Breaching the Barrier

Posted on 13 Jan 2018 @ 8:15pm by Lieutenant T'Pai & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD6 1100

T'Pai's countenance was a stoic one. This was not unusual though. Saying Vulcans appeared stoic was the equivalent of saying water at at a certain temperature and barometric pressure was wet.

T'Pai's facial expression at the moment, though, was the very epitome of stoicism. Her flight with Lieutenant Alexander had been enlightening on several levels, but at the moment, there was only one issue that needed to be discussed with the Black Hawk's commanding officer: was it possible for the Century Class starship to navigate the barrier surrounding the Convergence Zone.

The data collected during the flight was even now being processed by the Science and Engineering Departments, but T'Pai was confident that her initial hypothesis on the barrier's nature had been confirmed. With that thought in mind, T'Pai signaled her presence at the entrance of the Captain's Ready Room.

Inside the office, Harvey sat at the couch, a PADD in hand. He’d known the test flight had ended a while ago, and it would have been a while before receiving the report, but it certainly didn’t make the operations report in his hand easier to consume. When the chime sounded, he stood up from the couch and began to walk over to the replicator, hopeful that a hot beverage would kick his brain into gear. “Come,” he bellowed as he walked.

T'Pai strode into the briefing room, presenting herself to her commanding officer. "Captain Geisler. It will take some time to process all the data that myself and Lieutenant Alexander acquired, but I believe I can give you a preliminary impression. With your permission," she added with a nod.

"Tea, Darjeeling, hot," Harvey requested from the replicator as soon as the engineer finished talking. As the replicator began to work, he glanced to her quickly and asked, "Something to drink, Lieutenant?" Under most circumstances, he was not afraid to eat or drink in front of others. However, he felt this time a bit of courtesy was paramount.

"No thank you, Captain," T'Pai responded, "Though the offer is appreciated."

Harvey nodded, returning to the couch with his fresh beverage. "Please proceed, Lieutenant."

Assuming a parade rest stance, T'Pai began her report. "There were a number of anomalies encountered during the flight that were not predicted by my initial modeling. However, I believe the flight proved the navigation algorithm's ability to chart a course that will allow the Black Hawk to penetrate the barrier surrounding the Convergence Zone. This is contingent on my preliminary findings not being contradicted by the data the flight accumulated, which is now being reviewed both by the Science Department and the Engineering Department. I do not predict that the data analysis will contradict me. That being said, Captain, I still have reservations on taking the Black Hawk through the barrier, though those reservations are not necessarily based on facts in evidence, but rather..." T'Pai paused, with perhaps a trace of embarassment on her face "...conjecture."

When he'd sat down, Harvey did not let the couch swallow him like before. Instead, he sat on the edge of the couch, anticipating a positive report. And, the report was about a positive as he might expect from a Vulcan. Offering a surprised look, Harvey remarked, "Don't tell me Vulcans actually possess a gut instinct."

T'Pai arched her left eyebrow in the quintessential Vulcan fashion. "Let us rather say, Captain, that I may be assuming an analogous relationship where none exists. Captain, are you familiar with the incident on your home world, surrounding the star designated KIC 8462852, in the early part of the twentieth century?"

"Vaguely," the Captain answered, wondering where exactly this was going. "I know there was a lot of speculation regarding the existence of a Dyson Sphere which later turned out to be false. What does that have to do with the zone? Or your, as you say, analogous relationship?"

"At approximately the same time," T'Pai continued, momentarily sidestepping her captain's question, "Astronomers on your planet detected an asteroid designated 1I/2017 U1, which was determined to have originated from beyond the confines of your solar system. There was speculation among certain members of your scientific community that the asteroid in question might house an alien probe, but they were eventually proven wrong."

"Although we do not, as yet, understand the physics behind the barrier surrounding the Convergence Zone," T'Pai continued, "There is nothing to suggest it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. And yet, there are certain elements that could suggest that the Convergence Zone, if not artificially constructed, was artificially manipulated. However, I have not as yet determined if this hypothesis was independently arrived at by myself, or if perhaps, because of the recovered probe from a possible future version of our ship, I am interpreting facts to conform to a preconceived theory."

"It is the unproven possibility --- and I must stress the fact that it is unproven, Captain," T'Pai emphasized, "That gives me pause, as I believe is the expression. If the Convergence Zone and the barrier around it are artificially constructed or artificially manipulated, then the question is, for what purpose? And what effects will our attempt to bypass this unknown purpose produce?"

