Captain Talaina Kazzur stood outside Airlock Two, staring through the window. "I don't blame you. And I forgive you." She watched the stars outside the viewport streak past at low warp. Where were they going now? It didn't matter. There was no final destination. There was no hope. Footsteps coming from her left brought T'Fon, respectively keeping his distance. Talaina didn't turn as she spoke softly. "Yes, T'Fon?"
"Captain, I have completed those calculations you asked for. But... I am perplexed as to why you would wish it."
"Hope, T'Fon. Simple hope." Talaina took the offered PADD and put it behind her back, not even bothering to look at it.
"Captain, it is not healthy for you to be here every day. I understand you are in mourning, but the rest of the crew require your presence."
"They really don't. T'Fon, I've been in mourning since Christmas. We lost ninety percent of our crew in an instant. And the few survivors have slowly been fading away. To be killed in action is bad enough. But to take her own life? Can you imagine what was going on in her mind? To be that desperate? I- To be honest, I understand. But in these dark days, we all need hope to cling to, no matter how small. This, T'Fon. This is my hope. Thank you."
T'Fon remained a moment longer, before turning and walking away. He was concerned for her mental health. He would have to speak to Ttorkkinn about it.
Ttorkkinn sat at helm, having volunteered to take over Jenna's role. While at warp, it was a fairly easy job, he knew in combat he was never going to be able to live up to the stunts Jenna was able to pull. He remembered once on the Sentinel, she had basically made the entire ship power slide. He had seen the visual logs from one of the other ships in that engagement. Seeing a Soverign class cruiser kick it's tail out and sweep through all those fighters, flipping around to point it's belly upwards at the same time... she had a skill like no other. Ttorkkinn was going to be lucky to pull off a barrel roll. Xui Li's console started beeping, prompting the Saurian to turn towards her.
"Commander, I am, ah, picking up a distress call from, ah, a nearby system."
"Let's hear it."
The voice was filled with static, either damage on their end or his, Ttorkkinn didn't know. But he recognised the mechanical slant to the voice. It was a Cybertronian call.
"This is Jetfire call******** attack! Dece********ter the Space Bridge. We can't hold out********"
Ttorkkin leaned back in his chair. If there was a Cybertronian attack going on nearby, they should probably avoid it. He started plotting a course away from the system. Xui Li nervously shifted. "Commander? Are we not, ah, going to assist?"
"How? You've seen how much bigger their ships are than us. Even in perfect condition, the Viper would be heavily outgunned."
Xui Li said nothing. She just grimaced and turned back to her console. Talaina entered the Bridge, but kept standing. "Report." Ttorkkinn inputted the course correction as he replied.
"We picked up a Cybertronian distress call from a nearby system. I've plotted a course away from it."
"Take us there."
Ttorkkinn paused and slowly turned around. "Excuse me?"
"Take us to that system. We help out the Autobots, maybe they'll help us out."
"Captain, may I remind you how badly those things hunted us when we first arrived. May I also remind you that you yourself, not too long ago, made the decision NOT to help these things."
"It's different now. I let things get too desperate. If I need to make a deal with the devil, then so be it. If it keeps the rest of you safe."
"Captain, I strongly disagree with this course of action."
"Your disagreement is duly noted. Anyone else want to object, it will be noted in the ship's log."
After a pause, T'Fon and Grimworm both raised their hands.
"Duly noted. Commander, lay in a course to that signal. Best speed."
The Viper dropped from warp in deep space. Before them was a station floating outside a star system. The only illumination came from the fires burning on it's hull and the flash of weapons fire as numerous small fighters zipped around outside, shooting at each other. Talaina sat in her chair as she ordered a status report. At Tactical, Grimworm gave the report. "A couple of small fighters engaged around the station perimeter. No organic lifesigns on the station, can't get a read on any Cybertronian lifesigns. Sensors are either too damaged, or not calibrated."
"Can you identify Decepticon fighters?"
"Yes Sir. They have a slightly different energy signature."
