Star Trek: Providence

Branches Part 1

The Providence responds to the distress call of a stricken Bolian freighter.

Erin sets the alert to yellow, and will send her findings to the science station or to engineering to be processed by people who are supposed to do that stuff.

Erin remains dilligent however, and stays focused on her console for signs of attack!

Two more crew arrive to replace the away team, who file into the turbolift and are gone.

The three beam over to the Bolian ship. It’s a little cramped, and has a very homely, civilian feel to it, with decorative touches such as wall hangings and even candles decorating the interior. Most of these are in some disarray. They’re greeted by the Bolian chief engineer, a skinny fellow who seems a bit neurotic for a Bolian.

T’Rell says, “Greetings.”“

“Er, hello, thank you for the assistance, I’m Engineer Doranik. We’ve lost our main deflector array and I’m afraid there’s some kind of residual particles in the warp systems, I’m er, not used to dealing with battle damage.” He gives a pained smile.

Okan shakes his hand and nods gravely. “You’ll find it’s not so different from the usual wear and tear, it just happens faster,” he smiles, “Lt Cmdr Okan Redra, at your service. I’ll take a look at your deflector array. If you’d like to take Ensign T’rell here to main engineering, he’ll see what we can do about those particles. And this is Ensign Keilani, she’s due in sickbay.”

T’Rell nods when he’s introduced, and inquires, “Were the particles in the warp systems introduced by the Romulan attack or by the earlier malfunction?”

“They’ve uh, only been there since the attack. If you come with me I’ll show you…”

Keilani twinkles politely at the engineer and heads off on her own. After all, the injured can’t wait!

T’Rell nods. “Very well.”

T’Rell follows the Bolian engineer.

Main engineering is cramped and T’Rell has to duck frequently to avoid banging his head on the low walkways that surround the ship’s small warp core. The engine damage isn’t too bad, but they’re far from operating at peak efficiency.

The doctor is much more of the stereotypical jovial Bolian, a round-faced lady with a good bedside manner. She waves Ensign Keilani in without much formality and hands her dermal regenerator. “Here, Jarin and Normab have suffered plasma burns, see what you can do for them then come back to me and I should have the more serious cases ready for transport. Oh, and thank you,” she says, flashing a smile before getting back to work, sedating a groaning patient and attending to his shrapnel wound.

Keilani smiles, “No problem.”

Ensign Keilani attends to the minor injuries then hurries back to help transfer the more serious ones to the Providence. Nobody’s life is in danger but she overdoes it a bit, and by the time the last patient is resting comfortably she’s exhausted.

The doctor offers her a cup of coffee from an old-fashioned coffee pot. “You look fit to drop,” she says sympathetically, “here, take the weight off your feet for a moment.”

Ensign Keilani gained the status: Tired.

Keilani says, “Thanks,” she says, and finds somewhere to sit. “What happened, anyway? I mean, do you know why they were shooting at you?”“

Meanwhile Ensign T’Rell and Doranik are working on the engines.

T’Rell powers down the warp core and flushes it with xenon plasma to remove the extraneous parafermions.

And on the bridge, the results of the long-range scans of the anomaly are back from astrometrics, says the Ensign at ops.

“On screen,” says Captain Maxwell.

The main viewscreen displays a layered pattern of peaks and troughs depicting the disruption to subspace caused by the anomaly in the system ahead. To Erin’s eye it has the unmistakeable subspace shearing characteristics of the Waverly Effect.

Ensign Waverly cringes visibly. She won’t volunteer that information, hopefully someone else has identified it as such already. She mutters softly, “It’s not possible.”

Ensign Waverly gains a Fate point.

Maxwell strokes his beard thoughtfully, but he doesn’t seem to recognise it. “Some kind of a subspace fissure?” He taps his comm badge. “Maxwell to Redra, how are things progressing?”

“We’re almost done here, sir.”

“Good. Once we have you back aboard I’d like to proceed to the Kabrel system, something very odd is happening there.”

You say, “Okay, go ahead. Your shift can end en-route if it isn’t something you can do on the bridge.”

Redra returns to the bridge, Erin pulls him aside as he walks around to his seat.

“Erin? Is something the matter?” he asks, noting her anxiety.

