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The Harbinger

Posted on Thu Oct 31st, 2019 @ 5:06pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Qurban

Mission: S1E4: The Hills Have Eyes
Location: Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 0

Mortal existence was so confusing sometimes. If not for dreams, Qurban would scarcely know any different. Deep in the repressed layers of his subconscious, Qurban's mind attempted to sort the diverse, perhaps infinite variations and instances of the manifest universe that made his conscious mind a jumble of counterfactual processes. On a good night, Qurban would relive any number of happy fantasies from the Q Continuum spanning untold eons across millions of parsecs that would be forgotten again by morning.

Some nights, however, the night terrors came. They were premonitions of what might be, forays into what could have been, and, on very rare occasions, a warning glimpse into what is now. A harbinger.

On this night, Qurban found himself walking amidst the ephemeral halls of a long forgotten domain. Once upon a time, he would tread in person, tracing the ages of a small planet in an unimpressive solar system in the fringe arm of a minor galaxy that was lost among many other in its local supercluster. The only notable thing about it to Qurban's unconscious mind was its relation to his fixed point in space-time; many time tracks converged together onto this desolate world that ended with galactic extinction.

Sheer self-preservation forced a semi-conscious recognition. Vast storms. Toxic lava flows spewed forth from impossibly wide and short volcanoes. A shifting planetary surface devoid of all water and light. Even darker secrets buried beneath such a hellish landscape. Automatons coming awake, their message unclear. And over it all... a deeply penetrating rumble that drowned out all else in a miasma that could not be understood, only felt.

Qurban sat up in bed, his body covered in a sheen of sweat and his breathing labored. That sound... that ominous sound. It could only mean...

And it was gone. Whatever it was Qurban had recalled then slipped through the fingers of his mind back into the recesses of the id which held hostage all that he could no longer fathom. Still, it might be enough.


To Qurban's best recollection, he had never made a personal call to Mrazak's quarters, but that rubric was hardly reliable. Regardless, they just might have enough time to avert catastrophe, if only that Vulcan would open his door. Qurban sounded the chime several more times.

At last and to much chagrin, Mrazak awakened from his slumber. He dragged himself to the door to meet his nightly tormentor face to face. "This had better be important..." His tone was acidic and scalding, but when recognition dawned on him, it softened to only slightly annoyed. "... zaipossu. What are you doing at this hour?"

Usually Qurban rankled under the bizarre honorific that meant "magician" and more to the V'tosh ka'tur, but under the circumstances he chose to ignore it. In fact, Mrazak's misplaced reverence could be something useful for once. "I remembered something."

Mrazak's eyes shot wide open. "Truly?! Come, sit down and tell me everything."

"No!" The expression on Qurban's face matched Mrazak's for intensity, but it was less excited and more terrified. "Something is about to happen, and there is not a minute to lose! Assemble everybody!"

The wall console was set to notify Mrazak the moment a Theta alert came through. A sidelong glance showed Mrazak that there was no such thing. The Gamma Shift on the station was dull and quiet, with naught but Ferrofax's automatons scuttling about. "To do what, exactly?"

Qurban stared him down with manic eyes full of pleading. "Survive."

"Very well..." Mrazak took a breath. "But I'll need more to go on. Tell me everything."

All things considered, Akiva preferred grave as the day. Much of his early career in Starfleet had been spent on overnight Gamma Shifts, and with his sudden extra time since Laena's departure a few months back, early to bed and early to rise was one of the few healthy old trends he could fall back on. It often meant he could work on his labor of love without interruption.

And then Mrazak arrived.

Akiva sighed as the Vulcan entered his office unbidden. "What?" It was too early for Akiva to put on airs of respect that were not genuine.

"Rude," Mrazak quipped with a furrowed brow. "But not unexpected. I come with tidings of great importance."

"Hashem yishmor, out with it already." Akiva pulled back the drop cloth over the work table in his office and turned around. The words 'I am busy' nearly escaped his lips, but he felt that was quite evident without drawing attention to his project. Instead, he leaned back against the covered table and gestured his hands outward to solicit the explanation.

Seeing that they now had Akiva's undivided attention, Mrazak stepped aside and opened the floor for Qurban who had been at his back.

