Chris smiled again and ordered, "Helm, activate thrusters and put them at station keeping."
"Thrusters online," James reported. A moment later, he confirmed, "And are at station keeping."
"Release docking clamps and umbilical," Sarah ordered. Hey, thats my line! Chris thought jokingly to himself.
"Umbilical retracting," Vendar replied. "Docking clamps released."
"Lets take this slowly," he said. "Aft thrusters ahead one-tenth impulse power."
"Aye, sir," James replied.
With only a moment of hesitation, he finally ordered, "Engage."
With that order, the greatest ship Starfleet ever dreamed of creating began its journey. The ship cut through the vacuum of space like it wasnt even there. It was as if no particles what so ever existed in space, nothing to put resistance on the ship, nothing to stop her on her mission.
She easily passed through the accommodating space doors on the custom-built construction facility, and found herself in open space, with only the stars between her and her destination
"Course laid in for Deep Space Nine," James confidently reported.
Using a quote from somewhere, though he wasnt quite sure from where, Chris ordered, "Very well, Lieutenant. Lets stretch her legs Engage at warp eight."
Captains Log, Stardate 52157.2
Starfleets mission has always been one of peace and exploration. For centuries, we have explored the great unknown, the final frontier, as well as ourselves. Weve expanded our knowledge of not only the universe, but also of ourselves. We have also defended our beliefs, and have time and again prevailed.
The Dragon is a living extension of that mission! We will continue the journeys humanity has just begun. We will seek out new life and new civilizations. And, just like every other Federation starship before her, the Dragon will boldly go where no one has gone before!
"All I ask for is a tall ship and the stars to guide her by "
I cant believe how comfortable this chair is! Sarah thought to herself. No wonder Chris was reluctant to give command over to me.
She looked around the new bridge, unlike any other bridge she had seen. Unlike most bridges on Starfleet vessels, this bridge was circular. Actually, if I remember correctly, old bridge stations did use the circular design. Didnt that end after the Excelsior class?
She wasnt sure, and she wasnt sure why they used the same design on this bridge, but it was definitely a nice looking design. Somehow, though, there arent enough consoles to cover all bridge operations with backups
"Commander, were receiving a distress call," Vendar stated.
Roused out of her thoughts, she brought herself back to the present. "Lets hear it."
There was a crackle of static before a somewhat familiar voice came over the comm. "This is the Federation starship Excelsior! We appear to be caught in some sort of temporal distortions field. The gravimetric pressure from the nebula is crushing our ship! I repeat, this is Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Excelsior in need of immediate assistance!"
Sarah stood up from the command chair, its comfortable property forgotten. "What the hell?!"
"The distress call appears to be coming from the Marauder nebula," Vendar stated. "Or rather, it was coming from there. Its transmission has ceased, possibly due to the nebula."
"Or the tachyon emissions from the temporal anomaly," Tom suggested.
"Yellow alert," Sarah ordered, causing the bulkheads on the bridge to turn a yellow hue. "Bring up all information on the Excelsiors disappearance and find out anything you can about that nebula." She moved closer to the screen, as if the streaking stars on it could tell her something. "Captain to the bridge."
Chris immediately entered the bridge from his ready room and took his place in front of the command chair, Sarah taking her place at his right side. "Report."
"We just received a distress call," Sarah told him. She hesitated before she finished with, "One from from Captain Sulu on the Excelsior."
He looked at Sarah then sat down and looked at his console. He didnt seem one bit surprised. "Let me guess. A temporal anomaly."
As Sarah also sat down, she commented, "As if we didnt encounter enough when we were on the Enterprise." Chris smiled as he tapped in a few commands.
"Sir, the Excelsior was cataloguing the Marauder Nebula when Starfleet lost contact with her," Tom stated from the aft computer station. "According to this, she last reported entering the nebula to investigate some sort of an anomaly. She was presumed destroyed, but even to this day well, up to this day, no sign of her was ever found in the nebula."
"Helm, set a course for the nebula, maximum warp," Chris ordered. "Advise Starfleet of our situation."
"Altering course and engaging to warp nine-point-nine-nine," James stated.
"Tom, scan the nebula," Chris added. "I want you to know it inside and out by the time we reach it."
