A sudden scream brought Jonozia Lex hurtling back to consciousness. The first thing he noticed was that he wasn’t lying down as he expected, but was instead seated. He could feel the cushion of a chair beneath him, his hands involuntarily gripped the arms as his chair and his eyes shot open at the sound.
It was immediately apparent that he wasn’t where he had expected to be. His last memory before loosing consciousness had been of the white interior of the sleeper ship BRS Argus, but he now found himself on what appeared to be the bridge of the bridge of a Defiant-class starship.
He turned to his left, the direction of the scream, and saw Elizabeth Lisley slumped over the mission ops console. Quickly he rose from his chair and was by her side. He could see that she was breathing heavily, her body shaking and her eyes staring blankly at her reflection in the console’s surface.
“Helm, all stop,” Lex said, rising from his chair and walking over to Lisley. He placed his hand on her shoulder, “Are you alright, Com…”
Another ear piercing scream emanated from Lisley’s lips, causing Lex to lift his hand from her shoulder and she began to shake more violently. Lex had seen the effects of mental shock enough time over his lifetimes to know there was little he could do.
“Bridge to sickbay, medical emergency.”
Moments later Doctor Richmond entered the bridge and immediately came over to where Lex stood. He reached into his medical, pulled out a hypospray and pressed it against Lisley’s neck. There was a hiss as the device injected her with a tranquiliser and she relaxed in the seat.
“Thank you Doctor,” said Lex.
“My pleasure,” he replied, “Now do you mind telling me what the hell is going on?”
Lex turned to the opposite side of the bridge, towards Kate Sheridan at tactical and James Dulmis at ops. Both seemed to be as confused as he and the doctor were and neither seemed to have any answers, so he decided to ask the computer a question to which he was both sure the answer was impossible, but of which he was already certain.
“Computer, what is the name and registry of this vessel?”
His command had the effect of causing everyone to look in his direction.
“This is the Federation starship USS Defender, Starfleet registry NCC-74208,” replied the computer’s female voice. The statement was followed by a sharp intake of breath all those assembled.
“That’s not possible,” said Arkin, “The Defender crashed, we crashed, on twenty first century Earth.”
“Situation report,” Lex ordered and everyone turned back to their consoles. One by one they reported their departments status.
“Impulse and thrusters functioning normally, Warp drive is offline but functional,” reported Arkin first. “We’re holding position at coordinates 3781.06 by 6289.64 by 981.24.”
Sheridan was next, “Weapons and shields functional.”
“Long and short range sensors and short range communication working within normal parameters,” said Dulmis last. “Long range communications are offline.”
“What happened?” asked Lex.
“It looks like something collapsed our warp field,” replied Arkin.
“I’m reading subspace anomaly fifteen thousand kilometres directly to stern, intersecting out flight path,” continued Dulmis. “It seems to be some sort of a spatial rift, but I’m getting some strange readings. I’m also detecting the presence of chronoton particles.”
“So did we travel back in time or didn’t we?” asked Sheridan. “Also who else is missing and why?”
“What do you…” Lex started to ask, but realised what she meant; the console next to her, the one where Hanulk had been seated prior to the crash, was vacant. “Computer, how many personnel are aboard the ship?”
“Twenty three total,” it replied. “Twenty one Humans, one Trill and one Bajoran.”
Twenty three? thought Lex. Before the crash there had been thirty eight crew members on the Defender. Something else occurred to him then, weren’t there twenty four survivors?
“Bridge to engineering?”
“Conrad here, Captain.”
“Ensign, where is Lieutenant Johnson?”
“I don’t know Sir,” he replied. “Last thing either Crewman Grey and I remember is entering stasis on twenty first century Earth and then we woke up here.”
“Understood Ensign,” replied Lex, “Bridge out.”
“Johnson isn’t here either,” said Dulmis solemnly. “Why is it only us?”
“I don’t know lieutenant but I intend to find out,” said Lex. “The first thing we need to find out if anything we remember actually took place and for that we need to look for a ship in the Ganoris system. Arkin, bring warp drive back online and lay in course, warp 8.”
“Aye sir, course laid in.”
“It’s the Defender!” said Carol Davis surprised at the identity of the sharship that had made a sudden appearance on the sensors.
“What do you mean it’s the Defender?” said Patel.
“The incoming ship’s registry identifies it as the USS Defender,” she explained. “Registry matches that of the Defiant-class ship.”
As if to ensure that there could be no mistake the small warship flew close to the Argus, its registry clearly visible on the ship’s viewscreen. It then arced away and started pummelling the shields of the Jem’Hadar warship. Patel decided he’d better finish the battle first and ask questions after that.
“Lieutenant Parsons, Ensign Hestra,” he ordered, speaking to the officers at Tactical and the helm, “attack pattern epsilon two, target the warship.”
“Aye, sir,” they replied in unison.
The Argus gracefully turned through space, orientating itself under Hestra’s control for an attack run on the larger Jem’Hadar ship. The ensign then initiated a series of winding turns that kept the Sovereign-class ship out of the warships line of fire until it was in a position to strike, at which point Lieutenant Parsons let fly with a barrage of quantum torpedoes and phaser fire, almost all of which hit there mark. The warships shields flared, taking the brunt of the attack, but in several places the weapons hit home.
“Direct hit,” reported Parsons. “Their shields are at 16%, I’m reading power fluctuations in their primary ODN conduits and their forward-port disruption banks are offline. They’re in retreat.”
“Give me visual on the Defender,” ordered Patel.
The viewscreen switched to the other Starfleet ship, which was now attacking the remaining fighter. Phaser bolt after phaser bolt lashed out at the Jem’Hadar ship until its shields collapsed and it joined the other one in oblivion.
“The Defender is hailing us,” said Davis.
The stars cape switched to the bridge of the Defiant-class with Captain Lex occupying the centre seat.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost, Commander,” he said.
“I think I have,” replied Patel honestly. “We thought you were dead.”
Lex nodded as though he understood. “Did you manage to rescue any survivors from the BRS Argus before the Dominion destroyed it?” he asked confirming to Patel that he thought the Commander meant he had been on the sleeper ship when it exploded. Patel needed to clarify.
“Yes and No,” he replied, “We managed to transport all twenty three people in stasis from the sleeper ship before it was destroyed,” he said, “but they were already dead. They died shortly after take-off and we’ve yet to discover why.”
“Only twenty three?” Lex looked thoughtful for a moment before he let his discussion known. “Beam a relief crew to the Defender,” he ordered. “I think we should compare notes.”
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