Wesley and his landing part stepped back onto the bridge just minutes after returning from the surface.
Ensign Aliz Bathory at the helm quickly left her chair upon seeing them return. “Mission Accomplished, sir?
“We’re still here, aren’t we?” he said with a frown as he stepped up to his chair.
The curt respond caused the young ensign’s shoulders to sag slightly as she sat back down.
“On the plus side,” said Vincent with a large smirk plastered on his face, “we’ve saved the universe as we know it. Not a bad outcome, if you ask me.”
“I agree,” said the Andorian science officer on her way to her station. She spied through the sensor hood, adjusted the device once and then looked back up. “I’m reading no residual signs of the Omega particle anywhere on Iota Crucis IV. I think we can safely assume that the universe is going to be safe for a little while longer.”
“And Ketteract has been secured in his quarters and placed under guard. After what he’s done down there, I’m sure he’s career is going to be over,” said Kutznetsov.
Wesley refused to have his bad mood altered by his senior officers and the frown seemingly etched on his features didn’t lessen one bit.
Vincent noticed. “Come now, Captain. All in all this could have been a lot worse.”
The Commodore sought out Charles Vincent’s eyes and held his look for a short moment. Then he nodded slowly. “I’m not denying that at all, Doctor. But I cannot convince myself to be satisfied with this outcome. We have meddled with the affairs of an alien races, we chose sides in a civil war and we have alienated an entire people. And who knows, perhaps Quelphi was right after all. Maybe if we had stayed out of their business altogether we would never have gotten ourselves into a situation we almost weren’t able to handle and causing unspeakable destruction.”
The ship’s surgeon stepped up next to Wesley’s chair. “There are a lot of what if’s in that statement. As your doctor I recommend you stop worrying about the hypotheticals and start acknowledging your successes.”
He gave the man a smirk. “Doctor’s orders, eh?”
Vincent nodded. “That’s right. You can beat yourself up all you want about making new enemies but in the end what matters is that they are still here and so are we. Put things into perspective.”
Before Wesley could respond to this, Cilla Oudekirk piped up from communications. “Captain, we’re being hailed. From the surface,” she sounded as surprised as the faces of the senior officers implied.
“Put it on, Lieutenant.”
The screen shifted to the Xenarth Artisan Queen. Or at least she had been before the new Aggregate leadership.
Wesley immediately leaned forward. “Selphi,” he said. “Are you alright?”
She took a moment to respond as if perhaps considering her words carefully before speaking them out loud. Most likely she was being monitored. “I am unharmed if that is what you are concerned about. I do not have much time. It was not easy for me to arrange talking to you like this.”
The Commodore nodded. “Are you in danger? I am happy to offer you political asylum on board Lexington. If you provide us with your coordinates-“
She raised one of her hands to stop him. “I do not believe myself to be in danger, Commodore, but your gesture is greatly appreciated. In fact, regardless of what has happened, I am very thankful to have met you and your people.”
“For what it’s worth, we were happy to help. I can only pray we didn’t make matters worse for you.”
She shook her head slightly in what Wesley believed to be a gesture she had picked up from him and his people. “On the contrary. I believe your influence has greatly benefited the Colony. While Ergia’s death is a tragedy, her ideas were far to dangerous.”
“But is her replacement going to be any less so?”
“Quelphi is aggressive and xenophobic but at least she has the best interests of the Colony at heart. Her ideas are as radical Ergia’s were. Shunning technology and alien visitors is going to wipe out centuries of progress but at least the Colony will be safe. She’s willing to forgive those who sided against her. Neither I nor Chelra are in danger and we have been allowed to continue to lead our castes.
But it is my hope that one day we will be able to be part of that intergalactic community you spoke of. A small minority of Xenarth agree that we need more friends not enemies and while I remain here I will make every effort to convince the Aggregate of this as well.
Take care, Commodore Wesley of the starship
Lexington. Perhaps one day we shall meet again as friends.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we already are, Queen Quelphi,” said Bob Wesley just before the channel closed and the Artisan Queen’s face disappeared from the screen.
“With people like her around, I’d say not all hope is lost,” said Vincent and promptly received an agreeing nod from Wesley.
“Captain,” said Lawford from his station. “The swarm ships.”
The view screen shifted again this time to show the familiar sight of the cluster of Xenarth bug-shaped vessels slowly moving towards Lexington
. Nobody had to guess what their intentions were.
“I think we have just outlasted our welcome,” grunted the Russian first officer.
Wesley nodded. “Agreed. Terrence, plot us a course out of the system. Aliz, take us out of orbit and then go to full impulse. Jump to maximum possible warp factor as soon as we are clear.”
Both officers promptly acknowledged and worked their respective control boards.
For a moment there was silence of the bridge safe for the usual operating noises coming from the various workstations as Lexington
left the system behind. It wasn’t difficult to notice Wesley’s contemplative mien.
“What’s on your mind?” said Vincent. “Is it about what happened on the surface? You seemed somewhat out of sorts there for a moment, I was concerned.”
He nodded slowly before he looked up at the ship’s surgeon. “Something happened down there. To me, I mean. I cannot describe it other than to say that for a brief moment in time it seemed everything was different somehow. Other than it should have been. It’s a feeling deep down in my gut that something horrible happened and then it was all just gone. Like it had never happened in the first place.”
Zha’Thara was intrigued and stepped down into the command well and next to his chair. “It almost sounds as if you are describing a temporal anomaly of sorts.”
He closed his eyes for a moment. “There was somebody there with me. Somebody who didn’t belong but as much as I’m trying to remember, I cannot recall her name or her face or who she was.”
“A woman?” said Vincent.
Wesley considered him for a moment. “Yes, I believe so.”
“What does all this mean?” said the first officer.
“It’s very difficult to say,” said ZhaThara. “Particularly since the Commodore seems to have been the only person affected. But I would guess that this was somehow related to those particles which came pretty damn close to becoming unstable and wiping us all out.”
,” said the Russian. “I suppose once Starfleet Command finds out about all the dangers around this cursed particle I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ll declare a quarantine around all of Iota Crucis.”
Wesley stood from his chair. “I think they will have to do much more than that, Commander,” he said and then widened his focus to address the entire bridge crew. “This Omega particle nearly destroyed the entire quadrant. As much as it pains me to say so, but that kind of knowledge is dangerous and what happened here today should never be allowed to repeat itself. Starfleet will have to come up with a clear dictates on how to deal with this in the future and I don’t envy any starship crew or any starship commander who will have to deal with the Omega molecule again.”