"Red Alert. Ttorkkinn, take us in. Target Decepticon fighters. Grimworm, fire at will. We're done being passive in this galaxy."
"I still protest this course of action Sir."
"Noted Ttorkkinn. Engage."
The Viper moved into the fray, swerving around the weapons fire. Locking onto a jet that transformed into a humanoid robot, the Starfleet ship unleashed the full fury of it's phaser cannons. The Decepticon was shooting at the station when his back tore open. He had a few moments of recognition before he exploded. Viper swept through the fireball and curved around, firing at another robot. But they were quick to react, switching into triangular jets and blasting away in a wide arc. Two of them came down from above, missiles tearing into the Viper's shields. The ship lazily flipped up onto it's side as it tried to dodge more missiles, but they connected.
Talaina held onto her chair arms as an explosion brought down part of the roof at the back of the Bridge, destroying the sensor table. "Ttorkkinn! EVASIVE!"
"Helm controls are sluggish! I'm doing the best I can."
"More weapons coming in. BRACE!"
Ttorkkinn tried to dodge, but most of them impacted the ship. Grimworm reported shields were down. A loud thump rang out from the rear of the ship. Grimworm let out a worried yelp. "One of the Decepticons has landed on our hull. He's shooting at our port nacelle." Ttorkkinn desperately tried to shake him loose, but more explosions showed how badly he failed.
"I can't shake him off!"
Outside, the Decepticon, being able to hazard a guess at what the engines were, continued to shoot at the port nacelle, his feet clamped down to lock him into the hull. Charging up a powerful blast, he unleashed it at the nacelle at point blank range. The nacelle exploded, taking the port side of the ship with it. The weapons along that side left a burning trail as the ship spiralled out of control, the Decepticon having been knocked off by the blast. Quickly shaking his head, he transformed to his jet mode and flew back towards them, switching to robot mode at the last instant to land on the hull. He began targetting the starboard nacelle.
Clawing herself upright, Talaina demanded a report. Grimworm let her know the nacelle was gone, along with the port side weapons. Seeing Ttorkkinn immobile on the floor, Talaina made her way to the Helm and brought the ship around. "He wants to play rough, we'll let him play rough." The Viper moved quickly towards the station, at the last second flipping over and skimming past the hull with mere metres to spare.
The Decepticon looked up in time to see the wall about to smack him. The impact drove him off the Viper and spiralling back out into space, not much more than a collection of pistons and wires left. Viper swung back around and saw there was only one largish guy left. A couple of Quantum Torpedos streaked towards him, tearing through his armour. Talaina let out a sigh of relief as the area seemed to quieten down. Xui Li reported they were receiving an audio hail.
"Unknown vessel. This is Jetfire. I don't know who you are, but thank you."
"Jetfire, this is Talaina Kazzur of the U.S.S. Viper. What's the situation?"
"We've got a boarding party on board, and most of our scientists are dead. Any ground support you can provide would be greatly appreciated."
"We'll see what we can do. Where's your hanger bay?"
"The opening at the central point of the central axis. We're holed up in the control room at the top of the station. The Decepticons are located near the array at the other end."
"Copy that. We'll move towards your position."
It was only now that Talaina really looked at the station. A cylinder with a large box set at one end, with a curved outer bar half way down. At the bottom of the station was a series of large curves, as if it were a large claw cupping a central spire. Energy occasionally crackled along the claw and leapt from one claw part to another. Talaina steered the Viper into the shuttlebay, discovering a group of Decepticons standing over executed prisoners. One of them spotted the ship hovering and they all turned and opened fire. Viper took heavy damage, the front of the ship getting torn up badly as Talaina started swaying the ship sideways. "GRIM! Target and destroy!"
