Log Entry 130727.72

I awoke some hours later awkwardly sprawled across my chair, a chronic crick in my neck and my right arm numbed to the bone. I opened my eyes and lifted my head. A bolt of pain shot down my neck. I winced but had no time to pander to it because as I looked around, I found I was alone.
I tried to stand but found that my left leg wouldn't co-operate. It too was numb having been twisted off to one side. I rubbed it to try to get the blood flowing again and was rewarded with an excruciating case of pins and needles. With pains throughout my body and a muggy head, I settled for exercising my joints and taking deep breaths until my head cleared. I needed to think straight and for my limbs to function properly.
The main viewer was blank so I limped over to the operations station to get some data. It was blank too, as was the helm. Power had been cut to the bridge. Nothing worked, but the air was fresh which indicated that some systems were still operational. I decided to head towards engineering.
As I wandered through the corridors, there was no sign of anyone. Where had they all gone? Why had I been left behind? How long had I been out cold?
For some strange reason, I detoured to the shuttle bay. Maybe I was thinking that it might hold some clues as to everybody's whereabouts: missing shuttles, that sort of thing. It did hold answers for me, but not the kind I was expecting.
As the door shushed open, I could see that the main shuttle bay doors stood agape, but instead of the expanse of black space that I was expecting beyond them, I saw the wall of a huge, silvery blue building chequered with windows.
Dumbfounded, I stepped closer to see and discovered that it wasn't a building at all. I was inside, what must be, a huge space dock that was big enough to accommodate fifty Earharts.
The structure was built of icy pale blue metal-like material with ducting and pipe work picked out in tones of black and white. Its walls curved gently around into a huge circle. It had a sterile air and through the windows, I could see beings moving about: the Dancers!
Although humanoid in shape, they gleamed and glistened like dark grey, silvery light, not translucent but quite solid. They were unlike anything I had ever seen before, but my amazement didn't stop there.
The Earhart was suspended in the middle of the enclosure like a Christmas bauble hanging on an invisible thread. It's only physical connection to the space dock that I could discern was a long, white path. It ran from the lip of the shuttle bay to the far wall, twisting and turning for no apparent reason until it disappeared into the mouth of a tunnel some five hundred meters away. Instantly, I knew that I would have to walk it in order to find out where my crew had gone, but how would I do that without being seen?
I stepped up to the edge of the path and stood on the shuttle bay's threshold. The path was eerily translucent and I could see through it to the ground below. It was a very, very long way down and it made me feel sick to look at it. It was flat. I looked up and noted that the ceiling was flat too. The docking station was cylindrical in shape with no apparent way in, but then if the kaleg transported matter, rather like our transporters did, it wouldn't need doors big enough for a ship to pass through. My mind though, was soon drawn back to the matter of the path. It was made of pure energy like a forcefield, but would it take my weight?
Gingerly, I stepped forward to press one foot onto the path to test its rigidity, but no sooner did my foot touch it than I was snatched from the shuttle bay and pulled along the path at breakneck speed.
It was like a ride on a rollercoaster! I hurtled along, lurching wildly from one side to the other as the path twisted and turned. With only one foot secured to it, I span around like a ratchet rattle, spinning first one way, then the other and then back again. I was confused and travel sick all at the same time—and then I felt my foot leave the path!
My stomach lurched into my mouth as I flew through the air not knowing where I was going to land. My surroundings whizzed past me and I was expecting to see the bottom of the dock hurtling up towards me, but I didn't. Instead, I felt the cold, hard smack of the tunnel as I was catapulted through its opening and hit the ground. I rolled along it a good way before I came to rest and lay dazed for a moment, gathering my senses. Then, slowly, I clambered to my feet, turned and looked back along the path I had just travelled. That was one heck of a way to travel and I appear to have come up through the floor! The deck ran away from me and dipped down into the chasm where the Earhart was docked. It reminded me of the tunnel in a sports stadium from where the team emerges from their underground locker rooms prior to the game. I felt queasy and was sure there must be a knack to travelling it. Shame I didn't know what it was, but at least I was where I wanted to be. The problem was, had anybody seen me?
