Log Entry 131228.91

Our attention was now focused upon our objective: to take the kaleg into the heart of a microscopic black hole, but would this even work? Troy had told us many times that he was not a scientist, and it soon became evident that he was merely repeating the basic outline of a plan but had little idea as to the mechanics of it.
"So how's this going to work?" I asked Midas.
He laughed.
"Work?" he joked.
"You don't think this will work?"
He shrugged.
"Well, the theory's good, but theory always is," and he smiled at me and began to explain in the patient tones of an aged Vulcan master.
"The kaleg is designed to breach the temporal rift. The temporal rift is created by the gravitational forces of the black hole. In theory, if we can organise the kaleg—place it in perfect alignment to the black hole, then we can use it to influence those forces and influence the gravitational pull to ping this region of space back into normal time."
"It sounds simple enough."
"Of course it does. The most complicated of plans sound simple enough when put into mere words."
"So what's the complication?"
"The kaleg is big and the black hole is microscopic, so we need to change the diameter of the kaleg, and we can do that by using the pull of the black hole to draw it out, long and thin. That means we'll need to take the kaleg in just close enough for the gravitational forces to catch it, and at exactly the right angle. Then we'll have to hold it in place as the anomaly draws it out. As it stretches, it'll become harder and harder to hold it in position. Only when it is thin enough can we release it into the black hole, but it'll be like firing a five-mile long, microscopically thin arrow through a hole that's not even a micron bigger than the arrow itself. If the arrow catches as it enters the anomaly, it'll shatter and each little piece of kaleg will be influencing the forces independently. Similarly, while the kaleg is being stretched, if the angle is slightly wrong, it'll twist and be ripped apart and, again, each little bit of kaleg will do its own thing."
I pulled a face.
"We could just end up tearing this entire region of space apart."
"And us with it."
Midas's expression told me I'd hit the nail on the head.
"Can you do it?"
Midas drew a deep breath.
"With Luke's help, we have the best chance. He's a damned fine engineer and an excellent helmsman. If anybody understands gravitational forces, it's him."
"Jolly good," I smiled weakly. "And what can I do to help?"
"Pray?" he suggested.
"Fish fly north!" Luke suddenly shouted triumphantly.
Despite his sentence still being complete gibberish, I noticed that his use of noun, verb and adverb was more structured than before.
"Ah-ha!" shouted Midas. "Well done, Luke. Kaleg control."
"Tree fall beneath up," Luke added, pointing to another station. His expression this time was serious and concerned.
"Ah. That's not so good."
I looked over Midas's shoulder. Internal sensors were showing a high status alert. He tapped a few controls to interrogate further and we were able to establish that the Earhart's crew was battling with the Dancers. They were giving them a run for their money, but casualties looked heavy.
"We have to hurry," I urged.
Luke and Midas began to co-ordinate their efforts.
"Right, here goes nothing," Midas suddenly breathed, and his hand hovered over the controls. "Are you ready, Luke?"
Luke nodded.
The view on the front screen changed focusing in on the station. Annotations began to move back and forth around the edges detailing astrometric forces and other info.
"Kaleg activated," confirmed Midas.
Just off to one side of the station, a smudge appeared with yet more annotations.
"Kaleg to quarter strength ... whatever that is," scowled Midas.
The kaleg grew in size and reformed itself into a straight line that pivoted and twirled on a central axis.
"I'll take it to half strength now."
Midas turned the control and the kaleg began to whip around erratically. Luke scowled furiously as he fought with it.
"Problem?" asked Troy, concerned.
"No," said Midas. "Just learning how to pilot the damned thing."
Beads of sweat began to form on Luke's brow as he struggled against the kaleg, and then, slowly but surely, the kaleg began to calm and move more sedately. Luke began to relax too. He was getting the hang of it.
"Okay, Luke. Ready to take it to full strength?"
"Poker," said Luke, nodding.
This time, as Midas increased the kaleg, it remained steady.
"Great, now I'm going to activate temporal shift just a tweak—just enough for it to stay in this plane of existence, and just enough for it to register in ours ... I hope."
A plethora of new information began to register on the side of the screen, and the view zoomed out so that we could see the whole of the region of space. A set of red crosshairs appeared on the screen where the black hole was located.
"Take us in, Luke. Steady as she goes."
All I could do was stand and watch. Troy, too, could do no more. He came to stand behind me; I could feel his breath brushing the back of my neck.
The kaleg began to move towards the target.
"Tilt forty-three point three-five. Increasing speed point nine-five. Rotate point four."
It travelled quickly and the screen zoomed in on the target area.
"Slowing to one-tenth impulse. Alignment is off point twelve degrees, Luke. Tilt point two."
I could no longer feel Troy's breath, but I knew he was still there. Like me, he didn't dare to breathe.
"Excellent, Luke. Slowing to one-twentieth."
The form of the kaleg was clearly defined on the screen as it zoomed in again, and Luke began to struggle with the controls.
"Steady as she goes, Luke."
"What's happening?" I blurted.
"Nothing unexpected. The black hole is starting to pull on the kaleg," and we could clearly see the kaleg being stretched, long and thin as Luke held it in place. It did indeed remind me of an arrow being aimed at a target, Luke pulling the string back as he aimed.
"Beautiful, Luke. Keep it there, keep it there. Just another point one-two-five. Beautiful, beautiful. Hold it there, Luke. Hold it. Hold it. On my mark, Luke ..."

Log Entry 131221.90

"What happened?" I asked, fearing I already knew.
"They're gone. These," he indicated the devices we were holding, "drained the energy from them."
"You mean ... we killed them?"
"Yes." Troy seemed confused. He couldn't see a problem with that.
"How could you do that to me?" I screamed.
"Make me kill it!"
"What did you think we were going to do?"
"I don't know! Stun it! Render it unconscious!"
"Jenny, energy doesn't do conscious and unconscious. It's either there or it's not. It's like a light bulb. It's either on or it's off."
"But you can turn a light bulb back on again!"
"But it won't be the same stream of energy. Once it's gone, it's gone."
"This is war, Jenny!" he boomed angrily, and his flesh flushed deep purple with rage. "The Helvetians have died in their billions and the Dancers would kill you and your kind with the same ease with which they have killed my people! It was us or them! Now pull yourself together and get your friends in here! We have work to do!"
I wanted to argue. I wanted to tell him he was wrong ... but he wasn't. Everything he said was true. With my anger still bubbling quietly inside me, tempered by that truth, I went and fetched Luke and Midas. They could both tell something was wrong, but I told them it was nothing. They had more important things to worry about than me.
Once inside the room, Midas with cool Vulcan discipline did a tour of the room to take it all in. Luke, meanwhile, began to study the computer systems and interrogate them.
"What are these?" asked Midas, stopping at the balls of light.
"Mimics," replied Troy. "Non-sentient energy cells."
"No. They'd be useless as batteries. They don't hold enough power."
"Then what are they for?"
"Experimentation—they mimic the life signs of Dancers."
"Like test dummies? You mean they use them in experiments to find out what effects given events will have on a Dancer?"
"Yes," Troy confirmed, and then returned to his preoccupation of looking for the kaleg controls. He didn't seem to think anymore of it, but we did. What experiments were the Dancers conducting?
Luke suddenly snatched at Midas's arm and dragged him over to one of the consoles. The two examined it closely, scowling hard.
"Do you know what effects they were testing?" Midas asked.
Troy shrugged.
He sounded annoyed and impatient. He was eager to get this done, but Midas ignored him.
"Something's not right here," he declared. "None of this makes sense."
We were all intrigued. Midas explained.
"Jenny, you told me earlier that you were born in this realm and that the Dancers have been looking for you because, somehow, the Helvetian's stealth ability has mutated over to you, and that they think you may hold the answer to porting that ability over to themselves."
"That's what I think, yes."
"But why then were they pulling people in from our realm in the first place? They might be looking for you now but why create the kaleg in the first place? What did they originally want from our realm?"
It was a good question that no one could answer.
Midas and Luke soon returned to the computers and I joined them too. It wasn't that long ago that it would all have been complete gobbledegook to me, but my lessons at the Academy were paying off and I began to make my own enquiries.
"Hang on a minute," I suddenly said. "I think I've found something relevant."
Midas and Luke were over in a trice and soon became absorbed in what I had found. I wasn't really sure what the information I had discovered meant, but it related to our realm.
"What is it?" I finally asked, impatient to know.
Midas took a deep preparatory breath and walked over to the view screen.
"Look," he said. "This is the extent of this realm," and the plan quite clearly identified the region's boundaries as they faded out into nothingness. "And over there is the microscopic black hole which contorts time and space."
He then called up another shot and then another.
"Notice anything?"
I squinted at it and then my eyes widened in horror.
"It's getting smaller!" I exclaimed.
"Yes. This entire realm is slowly but surely being sucked into the black hole. At some point or another, this realm will cease to exist. What you've found, Jenny, tells me that the Dancers have realised this, but they've also found an escape route ... into our realm."
"But they can't exist there."
"No, not in their current form, but what if they could inhabit a life form that can?"
"One from that realm?"
"But is that possible?"
"Not yet, but that's what the orbs are for. They mimic the Dancers' physical being. By embedding it into a host body and sending it back through the kaleg, they are learning what they need to do to make the process work, so that they can exist in our world."
It took me a few moments to absorb that.
"You mean ... they are going to take over humanoids and then ..."
"Invade your realm," finished Troy.
"That's why they send the bodies back!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," confirmed Midas.
"So they weren't looking for me at all?" I asked hopefully.
"Not solely, no. If they found you, you would certainly have been of interest to them, but they have a bigger plan. They aim to invade our realm by invading our bodies first."
Suddenly, all my doubts were gone. We had to stop them! No matter what!