The shuttle bay lit up with weapons fire crossing back and forth. Viper had the heavier firepower, but in her damaged state, was unable to utilise it properly. It took a few minutes before the cover the Decepticons had hid behind was destroyed and the soldiers were chewed up. With one survivor, he aimed and fired a large missile, clearing the launch tube as a Quantum torpedo struck him in the face. The missile flew true, slamming into the nose of Viper. Everyone was thrown into chaos as the Deflector was destroyed, taking the nose and remaining phaser cannons with it. Viper lurched backwards, smashing into the deck and skidding across the floor. The remaining underside was torn away as her rear hit some stacked crates, causing them to collapse on the ship.
Talaina slowly came to. Her left leg numbly ached, but she could move it so it wasn't broken. Ttorkkinn and Grimworm had also come to and were checking on T'Fon and Xui Li. "Everyone ok?"
"Everyone on the Bridge is." Ttorkkinn looked over to Talaina. "But I don't think Viper is going to be flying again."
"Get below deck and check on the rest. Make sure they stay with the ship. And tell Karry to gear up. I'm taking the TRT out."
The team, consisting of Talaina, Ttorkkinn, Grimworm and Karry emerged from the wreck, carefully picking their way around the crates. A white Cybertronian with panels emerging from either side of his head was running around the room. He paused when he spotted the officers. "Hey! You guys ok?" The panels flashed in unison with his voice. Talaina nodded.
"We'll live. We picked up your distress-"
"I know. You came here to help. Jetfire sent me to get you up to the control room. The Combaticons are heading this way and trust me, we want to be gone."
"We still have crew members in the ship." The Autobot looked at the crates a moment.
"They'll be ok, as long as they stay inside. You're smaller than I thought you'd be. Come on, I'll give you guys a ride."
As the Autobot transformed into a car, Talaina tapped her commbadge and told everyone to stay inside the ship. They all jumped into the car and it sped off down the corridor. In the front seat, Talaina shifted uncomfortably. Both the body armour and the gun were not comfortable. "So, you got a name?"
"Nice to meet you Kazzur. Thanks for responding to our call. Though I'm surprised you helped. Organics tend to fear and flee anything Cybertronian. Especially a distress call."
"To be honest, we responded hoping to get something in return."
"Ah. Silly me, thinking we'd found some altruistic organics."
"It's nothing serious for you lot. Basically, we just need you to fix our ship."
"Well, since you wrecked it helping us, I guess that's fair."
"Good. I'm glad we have an agreement."
They quickly entered the command room. There were only a couple of Cybertronians there. The officers got out of the car and were approached by a large white mech with wings on his back. He looked down at Talaina. "Thanks for the help. I'm Jetfire."
"Kazzur. How can we help?"
"I'm not entirely sure. Most of the Decepticons are holed up in the lower sections around the array. And they've taken a scientist hostage. We're not soldiers, we don't have the skills to mount a rescue. Not against that team."
"Well, anything we can do."
"Best stay here for the time being. I'm sorry you got dragged into this."
One of the others turned towards Jetfire. "Hey boss? An Ark is coming in. I think it's Prime himself." Jetfire turned towards the screen, hope on his face.
"Then just maybe, we can get out of this. Tell them to board and get up here ASAP."
Talaina quickly dodged to avoid getting trampled on as everyone in the room started moving around. Ttorkkinn quickly sided up to Wheeljack. "What's an Ark?"
"A class of starship of ours. It means reinforcements are here. Errr... no offense. We do appreciate your help." Ttorkkinn just crossed his arms and humphed at the remark. The Starfleet officers gathered together in a corner for a few minutes, discussing if it was a good idea to come here. Talaina maintained her stance that it was, and that they needed to be more pro-active. Finally the door to the command room opened and in strode a red and blue robot carrying a glowing orange axe. With a faceplate that moved when he spoke, he carried himself like a warrior. Like a leader. A group of various robots followed him in.
"Prime. Onslaught's Combaticons have captured Perceptor and taken over the lower levels. They currently control the array, but they can't activate it without taking this room. We're all that's left."
"That is grave news. We can not allow the Decepticons to take the Space Bridge. It would give them too much of a tactical advantage." Prime turned to the robots behind him. "Aerialbots. Set up a perimeter around the exterior of the station. Do not allow any Decepticon reinforcements through and be prepared to offer air support if needed."
