Vanessa hated mornings. It took her a while to really wake up.
Sometimes she'd have headaches, especially if she drank the night
before, but she didn't have a choice. As Captain, she had to set
a good example.
She dragged herself out of bed and into the restroom. Usually
she didn't eat breakfast. The smells of the synthesized bacon or
sausage made her ill. When she did eat, she only ate a couple of
pieces of toast. She always synthesized herself a cup of coffee,
though. The caffiene helped her get through the morning. Then
she'd throw on her pants and undershirt, pull her dress coat on
and button it up, and grab her coffee and head to the bridge.
There, she relieved the nightshift crew, read their report, and
then head into her office just outside the bridge. In her
office, she'd start going over the morning reports from all
departments. Eventually, Commander Dvoretsky would show up, and
they would discuss the day's plans.
When he buzzed her door, Vanessa called him in.
"Morning, Commander," Vanessa greeted, sipping her coffee and
watching her projected computer screen.
"Captain." He took a seat in front of her desk.
Vanessa sighed inwardly. "It appears everything is running
smoothly," she stated matter-of-factly. She leaned back in her
chair and looked at the Commander. "Commander," she began
tactly, crossing her arms, "I noticed you have a list of people
in your report that you plan on questioning today about the data
"That's right," he nodded.
She leaned forward onto her desk. "You have more than thirty
people on the list." She paused for a response, but he simply
stared back at her obliviously. "Commander, you said that this
started happening after we picked up the last recruits. Do you
mind explaining to me why you have nearly a fourth of our crew on
He blinked for a while, as if confused. "I just figured I'd be
thorough in my investigation."
Vanessa struggled not to jump down his throat. "Do you have any
reason at all to suspect these people on your list?"
He shrugged. "They seem suspicious to me."
Vanessa leaned back again, shaking her head. "Commander, you may
question the new recruits, but that is it for now. I will not
allow you to interrogate the whole crew. Is that understood?"
The Commander's jaw tightened. "Yes, Captain."
The office communication panel chimed. "Captain, Miss
Breckenridge is here to see you."
Vanessa's glare remained locked on the Commander. "If I find out
that you're questioning other crew members, based solely on your
personal opinions of them, I will bust your ass back down to
ensign and ship you back home on the nearest transport." She
allowed a moment for her words to sink in. "Dismissed."
The Commander left without another word. Vanessa watched the
door close behind him then hit the button on her comm panel in
her desk. "Send her in, please."
Godiva didn't like going back to the Paradox. The men that led
her to the bridge made her feel like a prisoner. Just thinking
about it made her angrier by the minute. She kept thinking about
how Michael trusted them, but Godiva didn't trust anyone. No
matter how nice the Paradox crew seemed, she couldn't shake the
urge she had to get away from them.
They really couldn't get away from them, though. She knew that.
So she bit her tongue, and she went along with it. Still she
wanted proof, but until she could get that, she would make sure
they knew she had no intention of giving up. Her ship belonged
to her, and no one would tell her what to do. It wouldn't make
her feel any better, and she knew that, too, but she had to take
some kind of stand for herself. She just wouldn't feel like
herself if she didn't.
She stood waiting on the bridge next to a woman at a console.
When the door to Vanessa's office opened, she watched a tall,
dark-haired man step out. Glaring discretely at him as he walked
by, she quickly got the sense that she didn't like him.
Vanessa's voice echoed from the station, and the girl gave Godiva
the go ahead to walk in.
Godiva strolled in as the door whooshed open. She had a smile on
her face, trying to convey a false sense of security to Vanessa,
as she intended to lay down the law with her.
"Miss Breckenridge," Vanessa smiled and stood up, her hand raised
out to shake, "I'm so glad you decided to come see me again."
Godiva reluctantly shook her hand, and they both sat down. "Yes,
we need to talk."
"We do," Vanessa nodded, leaning over her desk.
Godiva crossed her legs and sat back, interlocking her fingers in
her lap. "Here's the deal," she began, "we're gonna go along
with your story, but there's a few things I need to get straight
with you first."
"First of all, the Phoenix is my ship, and that means that I'm
god. I don't care who you are, or what you represent, nobody is
giving me orders."
Vanessa nodded quietly.
"Second - I stil don't believe you. I want to go to Earth and
see the truth for myself. I know you've got to take us where
ever it is you're taking us, but after that, I'm gone."
