Unlike many of the other little snippets of his life he could recall in a small 1000 word or so segment, Landon felt quite refreshed. The air on the ship had a sweet and new taste to it, and the faces of the crew seemed to perk up as he walked past. He'd have loved to believe it was because he was such a wonderfully cheerful person that his enthusiasm rubbed off on people like a plague, but he imagined it was more because they no longer had to work in a department operated under the astringent Mr. Lieutenant Nealson. It could have also been the cortical monitor attached at the base of his skull. It tended to lighten the mood.
As he strolled though the doors of Engineering he could hear a few people verbally sigh in relief. For all that Neyes was, he wasn't an unfair senior officer. The good Lieutenant however, wasn't exactly familiar with the term, "Diplomatic."
"Hello, my good people. Yes, I'm back from rehab. Get your giggles out now while you have permission, because once I get to work if I hear any of you snickering at me... and I WILL hear you... you'll be working overnight shifts so fast you'll wish I'd never set foot on the ship." He smiled pleasantly, careful to address each person individually as he spoke aloud. "But it's still lovely to be back. Missed you. Thank you for the reports, McKinley. They were much appreciated. You have excellent grammar." He made a clicking sound and pointed to Nealson. "You, in my office asap. Please."
Landon turned headfirst towards his office and had to strike a double take. He hadn't been paying complete attention, but it had looked for a split second like there were two people already in his office. Neyes, could only see through the clear glass of the door, but it had definitely sent a quick little chill up his spine. After a moment, he decided it was just his anti-stimulated brain recovering from massive injections of medications. It was bound to play a few trick on him.
Neyes and Nealson took seats in his office, and Landon quietly tapped a finger on the edge of his desk, trying to carefully handle his first personnel issue. They both sat in a sort of awkward silence for a few seconds. Nealson no doubt wondering why he was there, and Neyes trying his best to think of a way to handle it all with the finesse expected of someone in his position.
Nealson was about to say something when Landon interrupted him outright. "So what's up, Lieutenant. How do you feel you did while I was gone?"
"Sir?" The look of stricken confusion on his face was almost painful to see. It was obvious he had expected to
Landon knew that Nealson was almost perfectly logical in his execution of protocol and procedure, but he seemed to stumble at a disconnect between talking to people as peers and ordering them around. There had been at least three complaints about Nealson while Neyes had spent the last few days in Sickbay, and at least one of them asked to be transferred if Nealson was not removed. It was one of those personnel issues he'd always had problems dealing with as a senior officer. There was just too much temptation to order the Lieutenant under the bowels of the ship for a good lesson in humility, scrubbing the nasties out from inside the plasma conduits. The best solution, though, was probably to sit down and talk it out.
"I think we performed fairly well in your absence, Commander. The crew can be a little disorderly at times, but I think I managed to straighten most of them out." Nealson spoke with a commanding confidence. It seemed he really believed that the crew had worked well under him
"You know there were some issues with the team while I was gone. Many of them had to do with how you handled yourself."
"I don't understand."
"If you took the time to ask your crew how they were feeling you might find yourself in a better position to command them. These are people with needs, wants and breaking points. They don't want to feel like they're slaves, they want to feel like part of a team. Rightly so, I might add." Landon was being delicate with the man, knowing he could be defensive.
"I understand, sir." Nealson said.
Neyes raised an eyebrow quizzically. It couldn't be that simple. "You do."
A little smirk of satisfaction crossed his lips. Landon didn't expect that the Lieutenant understood as well as they'd both like, but hopefully the introduction of the issue was a start, at the very least. "Well that was easy. Thank you Lieutenant. I want you to write a report on suggestions you have for personnel improvements based on your observations. Including those of yourself. I'll be in touch with you about it once I've had a chance to evaluate your perspective."
Nealson got up to leave, nodding in acknowledgment.
What happened immediately afterward nearly stopped Landon's heart. The Lieutenant rose from his chair, then strolled to the office door, but he also didn't. Another second Nealson was still sitting in the chair, talking like he had been a few minutes before. Landon could barely make out the sounds, but it was clear that something was terribly wrong. The words from the shade were distorted and non-linear, like they were coming through on the wrong comm band. A nauseating sensation came over Neyes as he pushed himself up and out of his chair. He could see echoes of people as they walked outside his office, like trailing ghosts that followed in their footsteps. The room felt like it was spinning, and Landon found himself staring at a physical world he hadn't experienced before.
"Nealson, stop!" He shouted.
Both Lieutenants looked up, but the one sitting in the chair seemed a little confused as he looked about the office for the source of the sound. Neyes could only figure that the echo couldn't see him. It was a leap to make assumptions without really knowing what was happening, but it was the best he could come up with under the circumstances.
"What do you see, Nealson?" Landon's muscles were clenched. He was worried that moving would upset whatever was happening around him.
"Sir? What do you mean? I see you. Your office." He looked confused.