Five robots turned and left, leaving Prime and five others with gold and red chests. Prime turned back to Jetfire. "We need to free Perceptor before we can retake the station. If we make any hostile moves before that, they could execute him."
"We have another matter. These organics also responded to our distress call." Jetfire motioned to the Starfleet officers. Prime looked at them, then stepped closer and knelt down, laying his axe on the floor.
"Thank you for your attempt to help. I am Optimus Prime."
"Your assistence is appreciated, but this is not your battle. I must ask you to leave, for your own safety."
"Unfortunately, our ship was badly damaged helping out. We'll need some serious repairs before we can get flight capable again."
"That is regretable. Then I must ask you to remain here, where you will be safe."
Wheeljack walked over. "Prime? I've had an idea. If Kazzur and her team are willing to help, Decepticon scanners aren't calibrated for organic life. If we can create a big enough diversion, Kazzur's team could sneak in and free Perceptor."
Jetfire joined in. "There's maintanence tunnels running the length of the station. They're too small to move a full squad through, but your smaller size could make it work."
Prime looked up at Wheeljack. "No. This is not their problem. I will not have innocents risking their lives because of us. We will have to come up with another way."
Talaina stepped forward. "Prime? We're volunteering to take the risk. We came here to help out, to get some help in return. Let us do our part." Prime looked back down to Talaina.
"Are you certain you know what you are signing up for? The Combaticons are an elite unit. They will kill you on sight."
"Then we won't be seen."
The lights in Prime's eyes blinked briefly as he thought about it. "Very well. I commend the bravery of you and your team. Make your way through the tunnels. Grimlock's team and I will start causing a diversion. That should draw out most of the Decepticons. Good luck."
Behind Prime, the robot with the gold chest smashed his hands together and started rubbing them in excitement. "Me Grimlock love this plan!" He turned to his team. "Transform and follow me Grimlock!" Grimlock transformed, dropping onto his fists as they became legs, his robot legs fusing together into a large tail. From his chest, a large animal head emerged and let out a fearsome roar. Karry jumped back ever so slightly in surprise.
"Is that.... a dinosaur?"
The other four members of Grimlock's team also transformed into dinosaurs and charged out of the room, Prime following them closely. Karry moved up to Talaina. "Sir! The odds of dinosaurs evolving in this galaxy as well as ours is... well, I'm not T'Fon so I can't calculate it, but it's stupidly remote. Virtually impossible. But that was clearly a T-Rex."
Ttorkkinn crossed his arms. "May I remind you Lieutenant, the Voth had dinosaurs, and they were in the Delta Quadrant."
"Yes, but they originally came from Earth. These Cybertronians MUST have had contact with Earth in the prehistoric past."
Talaina knew where this was going, and motioned to Karry to calm down. "Ok, ok, I'll ask. But not now. We have a mission to complete first." Checking their weapons were ready and each member had some grenades, the team moved into the tunnel.
The tunnels were fairly empty. They were just large enough for Grimworm to walk upright, but would have required any Cybertronian to crawl. Obviously it was their version of the Jeffrey's Tube network on Starfleet vessels. The creaking of the station was the only noise as they moved, ready for anything. Pipes and conduits ran along the wall and Talaina was on point. "Keep sharp. Remember, these things can be disguised as anything. Even living creatures." It was a long walk towards the lower levels of the station, but one without incident. As they neared the target room, Talaina suddenly stopped. There were voices up head. A pair of them, sounding very similar. She motioned for the TRT to spread out and take defensive positons. There was a bend just ahead and that was where the voices were. They sounded like they were getting closer.
"Tell me about it Rumble. I wanna get out there and bust some heads!"
"Hey, you and me both bro. But Onslaught gave us orders, so we gots ta do what we were told."
"I know, but I really, REALLY wanna go crazy! I'm gonna bust a bolt with this waiting!"