Log Entry 131214.89

I shan't bore you with all the details of our journey as we traversed the station because although we didn't have that far to travel, it was boring and seemed quite endless as we ducked in and out of corridors and Jeffries tubes.
Troy and I, being the 'invisible' beings would scout ahead and check that the way was clear before ushering Midas and Luke out from their safe havens and escorting them into the next. Luke, all the while, dictated the direction we should take.
Suddenly, things started to heat up. Luke had led us down another shaft and stopped by an exit panel. He pointed through the grill at a door opposite us.
"That's it," whispered Troy loudly. "That's AL3!"
"Don't sound so surprised," I hissed in annoyance.
I had never doubted Luke's ability to bring us here. Luke picked up my hand and kissed the back of it before giving me a cheeky wink. With his lack of verbal communication, it was a lovely way for him to say thank you. I smiled reassuringly at him.
As I had so many times before, I crawled out into the corridor to check that the way was clear, but no sooner was I out than the door to AL3 opened and five Dancers burst out. They had already started to melt from their humanoid form into balls of light and were rolling towards me at phenomenal speed. They almost filled the width of the corridor and I had to spread myself against the wall to avoid one of them touching me, sucking in my stomach hard; as if that would help!
No sooner were they gone though than another door opened a little further down the corridor and four more Dancers came out, and then another three from another doorway ... and then it was quiet again.
I waited for a few moments and then approached the door to AL3.
This was it. I wondered how many Dancers were inside. I hoped none because once I opened the door, their attention would surely be on it. They might see me, but even if they didn't, how would we be able to do what we needed to if they were there?
I wished we had a real plan.
I stepped up to the door expecting it to shush open as the ones on the Earhart do, but it remained stubbornly closed. I glared at it in annoyance, but still nothing. I looked around the frame but could see no mechanism either.
I turned back to the access panel from where Troy was emerging. He clambered out of the hole, pulling himself free like a huge, black beetle escaping its cocoon. Despite his size and horns, he had such grace.
He came and pushed me to one side of the door while he stood on the other and waved his hand over, well nothing that I could see, but there was obviously a sensor there. The door shushed open and I realised what he had done. By moving us to either side of the door, if anybody was inside and they looked out, we were out of their immediate line of sight. Within a moment though, Troy had ducked down to peer through the open doorway and then darted inside. I followed.
AL3 turned out to be much smaller than I had anticipated. Approximately eight meters square, one end was concaved and formed a viewscreen, not unlike the one we had on our own bridge in the Earhart. On it were displayed star charts, no doubt of this region of space judging by the way it faded at the edges, but there was a lot more information annotated on it in a foreign hand.
In front of that, a bank of computer stations stood with a rack of spheres lined up along its top. About the size of a football, they glittered and glowed like giant Christmas baubles but were even more beautiful. They shimmered like the Dancers in their naked form, but lacked the feeling of malevolence that the Dancers emanated.
There were also two Dancers in the room busily working at the stations. I bit my lip anxiously.
Troy and I may be beyond the Dancer's perception but we weren't the ones that needed to be in here with the equipment. We needed Midas for that, and Midas was most certainly not invisible.
Troy was also aware of that and I could see him looking around for something with which to disable or distract the Dancers.
A small, wry smile broke out across his face spreading his wide slit of a mouth even wider. Silently he picked something up from a counter top.
About the size of a tricorder and shaped like a big tear, he held it like a remote control for a model aeroplane, pointing its tip away from him. Its smooth surface was flattened on the upper side and illuminated with touch sensitive controls. Troy tapped at it for a while, looked up and pointed. My eyes followed his direction until I spotted a similar device which I claimed, but what I was supposed to do with it, I had no idea.
Troy concentrated on his device for a second longer and then came over to me. I held mine as he tapped at it, duplicating the settings he had made on the first one, but I wasn't really paying any attention. I was more concerned about the Dancers. They had their backs to us, but if they turned around? Would these devices floating in midair give us away, or would the devices become imperceivable like us?
Troy's hand on my shoulder broke me from my reverie. He had set my machine up for me and was showing me what I needed to do to operate it. Then he directed me towards one of the Dancers and indicated that I should copy him. Dumbly, I did as I was bid.
Under his direction, I walked up behind the nearest of the two Dancers and waited. On the count of three, we touched the tips of our machines against our respective Dancers and horror filled me as I realised what was happening.
The machine worked silently and as I touched it against the Dancer's skin; it seemed oblivious to it. The machine though, lit up like a Christmas tree. Red, yellow, green and blue lights skipped across its display and the whole apparatus glowed brightly, but not the Dancer.
While it remained quite oblivious to me, it was obvious that it was becoming distressed. It slumped forward, leaning onto the console in front of it in an unnervingly humanlike way. I think I even heard it sigh as its pearlescent glow dulled to a shabby grey, and then it shrank like a balloon deflating. The Dancer lost its form and became old and wrinkled. It slumped onto its knees in a flabby lump and lingered for a moment and then, like one of those really old fashioned TV sets from the 1970s, it imploded into nothing more than a small, white dot of light.
I gasped in horror and stared at it, and then the dot winked out and was gone.
Shocked, I looked to Troy for an answer. He looked back at me and smiled.
"Problem solved," he beamed.

Log Entry 131201.88

I lingered on the gallery, watching Rutter and Al descend on their makeshift rope. As they reached the bottom, it suddenly struck me how much Rutter had changed. Once upon a time, he had been a xenophobe with a dislike for 'the misfits' as he liked to call us. Now though, when he reached the bottom he turned and caught Al around the waist to help her down the last couple of feet. Not that she needed it of course.
"Pink ... frogs ... fly ... angels!" Luke suddenly shouted.
I turned and gawped, my mouth falling open. His words were disjointed—complete and utter gibberish in fact, but he had spoken!
"Rhino ... fell ... banana!" he cried.
I could see the exasperation in his eyes as he struggled to re-master the English language.
"We must hurry," urged Troy.
"Congo reels sad!" Luke cried taking a step back from me.
"Don't worry, Luke," I assured him. "It'll come. You're getting better all the time."
"Belittle porters ... brail seeking!"
"But now, we have to get to AL3. Come on, Luke. You lead the way," and I took his elbow, but he snatched it away from me and glared angrily.
"Buckets! Buckets ... print!" and then he screamed loudly, a long, deep holler, in complete desperation.
"Pinter fish look see!" he bellowed.
"We don't have time for this. We have to go," urged Troy.
"I know but—"
"But nothing. Come on!"
"Feel cats applesome!"
I stepped up to him, but he again stepped back. My feelings were so mixed. I had felt deep joy at Luke's improvement but now sadness filled me.
"Volume speaks frail!"
I saw Midas and Troy glance at each other and read their thoughts. They were both losing faith in Luke's ability to help us, as was I, but something was niggling at me.
I could feel Luke's anguish as he babbled but there was something else in his voice and manner—a sense of frustration and urgency. Was he trying to tell me something, something important?
"Luke?" I asked.
"Pasta," he said softly.
"Jen, come on!" cried Midas. I shoved my palm rudely into his face to silence him.
"Luke, what are you trying to say?"
"Pale man," and he pulled way from all three of us. "Pale man seeks fish."
"We must leave him," said Troy. "He's gone mad."
"Fish feel fruit."
I shook my head.
"No, I don't think so," and I turned to Luke again. He stood rigid with anger, his fists balled and face screwed with tension.
"Luke, I'm going to ask you some questions. Don't speak. Just nod or shake your head. Do you have something to tell us?"
He nodded desperately.
"Ah-ha!" I cried triumphantly.
"That means nothing—" began Troy.
"Yes, it does!" I shouted angrily.
"Luke, are you my friend?"
He nodded.
"Are you an ensign?"
He shook his head.
"Is three the square root of nine?"
He nodded.
"Is brass an element?"
He shook his head.
"You see. The answers he is giving are correct. He just can't vocalise properly."
"That's hardly going to help us though, is it? I mean, even if he has something to tell us, he can't verbalise it."
I scowled. Midas was right, and then I had a thought. I got down onto my knees and beckoned Luke to join me. He looked confused but did as I asked and knelt beside me. With my finger, on the ground, I wrote the word 'WHAT'.
A beaming smile broke out across his face and then he drew on the ground the words 'THEY MUST GO LEFT'.
"Left?" I queried.
I stood up and leaned over the edge to look into the bay below. Rutter was busy at the door, but Al was pulling the captain to her feet.
"Al!" I cried and she looked up. "When Rutter gets the door open, you must go left!"
"Okay?" but I could tell she wasn't convinced.
"LEFT!" I screamed down again to emphasis the importance of the instruction.
"Yes! I got it!" she snapped with Klingon ill-temper. "Left! Now push off, for crying out loud!"
I smiled and turned back to Luke. He looked much happier.
"Lead the way," and I swept my arm in an arc before me. Luke bowed his head slightly and then stepped forward.
We followed.

