Back to Reality, Part I

Epis­ode Num­ber: 4×08

Writ­ten by: Fred Love

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 15th June 2024

Admir­al Hebert has ordered us to invest­ig­ate the Pinicon Belt, one of the densest aster­oid fields ever encountered. The tight prox­im­ity of many of the largest aster­oids has pre­ven­ted thor­ough explor­a­tion in the past, but a recent series of auto­mated probes indic­ates much of the aster­oid debris res­on­ates with nearly infin­ite quantum sig­na­tures at the sub-atom­ic level. This sug­gests that the rocky mater­i­al form­ing the aster­oid belt ori­gin­ates from many dif­fer­ent quantum real­it­ies bey­ond our own. Should this prove to be true, it is pos­sible this could provide a route to the Tilikaal pock­et dimension.

Pro­fess­or Tali­afi­erro wants samples that demon­strate these unusu­al quantum prop­er­ties for fur­ther study. The extreme dens­ity of the aster­oids will pre­vent the “Lady Lex” from enter­ing the field, so an away team aboard our new run­about, the Trave, will have to carry out the mission.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 30353.7

Plot: An away team explor­ing the unusu­ally dense Pinicon aster­oid belt finds itself drawn into anoth­er dimen­sion, where it has an unex­pec­ted encounter.

The ‘A’ Plot: Azon­an and Zepht enter Lex­ing­ton’s shut­tle­bay 2, where Quinn is prep­ping the ship’s newly-assigned run­about, the U.S.S. Trave, for an excur­sion. Their mis­sion is to obtain samples of rocks from with­in the Pinicon Belt, a dense aster­oid belt where sensor read­ings show evid­ence of con­nec­tions to oth­er quantum real­it­ies. The belt is too dense for Lex­ing­ton her­self to enter, so they have to use a small ship for the mission.

Before their depar­ture, they use the ship’s sensors to map the belt in detail, allow­ing them to plot a safe route to the centre of the belt to col­lect the most use­ful samples. They also learn that the quantum sig­na­tures are con­stantly in flux, so that they will not be able to use the trans­port­er with­in the area. They will have to use envir­on­ment suits to col­lect the samples in person.

Quinn takes the Trave in a cir­cuit­ous path to reach the densest part of the belt, towards its centre. Pick­ing up a strong quantum sig­nal, they loc­ate the source and move towards it, as Zepht dons his envir­on­ment suit and pre­pares to leave the run­about. He makes his way to the aster­oid with the sig­na­ture, loc­ates a suit­able sample and takes out a phaser drill to excav­ate it.

As he begins to free the sample, there’s a flash from above, and anoth­er run­about drifts into view. It appears to be badly dam­aged, so Azon­an, in the Trave’s cock­pit, tract­ors it so that they can get a closer look. Sur­pris­ingly, its mark­ings indic­ate that it is also the Trave, but it is badly dam­aged, with lots of col­li­sion impact sites, a broken nacelle, and a large hole in the mid-sec­tion. The run­about is on min­im­al power, and there are no lifesigns. Attempts to scan the wreck in detail are dif­fi­cult, and the loc­al con­di­tions pre­vent trans­port, but Zepht is able to board it as he returns to the Trave with his samples. He finds the ves­sel open to space, but uses his tri­cord­er to take detailed scans, and to down­load its log.

When they upload this data into the com­puter on their own Trave, they find that this ver­sion of the run­about was ori­gin­ally manned by their own coun­ter­parts from an altern­ate real­ity. It was hit by an aster­oid in the belt, and the crew tried to aban­don ship by trans­port­er. The quantum flux then ensured their pat­terns were scattered bey­ond retriev­al, before the ship drif­ted through a fis­sure into this realm.

As they are unable to help its unfor­tu­nate occu­pants, they aban­don the dam­aged ves­sel to its fate, and cau­tiously move deep­er into the belt, look­ing for more samples. Before long, des­pite Quin­n’s care, they real­ise they’ve passed through a fis­sure into anoth­er real­ity. Quinn quickly attempts to reverse course back through the fis­sure, but is forced to take evas­ive action when a fast-mov­ing aster­oid nearly hits them.

As they try to get back on course, a phaser blast nar­rowly misses them, eman­at­ing from the far side of a nearby aster­oid. Quinn quickly moves Trave into cov­er, while they try to con­tact the attack­ers. Their ini­tial hails are refused and more shots fired at them.

They move closer to the body shel­ter­ing the attack­ers and dis­cov­er they are on anoth­er Danube-class run­about, exhib­it­ing yet anoth­er quauntum sig­naure. After a fur­ther attempt to get a response from the hos­tiles, they are forced into viol­ence them­selves, as Azon­an dis­ables the oth­er ves­sel’s engines with a well-placed shot.

Clos­ing with the drift­ing ship, they real­ise it is also a Trave, and that a par­tic­u­larly hairy Peter Quinn is glar­ing at them from the cock­pit win­dow. The run­about itself shows signs of repeated dam­age and repair, with open access pan­els, and a massive scar across the whole of the com­mand module.

They grab the dis­abled ves­sel with a tract­or beam and man­oeuvre to dock with its top hatch. Announ­cing their inten­tion to par­ley, Azon­an and Zepht drop in through the hatch to be con­fron­ted by the three occu­pants. They are shocked by the appear­ance of their coun­ter­parts. The altern­at­ive Zepht has an arti­fi­cial arm, appar­ently cre­ated from Borg tech­no­logy. Azon­an’s expres­sion is haunted as if he has been exposed to unend­ing hor­ror, and a Borg eye­piece hangs from his belt like a trophy. Quin­n’s sus­pi­cious eyes peer over a bushy beard, his face twitch­ing reg­u­larly as he nervously thumbs his phaser trigger.

Obser­va­tions: This epis­ode (and its finale) are set before the 24th cen­tury por­tions of “Coda”, but were broad­cast out of order for unspe­cified reas­ons (i.e. two of the play­ers were unavail­able – Edit­or).

The U.S.S. Trave (NCC-72889) is a Danube-class run­about, named for the river in north­ern Ger­many. Lex­ing­ton’s shut­tle­bay 2 has recently been refit­ted to sup­port ves­sels of this type, and the Trave has been assigned to the ship for exten­ded away missions.

The Pinicon Belt is a very dense, sau­cer-shaped aster­oid cluster, orbit­ing a small orange dwarf star. The bod­ies of which it is com­prised are close enough togeth­er that travel is dan­ger­ous, and there are often unpre­dict­able col­li­sions between neigh­bours. A nor­mal aster­oid field this dense should have col­lapsed under its own mass into a plan­et­oid after only a few cen­tur­ies, so its make-up alone is of sci­entif­ic interest. The vari­able quantum sig­na­tures detec­ted with­in the cluster make its invest­ig­a­tion a high priority.