"A terrible doom has been released," Qurban said to Akiva. "You must locate it and prevent its proliferation, or everything you know will be destroyed."

Akiva had never met Qurban before, though he had seen the man loitering here and there about the station. As a Hebron somewhere between devout and apikoros, he didn't know what to make of the alleged Q Continuum or any man said to be a former denizen. Hashem was one, as the ancient writings said, and yet here he was. "All right. I trust you have more information for us to go off of than just a dire warning."

"Allow me." Mrazak walked over to Akiva's desk--the administrator's desk he had once occupied on a number of interim bases--and swiveled the desktop display around on its stand. "If you would be so kind as to input your credentials."

Despite his annoyance, Akiva pressed his thumb to the miniature scanner and spoke his name. The display activated and sat dormant.

Mrazak helped himself to the settings and brought up an image of the galaxy's map. "Please show where this catastrophe will originate."

Squinting at the display, Qurban fought to make heads or tails of it. "So... flat. Is there any way to...?"

"Ah, yes." Mrazak activated the three-dimensional holographic setting.

Suddenly a starfield erupted over the desk. Qurban ran his hand through it, dragging the view around several points of reference that allowed him to quickly skip through multiple star systems like broadcast channels. "Yes, this is the one."

The star system that Qurban selected had a few gas giants, an inner and outer belt of debris, and a few small terrestrial worlds near its small, single sun. He zoomed in to the system's core and highlighted the second planet. Its atmosphere swirled in dull amber and ruddy orange storms that made the skin crawl in their raging beauty, not unlike the plasma storms of the Badlands around Overwatch Station.

It took a few seconds for Akiva to register what Qurban was saying. "Seriously?"

"Is that planet known to you?" Mrazak asked. "That would be quite convenient for the Theta alert that I'm about to generate into the record."

Akiva scoffed in utter disbelief. "Yes, I should say so! Hebron Colony's history books call it Noga, but it's been known by countless names in human history--Vesper, Lucifer, Phosphorus, among others. You should know it as Sol II. It is Earth's direct neighbor, opposite from Mars."

"Oh please," Mrazak said with a dismissive and derisive snort. "As if you could identify any planet in the Vulcan system on sight. Or any V'tosh ka'tur colony worlds for that matter." He waved away that rabbit trail. "Be that as it may, though, at least we know precisely where to search for this impending threat."

"We should notify Command," Akiva said. "Daystrom, Mars Planitia, Starfleet Operations itself--the full apparatus of the Federation is--"

"--going to fail," Qurban interrupted. "They won't know what's happened until it's too late."

Akiva was still confused. "But so far, neither do we."

"That's right." Despite the admission, Qurban's insistence was unchanged.

"So... what?" Akiva's head shook slightly to the tune of his incredulity. "We'll just load everybody onto the Phantom, head to Venus, and hope and pray you find something? That's ridiculous."

Mrazak snorted in contempt now that his metaphorical investigation hat was on. "I agree. We shall perform due diligence, and leave hope and prayers for the birds."

The snide comment made Akiva cross his arms in offense. "That's not what I meant."

"Never fear, ben-Avram. I will see this done." Standing together, Mrazak and Qurban did strike a nearly convincing pose, if not for the ridiculousness of their premise.

Though Akiva wanted to shoot it down on principle, something in his gut did suggest maybe they were right. Maybe it was just the perpetual desire to have Mrazak go away. As he thought about it, Akiva realized that even if it was a wild goose chase, then Mrazak couldn't cause any real harm, and it would be another black mark against his sound judgment. In the off chance that this Qurban was right...

"Very well," Akiva said. "Enter the undefined threat into record and I'll release the Phantom. You can leave as soon as your team is briefed."

Mrazak shook his head. "We don't know what we're dealing with yet and I want everybody on hand. The ship will leave as soon as it's cleared, then I'll brief the team on the way." He rushed out the door without waiting to be dismissed. As he hurried away, he called back, "Update me through the QE comm if Qurban remembers anything else!"

"That should go over well." Akiva didn't bother fighting back his chuckle. This was going to be grand.


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