Log Entry 131124.87

As we passed through the doors, each one of us gasped. It was not at all what we had expected. When you think of prisons, you think of small spaces: cells with bars of some description—like the one I found Warrior Troy in, but not this.
We emerged on a platform that overlooked a room bigger than our main cargo hold. It was round and deep—the full thickness of the station's hull: three decks deep. The sides of the room curved upwards and culminated in a transparent domed ceiling, and we were on a gallery that looked down through the dome and into the room.
Beneath us, the entire crew of the Earhart lay. Well, nearly the entire crew.
"I can't see any Marines," said Al.
"Or the Science crew," added Midas.
"We're about forty people down," added Rutter.
"Well, we're five of them, so where are the other thirty-odd?" I asked, fearing I knew the answer.
"Look," said Al, pointing to the far side of the room. There, a line of bodies lay in an unnatural fashion and beside them, I could see Rosie sitting, his head in his hands. He was crying.
"Why's nobody trying to get out?" I asked.
It was true. The crew was either sitting or lying down, but none of them were trying to escape.
"They're doped. There's a sedative in the air," explained Rutter. "I remember I couldn't think straight. I wasn't even sure where I was."
"Oh great! So even if we do open the doors, they're not likely to do anything!" I exclaimed.
"It's diplohyozone so it wears off pretty quick," explained Al.
Her knowledge of chemicals and materials was bafflingly large, so the fact that she had identified it was no great surprise.
"Okay, but how do we open the doors from up here?"
Rutter looked down at the large double doors to the bay and then behind him at the ones we had entered by. He turned to Troy.
"Was that room designed as a prison?"
"No, this was a research station. There were no cells. It was a shuttle bay for delivering supplies."
"How would you get a shuttle in there?" I asked, examining the doors.
"The floor ... it opens up onto space."
"That explains it then," I said, looking back to the pile of bodies. "When they're done with the crew, they'll just eject the bodies into space whether they are dead or not."
Rutter, meanwhile, had turned his attention to the doors and had found an access panel which he had levered off. He studied the insides intensely and then peered down at the doors below.
"I think they could open them from the inside."
"But they can't hear us," said Troy, "and even if they could, they're not lucid."
Rutter tapped the dome's surface with his fingernail. It gave nothing away.
"Hmm," he said. He turned and picked up the panel he had removed from the wall. He examined its edges closely, his brow furrowing, then turned his attention back to the dome. Constructed like a spider's web, the large panes of transparent material were framed by metallic struts.
Suddenly, without any warning, Rutter raised the panel over his head, gave an almighty scream and brought the panel down into the middle of one of the panes. It shattered like tempered glass into a thousand little tiny cubes that rained down on the Earhart crew below, but there was no reaction from them.
"They can hear me now," said Rutter and leaned over the edge.
"Captain!" he called.
"Nice one, Rutter. What about the sedative?" tutted Al.
"You said it was diplohyozone," said Rutter.
"Diplohyozone. It's heavy."
"Oh, yes!" cried Al. "Of course. It'll stay down there. Clever ol' Rutter!" she grinned.
"Captain!" cried Rutter again.
Down below, we could see the captain curled up on the floor.
"It's no use," said Al. "She's not with it."
My eyes scanned the crew searching for the most active member. They fixed upon the sobbing figure at the far end.
"Rosie!" I screamed, but he didn't hear me. I screamed again and again. The others joined me too, shouting his name, Dr Roosevelt. We bellowed long and as loudly as we could.
Suddenly, Rosie lifted his head and looked around, baffled and bemused.
"Rosie!" I screamed. "Up here!"
His eyes continued to search around him, but not up.
"Look up!" I shouted.
Finally, he did so, and as his eyes fixed upon us, he stood up. His eyes were red-rimmed from where he had been crying. He wiped them on his sleeve and peered up at us in disbelief.
"Rosie, get the captain!" I shouted.
He looked at me dumbly.
"That's an order, Doctor!" I shouted, clutching at straws. I was hoping his years of training would kick in and prompt him to act. Sure enough, he did. He nonchalantly ambled over to the captain and prodded her with his foot.
"I'm not sure that's the best way to wake a Klingon," commented Al.
"As far as I'm concerned, if it'll wake her up, he can shove a pain stick up her ar—"
"Rosie!" I shouted again. "Wake her up, damn you!"
The doctor kicked her again and she stirred a little, her arm lashing out to drive the nuisance away.
The doctor looked at her, then up at us and then back down to her. He looked confused but somewhere, deep within him, he knew that this was important. He bent down, grabbed the captain by her shoulders and hauled her into a sitting position.
"What's he going to do?" asked Midas ... and then Rosie slapped T'Roc.
We all recoiled in horror. Slapping a drunken Klingon was never recommended. Slapping one when you're not on best form yourself was even less wise.
"Arghhhh!" screamed the captain, rising to consciousness.
Her eyes opened wide and angry. She grabbed Rosie by his uniform and dragged him to the ground, swivelling to her feet at the same time. It was a beautiful manoeuvre, and executed with the grace of a ballerina.
Rosie hit the deck and found T'Roc standing over him, fist clenched ready to punch, but she hesitated. Rosie lay with his eyes closed, whimpering and pointing upwards.
"Captain!" I shouted. "Captain T'Roc!"
Slowly, she turned her head and looked up. There was a note of recognition on her face and let Rosie go, forgetting him in the moment.
"We need you to open the door," shouted Rutter.
T'Roc lowered her head, rubbed her eyes and looked up again.
"Open the door!" he shouted again, but all she could do was stare at us.
"We're not getting very far," said Al.
I had to agree. We weren't.
"I need to get down there," said Rutter.
"Do you have wings?" asked Midas.
"I don't need wings," Rutter replied and stomped out of the door. I followed and watched as he ducked back into the service shaft by which we had arrived and listened to him wreaking havoc within. A few moments later he emerged with a length of strong cable. He grinned at me and I couldn't help but smile.
Back in the gallery, he secured one end of the cable to a strut and threw the other end down into the bay below.
"Right," he said. "I'll get this lot out and see what chaos we can wreak. You get to AL3 and ... well ... do whatever it is you need to do."
"I'm coming with you," said Al.
"Good. I have a feeling I might need it, and until I get that door open and get some air in there, I might succumb to the sedative. I might need you to give me a slap or something."
"It'll be a pleasure," grinned Al.
Within minutes the two of them were down their makeshift ladder.
"Come on," said Troy. "Let's get moving. If they succeed, that's good, but if not ... well, we'll just have to manage without their distraction."
I knew though, that Troy was relieved to be rid of at least some of his visible friends.