The sound of voices came to my ears. Dancers! Damn! And they were coming down the tunnel towards me! I must have been spotted!
My heart leapt, and frantically, my eyes searched for somewhere to go, somewhere to hide, but there was nowhere. All I could do was step up against the wall and hope I'd blend in, which was really stupid. The wall was made of the brushed, pale blue metal and I was in Starfleet uniform. I couldn't have stood out more if I'd painted myself fluorescent pink and put a flashing light on my head! So, pressing myself up against the wall, I waited for the inevitable.
Two Dancers appeared at the end of the corridor. They were talking and comparing notes on datapads. They weren't looking for anything ... and then one of them looked up, directly at me!
... And then it looked back at its datapad!
I couldn't believe that it hadn't seen me! It was impossible for it not to have seen me!
The two continued on their way, undisturbed by my presence. They passed me by without a qualm. I dropped in behind them, filled with curiosity, but still there was no reaction from them, so—and please don't ask me why because it was a really stupid thing to do, but I intentionally coughed. Just a little one, but a cough nonetheless.
One of the Dancers stopped, turned and looked directly at me. We were standing less than five feet apart looking directly at each other. IT HAD TO HAVE SEEN ME! But no! It turned back to its colleague, mumbled something about how it found these aliens unnerving, and then they carried on their way.
I followed along behind them, dumbfounded, until they stepped onto the path and were snatched from me. I watched in awe as they travelled the path with far more decorum than I had, gently shifting their weight at each turn until they reached the other side and sedately stepped off the path into the Earhart.
More importantly though, it appears that I am invisible to them, but why? How? They can see everybody else, surely? Otherwise, how would they have taken them all? And where had they been taken?
I had to continue into the ship.

Log Entry 130720.71

With our newfound knowledge and ability to track the kaleg, we began our pursuit, but it wasn't long before we realised that catching up with it wasn't going to be easy; it was moving so fast and erratically.
Science specialists, Midas among them, were frantically scanning the kaleg and then storing the data in protected units. After all, the Earhart's databanks were wiped the last time she encountered the kaleg. In the meantime, Karl tried to hypnotise me to induce more memories, (I'm beginning to suspect he's an undercover shrink! I must tackle him about that one day soon,) but it seems that I'm not susceptible to hypnosis.
"Don't worry about it," he assured me. "Not everybody is. It's quite normal."
Karl then adopted one of the science stations on the bridge (probably to monitor me), and then Jarrod, who had been detained in engineering, joined us. The silence of an expectant bridge soon enveloped us. Only the gentle bleeps and squeaks of the consoles broke the silence, so I began to amuse myself by studying the crew.
Luke remained at the helm while Rutter had taken up the adjacent Operations Station. Al was posted at tactical and Midas had retained his post at Science Station One. That was an awful lot of responsible stations assigned to junior officers. T'Roc must have seen me looking. She chuckled.
"Yes, Jenny. When I said I had hand-picked my crew, I meant it."
I was about to dig deeper but Jarrod interrupted.
"I don't understand it," she admitted. "One minute it's haunting the ship and the next minute we can't catch it!"
"Haunted?" I asked.
"Yes, you said you'd seen it on board dozens of times."
"It's never actually been on the ship," I answered, still distracted by T'Roc's choice of crew. What did she mean by that? Why had she picked so many junior officers? What skills could they possibly have that more senior officers didn't possess?
"Then what was it? I thought you said it was the kaleg?"
"It is the kaleg ... or rather its shadow—a reflection of it. If the kaleg had ever actually touched us, we'd be gone. It would have taken us."
Suddenly, I felt uncomfortable. All eyes were upon me again.
"What?" I asked nervously.
"Lieutenant Vernai, it seems that Cadet Terran's memories are becoming less and less hindered by her consciousness."
"Indeed," replied Karl. "I suspect that it's a combination of the memories which having started, are becoming easier to recall, and our close proximity to the kaleg."
"Are you a shrink?" I blurted, scowling madly.
