What is Real?

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 1010.1

Last time I spoke to Senkar, 10 years ago now, he told me that if I stayed my current course they would make a murderer out of me. I never imagined his words that day would have an element of truth.

The Void Lords’ realm was unreal, looking back on it none of it seems like it could have been real. From the impossible sky to the invisible bridge, the lift between realms, and the Hall of Worlds. As for the Void Lords themselves, a species living in a realm of which subspace is a part, cataloging worlds to add to their archive could easily be a plot out of a bad novel.

It was real though, I just have to look at the planks from the crates, at the cutlass Jorsh is carrying around to know that, and the worlds in the Hall were not tokens or models but in some way were the planets themselves. And because of that the entire population of one of their cataloged worlds is dead. And I killed them.

A Tragedy in Slow Motion

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 1007.1


Some events defy classification. A volcano eruption near a town is a tragedy. A quake destroying a city is a catastrophe. What’s happening here is far beyond either. The Brissid population effectively no longer exists. A fragment remains, but the dragons are still there, and that fragment is shrinking.

While we’ve got some minimal defenses against a lone dragon now, I suspect that even if the entire of Starfleet was here, we’d still have been outmatched if they had decided to attack.

Is the rift natural, or generated from somewhere? If it was generated for this attack, I would have expected it to be closer to Brissid, unless there are other considerations in play.

And where does that rift lead? To where the captives are, or to a horde of dragons? If we go through and it is the latter, it will not turn out well. The probe should get us enough information to decide on a course of action, if it works. If it fails to return useful information, I’m unsure what our next steps will be.


Falling into place

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 1006.8

I think I understand what happened now. The events we witnessed at Brissid were the final pieces I needed.

The initial power loss was due to the nebula’s energised state. The failure of emergency power may have been some effect of the dragons’, akin to what we experienced around the anomaly on Zheng’s World 3, or it may have been a further effect of the nebula state. It is supposed to be impossible to lose primary, auxiliary and emergency power at the same time, and both the shuttles and escape pods have independent power systems, so the first option seems the more likely.

With no power, no sensors, no shields, no engines, they would have had no chance to even see the attack. The dragons started by tearing through the main structural members, separating out the primary and secondary hulls and severing the nacelle struts. This is the same pattern that we saw with the Spica.

Then they ripped the ship apart, layer by layer, using their strange transporter-like effect on the people as they were exposed. Does their transporter effect not work through hull plating, or do they need to see their target to use it?

Afterwards the dragons headed in the direction of Zheng’s World, but returned to their subspace domain after a light year. Are the portals they used created from the originating domain and does it take time or energy to open? If so, it would explain why there’s been a trail from every attack, but one that disappears into empty space.

Understanding however does not bring answers, not the important ones, and there are still many things about this entire situation that I do not understand.

Like the reason behind all of this.

Like where the Gwuan fit into the picture.

Like the condition of those who were taken.

Enforced Delay

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 1005.2

It’s strange. The letter from the Academy yesterday is the culmination of five years of work, and yet my first thought on reading it was to wish that it hadn’t come, that it would come at a better time.

My second thought was that Selak would be proud.

I miss the letters, even the ones that were just short extracts of data, containing nothing of relevance to the conversation. Even the terrible attempts at poetry.

The repairs are taking longer than I would have liked, though there’s little I can do to speed them up.

I just think that we’re running out of time.


Stranded

Personal log
Stardate 1003.8

When we rescued Lt Zheng, I was hardly expecting to end up in her situation little over a year later.

“Investigating a subspace anomaly.” Given what we found in this system three weeks ago and the cylinder cut out of the crater, I don’t believe that the presence of a subspace anomaly is a coincidence, and the lack of communication since is concerning. Am I going to be adding the rest of the crew of the Jemison to my list of dead and missing?

The underground complex is an enigma. We knew that the Gwuan people were warp capable for some time before their civilisation was destroyed, but several hundred years was far beyond what I would every have expected. What were they doing here?

Are the markings on the screens related to whatever it is attacking ships? The drawing of the creature does bear some resemblance to the results of the search that Johnson ran before the Spica was destroyed, and one thing the Yonggi message and their patrols does imply is that these attacks have happened before. Did the Gwuan expedition come here fleeing it? Come here for other reasons and were then attacked?

The power source is the biggest mystery. A temporal-based power source. At least, the chroniton emissions suggest that it what it is, and it doesn’t appear to be anything that I’m familiar with.

We found a fusion reactor on Silik 6. Did they use both power sources? If so, what did they use on their homeworld? The chroniton bursts that I saw, and their ‘reversing’ effect could be a result of the device malfunctioning, in this case due to age. If that is true, and the Gwuan used this kind of device widely, that suggests some intriguing possibilities.

Another day, another torn up ship

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 1002.6

The Spica was in pieces. I had hoped otherwise, but it appears that the ship was destroyed even before we were aware there was any trouble. Another 40 people on the list of those missing, perhaps more than 40, there’s evidence they were carrying at least one passenger as well.

More strange materials, more unexplained events, more clues and still nothing concrete that tells us where the crew of the Noether were taken.

It’s been 3 and a half months now and nothing. No impressions, no response, nothing. I’m finding an unwanted truth in the saying that you never truly appreciate what you have.

