Iota Crucis IV, 2267
As they traveled through the connecting tubes, a flood of Xenarth were heading the opposite direction and towards the domes which had been attacked. There had been other explosions since, spreading through the settlement and apparently closing in on Wesley and his away team from all sides.
But when the commodore looked upwards to find the dome on top of the mountain which allowed entry into the underground lab complex, he was relieved to find that it remained undamaged. However, he was fairly certain that it was only a matter of time until the ensuing violence would reach the lab and the unstable Omega molecule it housed.
Their train reached its destination and the away team, lead by Selphi rushed towards the elevator which took them into the underground complex.
Here the Xenarth were in a flurry of nervous activity. Were before things had looked like an organized, well-oiled machine, now the various scientists and workers were running back and forth with great urgency, stopping every few moments when another explosion rocked the cavern, before quickly carrying on.
Most were too busy or concerned to even notice the aliens had returned. And Wesley didn’t pause on his way to find the main lab. Having recalled the way, he was leading the away team at a brisk and determined pace.
He only slowed once he had found the lab and was once more distracted for a short moment by the bright glowing Omega molecule chamber which had been left exposed and drowned the entire lab into flickering azure colors.
Wesley wasn’t a scientist and he would have lied if he had said that he fully understood how Omega worked, but what he saw in the chamber was great cause for concern nevertheless. Thousand of individual particles seemed to be swirling around each other in a seemingly chaotic pattern and pulsing with barely restrained energy almost as if they wanted to unleash their awesome power at any moment even if it meant their own destruction as well as, most likely, that of the entire planet, the solar system and beyond.
Ketteract was there of course and so was his Xenarth counterpart, Queen Chelra.
Both appeared to be working furiously on various machinery, every so often glancing up at the chamber but otherwise seemingly oblivious to the world around them.
The human scientist looked noticeably thinner and paler than the last time Wesley had seen him just a few days earlier. In fact he looked as if he had aged months in just hours and the commodore had to do a double take to make sure his eyes weren’t deceiving him, trying to convince him that this was in fact the same man who had arrived here with them.
Then he aimed a concerned look at Vincent.
The doctor shook his head. “He’s not well, I told you.”
The lab shook from a nearby explosion and most of the Xenarth paused for a moment, their antennae twitching anxiously and they looked around with concern. Ketteract and Chelra were not among those.
“Isofrequency at point eight terahertz. Point nine terahertz. It’s working, it’s working. I’m reading a measurable slow down in the molecules’ electric charge. They are beginning to harmonize,” Ketteract said, unable to keep the rising excitement he was feeling out of his now raspy voice.
“You were right, Doctor,” said Chelra as she studied the read-outs. “Calibrating the containment field to the molecule’s resonance frequency is stabilizing the particles.”
“Yes, yes,” he said as if it was all a forgone conclusion already. “But it has also accelerate molecular breakdown. We need to adapt the isofrequency at a more rapid pace.”
Wesley glanced towards the Andorian science officer. “What are they doing?”
Zha’Thara needed a few seconds to catch up. She kept her eyes on the molecule chamber were the particles movements were becoming steadily less chaotic before she approached a nearby console to study the readings. “It’s quite brilliant really. They’re using the containment field designed to keep the molecules from interacting with ordinary matter to force them to stabilize permanently.”
“Can it work?”
But Zha’Thara seemed too engrossed with what the displays were telling her to answer the commodore.
Wesley had no time for her inopportune appreciation. He stepped up right behind her. “Commander, can it work or not. I need to know.”
She turned to look at him and then back towards the chamber. “Maybe.”
He shook his head. “Not good enough.”
The Andorian made eye contact. “The theory is sound and the molecules are responding to it but—“
The room shook again and this time some of the ceiling lights blew out. A couple of large cabinets lining the walls toppled over and spilled their content all over the floor.
“But what?” Wesley barked, barely taking notice of the damage that had been done.
Zha’Thara looked around. “But not with this lab taking many more of these hits. This is an extremely precise procedure,” she said and nodded towards the two scientists. “If they make just a small mistake, calibrate the field to the wrong frequency, the molecules will rapidly become unstable and the containment field will fail.”
She didn’t have to put into words what would come after that.