"I majored in psychoanalysis, but prefer a more ... informal role."
Oooo! There's a story buried there somewhere.
"You mean to say that all the time we've been in the area, we had that many near misses?" continued Jarrod.
I shrugged.
"I guess."
"Captain," interrupted Al.
"Yes, cadet."
"I think I've found something. I think the kaleg is following a search pattern. It's a pretty complex one but I've been able to predict its movements for the last ten minutes or so."
"Excellent! Can we calculate an intercept course?"
"Indeed we can, sir." Al sounded ever so triumphant and was grinning from ear to ear as she passed the coordinates onto Luke.
"How long before we intercept?"
"A tad under twelve minutes, sir."
"Just a tad? Not a smidgen or a dash?"
T'Roc was feeling playful. Her Klingon side was becoming excited at the thought of a challenge.
"No sir. Just a tad."
The wait seemed endless. We manoeuvred into position, turned to face the kaleg head on and waited. Just as Al had predicted the kaleg suddenly turned and began a new path directly towards us.
It was beautiful: a column of blue light streaked with little white, pink and purple needles that flowed like static. It twisted and turned mesmerically upon its centre point. It was hard to believe that something so calming and beautiful had been responsible for so many deaths.
The tension grew. You could feel it in the air, smell it almost. A shiver ran down my spine and I felt cold.
"What is it Jen?" asked T'Roc.
"It knows we're here. The Dancers know we're here. It's coming for us."
"Contact in ten seconds, sir!" shouted Luke.
Even T'Roc moved onto the edge of her seat.
The kaleg now filled the viewscreen. Rutter reduced magnification but it still dominated the view.
"Five ... four ..."
I found I was holding my breath.
"Three ... two ... one ..."
We all felt the impact as the kaleg touched the nose of the Earhart. It wasn't a jerk or a shove. It was a gentle vibration, like a shiver running through the ship. You could feel it underfoot and in everything you touched.
The kaleg breached the hull and I felt it twist so that it matched our pitch and could swallow us whole. I heard Karl gasp.
"Report!" shouted the Captain.
"The kaleg has breached decks nine and ten," reported Luke. Those were the decks that extended to the furthermost point at the front of the ship.
"Panic, sir! The crew are starting to panic!" cried Karl.
"Confirmed, sir!" said Al. "I have reports coming in. People are starting to disappear. Everything that it touches."
My heart went out to Karl. As a Betazoid, he didn't just have his own fear to deal with but everybody else's. I though, felt strangely calm and unafraid. In fact—and this will sound really crazy, but I felt untouchable.
Suddenly the viewscreen began to glow blue, then twist and spiral. With eerie silence, the phenomenon grew, expanding rapidly, stretching everything it touched as though it were made out of rubber and pulling it into its centre where it disappeared.
Amazingly, everybody stuck to their posts as it drew nearer and nearer the bridge crew.
"I want as many scans of that thing as we can muster!" shouted the Captain.
"On it, Captain!" returned Midas.
It touched Luke and Rutter's stations, but the two men still didn't budge. A pang of fear shot through me, but it was for them, not for me. Their bravery was commendable; T'Roc had chosen well. Our mission was to discover what this thing was and there was only one way to do that: to be taken.
The kaleg reached Luke first. It touched his fingers and they too seemed to turned to jelly as the kaleg pulled on them. His fingers stretched and contorted in front of his eyes and then he let out a long drawn wail of pain.
The way that scream tore through me will remain with me forever. It wrenched at my every fibre and ripped a hole in my heart. That was someone I knew! A friend, a close friend—and I was watching him die! No, not die. The kaleg didn't kill. It just took, but as Luke's howling body was stretched and twisted as he was sucked into its sapphire glow, I found no comfort in that thought.
His agonising scream trailed on, equally as contorted and twisted as his body, and then the kaleg touched Rutter and began to draw him in too. His scream joined Luke's. He turned and looked at me, and the terror in his eyes was unspeakable. I had to close my eyes; I couldn't look anymore, but the screams echoed on and on, and were soon fortified by Jarrod's, then T'Roc's and then the rest of the bridge crew. They crescendoed so deafeningly loud that I had to cover my ears to try and block them out. I buried my head in my arms, but nothing could stop the noise.
