Lex entered the Defender’s dimly lit mess hall to find most of his senior staff already assembled around the table in the centre of the room, with only the injured Akrin Jora understandably absent.
“Report,” said Lex as he took his empty seat at the head of the table.
Dr. Richmond went first with an update on the crew’s status. “We’ve located all the survivors and the final total is twenty seven. Of them, four were seriously injured during the crash and two of those are still in a critical condition. Almost everyone else suffered minor injuries and everyone is showing the early stages of radiation exposure.”
“What are the implications of long term exposure to levels of radiation we’re seeing?”
“Not good. While not at lethal levels, the crew will begin to feel the effects of radiation sickness after a couple of days. I can administer some Hyronalin injections to inoculate against this, but that will only work in the short term. In the long term it will cause fatigue in the survivors and they’ll become more susceptible to illness.”
“In that case I want you to start inoculating the crew as soon as possible. We need to stave off the effects long enough to move beyond the radiation field.” said Lex. He looked towards Lieutenant Johnson. “What’s the status of our remaining systems?”
“As expected the propulsion systems have been completely destroyed,” reported the Chief Engineer. “We’ve also lost main power, replicators, life support and, unsurprisingly, structural integrity. We have got the main computer, transporters, sickbay systems and short range sensors working on emergency power.”
“What’s the status of the plan to extract the shuttles from their bays?”
“The two type-18 shuttlepods and the Workbee in the starboard bay and the Type-10 Shuttle in the main bay all survived the crash,” said Sheridan. “Unfortunately everything in the port bay was destroyed.”
“I’ve managed to cut power to the fore landing struts and anti-grav systems and the rear landing struts are intact and working,” said Johnson. “However the aft anti-grav systems where damaged in the crash. We can cannibalise parts from the fore systems, but even then they’ll only be working at 40% power at most. With the ship’s structural integrity so badly compromised we risk a total hull collapse and will need to evacuate the ship if we attempt this. It will also require all our remaining power. There will only be one shot at this.”
“Understood,” said Lex and turned to Richmond. “What effect would evacuating the ship have on the level of radiation exposure?”
“Negligible,” he replied. “The radiation seems to be ambient rather than from a single source and has already permeated the ship thanks to the various breaches in the hull. What concerns me is why the ambient radiation level is so high?” he asked, pre-empting Lex’s next question, “Where are we?”
Lex turned to Lisley, “Commander?”
“Earth,” Lisley stated flatly.
“Earth?” Lex repeated, deeply concerned.
Lisley nodded. “We triple checked the astronomical markers. It’s definitely Earth and not one of the copies,” she confirmed, referring to the so far unexplained handful of duplicate Earth’s that had been discovered scattered around the galaxy. Given that they had had no contact with Starfleet in the hours since the crash only two possibilities remained - they were on Earth at a time when or in a universe where Starfleet didn’t exist. Both disturbed Lex greatly and both carried their own pitfalls and dangers.
Lisley soon confirmed which of the two possibilities it was. “The levels of atmospheric pollution and radiation indicate we’ve travelled back in time around four hundred years to the mid 21st century.”
“Do you have an exact date?” asked Lex, his feelings of worry deepening.
“April 27th 2053,” replied Lisley confirming his worst fears.
Around the table looks of horror appeared on each officer’s face. The mid-21st century was one of the most horrific and violent periods of Earth’s history, but there was one date that stood out from all the rest; May 1st 2053.
“So four days from now,” said Lex confirming the facts they all knew, “both sides in Earth’s Third World War will launch the massive nuclear strike that kills over three hundred million people and leads to the signing of the San-Francisco cease-fire.”
“Why are the radiation levels so high if the strikes aren’t launched for another four days?” said Dr. Richmond. “Isn’t it possible that we’ve arrived after the strikes were launched?”
Lex shook his head. “Nuclear weapons didn’t just end the war,” explained Lex, “they started it too. In 2026 a group of Eco-terrorists known as the Optimum set off a series of nuclear bombs in twenty five major cities across the United States of America, killing 30 million people and fracturing the country.”
“The side effect of this being a rise is the background radiation levels worldwide,” concluded Richmond and Lex nodded in confirmation.
“It was more than that though,” continued Lex. “What was left of the US government launched some of their missiles at those they thought responsible, killing a further 7 million and igniting the conflict.”
“How did it do that?” asked Dulmis. “I would have thought that it would have ended it.”