“Can you shut it down?” Kutznetsov said.
She nodded. “I think so. Ketteract hasn’t spend much time over the last few days thinking about contingencies but the Xenarth actually have a backup plan in place which uses an inverse frequency to dissolve the molecules’ interatomic bonds. In short it would wipe them out of existence.”
“Get started on that, Commander,” Wesley said and directed a look at his first officer. “Assist her with whatever she needs. Mtolo, your with me.”
While the Andorian and the Bear went to work, most of the Xenarth far too distracted to realize what they were up to, Wesley and his security chief approached the two lead researchers.
“Isofrequency at one point two terahertz. I am having difficulties maintaining the frequency changes at this pace,” said Chelra as her delicate fingers raced across her computer work station.
“We’re almost there. Keep it up, keep it up. I can see it. I can see it stabilizing. My God, it’s so beautiful.” Ketteract’s eyes were glued onto the containment chamber above as a smile spread over his face.
“Doctor. Doctor Ketteract.”
The man didn’t immediately react to Wesley calling out his name. “We’re almost there. Almost there.”
“Ketteract,” Wesley said again, his voice loud enough to catch everyone’s attention even over the now seemingly constant rumble coming form somewhere outside which seemed to indicate a steady bombardment.
“Commodore,” he said and when he turned to look at him it was as if seeing him for the first time. “I didn’t know you were here. Well, your timing couldn’t be more perfect. You’re just in time to bear witness to history in the making.”
“Not today, I’m afraid. I need you to shut this down. Now.”
His smile widened as if he had just heard a terrific joke. “You can’t be serious. We are moments away from fully stabilizing Omega and giving the galaxy the most powerful energy source since the Big Bang.”
“Either that or you’ll cause another one. I cannot allow you to take that chance. Shut it down.”
Realizing that this wasn’t a joke, Ketteract’s face twisted into anger and indignation. “I refuse. You won’t allow history to be made? I laugh at your small-minded ignorance, Commodore. I pity your fear and your limited imagination. Where you an see only cynicism and destruction, I see the beginning of a new era for—“
“Enough,” Wesley said, unwilling to be delayed by the man’s self-righteous tirade not to mention growing tired of the man’s droning voice. He unclipped his phaser and Mtolo quickly followed suit. “You will stand down.”
Ketteract’s frown turned into a sarcastic laugh. “I should have expected something like this from you. You are a solider and a brute, Commodore, willing to use violence to suppress new idea.”
“My God, man, listen to yourself,” said Vincent who had now joined Wesley and Mtolo. “You’re trying to play God and the people willing to use violence against you are the very same who have invited us here. Open your eyes, we’re in the middle of a civil war.”
As if to emphasize his words, the lab was once again gripped by a shockwave of an explosion nearby. Judging by its intensity which knocked out the remaining lights and many of the work stations, Wesley guessed that they had hit the facility directly.
The containment field, thankfully, was still holding for the moment.
“I cannot allow you to disrupt our progress,” said the Scholar Queen and stood next to Ketteract, her lower arms determinedly crossing in front of her body in a sign of defiance.
“I do not need your approval,” said Wesley. “Commander, how are we doing?”
Zha’Thara looked up from her console for just a brief moment. “Almost ready, sir. I have successfully calibrated the inverse frequency and we are ready to apply it to the containment chamber.”
“No, you cannot do this,” Ketteract cried and moved towards the Andorian. He was stopped in his tracks by the burly first officer who stood in-between them with his phaser pointed at the scientist.
“I’m not going to lie. I’ve been wanting to shoot you from the moment we’ve met,” he said with a smirk. “Please give me an excuse.”
“Commander, initiate the process,” Wesley said.
“You will do no such thing.”
The Xenarth streaming into the lab moved faster than Wesley would have expected them to. Half a dozen armed soldiers quickly surrounded him and his away team, pointing their weapons straight at their heads.
The soldiers wore the insignia of the Cleric caste and wasted no time to push Zha’Thara away from the console before relieving the away team of their phasers.
Queen Ergia, the Supreme of the Xenarth Colony had been just a step behind her soldiers. “Expect to be punished severely for this betrayal, Commodore,” she said and then directed her large compound eyes towards her fellow queen. “And I am disappointed in you, Selphi. You have turned against your own people. A transgression I will not soon forget.”
