“Captain,” Sam’s voice broke through Ezri’s relaxing mood causing her to reach for her comm badge where she’d placed it on the desk.
“Ezri here,” Ezri replied with a mock glare at the offending device.
“We are approaching the wormhole captain; I thought you would like to know.” Sam reported efficiently.
“Thank you, we’ll be there shortly.” Ezri smiled before deactivating the comm badge with a click. “We should finish up.” She said, picking up her plate from the ready room desk and depositing it back in the replicator. Their dinners had become a regular thing now, a time for them to talk and get to know each other again in a casual setting, without the rumour mill of the ship talking around them in the ship’s bar.
“Yes, we should.” Julian agreed with her as he finished off the glass of red wine, it was only replicated synthahol but it was the best they could do to go with the Betazoid dish they had replicated for tonight’s meal. “I’ll be glad when we’re home you know, not that I haven’t enjoyed this trip but...”
“I know what you mean,” Ezri nodded as she started tidying up the glasses from the meal, ready to head back onto the bridge when the room shook violently, causing both her and Julian to stumble.
Forgoing calling ahead to see what was going on, Ezri quickly darted out of the ready room to the bridge to see exactly what was happening, finishing zipping her uniform up from where she’d undone the top slightly as she ran. Julian obviously had the same idea and was right behind her as they got onto the bridge. “What’s going on?”
“A Borg sphere,” G’fokk snarled out as the ship shook again. “The Borg must have transmitted our course ahead before we escaped.”
“Is there any way to get around them?” Ezri asked as Sam moved out of the Captain’s chair and took his regular position.
“No,” Seven said simply. “They are too close to the entrance of the wormhole.” The ship shook again drawing Seven’s attention to the read out. “Shields are at eighty nine percent and regenerating.”
“Return fire,” Ezri said, glaring at the Borg sphere through the view screen. “We can’t let them get back to the Alpha Quadrant.” The last battle of Acamar was still fresh in her mind, with the deaths of so many crewmembers already, the last thing they needed was another assault from the Borg on their already damaged ship.
“They will not get through,” G’Fokk snarled, running the command through the console in front of him and targeting the sphere in front of them. Golden transphasic beams of energy shot out from the Aventine, cleaving into the black and green sphere and causing its shields to flash a bright emerald green in response.
“Nice shooting,” Sam nodded in approval.
“Keep it up,” Ezri said, watching on the view screen as the sphere came around for another pass, the ship shook violently as it unleashed a barrage of emerald phaser cannon bursts along the dorsal section of the ship.
“The Borg shields are regenerating,” Seven reported from the science station. “I am also receiving telemetry of a Cube on intercept course; it will be in firing range in less than ten minutes.”
“Get us into the wormhole,” Ezri said firmly, watching as Lieutenant Commander Helkara plotted the course quickly and brought them up to full impulse, the ship rocking from another Borg attack as it flew past the Borg sphere.
“We will not make it in time,” Seven announced as she sent the standard proton burst ahead of them to open the wormhole before they arrived.
“What about the slipstream drive?” Sam asked sharply, turning around to face Seven “Can we use it in the wormhole?”
Seven seemed to consider this for a moment. “I am… unsure Commander. The nature of the Bajoran wormhole prevents the formation of warp fields, though the Quantum drive operates on a completely different principal.”
“A simple yes or no Seven,” Ezri said as the ship rocked again as the sphere continued its assault on the rear section of the ship.
“I believe so,” Seven reported back.
“Plot the course,” Ezri stated before activating her comm badge. “Ezri to Mikaela,” Ezri said as she called down to engineering. “We’re going to have to use the slipstream drive to get into the wormhole. I need a focused burst of speed.”
“What? Are you crazy?” Lieutenant Leishman’s voice came back over the comm system.
“It’s either that or deal with the Borg Cube on our tail,” Ezri practically shouted over the commlink.
“Alright alright,” Mikaela replied. “You’re crazy you know that Captain, I have no idea how the quantum drive will react to the wormhole’s version of subspace.”
“We’ll find out,” Ezri said, bracing herself in her chair as she watched the wormhole open ahead of them. “Activate the drive.”
Space seemed to stretch out in front of them for a second before the green and blue tunnel formed around them, sucking them forward and into the Bajoran wormhole.