"I understand completely," Vanessa chimed in. "The Phoenix
belongs to you, and as a fellow captain, I have total respect for
that." She took in a deep breath. "As far as Earth, I'm afraid
I can't make any promises on that. We're still picking up
unusual signatures in the Sol system. Until it can be confirmed
that the enemy has left, I can't be certain you'll be allowed to
Godiva grit her teeth and had to bite her tongue again. "I also
have some questions. Exactly where is it you're taking us, and
Vanessa looked down at the desk a moment. She wished she could
give her a better answer than what she had, but she didn't have a
better answer. "We're taking you to...the Dominion. It's the
heart of the Order, where the majority of the intergalactic
population lives. When we're there, I'll turn you over to my
superiors. That's all I really know." She shook her head. "I
want to give you more, Miss Breckenridge, but I'm afraid all I
have are my orders. I don't know why they want to see you."
Godiva stared at her in silence for a long time. It really
bothered her that she actually found it hard not to believe her.
A lot of people had tried to lie to her before, and she usually
saw through them pretty easily. She got the sense Vanessa told
the truth, but she didn't want her to know that.
"I also want to know how you know my name," Godiva said. "You
never answered me yesterday, and we never gave you our names. So
how did you know?"
"When we detected your vessel on Pluto, we sent a transmission to
the Dominion. We explained that we detected an Earth ship,
intact, with two lifesigns. We also sent our sensor readings
along in the transmission." She paused in thought for a moment.
"You understand, of course, that...the Sol system has always been
under some observation. Our ancestors may have left Earth some
time ago, but we still think of it as our homeworld. We keep
track of what's going on as much as we can."
Godiva's eyes narrowed at her in suspicion. She wondered, if
they keep track of everything, how come they didn't do anything
to save Earth?
"It's my belief," Vanessa continued, "that they knew your ship
from our sensor readings. That they know you're the registered
owner of the vessel."
"Who is 'they'?" Godiva interrupted.
"My superiors," she answered. "When they sent us our orders to
pick you up, your names were listed as the crew of the vessel.
Beyond that...I really don't know for sure how they knew your
Godiva sighed, and for a long time they just sat there looking at
each other. She wished she had a cigarette. Which immediately
made her eager to get back aboard the Phoenix. Before she could
speak, though, Vanessa broke the silence.
"There are some things I need to discuss with you." She leaned
back in her chair. "Being that we're going to be entering our
space soon, there are some regulations about spacecrafts that
have to be followed, especially during this time of war. Your
ship is currently scheduled for a major overhaul when we reach
the Dominion. My superiors want us to begin on some of the
necessary alterations to your ship."
"Wait," Godiva uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, feeling her
temper rising. "What do you mean? What kind of alterations are
you talking about?"
Vanessa chose her next word carefully, because she could see and
understand the tension rising inside Godiva. "Upgrades," she
answered. "I'm not talking about anything that's going to damage
your ship. These are things that are going to help you and allow
you to operate among us. Your communications instruments and
your docking ports for example. They aren't compatible with the
level of technology the rest of the galaxy uses."
Godiva just watched her. She had the urge to jump up and begin
yelling and arguing with her. The idea of them messing with her
ship sent her adrenaline coursing.
"I have a list of crewmen here," she grabbed a datapad on the
edge of her desk. "These are the people I want to send to your
ship to begin the upgrades." She handed it to Godiva. "They're
mostly maintenace crewmen. I'm also sending over my Chief
Technician, Lieutenant Reeder, to oversee the retrofits."
Godiva only glanced over the datapad.
"You'll be able to discuss everything with Mr. Reeder."
Godiva frowned. "You realize that while they're aboard my ship I
give the orders?"
Vanessa nodded. "Nothing will be done without your knowledge.
I've given my crew very specific orders to show you as much
respect as they do myself."
Sighing, Godiva stood, wanting to leave before she tore off on a
rampage. "When are you sending them?"
Vanessa raised her eyebrows. "With your permission, I'd like to
send them over this afternoon."
"Okay," she mumbled. Turning and heading back toward the door,
Vanessa stopped her.
"Miss Breckenridge," Vanessa stood up, "there's one more thing."
She stepped around her desk and walked up in front of Godiva.
