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Out Of Mind » MEMBER ADVERTISING & BLOG FORUMS » T.S. "Tray" Caladan » Starwalkers Episode 10: 'Bridge to Beta Quadrant' by TS Caladan

Starwalkers Episode 10: 'Bridge to Beta Quadrant' by TS Caladan

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Episode 10: 'Bridge to Beta Quadrant'
by TS Caladan

"Congratulations, Professor Farmworth. Brilliant! Brilliant achievement. I didn't think your Monolith Project had the vaguest chance of success. Thrilling to be here, to be able to see it. It actually worked. We thought, well, I thought the math would never work. I wasn't alone..." Dr. Buck said to the science team gathered on the bridge of the starship Hanover. "To be honest, Professor..."
       The Professor, soon to be famous among SC and Galactic Union, finished his harshest critic's words: "...Few thought it could be achieved and absolutely none of you believed my method to the problem was anywhere near, um, possible? In truth, your people, the Media you influenced and I dare say most of my team...were gathered here this evening to witness my grand failure. Surprise." Professor Farmworth's fat cheeks formed a wide smile from beard to beard.
       "Unbelievable," another exclaimed.
       The Remoran scientist of the famous Centauri Science Academy was impressed, but refused to express emotions. He merely stated the truth, "Our mathematicians were certain you would fail, Professor. Our psychics were not so sure."
       Dr. Buck hadn't studied the Monolith Project in depth. He changed his attitude in light of the important and historical news. He asked, "Could you briefly tell us what we just observed, and...and do you have a name for what you've created?"
       His smile grew larger, then he answered, "Inverse matter/anti-matter. Matter and antimatter that, when in contact, do not explode. No Big Boom. The monolith you saw was charged and functioned as inverse m/a. It became super energy, will loop continuously, and folded space beautifully. You witnessed a first, gentleman. The first artificially produced or induced, stable WORMHOLE. What do I call it? I call it 'The Bridge,' a bridge to the Beta Quadrant." 

       Three years had passed.
       Strangely, Professor Farmworth and all records, notes and files of his unique Monolith research had disappeared. No other attempt at generating an artificial Wormhole was ever successful.
       Incredible activities, constructions, bases, trades, businesses and transit systems had sprung into being simply because of a stable and super quick way to the Beta Quadrant had been manufactured.
       Presently, the Union and the Starwalkers were aware of 27 natural Wormholes in the Alpha Quadrant. Nine moved violently and could not be entered. Eight had their other ends that moved dramatically. Two were semi-stable. The eight known stable Wormholes were "boring" or of little consequence. The 'openings' or event horizons transported you short distances or outside of the galactic disk, to places that were virtually uninhabited.
       The Bridge's event horizon was massive and swallowed whole fleets of spaceships. Anything that entered the Bridge was beamed 50,000 light-years! They were always safely transported to the same spot, the very same as through known Wormholes: with fantastic light-shows and near-instant teleportation. They returned the same way. The other end of the Bridge came out nowhere near newly discovered Hirogen relay stations. As long as vessels steered clear of Hirogen space, then the hub of the Beta Quadrant was accessible. Business and trade were great, as long as no one ran into the Hirogen.
       Starwalker Command's Central Intelligence set up the next deep space installation, DS6, very near the Bridge's event horizon. It was the perfect location for a base, on the edge of the new frontier. SC gave DS6's top command post to ex-Captain (retained title) and football player: Sidney Benjamin.
       The flagship of Star Command was docked at Deep Space Six. The Enlighten had a very special mission. Top brass found a big lead on the missing Professor Farmworth. Captain Church and the crew were instructed to follow that lead into the Beta Quadrant. Their orders were to find Farmworth, possibly, held at a particular Hirogen station and return him safely to the Alpha Quadrant.
       Little was known about the Hirogen except that they were skilled hunters, extremely deadly and very unreasonable.
       The assignment could be a Suicide Mission. The valiant crew had gelled as a cohesive unit, a fighting force and a close family. They'd barely survived about a half dozen times, but they'd survived. Captain Church's crew had only suffered a few casualties in their first year. Lucky, for what they had experienced. There were so many more dangers ahead of them.
       The stopover, at the perfect base of operations for such a mission, was perfect for another reason: The crew needed to unwind, they needed to unwind to the maximum, before they faced the Hirogen.

