And now, for the final Act of the pilot's first part, Act V.
I will start posting the second episode, once people have had a chance to catch up.
"Warp coil cycle complete," announced Petra. "Nebula baseline warp procedure loaded and engaged. Helm, zero mark zero-nine-zero."
Aspinall replied, "Course laid in, Lieutenant."
"Thank you. Captain, we're going to field saturate the warp engines for-"
"Sir, the navigational deflector has gone to one-hundred-fifty percent of normal," reported Nieves suddenly.
"Confirmed," said Ariel. "Forward sensors are detecting a large tachyon surge approximately one thousand kilometers off the bow."
"Petra?" asked Leone.
"It's not part of the program, Captain. I don't know why the deflector would be-"
Ariel called, "A quantum field is forming, Captain."
A large, blue-green field shifted in and out of visual range, like a ripple against a very dark pond.
"Shut down the navigational deflector," ordered Leone.
Petra entered in a quick set of commands from her station, but the console would not let her have her way. "The shutdown command is not being accepted by the control computer, Captain."
"Then send someone down there and pull the damned plug!"
"A rift is forming, sir. I'm reading quantum-level manipulation of the space-time continuum through the field," said Ariel in a worried tone. "Gravimetric forces are starting to pull us in."
"Helm, back us off, full impulse," said Leone, reseating herself in the center seat.
"Full reverse, aye, sir."
"No effect," said Petra. "We're not moving away from it."
"Distance to the event horizon?"
"Nine hundred kilometers. Eight-fifty," corrected Ariel. "Damn, it's getting stronger. Seven hundred."
"Petra, can we go to warp?"
"We need to veer the bow off so we can point the ship away from the rift."
"Helm, hard starboard."
"Sir, the helm is not responding."
"Three hundred kilometers, Captain."
"Red alert. Shields, Wilson."
"Shields are up."
"Two hundred. One hundred."
Leone called to the ship's intercom, "All hands, brace for impact!"
---- Scene Change ----
The wail of the red alert klaxon could barely be heard over the trembling of the ship's hull under her feet. The comfortable chair she sat in carried those vibrations and massaged her back, but she had no time to enjoy it. The blue-green inferno on the main viewscreen looked like a long tunnel for as far as she could see.
"Mister Aspinall, reverse thrust!" she ordered, over the din.
Aspinall turned his head to call back, "Helm is unresponsive, Captain." He tapped in a few more commands, but the console rewarded him with a negative response. "Braking thrusters are offline!"
"Damage reports coming in sections one through thirteen, decks six through twelve!" shouted Ariel.
Nieves added, "I've lost weapons, and the shield emitters are offline!"
"Structural integrity field at seventy percent and falling."
"Damn it," Leone spat. Her right hand balled up into a fist, and she pounded it against the armrest in frustration. "Petra, divert auxiliary power to the structural integrity and inertial dampening fields!"
"Aye, sir!" said Petra. "Aux power engaged!"
The result was immediate. The vibration softened considerably and the background noise level dropped enough to allow the red alert siren to be heard once more.
From her station, Ariel nodded. "IDF stabilized. The SIF is holding steady at sixty-seven percent, but I don't know for how long."
"Sensor pod is offline, I'm switching to the lateral array," reported Nieves. The viewscreen flickered as he switched the inputs. A few moments later there was nothing but the inoperative holographic display diodes behind the clear screen, and he added, "Sorry, sir, we lost the lateral sensors, too."
The ship still strained under the power of whatever it was they were caught inside of. She continued to eye the viewscreen, hoping that outside of her ship, the end of the tunnel was coming soon.
Suddenly, the hull was calm. She didn't have to wait for Ariel to tell her, she knew they were out of whatever it was they were in.
"Report," ordered Leone, pushing herself up out of her chair.
"Reinitializing all key systems," said Petra.
Nieves called out, "Sensor pod is back online. I'm activating the viewscreen."
Stars greeted them as the screen came online. A nebula in the distance shimmered and danced before the bridge. In the background, various systems came back online that had been unavailable while they were within the anomaly.
Leone turned to look at Petra from behind the horseshoe rail. "Petra, what happened? Why did the navigational deflector create that quantum anomaly?"
Before she could answer, Nieves reported, "Captain, there's a vessel on approach at high speed."
Leone returned her attention to the viewscreen, trying to see if the vessel was visible. "Yellow alert. Are our shields online?"
Nieves shook his head. "Negative, sir."
"Sir, I'm trying to reinitialize the emitters," said Petra quickly.
"We're being hailed."
The viewscreen blinked and an angry-looking male face greeted them. "Identify yourselves."
Leone stepped forward and replied, "My name is Captain Krystine Leone, of the Federation starship Farragut. We mean you no harm."
"You have penetrated deep into the core of Tristnor Hegemony territory. Your vessel is forfeit and your crew is now the property of this ship. Hold your position and prepare for boarding!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Cue dramatic music, eh? Damn the Torpedoes, Part II's teaser will go up later today.
Thanks so much for reading, and I look forward to your comments and/or questions.