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Old August 11 2015, 11:16 AM   #1
Bry_Sinclair
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Location: Tactical withdrawl along the Klingon border
Crossing The Threshold

This is the latest sampler.

It takes in 2270, looking at 'what if' the Iconian Gateway found in the Neutral Zone by the Enterprise-D wasn't the first one Starfleet had encountered? It follows the expeditionary team, under the command of the Enterprise's former Number One, sent to study it, before they are forced into a very different role.

I hope you enjoy it.

* * * * *

Star Trek: Gateway

Crossing The Threshold
Brydon J. Sinclair


“Say again, you’re breaking up,” said Captain E.J. Robbins, her level tone resonating through the Spire’s silent control room.

“The energy tap is causing all nuclear fusion in the star to breakdown. The network is already being bombarded with intense stellar ejection; the collector cannot contain it and our shields are collapsing. The star will implode and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We estimate thirty minutes before it goes.”

Robbins felt the colour drain from her face and her stomach judder, as they she had been punched in the gut. The destruction of the star would cause a shockwave that would destroy everything in the system, from the lattice-like collector around the star itself, to the planet she stood on. Two of the greatest engineering marvels discovered in the last century would be lost forever.

Commander Lana St. John looked over at her, the horror of the situation clear on her delicate features. “Orders Captain?”

Every pair of eyes in the control room was on her. She had seconds to make a decision that would affect the lives of the one hundred and fifty people on the energy collector and three hundred and eighty in the Spire.

“Lieutenant Commander, prep your people for immediate evacuation,” she told the S.C.E. team leader responsible for the collector. She then turned to Lieutenant Bekk at communications. “Open a channel to the Reliant and Copernicus.”

The shocked Denobulan nodded then set to work. His shaking hands made the simple task take a few seconds than it usually did. “Channel open.”

“This is Captain Robbins; you are by now monitoring the readings coming from the star. You must evacuate the collector, their shields won’t last much longer.”

“What about you?” Captain sh’Soren of the Reliant asked.

“We have a means of escape,” she said.

Immediately the mood in the control room shifted from fear to apprehension. Everyone knew what she meant, though the solution itself presented nothing but questions and uncertainty.

“Understood,” was the measured response. “Good luck to you.”

“And to you. Robbins out.”

Though not one for metaphors, this was definitely a situation where the tension in the room could have been cut with a knife. Though not one for displays of emotion, she was almost Vulcan in that regard, she felt the same as each of them. But there were no other options. As the collector encircled the sun with its web of capacitors and struts, it had the most advanced shields she’d ever seen, to protect it from the intense heat and radiation from the star. Due to their shielding transporters would be useless, so the two support ships would need to dock with it to evacuate the crew—whose findings could greatly improve Starfleet deflector technology—so they would need all the time they had left to get the people clear.

As for Robbins and her crew on the Spire, they had one lifeline: the Gateway.

It was the reason for the Spire’s construction, built millennia ago by the Iconians, as a staging ground for them to grow their empire. It stood a kilometre high, though was only fifty meters in diameter, the exterior almost completely flawless, except for the gangway and platform two thirds of the way up. It was on the platform that the Gateway was located which, when activated, was large enough to take a Surak-Class shuttle. Unfortunately, they had only been able to activate it once to study the unique piece of technology—though in order to do so they had needed to use the collector to power it up, as the Spire’s energy reactor was something none of the S.C.E. experts could fathom. Something must’ve gone wrong in the process, as drawing upon the collector had led to their current situation.

She tapped the intercom. “All hands, this is the Captain. This system’s sun has begun to destabilise, we must abandon the planet. Collect up all supplies and equipment you can, then report to the shuttles and gangway for evacuation. I repeat, report to the shuttles and gangway for evacuation through the Gateway.”

When the channel closed she turned back to her young XO. “Commander, get to the gangway and supervise the evac from there. Keep everyone calm and moving, we don’t have much time to get this done.” Without giving her the chance to raise her objections, as Robbins knew she would, she tapped her wristcom. “Robbins to Niij.”

“Go ahead, Cap.”

“Commander, when we get the Gateway active again, I want you to lead the way through. Check that the immediate area is secure and start organising the arrivals as soon as they come through.”