       "What do you mean, a Ferengi shouldn't own gambling tables? I own the whole bar! Was that a racist remark? Why, was that a slap in the face to the good name of my people? Were you implying, sir...I cheat? Ferengi don't cheat! It's one of our rules. Hey, where are you going? Ah. I was saying...Ferengi don't need to cheat! Odds are stacked against you. Hey. Come back!" Nanu shouted at the Aierellian.
       "He can't hear you, Nanu. He's long gone. His specie doesn't hear well anyway." Doctor Brasil told his old friend and finished his Mead drink. "Plus. He was three times your size. I think he did you a favor."
       The Ferengi bar owner and head waiter replied: "He said I cheated him."
       "You do cheat."
       "Since when?" The small, orange alien with the extra long nose acted incredulous.
       "What about what the Constable discovered, what you've been pumping us with in the air, and what's in the food and drinks you've served?"
       "That's CHEATING?"
       The Doctor stood up. He was ready to leave the bar. He asked, "What do you call it?"
       "Incentive! Excitement...magic? Oh, a little spice; no one got hurt."
       "Goodnight, Nanu."

       Captain Church sat in the comfortable lounge section of Captain Benjamin's large, round office on DS6. Sidney's familiar football stood on a small base upon his desk.
       "I don't envy you, Captain," Benjamin stated coldly and flatly to Church.
       "Many of my crew don't think they're coming back. Long way to get stranded, Sid. I mean...those on the assault team that attack the relay station. It won't be an Away Mission...I...I never...I never had to send squads of men to their death before. Sid. We're...we're not supposed to be out there...killing?"
       "Hm. I've had to order troops into battle."
       "When was that?" Captain Church asked his new friend.
       "In the war with the Remusans. You know your First Officer is related to them, don't you, John?"
       "That was unbelievable to me...when I found out those from Remus were a military offshoot of Remoran bloodlines. Wow."
       "Vicious killers, the Remusans. Heartless. Compassionless. No ears, huh."
       "I wouldn't want to get on Staak's bad side," John confessed.
       "Forget that. How reliable is the intell? You know for sure where Farmworth is?"
       "We only now found...and it was legitimate...the computer file that tracks him. Nanites."
       Sid said, as he touched his prized football: "Brilliant. In his bloodstream?"
       "That's right. As a precaution. Pin-pointed'm, one of the Hirogen stations. They have a whole system of relays. I's their border? Don't cross the line, maybe?"
       "Huh. But what if it's a trap?"
       "Why take the Professor to another Quadrant? Unless it was the Hirogen that took him...home?"
       "Do they know of our little, easy path to their part of the galaxy, the Bridge?"
       "We have no way of knowing, Sid. They're hunters; they kill everything that makes contact with them. Isolationists, I guess...just want to be left alone?"
       "I'll ask again, Captain. You're sure the Professor is worth a war with the Hirogen?"
       "The only man or thing that can produce a stable Wormhole, at will...that can transport us 50,000 light-years in a blink? Yeah. I think it might be worth the risk, Sid."
       "Have a drink on me, John."
       Both smiled smiles that hid great worries about tomorrow's events...