“Half your people have risen up against you, my Queen,” said Selphi who had stood by quietly while Wesley and company had made their move against Ketteract and the Omega molecule. “They are attacking us while we speak and all of this because of the unnatural power we are trying to unleash here. I beseech you, do the right thing and end this while we have the chance.”
The Supreme considered Selphi for a moment, then let her glance wander across the lab, taking in the now herded Starfleet officers, Ketteract and the Scholar Queen before finally finding the containment chamber and the eagerly pulsing particles within.
“I shall pray that the All-Mother will show forgiveness in the light of your betrayal, Selphi, because I shall offer none,” she said and focused on Ketteract. “Quickly, my friend. Finish what you have started. Open the gate to Xendaru and let us all bask in the unending bliss of the God-Queen.”
“Listen to me, Ketteract, don’t do this,” said Wesley. “You are a scientist. You know that this is no longer a controlled environment. This is a warzone. One mistake, one more errant explosion and you doom us all. Don’t try to—“ he was cut off harshly when one of the guards struck him across the head with his weapon, throwing him to the floor.
Vincent was at this side momentarily. “I wouldn’t recommend antagonizing them,” he said as he used his medical sensors to check his now bleeding forehead. “Your skull isn’t thick enough to take many blows like that.”
“Trying to save the universe here, Doctor. That’s worth a broken skull or two.”
But it didn’t appear to matter much. Ketteract stared at the downed Starfleet captain for a moment before quickly making up his mind again and turning back to his workstation. “Chelra, quickly, re-modulate the containment field. We can still stabilize them if we move fast enough.”
The Scholar Queen didn’t hesitate and promptly stepped back to her station. “Containment field at one point three terahertz.”
Another explosion, this one seemingly form somewhere inside the underground facility, caused most of the anxious Xenarth to look towards the doors leading to the lab.
Queen Ergia ignored it completely. “Work fast, my children, work fast. The heretics stand by the gates but the All-Mother shall protect us all as our mission is just and our success preordained.”
“God, how I hate religious fanatics,” said Vincent as he cleaned up Wesley’s wound. “They’re as obsessed with their faith as they are with hearing their own voice.”
But the Commodore was not paying it any attention. Instead he turned to his own people. “We have to make a move,” he whispered urgently, hoping the guards wouldn’t notice. “As soon as we get another one of those explosions, I want you to engage. Commander, you the doctor and Nealo create a distraction. Talana you try and get back to that control station to activate that pulse. I’ll go after Ketteract.”
There were quick nods all around.
“We’re losing power to the primary reactor. It must have been damaged. I cannot keep up the frequency shifts and the containment field is beginning to fluctuate,” cried Chelra, her voice taking on a high-pitched squeak.
“Compensate, compensate. Switch to auxiliary,” Ketteract barked, now feverishly working on his own station.
In the chamber above the movements of the particles appeared to have sped up. The previously established order was turning back into chaos, the steady pulses were turning into angry flashes.
“Can’t you see, you cannot stabilize it anymore. Shut it down before it’s too late,” Wesley shouted.
“My Queen, he speaks the truth,” Selphi said, trying to close in on the Supreme but quickly apprehended by her personal guard. She struggled with them for a moment. “Listen to them and take action before it is too late. Before you become the Supreme to oversee the end of our people.”
“Faith,” she said. “You must have faith. The All-Mother awaits.” But she didn’t sound quite as convinced as she had just moments before as it became more and more difficult to argue with the visual evidence before her very eyes. She took a step towards the scientists. “How close are we? When will it be done?”
But neither Ketteract nor Chelra had the time to provide a response.
“Isofrequency now at point nine terahertz. We are beginning to lose containment. Auxiliary power is not sufficient to compensate.”
“It will be. It has to be or we’ll—“ Ketteract couldn’t even say it as he looked up to see the Omega molecules above him now seemingly laughing in his face for his pathetic attempts to try and rein them in and make them dance according to his beat. They were wild and untamable, ready to break out of their artificial prison and unleash their awesome power on an utterly unprepared universe.
“What have we done?”