Erin smiles in her guarded manner. “Um.” She pauses, uncertain what to say.

The first officer waits patiently, an earnest expression on his unlovely face.

Ensign Waverly says, “Could you take a look at the results from astrometrics? It seems ‘familiar’.” She stares seriously for a moment before excusing her self to return to her station.

Redra examines the results and nods to her before approaching the captain and having a quiet word with him. He points to the chart several times, but the Ensign can’t quite make out what they’re saying.

The yellow shirted Ensign seems very uncomfortable, and though she returns to her station she seems vexed and distracted.

Ensign Waverly reports as the Providence enters the system: “I’m having some trouble eliminating the gravimetric interference, I have two ships on sensors, one is a Romulan Scout, the other indicates, ...” she pauses. “Starfleet vessel, though it’s unrecognized by the computer.”

The Providence drops out of warp in the Kabrel system, the twin suns dimmed by the white seething expanse of the anomaly ahead, now well within sensor range.

The Captain turns to tactical with an incredulous look. “What do you mean, unrecognized?”

Ensign Waverly lowers her eyes, makes a feeble attempt to be looking at her console intently. “They’re using a Starfleet registry, but it does not appear to be a valid one, captain.”

Maxwell frowns, “Put it on the viewer, and hail them.” The viewscreen displays an image of the dual hull of a crippled Oberth-class starship. One of its nacelles is dead, and it drifts slowly toward the edge of the anomaly. Its registry reads NCC1621 U.S.S. Cleveland.

Erin holds her head, feeling faint. She glances over at Commander Redra, to make sure she’s not going crazy.

Keilani hails, and also tries to calculate how long it will take for the drifting ship to intersect with the anomaly.

The first officer looks up at the screen. “I see what Ensign Waverly means; that registry doesn’t belong to that that ship, I’m quite certain.”

Maxwell glances at him and nods, “Well, let’s see what they have to say for themselves.”

When they finally respond to hails the face on the screen is almost impossible to make out through the static. ”...ere damage, we are …ling into the anomaly. ...quire assistance, possible …uation.”

“This is Captain Arthur Maxwell of the Federation Science Vessel Providence. Please identify yourselves.”

”...ermit us to beam over an engineer. There isn’t much time, whoever you are please help us.”

Keilani quietly adds, “At its current bearing and speed, the ‘Cleveland’ will come in contact with the anomaly in approximately one standard hour, Captain.”

Ensign Waverly tries to keep an eye on the romulan scout, but is distracted significantly with analyzing the spacial rifts that bear her familial name.

Maxwell scowls. “It seems questions will have to wait. Lt Commander, continue to study the anomaly. You three proceed to transporter room one and stand by to greet our guests, I’ll see if I can get any more out of them through this damnable interference. And don’t let them out of your sight, we have no idea who these people are, but they certainly aren’t ours.”

Keilani says, “Captain, could we use a tractor beam to adjust their heading to a safer course?”

“If we can safely move within tractor range, yes, but we need more information before risking the ship. You have your orders,” says the captain.

Keilani says, “Yes, sir.”

T’Rell stands. “Captain, I suggest having a security team standing by when they beam over.”

Waverly nods and reluctantly leaves her console behind. She makes sure her phaser is on her hip and powered and heads to the turbo lift with the others.

A security detail under Ensign Waverly’s command is waiting for the three Ensigns in the transporter room. Ten or fifteen minutes pass before the order comes down to the bridge to stand by to receive the visitors. The transporter chief has some difficulty getting the signal across, and the three figures waver on the transporter pad for some time.

Ensign Waverly explains to the two other Ensigns while they wait. “I served aboard the NCC1621 with Commander Redra. The U.S.S. Esper was destroyed by a particle fountain. Commander Redra—he saved a lot of lives that day.”

Keilani’s eyes widen in comprehension. “So that’s how you know the identification is incorrect.”

The blue energy of the transporter coalesces into solid form, and Ensign Waverly finds herself staring into her own blue and brown eyes. Standing on the pad is a second Waverly, and a second T’Rell, and a second Keilani, although this one at least is different – she has a scar on her cheek. The new Keilani immediately draws her phaser and levels it at her counterpart, “Is this some kind of a Romulan trick?!” she demands, a look in her eyes like a cornered animal.