       After only a few reports of rowdy crew members and drunkenness...
       The starship Enlighten crossed the Bridge~

       On the other side was the Beta Quadrant. It looked the same.
       An hour later, almost 500 of Enlighten's crew had volunteered for the assault team, a good portion of them were women. Nearly half of the total crew offered their services. 
       Church made up his mind. He would not send hundreds of his valuable crew, as invaders, to fight a powerful and unknown enemy, no matter what the prize at the end of Rainbow Bridge.
       Forty brave 'soldiers' were chosen by the Captain and heavily armed with full Fasers and a few other tricks up their body-armor. Captain Church wanted Staak to take command of the ship, while he joined his troops on the ground. Staak sensed this and called his friend to one part of the bridge where they spoke privately...
       "This is getting to be broken-record, Staak."
       "A what, sir?"
       "Old expression. You must know me by now, Commander. I can't ask them to risk their lives, without me being a part of it. I'm going; that's all I want to hear about it. Am I clear?"
       Staak twisted his head a bit and stated, "Yes, sir. I understand. You'll lead the charge. I merely request to join you, John?"
       "Request denied. You're needed here."
       First Officer replied quickly and directly: "With all due respect, I am not needed here. Ensign Ito has proven a number of times in the past he's quite capable and confident, sat comfortably in the Big Chair..."
       "No," the Captain repeated. This could be the first time they had argued or really were divided. Who'd win the war of wills? In Romvoid and Rimvoid, Staak always won. In Ramvoid, Church always won.
       The Commander decided on a new strategy. He said, "It was shamefully recorded in our Centauri Wars, leaders of both sides remained on the sidelines of battle, extremely well-guarded: figureheads, banners, sigils, colors and were present only for purposes of high moral, unity and inspiration. As was with your Crusades. I am well aware, it is not you, sir. Let me fight at your side, John?"
       After a strong glance that Church had felt before...
       John exhaled a large breath. He caved. "Granted, Commander." 
       Staak smiled. "Good. That makes 42 of us, all of Security and two dozen more."

Professor Xavier Farmworth stood directly in front of the Hirogen hunter assigned to protect him over the last three years.
       One of the "top-dog" aliens from the Beta Quadrant, listened. 
       Without fear or a tremor in his voice, Farmworth transmitted the big news to the head manager of Relay Station 794: "Durani. Tell the others of your kind: Our goal, after three long years, has been achieved! It takes me back, back to a time when they all scoffed at me. Hirogen did not scoff at me. I will be forever grateful to your kind. Tell them all: The day is here."
       "You've worked on the problem so long, master. Gratifying, it must be for you. You'll be able to undo what you've previously done?"
       "Yes. Monolith's polarity will change now; its cycle, terminated. The great Bridge will collapse soon. One more surprise for the Alpha Quadrant? Ha. Wouldn't you say, Durani?"