"Little guys always get the short straw. You wanna get bigger jobs, get a bigger body."
The two came round the corner. Looking like an average humanoid, they were 7 foot tall and identical, except one was blue, one was red and black.
"Oh very funny. You know we're not allowed to just switch like that."
"Then quit your moaning. You're doing my head in."
Talaina nodded and the four officers sprang up, firing their phasers in unison. The red one staggered back as his armour started to heat up. "OW! That hurts!" He reached over his shoulder and pulled a gun out, opening fire. "Rumble! Get out here and help!"
The blue one had ducked back behind the bend and started shooting from it. Ttorkkinn tossed a grenade along the tunnel. The red guy didn't even notice until it exploded, blasting his legs clean off. He slammed into the roof before dropping onto the floor.
"Ow. That's gonna leave a mark." He faceplanted the ground, prompting the blue one to yell out.
"FRENZY! Alright ya punks, you wanna tangle with Rumble, then let's rumble!" He swung out into the tunnel, his arms turning into large pistons that he started pummeling the ground with. The tunnel started shaking as if it were an earthquake, girders dropping from above. Grimworm jumped into Karry, knocking her aside as a girder crashed onto his back. Ttorkkinn quickly dropped his own rifle and grabbed Grimworm's minigun, unleashing it's blistering hail at Rumble. The hits forced him back, stopping the shaking which gave Talaina the chance to throw a grenade at him. It stuck to his face and while he started screaming and scrambling to knock it off, it exploded. Rumble dropped to his knees, his face a smoking wreck before he faceplanted beside his comrade. Talaina looked back. Ttorkkinn and Karry were ok, but Grimworm was trapped. The three officers moved around the debris and strained to lift it. Ironically, Grimworm would have been the best one to lift. But with great strain, they were finally able to lift it enough for him to crawl out. Talaina knelt down beside Grimworm.
"Will be. Fortunately, the armour absorbed most of the impact. But my back is killing me."
"We'll wait here a moment for you to recover."
Grimworm just shrugged it off. "I'll be fine. Let's keep going."
The team moved past the downed robots and kept going towards their destination. Finally they came up to the grate with no further encounters. On the other side was a large room with glowing columns and glass tubes reaching from the floor into the ceiling. A single yellow robot was walking around and on the floor was a bound red robot. There didn't appear to be any others. Talaina turned to her team. "Ok. Looks like there's one full sized Cybertronian on guard. Ttorkkin, Grimworm and I will run interference. Karry, you get over to Perceptor and release his bonds. Get him inside this tube and away from here. Us three will fall back when he's safe."
Karry looked through the grating. "I hope he's able to move, because I'm not going to be able to carry him."
Grimworm looked through the grating as well. "Looks like his arms are moving at least."
Talaina readied her gun. "Ok. We move on three. I go left, Ttorkkinn is right, Grimworm is middle. One. Two. THREE!"
The grate popped open and the three officers charged out, opening fire on the Decepticon. He let out a yelp and spun around, Grimworm's minigun fire causing his head to jerk back quickly. He raised a hand to block the fire. "What the PIt are you things? And more to the point, where'd you come from?"
The phaser fire, though not enough to destroy his armour, was clearly putting him in pain as it scorched his body. His right arm transformed into a cannon and he opened fire at Grimworm, but the Hulkanian had already moved quickly. Talaina came at him from the side and carefully aimed at one of his eyes, shooting a concentrated beam. The glass covering the optic cracked, prompting a furious yell. "Ya little runts! I'll kill you for that!" The Decepticon took aim at Talaina who barely rolled away from the explosion in time. Meanwhile, Karry chose her moment carefully. If she ran out too soon, she'd be spotted. The Decepticon turned his back to the grate. Now was her chance. Moving swiftly, she ran out towards Perceptor and jumped up behind him.
"Don't worry, we're here to help."
Perceptor nodded. "Thank you. That is a most pleasing situation."
