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“Whatever this was, let’s never do it again,” said Nora Laas who looked visibly disturbed by her most recent experience.

Bensu thought he understood why. The Bajoran security chief was very much a woman of physical action, most of the time not by choice, he believed, but certainly, it was what she knew, what she understood best. The metaphysical on the other hand was not something she felt comfortable with, particularly not delving into people’s minds and sharing their experiences.

Although considering the brief glimpses he’d gained of her inner thoughts, he had been surprised to find a calm within her he had not expected based on his purely exterior observations. He wondered if it was a more recent development, perhaps the beginnings of a spiritual journey of sorts.

Regardless, it had likely not been enough to prepare her for what she had been through, what all of them had been through. The chief engineer, Louise Hopkins, and the SMT operator Diamond, both people, who like Nora, were focused on the things they could control with their hands rather than with their minds, looked similarly rattled.

Hopkins glanced over at Xylion who had remained as stone-faced as always, except perhaps for that nearly imperceivable hint of concern for his close personal friend. “What did we just experience,” she said as her glance wandered over to him. “What was that?”

Bensu didn’t have words to offer, thankfully Xylion didn’t suffer from that same condition. “Apparently, with the assistance of Gary Seven, Bensu was exposed to visions from the distant past.”

He shot the Vulcan a surprised look. “You saw it too?”

Nora nodded. “Oh, I think we all saw it. And trust me, I wish I hadn’t.”

“It was a fascinating experience,” said Xylion.

“You’d say that,” Nora said.

“I believe we witnessed brief flashes of various ancient races, many of which the Federation possesses little historical data on.”

Hopkins nodded briefly. “I think I recognize the Hyterians,” she said and Bensu recalled that Eagle had been instrumental in rediscovering that ancient civilization before he had come aboard, which explained why Hopkins would have been familiar with them.

“Indeed. We may also have been exposed to the Iconians, the Organians, and the Tkon,” said Xylion who this time wasn’t quite able to entirely hide his astonishment over these events from his usually carefully schooled features. “Although those exposures were brief, Federation anthropologists will no doubt consider them of tremendous value.”

Nora just shook her head. “I’d rather not go through that again. And the more pressing question, for now, is: What does it all mean?”

To that Xylion had no answer, and neither did Bensu.

“I wish I could provide some answers.”

The entire away team whipped around at the sound of the unexpected voice.

Gary Seven had reappeared once more. He was back in his specter-like form, noticeably flickering, cutting in and out as if his apparition was fighting against some sort of interference. He took a few steps towards Bensu. “I will have to consult further with my colleagues at the Aegis about what we have seen but I have no doubt that whatever it was, whatever it means, there is much more to you Bensu than meets the eye.”

“I am not sure I like the sound of that,” he said in response.

Seven looked off into the distance, into the empty void outside the bubble they still found themselves in, seemingly looking at something only he could see. “The subspace beings have redoubled their efforts to fight me. I think they may be more afraid of the answers than you. I doubt I’ll be able to maintain this form for much longer.”

As if to stress his point, he briefly disappeared entirely, before he re-manifested itself again.

This was followed by sudden activity all around them, with a number of the holographic control panels at the center of the room beginning to flicker and change colors.

“What’s happening?” Hopkins said as she carefully approached the circular control stations to look over their changing appearance, although it was obvious that even with all her technical expertise, she couldn’t make much sense of this technology.

“I believe the structure is beginning to reactivate,” Seven said.

“The last time that happened,” Nora said with deep worry lines crossing her brow, “an entire universe was wiped out.”

Xylion offered a brief nod and glanced back towards Seven. “What options are available to us to prevent the supercollider from fully engaging again?”

“Not many, I’m afraid.”

That wasn’t good enough for Nora. “You called yourself some sort of guardian of the galaxy. Surely stopping a doomsday machine able to collapse an entire universe would be something that falls right into your jurisdiction.”

“You are not wrong,” he said and took a moment to let his eyes roam the control room. “And trust me, the Aegis is taking this extremely seriously. They are working hard to find a solution to this even as we speak. But the unfortunate truth is, none of us expected something like this. We were not prepared and are still playing catch-up. It is an unforgivable failure but it is, unfortunately, the situation we find ourselves in presently.”

Nora threw up her hands in frustration. “That’s just great.”

Gary Seven once more disappeared briefly before he managed to reestablish himself even as his appearance was continuing to deteriorate. “I don’t have much time and the nature of this subspace pocket makes it difficult for me or the Aegis to provide you with additional support.”

“So, what do you suggest we do?” Hopkins asked.

Seven glanced back towards Bensu. “I think the answer lies with you.”

But he quickly shook his head. “Well, unless you can spell out what exactly that answer is supposed to say, I’m afraid we’re out of luck.”

“I wish I could be of more help--“ he cut out momentarily. “But it is imperative that you find those answers inside of you. After what I’ve seen, I have no doubts that that’s where you’ll find them.”

“But in time to save a universe?” Bensu said, unable to hide the skepticism in his tone.

Seven didn’t look very optimistic.

“We were able to oppose the subspace beings, for a short time, by creating a mind link,” said Xylion after short contemplation. “It may be possible that the same strategy, on a larger scale, could prove more successful.”

Seven nodded. “It’s a valid theory. But you’ll need much more--and forgive me for saying so--much more disciplined psionic energy than--“ He disappeared once again but this time Gary Seven did not return.

Instead, the entire bubble-encased chamber began to tremble slightly.

“Now what?” said Nora.

“We will have to deploy the only strategy we know has previously shown to be successful,” the science officer said.

Nora emphatically shook her head. “I’m not going through that again.”

“No,” Xylion agreed. “Considering what we are facing, any further attempts will have to be carried out by individuals with strong psionic aptitudes and even that may not be enough to counter the subspace aliens. To maximize our chances of success and if sufficient time and resources were available, I would strongly recommend that we create the largest possible psionic field by involving as many individuals with telepathic abilities as we can gather.”

Hopkins steadied herself against the control consoles when another, stronger quake nearly caused her to lose her balance. “From the way things are going, time is definitely a commodity we’re rapidly running out of.”


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