       A covert CLOAK was employed that only the Enlighten employed [unknown to everyone but admirals]. The loyal crew members were sworn to secrecy. What cloak? No one violated the treaty of "Organi." In this way, Starwalker commandos entered Hirogen space and beamed to the perimeter of the force-field around a huge installation (#794 in Hirogen numbers) hundreds of feet high, undetected. 
       Fusion Amplified Static Energy Radiation process created incredibly formidable weapons for SC. On 'stun' setting, the brilliant Faser-line was pink. On 'kill' setting, the Faser-line was red.
       It was bright day with two Orange Giants (suns) in the sky and a hot climate, perfect for yet another type of lizard species.
       What was relayed from the impressive station to other stations? Power? Data? Communications?
       Tri-Corders located the Professor's nanite signature precisely. He was on the second floor in the tall building directly ahead. Forty-two Union or SC stormtroopers that included the Captain and First Officer, hid among jagged rocks of the same dark color.
       Staak wore a special wristband "prototype" from the Centauri Science Academy. The device produced a small gap in the force-field without anyone aware of the fact. The whole squad got through.
       No Hirogen was seen anywhere in the area. Possibly because ships should have been detected in space and what ground forces could get passed electrical shielding? Instruments showed more than 150 lifeforms on many floors inside of the enormous structure, but not on the outside. They only needed to go up one floor to reach the Professor.
       Suddenly a different type of Faser violently struck the garrison of SC troops! Rays were wide, blue beams. Ten Security and volunteers were instantly vaporized! The others scattered in every direction, still well-hidden inside rock crevasses. Starwalkers could not get a bead on the enemy. The blue attacks came from a few directions.
       Red Fasers fired indiscriminately to places on the exterior of the structure and near the opening. Hirogen targets were unseen. Shots were where they assumed the blue beams originated from. More shots were fired.
       Another volley of powerful blue beams struck individuals of the SC assault team with uncanny precision. After the wave of blasts, 15 more Starwalkers were disintegrated~
       The Captain and Staak found themselves behind a barricade that had some Hirogen purpose, while the rest of the stormtroopers held their positions in rock outcroppings. The Starwalkers were very close to the opening. They waited for orders from Church.
       With Fasers drawn and heavy breathes, Staak and John spoke just before they'd rush the Relay Station, numbered '794.'
       "Staak. What are the odds, ah, we'd make it this far...Commander?"
       "Two thousand, four hundred and twelve, point 1, ah...sir."
       "That's all?"
       Church gave the signal...
       Everyone of his troops charged the opening in the station.
       Once more, wide/blue blasts hit them from all directions and turned them into smoke!
       Only four made it through the opening and into the building. Captain and the Commander were two of the four. Thirty-eight of the squadron were dead. 
       But there was no time, no time to grieve or feel sorry about the situation: They had a job to do. They had to get to the second floor.
       Captain and Commander saw the other two near a metallic stairwell...
       The troopers jumped ahead and launched themselves up the stairs.
       From above, they were met with blue beams that snuffed them out of existence!
       Then, the extraordinary happened...
       In a moment, down the staircase, stomped the chubby Professor with his thick glasses and heavy beard. "Hold your fire! Hold your fire, Captain! Commander! Stop! I've disabled the motivation-protocols. Hirogens have been stopped in their tracks!. You hear me? There's no one here but us!"
       "Let me ask you, Staak. What's the odds of that?" John inquired.
       "Please. This way!" The Professor of Wormholes turned and walked upstairs.
       The confused Captain and Commander followed.
       When they were all on the next floor, an extensive laboratory floor, Commander Staak confronted Farmworth with a paradox: "Sir. Tri-Corders indicated 157 Hirogen, apparently, upstairs on higher floors. We are not alone."
       "Check closer, Commander. The hunters are incapacitated. Your scans should prove it."
       Church waved his hand quickly from side to side, then stated, "Let me understand. You've rescued yourself? At the exact time...we arrived? Do you know how many men and women I've lost? Care to explain?" The Captain and his First Officer sensed deception. They were frustrated and distraught.
       Staak homed in closer at precise movements of Hirogen: There were none. He informed the Captain.
       Captain Church hardly understood a thing. With an odd expression, he said, "We're here to rescue you, Professor."
       Xavier Farmworth answered as if it were a math problem. "No you're not, Captain."
       Staak asked, "Suppose you tell us...what we are here for?"
       "You're here to send back a message, Captain. Commander. They'll believe you."
       "Let's sit down," the chubby genius suggested. He walked over to where a few soft chairs stood. "Please. I'll explain everything. Gentlemen." He smiled.
       "I lost dozens of my finest men and women...and you want us to sit? Gonna serve tea, next? After the bloodbath we suffered?" He was pissed.