Log Entry 131117.86

Luke led us down a short shaft, took a sharp turn left and stopped. He sank onto his haunches and closed his eyes. I'll be honest, my heart fell.
"He's lost it," whispered Al, shaking her head.
"Shush!" I hissed back and gave her such an icy glare.
"But if he doesn't know the way—"
My head whipped around. It came from Luke ... I thought. It certainly came from his direction but he was still squatting down with his eyes shut.
"Lu—" I began, but his hand immediately came up and was slapped across my mouth.
My eyes boggled in wonder. Was this a good sign?
The sound of voices in the corridor outside suddenly froze me. I didn't even dare to breathe.
As the voices faded away, Luke's hand fell from my mouth.
"Luke?" I whispered quietly.
He turned to look at me. He had a strange look in his eye, not quite glazed but certainly confused.
"Luke?" I said again and he burbled something at me. It was completely unintelligible. He dropped his head in despair.
I took his hand.
"Luke. Can you squeeze my hand," I commanded.
He squeezed it and I beamed a joyous smile at him. I let go of his hand.
"Luke, take the little finger of my left hand."
He had to lean over me to reach it, but he did and he took hold of my little finger by hooking his through it. It was a very sentimental gesture.
"He's lucid," exclaimed Midas. "His ability to vocalise has been compromised, but his cognitive ability is intact."
We had no time to discuss it further. Luke leaned forward and opened the panel to exit into the corridor. He led us out, down the hallway to another panel and into another shaft. This was even narrower than the last. We had to crawl on our bellies, dragging ourselves along on our elbows and it twisted and turned endlessly. Eventually, he brought us out again, this time into a deserted corridor. Troy was the last to leave the tunnels.
"This isn't anywhere near AL3!" he exclaimed.
"So where are we then?" Al asked.
"Near the detention cells."
"Luke wants us to liberate the crew," I said.
"We don't have time for this!" snarled Troy.
"No. Hang on a minute. Let's think this thing through—"
"We don't have time for this!" he repeated.
"No! You keep telling me that I'm not thinking strategically! Well I am now!" I retorted angrily. "Getting to AL3 is a problem. We're not invisible anymore. We need a distraction! What better distraction than if we can free everyone. That will give the Dancers something to worry about other than us."
Troy straightened his back and debated.
"Very well," he finally said and pushed past me to open the door.

Log Entry 131110.85

I will be honest. As Troy explained the way to Luke, it didn't look good. Troy's description and detail were second to none, but Luke watched blindly as Troy drew imaginary diagrams on the ground. It also became evident that Troy had a very good reason for not considering the Jeffries tubes and ventilation shafts to be a good way to navigate the spacestation.
The spacestation is egg-shaped with a hollow interior for ships to dock in. The 'shell' is made up of three decks that run around it in layers like an onion, so big that we didn't even notice the ground curving away beneath our feet. It explained why I had come up through the floor when I had left the Earhart too. What this all meant was that the decks and corridors run for mile upon mile with few shafts big enough to crawl through.
This all became evident as Troy pointed out the path he had intended to take. He also highlighted other key areas of the ship: air traffic control, engine rooms, crew quarters, the kitchens where we had taken refuge earlier, the various laboratories including AL3, the room in which he had been imprisoned, the interrogation areas, the experimentation rooms and the detention area where abductees were held.
"It's a veritable maze!" exclaimed Al.
"I told you," replied Troy. "And I have no idea if ... any ... of the ... service shafts ... run ..."
The end of Troy's sentence was disjointed with distraction and deservedly so. Luke had stood up and turned to the wall where he removed a panel and then disappeared inside. We all stared at the hole in the wall.
"Um, do you think we should follow?" asked Al.
Surprisingly, it was Rutter that stepped forward.
"On the basis that he seems to be the only one that has any idea what to do ..." and he too disappeared through the hole.
We all filed in behind and sealed the way behind us.

Log Entry 131103.84

The problem of our visibility remained. We may have improved our skill set with the addition of Midas, Al and Rutter but with the increase in our numbers, our invisibility had all but gone. It seemed that no sooner did we solve one problem than we found another.
This basic fact made itself clear to us soon enough. We couldn't travel the corridors without being seen so we had to find an alternative route.
"There isn't one," insisted Troy. "The kaleg controls are located in only one of the astrometrics labs."
"Can we divert them to another more convenient one?" asked Rutter.
"I don't know. As I keep telling you, I'm a warrior not a technician."
"Midas, do you think you could divert them?"
He shrugged.
"I haven't had sight of any of their technology. I have no idea how similar or dissimilar to ours it is."
"And even if you could," interrupted Troy, "you'd need to be in one of the laboratories and believe it or not, AL3 is the least used."
"Astrometrics Laboratory 3—that's where the kaleg was developed and is controlled."
"Is AL3 likely to be empty then?"
"It's a strong possibility. Unless they are scanning with the kaleg, there is very little reason to be there."
"So once we get there we'll be okay?"
"Probably, but getting there is the problem. The corridors to all the astrometrics laboratories are always busy."
"Then let's not use the corridors," I grinned.
Troy scowled in confusion.
"Can you walk through walls?"
"No, but just like any starship or spacestation, this place has conduits and corridors, Jeffries tubes and ventilation shafts. You used one yourself, to get us to the kitchens."
"But that was different. That was just a way to gain access to a room that's sealed up and disused. AL3 is completely different. It's so far away from here."
"But you know the way!"
"Only via the corridors. I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to find our way to AL3 through the shafts! "
"Then prepare to learn something new, Warrior Troy," I retorted. "Because if you'd ever served on a starship, as a member of the maintenance crew, you'd have learned one invaluable skill: how to navigate a ship by those tunnels," and I turned to look at Luke.
Of all the people I knew that could do this, Luke was the best. His sense of spatial awareness was uncanny. His sense of direction and ability to connect decks and corridors together to form a map inside his head was amazing, but I'd forgotten about Luke's predicament.
"Luke," I asked hopefully.
Slowly, he turned his head towards me. I couldn't help but beam him a huge smile. His brow furrowed in faint recognition. My heart leapt. He was still in there!
I walked up to him and took his hands in mine. His eyes fell to look at them.
"Luke, we need your help. I need you to show us the way." I turned to Troy. "Troy, explain to us how you'd get from here to AL3 via the corridors please."
Troy looked at me as though I was completely mad.

Log Entry 131020.83

The smell of stale, mouldy air hit us as soon as we broke through the service panel into the old kitchens. It was not disagreeable though. It was musky and quite pleasant, like the scent of compost, but the air was not the only thing that gave away how long it was since the kitchens were last used. A thick layer of dust lay over every surface and our footsteps left prints in its grey sheet over the floor.
It was not unlike a kitchen you'd find on Earth with brushed steel cabinets and equipment. Al immediately started opening cupboards and looking inside them.
"You'll not find any food in here," assured Troy.
"What's this then?" asked Al, holding up a silver vacuum-sealed packet.
"Food!" exclaimed the Helvetian. He leapt forward, snatched it from Al and ripped it open with his teeth before stuffing the contents into his mouth. Al's eyes boggled in alarm as he gobbled down the green brick of nutrition with all the speed and decorum of a combine harvester.
"For goodness sake, Troy!" I exclaimed. "No one's going to take it off you!"
Troy responded with something unintelligible due to the amount of food in his mouth.
"Hungry, are we?" Al added.
"I've not eaten in five days," spluttered Troy, bits of food spraying from his mouth.
"And don't talk with your mouth full!" I chastised. "If I want to see the contents of your stomach, I'll cut your belly open!" and I wagged my finger at him.
Troy stopped eating to stare at me, trying to figure out how serious I was.
"She's joking," said Al, "but it's her pet hate ... and it is revolting."
"And you'll get indigestion," added Midas picking up one of the packs and studying it. "How long have these things been here anyway?" he added.
Troy shrugged. "Why?"
"I'm just wondering if they're still edible," he said, turning the pack looking for a 'best before' date.
"Well Troy seems to think it is. Come on, let's grab some."
"Oo! Look! I've got ... pink stuff," said Al wrinkling her nose up at a bottle of pink tinged liquid she had found.
"We call that water," said Troy.
"It's pink."
"Water's pink."
"Not in our dimension," I laughed.
"What colour is it there then?"
"It's not. It's clear."
"This is clear," he said holding up a bottle.
"No, that's pinkish clear. Ours is colourless clear ... like glass."
"Oh! How curious," he said breaking the top open and guzzling it down.
We spent much of the next fifteen minutes or so eating and drinking as we didn't know when we'd next be able to find food again. The water turned out to be quite palatable with a slight strawberry flavour to it. The bars, on the other hand, tasted like compost.
"So where do we go from here?" Al finally asked.
"We need a scientist—" I began. Midas gave a little cough. "—to help Troy defeat the Dancers," and I explained the nature of the Dancers and the history of his people.
"You see, our two universes exist in different moments in time, but the distance between those universes is not a constant. The temporal difference drifts due to the pull of a microscopic black hole on the edge of their solar system, rather like the moon does the tides on Earth.
"The mission was to use the kaleg, which is the only thing that can cross the rift between the two universes, to manipulate the black hole and bring his planet and solar system into our realm but leave the Dancers behind."
"So why doesn't he?" asked Al.
"Because that wasn't Troy's mission. Troy's job was to see that the Helvetian specialist, whose job it was, got to the right place."
"So where's his specialist?"
"Dead," interjected Troy still munching on the food bars, although much more slowly.
Al opened her mouth to say something.
"Yes, he already knows that he failed and that's why we need a scientist—" Midas coughed again. "—to help Troy complete the mission."
"Okay, so now what?"
"Like I say, we need a scientist."
Midas coughed again, but it still didn't register with me. Al's sarcastic expression told me I was missing something.
"Don't worry, Midas. She'll get it in a minute," sighed Al.
I turned to Midas and stared at him for a moment, and then the penny dropped.
"Midas!" I shouted. I turned to Troy pointing at Midas. "Scientist!" I beamed triumphantly.
Troy swallowed down the last of his food bar and licked his fingers, apparently unimpressed by the revelation.
"Does he know what he's doing?" he asked coolly.
"Probably more so than you," interjected Midas in a typical cool Vulcan manner.
"Possibly, but you don't look very ... you don't seem old enough to have the experience."
"Hey!" I shouted indignantly. "Brilliance isn't age dependant. It was Luke who figured out the asynchronous temporal plane and it was Midas that figured out how to track the kaleg. Trust me, where I come from, that makes him an expert on kalegs."
Troy smiled.
"Then I stand corrected. Midas, will you help me?"
"If you can get me to an astrometrics laboratory. Somewhere where I can control the kaleg and monitor the black hole et cetera," Midas asked.
"That I can do. That was my mission and I would be delighted to fulfil it."
Hastily, we grabbed the supplies together and reassembled ready to continue on our way. I found a holdall to stash some of the food supplies in and threw it over my shoulder.
"What about him?" asked Troy, indicating Luke. I knew Troy considered Luke to be a liability, but I wasn't leaving him behind. I took the bag off my shoulder and held it out to Luke. He looked at it and his face screwed in thought. I smiled. It was the first time I'd seen anything other than a vacant expression on his face since we had found him. I knew it was a good sign. His mind was working things through and sure enough, he took the bag from me. Shortly after that, we left the kitchens.

