The last time I slept was more than 36 Earth Standard hours ago. I should have been able to get a “catnap” in the past four hours like I normally do. We should have been preparing for a new century to begin, with parties and celebrations. As I listened to Montolongue tell me about “all of the todays”, in the past tense, my heart was already grieving.
“And just how many times have you lived today, Montolongue?” Lt. Hammock asked in disbelief.
Montolongue’s slitted golden eyes looked out towards the heavily damaged U.S.S. Masamune. His inner and outer eyelids closed and opened slowly, in time with breathing gills on the side of his neck. The leathery reptilian skin was oscillating between blue, green, and hints of purples as Montolongue appeared to be lost deep in thought, his fingers absently ticking away at all three of them on one hand multiple times. He turned his head, cocked it slightly, “My friend, more times than I can calculate.”
Robert Hammock turned his focus to the Masamune outside the viewport. Repeating days in history. Temporal Timelock. His mind drifted back to the last time it had happened. The Space Station relived the day Admiral Van Cleave and Captain Harris were lost, along with his stepson and several other crew members for a year before a temporal explosion knocked them out of the loop.
He dared a glance at the almost legendary Ambassador and Fleet Captain, Anna Leigh K’tee Tor. She was as tall as the lower deck tales made her out to be. Streaks of purest white were starting in her fire red hair. Her chameleon like eyes that would change colors with her mood was a fascination to many. She stood there in her crisp black Starfleet Uniform, adorned with a duty belt, and “ceremonial dagger” she was allowed to possess. She was so regal and stoic in her stance making it so easy to believe all of the stories about her. Her face was emotionless, not a sign to give him a clue what she was thinking, only her white knuckled grasp of crossed arms in front of her betrayed her current emotional state.
Ambassador and Fleet Captain Tor had been present that day 25 years ago when the rift opened. “Seven minutes of temporal chaos” was what the reports said. Every conceivable and inconceivable time, dimension, and reality existed in this one bubble in the furthest reaches of Alpha Quadrant, near her home planet of Elas and sister planet Troyus, placing Space Station Requiem in their eminent domain. Some theorize the Dominion was the cause of the rift as they attempted to create their own worm holes between the two quadrants in attempts to flank the Confederation. The U.S.S. Joan of Arc, U.S.S. Battleborn, and U.S.S. Masamune were on patrol at the time when it happened.
Lt. Hammock clenched his jaw in remembrance of that day when the Starfleet Officers arrived to tell him his father had died on the U.S.S. Joan of Arc, during a battle with the Dominion and everything that had come through the rift that day. His mother had been aboard the U.S.S. Masamune when it disappeared, only bits and pieces remained. The officers had no information on her other than the U.S.S. Masamune was classified as “missing in action.” His grandmother, and only known remaining family member, passed shortly after from grief. “Missing in Action” was the most information he could ever get about the Masamune. No matter his rank, clearance, or the diplomatic connections he made as he advanced through Starfleet. He even joined Section 31 to be met with constant dead ends. He had hopes that joining the Temporal Marine Corps would shed some light on the whereabouts of his mother and the Masamune. Twenty-five years living the life of an orphan, and an unknown benefactor, was all he knew after that. The best schools and guaranteed admittance to Starfleet Academy was what they told him. “You’re special, Son. Don’t forget that. You have a purpose, and the Ambassador intends to see that you fulfill it.”
“Which ambassador?” He snarled to himself. A faceless, nameless entity that controlled him, and his destiny since he was 10. He struggled through his academy years and his first duty station, waiting for the promised transfer to Space Station Requiem where he had hopes of finding answers. The Ambassador would send him cryptic messages and correspondences. Every advantage he needed to succeed and keep his secret.
Eight years ago, his Marine Unit was finally transferred to Space Station Requiem and the area of space known as “The Rift” for their two-year tour of duty on the edge of the Draconis Nebula. Admiral James Van Cleave and Captain Rebecca Harris were in charge of this monstrosity back then, with Lieutenant Alexander Tor, the Admiral’s stepson in charge of the Search and Rescue Teams. All of them apparently unaffected, along with the Admiral’s son Christopher Van Cleave. Fleet Captain Anna Tor was on Elas, at that time, fulfilling her birth-right role as their Leader and Ambassador to her people and the Confederation of Planets. A brief moment of compassion towards his new commanding officer flashed across his mind. There was a woman with a colorful past and a destiny also not of her controlling.
When Hammock had arrived on Space Station Requiem, it had been seventeen years since the initial rift incident. Seventeen years of construction and there were still large areas incomplete as the population grew beyond anticipated numbers. A monstrosity of an organic looking space station, seemingly cobbled together, to house millions from different planets, galaxies, and dimensions. She suffered from frequent hull breeches and equipment failure as Engineers continued to try and decipher all of the data from that first day when the plans of the completed space station had mysteriously been uploaded into the U.S.S. Battleborn’s databanks. Plans that engineers apparently forgot to follow. The people working on the station breaking out in mass riots and fighting from “Rift Psychosis.” A smug snarl came to his face, unbeknownst to him, as he remembered when he realized the rift did not affect him. He was “a special kind of crazy” after all.
“Is there something amusing, Lieutenant?” Anna Tor’s sharp tones brought him back to the moment. Montolongue looked at him intently, appeared to smile and possibly wink at him. Hammock always struggled to read reptilian species.
“No, Sir. Just lost in a thought. My mother was serving aboard the U.S.S. Masamune when she disappeared.” Hammock’s blue eyes turned into pools of sadness.
For a moment, all of Anna’s features softened. “Yes, I know. I was here.” She looked down at the deck, absently toed the grey carpet with her shoe for a time. When she looked up, her eyes were pools of pristine blue water that mimicked his own. “I had to write the report as,” her words caught in her throat, “as one of the remaining senior officers and ambassador to this region. Your father was a fine officer on the U.S.S. Joan of Arc. My only regret is I didn’t get down to engineering that often to have gotten to know him better.”
Hammock paled. He had forgotten that for some unknown reason several of the crew members from the U.S.S. Joan of Arc were not on board when she blew up from the first blast of an unknown and hostile vessel that came through the rift that day. He also had forgotten that it meant his commanding officer was several years his senior. It was rumored that “The Great and Powerful Anna Tor” was already around 70 plus Earth years back then, but since most of her records were classified no one really knew except maybe her doctor. The vision of a woman standing in front of him could not possibly be that old, he thought to himself, slowly losing himself in her eyes. A random thought crossed into his head that he would gladly die in a glorious battle for her, just to see those eyes smile at least once at him. Only him...
The sound of someone clearing their throat ended the mutual moment of silence. They both looked as Yeoman Gordon was standing nervously by, a PADD being held in his hooved hands and his Tellarite features harshly highlighted by the glow of the space dock.
“I, uh, have the medical data on the crew from the U.S.S. Masamune, Captain.” He managed to stammer out, before thrusting the PADD into Anna’s hand and abruptly departing.
Hammock gave a startled look at her. “Do people do that to you frequently?”
“What?” Anna asked in return, “Quiver in fear like I am about to devour them and send them on their way to their deity of choice?” The sarcasm was palpable in her statement. She regarded her Executive Officer for a moment before continuing, “You are the first person I have met in a long time that isn’t afraid of me. Why is that?”
Hammock looked out the window at the Masamune. Yes, why was that? He thought to himself.
Anna was intently looking at the PADD when her eyes went wide, she paled again, before her cheeks flushed with rosy color. “Mog!” She slapped her Comm Badge, “I want site-to-site transport to the sick bay of the Masamune NOW and alert Ambassador Kryss Th’dabie to be in my Ready room in 20 minutes!”