DS9 12x15 – "Ghost Ship"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DS9Continuing, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  2. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    Meanwhile...

    TNG 17x15 – “THIRD OF FIVE”

    Making repairs at Ramatis, Picard reviews reports – he knows this is only the beginning. Almost every active ship and officer has been drafted into defence. Listening reluctantly to the whispers in his head, Picard realises that the Borg will next hit five targets simultaneously – starbases 157, 234 and 343, and the Klingon colonies at Khitomer and Korvat. Only one of the five is in range for Enterprise to reach in time, so Picard sets course for Korvat, knowing it leaves the others all but undefended. Ten million people are killed on Korvat before Enterprise can destroy the cube, leaving only a few thousand survivors. Meanwhile three Starfleet ships fight the Borg over Khitomer. Two are destroyed, and Ranger’s XO orders her crew to ram the cube. The helmsman cannot do it, so the XO does it herself. Ranger is destroyed, taking the cube with it and saving the planet, to the Klingon governor’s great honour.

    TTN 1x15 – “GODS OF NIGHT”

    2381: Titan passes through an area of subspace distortions – similar but not identical to Borg transwarp. The readings lead to a blank area of space, where star charts prove a planet used to be. 2168: On the ultra-advanced Caeliar world, Captain Hernandez gets shown around their Great Work – a millennia-old project to contact any lifeform as advanced as themselves. Their representative Inyx explains – they are made of catoms (programmable matter) and can be or do anything. Many Columbia crew bristle against being kept here, MACO leader Major Foyle especially. 2381: Dr Ree explains Troi’s failed pregnancies – her experience with Ian (TNG 2x01 “The Child”) corrupted her ovarian DNA. Riker attempts to confide in Vale, leading to an argument about allowing Troi to remain on active duty in her condition, then to Vale’s aborted attempt to kiss her married captain. As they approach the empty space, a subspace pulse knocks Titanout of warp, leaving the ship blind and immobilised...

    VOY 10x15 – “I AM A MIRROR”

    Voyager’s first mission back on active duty is to track the still-missing Reston (VOY 10x12 “Revenant”). Before they can destroy it, its commander contacts them – an assimilated Nick Locarno. He claims they are not connected to the Collective, and they can help. Dr Kaz starts working with them on anti-Borg strategies. Paris and Locarno argue – they had almost identical backgrounds but Paris got his second chance while Locarno was shunned. Paris responds that it was all Locarno’s choice, like when Nick chose to let himself be assimilated to escape capture, while Tom would have rather died. Meanwhile, Admiral Owen Paris has taken command of Starbase 234, just in time for it to come under attack from the Borg. Adm Paris barely manages to send a message to his son, apologising for their latest argument, before the base is destroyed. Having just destroyed Locarno and Reston, Tom Paris receives the report that his father has been killed.
     
  3. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TEASER


    FADE IN:


    1 EXT. DESERT


    A vast expanse of sand, carved into rolling dunes by a strong and persistent wind, and under scorching sunlight. We PAN slowly across the view, until we gradually come upon something half-buried under the sand - grey metal plates, forming a large shape that peeks out of the sand.

    We PULL BACK some, enough to see more of the shape of the vessel, the curve of a hull, the grooves separating the plates, holes where the hull has been broken and the sand is dropping through into the darkness within.

    PAN and PULL BACK some more, until we finally see enough of this metallic shape to recognise it as a Starfleet vessel, specifically of the NX class (from Star Trek: Enterprise). The ship is clearly lifeless, a crippled husk that crashed here and went no further.

    Upon the back of this dead beast, black boots climb. As they pick their way across the metal plates, they pass over the name of the ship etched onto the hull.


    NX-02 COLUMBIA


    The boots continue to climb up the hill of the ship’s primary hull, until they reach a point where it is possible to look out over the body of the vessel, half covered in constantly shifting sand.

    We see this figure only from behind as it looks out across this view. The figure is female, has long dark hair tied into a clasp, and is wearing a Starfleet uniform.


    SISKO (o.s.)
    Dax!​


    The figure turns, revealing itself to be JADZIA DAX. She looks back the way she came, seeing Captain BENJAMIN SISKO following in her path, also wearing his Starfleet uniform. Sisko stands beside Jadzia and gazes out with her.


    SISKO
    Quite a find, old man.

    JADZIA
    Tobin watched the Columbia launch
    from space dock around Earth. I
    never imagined I’d see her again
    here, in the Gamma Quadrant,
    two hundred years later.

    SISKO
    How’s the search going?

    JADZIA
    Slowly. There’s some unusual
    subatomic damage in the hull. Not
    sure what it means yet. All we
    know for sure is that she’s been
    here almost that entire time.​


    They walk on a bit, towards a place where a great gash was torn into the hull by its crash. Hull panels are caved in, old cables droop, and sand has fallen in through the hole. Jadzia and Benjamin pause at the edge of the hole.


    SISKO
    Have you been able to identify
    any of the crew?

    JADZIA
    We haven’t found any bodies.
    No remains of any kind.

    SISKO
    Is it possible they abandoned
    ship and settled somewhere
    on the planet?

    JADZIA
    Maybe. But most of their gear is
    still on board, and this desert
    goes on for almost nine hundred
    kilometres in every direction.​


    They look down into the dark hole...


    2 INT. COLUMBIA


    Now inside the wreck, looking up at the jagged hole. Jadzia and Benjamin stand in a shaft of bright sunlight. As Jadzia turns away from this, she sees something out of the corner of her eye and quickly turns to look at it...

    Sparkling, twinkling LIGHTS in the darkness, gone as soon as they are seen. Jadzia shakes her head and rubs her eyes.


    SISKO
    You alright, Dax?

    JADZIA
    Fine, it’s nothing. Just scorching
    my retinas.​


    They turn a corner and find Chief O’BRIEN hunched beneath a low-hanging tangle of wires and ancient circuit boards.


    JADZIA
    Chief. Any luck?

    O’BRIEN
    Not yet. It’s a damn museum
    piece, is what it is. Our tricorders
    can’t talk to it, and I can’t find
    an adaptor in Defiant’s database
    that’ll fit these inputs.

    SISKO
    Are the memory banks intact?

    O’BRIEN
    Well, they’re there. But whether
    they work... Nobody’s used a
    system like this in a century.

    SISKO
    How long, Chief? Give me a number.

    O’BRIEN
    A couple of days, at least.

    SISKO
    That won’t work. Worf just called.
    The Defiant’s sensors detected
    Jem’Hadar approaching the system.
    They’ll be here in twenty minutes.

    KIRA (o.s.)
    Does that mean we can get out
    of her now?​


    They all turn to see KIRA, in her Bajoran Militia uniform circa season 5, approaching from out of the darkness. She looks uncomfortable, glancing back over her shoulder.


    SISKO
    Is something wrong, Major?

    KIRA
    There’s something in here. I can’t
    explain it, but I can feel it. There’s
    a borhyas watching us.

    SISKO
    A ghost? Are you telling me you
    think this ship is haunted?