Log Entry 131013.82

I wasn't paying too much attention to where we were going; there were too many questions whirling around inside my head. I wasn't the only one.
"So, who is Troy again? And other than the old enemy of my enemy thing, how do you know he's your ally or that you can trust him?" asked Rutter.
"Good questions, but he is here to stop the Dancers. I don't know if I can trust him, but he knows this place very well and we have worked together so far." I relayed both his mission and his people's history.
"Here," I finally said, handing Luke's hand to Al. "I need to ask Troy some questions of my own," and ran to catch up with the Helvetian.
He glanced at me as I drew alongside and could see the scepticism on my face.
"Well?" he asked.
"I don't understand."
"Don't understand what?"
"Why do the Dancers carry weapons that are so destructive to them?"
"Why do you carry weapons that are so destructive to you?"
"Yeah, but we don't put them down making them available to our captors to use against us."
"No, but in their humanoid form, while they are vulnerable to the same blows as you and I, the stingers have no effect on them. When your friend beat it with the dead stinger, it reeled from those strikes. Its only way to deflect those blows was to melt back into a ball of energy and as soon as it was fluid, I killed it, but I must be honest. I had no idea that a stinger could be used so effectively against them until I saw you do it."
He heard the disbelief in my voice.
"I told you. We had no enemies. We had no need for weapons before the war. I didn't know that the stingers could be used against them. I may be a warrior—"
"Yeah, thanks for that. You are the warrior and yet you left me to tackle them!" I snapped angrily.
"Actually, I thought you would distract them long enough for me to put Luke down and become elusive to them again. Then I could have tackled the Dancers. You really aren't very good at tactics."
"Neither are you. Didn't know the stinger could be used against them," I scoffed.
He scowled at me, the side of his mouth lifting on one side.
"So where are we going?" I pressed.
Troy stopped abruptly, turned and bent down to a panel neatly tucked into the wall. He pressed the opposite corners of it and the panel popped off.
"We're taking a short cut to somewhere the Dancers never use."
"Where's that then?"
"The old kitchens."

Log Entry 131006.81

"She's coming round."
Who? I wondered and then realised it was Rutter talking about me. I groaned and immediately chastised myself for sounding so pathetic.
I opened my eyes and found I was lying on the floor, my head in Rutter's lap, him dabbing at a gash on my head. He didn't look too clever either. He was covered in dozens of small cuts.
I struggled off his lap and sat up blinking blearily. Around me, I was delighted to find everyone was on their feet, even Luke, but they all looked dishevelled and beaten. They were all covered in cuts, like Rutter, from when the Dancer had exploded shattering into a thousand glassy shards, but there was no other evidence of the Dancers. Once destroyed, their energy had dispersed without trace.
Al was on her feet and looking a great deal better than when I had last seen her, but why had she been in such a bad way before? Midas soon explained that her Klingon fury had resulted in her being savagely blasted repeatedly by the Dancers with their stingers. She screwed her face up in irritation; she was annoyed with herself that she had been unable to defeat her captors.
More importantly, Luke was standing above me. He had an odd, vacant look on his face, but he was conscious and standing—a huge improvement on his previous status.
"And who's this?" asked Rutter, interrupting my thoughts.
"This is Warrior Troy. He's a Helvetian Warrior and my ally—"
"We have to go," interrupted Troy.
"Where?" I asked.
"Anywhere, but we have to leave this area if we do not wish to be discovered."
I picked myself up off the floor and reached out my hand to Luke.
"Luke!" I said firmly. "Come on! Take my hand."
"What's up with him?" asked Al.
"They began a process of interrogation that erases the mind."
"What! How far did they get? Is it permanent? Will he get better?"
"I don't know, but he's better than he was." I turned to Troy for an answer. He shrugged.
"I'm a warrior, not a medic. I've never seen the process interrupted. I don't know what the outcome will be but that he is walking and responding on the level that he is, that's a good sign. His mind was coherent enough to spur him into action when the Dancer attacked you. It was he that struck the first blow on the Dancer."
I turned back to Luke still staring out blankly in a semi-catatonic state.
"Luke!" I said more firmly. "Come on!" and I wiggled my fingers. A surge of hope and joy rushed through me as his eyes turned slowly to stare dumbly at my hand, and then he raised his arm and wrapped his fingers around mine. With a small encouraging tug, he stepped forward and followed my lead. Troy led the way.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"I think I know somewhere that we can go that will be safe ... for now at least."

Log Entry 130929.80

From behind Troy, I saw it rise, taking on humanoid shape again. It glowed brightly, its head lowered and glaring menacingly at me—at me! It knew I was there! It could see me!
Its glow darkened as anger consumed it, and it began to approach, hesitating only briefly to pick up the stinger I had dropped earlier. I glanced at the one still in my hand, but it was warped, blackened and broken. It was useless so I let it slip from my hand.
What could I do now? My eyes began to search the walls and conduits thinking about a power source. Could I find a way to overload it from another energy source?
It drew level with Al and suddenly she sprang into life. She leapt upwards and grabbed it around the waist to bring it down. Mercilessly, it thrust the stinger in between her shoulder blades and discharged another shock. Her back arched as energy shot through her and she howled like a true Klingon, more in anger than pain, but with her arms around the Dancer, some of the energy discharged into it too. It shook and quivered as the energy surged through it but other than that, was little affected by the blast. Al dropped to the floor twitching, and then the Dancer turned its attention to me.
I wondered why I couldn't be invisible again as I backed away from it, my eyes still searching for a weapon but coming up with nothing and then I realised I had a new problem. I was at the end of the corridor and there was nowhere to go.
Closer and closer it came until it stood before me. It thrust its face forward to study me more intently, and I looked deep into its cold, featureless face. I thought it was going to jab me with the stinger. That would have been the easiest thing for it to do, but it didn't. Instead it raised the rod and swung it at me. It caught me on the temple and sent me reeling. The next thing I knew, I was on my back, the Dancer standing over me and the stinger at my throat with the Dancer pressing down on it. It was throttling me.
I coughed and spluttered and clawed at its hands. They were cold and strangely tangible. They felt like flesh, but cold like a dead body. Somehow, I had expected something warm and less touchable, like a warm breeze perhaps, and as consciousness began to fade, I remember thinking how odd it was that I should be thinking about the physical nature of Dancers when I was about to die. And then I mused over a faint shadow that fell across the wall behind the creature. I watched as it rose over the Dancer's head. I was feeling very distant and remote to the events that were happening and very curious too.
It was a hand—the shadow—it was a hand and there was something in it: the broken stinger!
The stinger came crashing down on the Dancer's head and to my surprise, the creature buckled under the impact. It faltered and its grip slackened. Fresh, revitalising, cool air rushed into my lungs. Instinctively, I ripped the stinger from its hands and smashed it into the side of the Dancer's face. I know it fell off me but crazily, I still found myself under bodies.
Dazed, I crawled out from beneath them. My head was wet and I saw blood, my blood, dripping onto the floor. I clambered to the wall and turned around. It was like a rugby scrum of bodies piling in on top of the Dancer, and then there was Troy.
He walked past me, ripping the stinger from my hand as he did so, and stepped into the scrum. He thrust the weapon downwards into the chaos. I heard the stinger scream and closed my eyes. Somehow, I knew I was safe now. Relief flooded through me. The world began to darken and this time, I didn't fight it.

