engineering crew died on G deck that day.

The second witness was Shiro Takahashi, the chief science officer, who claimed to have devised a way to detect the alien intruder, and pulled out his tricorder and began scanning Phillips. Grelox scanned with his more advanced 23rd Century tricorder and found nothing unusual in any of the human life signs present, including Phillips, readings he showed to Athytti and Ter’Rec. Takahashi declared that Phillips was the alien, and Mallory ordered her security guards to seize Phillips and throw her out the airlock. Athytti shook her head at Parish, who shook his head at the guards. Neither of them moved. Mallory demanded to know what was wrong with them and drew her own phase pistol, setting it to kill. Before Mallory could fire, Athytti cut in front of her and delivered a solid right uppercut to Mallory’s head, knocking the former XO unconscious and causing her to drop the pistol.

Parish placed Mallory in restraints and asked Athytti, “What are your orders, Acting Captain?”

“General evacuation. Get everyone to the transporter room.”

Just then, the Atlantis lurched violently, throwing the conference room’s occupants off balance. Ter’Rec checked the internal sensors on the wall console and realized that there was a reactor breach in progress, and because all controls had been rerouted to the command center in the engineering room, he could not stop it from B deck. The breach meant there would no longer be enough time to evacuate everyone before the core breach destroyed the Atlantis. Most Atlantis crewmen followed Kearney and Parish, carrying the bound Mallory, to the transporter room evacuation zone, but a dozen, including Phillips, followed the away team as they raced to main engineering to stop the reactor breach, only to find the doors sealed shut. Grelox’s scans showed one human life sign inside.

While Ter’Rec ripped off the wall panels and started finding the right circuits to cut to force the door open, Athytti shouted through the door, asking what was happening. An otherworldly male voice responded, apologizing that this was the only way. Phillips recognized the voice as belonging to Ensign Lou Mendola from her engineering team, and she pounded on the door trying to get his attention. Mendola continued apologizing, saying that he harbored no ill will toward humans, even though they had hunted him and murdered their own, demonstrating fear and cruelty; that if he could save their lives, he would; but that their sacrifices would save millions of lives in two universes. By now, it was obvious to everyone that Mendola was possessed by the alien. Athytti and Grelox managed to convince Mendola that, a hundred years in the future, humans had improved and cooperation with their own species were proof of that; and that he should let them find another solution so that nobody had to die, including him. Mendola decided to trust them, shutting down the reactor breach and opening the blast doors to engineering before Ter’Rec had to force them.

Mendola related the alien’s story: he was a scientist testing a gravity drive, the first of its kind, in orbit of his homeworld in another universe. During the test, the gravity drive malfunctioned and created the wormhole. His test vessel is the object they detected at the center of the anomaly, and its gravity drive is sustaining and growing the wormhole. He abandoned ship in an escape pod, and was rescued by the Atlantis. Unfortunately, the tale then took a tragic turn, for in his native universe, lifeforms are dramatically different. There, small, weak, sentient lifeforms live in symbiosis with large, strong, non-sentient animals. With his animal body on the verge of death after his perilous escape, when the Atlantis crew opened the escape pod, the alien’s sentient lifeform acted out of self-preservation and absorbed the nearest large animal body that could sustain it: Ensign Mendola. Ever since, he has been looking for a way to correct his mistake. Although he did try several times to communicate with the humans aboard, it became clear very quickly that they just wanted to kill him. And worse yet, they would all die soon as the hull was slowly being crushed by the wormhole.

The alien stated that detonating a matter/antimatter drive at the center of the anomaly would destroy his ship’s gravity drive and collapse the wormhole, and the Atlantis reactor was sufficient for the task. He also consented to a medical examination by Grelox, which confirmed that there was no way to separate the alien from Mendola’s body without killing them both, and that Mendola himself was effectively dead already due to the erasure of his memories and drastic alterations to his neurological system. Were he to return to his own universe, Mendola’s body would not survive, but his rescuers might find a new host for the alien’s sentient lifeform if they were quick about it.

Athytti contacted the Lexington with a new plan. Complete evacuation of the Atlantis needed to happen ASAP, with Ter’Rec and Mendola in the first group over. Ter’Rec went straight to main engineering to keep the power levels high enough for the transporters to keep operating. Mendola, under guard, went straight to the shuttlebay, where the deck crews had the shuttlecraft Barnstable ready for launch. Mendola, alone, would pilot the shuttle and wait for Sabin to signal him to fly into the wormhole as it collapsed so he could get home. Atlantis crewmembers other than Kearney would be confined to the brig upon beaming over. Once Athytti had counted heads and made sure everyone was accounted for, she beamed back over to the Lexington with the final group.

As Athytti and Ter’Rec arrived on the bridge, the shuttlebay reported that the Barnstable was away, and the small shuttle appeared on the viewscreen approaching the wormhole under impulse, waiting for the cue to jump to high speed at the right time. Ter’Rec then used the Lexington’s tractor beam to push the Atlantis toward the center of the anomaly, with Iban counting down five seconds until impact. Soundlessly, the reactor detonated upon impact, destroying the alien craft and beginning a collapse of the wormhole that would take only a few minutes. Sabin scanned through the gravimetric interference, checking each terminus of the wormhole as they alternated until he found the signature matching Grelox’s scans of Mendola and their scans of the alien ship. Sabin gave the word, and the Barnstable shot through the wormhole. Minutes later, the wormhole collapsed, with one last message coming through from the other side: although Mendola’s human form did not survive the passage, the alien scientist was rescued and his sentience did indeed find another host.

The Lexington is enroute to Deep Space 2 for a thorough systems check after the pounding inflicted on the engines and structural integrity fields by the wormhole. The Atlantis crewmembers will be deposited there for JAG to deal with. Many of them committed atrocities which the Lexington’s away team did not uncover during their rather cursory exploration of the 22nd Century ship and will be court-martialed by Starfleet for their actions, but even those cleared of any wrongdoing are suffering from severe and protracted post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of other psychological maladies and will need long-term mental health support.

Geoff: Ter’Rec, Iban

Fred: Sabin, Athytti

Peter: Grelox

Modular laboratory focus: n/a

Crew support used: 4

Lexington damage: n/a

Casualties: 0

Shuttlecraft destroyed: 1

On the next Star Trek Adventures…

2×2 “Darkness”

TM & © 2023 CBS Studios Inc. © 2023 Paramount Pictures Corp. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

One comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.