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.