The Maelstrom's True Form
Shuttlebay One <Deck L25> [Gibraltar Station]
This large, open space spans two decks and is generally ovular in shape, with a large extension to the aft which leads to the large doors. Lining the walls fore and aft are bays in which shuttlecraft are kept while not being used. Typically there are shuttlecraft or runabouts on the main flight deck, being serviced, prepped for a mission, or being prepared to be put back in a hangar bay. To the fore of the space doors is a trio of panels set into the floor which serve as elevators to take damaged craft up to the maintenance bays. The walls are gray panels separated by black stripes, broken only by the black doors that lead out to the main deck or to offices, simulators, and supply closets. Along the upper level of the shuttlebay are balconies leading between doors, also to offices and supply closets. There are ladders up to those balconies every so often along the walls. The gray metal floor is covered in guidance and warning lines of red, green, yellow, and white. Along the middle of the walls, where the floor of the upper deck should be, is a gray metal strip that reads "CAUTION: VARIABLE GRAVITY AREA" every few feet. Below this is a horizontal alert tracer that runs around the entire shuttlebay.
Lt Winifred Brooks
Lt Jason Turner
LtJG Ouyang Diomed
Lt Rhiannan Menarii
Brooks is already in the Origen, getting her prepped for flight. Checklists yay!
Solvek turns to those assumbled behind him and begins briefing the group. "We are returning to the Antares Maelstrom in order to repair the damage that is being caused to the Iconian objects. Ouyang and Menarii will monitor sensors and communications respectively. Brooks will pilot the Origen, Turner will monitor engineering and operations. Once we arrive, I will begin uploading the code provided by Andrews and Dougal." With that, he turns and gets in the shuttle.
"Understood, sir." Despite his earlier demeanor, Jason's at least trying to look somewhat professional. "I assume schematics for Aventino's nonstandard shields are loaded? I haven't had time to familiarize myself with them."
Menarii listens patiently as Solvek explains their duties and inclines her head to him in acknowledgement. "Aye, sir."
Ouyang nods. After Solvek gets into the shuttle, Ouyang shakes his a head a bit, trying to wear off some of the wine, and follows Solvek into the shuttle, once again.
Brooks glances over to the open shuttle door and calls, "Already done, Turner."
Solvek nods to Turner and takes his seat behind the front consoles.
"Well, marvelous." Jason chuckles and enters the shuttle, dropping heavily into the second seat. He calls to life the usuals--damage control (great, half-drunk away team--better not need it), navigation, all of it, and does a quick check of the pretty lights. "Looks green here."
Menarii climbs up into the shuttle and plunks herself down at the console, sitting quietly as she looks over her own set of pretty lights.
Brooks seems to be not at all drunk as she calls out quite calmly, "Ready for takeoff, sir."
Ouyang finds his console and looks up to Solvek. "Sensors up, sir."
"Very well." Solvek taps his console and the bay doors slide open. "Launch."
Brooks taps away and the shuttle smoothly launches, then speeds up as it clears the doors, altering course to head toward the Maelstrom.
Menarii looks over the console, lifting her eyes to look out the window from time to time.
"Everything looks alright here," Jason mutters to Brooks, settling back in his chair. "Aventino didn't leave much of an instruction manual. I'm not looking forward to the results if the shields go sideways."
Ouyang taps on his console continuously, monitoring the maelstorm.
Brooks glances over to Turner with a vague smirk. "So don't let them go sideways?"
"Not something left up to me, Lieutenant." Turner's voice goes sharp. "That's in the hands of whatever God you might pray to. I can only keep 'em fed and watered."
Solvek looks to Menarii. "Inform 247 that we are leaving."
"I suppose so." Brooks' attention has returned to her console and she makes a course correction idly. "I'll remind Lieutenant Aventino to document the shielding better so we can adapt it for use on the station if need be."
Menarii nods to Solvek and opens a channel.
<Compin> Menarii says, "Shuttle Origen to Starbase 247 requesting clearance for departure."
<Compin> Operations responds, "Clearance granted. Safe trip, Origen."
The shuttle flies on, and after a time the Maelstrom looms. It looks, from the outside, to be a large bluish-green nebula, energy flickering deep within.