Karry inspected the bonds. They were some kind of thick solid brace keeping his two hands locked together, but seemed to be made from pure energy. It was a very bizzarre thing, and one Karry had no idea how to unlock. So she simply withdrew her sword and slid it into one of the gaps. Applying pressure to the tip of the handle, the sword started to bend. With a loud snap, it broke, but it also forced the bonds to break open. Perceptor shook it off and rubbed his wrists as he started freeing his legs. Karry motioned for him to follow her.
Talaina rolled aside and fired again at the Decepticon. He was busy tracking Ttorkkinn and exposed his back to her. She cast a quick glance and saw Karry and Perceptor dissapearing into the tunnel. The distraction worked, now it was time to fall back. She shouted for them to move, but Ttorkkinn was just too slow. The shot hit the ground he was on, lifting him up into the air. Another blast hit him in the chest, knocking him back against the wall. Grimworm opened fire with a full flurry from his minigun, keeping him distracted. Talaina holstered her gun and whipped out her knife. Running forward, she rolled under some wild shots from Grimworm and jumped up, digging her knife into the back of the Decepticon's leg. Grabbing one of the spikes jutting out, she climbed up to the knee and triggered a grenade. Slamming it into the armour, she quickly jumped off as the explosion tore through pistons. The Decepticon cried out as he collapsed to the floor. Grimworm grabbed Ttorkkinn and dragged him into the tunnel as Talaina backed up, firing at the Decepticon's head. He was shouting all kinds of expletives and death threats as he tried to get himself into a somewhat upright position and started shooting. Talaina dove into the tunnel and quickly ran around the corner as the mouth of the grate was torn up.
Talaina saw Perceptor and her team ahead. She ran towards them. "Status?" Grimworm was carrying Ttorkkinn, who seemed somewhat awake. His armour was badly charred and smoking.
"Karry, Perceptor and I are ok. Commander Ttorkkinn took a full hit. His armour absorbed and deflected alot of the damage, but he still needs medical treatment soon."
Perceptor was crawling on all fours, the only way he could fit in the tunnel. He awkwardly shifted to look at the team. "We Autobots have some experience with healing organic lifeforms. We may be able to assist."
Talaina looked at the Autobot. "Thank you. But our ship should be able to look after him. Come on, let's get back to the control room."
As they made their way back, Karry walked just infront of Perceptor. "I'm curious. Why did the Decepticons capture you, when they killed everyone else?"
"As lead scientist on Project Generations, I and I alone hold the Space Bridge activation code. I am also the only one capable of generating the calculations required to open a Space Bridge safely."
"What is a Space Bridge?"
"In simplest terms, it opens two portals in space and connects them via an interdimensional bridge. It allows for almost instantanious travel anywhere. We were developing it to provide a means of searching for new colony worlds and resources away from the war. Unfortunately, the Decepticons learnt what we were doing. Needless to say, if it were to fall into their hands, the strategic advantage it would provide could in theory allow them to end the war in a matter of megacycles."
"Aahh. It's basically an artificial wormhole."
"I.... am unfamiliar with that termonology, but if you say so."
"I do have another question. The one called Grimlock. He turned into an animal that was on my world a very long time ago. But that world is in another galaxy. Any idea how?"
"Hmmm. Grimlock's team were captured by a Decepticon scientist a long time ago. He forced them into those alternate modes as part of a science experiment. No one knows where he got the data from for such scans, but it is theorised he did have a Space Bridge. Unfortunately, the scientist has been missing ever since, and Grimlock's team have no memories of said event."
"Really? Could a Space Bridge reach into another galaxy?"
"I do not see any reason why it couldn't. In theory, a Space Bridge could connect two points anywhere in the universe. Due to the nature of the interdimensional fold effect that is employed, a Space Bridge could branch any two points in the universe. There is no difference in power consumption. All that is required would be the correct calculations."
"Than I think we may have just found our way home."
They finally made it back to the control room. Karry explained what she had learnt to Talaina, while the Autobots were finishing clearing up the pockets of Decepticons. Prime strode into the control room. "All Decepticon forces have been transferred to the Brig in the Ark. Jetfire, I want you to see what damage has been done to the array."
