Chapter Three (continued)
The red alert klaxons were sounding when Limis stepped onto the bridge. She stared at the viewscreen in disbelief as she sauntered towards the center of the bridge. A spatial anomaly in the shape of a funnel filled the screen, and it was getting larger, indicating that the Lambda Paz
was being pulled into it.
“What the hell is that thing?” Limis asked of Kozar, who was listening to status reports from all stations.
“Some kind of subspace instability that just appeared right on top of us,” Kozar explained while handing off a padd to a passing male officer.
“Back us off, helm,” Limis ordered Lieutenant Sara Carson.
Q appeared in a flash behind the two command chairs with his arms across his chest. “‘Back us off, helm’?” he mocked. “Like they haven’t tried that already?”
“We’ve been trying with impulse engines at full power,” Sara responded. “We’re still being sucked into some kind of subspace funnel.”
“Told you,” Q muttered, to which no one on the bridge responded.
“Bridge to engineering,” Limis said, making sure not to look in Q’s direction. “Throw everything you can into warp engines.”
“I can give you warp nine in thirty-six seconds,”
sh’Aqba replied over the comm, “but we’re still being pulled at an even faster acceleration curve.”
Limis sighed, sensing that her ship was doomed. After all the confrontations with the Dominion, the Lambda Paz
was about to be pulled apart by subspace instability. She was grasping at straws, but felt there was no other choice when she paced towards Q. “Q, you can put a stop to this,” she snapped.
“Oh, you’re asking for my help so fast?” Q replied with a look of disingenuous concern. “That’s a new record. Give me one good reason why I should.”
“Because if we are destroyed here…”
“Don’t worry,” Q interrupted. “I’m not going to let your ship be destroyed. I’m simply waiting to see if your crew can move beyond stating the obvious.”
Limis flashed an angry stare at him, as that kind of talk was all too familiar.
Kozar, meanwhile, was conferring with Lieutenant Willis Huckaby at ops about other ways to escape the subspace funnel’s grasp. “What if we tried reconfiguring the geometry of the warp field?” he asked.
“There could be an infinite number of possibilities,” Huckaby replied.
“Well, we have to try something
,” Limis assured the young man. “Engineering, do you copy?”
“If I had a slip of latinum for every time I heard that,” Q remarked with a roll of his eyes.
sh’Aqba replied. “We may have just found the right configuration.”
“We’re moving off,” Carson reported after looking up from one of her helm readouts.
The sense of triumph throughout the bridge quickly abated when the deck rocked again.
“Something is emerging from the funnel,” Morrison reported from the tactical station.
“Load all weapons system,” Limis barked. “Route emergency power to shields.”
A large structure at least ten times larger than the Lambda Paz
emerged from the funnel. It was largely cylindrical in shape and wider in the center. Four spires jutted out from the center. And red lights flashed at the top and bottom tips.
Most of the bridge crew stared at the viewscreen in awed silence, waiting to see what this mysterious structure would do.
“It’s not making any threatening moves,” Morrison deadpanned. “So far.” But he knew that could change at any moment.
“And it’s putting out graviton energy equal to that of two G-type stars,” Huckaby added.
“Good thing we were flooding all that power into the engines,” Carson chimed in. “Or it’d be holding us in its gravity well.”
“This is only the beginning, ladies and gentlemen,” Q warned, pointing at the viewscreen.
“Q, stop this foolishness,” Limis demanded, “and tell us what the hell is going on!”
“What makes you think I’m either inclined or capable?” Q rhetorically asked. “Like I said, this is only the beginning.” Following those cryptic words, he disappeared in a flash.
Limis shook her head and rolled her eyes. She took a quick glance at the viewscreen, but before she could address any of her officers, she was surrounded in a flash of light.
Limis was suddenly in the capital city of Bajor. Crowds of people walked along the streets, completely oblivious to a woman in a Starfleet uniform. The chirps of personal transport shuttles flying by were intermittently heard above. Limis moved herself out of the way of a streetcar hovering just a few inches off the ground as it passed even while still getting sense she was standing outside of time.
The shadow of a humanoid slowly approached her, as if this person was aware of her presence. With a quick turn of her head, Limis saw Grabowski standing on her right. “Look up there,” he said while staring ahead. “For this brief moment outside of time, B’hava’el
burns hot in space… until now.”
Up in the sky, the yellow sun suddenly shrunk and sent out ripples closer and closer to planet. Those ripples coursed across Bajor, vaporizing everything in their path. Where there was once a city bustling with activity, there was now a gray, drab, dead world. Limis and Grabowski were still standing on this lifeless rock even though nothing could have survived the irradiation of the surface.
Limis simply gazed at the now black sky, her face numb, not sure what to make of what had just occurred. Was this is only a possible future or the inevitable future? And if the former, what could be done to stop it? Though even if Grabowski told her that this future could not be avoided, she would not sit idly by and allow the destruction of Bajor in this manner.
“That structure you just encountered,” Grabowski stated with Vulcan-like stoicism, “is the first of many interstellar beacons dispersed throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. They’ve been burrowing in subspace for thousands of years, and all centrally controlled by the Dyson Sphere you encountered one year ago in your time. And if those all of those relays are released, they’ll be able to black out stars all over the galaxy almost as easily as a starship jumps to warp.”
Limis remained numb and silent for several long moments, not sure how to absorb all she had seen and heard. Her mind went from dreading the possible destruction of Bajor to dreading the difficult task of preventing it. And worst of all, Grabowski seemed ambivalent to the eradication of a quarter of his own ancestry. She was baffled as to why she was briefly attracted to him.
“So you can examine other timelines,” she offered. “So surely, you would remember our time together.”
“That should be the least of your concerns right now, Captain,” Grabowski replied with a stern look into her eyes. Pointing at the red giant that was now Bajor’s sun, he said, “You should be worried about preventing this.”
“Hey, I heard you,” Limis snapped. “But what about when I was on Bajor in your century? You don’t remember any of that? But you’re still being penalized for it.”
“That man was not me,” Grabowski cryptically answered.
Limis sighed in disgust. She was about to respond when she was surrounded by another flash of light.
“Captain, are you all right?”
She was back on the bridge, and Kozar was standing on her right thinking she had gone catatonic. Limis quickly took in her surroundings and saw Kozar standing in front of her. “I’m fine,” she assured her first officer. “Lieutenant Carson, set a course for the Dyson Sphere. Warp nine.”
Sara quickly acknowledged the order while Limis back down in her chair, still rattled by the apocalyptic imagery she had just witnessed.