Brooks taps at her console as the Maelstrom appears and the shuttle's speed slows.
"Not sure what I'm supposed to be seeing here, but the lights are all blinking green. So I have to think we're all set." Jason settles an elbow on the armrest, posting his chin upon a fist.
Ouyang looks up to Solvek. "We're approaching the Maelstorm, sir. The sensors are on it."
Solvek nods, looking to Brooks as the shuttle slows. "Excellent. Lieutenant, take us--" he cuts off as he stares at the screen.
Menarii looks over at Solvek as he stops speaking.
The blueish green is... disappating, the cloud expanding out and thinning. The green rolls right over the shuttle though the shuttle's barely moving.
Jason barely glances up. "Oh, great. The cloud's not there now. Do we dance around and giggle, or do we go 'oh, damn' and look for things to pray to?" Just as he finishes speaking, the console in front of Jason beeps once and he leans forward, scanning the text that pops up. "Shields are holding, but they ain't liking the radiation in this area. Eighty percent efficiency."
Brooks looks up at the screen and blinks. "That's no good," she comments. Understatement of the century much?
Ouyang looks up with a puzzled look. "Sir, the radiation belt is disappearing and the objects are being... destroyed?"
Beyond the green is an area of arcing energy bolts surrounding a swirling, dark vortex. Now that there's nothing hiding it this is laid bare, a likely frightening sight.
Menarii watches out the window silently, pressing her lips together and taking a deep breath.
"Great. Lovely. Excellent." Jason barks a laugh. "This should be interesting." The lights throughout the shuttle dim, some going out entirely, and all of the consoles not currently occupied go dark. "Diverting everything except engines, life support, and sensors into the shields."
Solvek frowns and his voice turns serious. "Brooks, full reverse. Take us back to the station."
Brooks taps at her console. "Aye, sir." She lays in a course for the station and enters it, hands flying.
The energy "cloud" is expanding, too, and with it come gravity waves... waves that crash over the shuttle, bouncing it about and forcing it down toward the vortex. An energy spike hits the shields, dancing across them.
"Alright, that's not what I wanted to see!" Jason spares a glance toward Brooks, his own hands darting across his console, but returns to his own duties. "Ouyang, tell me what you've got back there! Got a frequency for these things?!"
Brooks is stunningly calm for a blueshirt at the helm of a shuttle that's being dragged toward a Gaping Vortex of Doom. She taps at the consloe, frowns, taps again. "Any more power to the engines, Turner? Take it from sensors if you have to. Nothing to see here anymore."
Ouyang raises his eyebrows. "Not exactly want I want to see either, sir. However, I am recording all this in every way this shuttle is equipped so we can analyze this later."
Solvek stares at the vortex, his eyes narrowing. He looks down at his console and quickly taps a few buttons. "Turner, belay that. Take it from environmental control. I do not care if we freeze, we need the sensors. Ouyang, I am taking over monitoring. Assist Turner in diverting power. Menarii, call Starbase 247 and inform them of the situation."
Brooks doesn't argue, in fact, says, "You're right, Commander. It's just... this stupid thing..." She frowns as the shuttle keeps fighting her.
The energy bursts hit once, twice more, and then the cloud's rolled over and is gone, leaving only the vortex, swirling alone in space. For a moment, all is quiet.
Ouyang nods as he grinds his teeth with a grim look on his face. "Yes sir."
"Like hell he's right," Turner hisses, but he does as ordered. He taps a few buttons and Ouyang's console lights up with a duplicate of Turner's own. "Ouyang, handle power distribution, and leech every damned megawatt out of the warp core you can." He calls up sensors on his own display, searching for more incoming gravity waves.
Brooks stares up at the screen for a moment. "Where does it go, I wonder..."
Solvek turns to Brooks. "I hope we never find out. I believe that the worst of the shock is done; we just need to escape this gravity well."
The shuttle abruptly stops fighting, turns, and starts back toward Starbase 247.
Brooks relaxes a bit as the shuttle stops fighting, but doesn't take her attention away from the console again.
<Compin> Menarii says, "Shuttle Origen to Starbase 247."
<Compin> Operations replies, "247 here, go ahead Origen."