    KIRA
    I don’t know. But I heard things,
    and I felt the hairs on my neck
    stand up, and I keep seeing
    blinks of light in the dark...

    DAX
    (unnerved)
    Blue flashes? Just out of the
    corner of your eye?

    KIRA
    (thrilled to
    be validated)
    Yes!

    SISKO
    I’ve heard enough. Let’s get back
    to the Defiant.​


    The team starts walking together down the corridor.


    JADZIA
    I wish we had more time to find
    some answers. Like how the hell
    the Columbia ended up all the way
    out here when history records it
    being lost near Romulan space.

    SISKO
    Sorry, old man. Besides, Kira still
    needs to get back to the station
    so Doctor Bashir can give her a
    full check-up.

    KIRA
    Should we plant demolitions? To
    stop the Jem’Hadar from capturing
    the ship?

    SISKO
    I doubt they’ll find much more
    than we did. No, the Columbia has
    kept her secrets for two hundred
    years already. She can wait a
    little longer.
    (taps combadge)
    Sisko to Defiant. Four to beam up.​


    A moment, and Sisko, Kira, Dax and O’Brien all disappear in transporter beams, leaving the Columbia deserted once more.

    A moment, and more blue flickering lights flash in the depths of the darkened ship, just out of sight.

    A moment, and another figure walks out of the darkness into the beams of sunlight - EZRI DAX.

    She walks around the space, looking at the buckled bulk heads, the dead and dangling cables, the gashes in the hull. Nothing seems to have changed in the years since she was last here. Ezri taps her combadge.


    DAX
    Dax to Helkara.

    HELKARA (comm)
    Helkara here.

    DAX
    Is your tricorder still reading
    clear?

    HELKARA (comm)
    As clear as it can be with this
    kind of atmospheric disturbance.
    Is there a problem?

    DAX
    Check life sign readings again,
    will you? Just to be sure.​


    A pause as Helkara does exactly that.


    HELKARA (comm)
    Only the readings that match
    perfectly with the Aventine crew
    who should be here, sir. Do you
    have reason to believe otherwise?

    DAX
    No... no, I’m sure it’s nothing.
    Dax out.​


    Out of the corner of her eye, Ezri sees the flickering blue lights again. She feels the prickling of the hairs on her neck and the backs of her hands. She knows something is here with her, in the darkness. She just knows.

    She walks on into the dead and deserted Columbia...


    BLACK OUT


    END OF TEASER
     
  4. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    ACT ONE


    FADE IN:


    3 EXT. DEEP SPACE NINE


    Looking down upon the station from above, tight upon the Ops capsule at the top. Then WIDEN, and reveal...

    Defiant moored on the docking ring. On the opposite side, the Akira-class James T Kirk. On an upper pylon, the Vesta-class Aventine, and on a lower, the Nebula-class New York. The four ships are distributed evenly around the station.


    4 INT. DS9 - WARD ROOM


    Beginning tight on Ezri Dax’s red uniform collar, which now features four pips, indicating a rank of captain.

    WIDEN to reveal Dax sitting at one end of the ward room table, fingers woven on the table before her. She looks up and sees the others around the table with her.

    At the opposite end of the table sits Commander RO LAREN. Beside her, Major CENN. Along the two sides, captains Benjamin Sisko and ELIAS VAUGHN. Supporting their captains are Commander ROGEIRO of the Kirk, and Lieutenant CAVANAUGH of the New York.


    DAX
    Thank you all for meeting with me.
    I realise you’re probably busy.

    SISKO
    It’s good to see you safe, old
    man. And congratulations on
    the promotion.

    DAX
    Thanks, Benjamin. I just wish it
    were under better circumstances.
    But after our losses at Acamar,
    Starfleet apparently saw fit to
    promote me two ranks and put
    the ship under my command. I
    guess they were short-handed.

    VAUGHN
    Don’t put yourself down, Dax.
    Now what do you need from us?

    DAX
    I have a mission from Starfleet.
    One I had to convince them to give
    me. They weren’t happy about it -
    every other ship in the fleet is
    being reassigned to defence
    against the Borg attacks.

    RO
    Then why are you different?

    DAX
    Because I have a hunch. When we
    fought the Borg at Acamar, my
    science officer, Helkara, detected
    something strange about the cube.
    Some weird subatomic damage to
    its hull metals. I knew it reminded
    me of something at the time, but I
    was kind of busy so I didn’t give
    it much thought. Once the battle
    was over, I went back and looked
    at those readings again... and
    eventually, I remembered
    where I’d seen them before.

    VAUGHN
    Where was it?

    DAX
    On the Columbia.

    SISKO
    You mean, in the Gamma Quadrant?
    Dax, that was seven years ago.

    CENN
    (puts hand up,
    hesitant)
    I don’t think I know this story.

    DAX
    Sorry, Major. It was on the Defiant,
    just before the Dominion War.
    We were returning from another
    mission when I - or rather when
    Jadzia - detected Earth-made
    technology on a planet where
    there shouldn’t have been any.

    CAVANAUGH
    Earth-made? Not Federation-made?

    SISKO
    It was Columbia, a pre-Federation
    warp five ship. It was missing and
    presumed destroyed in the Earth-
    Romulan War two hundred years ago.

    RO
    So then what was it doing in the
    Gamma Quadrant?

    DAX
    Exactly. It was the archaeological
    find of the century, I couldn’t turn
    it down. Unfortunately the Jem’
    Hadar came calling and we had
    to run. And then war broke out a
    couple of months later, and we all
    had other things to worry about.
    Hopefully, it’s still there.

    SISKO
    You’re going back to find it?

    DAX
    It’s the same subatomic readings,
    Ben. I checked Defiant’s records
    against Aventine’s, and allowing
    for differences in construction
    between us and the Borg, the
    readings are identical.

    RO
    Okay, say it is the same readings.
    Forgive my ignorance, but so what?

    SISKO
    Nobody knows how the Borg have
    been getting into Federation space
    for these attacks. When Voyager
    destroyed their transwarp hub in
    the Delta Quadrant, it should have
    crippled their network for years.

    VAUGHN
    (nodding along)
    And there have been no indications
    of transwarp activity, of quantum
    slipstream, of wormholes - of any
    of the known methods of extra-warp
    travel - that might explain how
    they’re getting so deep into our
    territory without setting off any
    of our border proximity alarms.

    DAX
    That subatomic damage might help
    explain how the Columbia managed
    to make it from the Romulan border
    to the Gamma Quadrant in less than
    ten years, a journey that should
    have taken it three-hundred-fifty
    years under its own power.

    RO
    And if it can tell you that, it might
    also tell you how the Borg are
    getting into Federation space.
    And how we can stop them.

    DAX
    That’s how I sold it to Starfleet.
    I told Admiral Nechayev this could
    be the most important mission in
    the fleet right now. That may have
    been an exaggeration. But like I
    said, I have a hunch.

    VAUGHN
    So back to my original question
    - what do you need from us?

    DAX
    (shy smile)
    Well, first of all, I need you to
    tell me if I’m crazy. You are the
    people who know me better than
    anyone else. Does this make any
    sense, or am I making it all up?