"Aye, sir," Tom replied.
A sense of foreboding started to engulf Sarah. Something about this didnt feel right. She couldnt place it, she just knew that something bad was bound to happen. Each time the Enterprise had encountered a temporal anomaly while she was stationed on it, a tenth of the crew was killed and the ship was nearly destroyed.
She didnt like temporal anomalies not one bit.
"Status," Chris ordered as he walked back to the science station.
"Were close enough to detect some sort of temporal anomaly," Tom stated as Chris stopped in front of his console. Its pretty close to the outer edge of the nebula, but far enough back into it that its crushing what ever ship it is thats there."
"Outer edge of a nebula crushing a ship?" Chris asked, baffled.
"Yes, its a class J-2 nebula," Tom added. "Which means its almost formed a protostar."
"Great," Chris commented, moving back around the wooden railing to the command area. "Reinforce structural integrity and shields with all available power. Can we get a transmission through?"
"Not yet, too much radiometric interference from the nebula, as well as tachyon disruptions," Vendar stated.
Damn, I knew I recruited her for a reason, Chris thought. She certainly knows her stuff "Will our shields and hull integrity hold if we enter?" he asked.
"Just barely," Ada replied.
"Hell, with these shields, you could take us into a gas giant," Tom added jokingly.
Chris sat back down in the command chair, dreading the order he was about to give. "I hope youre right," he said. "Helm, drop out of warp." He nodded and finished, "take us in. Hail the Excelsior the moment you can get a signal through."
"Aye, sir," Vendar and James replied in concert.
"You know," Sarah whispered as they waited. "We probably wont be able to save her. In our time line, she wasnt ever saved "
"All things are possible," Chris replied quietly. "Especially when dealing with time. The future isnt written in stone."
"No, but the past is," Sarah pointed out. Chris knew she had a point, but he ignored it for now
"Were about to enter the nebula," James stated.
"Red alert, all hands brace for impact," Chris ordered, bracing himself with the arms of his chair.
With a surprisingly slight rock, the ship entered the nebula.
"That wasnt so bad," Ada stated.
Maybe not, but something tells me this wont be easy, Chris thought.
"Hull pressure increasing exponentially," Tom stated. "I recommend taking us in even slower."
"Very well, slow to one-third," Chris ordered, fear edging into his thoughts, and almost into his voice.
"I think we can get a clear signal through to the Excelsior," Vendar spoke up suddenly.
This should be interesting. "Open a channel."
He sighed before beginning. "USS Excelsior, this is the Federation starship Dragon. Were en route to you. Sit tight, well have you out of here before you can say "engage!""
As if mocking his words, the ship began to shudder under the stress of the dense protostar nebula.
"USS Dragon, this is Captain Sulu," the familiar voice of Captain Sulu replied. Ive heard that voice a hundred times at the Academy, Chris thought. "We do not know of any Federation starship by the name of Dragon. What is your name and what is your ships NCC number?"
"Im Captain Chris Harriman," Chris said. "Our NCC number is is 27749-A Captain, I regret to inform you that you are in the future. Almost a full century into the future."
Except for the slowly intensifying shuddering, silence engulfed the bridge as the crew awaited a reply from the now living legend.
"Then we actually did enter the temp " Suddenly, the communications was cut.
"Shes being pulled into the temporal anomaly!" Tom suddenly said in a raised, urgent voice.
"Tractor beam!" Chris ordered, standing up. His mind raced, not knowing of the tractor beam would work in these conditions.
Suddenly, the Dragon bucked under Chris feet, sending him back into the command chair. Odd alarms sounded as the sound of stress on the hull whined through his ears. "Were being pulled in!" Tom shouted above the noise.
"All engines, full reverse!" Chris shouted in reply.
"Too late, were too far in!" James shouted.
I was right, Chris thought as the image of the temporal anomaly filled the view screen. Were going to have a hell of a lot of trouble this time through
"I think hes coming around finally," Chris heard a faint voice say. "Itll take him a few moments to regain full consciousness, though."
Quietly, not wanting to make things worse on himself, Chris commented, "Well, the headache Im feeling right now tells me Im fully conscious."
Star Trek Dragon graphics and written
material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered