CHAPTER 36: "RETURN OF THE GLEANERS"
by CMD Mark Craft
Commodore Rich Nacula sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair. "I´m sorry, CDR T´Shaun, it´s been over six months since the O´Bannon disappeared. We can´t expend any more resources on this issue. The surviving members of the O´Bannon´s crew will be reassigned. Besides your request for a Starfleet position at the Vulcan Science Academy has been approved since before the O´Bannon disappeared. I know their computer operations division is excited about having you there."
"The term "excited" is probably not appropriate," the young Vulcan said.
"Of course," the COMM conceded.
"You´ll excuse me for saying so, COMM," T´Shaun began. "It was well over two years before Starfleet gave up on Voyager. The portal O´Bannon went through did not explode until it was completely engulfed. There is a theoretical probability that she has been pushed to the Delta quadrant or beyond."
"Voyager was lost in the Badlands" Nacula explained. "There was always hope she was just pushed off course or captured by the Maquis or the Cardassians. It was hoped that she would be back quickly or at least confirmed destroyed. But we learned a valuable lesson with Voyager; we need to get on with our lives. If the O´Bannon is indeed intact, as you believe, she still has an excellent crew. If at all possible she will be back."
T´Shaun nodded, almost resigned to the fact.
Captains Log: Stardate 0302.15 It has been over six months since we have been trapped in the Chaos dimension, as CDR McLaren has dubbed it. We have discovered that although this dimension virtually mirrors ours in every physical respect its life forms definitly different. Setting up a home base on the planet we first landed on, I have sent shuttles to explore regions close to this world. We have spent the time repairing the ship and trying to adjust our sensors to function on items indigenous to the dimension with no luck. The crew has been working hard trying to figure out a way to get us home, we´ll test some of those hypotheses as soon as we can get in orbit. Currently we have a missing shuttle. Five days ago a shuttle carrying CDR McLaren, LT Perez and ENS Dumar left on a normal survey mission. They have yet to return. I have deployed several shuttles to try and find them.
LCDR Kenna´la Shushi worked the controls of the shuttle Williams.
"I´m picking up an ion trail at position 139.3," Crewman Dennis Guilmette said from to co-pilot seat.
CDR Kimara Pel slipped between the two to look at the read out. "Well if we are unable to read anything from this dimension on scanners, chances are they´re from our shuttle."
"Can you determine how degraded the wake is?" Shushi asked.
"It´s very weak," Guilmette answered. "I´d estimate four to five days."
"Could be one of the shuttles that left and returned," Pel said.
"Do we want to take that chance?" Shushi asked. Both Pel and Guilmette shook their heads. "Dennis, triangulate a heading for me. Kimara let the O´Bannon know what´s up and our position." Both got to work without a word.
Six hours later… "What the hell is that?" Guilmette asked.
The three stared at what appeared to be a huge debris field, which seemed to stretch on forever. Both entire ships and parts of vessels floated in this area.
"Looks like some kind of starship graveyard," Shushi said.
"I wish you wouldn´t use the term graveyard," Pel mumbled.
"The trail heads right into it," Dennis said. Suddenly he caught movement from the corner of his eye. "Ship moving towards us from the port side!"
Shushi turned the shuttle Williams to face the oncoming craft. It was huge. Larger than eight Sullivan´s class vessels assembled into one. The ship slowed as it approached then waited several minutes.
"It´s probably scanning us," Pel thought out loud. "More than likely they are confused that they can´t pick us up, even though we´re sitting right in front of them."
"Looks like they´re hailing us," Guilmette said.
"Put them on screen," Shushi said.
A very reptilian face filled the screen; Shushi almost thought the creature was smiling at her.
"Greetings, I am Ragnar of the Benson shipyard. Welcome to Ragnar Benson Inc. How may I be of service?"
"Shipyard?" Pel question.
"Indeed," Ragnar said. "We can supply what ever you require. We purchase only the finest vessels and equipment to sell to you."
"We are on a search and rescue mission. A vessel much like ours came this way several days ago. Would you have any information about it?" Shushi asked.
"No, but if they had the same stealth technology that you have, chances are slim that we would have seen them. We patrol this sector of the shipyard, none of my clan from other sectors have reported anything like this."
"Do you think they would have any sensors we could incorporate onto O´Bannon?" Guilmette asked.
"Ah," Ragnar said, listening from his end. "I am intrigued by your stealth device which defies our scans. We could barter!"
"Would you excuse us for a moment," Shushi said turning off the communication. "What do you think, is he for real?"
"Well, considering the size of his ship. He should be able to take what he wants from us, so I´d say he´s a legitimate salesman."
"Okay, lets contact O´Bannon and see what the CAPT has to say."
"Try to barter some scanners from them. See what he´ll take in trade. No weapons though!" Bonti said.
"Aye, sir. What if he asks about why our ship is undetectable by his sensors?" Shushi asked.
"Go ahead and tell him the truth," the CAPT said. "I can´t see any harm. Keep me informed, Bonti out."
"Hmmm," Ragnar said studying the schematics of O´Bannon. "I believe I know just the unit that would work for your mother ship." He had been beamed over to the Williams and Shushi had explained their situation. He stood almost seven feet tall and wore a loose fitting gray jumpsuit. His green scaly skin glistened in the shuttles lighting. Every once in a while a long tongue slipped from his long snout. A long tall protruded from the back of the coverall, it twitched at will.
"What would you require in return?" Pel asked.
"I know they would need adaptation in order to work in our dimension, but I think the design for your medical tricorder and the plans for the transporter, is that what you called it? Would do nicely."
Shushi looked at Pel who nodded. "Fair enough."
"The unit you will need is deep within the yard. I noticed that your "shuttle" has a tractoring device. It should suffice in bringing the unit out of the zone. When the O´Bannon shows up I can have several of my technicians go over and help adapt it to your systems."
"Then lead on," Shushi said.
They traveled for two hours at impulse, gliding around many ship hulks, till a light began blinking in front of crewman Guilmette.
"CDR, I´m picking up a Starfleet signature directly ahead."
"Is it the shuttle?"
"I believe so, its tough to get a fix on the beacon."
"Wait," Ragnar blurted out. "Turn the ship to the left."
Shushi complied. "What is it?"
"I didn´t recognize a ship in the field."
"You know every ship in the yard?" Pel asked.
"That´s my job. To know every piece Benson Incorporated has. And there is the one I don´t recognize!" he said pointing.
Pel and Shushi leaned forward in their seats. "Oh my, I do!"
"What the…" Guilmette added to no one in particular.
Several kilometers away what appeared to be a Romulan War bird floated. On its forward upper hull lay a Federation saucer section bearing the name Remora. Guilmette also noticed Klingon, Ferengi, Andorian and several other races technology combined onto the vessel. The Williams moved closer.
"Are you picking up any life signs?" Shushi asked.
"Nothing substantial, although scanners are picking up the ship," Guilmette added.
"I take it you can explain this vessel," Ragnar prodded.
"Well, I wish we could," Pel began. "Several years ago, we were investigating a series of wormholes, which were occurring sporadically. We encountered this vessel. (See way back in Chapter 18: What Have We Here>ED). It´s a conglomeration of several different vessels, seemingly thrown together with no rhyme or reason."
"When it was boarded, we discovered several small alien bodies which were emancipated," Shushi continued.
"Gleaners!" Ragnar said knowingly.
The salesman sat back down. "Many decades ago, this galaxy was ravaged by a plague known as the Gleaners. They were a race, which took discarded technology and tried to splice it together haphazardly. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn´t. They started out as just a minor annoyance, raiding junkyards and destroyed vessels to gain technology, but soon they had built a fleet of vessels and began raiding transport ship, killing entire crews just to gain their technology. After a few years they had built a huge unbeatable fleet. The other races, even those who had been at war with one another for millennia, got together to devise a plan to defeat the Gleaners. They found that the Gleaners were extremely susceptible to a strain of virus that would speed up their metabolism. Actually make them process food so quickly that their bodies would not keep the nutrients."
"Starving them to death," Pel surmised.
Ragnar nodded. "It was not a popular decision, but there was little else we could do to stop them. We had thought they had all perished."
"How and why would they travel to our dimension?" Shushi asked.
"That I don´t know," Ragnar conceded. "Perhaps one of their experiments with technology caused the wormhole effect, and brought them there. They would easily be able to sneak around now that they are in a ship build from your dimension."
"I´m picking up the signature of the shuttle," Dennis said. "Its docked in the shuttle bay of the saucer section."
"Life signs?" Shushi asked.
Guilmette shook his head. "Something is jamming our scans."
"It is possible that they have been raiding vessels in the yard to add to the ships technology," Ragnar theorized.
Shushi pressed her comm badge. "Shushi to McLaren" There was no answer. She thought for a moment. "Can we increase our sensors, see if we can lock onto the crews comm badges and transport them out?"
Pel completed the calculations. "Lets see what we´ve got."
The transported whirled to life but only three comm-badges appeared on the floor.
"Hail the O´Bannon," Kenna´la said.
Guilmette shook his head. "Its like the comm unit is being jammed."
Shushi opened a cabinet and began pulling out phasers. "We´re going over," she said handing on the Kimara.
"We are?" she replied.
"Yep," she said turning to Ragnar, holding out a phaser to him. "You up for it?"
"Indeed I am. If the Gleaners have once again appeared here, my people, and the people of the galaxy need to know."
"All right, Dennis, beam us over close as you can to the shuttle. Try and keep a lock on us at all times."
"Will do," he said engaging the device.
The trio appeared next to the shuttle Horner. They checked its interior and found that the crew had left with phasers and tricorders.
"If my memory serves, this incident occurred just before CDR McLaren joined the O´Bannon," Pel said.
"Yeah, I remember, we met him at DS9, just after," Shushi concurred.
"What do we do now?" Ragnar asked.
Pel pushed the head of Ragnars phaser from her chest. "First off, you can stop pointing that at me."
"I´m sorry. I am not used to combat," he apologized.
"We´ll start our search with the saucer section," Shushi said, studying her tricorder. She flipped it closed and shook her head. "Its still useless. Must be some kind of nulling field set up around here."
"The turbo-lifts seem to be functional," Pel said.
They started on the bridge, where they found a lot of technology added to the systems there, especially to the tactical console.
"I´m surprised there is no one manning the bridge," Pel observed.
"Main Bridge may be on the War bird," Shushi theorized. "This may be more like a battle bridge." The trio made their way to the next deck down. The passageways were strewn with all forms of unused machinery and wiring. Suddenly there was movement ahead and Ragnar put out a shot at it. Pel grabbed the phaser from him.
"That could have been one of our people," she yelled.
"Sorry, I assumed that your crewmates would be about the approximately the same size as you," he said nervously.
"They should be," Shushi said, taking the phaser from Pel and giving it back to the salesman. "What did you see?"
"I´m not sure. I was about the same size as one of the Gleaners, but it was defiantly different."
"Well the Gleaners were covered with a thick fur. The creature I just saw had feathers and patches of skin and scales, as well as fur."
"If I remember correctly, that´s the way Dr T´Pril described the beings on the ship we encountered, no two were the same," Pel said. "Is it possible that they are trying to splice genetic materials together."
"To what end," Shushi asked.
Ragnar raised a finger. "It is possible that they were trying to defeat the virus that we had infected them with."
"That would explain a lot," Pel said. "The away team found an abundance of blood supplies as well as DNA fusion devices. There was also plenty on devoured corpses lying around."
"That would indicate that they still had a stain of the virus, forcing them to eat their own dead," Ragnar said.
"Okay, lets keep going," Shushi said handing the phaser back to Ragnar. "Try not to be so trigger happy." The lizard man nodded.
They moved down the corridor, Shushi in the lead followed by Ragnar then Pel. They checked each room as they passed. Some had machinery built into some form of system, others had bones, mostly from the Gleaners, but occasionally a human, Klingon, Romulan or an unrecognizable alien.
"It is odd," Ragnar said.
"What´s that?" Pel asked.
"The virus was extremely potent. We had estimated that none of the Gleaners would have survived six months, considering. But seeing the amount of bodies…"
"They must have figured out a way how prolong the exposure."
There was a clatter from the next room. Pel and Shushi rushed to get there, Ragnar followed at a safe distance. It was obvious that someone or something had just left the room. They began looking around.
"Over here," Ragnar said pointing. Kenna´la and Kimara joined him only to see a human arm lying on the floor. It appeared to have been separated at the elbow and showed visible signs of being chewed on.
"Oh, God," Shushi said turning her head. Pel pulled out her tricorder and began scanning.
"It´s CDR McLaren," Pel verified.
Kenna´la punched her comm-badge. "Shushi to Guilmette, beam us out of here!"
"What are you doing?" Pel asked. "He could still be alive. And what about Perez and Dumar."
"This is too big for us," she said. "O´Bannon should be here in a few hours. We´ll have a security detail come over."
"Why hasn´t your shuttle answered," Ragnar asked.
"Shushi to Guilmette," she repeated hitting her comm-badge.
"Pel to Guilmette," Kimara said trying hers. "It might be jammed."
"Or your shuttle may be destroyed," Ragnar said, visibly nervous.
"Let´s not jump to conclusions like that," Shushi said. "Lets make our way back to the shuttle bay, we´ll use the Horner to get out." As they exited the room there was a commotion from the end of the corridor for which they came. "Let´s head this way, there should be a Jeffries tube down the passage way that will take us there."
They jogged for two minutes till they came to a pile of junk in the hall. Shushi and Pel easily hurtled the heap. Ragnar, on the other hand, got caught up in it, sprawling onto the floor and through a doorway. Kimara and Kenna´la stopped their sprint and went back to help. When they got there they saw that Ragnar had slid into a room. As they entered they saw two Gleaners slowly approaching the lizard man who was frozen in terror. Both raised their phasers and stunned the two creatures.
"Are you okay?" Pel said bending down to help Ragnar up.
"Kimara," Shushi said from behind her.
Pel turned to see an incredible sight. Hundreds of man size tubes filled the room, each had a naked human being floating in some kind of clear thick liquid. Some were obviously children, others teens and some adults. Each had a set of tubes coming from both arms. It looked as if they were draining small amounts of blood from them.
"Where did they find so many humans?" Ragnar asked.
"What do you mean?" Pel inquired.
"Well, your species is not indigenous to our galaxy."
"Could they have captured this many when they were in our dimension?"
"Kimara come here," Kenna´la shouted. "I found Cam." Pel and Ragnar raced to the tube. McLaren floated in the thick liquid. "But he has both his arms," she said confused.
"Look here," Kimara said pointing. "He doesn´t have the IMPLANTT port in his temple either."
"A clone?" Ragnar asked.
"Its possible," Pel theorized. "The human system has an incredible array of virus fighting systems. The Gleaners must have found that out when they were in our dimension. Possibly the wormhole we lost them in brought them back to this dimension with enough resources to keep them alive till now. Then the shuttle showed up with fresh DNA for them to utilize."
"When the clone reaches its maturity, it is no longer any good to them," Ragnar added. "To clone a clone would be senseless, you would not be getting a pure strain of DNA. So then they have a body to feed on."
"The girls in the tubes must be Perez. Dumar was from the African Consolidation but I don´t see any blacks in the tubes," Shushi said.
"We should find your friends, your real friends that is, and get out of here," Ragnar said.
"Okay lets start looking." Soon they found McLaren. "Well at least we know its him. He has the interface in his temple."
"Not so easy with Marla though," Pel said.
"The clone should have the exact same memories and life skills as its host," Ragnar mentioned.
"Good point," Shushi said. She walked over to one of the tubes that had a Marla Perez it. Marla was in the science department twenty-five-ish. "Close enough." They fiddled with the controls till the liquid drained from the tubes. When empty they swung open. "Ragnar grab some cloths, please," she said slipping the tubes from Perez´ arms. The lizard man grabbed some garments that were lying around. Shushi slipped Perez into a long Federation blue lab coat, while Pel and Ragnar dressed McLaren in a Romulan centurion uniform. Slowly the two began to wake up.
"Cam?" Shushi said. "Can you understand me?"
"Yeah, what happened?" he said groggily.
"Too long a story to tell right now. Do you know what happened to Dumar?"
"We found this huge debris field and thought we might be able to find some type of working sensors to help O´Bannon. Anyway, we were working our way through the field when a tractor beam locked onto us and dragged us to this ship," he looked around for a moment, gaining his bearings. "We´re still there aren´t we?" Shushi nodded. "When we finally docked, we grabbed what we could and tried to make a stand, but there were too many of them. Dumar tried to distract them so Marla and I could escape but they overwhelmed him. I think they ate him."
"We need to leave!" Ragnar urged.
McLaren looked around at the tubes filled with his and Perez´ clones. "We should destroy these."
"I agree," Pel said.
"No time, Ragnar is right let´s get out of here. I think the O´Bannon is better suited for this operation," Shushi said.
"O´Bannon´s not here?" McLaren asked.
"No we only brought a shuttle," Kimara said.
"Can you two walk," Kenna´la asked. Both nodded. They made their way out of the room and down a corridor to a Jeffries tube and climbed up a flight to the shuttle bay.
Pel looked around before climbing out. "Coast is clear," she said before hightailing it to the Horner. Everyone else followed. McLaren hopped into the pilots seat.
"You up to that?" Shushi asked.
"If it means getting out of here…"
The Horner lifted off and turned to escape unimpeded. When it cleared the shuttle bay they could see the Williams floating nearby.
"Horner to Williams," McLaren said punching the communications console. Guilmette appeared on the screen.
"CDR!" he said surprised, and then his eye grew narrow. "Or should I say sub-commander?"
McLaren looked down at the Romulan uniform he was wearing. "Not the time for jokes, Dennis. You´re going to have to lead me out of here, and make it post haste, before they notice were gone."
"Aye, sir. Follow me." The two shuttles moved at full impulse through the field, avoiding the ship hulks.
"It´s powering up," Pel said from beside McLaren. The engineering nightmare began to move forward, its shields and deflectors pushing much of the debris away. Them its disruptors let loose.
"Evasive," Shushi yelled from behind. Both shuttles began to make frenzied turns around unmanned vessels in order to protect themselves.
O´Bannon sat next to the Ragnar Benson vessel. Bonti had been talking with the ships first mate when Gy´Cham interrupted from the science station. "Sir, I believe we need the main viewscreen," the Brikar said.
"Very, well." The image turned from a smiling lizard man to a debris field, which had sudden flashes of light in it.
"If I didn´t know better, I´d swear that was Romulan disruptor fire," the science officer said. Just then two shuttles broke the field, flying helter-skelter, followed by the Gleaner vessel. It opened up on O´Bannon.
"Red alert," Bonti screamed. "Return fire!"
"They hit our targeting array," Gy´Cham yelled over the havoc on the bridge.
"Best guess, damn it!"
"Firing torpedo´s," Gy´ responded. Several launched but only one struck its target harmlessly detonating on the forward shields. The Ragnar Benson also tried to fire on the Gleaner vessel but it too had sustained damage.
"Shields down to 17%," Gy´Cham reported. "Wait! There´s some sort of temporal distortion coming out of the shipyard!" There was an eerie yellow glow followed by a burst of white light. Suddenly a ship burst forth from the distortion.
"My God, could it be?" Bonti asked.
"It´s the O´Bannon!" Gy´Cham reported from the science station.
The O´Bannon had defiantly been updated, though neither Bonti nor Gy´Cham could place the technology. It opened up all its weapons on the Gleaner ship. Instead of quantum torpedos and phasers, plasma bursts and some form of lightning like substance streamed forth burning huge holes both in the Gleaners shields and hull. The ship turned trying to make its way back towards the shipyard, but exploded halfway there.
"CAPT, CDR McLaren and Mr. Guilmette are requesting permission to dock," the Brikar said.
"Granted. Then open a channel to the O´Bannon."