    SISKO
    (chuckle)
    I think it makes perfect sense. I
    learned to trust Dax’s intuition
    thirty years ago. You should too.

    VAUGHN
    Captains have taken far greater
    leaps on far less evidence. If it
    works out, what a start to your
    first command!

    DAX
    And if it doesn’t, it’ll probably
    be my last command. So you
    think I should do this?

    RO
    I think you have to. Besides, like
    you said, Starfleet ordered you.
    It’s out of your hands.

    ROGEIRO
    You said that was ‘first of all’.
    Was there a second of all?

    DAX
    Actually, yes. As well as captain
    and first officer, the Aventine
    lost several senior staff against
    the Borg. My helm officer is still
    in sickbay two weeks later. So I
    was hoping I could pick up some
    replacements here. From you, Ro.

    RO
    You’re... stealing my crew?

    DAX
    Not all of them. But it just made
    sense to bring in people I already
    know and trust. I picked up Simon
    - Doctor Tarses - on my way here.
    He’s going to be my chief medical
    officer. But I still need a chief
    engineer and a first officer.

    RO
    Who did you have in mind?​


    As Dax considers her response to that...


    5 EXT. DESERT


    The exterior of the crashed Columbia, still half-buried in shifting sand. Ezri Dax stands upon its surface, shielding her eyes against the glaring sun reflecting off the metal.

    She stands by one of the large dark holes where the hull was compromised. She turns, crouches, stares down into the darkness, wondering about what might lurk down there. Then a FACE appears in the hole, and Dax SQUEAKS in shocked surprise, almost tumbling backwards.

    But the face is only Aventine’s science officer, Lt Cmdr GRUHN HELKARA, a trim Zakdorn male. He is climbing up a set of makeshift steps which have been constructed within the hole. He pokes his head into the open air with a smile.


    HELKARA
    Good news, Captain. The new
    converter’s working. I thought
    you might want to come down
    and have a look for yourself.

    DAX
    No thanks, Gruhn. I’d prefer to
    stay topside.​


    She has no intention of elaborating. Helkara clambers up until he too stands on the surface of the Columbia, looking out across the desert. He palms sweat off his forehead.


    HELKARA
    By the gods, did it get hotter
    out here?

    DAX
    Yes, it did. Where are you with
    the metallurgical analysis?

    HELKARA
    Almost done, sir. You were right.
    We detected molecular distortion
    in the spaceframe consistent with
    intense sub-spatial stress.

    DAX
    And what was the cause?

    HELKARA
    Hard to be sure.

    DAX
    You mean you don’t know.

    HELKARA
    Well, I’m not prepared to make
    that admission yet. I may not have
    enough data to form a hypothesis,
    but my tests have ruled out
    several obvious answers.

    DAX
    Such as?

    HELKARA
    Extreme warp velocities. Quantum
    slipstream vortices. Wormholes.
    Iconian gateways. Time travel.
    Oh, and the Q.

    DAX
    Doesn’t leave us much to go on.

    HELKARA
    No. But I love a challenge.

    DAX
    Keep at it, Gruhn. Something moved
    this ship clear across the galaxy.
    I need to know what it was, and
    I need to know soon.

    HELKARA
    Understood, Captain.

    KEDAIR (comm)
    Kedair to Dax.

    DAX
    (taps combadge)
    Dax. Go head, Lieutenant.

    KEDAIR (comm)
    We just got another priority
    message from Starfleet Command.
    I think you might want to take
    this one. It’s Admiral Nechayev,
    and she wants a reply.

    DAX
    (sigh)
    Alright, Lieutenant. Beam me up.
    I’ll take it in my ready room.

    KEDAIR (comm)
    Aye sir. Stand by for transport.

    DAX
    You’re in charge down here till
    I get back, Commander.​


    Helkara nods acknowledgment, then Dax disappears in a transporter beam, leaving Helkara alone by the ominous dark hole in the Columbia’s corpse...


    BLACK OUT


    END OF ACT ONE
     
  5. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Location:
    Manchester
    ACT TWO


    FADE IN:


    6 EXT. DEEP SPACE NINE


    Focusing again on the Ops dome...


    7 INT. DS9 - COMMANDER’S OFFICE


    Ro, Dax, Lt BOWERS and Lt LEISHMAN sit in the lounge, Bowers stiff and formal, Leishman bouncing with excitement.


    LEISHMAN
    Are you kidding? Oh my god, yes!
    Yes, absolutely!
    (oh wait)
    If that’s okay with you, sir.

    RO
    (wry)
    In fact, Captain Dax’s selections
    have already been pre-approved by
    Starfleet Command. I don’t have
    much say in the matter. But thank
    you for asking, Lieutenant. And
    yes, it’s okay with me.

    LEISHMAN
    Chief engineer of a slipstream
    vessel? Do you have any idea how
    many engineers in Starfleet would
    kill for that?
    (sudden realisation)
    Oh my god, Prynn’s gonna kill me.

    RO
    And what about you, Sam?

    BOWERS
    (hesitant)
    It’s certainly a rare opportunity.

    DAX
    Which means what?

    BOWERS
    (awkward)
    Commander Ro, there’s something
    I’d like to discuss with Captain Dax
    before I accept the transfer. If I
    could have a moment...?

    RO
    Sure. Come on Mikaela, let’s go
    break the news to Nog and Prynn.​


    Ro and Leishman stand to leave, and Dax and Bowers also stand out of courtesy. Once Ro and Leishman have left and the door is closed, Bowers paces slowly over towards the commander’s desk, building courage for what he is about to say. Dax watches him curiously from afar.


    DAX
    Sam? What’s wrong? Aren’t you
    interested? I would have thought
    you’d jump at the chance.

    BOWERS
    Oh, I’m very interested, sir. The
    Vesta-class ships are a prime
    assignment. And though I’ve never
    chased promotion, I certainly don’t
    object to it.
    (turns to her)
    But I have some conditions first.

    DAX
    Okay... I’m listening.

    BOWERS
    I want formality on the bridge.

    DAX
    What do you mean?

    BOWERS
    I would never say this to
    Commander Ro, it’s not my place
    here. But I have found myself
    increasingly uncomfortable with
    the way she runs this command.​


    Bowers looks out through the door of the office onto Ops, where he can see Ro, Leishman, NOG, TENMEI and CANDLEWOOD. They are all laughing and joking, congratulating Leishman with hugs and high-fives and noogies. Bowers feels guilty about what he is saying, but equally, that is the perfect example of what he is saying.


    BOWERS
    First names, practical jokes,
    senior officers play-fighting in
    front of their subordinates. It
    is not appropriate for the nerve
    centre of a Starfleet crew.

    DAX
    They’re just enjoying their work,
    Lieutenant. That’s not a crime.
    Maybe it’s you who needs to
    loosen up a bit.

    BOWERS
    (exasperated)
    That’s exactly the attitude I’m
    talking about. I reject the idea
    that I need to ‘loosen up’. That
    it’s only a matter of time before
    I come to my senses and start
    behaving like everyone else. The
    bridge of a starship – or a space
    station – is a place of business,
    not of games and gossip.

