Stardate 72239.4; March 29, 2395
Edited by Chris Adamek
Written by Chris Adamek
CAPTAIN’S LOG, STARDATE 72239.4: Commander Keller and I are en route to Sector 4258 after several reports of a gravimetric distortion forming in the vicinity. While there is no evidence it is related to the Elorg rift, it is strikingly similar to the distortion in the Alteran Expanse.
Alan Christopher wasn’t too terribly fond of the class-three shuttlecraft. While they were meant to travel considerable distances, they weren’t well armed and were terribly claustrophobic in comparison to the Dark Star’s opulent control rooms.
But it was a shuttlecraft, and it did function efficiently. So efficiently, in fact, that the shuttle was completely devoid of any errant subprograms and additions to slow it down because of its general disuse in favor of the Dark Star.
But when Christopher received the news that the Dark Star was in need of a baryon sweep, his heart immediately sank. Baryon sweeps took hours to perform, and given the amount of baryon particles the Dark Star had collected during its short tenure, it would most likely take twice as long.
He attempted to stall his departure with Commander Keller until the sweep was concluded, but Starfleet deemed the situation too important to be delayed. And so he and Keller scurried to the Shuttlecraft Hawking for their little excursion.
And now, two days later, the Dark Star sat in perfect condition in the Starlight’s shuttlebay—and Christopher sat uncomfortably in the lumpy seat before the conn on the Hawking.
The trip might have been less tiresome had there been some actual conversation between himself and Commander Keller, but to Christopher’s surprise, the Commander had remained unusually quiet the entire time. She would often spout their heading and current conditions, and occasionally engage him in some discursive banter, but nothing near the magnitude Christopher had observed of Keller on the Starlight.
Then again, Christopher had also observed that Keller never engaged in such banter with him in the first place—not even on the Starlight. It troubled him only marginally in the beginning, but now, as he was starting to form friendships with the others, Keller remained an outsider to him. He knew he would find out why sooner or later—but it was the time in between that would torture him.
It was at that moment when the sensors chose to perform a symphony on the sensor display. Christopher glanced over at Keller’s station and watched her process the incoming data.
“We’re within sensor range,” she said slowly. “I’m reading a small gravimetric distortion heading zero-nine-four, mark six.”
Christopher nodded his head accordingly. At least they hadn’t come all this way for nothing. “Is it showing any signs of verteron radiation?”
Keller quickly glanced at the data. “No. It’s completely devoid of Elorg activity.”
Christopher suddenly felt whatever trepidation he had over the mission subside as their good fortunes continued. Given everything he had been through recently, Christopher was almost expecting a fleet of Elorg ships to be waiting for them on the other side of the distortion. He could only hope this good omen was a sign of things to come.
With the threat of an Elorg invasion suddenly removed from his thoughts, Christopher finally allowed himself a moment to relax. As that moment passed, he briefly contemplated their next course of action. It was an obvious choice, really. “Setting a course heading zero-nine-four, mark six,” he stated as he keyed the corresponding commands into his workstation. “Maximum warp.”
It wasn’t really necessary to say the course and heading out loud when he was the one actually plotting the course, but he considered it not only a courtesy to Commander Keller, but a necessary cessation in the morbid silence that had been with them the past few days. Without those much needed spoken analyses and reports, Christopher was almost certain the silence would suffocate him. Prior to this trip, he did not believe it was possible to go so long without any substantial conversation. Commander Keller had proven him wrong.
And given their new course and heading, Christopher had just condemned himself to an additional three hours of silence—the final three hours of their journey to the gravimetric distortion.
Once the Hawking was happily cruising along at warp seven, Christopher turned his attention away from his responsibilities at the helm, and started focusing on something equally important. “I’m going to reconfigure the deflector to emit a resonant anti-graviton beam,” he said.
Keller sat motionless for several moments before gracefully nodding her approval. She then returned her attention to the console that had held her for the vast duration of the trip.
It was hardly the ringing endorsement Christopher had hoped for, but he wasn’t about to argue. Not that it mattered; he got no further than the deflector controls when the deafening silence suddenly became unbearable. And so, Christopher finally decided to take the initiative. He turned away from his workstation and faced Commander Keller.
“Talk to me,” he said flatly.
As she looked up from her work, a single lock of auburn hair fell down into Keller’s eyes. She stared at it for several moments before gently tucking it back behind her ear. “About what?” she demanded.
He shrugged. “I don’t know! Anything!”
Keller stopped to consider her words—but after several silent seconds, the most she could do was expel a weary sigh. Christopher did the same, though his sigh was certainly a frustrated one.
“I know you like to talk,” he grumbled. “I watch you do it all the time. And you do it well.”
Keller frowned. “Are you stalking me?”
Christopher was unable to tell if she was joking or not. Her tone was so enigmatic that he dared not turn it into a joke. Instead, he spoke the truth. “No. I just happen to observe you gossiping with Lucas or Kendall on occasion. Then I observe you not gossiping with me. Now I know you guys value me so much that you place me on a pedestal and treasure my every word, but really, you can talk to me.”
Keller scratched her forehead. “I think you should talk with a counselor about that ego of yours,” she said flatly.
Christopher knew a hint when he saw one. “Okay, so you don’t want to talk,” he replied, deciding to retreat from that particular battle before it became incensed. “Do you want to get something to eat instead?” he offered.
Keller shook her head. “Not hungry,” she said.
Christopher found that hard to believe since she hadn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon—but he wasn’t going to force her to do anything she didn’t want to. He couldn’t order her to talk to him. He couldn’t order her to dine with him. All he could do was ask.
But for a moment, Christopher considered clandestinely dropping the shuttle down to a lower warp to make the trip longer… as a sort of revenge. But then he realized it would be punishment for himself, too.
And so, he returned his attention to the deflector controls, and the resonant anti-graviton beam they would need in order to seal the distortion in Sector 4258. In silence, no less.
Christopher hoped that once the remainder of the stress was relieved by the distortion’s demise, Keller would suddenly snap out of her seemingly permanent foul mood. But he wasn’t overly hopeful. It seemed that no matter what, it was going to be a very, very long trip.