<Compin> Menarii says, "We're having some trouble out here. Shields are holding for the moment, but there are some gravity waves occasionally tugging at us. We're trying to get back."
<Compin> Operations replies, "Acknowledged, Origen. Need any help?"
Menarii looks over towards Brooks and Solvek. "Are we in the clear? Or do we need assistance?"
Ouyang sighs in relief, but still wipes some sweat off his forehead and continues to divert power to the engines.
The vortex seems to shift, and if anyone's ever seen the Bajoran wormhole, it looks a lot like a black version of that as it abruptly spits out a stream of debris. It contracts, closing, and suddenly a black cloud begins to spread from it, faster than the shuttle's moving, threatening to envelop the Origen.
Brooks looks up at the window, eyes widening. "What the..." She pulls herself back to the console. "Moving to maximum speed. Like, the most I can manage..."
"Christ almighty." Jason glances over his shoulder toward Solvek. "What the hell is that thing, Commander? I need a frequency to modulate the goddamned shields!"
Solvek turns to Turner. "Modulate the shields to match frequency 389.87. That won't completely override the effects, but it will at least stabilize the shields enough to get us beyond this."
<Compin> Menarii says, "Whoa uh... we migh need some help. Are you guys seeing thi-"
Menarii's voice cuts off as she simply... blinks out of existance. But only for a moment. When she reappears, she falls out of her chair with a thud, completely unconscious.
"Shields aren't gonna pull us out of this," Jason snaps, resetting the shields almost as fast as the numbers come out of the Vulcan's mouth. "And unless Ouyang gets out and pushes, we aren't going much fa--mother fucker!"
Solvek stands. "Ouyang, help Menarii. Get her stabilized, make sure she survives." He turns to Turner. "Divert all power you can to the engines. I do not care if we get back to the station with radiation poisoning as long as we survive."
"That ain't getting us out of here, Commander. We're already at ninety-eight percent capacity, and two percent won't make a lick of difference." Jason glances toward Brooks. "Tell me that you monkeys didn't take the mini-torpedo launchers out of this rustbucket."
Ouyang rushes to Menarii, takes out his tricorder and scans her at the same time stablizing her condition.
Outside the window there is still only black.
Brooks is far too focused on her console, fighting gravity waves, to notice what happened to Menarii. "Aventino took the torpedos out, yes," she replies calmly. "I have no idea why."
"Not good." Jason risks easing the shields down about ten percent, diverting it back into the engines. "Navigational deflector?"
<Compin> Operations says, "Origen, repeat. Origen, do you copy?"
As the officers debate what to do, the shuttle clears the black, stars bursting into view out the window. Behind, the Maelstrom can be seen to now be a dark, menacing cloud, slowly advancing toward the station.
Ouyang looks up and reports to Solvek, "Sir, she's stablized. She's stablized!"
Solvek taps his console, bringing up comunications.
<Compin> Solvek says, "Shuttle Origen to Operations, Starbase 247. We have cleared the vortex and will be docking shortly."
<Compin> Operations says, "Vortex? Origen, what's going on out there?"
Brooks slows the shuttle to a more reasonable, yet still higher-than-normal speed.
<Compin> Solvek says, "The Antares Maelstrom has undergone a... distinct change in appearance. The radiation belt is no longer apparent, all that remains is a black cloud surrounding the central vortex. I will explain it all once we get back to the station. Origen out."
<Compin> Operations says, "Dear God. Copy, Origen. We'll be waiting. 247 out."
Solvek stands and goes to where Ouyang is monitoring Menarii. "I can take over; you continue monitoring my sensors. Make sure everything is recorded."
Ouyang nods and then goes to the console to check on the data.
"Restoring systems," Jason offers, rerouting power back to the default configuration. The lights flicker back to life and all of the consoles light up again, even those currently unoccupied. "I think that I'd better run more simulations on the Space Box. We...might need it."
Brooks nods slowly, staring out the window. "I think we might." She glances to Menarii with a frown. "What happened to her?"
"Check for chronitons," Jason says offhandedly. "A blink like that reeks of temporal instability."
"I am doing so, and there are chronitons, though not at levels to indicate time travel. However, her quantum signature has slightly changed. This will require further study." Solvek continues scanning Menarii. "She has lost consciousness, apparently from oxygen deprivation. She disappeared briefly and then reappeared and collapsed."
"We saw, Commander. Thanks for the recap." Jason sighs and slouches sideways in his chair, staring glumly out the front viewport. "Remind me to shoot each and every Iconian I ever meet."
Ouyang visibly brightens upon hearing the phrase time travel, and looks up at Brooks and Solvek briefly.
Brooks glances to Jason. "I hadn't seen," she notes. Then adds, "The Iconians were all wiped out 200,000 years ago when races that were afraid of their gateway technology bombed their planet." Pause. "But... those objects... were keeping the Maelstrom from being that. Whatever 'that' is."
"I know that, Lieutenant." Jason's voice has gotten sharp once more. "I did my homework. It's wiseass remark. A stress release. I'll preface it with a warning next time." He frowns. "Would have been better if they hadn't restrained the thing. Would've gone haywire long before we got here."
As the station approaches in the window, Solvek turns. "We will have to look over the data to determine what it has become. Our primary concern at the moment is landing safely and ensuring that Lieutenant Menarii receives proper treatment."
<Compin> Solvek says, "Origen requesting permission to dock."
"We're in range and I've got access to my remotes," Jason says over his shoulder. "I can beam her to Sickbay from here."
<Compin> Operations says, "Permission granted, Origen."
Solvek turns to Turner. "Do so."
Jason does his thing, scrambling up some atoms and dumping 'em off in Sickbay. Someone else can do the sound effects this episode.
Brooks taps buttons and the ship lands, perhaps not as smoothly as she took off.
As the shuttle lands, the Captain comes through the shuttlebay doors, peering at the Origen as if looking for signs of damage.
Brooks begins the power-down checklist idly.
Aventino heads on in after the Captain, on some sort of similar mission.
"Great," Jason mutters, buzzing through his half of the power-down checklist, finishing up with the power-down of the warp core. "Permission to debark, Commander?"
Solvek taps a few buttons on his console. "I have transmitted all sensor logs to the science labs." He turns to Turner. "Permission granted."
Brooks finishes the checklist and gets up. "I'll start going over them." She moves to open the door of the shuttle and climbs out, heading toward the doors.
"Not a moment too soon." Jason is half a step behind Brooks on his way out of the shuttle, emerging with an annoyed expression. "Now I need another stiff drink."
Aventino heads to a console and establishes a connection with the Origen systems, beginning to look them over. She gives Fred a nod as she climbs out and heads for the door.
Hawkins walks over toward the shuttle and asks of the crew in general, "What the hell happened? There's a black cloud surrounding the Maelstrom now?"
Ouyang taps on the console again to turn off the sensors, then looks up at Solvek. "Well, that was an adventure. Sir. I'll be off also. And steps out of the shuttle.
"That's about right, Captain." Jason flashes a bitter grin toward Hawkins. "It's also throwing shit at us, if you'd rather things get worse."
Solvek quickly follows the rest of the crew and goes over to the Captain. "As we were approaching the Maelstrom, the radiation belt dissipated, as did the energy belt. It was replaced by a black cloud that may have transported Lieutenant Menarii briefly 'elsewhere.' I will provide details in my full report. As soon as we have studied the data and have drawn conclusions we will report them." He looks around. "Does anyone have anything to add?"
Brooks shakes her head. "I'm going to go down and start sorting through the logs now. Have to figure out what the heck this thing has become."
Aventino listens up to Solvek's brief report, and sighs softly from the corner of her mouth, "Two steps forward, three steps back," she murmurs to herself.
Ouyang looks at Brooks and then at Solvek. "I'll be conducting my regular duties and assisting Lieutenant Brooks with the project as needed, sir.
"Just that I'll get myself thrown in the brig before I go on one of those jaunts again." Jason breaks away from the knot of officers, muttering to Brooks as he passes. "You know how to get in touch with me, Lieutenant. If you need Engineering help, I'm easier to get ahold of than Veshedsky." And away he goes.
Hawkins nods to the assembled. "I expect that report on my desk ASAP."