“In a way it did, but only for six months,” said Lex. “There had been a quarter of a century’s worth of tensions building between Earth’s eastern and western nation states and the Unites States attack was targeted on several of the eastern nation states. In the aftermath, the Eastern Coalition of Nations was formed against the US and its allies and the hatred of the west supplied the ECON with a seemingly unending supply of troops. As a result they were for the most part simply content to steamroller their way forwards. Facing such overwhelming numbers, the alliance of western nations, under the organisational banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, was forced to use small tactical nuclear strikes just to slow the advance, despite a centuries worth of fear of nuclear fallout.”
“If they were so reluctant to use their nuclear arsenal why did they launch such a devastating attack?” asked Dulmis.
“By 2052 the world had changed considerably,” Lex continued. “Since the early 2020’s Europe had been plagued by civil unrest and the attacks in America meant that it hadn’t faired any better. The Optimum Movement preyed on this unrest, bringing their philosophy of survival of the fittest.
“In 2033 they had reformed the United States under their banner and by 2047 they had come to power in Great Britain, United Ireland, Spain, Germany and Italy, withdrawing all of them from the New United Nations and effectively disbanding the organisation for the second time. Finally, four further years of war gave them the opportunity to test their philosophy and they launched a massive nuclear strike to end the war.
“Unfortunately for the Optimum, the ECON managed to retaliate and it effectively crippled both sides ability to make war. But the cost was high; The destruction of almost every major city on Earth and a death toll that made the initial terrorist attacks pale in comparison; Over three hundred million from this single strike alone, doubling that of the entire conflict. With neither side able to continue, the cease-fire was signed by the surviving governments three months later in San Francisco. Finally over the next two decades both the ECON and the Optimum collapsed, leading to the post atomic horror.”
“So are we in Optimum or ECON held territory?” asked Sheridan, their tactical situation still fore front in her mind.
“Optimum,” responded Lisley. “To be exact, we’re located in a region of the Optimal Republic of Great Britain known as East Anglia.”
“Don’t you mean ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’?” questioned Johnson. “Isn’t Britain a Monarchy?”
“Not during the three decades that the Optimum were in charge,” responded Lex. “A monarchy doesn’t fit with there ideal of survival of the fittest.”
“You certainly know your history, Captain,” said Lisley.
“One of my previous hosts, a woman named Saren, was a historian,” said Lex. “She wrote several papers on the events of twenty first Century Earth and their impact on the formation of the Federation.”
“I think I’ve read some of those,” said Lisley thoughtfully. “Didn’t she conclude that the planet was teetering on the edge of a second Dark Age and that if any of the major events hadn’t happened in the order they did it would easily send over that edge?”
“The odds were very much against humanity surviving through the mid twenty first century,” agreed Lex. His mood became visibly more serious and he addressed everyone around the table. “I know that in situations like this there are strict guidelines we must follow but I need to reiterate that whatever we do here we must tread extremely carefully. It wouldn’t take much to upset the balance and wipe out our own future before it ever happens.”
He spoke to each officer in turn then, starting with Lisley. “Commander, continue to research the events surrounding the nuclear attack,” he instructed. “Focus on events and sites local to our location – where the bombs landed, military and civilian movements, any nearby towns, villages or military installations – anything that our presence here might have affected. Also see if you can find somewhere we can relocate to that will remain relatively untouched for the next 400 years, so that we can get out of history’s way.”
“James, I want you to monitor civilian and military communications and the information net,” he told Dulmis. “See if there’s any indication our arrival caught anyone’s attention and if there’s anything we need to fix.
“Kate, I want you to oversee the evacuation of the ship. Salvage everything you can and set-up a command post at a safe distance with security patrols of the surrounding area,” he told Sheridan. “The British Republican Army was known for its brutality and if someone comes calling we need to know as soon as possible.
“Doctor, start inoculating the crew and preparing the injured for transfer to the command post once it’s setup,” he said to Richmond, before finally turning to Johnson. “Lieutenant, prepare to enact you plan for extracting the shuttlecraft once the ship has been evacuated. You’ll also need to assign someone to get our weapons, communicators and other equipment to work in this radiation.
“Any questions?” Lex concluded.
“Will Ensign Arkin be available?” asked Johnson. “Her expertise would be invaluable in piloting the shuttles out.”
“She should be,” responded Dr. Richmond. “Her recovery is proceeding well and I see no reason not to clear her for duty by tomorrow.”
“I’m glad to hear that her injuries weren’t too serious,” said Lex. He waited a moment longer for any more questions and as there were none, he wrapped up the meeting. “Let’s get to it.”
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