    DAX
    I didn’t realise you felt this
    strongly.

    BOWERS
    Don’t get me wrong, I know how to
    have fun. You should catch me on
    the dance floor some time. But
    there’s a time and a place, and
    bridge duty is not it. Lives depend
    on the decisions we make in that
    space. So if I’m going to be your
    first officer, I want your assurances
    that I’ll have your support in
    setting an appropriate tone.​


    Dax straightens, taking everything he has said on board. He wonders if he is about to be given his discharge papers.


    DAX
    Very well. You’ve made persuasive
    points, and I am prepared to agree
    to your terms. Welcome aboard the
    Aventine, Lieutenant – or should I
    say, Commander Bowers.

    BOWERS
    Thank you, Captain. Then I accept
    the position.​


    She approaches, and they shake hands to close the deal.


    DAX
    Good. And you know I’m holding
    you to that dance floor thing.​


    8 EXT. AVENTINE


    Establishing the large and sleek Vesta-class ship in orbit of the golden-coloured desert planet. It is now largely repaired from the beating it took at Acamar two weeks ago.


    9 INT. AVENTINE - CORRIDOR


    A door opens and Sam Bowers - now in a red command collar with three pips - steps out into the corridor. He walks along purposefully, past engineers still effecting repairs. He turns a corner... and finds himself at a dead end.

    Embarrassed at having got lost on his own ship, he turns back the way he came. The noise of voices draws him on, and he discovers to his relief that they are coming from two junior officers waiting for a turbolift.

    The Tellarite male and the human female are close, chatting and whispering intimately, clearly a couple. The moment they spot him approaching, they jerk apart, standing more professionally. Bowers remains completely above it.


    BOWERS
    Good morning Lieutenant, Ensign.

    TELLARITE
    It’s afternoon, sir.​


    Luckily, the turbolift arrives. Bowers after-yous the two junior officers inside.


    10 INT. AVENTINE - TURBOLIFT (CONTINUED)


    As the doors close, the human woman speaks...


    WOMAN
    Deck twelve, engineering.

    BOWERS
    Bridge.
    (sheepish)
    Sorry.

    WOMAN
    That’s alright, sir. It happens.​


    They stand in silence, until a few moments later, the door opens onto...


    11 INT. AVENTINE - BRIDGE


    Bowers exits the turbolift onto the bridge - 90 percent repaired from what we saw last episode. KEDAIR, the ship’s security chief, stands from the centre chair.


    KEDAIR
    Sir.

    BOWERS
    I am ready to relieve you,
    Lieutenant.

    KEDAIR
    I am ready to be relieved, sir.
    (hands him padd)
    Salvage operations on the Columbia
    are proceeding according to
    schedule. No contacts in sensor
    range, Dominion or otherwise,
    and all systems nominal.
    (hesitant)
    Although... there were some
    reports from the surface that
    I want to check out.

    BOWERS
    What kind of reports?

    KEDAIR
    The kind that make me think our
    teams are more fatigued than
    they are letting on, sir.

    BOWERS
    What gives you that impression?

    KEDAIR
    A pair of incident reports, filed
    eleven hours apart, each by a
    different engineer. They claim
    the Columbia is haunted, sir.​


    Kedair’s dubious expression makes it clear how likely she thinks that is. Bowers accepts it stoically.


    BOWERS
    Maybe it is. Lord knows I’ve seen
    stranger things.

    KEDAIR
    (a touch
    perturbed)
    I don’t plan to indulge the crew’s
    superstitions, sir. I just want to
    be sure they’re not becoming
    delusional out of grief or stress.

    BOWERS
    A valid concern, Lieutenant. Is
    the captain in her ready room?

    KEDAIR
    Aye, sir. She’s been on the comm
    with Admiral Nechayev for the
    better part of half an hour.

    BOWERS
    Very good. I relieve you.

    KEDAIR
    (snap to attention)
    I stand relieved. Permission to go
    ashore, sir?

    BOWERS
    Granted. But keep it brief. We
    may need you back on watch.​


    With a nod, Kedair strides towards the turbolift and leaves the bridge. Bowers settles into the centre seat. He barely has time to browse the padd in his hand before...


    DAX (comm)
    Dax to Commander Bowers. Please
    report to my ready room.

    BOWERS
    On my way, Captain. Lieutenant
    Kandel, you have the bridge.​


    Bowers stands, heads towards the ready room door...


    12 INT. AVENTINE - READY ROOM


    As Bowers enters, Dax is standing and staring out of the window at the planet below, clearly annoyed and unhappy.


    BOWERS
    What happened? Is Starfleet
    pulling the plug?

    DAX
    They might as well be. We have
    twenty-four more hours to finish
    our salvage and head back to the
    wormhole. Nechayev wants us to
    join the fleet defending Trill.

    BOWERS
    Why the change of plans?​


    Dax steps to her desk, turns the screen around to face Bowers. It plays a VIDEO CLIP - just a few brief dramatic seconds of weapons fire exchanged with a looming Borg cube, and then static. Clearly, the recording ship was destroyed.


    DAX
    This is from the USS Amargosa,
    one of five ships lost in the last
    sixteen hours. All in the Onias
    sector, and all to the Borg. No-
    one knows if the same Borg
    cube destroyed all five ships.

    BOWERS
    If it was all the work of one
    cube, it might be another scout.
    Another test of our defences.

    DAX
    And if it wasn’t, then the invasion
    has started. And we’re out here
    playing in the sand. Either way,
    we have to break orbit by
    tomorrow, so we can forget
    about raising the Columbia.

    BOWERS
    (crosses arms,
    ponders)
    Our main objective is to figure out
    how the Columbia got here. To
    do that, we need to analyse the
    computer core. If Leishman and
    Helkara’s adaptors work, we can
    download its memory banks over
    night and be done by morning.

    DAX
    (picking up
    the thread)
    And then parse the data on our
    way back. Not my first choice,
    but it will have to do.
    (sigh)
    Alright, let’s get on with it. A
    war is why we couldn’t solve this
    ship’s mysteries seven years ago.
    And another war is why we need
    to solve them now. Before we
    leave this planet, I want to know
    what happened to the Columbia.​


    Off Dax’s determination...


    BLACK OUT


    END OF ACT TWO
     
  6. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Location:
    Manchester
    ACT THREE


    FADE IN:


    13 INT. DS9 - PROMENADE


    NOG and SHAR stroll along the Promenade together.


    NOG
    And then, when I’ve only just
    finished repairing and restocking
    the New York, the Aventine turns
    up and I’ve got to start repairing
    and restocking that.

    SHAR
    I’m certain Captain Vaughn would
    be willing to lend resources and
    staff as long as we’re here.

    NOG
    Oh, it’s okay. I’m only whining.
    It’s good to see you, Shar. Prynn
    said you were on the Kirk now.

    SHAR
    Yes... and given recent events,
    I’m unsure if it was the right
    decision. Perhaps I should have
    stayed at home - to protect it.