Log Entry 130922.79

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men can often go awry—and they did.
As we neared the end of the corridor, a door suddenly swished open and two Dancers appeared with three prisoners. One was Al. She was in a bad way, only half conscious and being helped along by Rutter on one side and Midas on the other. The Dancers had sticks in their hands. About two feet long, they were made of metal but the ends flickered and glowed with purple energy. They reminded me of Klingon pain sticks.
No sooner did they appear, than they saw us. At least, they saw Troy and Luke. With Luke in his arms, they would have discerned Troy's presence and once focused in on him, he couldn't dodge their gaze.
The Dancers immediately turned on their prisoners and jabbed both Rutter and Midas with the sticks. Bolts of purple energy buzzed and fizzled through them like lightning and they squealed as they fell to the ground in jittering, helpless heaps. Al, although untouched by the burst of energy, also fell to the ground.
"Mind the stingers," I heard Troy say discretely, and my eyes fell to the sticks.
But Troy was telling me more than just to avoid the weapons. Oh crikey! He was telling me that only I could tackle the Dancers because, even if Troy put Luke down, he wouldn't suddenly become imperceivable to them. I was the only one they were unaware of. Only I could launch any sort of assault on them, but I was unarmed and there were two of them. What could I do?
My eyes swept the corridor looking for something.
"Jen?" I heard a voice murmur.
I turned to see Al. She had managed to raise her head off the floor, but little else. She looked at me, her eyes wide in disbelief, but she mustn't give me away!
I shushed her, urgently placing my finger on my lips. Her brow furrowed in puzzlement and she glanced at the Dancers whose eyes were fixed upon Troy, not me. She didn't understand and then, too tired to pursue the matter, she slumped to the ground.
The Dancers, meanwhile, having disabled their prisoners, dropped the stingers and began to glow ever more brightly. They lost their form and melted into balls of light—their real form, and began rolling towards Troy and Luke.
Troy eyed the spheres of light, gently laid Luke down and stepped back from him. The Dancers picked up speed and rolled towards him like billowing clouds of light. Faster and faster they rolled but Troy held his ground. I think he was waiting for me to do something, but what! What could I use against the Dancers? How do you disable a being made of energy?
As the Dancers passed me by, the lights overhead flickered and flashed. The Dancers' energy was affecting them. One moment draining them and making them dim, and the next, forcing them to burn more brightly.
The first Dancer reached Troy. A tentacle of white energy unravelled from it, whipped through the air and struck Troy with a snap. Troy went rigid as flashes of purple electricity licked at his flesh, and he dropped to the floor, quivering under the shock.
A bang behind me made me jump. I turned. One of the bulbs in the corridor had blown. I stared at it for a moment and then realised.
I ran forward, grabbing both stingers on the way and rammed them, as hard as I could, into the nearest Dancer. The first stinger bounced off its surface as though it were made of glass, but the second seemed to find a dip in its surface. I could feel the energy building. The hairs on my arms rose with the static and a high pitched squeal pierced the air. I dropped one of the singers, but pushed the other, harder and harder, into the Dancer.
Purple energy crackled over the ball's surface while inside, it began to fill with an amethyst mist. It glowed brighter and brighter and screamed louder and louder, and then it exploded into a thousand pieces that flew through the air, slashing and cutting like broken glass.
The force of the blast was so great, I flew over Al landing ten feet or so beyond her. I felt my skin burn as the hot shards of Dancer tore at my flesh. Dazed, I looked up to witness the aftermath of my work.
Little splinters of light lay over the corridor's floor like glitter, flickering and dying like the sparks of a firework.
Shock filled me. I had killed it! I had never killed anything before, but now ... I had killed. I hadn't meant to. I had only wanted to stun it.
A little alarm bell began to ring at the back of my mind. Where was the second Dancer?

Log Entry 130908.78

Of course, I had no idea where we were heading and I didn't think the Helvetian did either. He cautiously picked his route, making sure that the corridors were clear before we entered, but I wasn't sure he knew our destination.
"Don't they have any type of surveillance?" I asked.
Troy laughed a hard, forced laugh.
"No. These were our facilities. We had no enemies. We had no need for surveillance."
Facilities? What sort of facility was it? Where was it? I had assumed it was a spacestation of some kind, with the Earhart docked within its walls, but it could just as easily have been a hanger on a planet.
"Is this place on your home world?" I asked.
"No. This is ... was ... a research station that orbited our world. When the Dancers seized it, they modified it to become a military installation and science laboratory. They created the kaleg here."
"And your home world, the world below us, what do you call it?"
Troy turned, looked at me and gave a crocodile grin.
"Before the Dancers, we called it ours."
"You know what I mean," I scolded. "Does your planet have a name?"
He smiled, a much warmer expression.
Had I heard him correctly?
"I beg your pardon?"
"Our planet ... It is called Hell."
"Oh," I said softly, "and you are the Helvetians."
The thought amused me. The beautiful Dancers that glowed and moved with the grace of angels were quite evil. They killed without care or mercy while the Helvetians, who looked so dark and sinister, and lived in a place called Hell, they were the peaceful, kindly, benevolent race. It just goes to show how deceptive appearances can be.
"And where are we going?" I asked, anxious about Luke.
"You tell me. I'm only doing what you asked."
"But you must have some idea!"
"No. This wasn't my plan. Remember? You were the one that said save Luke, save Luke, " and he mimicked my voice derisively.
"What about your mission? I don't believe you're risking your entire mission to save Luke just because I said so!"
"No. I'm risking my entire mission in the hope that you'll wake up and start using your brain instead of acting purely on impulse!" he retorted sharply.
Oh great, I thought. Make the whole problem my fault, and then I realised, he had been right all along. I hadn't thought about any of this. I had been following my heart. Rescuing Luke had been an act of compassion not of logic, and I remembered those immortal Vulcan words. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I had only thought of Luke. I hadn't considered the bigger picture, my crew or my mission.
"Wait." I shouted.
Troy stopped, turned and looked at me expectantly.
"Okay. You're right, I admit it, but this isn't my area of expertise—"
"I can tell."
"Okay, so what are you suggesting we do?"
He shrugged and looked at Luke.
"You tell me. You created this dilemma", and he made it quite clear that he expected me to make a suggestion. The minutes ticked by.
"Okay," I finally said. "How soon will they miss Luke?"
"Hard to say, but the bleaching is a long process. Once started they may not check on him for twelve hours or more."
"So they probably won't miss him. Is there anywhere we can hide him in the meantime?" I knew it was a stupid question and the look on Troy's face confirmed that he thought likewise.
"Hmm. Okay and what do you need to do to complete your mission?"
"I have to take control of the kaleg."
"And how do you do that?"
His ebony brow furrowed.
"You don't know, do you," I exclaimed.
"Well, not exactly—"
"What does not exactly mean?"
"We were a two-man team. I am a warrior. My partner was the specialist. All I had to do was protect him and ensure he got to the right laboratory."
"So where is he?"
Troy sighed.
"I failed. He's dead."
"Oh." My lips puckered as I considered. "So do you know where to go and what needs to be done?"
Troy looked uncomfortable.
"More or less."
"Which is it? More ... or less?"
He shook his head.
"Well, ain't we the pair!"
We glared at each other, neither of us quite knowing the answer, and then an idea struck me.
"What do you need to complete your mission then?"
"Someone who understands temporal mechanics and space anomalies."
"A scientist."
"Is this your area of expertise?" Hope rose in his voice.
"No, but I know where to find one!" and I grinned, pushing my shoulders back triumphantly. "My crew!"
"Who are captives."
"Then we break them out—everybody! Hey! If we break everybody out, we can launch an attack!"
"No, we can't. You're not thinking again. This is a spacestation and the Dancers don't need air to breathe. We, on the other hand, do."
I thought again.
"But what if we broke out just one person? Someone who can help us?"
Troy grinned broadly.
"Now you're thinking."