Keilani says, “What the…”

Ensign Waverly steps forward, half in front of Keilani and puts her hand on the hilt of her phaser while holding her hands to the side to caution her security detail.

Keilani does /not/ grab for her phaser. That’s Security’s job.

The second Waverly puts her hand on Keilani’s forearm. “Stand down, Lieutenant. Whoever they are, these people are the only help we’ve got. And think about it, if they were Romulans, would this be the best disguise they could choose?”

Waverly is stunned by the appearance of the other crew, and hopes that by not unleashing her security hounds on the others they might be comforted. “Lower your weapon please. We’re as confused as you are.”

Keilani moves her hands slowly. “This is a tricorder. You have tricorders, right? Not a weapon.” As long as no one looks likely to fire, she’ll scan the newcomers.

The new Waverly is in blue, while T’Rell and Keilani wear gold. T’Rell is an Engisn, but the other two have Lieutenant rank pips.

Ensign Waverly makes sure she’s in the path of the wielded phaser as long as it’s held up.

You page, “They seem to be very like you. Not exact copies, but both girls are genetically identical to their counterparts. T’Rell is a little different though.” to Keilani

Keilani says, “Life signs are consistent with their appearances… They’re us, but they’re not us.” Her attention turns to her not-quite-double. “Also, it looks like you’ve been seeing some rough times.. What’s going on over there? What happened to your ship?”

Keilani looks wary, then sighs. “We were investigating a secret Romulan base in the Kabrel system, just within the neutral zone. We found they were building a fleet there, and the picket attacked us. They were using an unstable AEGIS device. At first it seemed to work – they vanished, we spent an hour trying to track them, then this happened, space just tore open.”

Keilani says, “Did you come through the anomaly?” She looks at the other two. “Astrophysics isn’t really my specialty, but I suppose that might explain it…”

Ensign Waverly glances over to T’Rell and asks if he’ll inform the bridge of the situation. Erin’s mind is foggy at the concepts and words being thrown around.

Erin’s double says, “I can only guess that the failure of their device induced a sympathetic resonance in our AEGIS shield generator. If the tear travelled directly between the two devices in four dimensions, that could explain why we’re at the edge and they’re at the center.”

T’Rell’s twin adds curtly, “There, we’ve told you what we know. How did you come to be here? Who are you?”

T’Rell calls the bridge. “The crew from the Cleveland appear to be duplicates of ourselves and claim that ”<relay>

Ensign Waverly (Erin #1) puts a hand to her head, feeling frail and faint. “You have working AEGIS?” She shakes her head, trying to clear it. “We followed the distress signal of a Bolian Civilian ship, after giving them repairs we came to investigate the Waverly Effect in the system.”

Waverly-B looks sort of embarassed. Keilani-B says, “Of course we have AEGIS, it’s a key military technology. Without it we’d have been overrun by the Romulans after the end of the Dominion War.”

Keilani says, “Our technology and situation is apparently slightly different to yours. How can we assist you?”

Waverly-B says, “That’s what I’m here to find out. If we can use your sensor arrays we can study the anomaly from the outside. It’s playing havoc with our systems on the Cleveland.”

Waverly-A winces and looks at Waverly-B almost enviously. “Certainly, I’m sure the Captain would like to meet you as well. Come with us and we can see about those sensors.”

T’Rell says, “Shouldn’t we begin by stabilizing the Cleveland’s course?”

Keilani says, “That may be the course they want to take, back home. Ensign Waverly, if you’ll escort our guests, I’ll fetch a PADD with the sensor readings we’ve taken so far…”

Waverly-A smiles her guarded, careful, smile and gestures for the three ‘guests’ to come with her.

Soon, in Astrometrics, the Captain folds his hands behind his back and looks up at the screen. Ensign Keilani is at the main console, displaying the data from Waverly-B’s pad, as the latter explains. ”...and the rift disrupts both Warp fields and Waverly fields. We can’t escape, and you can’t bring the Providence in close.”

“I see,” says Maxwell. “I want some other options, everyone.”

T’Rell-B speaks first, “We could beam the remaining crew off the Cleveland, and destroy it.”

T’Rell says, “How many crewmembers remain on the Cleveland?”

“Sixty-four,” says T’Rell-B.

Keilani says, “That would leave all of you trapped here, wouldn’t it?”

“Could the Cleveland be maintaining the fissure?” asks Maxwell.

“Unknown, sir,” says Erin-B. “It’s possible. But our home dimension may be on the other side of that rift. Ensign Keilani is right, if we could just get some readings from deeper within the fissure we might be able to find a way to pass through it.”

T’Rell inquires of Waverly-B, “What is the function of an AEGIS device?”

Waverly-A suggests, “I don’t-I can’t claim to know much about the process, but my father, spoke of keys used to traverse the subspace maze. If you could identify the key used by the Romulans, could you combine it with your key to unwind the effect?”

Erin-B says, “It’s a kind of shield that removes a ship from normal space entirely. A ship under AEGIS is nearly impossible to damage and very hard to detect. I’m surprised you don’t have it.” She listens to her counterpart. “I think you’re onto something there, if we really are in another dimension, we could shut down the field effect on our way back if we had both keys and a working device to undo the damage caused by the Romulan’s faulty one.”

Maxwell turns and gives a hearty grin, “Now we’re getting somewhere. Do you think the Romulans will be willing to share their key, given the circumstances?”

Keilani-B snorts. “I’m sure they’d rather die for their precious empire than risk us getting back to Starfleet with what we know.”

Keilani says, “Is there any way to do it with only one key, then?”

Waverly-B shakes her head, “Erin is right to call it a maze, the interfold layers are extremely complex.”

T’Rell says, “If the rift was produced by the interaction of the two devices, it may be possible to deduce the Romulan key from the intersection of the field that would be produced by the Cleveland’s generator on its own and the rift.”

Erin-A cheers internally at T’Rell’s conclusion, she didn’t want to have to say it.

Waverly-B says, “Yes, but we’d need a complete scan of the rift. We only have about 60% of the information we’d need at this point.”

Keilani says, “How long will it take to scan the rift in sufficient detail?”

Waverly-A says, “Perhaps a series of probes? Like water poured across the grain in a table, if you can calculate the difference between where you expect the water to go, and where it does go, you may be able to deduce their key?”

Waverly-B nods, “If you can launch probes into the interior, we could scan it and begin the calculations.”

Maxwell says, “Make it so.”

Keilani will glance at what her counterpart’s up to out of vague curiosity but isn’t really qualified to double-check their actual rift-related work.

Keilani-B isn’t looking at the consoles, she’s sitting apart and keeping a wary eye on everyone in the room.

Keilani speaks to her counterpart quietly. “So, um… your war’s not going so well?”

T’Rell will be looking over their shoulders at the data from the rift.

Keilani-B says, “My war? We’re not at war with the Romulans – yet. It’s only a matter of time. They’re no different from the Cardassians. Now that, that was my war.”

Keilani says, “It’s just… The tricorder says you’ve been injured a lot, so I thought you must have been in battles recently.”

Keilani-B says, “Those are old wounds. During the occupation I spent three days pinned under a support after the Cardassians bombed our base in the mountains. I would have died of thirst if another cell hadn’t found me and dug me out. We weren’t all so lucky.”

Keilani blinks. “You grew up on Bajor?”

“Of course, my family moved to Gani province two generations ago. And you didn’t? That would explain this,” Keilani-B says, tracing the non-existent scar on her counterpart’s cheek.

Keilani looks embarassed. “No, my family lived on a Federation colony.”

Erin sits in the mess hall, nursing her drink and staring out at the seething expanse beyond the windows. Over the comm the Captain speaks, “Attention all stations. We have communicated with the Cleveland and they have informed us they are about to commence a partial decoupling of the subspace interfold, reducing the size of the rift and and allowing them to repair and safely beam their crewmen back aboard before they attempt to return to their own dimension. We are going to Yellow alert as a precaution, please stand by.”

Erin immediately knows something is wrong. The tiny flare of the Waverly field engaging at the edge of the rift looks just like it did the day of the first test. A moment later the rift swells visibly, rushing toward her out of the field of stars, blotting out the window. The ship shakes and goes to Red Alert, the Captain calls out to brace for impact as the rift expands precipitously, threatening to engulf the Providence.

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Pickman

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