When the channel was established Bonti was facing a male Vulcan.
"CAPT Bonti it is good to see you again," the figure said.
"Do I know you?"
"Indeed you do. I would be more than happy to transport over to your O´Bannon to explain."
"Very well, I´ll have our transporter technician beam you over."
When the Vulcan was escorted to the conference room Bonti, McLaren (still dressed in the Romulan uniform), Shushi, Pel, Gy´Cham, Caton and Ragnar were all there.
"Greetings," the Vulcan said.
Shushi raised her hand to her mouth and gasped. "T´Shaun?"
The Vulcan nodded.
"T´Shaun?" Bonti exclaimed. "You´re…"
"Older, yes. Two hundred and forty seven, to be exact," he responded.
"Two hundred," Caton said. "And the O´Bannon, your O´Bannon?"
"The O´Bannon I used is actually, the O´Bannon we are on right now."
"How can that be?" Bonti asked.
"We never make it back, do we?" McLaren said more than asked.
T´Shaun shook his head. "Shortly after you fell into the well designed by the Borg, Starfleet gave up looking for you. They felt you had been destroyed and they were still rebuilding after the Dominion war. They also had to focus on other more serious incursions, which I will refrain from speaking of. I, myself went to the Vulcan Science Academy, completed my tour with Starfleet, then signed on with a group working on slipstream technology, which Voyager had brought back from the Delta quadrant."
"Voyager made it back?" Gy´Cham asked.
"Yes, in fact their story inspired me. I shall not go into detail, needless to say, I took the initiative to explore the universe with the slipstream team. Seventy-two years ago we came upon another Borg transwarp hub. The infrastructure of the Borg had been severely damaged when Voyager returned, and the Federation had virtually eradicated the remainder of the collective. Some of us stayed to study the phenomenon. I was able to gain valuable knowledge on the technology. I began calculations on finding O´Bannon, it obviously took too long. When I finally found her she was part of the Benson shipyard. I was able, with the assistance of Ragnar´s great grandchildren, construct another such hub. I used several temporal techniques, which I gained knowledge of, to locate you at your closest point to the shipyard. And the rest, you may say, will be history."
"Do you think you´ll be able to create another hub to get us back?" Bonti asked.
"With the assistance of Ragnar´s people we should be able to construct the appropriate device," T´Shaun said.
"Not to sound too mercenary, but what is in it for us?" Ragnar asked.
"According to O´Bannon´s future logs, the Gleaners were not stopped on this date. The O´Bannon and your vessels sustained huge casualties. Eventually, with the CAPT´s assistance, the Gleaners were destroyed, but not before they made a huge mark on this area of space. Having stopped this from happening I hope you would concur that the debt is paid in full."
"What happened to us," Gy´Cham asked.
"To go into detail would be counterproductive, but needless to say, in my timeline you are all dead."
"I see Vulcan tact hasn´t improved over the centuries," McLaren jibed.
T´Shaun nodded a concession. "I will need some assistance with operations on the other O´Bannon."
"I can have a team ready to go in a few minutes," Caton said.
"Actually, I will only require CDR McLaren."
"Me? Why?" McLaren asked.
"With the loss of life due to the Gleaners, O´Bannon´s personnel dilemma was great. CDR Caton was able to re-establish the Bynar backup system which integrated you with the ship."
"I hope he made some modifications," McLaren said.
"Indeed he did, as well as other modifications that he should not be witness to, in order that the timeline isn´t too disturbed."
"What are you talking about? Just by you being here the timeline is virtually destroyed," Caton argued.
"Indeed it will be. No doubt countless lives will be lost and gained by your reappearance."
"But you´ll be gone," Shushi said.
"Undoubtedly some of what has transpired will change. But I will indeed go to the Vulcan Science Academy; I believe with my engineering background I will make the choice to study the slipstream technology. And I will not have to violate the temporal prime directive this time."
"No need to argue the point any further," Bonti interjected. "T´Shaun is here now. I don´t know how we could refuse his help, one way or the other. Let´s get to work on it."
Two months later…
"Ragnar to Bonti," came a voice over the communications console.