Log Entry 130831.77

Outside of his jail, the Helvetian was even more intimidating to look at. The low growl emanating from deep within him didn't help much either. "Sorry," he mumbled.
I frowned, wondering what he was apologising for.
" I don't suppose you have anything to eat, do you?"
I scowled disapprovingly.
"No, and I didn't realise you were after a picnic."
He laughed, not altogether pleasantly.
"Of course, you've just arrived. You won't know the hunger."
"Yes. The Dancers are an energy based life form. They don't eat so there is no food here."
My mind wandered back to that first day in the cargo bay when T'Roc had told us of our mission. "Five life forms had materialised—three of them inside walls and bulkheads. The remaining two were alive, but not well. Emaciated and dehydrated, their minds were blank. They died within hours."
"So not only are their minds wiped, they starve too?"
"But you've been here a while. What have you been eating?"
"I came with rations, but they were taken from me. I've not eaten in five days."
I looked at those long, sharp, black teeth that seemed even longer and sharper now. He laughed again.
"I'm hungry ... but not that hungry. Now, let's find your friend," and he ambled over to a door on the far side.
"I assume you know you must be silent?"
"Well, I had more or less worked that out, but if we are temporally out of sync with them—"
"We're not."
"Oh! I thought we were. I thought that was why they couldn't see us?"
"Good grief, no! Our invisibility is because they don't see things the way we do. Animals have an entirely different method of visual perception to Dancers. We have taken advantage of that difference to elude them by manipulating their perceptions. They detect us through a combination of things including noise and the electrical impulses our bodies emit."
"Ah!" I exclaimed. Suddenly the penny had dropped. "Neural blocking! My telepathic cloaking device!"
"Ah, so you do know how you do it."
"Well, I do now ... sort of ... but that doesn't explain why you can see me and then you can't."
"You're a very complicated animal, Jenny. Your defences go up and down and with it your ability to block."
"So ... it could be that the Dancers can see me now, just as you do?"
I was alarmed at the thought.
"It could be. We'll find out soon enough," and with that, he opened the door and stepped through it. I followed, opening my mouth to say more, but he shushed me. Angry, but understanding the need for silence, I snapped my mouth shut but threw him an evil look that was wasted.
The room we entered was large and dimly lit by a single light that shone down on a bio-bed in the centre of it. It was very dramatic, the walls being quite featureless in the darkness; it drew all attention to the bed. I could see a figure silhouetted on it. My heart leapt into my mouth and nausea filled me. It was Luke. I knew it was Luke even though I couldn't see his face. His stature was unique.
I approached the bed and my fear peaked. It was, indeed, Luke. He lay perfectly still. Over him, an overly large piece of apparatus towered. From it, two bright white beams of light shone out. They pierced through the air like laser beams and struck his eyes. His face was ashen and his eyes red as though he had been crying, with tears encrusted around them. I couldn't see his pupils. The lights that shone into them were too bright. I wanted to retch and the back of my throat stung with acid. I swallowed it down hard. Hot tears began to burn in my eyes, the compulsion to cry almost overwhelming me. My bottom lip began to quiver. All I wanted to do was sweep Luke up into my arms and hold him, tell him everything would be okay.
"Turn it off," I said coldly.
"It wouldn't be—"
"TURN IT OFF!" I screamed no longer caring who heard me.
Troy sighed deeply and then silently walked around the bio-bed, reached up and tapped some instructions into the panel there. The beams were cut leaving just the dull glow from the illumination overhead to light the room.
Luke's pupils were dilated so wide, I could barely make out the iris at all. He just stared blankly up into space.
"Will ... will he be alright?" I finally managed to ask.
"It depends how far the process has gone."
"Help me get him off here," I commanded and took hold of Luke's arm. Troy's hand fell on top of mine. He looked at me coldly.
"And then what?"
Still fighting back tears, I answered.
"I don't know, but I have to get him off here."
"And take him where? He's catatonic. He can't walk. Where can he hide?"
"I don't know and I don't care!" I spat at Troy. "Now help me with him!"
Troy shook his head and stepped back.
"No. This isn't my mission and doing this will jeopardise it."
"Then GO!" I screamed at him angrily.
Troy studied me for a moment, and then turned and walked away.
My tears finally came. I didn't want them, but they ran down my cheeks unchecked as I pulled at Luke's arms and heaved him into a sitting position. His head flopped forward in his stupor, and I had to lunge forward to stop him from falling. Awkwardly, I manoeuvred myself under his body, preparing to heave him onto my shoulder. I began to lift but I hadn't realised how heavy deadweight could be. My knees buckled and I faltered under the strain, but I was determined. A few more awkward shuffles and I had Luke's body organised so that his centre of gravity wouldn't overbalance me and took a couple of steps forward. How could such a little guy be so heavy, I wondered and then I slipped.
I tumbled to the ground and Luke fell on top of me, pinning me there and now I did the one thing a Starfleet officer shouldn't do. I burst into hysterical tears. All the emotions I had been bottling up erupted: frustration, heartbreak, despondency and hopelessness—I just lay there and sobbed with Luke sprawled across my chest like an overweight rag doll.
And then the weight lifted.
Snivelling like a child, I wiped my eyes on the sleeve of my uniform and looked up to see Troy standing over me, Luke cradled in his arms like a child.
"When Helvetians cry, we cry blood."
I had no idea what relevance that had.
"Come on," he said, and turned and walked away.

Log Entry 130824.76

"Where's Luke? Where did they take him?"
"Because he's my friend!" I exclaimed at the stupid question. "I can't let them hurt him."
"He's special to you then."
"All my friends are special to me. Now, do you know where they took him or not?"
"Of course."
"Then tell me?"
"And what about the rest of your friends—your crew?"
"I ... er ... well I have to find them too, but Luke is in imminent danger."
"That's a lot of people to liberate."
"Yes. So?"
"And the plan is ...?"
"I told you—to find Luke first. He's the one in the greatest danger."
Troy then turned, ambled nonchalantly back to his bunk and perched on its edge. He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees and tented his fingers in front of his mouth.
"You haven't thought this through, have you?"
I hadn't, but he was implying there was something else I hadn't considered, something bigger.
"If you do find and release him, who will the Dancers think was responsible for that?"
"The Dancers are looking for you. They have been for years. They know what you can do. They think that you hold the key to our stealth technology ... but they don't know that you are here. If you rescue your friend, they will know that someone with stealth technology was responsible. Because I'm imprisoned in here, there is only one alternative. They will know you are here and then you will have lost your advantage."
"They might think it's another Helvetian."
He laughed.
"No. Only I have been able to infiltrate the Dancers' HQ. They will know it was you ... unless ..."
His words trailed off. I wasn't sure if I believed him or not; and I knew he was baiting me. He was angling at something.
"Unless?" I prompted.
"Well," he stood up and approached the bars of his jail. "If you release me ..."
Now that did get me thinking.
"But how would you have escaped?"
"I've managed it before."
"But how?"
"It really doesn't matter. The important thing is that I did it once so it is possible that I could do it again."
"And what will you do if I release you?"
He said nothing.
"I mean, if I am such a threat to you, it would be in your interests to destroy me, wouldn't it?"
Troy smiled, his mouth stretching to reveal a row of perfectly formed, shiny black teeth that shone like obsidian.
"Now you're thinking," he smirked.
"But I have a point, don't I?"
He pondered.
"Yes, but perhaps there is a greater prize to be won here."
"And what would that be?"
"My mission. It is of mutual benefit to us both. If I can complete my mission, it means that the Dancers won't be able to connect to your realm anymore, and my people will be rid of them too."
"So while I save Luke, you're going to ... what? Destroy the Dancers?"
"Actually, no. Destroying something as resilient as the Dancers would be nigh on impossible. No. The fact is that as we became aware of your ... what did you call it? Realm. Yes, we began to ask why these two universes can exist alongside each other and yet remain oblivious to each other."
"Hang on a minute! Earlier, you implied you didn't know of my realm."
"That's true, but it doesn't pay to reveal all you know to a stranger."
"So why tell me now?"
"Because you are the only hope I have for completing my mission."
"Okay," I said suspiciously. "Go on then. How does this asynchronous temporal plane thing fit in?" I said, quoting Luke word for word.
"We call it a temporal drift. Our two universes exist in different moments in time, but the temporal difference is not a constant. It drifts."
"Is that even possible?" My understanding of the subject was limited, but I had paid attention to my temporal science lessons at the Academy.
"Yes, it cycles, and those cycles are driven by astral events."
"But that would suggest a gravitational pull, surely?"
"But there are no planets in this region of space?"
"Not in your realm, no, but in ours, yes. You're on it now. We have a sun and a small solar system, but it doesn't extend very far. As you move away from our sun, our realm ... fades."
"Fades? How can space fade?"
"Because of the black hole."
"Now you've lost me."
"On the rim of our solar system is a microscopic black hole that consumes matter. We cannot move beyond the perimeter of our universe because of it. Anything that ventures that far is consumed, but the black hole is also the cause of the temporal drift, pulling and stretching at time as well as matter. The gravitational forces created by the black hole are responsible for the variable temporal drift. By manipulating the black hole, we can influence that drift."
My brow furrowed as I puzzled it over.
"You mean you're going to create another drift—split your world into two temporal regions? So then there'll be three temporal planes?"
"Not exactly. No, my mission is to take advantage of the temporal divide and manipulate it to place the Dancers on one side of it and us on the other. We want to move the Helvetian world into your realm and leave the Dancers behind."
"But that's impossible."
"I wouldn't be here if that were so."
"But how?"
"With the kaleg."
"The kaleg?"
"Yes, the kaleg is designed to breach the gravitational drift—that's how it enters your realm and is able to bring your kind back here. My aim is to use that force to influence the black hole."
"You can do that?"
"Of course!"
I fell silent trying to put the pieces into some sort of order in my head.
"I still don't see why you need me in all of this. I mean besides me freeing you."
"Because while I'm distracting them from you," and he smiled. "You will also be distracting them from me."
I could see how that would work, but remained doubtful.
"But how do you know that this plan will leave the Dancers behind? Surely they will be transported along with you."
"No. They can only exist in this temporal plane. Their being is dependant upon that temporal shift. Their colour and format physically changes as the cycle moves. They cannot exist in your realm. By shifting our world into your temporal plane, it will simply leave them behind."
"But if you take your planet into our temporal plane, where will they live? How will they exist?"
Troy shrugged.
"It doesn't matter. They don't need a planet to exist. The forms they have taken may mimic us but their natural form could survive just as well in open space."
It was a difficult choice. Was he telling the truth, or would I be helping him commit genocide? How did I know he wouldn't kill me anyway? I really didn't know if I could trust Troy or not, but without him, one thing was certain. My chances of success were limited. Even if I freed Luke and my entire crew, how would we all get back to the Earhart? I considered hard and wondered ... is the enemy of my enemy, my friend?
Finally, I decided.
"Okay, but we stick together. Deal?"
"Deal," he grinned.