“Ezri,” Ezri started to come round at Julian’s worried voice as he cradled her head. “Thank god,” He whispered, running a dermal regenerator over her head.
“What happened?” She asked, blinking furiously as she opened her eyes to the bright light the covered the main bridge.
“The quantum drive overloaded,” Seven reported, causing Ezri to turn her head slightly as she pulled herself to a sitting position on the floor. “I believe the quantum warp field reacted adversely with the wormhole.”
“How is everyone?” Ezri asked as she pulled herself up and sat down in the Captain’s chair with Julian’s help.
“There were twenty six fatalities,” Seven reported. “Ensign Daniels and Lieutenant Delahaye, both were in engineering when the quantum field around the warp core collapsed, flooding engineering with chroniton particles, they are being treated by The Doctor currently.”
Ezri just nodded mutely to this. “Can we raise Starfleet?”
“No,” Sam reported as Doctor Bashir continued to run the dermal regenerator over Ezri’s head to heal up the nasty gash that had resulted from her being thrown out of the chair violently when the quantum drive overloaded. “I’ve been trying, no response on any of the usual channels.”
“Where… where are we?” Ezri asked, waving Doctor Bashir away from her head so she could stand up freely.
“I am unsure,” Seven reported. “The wormhole destabilised after the quantum warp field collapsed. Shields are down to thirty two percent and regenerating.”
“Show me,” Ezri stated, moving around so she could see the main view screen. “The Sphere!” She gasped out; the Borg sphere that had been attacking them was now slowly drifting past, showing no signs of power or aggression. The thing that struck her wasn’t the Borg sphere though, but the space the sphere was moving in. It definitely wasn’t normal space of any description, as far as the eye could see were shifting patterns of blacks and reds, moving like some sort of current or tide throughout what they would have normally considered space.
“Sensors are offline,” Seven reported anxiously. “As are weapons, we are defenceless.”
“Let’s hope they’re in a similar boat.” Julian commented as he stared out the view screen at the Borg sphere that was now flickering with intermittent green light.
“What is this place?” Ezri asked, taking in the view that was ahead of them.
“Sensors are coming back online.” Seven said, breathing a sigh of relief as power was slowly restored to the bridge and the normal lighting returned. “Long range sensors are having trouble mapping the current… space, we occupy, I am reading unusually high tachyon bursts as well as several unfamiliar beacons sending out regular pulses of tachyon information,” Seven reported, her fingers flying over the console buttons. “Sensors currently read no stars or planets, nor any type of spatial phenomena within fifteen light-years of our current position.”
“Solar systems don’t just vanish Seven,” Sam said as he moved to take his normal seat, pulling the free standing console over so he could double check the results himself. “Rerun the scans.”
“Astrometric data is coming in now,” Seven said, ignoring the fact that Commander Bowers was second guessing her findings. “Confirming long range sensor data.”
“Then your sensors must be wrong,” Sam said calmly with a frown.
“I do not believe so,” Seven reported. “Wherever we are, this is not normal space, perhaps the same level of subspace that the Bajoran Wormhole uses to transverse to the Gamma Quadrant, Astrometrics are running a full scan of local space now to gather more information.”
“What in god’s name…” Julian breathed out as he watched the black and red tides outside move in a softly hypnotic pattern.
“Captain, I believe I have an explanation,” Seven reported, grabbing everyone’s attention. “Sensors report a drastically different quantum signature to the universe we came from.”
“Are you saying we’re in the mirror universe?” Ezri asked with a frown, remembering all the dealings that Captain Sisko had had with the Mirror Universe and the inhabitants there.
“I am not,” Seven stated. “The quantum signature of the mirror universe has been documented several times by Starfleet; it is different to the universe we now find ourselves in.”
“Another parallel universe?” Doctor Bashir asked with a raised eyebrow. They’d had dealings with the mirror universe several times on Deep Space Nine, but have never dealt with another universe on top of that one.
“It would appear so,” Seven reported. “I believe the combination of the quantum drive and the wormhole must have somehow transported us across dimensions to this reality.”
“Well how do we get back then?” Sam asked, drawing everyone’s attention back to him.