    BIF (o.s.)
    Nog! Hi! ​


    They stop, and look down at the deck - the tiny puppy BIF is there. Far from his usual happy, tail-thumping self, his spines droop with worry. Nog swallows down his retch.


    NOG
    Bif - is everything okay?

    BIF
    I don’t think so. Can you help? ​


    His concern overriding his revulsion, Nog nods and follows Bif back into the shop, Shar following along intrigued.


    14 INT. DS9 - ETHRAKOIS’ SHOP


    In the far corner, we see ornaments and glassware SMASHED, thrown haphazardly around. MRS ETHRAKOI sits on the deck, in the middle of the wreckage, staring emptily at a padd in her hands. Nog and Shar approach gently, crouching down.


    NOG
    Mrs Ethrakoi... Bissenna...?
    What is it? What’s wrong? ​


    She doesn’t respond, just stares at the padd. Nog reaches out and gently takes the padd from her - she allows it. Nog reads the screen with a small stifled gasp. He passes it to Shar, who also reads and closes his eyes to the horror.


    NOG
    I’m so sorry.

    MRS ETHRAKOI
    They all gone. Every damn one
    o’ them. Even him.

    SHAR
    Barolia is your homeworld?

    MRS ETHRAKOI
    Was. Ain’t no survivors, they say.
    Acamar got survivors. But Barolia
    and Ramatis - ain’t nothin’ left.

    NOG
    Is there anything I can do?

    MRS ETHRAKOI
    Like what? They comin’ to kill us
    all, ain’t they? ​


    Shar and Nog share a look - what can they say? They both know that that is very likely true.


    MRS ETHRAKOI
    Don’t make no sense. How can an
    entire planet be dead?

    NOG
    Bissenna, I’m going to call for
    someone to come, okay? You stay
    here. Bif - stay with her. Someone
    will be here soon, I promise.

    BIF
    I will. ​


    Mrs Ethrakoi nods absently. Bif crawls up close, trying to comfort her. Nog pulls Shar away and they step quietly out.


    15 INT. DS9 - PROMENADE


    Back out on the Promenade, Nog sees Shar’s haunted look.


    SHAR
    Her entire world is dead, Nog. How
    many more before this is over?​


    Nog has no answer.


    Elsewhere, Dax walks along the Promenade. Taking in the sights and sounds, enjoying being back in these familiar surroundings for the first time in almost two years, letting herself relax despite the tense circumstances.


    16 INT. DS9 - QUARK’S BAR (CONTINUOUS)


    She pauses at the threshold of the bar. It’s doing a decent trade, with a fun, casual atmosphere, all the local colour, the smell of the food wafting out. QUARK holds court, Lt Cmdr EVIK NATH sits at the bar watching the crowd.


    PIF
    Welcome to Quark’s!​


    Dax starts a little, looks down to see PIF the green dog-like Aarruri grinning up at her.


    DAX
    Oh. Hello. I’m sorry, I don’t
    think we’ve met.

    PIF
    My name is Pifko Gaber, I’m the
    official maitre d’ for the Ferengi
    embassy. And you must be Captain
    Ezri Dax of the Aventine.

    DAX
    How could you possibly know that?

    PIF
    Always know your customer before
    they walk in the door. Rule of
    Acquisition number one-ninety-four.

    DAX
    Really? Well, things have changed
    since I was last here, that’s for sure.

    PIF
    Would you like a table, captain?

    DAX
    Actually I thought I’d just sit at
    the bar, if that’s okay.

    PIF
    We have several fine seats
    available. Please take your pick.

    DAX
    I will, thank you Mister Gaber.

    PIF
    Oh, call me Pif. Everyone does! ​


    Grinning at this most unexpected interaction, Dax steps on into the room and approaches the bar. As she nears, Quark looks up from what he was doing, and gasps in amazement.


    QUARK
    Well, there she is. Captain Ezri Dax.
    Who would have ever thought?
    (genuine)
    Jadzia would be proud.

    DAX
    Thanks, Quark. I like to think so
    too. How are you?

    QUARK
    All the better for seeing you.
    Although I would prefer it if we
    weren’t at war all over again.

    DAX
    I’m still hoping there’s a way
    to stop this before it gets any
    worse, Quark.

    EVIK
    Certainly an admirable ambition,
    Captain. I only hope it’s not a
    futile one. ​


    Dax turns to notice Evik sitting at the bar with them.


    QUARK
    Dax, meet Lieutenant Commander
    Evik Nath, the station’s chief of
    security. ​


    Dax looks between back and forth Quark and Evik, notices the complete lack of any tension between them. They appear to be completely comfortable with each other.


    DAX
    And you two are friends? Wow,
    things really have changed around
    here, haven’t they? A pleasure to
    meet you, Commander.

    EVIK
    And you, sir. Do you think there’s
    a way to stop the Borg?

    DAX
    That’s what my mission is about.
    And I really ought to be getting
    on with it. I just wanted to look
    up some old friends before I go.

    QUARK
    Doctor Bashir’s over there. ​


    Quark directs Dax’s attention towards a table under the stairs, at which they can see Ro, JULIAN BASHIR and Dr SIMON TARSES sitting together with drinks. Dax smiles.


    DAX
    Thanks, Quark. Good to see you.
    Commander Evik.

    EVIK
    Sir. ​


    Dax steels herself and heads across towards the table. Seeing her approach, Bashir stands gentlemanly.


    BASHIR
    Ezri...

    DAX
    Julian. Simon. Commander.

    RO
    What, I don’t get a name?

    DAX
    (grin)
    Sorry - Laren.

    RO
    Join us. I was just catching up
    with these miracle workers about
    that time they healed my broken
    back and saved me from being in
    a wheelchair the rest of my life.

    DAX
    (Dax and Bashir sit)
    The good old days, huh? Simon,
    I want to get moving within the
    hour. Is everything ready?

    TARSES
    Aventine’s sickbay is fully
    repaired and restocked, thanks
    to Doctor Bashir. I arrogantly
    submit we’re ready for anything.

    DAX
    Okay. You’d better check in with
    Sam, make sure he knows.

    RO
    Come on, Simon, I’ll walk you to
    the airlock. Good luck, Captain.

    DAX
    Thanks Ro. You too. ​


    Ro and Tarses get up from the table, pointedly leaving Bashir and Dax alone. Awkward pause.


    BASHIR
    Ro told me about your mission. Are
    you really sure about this, Dax?

    DAX
    Why wouldn’t I be?

    BASHIR
    It seems like a hell of a stretch.
    The Aventine is a strong ship -
    obviously, or you’d never have
    survived at Acamar. Wouldn’t you
    be better off here, protecting
    the Federation?

    DAX
    You think I’m wrong about the
    Columbia?

    BASHIR
    I just think it’s a thin thread to
    be hanging all your hopes on.

    DAX
    Or maybe you really think I
    can’t handle it.

    BASHIR
    I never said that.

    DAX
    You don’t have to, Julian, it’s
    always the same with you. Every
    time I try to make a change, you
    try to tell me I can’t do it. My
    transfer to command, negotiating
    with the Yrythny, taking on the
    parasites on Trill, the Luna...