Log Entry 130817.75

"The Helvetians were the first race to walk this realm, and we walked it alone for millennia. We were a peaceful people and, without enemies, our race flourished and grew. We became technologically advanced, developing new machines that made our life easier, and new power sources to drive them.
"Soon came the computer age of artificial intelligence, and as our technology grew so did our demands until, one day, our only limitation was the energy we used to drive our inventions. We needed a new, more sophisticated power source; and in time that came too.
"We developed an intelligent energy that was as self contained and mobile as a mortal. Although usually spherical, it could take any form, accept verbal instruction and adapt itself to energise any piece of equipment. When you needed power, you simply selected a new cell and activated it. With the point of a finger and a verbal instruction, it would obey, connect itself to the required piece of apparatus and energise it until, like an old battery, it became exhausted and died. It was perfect in every way ... but one. It was intelligent.
"Over time, the cells began to mimic our shape as they moved among us. It amused us and we called them Dancers because of the way they flitted through the air: a dancing figure of energy, but their beauty hid a darkness.
"Unbeknownst to us, the Dancers were learning from us: learning and evolving. They were becoming more than just intelligent; they were becoming sentient. We didn't know it but every time we took one and used its energy, we were effectively murdering it and yet, they said nothing. We did not know. We did not appreciate what the Dancers had become ... until it was too late, until the war began.
"The first battle did not last long. When you have never had any enemies and thus have no weapons, and when your enemy already surrounds you in your very homes as well as your workplaces, it was easy for them to kill us. In the space of a few hours, all the Helvetians in the cities were annihilated, and then those in the towns. Soon, all that was left were those in the small villages where new technology did not prevail, but the Dancers were not going to let them survive either.
"The Dancers were mobile and mimicked us in so many ways. They took on individuality. Now they were politicians, scientists, leaders and soldiers. They took the technology we had left in our cities and redeveloped it to use the old energy sources. Now they drove vehicles and carried weapons to engage us in hand-to-hand combat, but we had never fought anyone before. We had always been the masters in our universe so we had to learn new ways. We had to develop weapons to fight the Dancers. We too had to redevelop machines and resurrect old energy sources in order to survive, and that is the way it has been for eons now. The Helvetians and the Dancers fighting an endless war.
"Now, I have kept my side of the bargain, Creature. What about you? Tell me what you truly are."
I debated how much I should tell him, but soon realised I knew very little that would compromise either me or my crewmates.
"My name is Jenny Terran and I am Human. I have been snatched from my universe along with my shipmates. I don't know why but I intend to find out."
There wasn't much more I could say so I stopped talking, but Warrior Troy was waiting for more. His head was thrust forward and he scowled, waiting for my words.
"Is that it?" he finally asked with contained surprise.
"Yes. I'm sorry."
"But what of you? Tell me of your beginnings!" he demanded, so I did. I told him how I was found as a baby on board an abandoned alien vessel, and he listened in silence. He sat pensively as he mulled over my words.
"So it seems that the Dancers lost you."
"Lost me?"
"Yes. You are the Creature. You must be the Creature."
"Why must I be?"
"Because of your ability to cloak."
"What ability? I don't have an ability!"
"Then why can't I see you?"
I couldn't answer that.
"Tell me about the Creature," I asked.
"Ah! Now there's the thing. Was the Creature fact or fiction? Until this day, no one really knew."
"But now you do?"
"Yes, Creature, you were born here and then it seems that within days of your creation, you were lost."
"My name is Jenny or Jen, not Creature, but if I am this ... thing, how was I lost? I was just a baby."
The Helvetian shrugged.
"I do not know," he sighed. "I am just the enemy ... and you may call me Troy."
Well, at least we were on first name terms; that was something, but still my questions remained unanswered.
"But what was the Creature supposed to be?"
"I can only speculate."
"Then speculate!"
"Throughout the war, we have been hunted by the Dancers and have found it almost impossible to find a place where they cannot find us. In general, we live in the deep wildernesses of our world with little technology so as to remain hidden, but still the Dancers would pursue us and slay us. In the end, we sought to hide ourselves in a more permanent way. We began to study stealth technology and after some time discovered that it was quite easy for us to mask ourselves from the Dancers."
"The same way you do."
"I don't know how I do it."
"No. I suspected not."
"What makes you say that?"
"Because I can see you now ... and now I can't. I suggest you try to master your technique."
"Wait a minute. Are you saying that the Dancers can't see you either?"
"That is correct."
"Then how come you are in here?"
He tutted.
"Because I got caught. Ah! And I can see you again! And now I can't." His tones rose and fell as he spoke. "I really would work on that if I were you."
"But I can see you all the time."
"Yes, apparently so," and he laughed heartily, throwing his head back. "Excuse the pun."
The cogs were turning frantically in my mind.
"If you think I mask myself from the Dancers the same way that you do, does that mean that you think I am more like a Helvetian than a Dancer?"
"I know that the Dancers are researching how we evade their detection. It is why I will die soon. They will take me, run their experiments and, ultimately, dissect me."
"That's horrible!"
"That's war."
I pondered for another moment.
"But, if I'm Human, how can I have mastered this stealth thing?"
"I don't know but what if, somehow, you were created as a result of their research, either by design or by accident."
"Well, if that's true and they did lose me ..." My words trailed off as I realised an awful thought.
They had been looking for me. All those times that ships and crews had been disappearing had only been in the years since my discovery by Starfleet. Was that the reason why so many people had been snatched? More disturbing though: had all those people died because of me? But if that was so, how had my parents been in this realm to start with?
So many questions swimming around inside my head.
"How did they know where I had gone?"
"I don't know. I am just a simple warrior."
I sighed heavily. This was just too much to take in.
"And when they take people from my realm, what happens to them?"
"They are interrogated and then they die."
"Yes, we've had one or two bodies come back, and one or two live people too, but they don't survive long. Their minds ..."
"That will be the bleaching."
"Yes, the interrogation bleaches their minds. In order to find the information they require, they bleach out the unnecessary thoughts and memories until the only thing that is left is what they are looking for."
"In other words, they wipe their minds; and if they can't find what they are looking for?" but I knew the answer to that. Suddenly I realised the urgency in finding my crew.
"Have you seen any others like me—well, not like me, but in a uniform like this?"
"When? Where?"
"Today. It was a child. They were taking him for bleaching."
"Child? There are no children in our crew; no children on the Earhart at all in fact."
Troy shrugged.
"I assumed it was a child. He was smaller than you," and he indicated with his hand how tall the person was. My mind toyed with the puzzle, turning it over and, suddenly, I realised! Both horror and fear filled me.
Luke! It could only be Luke! Oh god, no! They were going to destroy Luke!