Mysteries and Enigmas

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 1000.9

Despite several days, I still have little idea what it is that the Yonggi were trying to tell us. Some is obvious, the vision of the destruction of the USS Nautilus matches with the captain’s memory of the event, although adds details of which he was unaware. Some is reasonably easy to interpret, the dark tendrils reaching into a bright sphere and taking something out could be a representation of our mysterious attacker. Others are less so.

What was the significance of the dimming of the light and increasingly strong attacks by the fern in the second room? To tell us that the more attacks happened, the worse things would get?

What the four different fish signified, I have no idea. Nor do I understand why one was the same that they showed me last year in connection with the subspace wave.

Four races? But more are among the missing currently. Four targets? But if we include the USS Nautilus there have been that many already. Four categories of targets? Perhaps, we’ve seen ships targeted one way and a planet targeted a different way. Or perhaps the targets or missing people are in categories that we aren’t aware of.

What concerns me is that there might be information in their message that we could act on, if we understood it. If there is, and we don’t, what are the consequences going to be?

Academic Nagging

To: Lieutenant Commander T’Laan, Chief Engineer, USS Jemison NCC-547
From: Commander Calista Erikson, Science Division, Starfleet Academy

Stardate 994.1

I have editors from two journals nagging me for the final version of your last two papers. You may be 60 light years away from these people, but I work in the same city and they know where my office is.

I know, I know, mission priorities, other duties, etc, etc. Please could you get the edited versions to me before I have to take drastic action to avoid the editors, like hiding out in the Appalachian mountains for the rest of the year.


To: Lieutenant Commander T’Laan, Chief Engineer, USS Jemison NCC-547
From: Commander Calista Erikson, Science Division, Starfleet Academy

Stardate 995.6

I’m sorry, I had no idea. I heard about the ship, but…

I’ll see if I can push for another month, that shouldn’t be hard. I’ll give them some vague reason. Also, see if Renzo has some time to help out with the one that he co-authored.

And keep me updated on the other matter as well.


To: Lieutenant Commander T’Laan, Chief Engineer, USS Jemison NCC-547
From: Commander Calista Erikson, Science Division, Starfleet Academy

Stardate 999.8

Looks good. I’ll pass both of these on to the editors. The only additional thing I might suggest at this point is to add a footnote to the first one about what happened to the planet Silik since the first draft was written, if anyone’s figured out what happened yet that is.


To: Lieutenant Commander T’Laan, Chief Engineer, USS Jemison NCC-547
From: Commander Calista Erikson, Science Division, Starfleet Academy

Stardate 1000.9

The formal notification should be coming in a couple of days, but I thought I’d let you know early. I got word this morning.

Both papers are scheduled for publication, I’ll make sure you get copies of the relevant journals as soon as they are available. The Review Committee met yesterday, and they’re happy that all of the requirements have been completed to their satisfaction.

There’s a pile of declarations and related paperwork to complete, that should also be coming in the next couple of days. I took the liberty of indicating that you won’t be attending graduation in person. At least I assume you’re not planning on coming 60 odd light years just to spend two hours in a stuffy, over-cramped hall.

Lastly, what now? Are you planning on spending the next few decades fixing conduits, replacing lights and patching holes, or are you coming back to the academic side at some point? Let me know?

A horrifying discovery

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 999.6

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find my calm center, especially in the last couple of days. I haven’t haven’t woken from a nightmare in many years, but the last three days…

All the same. The inside of that structure. The cocoons in the floor. The covering of the closest gets removed but it is not one of the bear-like creatures lying within.

I wish I could dismiss it as just a nightmare, but I fear that is what has happened.

Where did this come from?

Report on Item of Indeterminate Origin
September 2203

During an Academy field trip to Duwan’Ktra, a buried structure was uncovered after a minor subsidence incident. While the architecture and construction materials of the structure itself were consistent with existing structures found on the planet, one item found under a debris pile was not.

The underground structure appears to be the buried remains of a stable, or other agricultural building. The surrounding area, a series of mid-altitude flat plains, were minimally populated before the extinction event, and while there have been archaeological, mineralogical and geological analyses done, there have been no comprehensive digs.

The structure in question is found at grid coordinates 549.87, 142.04, and at a depth of 6 meters below the current surface. The anomalous item was found in the north-west corner of the structure, buried 0.56 metres within a pile of debris. The debris was a mixture of soil and building materials, the latter being dated to Cira 10 000 standard years ago.

The item itself is a perfect geometric solid, a stellated dodecahedron. The metal framework is a mixture of durasteel and corunduim. The crystal, while superficially resembling a quartz-type mineral, is a member of the hypersonic series and is, in some ways, similar to dilithium. There are no apparent power sources within the item, and measurements indicate that the crystal is solid with no intrusions. There is one unexplained phenomenon related to the item. It intermittently emits a low-level localised subspace field. The exact mechanisms which lead to that production and the exact physical processes behind it are unknown at this time.

The metal frame is scratched in several places, and there are scorch marks on the tips of most of the pyramids. Where the scratches and scorch marks overlap, the scratches appear to have been made after the scorching.

The item does not match any artistic or structural artifacts previously found on Duwan’Ktra and the technology required to produce the alloys is far beyond anything which the inhabitants are theorised to have reached. As such, it appears likely that the item was placed in the location it as found, perhaps as a prank, or it originated beyond the system and impacted the surface sometime in the last 10 000 standard years.