       "No, Captain." Farmworth lit his pipe. "But you're going to want to hear my words, what I discovered. And what I've been doing for the last three years? Yes? Also, the message."
       Captain and Commander sat. They heard him say...
       "Don't interrupt. These words are important: There is a darkness around Star Command, specifically the arms of the entire Galactic Union. Your bosses are not what you think they are. Trust no one...."
       Church interrupted, "Then tell us: What's really going on?"
       "Hm. Who funded me? My work? Do you know, Commander?"
       "I would imagine the GU."
       "They cast a long shadow; their tentacles reach other Quadrants."
       "Cut to the chase," demanded the Captain.
       Staak misunderstood.
       "Another old expression. [to Farmworth] Explain."
       "I was funded or set-up to prove my principle so the Union, and Union only, benefited from my research. With means to jump to other parts of the galaxy in a snap, they planned to dominate, rule and exploit a vast amount of worlds, eventually becoming the primary power in the galaxy. A 'Federation of Fascism.' Your Star Command, a small puppet at best, serves the Devil himself."
       "That's hard to believe, Professor Farmworth." John looked at Staak.
       Staak said to John: "He believes it."
       "The Hirogen were the only ones who believed in me. Saved me from executing the Union's secret plot. We have a lot to thank these hunters for. Do you realize how many systems have been saved? They ended Wormhole creation for good. Good."
       "Question, Professor?"
       "What were we hit with, the blue beams? I am unfamiliar."
       Xavier answered, "The hunters easily picked you off. Do you not know the hunting skills between Hirogen and prey? I told Durani, their leader, not Captain and First Officer. You think it was good fortune you too were spared? When I saw my chance, I took it and froze them solid. Inspect the upper floors if you want...but make it quick."
       John Church expressed, "That won't be necessary."
       "Go back. The other way, back over the Bridge. Return and tell your admirals this: The 'Black Lodge' plot of those that pull their strings has been stopped. Citizens of the galaxy have the Hirogen to thank for future freedoms. Over the last few years, here, I've learned to shut-down the flow of the Monolith in its continuous cycle." Before the others interrupted, the Professor said, "My Bridge will be closed, for good, as soon as you leave and pass through it. You must go now."
       "What about you, Professor?" John asked.
       "I plan to die here, Relay Station Number 794. Oh. It's a pure Power Station, by the way. Stasis on the hunters won't hold for much longer. You have to leave. Now. I have a bit more work here. They might even let me do it. They respect me, you know?"
       Sensitive Commander Staak sensed one more question that needed to be asked: "Professor Farmworth...I feel you know far more than you are expressing. You know WHY the Hirogen hunt, don't you, sir? You know who controls them? You mentioned: the Devil. Can you be more specific?"
       Church also wanted to know the big answer. "Tell us. Who's behind it all?"
       Professor Xavier laughed. His wrinkles increased and a broad smile turned into a frown. His eyes glared. "I can't tell you that," was spoken in a serious tone. In a more pleasant tone, the Professor transmitted: "Out of my hands, people. My Bridge shuts down in 20 minutes and there's nothing in the universe that can stop it now."
       Staak knew it was true.
       He turned to the Captain. "I suggest you be on the other side of the Bridge before it collapses, Captain. Unless you want to be stuck here or waste years out of your life getting back home?"
       "It's been...I don't know what it's been, Professor?"
       Staak's final comment was, "It's been...interesting food for our thoughts. We will deliver your message, sir."
       John Church called for his starship. The pair were transported onboard. They traveled back over and through the Bridge to the Alpha Quadrant before it fell~

       Before Durani reactivated his Hirogen hunters, he dropped the mask of Xavier Farmworth. The Professor had been dead for a short time and his nanites extracted. Files that tracked the nanites and missing Professor were purposely made available by the Hirogen, to draw a different kind of prey into a different type of Game to their world...and deliver a message. The message and higher directive originated from the Dominion and the Founders.
       Masters of Hirogen terminated all possibilities of Wormhole production. Hirogen masters and their Masters kept the secret for themselves, as well as their future plans for the Milky Way galaxy.

Durani understood the bitter truth: His race, the Malons, Remusans, Jem'Hadar, Vorta, Changlings and also the Dark Prophets were nothing more than puppets of puppets and slaves of slaves to a Supreme Higher Authority that connected everything negative and nasty.

       Farmworth's Bridge fell!
       Whatever businesses, trades, dealings, legal and illegal, with the Beta Quadrant were suddenly cut off. Done. Massive amounts of traffic and commerce in and around the Bridge disappeared virtually overnight.            
       When news spread that Deep Space Six would be abandoned and closed for good, Nanu (owner and head waiter of the bar) passed out. For minutes, the long-nosed thief and soft criminal was 'out like a light.' When he came to consciousness, his first words were: "Last drinks?"


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