“I am… unsure,” Seven stated calmly. “The quantum drive has been damaged, without examining the damage with Lieutenant Leishman; I will be unable to give a current estimate for repairs. However, astrometrics are not reading any sign of the wormhole in this dimension.”
“That’s not good,” Ezri whispered as she sank back into her chair.
“Power is holding, we do have impulse and warp drive, shields and weapons are coming back online though it will take several hours to return shields and weapons to full capacity.” Seven reported as she ran down the list of damage caused by the explosion of the quantum drive.
“I’m reading a ship approaching off the port side,” G’fokk announced slowly. “It is like nothing I’ve seen before.”
“Confirmed,” Seven stated with a raised eyebrow as she diverted astrometrics to that area of space. “An unusual design indeed.”
“Show me,” Ezri said, standing up from her chair as the view screen shimmered into view displaying the strange ship. It was larger than the Aventine by at least three factors, a shimmering black ship with spikes falling off each side of it. The entire ship itself seemed off somehow, like nothing she’d ever seen before, its entire form spoke of malice and darkness as it turned in space.
“I am unable to perform a full sensor sweep of the unknown ship,” Seven stated as she tapped away at the control panel in front of her. “The ship appears to be of biological design and… curious, I am reading two distinct life signs from the vessel, one of unknown origin, the other is… human.”
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” Sam asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the foreboding vessel on the view screen.
“I have not,” Seven responded after a few seconds. “It’s seems to share several characteristics in common with species eight four seven two. Captain, I am reading a powerful energy build-up within the core of the ship.”
“Get us out of here,” Ezri said automatically, knowing the ship was in no shape to enter combat with an unknown ship, especially one using as advanced technology as biological construction. “Anywhere, we’re not in any position to get into a firefight here.”
“Happy to,” Lieutenant Commander Helkara said with a nod, his fingers dancing over the console in front of him while his eyes stayed glued to the view screen, a little voice in the back of his head told him that black ship would definitely be the thing of nightmares for some time now.
“Neither the Borg Sphere or the unknown ship is following us Captain,” Seven reported after a few moments, the viewscreen having now changed from the view of the unknown ship to the black and red swirls that seemed to be outside at the moment.
“What’s our situation?” Dax asked, looking at Seven in the hope of some good news.
“Transphasic cannons are off line, standard phaser banks are still down to thirty percent firing power, it will not be enough to break through the Borg shields.” Seven announced as she moved from the sensor station to the tactical area of the bridge.
“Is there anyone out there, anything on any of the subspace bands?” Ezri asked as she watched Sam flicking through sensor data on the free standing console next to him.
“Nothing on standard channels,” Sam frowned back. “I’m running through every channel I can think of here, nothing, there’s not even the usual subspace chatter going on.”
“Keep at it,” Ezri said with a frown.
“I’m picking up something faint though,” Sam announced after a few moments. “Could be a ship.”
“Confirmed,” Seven responded from where she was at astrometrics. “One ship on a course approximately seventy four AU from our current heading, life signs…” She paused, causing Dax to look at her with interest. “Life signs are human captain, weak but definitely human.”
“You’re sure?” Dax asked in disbelief,
“She’s right,” Sam agreed after running another scan. “The ship is running on reserve power though, it looks like all the power is being diverted to the engines, including life support.”
“Plot a course,” Dax said firmly. “Get us there as quick as you can.”
“On it,” Lieutenant Commander Helkara nodded.
“I recommend impulse only Captain,” Seven interrupted. “I am reading unusual subspace distortions in the native space here, a warp field could be highly unstable under these conditions.”
“It’ll take us nearly a year at full impulse,” Julian explained, doing the math quickly in his head.
“How risky is warp under these conditions?” Ezri asked, looking to Seven again.
“I shall do what I can Captain,” Seven said with resignation, knowing the look in Captain Dax’ eyes from experience. “I will have to manually regulate the warp field to account for the subspace distortions. I’d recommend the use of low warp only however.”
“Warp two?” Dax asked cautiously.
“Acceptable,” Seven said after a moment, considering the risks to the ship. “I will manually adjust the warp field from here.”
“Ok,” Ezri nodded as she turned to Lieutenant Commander Helkara. “Lock in the course then.” She said before nodding at Seven. “Whenever you’re ready.”