"Aye, sir. I'll do that first." Brooks moves to leave.
Solvek catches Brooks' arm and holds it firmly. "No, you will not, Lieutenant. You have been on-duty for over 15 hours and you need rest. There is also your promotion to celebrate."
Aventino just takes a breath and digs into the available data from Origen, mentally moving herself back to square one as she puts together the various readings into a bigger picture. She only glances up a moment later, "Promotion? Celebration? I've been locked in the lab too long."
Brooks tugs her arm away from Solvek, or tries to, anyhow. "I can get by on 6 hours of sleep tonight. I need to organize what we'll be working on tomorrow, to make it efficient. And we already celebrated my promotion. There are more important things to worry about. Can I go now?" Her tone is calm, flat, through the accent.
Hawkins frowns to Brooks. "As long as you get some sleep, Lieutenant."
Solvek releases her arm and steps back. "Very well."
Brooks waves a hand to Hawkins. "I'll be fine." With that, she leaves.
Ouyang looks at Brooks, then at Solvek, then Hawkins. "Sir, I'll get working on the Maelstorm data right away."
Solvek turns and, releasing a long breath, slams his fist into the side of the Origen, giving it a visible dent.
Hawkins blinks. "Solvek! Calm yourself!" She reaches out to grab the Vulcan's wrist.
Aventino's head jerks up, "Hey, hey," she calls out... more concerned than actually angry. "You break it, you buy it. What's up with Fred?" she wonders.
Ouyang steps back from Solvek and Hawkins, trying to stay out of the way of any possible violence.
Solvek replies to Aventino, "She has walled herself up away from everything. I cannot even sense her love for me." He wrenches his arm away from Hawkins and steps back, closing his eyes and visibly calming himself. "I apologize. My action was uncalled for and it would be logical for a reprimand to be placed upon my record."
Hawkins frowns at Solvek. "What do you mean? Why?" For the moment, talk of a reprimand is set to the side.
Ouyang looks down at his PADD, stares very very intensely at it while working on it. Clearly trying to ignore Solvek and Hawkins.
Aventino heads toward Origen (and Solvek, incidentally) and feels out the dent, fingering it softly. "That's rough, Commander," she offers sympathetically. "No real harm done,," she also adds, "Don't see any reason why we'd need to report that. Fred's always had those sort of tendencies, though, hasn't she? I thought she'd only recently come out of her shell a bit..."
Ouyang discreetly takes a couple of steps away from Hawkins, Solvek, and Aventino, all of whom are paying their attention to Solvek and the dented shuttle. Ouyang then slowly moves toward the door and steps out. Flinching as the door opens and closes.
Solvek turns to Aventino and Hawkins. "It is worse than it has ever been before. She is no longer timid and withdrawn; it is as if Fred is no longer there, like someone else is controlling her body." He appears deepl saddened. "It is clear that this is merely a defense mechanism, as I can sense the wall that holding her emotions and her true self within. I can only reason that her encounter with Danley caused her more distress than she could handle. His presence causes her to withdraw even further."
Hawkins frowns, folding her arms across her chest. "You didn't tell me it was that bad," she says in a quiet voice. "Should I pull Danley in?"
Aventino heads across the shuttlebay, prepping to make some subtle and off-the-record repairs to the Origen hull. She listens, and things piece together in her mind a bit, and she nods in quiet understanding. As Ed comes up, she keeps her own foolish trap closed, and just gets on with repairs.
"No. I would feel better if I handled this matter on my own, Gwen." Solvek pauses. "I assure you, no harm will come to Mr. Danley. As a side note, I do not believe the announcement of Admiral Khellian's imminent arrival helped. Admiral Khellian was 'Selek's' father."
Hawkins blinks. Twice. "The son of the Romulan Fleet Commander managed to get into Starfleet Academy and masqeurade as a Vulcan, without the approval of his family?" She shakes her head. "Stranger things have happened, I suppose. Well, it's no wonder. I guess I'll have more people to keep away from the Romulans."
Aventino just keeps silently working on the hull. Occasionally glancing upward, only to avert her gaze again. Jesus Christ.
Solvek nods. "If you will excuse me, I will be in my office preparing my report."
Hawkins nods. "Of course."