“Understood, I’ll have a team together, prepped and ready in two.”

She closed the channel and looked around the control centre; it was already buzzing with activity as the crew downloaded what they could or co-ordinated with personnel elsewhere in the Spire or makeshift outpost they had erected at its base. The only person not moving was St. John. Robbins stepped in closer to the younger woman.

“Commander, I need you to move, now.”

“Captain, we don’t know how stable it is or just where it goes. With us having the larger population, logically it makes more sense for the ships to evacuate us.”

“Our probe showed no ill effects, the telemetry link was stable, whilst the other side was a large hangar with breathable air. The plan had always been to explore what was on the other side; this will just be on a larger scale and longer duration than we originally planned. Time is against us, so if you can’t follow your orders, Commander, I will find someone who can.”

“That won’t be necessary, Captain.”

Robbins gave her a nod. St. John turned on her heel and headed down to the gangway.

“McCade to Robbins.”

“Go ahead.”

“We’re loading shuttles with all the supplies in the warehouses, but we won’t be able to get it all.”

“Understood. Load up what you can, then get those shuttles off the ground. And Commander, I want you to get as many of the Broadswords through as you can.”

“I thought you might say that, Cap. I’ve got all Broadsword pilots helping load the shuttles, once they’re done then the fighters will be joining them.”

“Thank you, Commander. Robbins out.”

After they had opened the Gateway, an unmanned probe had been sent through, to see if it would be safe to travel, as well as learn about what was on the other side. The probe had emerged into a room of some kind, one as large as shuttle hangar, which had an M-Class atmosphere, though other than that they didn’t know much else about it.

“Captain,” called Doctor Thelin, who headed up the research team on the Spire. She looked over to him. “I have the activation sequence inputted and ready to go.”

She moved to the wall, which allowed her to look out onto the platform just a couple of levels below—she immediately spotted Lieutenant Commander Xitana Niij, thanks to her bright purple hair. “Activate the Gateway, Doctor.”

“Activating in three, two, one.”

From almost right below her feet a beam of brilliant blue light shot out and stopped at the platform. From the single point it rippled outwards. Where once there was an unspoiled view of the forest covered hills, there was now a window into a utilitarian room, made of metal, large enough to hold three Archer-Class scouts, and though the darkness hid any finer details. It was to be their salvation. Wherever and whatever it was.

“Niij to Robbins. We’re heading through.”

“No unnecessary risks, Commander. Scout out the immediate area and report back.”

“Understood.”

From the platform, Niij looked up at the control room and gave a small salute, before gripping her rifle and stepping through, her team close behind. As soon as they passed the Gateway they were clearly visible on the other side, their movements very tight and precise, checking the bay quickly but leaving no nook out of their visual inspection. On the platform and gangway, crewmembers started stacking up crates, barrels and bags, all containing provisions and equipment they would need on the other side. There was an organised, if frantic pattern to it, though St. John stood and directed everything, authority and certainty radiating from her small frame. It was a rare trait in one so young; there were only two women she had served with in the last twenty years to have demonstrated it: Xitana Niij and Mia Colt.

“Captain,” Nogaar said, attracting her attention. The young Tellarite was a civilian from the Daystrom Institute, a recently opened scientific and engineering institution that had been one of the partners on the Spire research team. “The Reliant and Copernicus have docked with the collector. The increasing solar activity is disrupting sensors, so I can’t tell how it’s progressing.”

“Thank you, Mr Nogaar. What about the star itself?”

“I’ve never seen readings like this, Captain. Whatever happened has rotten the sun down to its core. Once it goes I suspect it’d generate a shockwave, at least level ten—though probably higher.”

“Doctor Thelin, any theories how this happened?”

“I’d need to run a full analysis to even put forward a theory.”

“Maybe it’s why whoever built the collector never used it; they knew it would collapse the star.”

“Not by the calculations I made, Mr Nogaar,” Thelin stated, glowering at the technician.

She quickly stepped in. “Download all the readings you can, then grab your gear, Mr Nogaar. We can worry about it once we’re safely out of here.”