Perceptor walked over to Optimus, with Talaina perched on his shoulder like a parrot. "Optimus. Captain Kazzur has made a request." Optimus simply looked at Talaina and waited for her to speak.
"Our homeworld is three galaxies away. We never thought we'd ever get home, but from what we've learnt about your Space Bridge, it could get us there almost instantly. Optimus Prime, I formally ask permission to use your Space Bridge."
"The Space Bridge has not been tested. There is no guarantee it will work, or it will send you where you want to go."
"The risks have all been explained to us. But my crew and I are willing to take the risk. All we need is some reinforcing of our ship's hull to survive the trip."
Perceptor also spoke up. "We can also use this as a chance to test the Bridge. Optimus, the data we gain from it could help us immeasurably in tuning it."
Prime thought about it. "Normally, I do not condone the use of our technology with those who are, technologically speaking, less advanced. However, you proved invaluable in rescuing Perceptor and you are far from home. I know if I were in your position, I would risk everything to get my crew back to Cybertron. If you and your crew are willing to take the risk, we will open the Space Bridge for you."
Talaina smiled. "Thank you Optimus Prime. You don't know what this means to my crew."
The next two days passed quickly. The Autobots patched together the Viper, leaving the ship with a very unusual looking hull. T'Fon worked closely with Perceptor, calibrating the scanners with where Federation space was. At this vast distance, Perceptor was worried they could land them on the far side of the Milky Way. Ttorkkinn was in a medical induced coma, but was alive and gradually on the mend. Good thing he had been wearing the TRT armour. Finally, Perceptor announced the calculations were complete. Talaina sat in her bullet ridden Captain's Chair. Karry was manning the helm and Xui Li was on sensors. The Viper was orbiting the station with the Aerialbots providing an escort wing. Optimus was on the main viewscreen.
"Perceptor is opening the Space Bridge. Prepare for turbulance."
The 'claw' at the base of the station started glowing as energy built up. The crackling energy intensified until a beam shot out from each part of the 'claw' into the central spire. A pulse of pure white energy raced up the spire and jettisoned out into space. It ran free for a few miles before detonating in a brilliant explosion, bathing the entire area in white. Talaina closed her eyes and looked away. Sensing the glow fading, she slowly opened her eyes again and blinked to clear her vision. On the viewscreen was what appeared to be the event horizon of a Black Hole. Optimus came on the other half of the screen.
"Perceptor has confirmed the Space Bridge is stable. It should be linked to the coordinates you provided. Communication traffic should be passable between the portals. Are you picking anything up?"
Talaina looked to Xui Li. With Cybertronian comms operating differently to Starfleet's, it was decided Viper herself would scan through the portal for any confirming signals from the other end. Xui Li was working furiously, scanning. Talaina held her breath. The wait was agony. Finally, she turned, a huge smile on her face.
"Captain, I am, ah, picking up a Starfleet Nav beacon."
Talaina nodded and looked to the viewscreen. "It looks like it worked. We're picking up a Starfleet signal from the other end."
Prime nodded. "Then I thank you for your help. May Primus speed you quickly and safely on your journey."
Talaina nodded. "Karry, take us in."
The mangled ship, with half it's hull in the battle scarred Starfleet plating, and the other patchworked half covered in Cybertronium alloys, flew into the Event Horizon. The ship started shaking badly from the gravitational forces, but Perceptor had said that was to be expected. The screen started flashing, as they passed through space beyond description. Talaina started to feel sick to her stomach, the room spinning uncontrollably, but the trip was over almost as quickly as they began. Unfortunately, the effects weren't. Straightening up from over her arm rest, she wiped her mouth with the back of her sleeve and frowned at the mess on the floor. Most of the others had not fared any better. "Everyone ok?"