Yet, I felt no pain, only the torment of knowing that the people I cared so much for were being hurt and torn from me.
I wondered why was I so unaffected by the kaleg. Why was the kaleg taking everybody else and not me? And then I felt the kaleg touch me ... and I felt no more.

Log Entry 130713.70

I have suspected for some time now that I might be losing my marbles. Now I know it. This morning—well, not this morning because it was the middle of the night—but I woke up on the bridge!
I felt such a prat. I went to bed and all was fine with the world—well, as fine as it can be for a ship wandering through the stars searching for a phenomenon that snatches vessels, kidnaps the crew, murders them and then abandons their bodies to drift endlessly in space—but awoke with a start to find myself sitting on the bridge next to the Captain. She was watching me intently and not just T'Roc. Surrounding me were Al and, of all people, Karl!
Strangely though, my first thought wasn't, 'how did I get here?' or 'what's going on?' as you'd expect. No, my mind was absorbed by just one thought. 'Oh my god! Am I wearing clean pyjamas?"
To my complete amazement, when I looked down I found that I was fully dressed in uniform.
"She's awake," said a voice behind me.
I turned. It was Rosie!
"Do you remember anything?" asked the Captain.
I didn't answer. I was so baffled; I didn't know what to say. My gaze merely wandered from one face to another, studying the crowd of people in front of me. Only now was my brain asking the salient questions. How did I get here? Why is Karl on the bridge? Why is he in uniform? He's never in uniform! Why are Al and the doctor here too? And why am I here?
My face obviously spoke of my confusion. Al reached out to touch me and, to my horror, I actually recoiled.
"Give her time," said Karl. "She's in shock."
Shock only half described it. I began to burble some questions. The Captain interrupted.
"Let's take this into the Ready Room."
"NO!" I shouted, the aggression so high in my voice it frightened even me.
T'Roc looked at me with her deep, velvety soft, black, Klingon eyes.
"What's going on?" I asked. I had to know.
"Jenny, you've been doing this for the last eight nights," she explained.
"Doing what?"
"Sleep walking."
"I have?"
"It's how Beastie got out," said Al. "Each night, we take it in turns and camp outside your door."
That sounded a bit extreme.
"Who? Why?"
"Because when you walk, you talk and you say things."
"What sort of things?"
At that point, the turbolift doors opened and Rutter, Luke and Midas got out. It was beginning to look more like the Games Club than the bridge. Al explained.
"Okay, but you have to remember we are your friends and we had a huge debate about how to handle this, but the hints you've been giving us into the anomaly are so important, and it wasn't causing you any distress."
"Cut to the chase, Al!" I snapped.
Al shrugged.
"You've been giving us clues about this phenomenon, but we can't make much sense of them."
"Clues? Like what?"
Rutter held something out to me. It was a playing card—a dancer.
Something inside my head twanged, like someone pinging an elastic band in the middle of my brain. I physically flinched at it. Karl leaned down in front of me.
"Tell me what you feel," he commanded.
"Feel? I don't know what I feel!"
"Okay," he said, signalling the Captain to move. She did and he took her seat beside me. "Feel may be the wrong word. Let me try again."
He thought for a moment.
"When the Captain suggested we go into the Ready Room, you said no. Why?"
"I don't know why."
"Exactly, and the reason you don't know is because you are conscious and searching for a logical reason. This isn't logical. You said no for a reason that is deep inside of you—a reason that you know but that your conscious self doesn't want to recognise because it considers the reason flimsy and intangible."
I frowned. Karl sighed.
"I know I'm not making much sense. Here, try this. Lean back, close your eyes and take some deep breaths."
I obliged and seemed to sit for an age, breathing and relaxing while Karl's voice droned on mesmerically.
"Now, I'll ask you some questions and you answer, but don't think about the answer. Just let the words fall from your mouth unhindered. It doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense. Just release yourself of the burden of those words by releasing them. Let them go."