"My engineering team is just about ready for us to jump to FTL.
As neither you nor Michael have ever been on a ship traveling at
superluminal speeds I wanted to warn you. There's no danger to
you or your ship. I just didn't want you to be alarmed when you
look outside a window and see the lights. It might take some
getting use to for someone who's use to the deceptive stillness
of sublight spaceflight."
It suddenly occurred to Godiva that she hadn't considered the
'how' they would get to their Dominion. Their traveling there at
faster-than-light speeds would go a long way in proving their
story about coming from an advanced alien empire. She sort of
realized then that her situation didn't actually demand proof
from Vanessa or her crew...this was simply the way it was going
to be. A sense of helplessness set into her. She really felt
like she had no control over anything. It almost scared her, if
it hadn't made her so much angrier instead.
Godiva didn't often find herself speechless, but with everything
going through her head right then, she just couldn't think of
anything to say. She only nodded at Vanessa and stepped out.
Vanessa followed her out, stopping the security officers before
they could follow Godiva to lead her back to the Phoenix. Godiva
didn't even seem to notice. She walked straight off the bridge
without a backward look.
The Icarus glided swiftly through space toward Vega. Onboard,
the crew had grown rather anxious as all of their attempts to
regain sensor contact had failed. Captain Reynolds had ordered a
probe launch to the star. The probe ventured far ahead of them.
As it began to transmit data, Reynolds ordered on all stop on
engines to remain at a safe distance from the star's radiation.
Reynolds stood behind his science officer on the bridge, watching
the probe data collect and form a projection above the console.
When Vega appeared, they both gasped at the image. A massive
hole had sunken into the star where they had observed the
"My god," the Captain muttered.
"The probe's picking up extremely dense pockets of gravitational
and electromagnetic forces," announced the science officer.
"Radiation levels are off the charts."
"Direct the probe into that hole," Reynolds ordered, staring
intently at the star.
"Any idea what that is, Lieutenant?"
The Lieutenant slowly shook his head, unsure if he really wanted
to answer. "If I had to venture a guess, Sir...I would say it's
a black hole or...a-a wormhole, Sir."
The Captain shot a bewildered look at the Lieutenant. "A
wormhole? Here? Out of no where?"
The Lieutenant opened his mouth slowly, about to speak, but then
he saw the new sensor readings. "The probe's getting multiple
sensor contacts, Sir."
"From-" he paused, mystified by what he saw, "-from inside the
star. They're coming out of the hole, Sir." Frantic now, his
hands began to dance along the console, punching up figures and
readouts. "There's hundreds of them, Sir! ...It-it's the enemy!"
Captain Reynolds faultered for a second, dumbfounded by what had
just happened. He quickly collected his senses and dashed toward
his chair. "Conn, get us out of here!" he shouted. "Get a
message to the science facility. Tell them to evacuate
immediately!" He didn't pause to listen for acknowledgments.
"Can we jump to FTL?"
"Negative, Sir! There's too much gravitational interference!"
"All engines, all ahead full!" he ordered. "Set a course
straight out of the system. Tactical, arm all weapons and load
torpedo bays!" He looked back at his science officer.
"Lieutenant, do we have sensors?"
"Negative, Sir," he answered, "and we've lost the probe."
Reynolds reviewed his options, and he didn't like what he came up
with. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. In all his
years of service, he had never felt as he did then. Their
situation seemed hopeless. If hundreds of enemy ships had come
out of that star, then they could only hope to outrun them.
"Miss Stephens," he looked over at his communications officer,
"transmit a message to the Order. Send them all our sensor
"Aye, Sir. Message away."
He stood up from his chair and drew in a deep breath. Slowly, he
stepped forward until he stood just behind his conn officer.
They had deactivated the holographic projection of space.
Without sensors they were flying blind. It frustrated Reynolds
to no end. They had no way of knowing where the enemy had gone.
He couldn't even look them in the eye.
He noticed the coldness again. A dark, ominous feeling poured
over him like a veil. His eyes narrowed, bemused. Whatever came
next he had prepared himself for a long time ago.
Just then the bridge went dark. All the power and all the lights
went out. The entire bridge fell into a pitch black abyss, and
an eerie silence settled in. Captain Reynolds closed his eyes
and took another slow, deep breath.
There was a sudden, blinding burst of light.
Then there was nothing.