Whatever was going on was clearly localized around Landon. His first instinct was that someone had planted some kind of device around him, or that he'd been drugged. This didn't feel like an intoxication though, and it was all too fluid. There wasn't any obvious sign of any subterfuge in his office; everything around him was as it was as when it was rebuilt. The spinning in his head was getting worse, though, and he could feel his sense of consciousness beginning to fade out. Soon he wouldn't be able to fight it off, so he had little other choice but to try to move.
Landon took a step and suddenly everything changed again.
Nealson vanished, the orientation of everything in the room had changed. In fact most everything looked like it had been thrown against the far wall, and there was a shrill pulsing sound coming from the Core. Someone cried out as the entirety of Main Engineering was engulfed in darkness, with the exception of the blue and reds of the warp core. A single console blinked near the warp diagnostic panel. A litany of things raced through his head, as the Engineer in him took hold. There was a disturbance in the local space around them. It was either just him, or it was everything. He didn't seem to be affected at all by it, but had instead been deposited into this... this instance.
"Report!" He shouted instinctively.
An Ensign coughed as she pushed herself up off the floor. Her shouting was labored, but she managed, "The core was successfully stabilized, the emergency shunts saved us, sir. Anti-Tetryon particles have still contaminated our Anti-Matter supply and have flooded the core. But we're still holding at 115% of normal anti-matter flow for top speed. It looks like Savant has been dumping power somehow in order to keep the core from extending past the emergency capacity and blowing us all to hell." She coughed again as she tried to bring a station back online, her hand pounding uselessly against the panel's broken glass.
Neyes hopped over a fallen console station and quickly made his way over to a fallen crewman. A small pool of blood was clearly visible on the floor under his temple, and it took Landon less than a moment to realize the man had been killed instantly. It was Nealson. Landon's brow creased a little, the frustration coming to the forefront of his mind. He didn't know what was happening.
The nausea suddenly returned, and Landon felt the same as he had the first time the strange reality shift had happened.
"Sir! Core pressure is rising again! It's at 118%!!! I can't- can't get the injector port to close!!" She screamed, the core's shrill hum had mutated into a painfully loud and monstrously twisted screech. It was the sound of inevitability.
Sure enough, just as Neyes closed his eyes to take in the last moments of life, he could hear the Kelbonite matrix around the core casing begin to crack and shatter as the containment fields bubbled and perforated. A single molecule of air is all it would take for the whole ship to erupt and vaporize. The core pulsed one last time and Neyes felt his skin warm just the slightest bit. After 750 years, he guessed dying in a massive explosion of atomic annihilation was just as good as a battle wound. He just wish he knew why.
Then it stopped.
Neyes once again found himself in a well-lit Engineering, as if someone had flicked a switch and everything returned to normal. He opened his eyes, a little annoyed that he'd been jerked around once again, but relieved to still be bound to all his atoms. Everyone was moving about normally, only this time a console nearby blared out some kind of warning. Landon quickly shot a look over to his office, and could see the same effects as before, only he wasn't there and Nealson had a sickened and panicked look on his face. Without thinking he got up from his crouching position outside his office, and ran over to a console. A quick readout of the sensors was all he needed...
"Looks like we passed through a field of Anti-Tetryon particles this morning, Commander. Our warp field has shifted slightly, we've been attempting to compensate-" A crewman said.
Oh for the love of all the damn shit in the storm this could not be happening. Time travel?! That's what Anti-Tetryons would do to his new subspace field design. He had discounted it as an option, since the particles were so rare outside of intense solar distortions. There was no reason for him to design the new warp drive to have to purge that kind of contamination, it would have only slowed him down, and the Captain needed that damned thing operational as quickly as possible. He fiercely rubbed at the bridge of his nose. 'THAT is why you don't rush me!!!!', he thought.
"NO!" Neyes shouted. "Open the Nacelle ports to 80% of full retraction and prepare to eject the core!"
The woman looked at the commander a little confused, but followed orders. She nodded and quickly carried out her instructions, but a worried sound creeped into her response as she worked her console. "Commander something's wrong. The core won't pre-eject. The antimatter injector port is frozen in its current state. Also, sir, the Anti-Tetryons have penetrated the warp field! It looks like they're leaking into the anti-matter supply along the bubble!"
'What?!" Landon gritted his teeth. That wasn't supposed to be possible. But he already knew what was coming. "Unlock the magnetic constrictors and begin venting whatever you can from the plasma network out the nacelle ports! We can't let the core pressure rise! Adjust the emergency collision grid to an inverted geometry and use it to enhance the structural integrity of the hull! This is going to hurt like hell!"
"Commander! If we open the ports at this speed it'll destabilize the warp field! We'll come to a dead stop!"
"Do it, Ensign!" Landon growled.
"Aye sir! Venting nacelle plasma and rerouting flow!"
Neyes tapped his comm-badge with one hand and furiously worked the core diagnostic panel with the other."
"Engineering to bridge! The core has been contaminated with Anti-Tetryon particles! The field is unsafe and we have to break it. Prepare to emergency deceleration!"
Neyes barely had time to finish the words when he was thrown from his standing location and tossed backwards across the pool-table, most Engineering quickly followed suit.
=/\= END LOG =/\=
Lieutenant Commander Landon Neyes