Karl continued to talk and I soon guessed that this was a subtle form of hypnosis, but I welcomed it. It was so calming and comforting.
"So tell me Jenny, why do you have to be on the bridge?"
I opened my mouth and just as Karl had bid, the words simply fell out, and like little lead weights, as each syllable passed my lips I felt an almost overwhelming sense of relief.
"Because of the kaleg."
"The kaleg?"
"The shadow."
"I thought the shadow was a Dancer."
"No. The Dancers can't enter our realm so they send the kaleg."
"So the kaleg is a sensor, a probe."
"Yes ... and more. It is the portal that drags our kind into their realm."
"The Dancers' realm?"
"And the Dancers are the aliens that live there."
"The Dancers and the Helvetians."
"But the kaleg belongs to the Dancers?"
"And you can see the kaleg?"
"Is the kaleg here now?"
"No, but it is near."
"But we can't see it."
"Why can't we see it?"
"Because it is not here."
"But you can see it?"
"Because it is here."
"I don't understand, Jenny. How can it be here and not here?"
A hypnagogic jerk pulled me rudely out of my reverie and I gasped a shattered breath.
"It's okay, Jenny," said Karl. "You've done really well."
"But why am I only remembering this now?"
"Perhaps because only now are we getting close to it."
Karl could be right. Over the past few weeks the shadow—the kaleg—had become slowly more and more opaque.
The room fell quiet and I began to look around at the faces of my friends. Everyone seemed to be looking at me ... except Luke. He was staring into space, his lips silently moving, as is his habit when working on a problem.
"Luke?" I asked, and suddenly his face lit up.
"I got it!" he shouted and ran over to Midas at the science station whereupon he barked some excited instructions to him. Midas immediately set to work on Luke's idea.
"Got what?" asked T'Roc.
"When is something there when it's not there? When it's an extra-dimensional entity."
"You what?" blurted Al who knows as much about science as I do about cookery (that is, nothing).
"Stardate 45959.1—the Enterprise encountered the Devidians, an alien lifeform that exists on an asynchronous temporal plane. In other words, the Devidians were slightly out of phase with our time so the crew of the Enterprise couldn't see them, but Commander Data could by using his phase discriminator.
"What if Jenny has a similar phase discriminator that means she can see the kaleg but we can't? What if it's something like that?"
"GOT IT!" shouted Midas with far more excitement than is seemly for a Vulcan.
"Front screen," commanded the captain and we all turned to look.
The screen flickered slightly as Midas made his final adjustments and the vision of open space ahead of us turned a peculiar shade of green. In the midst of it, a long blue rod of light twisted and turned, revolving on an invisible axis as it travelled through space.
"What's that?" asked T'Roc.
"The kaleg," I said coldly.
T'Roc took a deep breath.
"Luke, take the helm. Set a course for the kaleg."

Log Entry 130706.69

I have never felt so sick with worry in all my life. I woke up this morning and discovered that Beastie was gone!
Usually she sleeps on my bed, either next to me or at my feet but when I arose this morning, she was nowhere to be found. My heart leapt into my throat as I called and searched for her, fearing the worst. Had the anomaly taken her?
I hunted high and low, checking every cupboard, nook and cranny. I even looked in the ventilation shafts and Jeffries tubes on my deck in case she was up to her old tricks again, but there was no sign of her. She was gone.
Reduced to tears, I left the Jeffries tubes and wandered back to my quarters sobbing hard.
Why take her? She's only a cat for goodness sake! What use is a cat to anybody?
As I rounded the final corner to my quarters though, relief flooded through me. Sprawled at the foot of my door, with not a care in the world, lay Beastie. She was leaning against the door, idly washing her big, fat, furry tummy. Lazily, she looked up at me, one leg still raised in the air and gave a silent meow. I ran over to her, swept her up into my arms and cried like a baby. I was so pleased to see her, but how did she get out in the first place?
The whole thing has thrown me out of sync all day. Even Al and Luke have no suggestions as to how she could have got out. I won't sleep a wink tonight worrying about that damned cat now!