    BASHIR
    Are we really going to do this
    every single time, Dax?

    DAX
    (dismissive)
    Do what?

    BASHIR
    Me trying to be nice, you taking
    every single word and deliberately
    twisting it to make me sound like
    a monster?

    DAX
    Oh, so I’m the bad guy now? You
    know, I came here hoping for
    some encouragement. This is a
    big chance I’m taking.

    BASHIR
    And I don’t want you to run into
    it blindly, without thinking it
    through first. That is Dax’s MO,
    after all. Believe it or not, I
    don’t actually want you to die.

    DAX
    Are you sure? If I die, you can
    rest safe in the knowledge that
    the great Doctor Julian Bashir
    was right, as always.

    BASHIR
    You know what this really is,
    Counsellor Dax? This is not me
    needing to be right. This is you
    projecting all your insecurities
    onto me. As always. ​


    Dax stands slowly, utterly furious, and looms over him.


    DAX
    That’s Captain Dax to you, Lieutenant
    Commander Bashir. I suggest you
    remember that. And if any interaction
    with me is so hard for you, then I have
    another suggestion. How about you
    and me never seeing each other again?​


    She turns and leaves, head high and face stern. Bashir is left stricken, knowing that he messed this up again.

    On the Promenade, Dax strides purposefully towards a turbolift. She slaps her combadge harder than necessary.


    DAX
    Dax to Bowers. Recall all crew to
    their stations. I want to leave as
    soon as DS9 can give us clearance.

    BOWERS (comm)
    Understood, Captain.​


    The turbolift arrives, and she steps aboard, glowering.


    DAX
    Aventine. ​


    The computer beeps affirmatively, and the doors slide shut.


    BLACK OUT


    END OF ACT THREE
     
  7. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Location:
    Manchester
    ACT FOUR


    FADE IN:


    17 EXT. DEEP SPACE NINE


    Re-establishing the Aventine docked at the station.


    18 INT. DS9 - MAIN OPS CENTRE


    Most of DS9’s senior staff is already present - Ro and Cenn at the central Ops table, Candlewood at sciences, ALECO at tactical, Tenmei just hanging out. Pointedly not Bashir.

    A turbolift rises into Ops, carrying Captain Vaughn, Shar and Nog. Tenmei notices and runs to hug Shar and Vaughn.


    TENMEI
    Dad! Shar!

    RO
    (chuckles)
    Whatever happened to the days
    when you two barely acknowledged
    each other’s existence?

    VAUGHN
    Happily long gone, Commander.
    Dax on her way?

    CENN
    Just waiting for final clearance
    now, Captain.​


    Meanwhile, Tenmei and Nog have led Shar over to the science station, where the Andorian is greeted with a handshake by his replacement as chief science officer.


    CANDLEWOOD
    Good to see you, Shar. How’s being
    back on a starship treating you?

    SHAR
    It is good, thank you, John. I am
    finding it quite fulfilling.

    CANDLEWOOD
    Good, cause you’re not getting
    this science station back.

    TENMEI
    Computers are John’s best friends.

    CANDLEWOOD
    Careful. Another crack like that
    and this computer expert might
    just replace your entire music
    archive with Sinnravian drad.

    NOG
    And what would be wrong with that?​


    The rest chuckle - everyone knows drad music is unbearable to everyone but Ferengi. Meanwhile Cenn’s panel trills.


    BOWERS (comm)
    Aventine to DS-Nine. We’re ready,
    requesting clearance to depart.

    CENN
    (off panels)
    Clearance granted, Aventine. Safe
    journey. Walk with the Prophets.

    BOWERS (comm)
    Acknowledged, Major. We’ll see
    you again soon. Aventine out.

    RO
    Put them on screen.​


    Cenn does so - the main viewscreen changes to show Aventine slowly arcing away from the station and out into space. Tenmei pouts, grumbles under her breath. Shar notices...


    SHAR
    Prynn? Is everything okay?

    TENMEI
    No. Leishman gets to fly around
    with a slipstream engine and I don’t.​


    After a moment, the wormhole bursts into life. Aventine dives in, is swallowed up, and the wormhole closes.

    Ro turns back to Vaughn, shares a look. They are proud of Dax, but they all hope she will be alright.

    Then there is an ALERT on Cenn’s panels. He checks them...


    CENN
    It’s a message from Starfleet.
    There’s been another Borg attack.​


    Ro, Vaughn and Sisko blanche with horror...


    19 INT. DS9 - COMMANDER’S OFFICE


    The video clip from the Amargosa plays on a wall screen. Ro, Sisko and Vaughn watch in silent horror. They took this in private so as not to demoralise the crew any more.

    As the clip begins to repeat, Sisko reaches out and taps off the screen. They’ve seen enough. Quiet, haunted.


    SISKO
    Five attacks in the last sixteen
    hours. Who knows how many
    more on the way.

    RO
    These weren’t anywhere near
    the Bajor sector, though, right?
    They’re not on their way here?

    VAUGHN
    The Onias sector is way over near
    Romulan space. But since we still
    don’t know where the hell they’re
    coming from or how, it may not
    stay that way.

    SISKO
    The Kirk and the New York have
    been ordered back towards the
    core worlds. To join the defence if
    and when there’s another attack.

    RO
    Leaving Bajor undefended if they
    do come here.

    VAUGHN
    (half joking)
    Maybe you can pray to the
    Prophets to protect you.

    SISKO
    (quiet, pained)
    That’s not funny, Elias.

    VAUGHN
    No, I suppose it’s not.

    RO
    When do you leave?

    SISKO
    Admiral Whatley wants us to be
    on our way as soon as possible.​


    Ro turns to the other two captains, looks them both clear in the eye so there’s no mistaking. She makes this formal.


    RO
    Then I wish you safe journey,
    Captains. And good luck.

    VAUGHN
    And to you, Commander.​


    They shake each other's hands. Solemn, aware of the task before them, Sisko and Vaughn turn and EXIT the office. Ro steps to the window that looks out over Ops, and watches as Vaughn beckons MOS for Shar to join them.

    Shar shares a moment of concern with Tenmei and Nog, who don’t want to see their friend go into danger. But orders are orders. Shar joins Sisko and Vaughn on the turbolift, which takes them all away.

    After a moment, Ro turns back to her desk, lowers herself into the seat. And sits there alone, isolated. Abandoned.


    20 EXT. AVENTINE


    Re-establishing the Aventine in orbit of the golden-coloured desert planet.


    21 INT. AVENTINE - CONFERENCE ROOM


    The door opens and Dax strides in to the conference lounge, heading towards the closest chair at the head of the table. As Dax takes her seat, Bowers is already sat to her right and Helkara to her left. Next in line are Leishman next to Bowers, and MIRREN (Ops manager, human female) next to Helkara. Presumably Lt Kedair is running the bridge.


    DAX
    Let’s get started.

    HELKARA
    The salvage of the Columbia’s logs
    is underway, Captain. Ensign
    Riordan is helping its computer
    talk to ours, and they seem to
    be getting along splendidly.