Xui Li checked her sensors. "The ship appears to, ah, be intact. All life signs are, ah, present and accounted for." Talaina got to her feet and looked at the static on the viewscreen, quickly grabbing the panel beside her seat to steady herself.
"Any idea where we are?"
"No Sir. Sensors are, ah, not picking up any star systems. There are no, ah, planets or sensor readings of any kind. Except for, ah, the Starfleet Nav Beacon."
"Is the Space Bridge still open?"
"Then it seems wherever we are, we're stuck."
"I believe I can, ah, get a visual."
Talaina looked at the screen, waiting as patiently as possible. What were they going to see? Hundreds of different scenarios raced through her mind, none of them particularly pleasant. Finally the static cleared to show blue. No stars. No light. Just a solid blue screen. With a Starfleet Nav Beacon floating nearby. "Xui Li? Are we.... in the Blue Dimension?"
"It's possible Sir. The Space Bridge does, ah, go through dimensions. But that does not, ah, explain the Nav Beacon."
Karry turned from the helm. "What's the Blue Dimension?" Talaina staggered over to Karry.
"A dimensional pocket that we suspect may be a branch of subspace. We discovered an entry to it in the Risa system when we were on the Sentinel, shortly before you were transferred. The only way out was to use our Transwarp engines."
"Which are destroyed on the Viper."
"Yeah. But if there's a Nav Beacon, someone must have come back and done some exploring. Xui Li, can we patch a message through that beacon? See if we can contact anyone?"
"It's certainly, ah, possible. One moment."
Talaina waited for Xui Li to finish the work and gave her Captain a nod. "This is Captain Talaina Kazzur of the U.S.S. Viper, transmitting a general distress call. We are trapped in the Blue Dimension. Can anyone read us?" Just static was the reply. "Dammit. Keep transmitting that through the beacon. There has to be a way we can get out of here."
"Not with the damage we, ah, have taken. Only Transwarp was known, and that, ah, is why Starfleet did not send any more, ah, ships to investigate." Suddenly, a crackling voice came through the comm. A young female with a scottish accent.
"This is Captain Imzavia of the U.S.S. Tesla to the U.S.S. Viper. We read your signal. Do you have Transwarp engines?"
"Negative Tesla. We're stranded."
"Please stand by."
A few moments later, a Nova class ship randomly appeared in front of the Viper. Her Captain appeared on the viewscreen. A young lass with red hair, but with the black eyes of a Betazoid. Talaina found it odd a Betazoid would have such an accent, but dismissed it. There could be any number of reasons for it.
"Captain Kazzur. Our records show your ship as lost over a year ago. I must say, this is the last place I expected ya ta be turnin' up."
"It's a long, sad story Captain. I assume by your entering this place, you can get us out?"
"Aye, we've been tasked with studying this for a while. We've left our Waverider back in the Risa system to act as a link. We're standing by ta beam your survivors aboard. But we're not detecting many."
"Most of the crew have died."
"I'm sorry ta hear that. We'll beam ya aboard and get ya ta Serenity Station. Then we'll figure out a way ta get your ship out."
"Thank you Captain Imzavia. We all appreciate it."
"Wherever ya've been.... welcome home."
"Thank you. But not everyone made it."
The channel cut out and Talaina collapsed into her chair. They had found a Starfleet vessel. After all the trouble, after all the hardships... they had finally got home. At least, a couple of them had.
Ensign Jenna Jones.
Ensign Neil Redshirt.
Petty Officer Malvina Macwilliams.
Lt Fernando Daddio.
Ensign Neal Igtanioc.
Lt Joe Kemble.
Ensign Rea Randol.
Lt Terrell Worlds.
Lt Carl Burkins.
Lt David Tolvsky.
Ensign Willie Wurz.
To name just a few. Each one gave their lives in the line of duty. To save the ship. To save their family on board. The emotion was too much. The explosion of joy mixed poorly with the burden of regret. Talaina had got them home, but far too many didn't make it. She couldn't tell how she was feeling. All she could do was lean forwards, rest her face in her hands and quietly cry as the transporter took her.