Darkside of Nowhere

Captain’s Log, Stardate 100618

“We’re dead in the water. That,” I said, pointing to the umbilical linked to our dock, “is the only thing keeping us alive.”

The situation since Farpoint Bronson had become dire. Our dilthium crystals drained, our only source of power was being provided by an automated way station situated light years from home. and there was more news to come. To make matters worse, a strange vibration had developed deep in the bowels of Discovery which I was unable to pinpoint.

“Honey, – ”

“Let’s be professional here.”

My first officer rolled her eyes. “Captain. You have an incoming communication on your, uh, communicator.”

Aha! The source of the odd vibration. I dug into the couch cushions to retrieve my communicator.

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is your dockmaster. Just a friendly warning that by 17:00 universal time, water services will be shutdown.”

“What? For how long?”

“Hard to say. Once this rock turns its ass to the sun, temperatures drop low enough to make Pluto seem like a trip to the beach. Rotation’s irregular after that. Could be seventy two hours.”

No water. No power. We had to take decisive action.

“First, you have the bridge. I’m headed into the warp core.”

“Sure. Take the trash.”

Outside the temperatures had already begun to plummet. A smaller, more nimble, cruiser class, the Discovery’s warp drive was only accessible through a tiny crawlspace just beneath the starboard nacelle. I’d inspected the crystals before, but performing actual maintenance could be tricky. Thankfully, deep space communications were still online.

“Google. How do you reconstitute dilthium crystals?”

I soon had my answer. Tools retrieved, I set about the instructions provided by the academy. Oddly, a strange mixture of household chemicals were called for.

“Baking soda? Distilled water?” I double checked to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently been sent dietary information for the crystalline beings of Radus V. My science officer looked on with mild interest. “You’d tell me if I were going to blow us up, right?”

In the near imperceptible shift of his shoulders, I thought I detected a shrug.

Power shunts removed, the crystal housings thoroughly cleaned, I set about the delicate task of re-setting the crystals in their matrix. I reconnected each one in sequence and glanced over at Science Officer Alfie as I held the last one in my hand.

“If something bad happens, you’ll drop me on a regenerating planet, right?”

His floppy ear twitched.

“No funny business! Don’t load me up in a live photon torpedo, okay? Regenerating planet. Experimental science stuff going on for terraforming. Got it?”

An eyebrow raised.

Good enough.

As the final cable touched the post, a brilliant spark filled the inner compartment. Fumes erupted, a ghastly cloud shot through with living flame. My science officer bolted.

“Gah!”

There comes a time when fleeing from a fight is the best thing to do.When there is little to be gained by risk or self sacrifice. I often can’t identify those times. That’s why, I’m the Captain.

Quickly, I reached inside and swatted the cable from it’s mount, the liquid plasma leaving behind a gloppy trail.

“What’s going on out there?” my first officer shouted from the bridge.

“Nothing. Go back to your duties. Everything’s fine here.”

I rounded up my Science Officer, careful not to mention this was exactly why he’d failed the security officer exam at the academy. It was still a sore point for him. But those guys were fearless. Often walking head first into mortal peril. (Of course, he’d truly lucked out. Internal audits of Starfleet have revealed an unacceptable, err, attrition rate.)

Temperatures had continued to drop. The darkening shadow of the great, endless void crept across the surface of the asteroid, headed straight for us. I heard rocks crack and split under the sudden, chilling exposure.

“You know what, lieutenant? We’re going to need to activate our emergency beacon and pray an engineering team at the closest Starfleet Outpost hears it. For now, best we can do is batten down the hatches.”

Alfie was already ahead of me on the gantry. Our nemeses at Far Point Bronson continued to haunt us as I ascended the ramp. All we could do for now was brace for the cold night and hope our distress signal would be heard.

“Did you take out the trash?”

Dammit.

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