    LEISHMAN
    I’d like to commend Ensign Riordan
    for his work on this project, Captain.
    If it weren’t for the schematics he
    found in Earth’s archives, I doubt
    we could have made a successful
    connection to the Columbia’s
    memory banks.

    DAX
    I’ll note it in my log.
    (to Helkara)
    How much of their data have you
    translated so far?

    HELKARA
    About thirty-five percent. We’re
    dividing our time between sensor
    logs and flight records.

    DAX
    (to Mirren)
    Have you made any progress
    in analysing the data?

    MIRREN
    Some. By cross-referencing the
    two sources, we’re developing
    a simulation of the Columbia’s
    approach to the planet and
    its crash landing.

    BOWERS
    How far along is the sim?

    MIRREN
    We’ve locked down roughly the last
    forty seconds before the Columbia
    impacted the surface. If looks as
    if it was on autopilot before it -​


    Mirren is interrupted by a RUSTLING sound. She glares across the table, where Leishman is busy unwrapping a small piece of candy. Job done, she happily pops it into her mouth and begins to chew... before looking up and realising that everyone is staring at her.


    LEISHMAN
    (still chewing)
    What?

    MIRREN
    Must you?

    LEISHMAN
    I get low blood sugar.​


    Bowers glowers but holds his tongue. Dax sees this and covers a smirk of amusement. Leishman just keeps chewing, guileless and innocent, deliberately torturing Mirren.


    BOWERS
    Mirren, you said the Columbia’s
    autopilot had been engaged.
    Any idea by whom?

    MIRREN
    Not yet. We’re not even sure
    when it was activated. It might
    have been online for minutes,
    or it could have been flying
    the ship for years.

    DAX
    Alright, we still have fourteen
    hours to work on this before we
    have to pull up sticks. Sam, I
    want all our resources focused
    on this, understood?

    BOWERS
    Aye, sir.

    DAX
    Thank you, everyone. Dismissed.​


    Everyone stands from their seats and begins to head back towards the bridge - Dax lets them all pass her before her, waiting to go last. As they do, Leishman steps into file behind Mirren and begins WHISTLING an off-key tune. Mirren lasts only seconds before turning to her with gritted teeth.


    MIRREN
    Do you mind?

    LEISHMAN
    Sorry. Helps me think.​


    Dax smirks again as they leave the bridge. She is actually grateful for Leishman trying to lighten the atmosphere in here. Before the door to the bridge has chance to close, Counsellor HYATT pokes her head in.


    HYATT
    Do you have a moment, Captain?

    DAX
    Sure, come on in.​


    Dax directs Hyatt to the seat Bowers was sitting in, while she sits back down where she was. The door to the bridge closes, leaving them alone.


    DAX
    So what’s up?

    HYATT
    I have some concerns about the
    crew’s psychological condition.
    It’s only been two weeks since
    they lost an entire third of their
    crew mates in a devastating
    battle against the Borg.

    DAX
    (nodding)
    I imagine your appointment
    book has been full.

    HYATT
    Can’t deny that. But a lot of it,
    especially since we came here,
    hasn’t even mentioned the
    Borg. At least not directly.

    DAX
    What do you mean?

    HYATT
    I’ve had more than a dozen of
    the crew mention that they felt a
    presence on the Columbia. That
    they’d been working down there,
    alone or in pairs, and had the
    feeling that someone - or some-
    thing - was watching them.​


    Dax takes a deep breath. She has felt the same thing, but doesn’t want to admit that to a subordinate right now. It might undermine her newfound authority.


    DAX
    You think it’s because of what
    happened at Acamar?

    HYATT
    So many deaths. The prospect of
    many more to come. The pressure
    to do something, anything to stop
    it. It wouldn’t be out of the realms
    of possibility for some to suffer
    a certain level of paranoia.

    DAX
    But for all of them to have the
    same story?

    HYATT
    (shrug)
    There’s such a thing as a shared
    delusion. One person talks about
    it, others pick it up, think
    they’re feeling the same
    thing. And it spreads.​


    Dax ponders quietly. Is she going crazy? Are they all?


    DAX
    I’ve heard similar reports from
    others. Bowers wants to increase
    security down on the Columbia.
    Kedair thinks it’s superstition.
    Tarses has treated a dozen people
    for a tingling on the skin.
    (pause)
    And I’ve felt it myself.​


    Dax looks down, vaguely ashamed. Hyatt absorbs the news without reaction. She wonders how to be delicate here...


    HYATT
    I spoke briefly with Doctor Tarses
    shortly after we left DS-Nine. He
    mentioned he detected some tension
    with your former crewmates.

    DAX
    (sad smile)
    Great. One week as a captain
    and my senior staff are already
    gossiping about me behind my back.

    HYATT
    Not gossiping. Expressing concern.
    He wanted to be sure you had the
    necessary support during your
    transition.

    DAX
    So you think I’m imagining it?
    The same as everyone else?

    HYATT
    You lost people too, the same as
    they did. And you have the added
    pressure of becoming captain.
    Can you honestly rule it out?

    DAX
    (deliberately
    contrary)
    Maybe there’s a native life-form.
    Something that took up residence
    inside the Columbia for shelter.

    HYATT
    Helkara didn’t detect any life
    signs apart from our own crew.

    DAX
    Starfleet records are filled with
    non-corporeal life-forms that don’t
    register on standard sensors until
    you know what to look for.

    HYATT
    (gently)
    They’re also full of crew who
    suffered post-traumatic stress
    after particularly harrowing
    experiences.​


    Dax sits back. She knows she is not winning this one.


    DAX
    Alright, Counsellor. What do you
    suggest?

    HYATT
    I do understand that you have to
    balance the needs of the crew with
    the parameters of the mission. And
    if there’s a chance the Columbia
    can help us against the Borg, you
    can’t let a few hairs standing up
    on the back of your neck stop you.
    But you also can’t just discount
    it altogether. I just want you to
    keep it in mind when it comes
    to the crew’s performance.
    (beat)
    And your own.

    DAX
    Understood, Counsellor. Thank you.​


    Hyatt nods, and quietly stands to leave the room. Dax sits at the conference table, pondering what Hyatt has said.


    22 INT. COLUMBIA


    The dark and dismal depths of the deserted Columbia, with Aventine crew working away in various corners.

    And unseen by those workers, peeking around the corner and seeming to watch them from afar, the little blue lights continue to flicker...


    BLACK OUT


    END OF ACT FOUR
     
  8. DS9Continuing

    DS9Continuing Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Location:
    Manchester
    ACT FIVE


    FADE IN:


    23 INT. AVENTINE - BRIDGE


    Dax sits in the captain’s chair, legs crossed and reading a padd. Bowers sits in the first officer’s chair next to her. The business of the bridge goes on around them.

    A BEEP sounds from Lieutenant Kedair’s console. Dax quickly turns to look towards her security chief, worried it’s something bad.


    DAX
    Don’t tell me - the Jem’Hadar
    are here.

