Star Trek Hunter
Episode 15: A Stitch in Spacetime
Scene 1: Carrera Detached
Belo Rys was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. Normally, when there wasn't a mystery to solve or a mission to prepare for, the tactical squad would spend their duty hours training, sparring or researching new techniques to be used by small tactical groups such as their own for everything from defense against boarding parties to criminal apprehension. But the Hunter's veteran tactical squad was already very good at these things. They were studying for their new assignment as lifeguards on Ocean.
All four of them were already strong swimmers – even Jarrong, which was rare for a cardassian. Cardassians disliked immersion for many reasons, foremost of these being its detrimental effect on their skin. Salt water only made this worse. Even though she was a quarter bajoran, Jarrong had the skin of a cardassian, which made her as sensitive to water as any cardassian. Her half-bajoran cousins had similar problems, although their skin was not quite as sensitive as hers.
So they were researching methods for protecting themselves from the sea water of Ocean to help them do their new jobs. A combination of water-tight, form fitting body suits and protective salves seemed the best option. Jarrong had replicated and was modeling such a body suit and the effect on her cousins was far more humorous than she had hoped. But as long as they were laughing, she decided to amplify the effect by striking a number of ridiculous, mock heroic poses.
After all they had been through recently, they desperately needed this laughter. It was the first time Jarrong had seen Belo Cantys smile since she had lost Investigator Lynhart Shran, whose children Cantys was carrying.
Quite abruptly, the laughter stopped.
"Did you feel that?" asked Cantys.
"Are they kicking?" asked Garr
"No, that's not what I mean," Cantys said. "It's just kind of, a little spooky all the sudden.."
"We have had more than enough spooky around here," said Jarrong, "So whatever it is, tell it to go away."
"She already did," said Rys. "Four times now."
"Twice," Cantys corrected.
"Wait," said Garr, "We blew up…"
"Three times," said Cantys.
"Five," Rys corrected.
"What are you talking about?" asked Jarrong.
"We have about twenty minutes," said Garr.
"What do we do?" asked Cantys. "We're not engineers…"
"We feast," said Rys. "We've already been through this four times…"
"Two," said Cantys.
"Right," said Rys. "Everyone experiences it differently. Jarrong, on your second time through you barged into Engineering and Dr. Carrera had K'rok beam you into the brig."
"Well, I guess I won't bother then. That will change things," said Jarrong.
"Nope," said Rys. "I came to see you in the brig and you told me that I had told you about it but you did it anyway." Rys turned to Cantys. "Listen… Investigator Shran kept some amazing whiskies, beers and meats in the foot locker in his pod. Let's break them out and have a party. We did it last time - drank every drop, and I'm willing to bet it's all still there, waiting for us…"
As ordered, Dr. Sarekson Carrera reported to the captain's office. This felt completely wrong – he was supposed to be in Engineering, preparing the warp engine for recursive mode. Not that he should be needed for that now, any of his engineers should be able to do it at this point. The moment he walked onto the bridge, he could tell everyone else was on edge too. Commander David Pepper was in the captain's chair – where Irons was supposed to be. And everyone knew it.
On entering her office, Carrera was astonished, now that he was alone with her, just how much Justice Minerva Irons had aged in the past year and especially in the past few months. He had first met her three years before the U.S.S. Hunter had launched for its maiden voyage. Because the Hunter was going to be under her command, Carrera had transferred from Star Fleet Space Command to the Office of Judge Advocate General and donned the black uniform so that he could remain with the ship he had invented. Several of his engineering team had followed suit. When he had first met Irons, indeed up until only a few months ago, she had looked like an extremely well preserved middle aged woman - if an unbelievably gorgeous one. It was only in the past few months she had started to show her age. Her hair had been black – now much of her hair had gone gray. The fine lines in her face had become permanent. And she looked tired – she wasn't trying to hide it.
"This is your first time through the loop, Sarekson," Irons began. "I need you to listen to me and trust me that the answers to your questions will come. But we don't have time for me to give those answers to you now." She pushed a small wallet attached to a fine chain across the table. "I need you to stop by your quarters and change into civilian clothing. You are no longer authorized to wear the black uniform. On appropriate occasions, you may wear the Star Fleet Dress uniform. As of now, I am promoting you to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and placing you on extended detached detail. As long as you remain onboard the Hunter, you are still under my command and the Engineering Department will continue to answer to you. But Admiral Jamaal El Fadil, Star Fleet Chief of Staff, has transferred you from the Office of Judge Advocate General to Star Fleet Temporal Command.."
Despite the avalanche of questions in his mind, Dr. Carrera had managed to remain silent up to this point. "There is no such division…"
"There is now and it has precisely one officer assigned to it. Your job will be to create the vision, mission, and policy and procedure for this new division. Eventually, you will select personnel to staff the SFTC. No more questions," Irons added as it was clear that Carrera was about to ask one. "The wallet in your hand contains your new Star Fleet ID and your rank insignia. Wear it around your neck at all times – never take it off. Ever. Keep it concealed and display it only when required. It also contains a data card. Each time we go through the loop, the first thing you must do is upload that card to Hunter. Twice over the next few loops, I will ask you why you are out of uniform. You are to respond 'File 9, Code 8.' That will lead me to the data you will have uploaded from that data card."
Irons held up her hand, silencing another question. "This is an order, Lieutenant Commander: Put the wallet on…"
Carrera looped the fine chain over his head and tucked the wallet under his uniform as Irons continued.
"Change into civilian clothing – choose something rugged, comfortable and suited to a wide variety of environments. And arm yourself. Then go to Engineering and clear us to go to recursive warp."
"But we imploded!" Carrera objected.
"Eight times so far," Irons responded wearily. "This paradox must play out until you solve it. There is nothing wrong with your engines and no anomalies in local spacetime or subspace. And I have it on good authority that if we break the cycle of implosions by not engaging the zip drive at the correct time, each cycle, that will make the damage we are doing permanent, at the cost of not only our own lives, but millions of others within a hundred light years of our current position."
"Who told you that?" Carrera asked.
"You did. Dismissed Lieutenant Commander."