“Niij to Robbins. Site is secure, sir. It must be some kind of hangar or muster area, you could easily fit in a couple hundred troops. There are multiple exits and windows on the upper levels. Looks to be some kind of outpost—unsure if its planetside or in space.”

“Stay put, Commander. Get our people organised once they start coming through.”

“Acknowledge. Standing ready.”

“Robbins to St. John and McCade. You have a go, begin evacuations.”

“Understood,” they replied in unison.

“Listen up,” Robbins called to the control room, bringing work to a stop. “Get all the information to can in the next ten minutes, then grab what you can from your quarters, before helping move out supplies. I want everyone off the Spire ASAP—we don’t know how accurate the collectors’ estimates are.”

The flurry of activity was instant and intense, the control room staff downloading whatever they could from the Spire’s computers into the portable processing units they had brought with them. Unfortunately, Robbins knew that, even using Nogaar’s data compression algorithm, they could only save at best fifteen percent of the Iconia database—and even that was being hugely optimistic. She moved through the control room, helping where needed, keeping her emotions under tight control. They needed to draw strength from her and she couldn’t give away her own doubts and uncertainties.

Outside, she was aware of shuttles passing by the one way windows, passing through the Gateway and landing in the hangar on the other side. Each one loaded with as much as they could hold which, if she knew McCade, was well beyond their specified cargo limit. St. John would be keeping the flow of people and gear on the gangway going smoothly, whilst Niij would be making sure everyone and everything on the other side had a place to go and a purpose to fulfil.

Over her ten minute countdown there were dozens of calls from various sections, each one needing more hands to help clear out their equipment or other processing units or more time to evac. She allocated what resources she could, but they didn’t have enough to go around, which meant making judgement calls, ones that wouldn’t please those who lost out, but she had to try and decide just what to save and what to sacrifice. The one thing she knew she wouldn’t leave behind was a single person on the expedition team. It was a promise she had made to herself years ago, during her first year commanding the Titan when a miscalculation had stranded two of her crew on a shuttle in a spatial distortion and she had been unable to return to retrieve them. The guilt had stayed with her for a long time, but since that harrowing incident, she had never left anyone behind, risking her own life on a couple of occasions to save others.

Her internal chronometer was perfectly calibrated, so she knew just how much time they had left without needing to double check. At seven-point-three-six minutes, Nogaar reported that the Copernicus had decoupled with the collector and was heading out of the system. The Oberth-Class ship already had a full crew of eighty, so wouldn’t have been able to carry many more.

At nine minutes she told them to finish up whatever they were working on and secure the units for transport. There were a couple of disputes, so she helped them get whatever else they could before the time limit expired.

“That’s it. Get moving.”

There were a few finished in time, who quickly secured the units and carried them towards the exits, though a couple took a few more seconds to complete their most recent download, before following the others. Though they had been working on the Spire for several weeks, most of the crew had been living out of the luggage, all too eager and excited to unlock the towers secrets to really worry about settling in. She didn’t want them to be without changes of clothes and some small possessions whilst they were on the other side of the Gateway, so most could duck into their small apartments, grab a bag or two then head to the platform to help carry cargo through.

“It looks like you were right to put a limit on our time,” said Thelin, taking one last look at a sensor display. “The star is collapsing a lot faster. We have eight minutes at best.”

“You’d better get moving then, Doctor.”

The Andorian gave her a curt nod then headed out the control room, Robbins following close behind, pausing only long enough to grab a tricorder. She stopped in at her quarters, picking up her duffle bag and briefcase, pausing in the corridor outside her door to quickly scan the immediate area. She was relieved to see that there weren’t many left on her level or those above and below.

She stopped by at hydroponics and took a couple of sacks of plants and vegetables they had been cultivating, the former for study and the latter for consumption. The staff there grabbed the last of their bags and boxes then headed out ahead of her. As she headed to the gangway, she made sure to check sections and rooms, making sure they were either empty or nearly there.

Everyone was too hurried to dwell on their uncertainties, doubts and fears, though she knew they were all there, just under the surface, as she felt them too. Though she had the added weight of knowing that whatever happened on the other side of the Gateway was on her shoulders, it was her decision to use the portal as a means of escape, her decision to take a chance on what was there to save those on the collector. Whatever happened to the Starfleeters and civilians who were making their way through the Gateway was because of her. She had to be ready for just what that meant.

Around her the steady stream of people slowed to a trickle, her periodic scans showing that they were proceeding off the Spire quicker than she’d expected. Stepping off onto the gangway level she almost walked straight into Lieutenant Commander Darius Drake, the commander of the S.C.E. team on the Spire.

“Captain.”

“Everything going smoothly, Commander?”

“As smooth as it can with ten minutes to prep,” he said looking around the corridors as they headed for the external door. “We’ve barely scratched the surface of this place, I hate having to leave it unfinished.”

“We all do,” she admitted.

Her tricorder chirped and she paused to check it. Drake stopped as well. “Keep going, I’ll be a moment.” He nodded and headed for the platform.

Before leaving the control room, she had set the Spire’s sensors to alert her of anything regarding the collector. She checked the display to see that the Reliant had undocked from the web-like structure, they would be following the Copernicus’ course out of the system. Adjusting the straps on both shoulders, she headed for the platform again.

Robbins stepped out onto the gangway, the breeze lifting her raven black hair from her shoulders. On the platform St. John stood with a group of ten others, a mixture of Starfleet and civilians. She glanced down at her tricorder display to see that, including herself, there were just twelve people on the Spire, whilst the field base at the foot of the impossible tower was abandoned.

“This is the last group, sir,” St. John called as she approached.

The three at the front stepped through; their disappearance was immediately registered on her scanner. She looked at the faces still left, some she knew better than others, though she suspected that once on the other side she would get to know them all a lot better—depending on just where they emerged in the galaxy then they may never see home again.

Her wristcom chirped. “Robbins, go ahead.”

“This is the Reliant. The nuclear breakdown will happen any second now. We are just about to warp out of the system, Captain. I thought we’d check in to see how things were going on your end.”

“Just a few more to go and that’s us.”

“I wish you well, Captain Robbins. Hopefully, we will meet again.”

“The universe is full of possibilities.”

“Indeed it is.”

“This is the Spire, signing off.”

There was a beat of silence among the last remnants of the Spire’s research team. On the outer edge of the system, the two starships leapt to warp, leaving them as the only inhabitants of the system, mere minutes before it was to be destroyed.

“Let’s get moving,” she instructed.

The last group started to step into the Gateway, until there was just herself, St. John and Thelin. The scientists paused a moment, looking at the Spire to the setting sun on the horizon, then at Robbins. He looked on the verge of saying something but shook it off and left the platform.

“Captain?”

“I’m just be a moment, Commander. Go through.”

St. John gave a slight incline of her head. And then she was alone on the planet. She took a moment to listen to the stillness as the last person to ever appreciate this planet; it deserved a moment of reflection. From the horizon, the twilight sky was illuminated by a bright burst of light. Robbins shielded her eyes for the seconds the flash lasted, before the atmosphere darkened faster than ever before.

A level twelve shockwave was now heading for her. This was it. She stepped up to the edge of the Gateway, able to see the other side, though distorted by a faint ripple, to see her people already setting about getting themselves established at their destination, wherever that may be and whatever trials it would present—she had faith in her people, though away from home, they would rise to meet this new challenge.

Taking a breath, E.J. Robbins took a step forward and crossed the threshold.

* * * * *

END
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Old August 11 2015, 09:08 PM   #2
Count Zero
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Re: Crossing The Threshold

Wow. A great premise. I wonder where they'll end up.
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Old August 11 2015, 10:25 PM   #3
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Crossing The Threshold

I have an idea. Just need to see what more comes to me
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Old August 12 2015, 06:50 AM   #4
RevdKathy
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Re: Crossing The Threshold

*Hugs The Badger*
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Old August 12 2015, 07:03 AM   #5
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Crossing The Threshold

RevdKathy wrote: View Post
*Hugs The Badger*
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Old August 12 2015, 07:22 PM   #6
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Re: Crossing The Threshold

I have NO idea how that happened! I posted it in a completely different thread! Damned glitches. My apologies for the confusion.
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