    KEDAIR
    Not this time. It’s Starfleet again,
    via the wormhole relay. ​


    Bowers calls up the message on his own console, reads through it, frowns at it.


    DAX
    What does it say?

    BOWERS
    They’re cutting our deadline.

    DAX
    (dismayed)
    What?!

    KEDAIR
    Did they say why? Have there
    been more attacks?

    BOWERS
    Not explicitly. But they want
    us back in the Alpha Quadrant
    sooner - in four hours. ​


    Dax ponders into her woven fingers. What to do? She needs the data from the Columbia, but can she afford to disobey orders on her very first mission?


    DAX
    How soon do we have to leave
    to make their deadline?

    BOWERS
    Taking into account reclaiming all
    the hardware we’ve installed down
    there, leaving orbit, maximum warp
    back to the wormhole, then from
    Bajor to the rendezvous point...
    we basically have to start now. ​


    Dammit. That does not make her happy.


    DAX
    How much data have we got from
    the Columbia so far?

    BOWERS
    (checks panels)
    Sixty-eight percent.

    KEDAIR
    Is that enough?

    DAX
    No way to know, is there? I guess
    we’ll just have to hope.
    (taps console)
    Dax to Helkara and Leishman. ​


    A moment, and a crackly signal comes through, interference caused by the atmospheric conditions.


    HELKARA (comm)
    Helkara here, Captain.

    DAX
    Change of orders, I’m afraid,
    Commander. Start shutting down
    the salvage operation on the
    Columbia immediately.

    HELKARA (comm)
    Sir, we haven’t finished the data
    reclamation from their computers.

    DAX
    I know. Leishman - is there any
    way to disconnect the memory
    banks and bring them with us?

    LEISHMAN (comm)
    Sorry, Captain. The housings were
    damaged pretty badly in the crash.
    That and two hundred years of wind
    and sand eating away at them - if
    we try to move them from where
    they are, they’ll disintegrate and
    we’ll lose everything.

    DAX
    (sigh)
    Alright. So leave that part of it
    running as long as you possibly
    can while you dismantle the rest.
    I want every last bit of data we
    can get. But Aventine needs to
    leave orbit as soon as possible.

    HELKARA (comm)
    Understood, sir. We’ll let you
    know when we’re ready.

    DAX
    Good. Dax out. ​


    The line drops. Dax turns to Bowers and they share a look - she is steaming about this. He offers her a sympathetic smile, but it doesn’t help much. It feels like failing at her very first mission as a captain.


    24 EXT. COLUMBIA


    The broken NX-class ship sits half-buried in the sand. Runabouts, shuttles and digger vessels dot the desert around it, and figures can be seen clambering about upon its surface doing this and that.


    25 INT. COLUMBIA


    A young male Bolian engineering non-com, YOTT, stands among the dangling cables and broken bulkheads of the Columbia. This is one of the lower decks, where no light reaches via holes in the hull, and they work only by artificial light.

    KOMER, a human female chief petty officer, is with him, working on packing bits of technology back into crates and carry-cases. She is already annoyed at Yott, who is looking up and down the corridors rather than helping with the shut-down of the operation.


    YOTT
    This place gives me the creeps.

    KOMER
    Don’t tell me you’re seeing ghosts
    now too.

    YOTT
    Not ghosts. But something’s been
    following us since we came up
    from E-deck. ​


    As if in proof, a gust of wind blows past, kicking up some of the sand they tracked down here on their boots. An eerie MOAN accompanies it.

    Komer is unimpressed. She takes her palm beacon and shines it down the corridor one way. Nothing. She turns and shines it down the corridor the other way. Nothing. That done, she turns back and shines the light directly into Yott’s face.


    KOMER
    Who do you think’s following us,
    the invisible man?

    YOTT
    Chief, I’m serious. There’s
    something here.

    KOMER
    (harrumph)
    Fine. ​


    Since the only way to deal with this appears to be to humour him, Komer sets down her coil spanner with a sigh and picks up a tricorder instead. She opens it and begins pressing buttons, holding it out to the deserted ship.


    YOTT
    What are you doing?

    KOMER
    I’m running a full spectrum scan
    for life-forms and energy readings.
    Don’t worry, it’ll only take a few
    seconds. You just keep standing
    there. Anything special you
    want me to look for? ​


    Yott shakes his head no, but continues to look warily about as if expecting something to jump out at him at any moment. Komer continues to scan, and tries to lighten the mood.


    KOMER
    You know, you ought to lay off the
    raktajino. It makes you jumpy.

    YOTT
    I don’t drink raktajino.
    (beat)
    Can’t you feel it? Like a charge in
    the air? It smells like ozone.

    KOMER
    I’m not reading anything unusual.
    No bio signs in this section -
    nothing but us.

    YOTT
    There are things tricorders can’t
    read. Exotic energy patterns, trace
    elements, extra-dimensional
    phenomena...

    KOMER
    And paranoid delusions. I can’t
    believe I really have to tell you
    there’s no such thing as - ​


    The little BLUE LIGHTS flicker in the darkness. Yott sees it and JUMPS in terror. But this time, Komer also sees it. Her head snaps around and she holds the tricorder out.


    YOTT
    You saw that! You saw it! ​


    Komer takes a deep breath, continues to scan. Yott’s fear is infecting her too, but she tries to remain rational.


    KOMER
    Residual energy. Just a surge in
    the power lines. Makes sense when
    you think about how much juice
    we’re pumping into this old wreck.

    YOTT
    Not anymore we’re not. You know
    Lieutenant Leishman already shut
    down the relays in this section.
    There’s no power on this deck.
    (points)
    So where did that come from?​


    Another MOAN of wind comes through, kicking up sand and whistling through cracks in the walls. An electric HUM begins to rise in the darkness. The hair on Komer’s neck stands on end.

    A light fixture on the wall FLARES to life despite there supposedly being no power. Its brightness is all the more blinding for the darkness around it.


    YOTT
    (grabs her sleeve)
    Alright that’s it. Come on!

    KOMER
    Komer to Aventine - ​


    The light fixture EXPLODES, sending sprays of shattered plastic flying like shrapnel. Streaks of jagged, blinding LIGHTNING shoot out in the darkness and HIT Yott and Komer both square in the chest.

    Both crewmen are THROWN hard to the deck by the force of the blow to their chests, landing with a hard THUD while the shrapnel continues to rain down on them.

    Komer and Yott lie on the deck, shuddering in SPASMS. Tools and machinery cast everywhere. The artificial lights they brought have been knocked askew, sending crazy shadows across the dark and broken bulkheads.

    The electric HUM continues to build, becoming a WHINE as the power in the air intensifies. In the darkness, the blue flickering lights reappear.

    As Komer and Yott lie there unable to move, watching this, the lights move closer and closer, out of the darkness. The lights multiply, tiny angry blue fireflies swarming.

    Gradually, they coalesce into the rough shape of a HUMANOID figure... which hovers over them in the darkness for a moment. And then DESCENDS on them.

    And Komer and Yott SCREAM...


    BLACK OUT


    END OF SHOW