"We´ve been able to boost your Heisenburg Compensators. I believe that will assist you in extracting Mr. McLaren when the time comes."
"Thank you for all your assistance Ragnar, you won´t be forgotten. I´m sorry we can´t allow the hub to stay."
"I fully understand the implications of this device, CAPT. I agree, and it needs to be
destroyed. If you should happen to get back in this dimension again, please feel free to look us up."
"Bonti to O´Bannon II, were ready to begin."
"This is McLaren, Cap. T´Shaun is in engineering, he says you´ll see the hub activate, enter at quarter impulse. The field should do the rest. Hope you have someone good on the transporter," McLaren smiled. The Bynar technology hung from his right temple assisting him in running the ship. Over the passed two months he had been training on operation of the vessel by himself and had become quite competent. They´re ready, T´Shaun."
"Understood. I´m activating the hub now. I shall join you on the bridge in a moment."
"All right, here we go."
The hub came alive, a cloud-like substance swirling through its center, almost reaching out towards the O´Bannon. The second O´Bannon´s warp engines were powering the unit; T´Shaun had designed it with the double core capacity to leave no room for error.
"That´s our cue," Bonti said. "Take us in, Kimara."
With McLaren gone, and Shushi and Gy´Cham needed at their stations, the CONN had fallen to Pel. "Quarter impulse, aye," she said engaging the controls.
The O´Bannon slipped easily through the hub with the future O´Bannon close behind. McLaren knew that in three minutes the hub would explode.
"All readings are nominal," Shushi reported.
"The field is stable, sir," Gy´Cham said. "Although I am picking up some temporal fluctuations."
"Temporal?" Bonti moved beside the science officer. "T´Shaun never mentioned anything about a temporal anomaly."
Just then on the future O´Bannon the turbo-lift door opened.
"Looks like things are going as planned," McLaren said turning to face T´Shaun. But there was no one there. Paradoxes were already running wild. Cam watched as several added devices slowly vanished into nothingness around him. Before he knew it the Bynar device was no longer attached to his temple. "McLaren to O´Bannon. I think its time you got me out of here."
"Roger that," Bonti returned.
Several seconds later, McLaren appeared on the transporter dais. CDR Brian Caton smiled, "Welcome back."
"Almost like I never left," McLaren said, returning the smile. The two quickly headed off towards the bridge.
T´Shaun watched from the escape pod. He could see exactly what was occurring on the O´Bannon. Someone had opened the shuttle bay doors pushing the ship forward, and hopefully, away from the spinning hub. But the spinning conduit caught the aft section crushing the upper aft torrent. The force pushed downward then flipped her ever so slowly bow to stern. O´Bannon was pushed back upward directly into the center of the conduit. At first it appeared as if the ship would slip harmlessly through the center of the disk. However as the conduit passed over her, O´Bannon did not come through the other side, it merely disappeared. Then suddenly it came bursting forth, moving in the opposite direction just seconds before the hub exploded.
"Where are we?" Pel asked relinquishing the CONN to McLaren.
"I think the question is when are we," he said.
"Sir, I´m picking up communications from our escape pods!" Shushi shouted.
"We´re back from the point at which we left," Bonti exclaimed. "Prepare to retrieve the pods," he ordered. "I´ll be dammed," he thought to himself. "He brought us full circle."
CAPTAINS LOG: Stardate 0610.02 We´ve rescued the escape pods and are treating the wounded. I will find it difficult to explain that we have aged almost nine months when only a few seconds have passed, but that is how it is. We are currently on our way to Utopia Plantatia for repairs.
Shushi carried the birthday cake into T´Shaun´s room. "Happy Birthday!"
"Vulcan´s rarely celebrate their birth dates, CDR. Although I do appreciate the sentiment." His brows furrowed. "According to human custom there is an enormously excessive amount of candles on this cake. Are there not only supposed to be as many candles as years I have lived."
"Normally, yes," she said with a smile. "But while we were away I missed a few."
The Vulcan´s eyebrows arched. "Highly illogical."
"Not in the least," she said handing him a knife.