Captain Amanda Hunter absently touched the new holograph of her and Timothy Saenz together at Hidger Beach–taken just a few hours before the recall notice was issued by Starfleet Command.
This was what she was missing the most in life. Some reason to live. And love again.
And even though their brief rendezvous made a distinct impression on the two of them, the woman saw it as a new thread being weaved into the stream of life.
The pain she felt over losing Brian was still there–in her heart–but being with Timothy took some of that away and replaced it with something else.
The door to her quarters suite chimed a couple of times, and the woman went to answer it with a light jaunt in her step.
“Coming.” She answered with brisk authority–thinking it was Councilor Anna Graves wanting to go over her latest counseling session results from the previous week.
But to her surprise, it was her First Officer, Lieutenant-Commander Trevor Rawlins.
“What time is it?” She interjected suddenly.
The other man was surprised by the straightforward question.
“Um…a little after nine in the evening. I just wanted to go over some of the lab results that we found with those sensor scans taken from the Hawkings Array in the Glinvez Sector.”
Amanda gave him an owlish look. “Trevor…I thought we already went over this with a fine tooth comb at the briefing earlier?”
“We did. Then some of the boys in Stellar Cartography and the Quantum Physics Lab got a hold of the sensor scans and did a number on them using the Boer-Hanz angle.”
“The Boer-Hanz Replication–isn’t that just a theory at present?” Amanda asked, still blocking the doorway with her presence.
“Could be. Could not be. Depends on how you look at it.” The other man answered cryptically. Then he peered behind her shoulder.
“Do you mind if I come in? It’s a lot warmer in your quarters than it is out here in the corridor.”
Amanda laughed lightly. “You just want to see if I brought you back any English nut brownies from my stay at Starbase 721.”
The man paused.
“Is it that obvious?”
Amanda smiled broadly. “I’ve known you for how many years now? And you still have to ask me that question?”
“Um…yes?” Trevor answered shamelessly.
Amanda graciously stepped aside and let her First Officer have access to her quarters.
“There’s a plate of them on the dining room table–next to my book shelf of rare finds.”
“More like family heirlooms.” Trevor fired back good naturedly.
Amanda stood there in shock for a second as her Number One brushed past her.
“They are not…!” She fired back.
“A rare first edition copy of Moby Dick that you had hauled all the way from the Lunar Seven storage facility at Lake Armstrong?” Trevor’s voice carried back from somewhere in her suite.
Amanda quickly followed him and found him daintily sampling some of her friend’s world class English nut brownies.
“That’s not a family heirloom!”
“That’s not what you said six years ago during a class reunion at Starbase Unity.” Trevor responded through an approving mouthful.
“Hmm…these are actually quite good. Cheryl hasn’t lost her touch yet.”
“And she wouldn’t.” Amanda answered peevishly–still raw from his earlier comment. “Trevor…a lot of what I’ve spent collecting was from my own personal stores back on Earth–before I joined Starfleet. I was a collector of rare antiquities and had my own business setup in Piedmont, California.”
“Isn’t it the same Piedmont that’s surrounded by the city of Oakland?”
“It was. But it’s grown a lot since then.”
“So what made you decide to join Starfleet?”
“The attack by the Dominion on San Francisco. It hit pretty close to home and Starfleet needed all the help it could get. So I turned over the shop to my folks and signed up.” Amanda said, before taking a seat at the table across from him. She gestured to the things he had carried with him.
“Hand them over, mister. That’s an order.”
Her First Officer did so without a hint of protest as he continued to stuff his face with some really decadent English nut brownies.
“God, I think Cheryl really outdid herself this time around. I can’t remember tasting such elegance before.”
“I’m glad. I’ll tell her you said so in my latest comm transmission before heading for bed.”
“Speaking of which…I heard that you finally found someone in your life again.”
Amanda paused for a second and then nodded. “I have. At least, that’s the hope anyways.”
“I think it’s a good change for you, Amanda. You’ve been without companionship for a long time. Longer than I’ve been First Officer on board the Scinfaxi.”
“Yes, you’ve been there to toss me the occasional reminder every time some cute guy crosses my path.”
Trevor pulled out one of his personal PADDs from a hip pocket compartment and turned it on. Cycling through some personal notes of his, he nodded.
“Yep. Fourteen so far in the last two years alone. Seems a shame like the last one that decided to call upon your services as shuttle transport.”
The other woman blushed a bit. “Greg Kirkland? The ambassador’s aide to Q‘rin?”
“Yeah. That’s the guy. Seemed very interested in you for some reason. But Ambassador Q’rin had to remind him not to be flirting with the guests.”
Amanda nodded distractedly. “I remember. He had this unusually killer smile and soft, enchanting eyes that I’ve never seen in a guy before. I thought I was looking into my own soul for a second.”
“That’s what being attracted to people means, Amanda. It also shows that you’re not quite yet dead yet either.”
“But you will be if you keep making remarks like that, buster.” Amanda warned blithely. But Trevor took things in stride, while waiting on his commanding officer’s report on the recently finished scans.
Amanda sighed after a couple of minutes and put the PADD down.
“These readings make no damned sense.” She declared right then and there. “Talks of time and anti-time and what are perceived as alternate realities…? What did the sensor array pick up, Commander?”
“Nothing good, I assure you.” The man stated firmly. “Starfleet doesn’t want another Bridgeman’s Paradox.”
“Is that what they are calling what happened at the Romulan star system?”
“Not on the official level, no. But some back channel chatter kind of pointed to that realm of possibility.”
“But what does the Hobart explosion have to do with this?” Amanda asked, pointing at the PADD in question.
“It’s only theoretical, Captain, but I think we are looking at another Rosenberg Temporal Conflux. Or at least, in the earliest stages of one.”
“But there hasn’t been one since the destruction of the Romulan Star Empire. There were conflicting temporal eddies all over the place after that happened.”
“And since then…more than a dozen or so ‘incidences’ where smaller confluxes popped up and vessels started to emerge.”
“Vessels that belonged to a much earlier time of Starfleet exploration.” Amanda reminded him.
“Yes. But not of this reality as far as we can determine. What Section 31 and the Department of Temporal Investigations determined.”
Amanda grew silent then. “So what we are dealing with here, Trevor is another possible incursion from that universe.”
“Or another alternate reality that may have been part of a grand Multiverse–each one bleeding off into the other.”
The woman nodded at that point. “Which means…we have to shut it down before it becomes a problem.”
“That’s a big if, Captain. We may not be able to shut it down.” Her First Officer told her.
Trevor reached over to rescue the PADD from her hands and poked around on the thing for the next minute or so before he nodded triumphantly.
“Ah. There we go. The Christen Theorem.”
“Sorry. More lab talk from a former physics monkey before he went the command route.” Trevor chuckled. “The Christen Theorem was a postulate belonging to the late Arthur Christen who said that the bridge between all realities–parallel or not–was actually an artificial construct between a multitude of universes that used to hinge on the old mycelium network the old USS Discovery once used to transport itself across the gulfs of both time and space. But he theorized that an older, much more powerful construct was at work here that could allow portals of varying size and degree to stay open for much longer periods of time.”
Amanda rubbed her forehead for a moment, eyes closed at the same time.
“Now I know why I get these migraines.” She complained.
“Sorry. But there’s no other way to explain the theory. It’s seeped into the conscience of the known universe on a quantum and fundamental level.”
“Is there a shorter version that I can understand at least? Something I can go on and so can Starfleet Command?”
“Could be.” Trevor offered up sympathetically. Then he spied the last two brownies on the plate in front of him and put both on two fresh serving plates.
“Think of it this way, Amanda: Imagine two stellar bodies occupying the same place at the same time, but operating on completely different harmonic frequencies. Now, in theory, these two bodies couldn’t possibly exist within our own scientific understanding and framework because they would be in violation of so many physical and natural laws of the known universe.”
“Is that like the, um…Dickson Bridge Principle?”
Trevor nodded. “It’s close to that, but not quite. What we’re dealing with here is two bodies occupying the same space/time area. Such a conflux–as it were–would be in violation of every known law. But somehow…in this configuration…they are equally set and equally balanced so that the opposing forces would be nullified at the central core.”
“Now, suppose, technology was built to harness this new phenomenon and thus channeled directly into the fabric of both the subspace domain and time and space as well?”
“Is that what happened with the Hobart Star? Was because someone harnessed technology and such and created a doorway into an alternate reality which differed from our own?”
“Yes, and no. The red matter used to implode the star’s explosion created a vast network of singularities which rippled across the space/time continuum–our reality and theirs. But it looks like someone from the other side has managed to find a way to capitalize on those findings and research and create a new portal into our reality from theirs–using the same affecting principle.”
“But why?” Amanda wanted to know.
Trevor shook his head before he picked up one of the two brownies and began eating it thoughtfully.
“I don’t know. And nobody down at the labs knows either. But they do know that within the next 72 hours, that portal will stabilize and whatever is on the other end will come out. And that is when we’re going to have to be ready.”
“Ready for what?”