Harvey remained silent, quietly reflecting on every word she spoke. "I have not shared my own theories with anyone, but artificial construction has always been a possibility. In fact, I imagine why that's why this ship is fresh off the assembly line, and granted a fighter squadron which these Century-Class ships aren't supposed to bear. The probe spoke of danger, so we must prepare for any certainty."

The Captain sipped his tea. "Of course, as a Vulcan and a member of the Senior Staff, you already know this, so my... recital of what we know is rather pointless. Still, if items can get out, as history has already proven, what's to stop say, a weapon, from being launched and detonated once it leaves the zone. Or, who's to say someone's already trying to get out. Our attempts may not amount to anything if what's trapped inside the zone leaves on its own power without our interference."

"The Greek poet Hesiod writes of the jar that Pandora opened, which released 'countless plagues,'" T'Pai began. "The ancient poets of my people speak of a similar, allegorical event." T'Pai paused before adding, "At present, I cannot provide unassailable evidence that the Convergence Zone is the result of artificial creation or manipulation. Therefore, metaphorical discussions on my part, concerning the potential results of the Black Hawk entering the Convergence Zone, would be counterproductive. However, once the data we have gathered has been processed, I should be able to provide a navigational algorithm that will allow the Black Hawk to navigate the barrier surrounding the Convergence Zone."

Despite all his own reservations and thoughts, he'd heard the words he wanted to hear. They would be able to enter the zone, and they'd be able to do it far sooner than he thought. "Then I'll leave you to it, Miss T'Pai. I'm sure you and the team still have much to accomplish."

"Thank you, Captain," T'Pai said with a curt nod, then again paused. "There is one more thing I should add, Captain."

"Another feeling?" Harvey asked before taking a sip of his tea. Finally, they were getting somewhere. He hoped that whatever T'Pai had to add wouldn't be a deterrent.

"With the navigational algorithm and a few modifications, Lieutenant Alexander's fighter did not suffer any adverse effects from traversing the Convergence Zone barrier," T'Pai began. "However, the Black Hawk itself is a larger and more complicated system than a Gryffon class fighter. It would be illogical to immediately assume that the noneventful transition of the latter would guarantee the safe passage of the former. The measures needed to protect the Black Hawk will be more complex, as well as having a higher energy requirement. In addition, mine and Lieutenant Alexander's passage may have created a disturbance in the barrier." T'Pai's brow furrowed as she tried to decide how to best describe the effect. "Visualize if you will, a group of scuba divers swimming near the bottom of a lake with a silty bottom. If a single scuba diver proceeded ahead of the other divers, that diver will inadvertently stir up the silt, reducing the visibility of the following divers, as well affecting their ability to prevent additional silt from rising, thus reducing visibility further. To complete the comparison, the Gryphon's flight may have 'stirred up' elements in the barrier that will make it more difficult for the Black Hawk to have an equally tranquil transition. Bear in mind that this is a supposition based on my initial impressions of the barrier. Before I can give you a definitive answer, both Science and Engineering will need to process the data gathered today, and further modeling will also need to be done. In addition, preventive measures will be developed to minimize the adverse effects of taking the Black Hawk through the barrier."

"I may be 'borrowing trouble,' Captain," T'Pai concluded. "It is possible that further review of the data will rebut my initial impression. And regardless of the data, Captain, if you want the Black Hawk to get through the barrier, I will get the Black Hawk through." T'Pai's pronouncement might have been considered ardent, if she had been a nonVulcan,

Another delay, thought the Captain. They'd only been at the barrier for six days, and Harvey would be remiss if he chose to take the ship in immediately after T'Pai's flight. "It's not a question of want, Miss T'Pai," he explained. "It's a question of must. Orders are orders. One way or another, this ship will have to cross the barrier. Take the time you need to sift through the data, create models, et cetera. Keep me posted every day, and as soon as we can, we'll proceed."

"I will keep you advised of our progress," T'Pai replied, adding a last nod before taking her leave.

Harvey was left alone in his Ready Room to enjoy the rest of his tea, regardless if he wished it was coffee. Taking a sip, he rose from the couch to observe the Convergence Zone comfortably from his window. The damning blue glow swirled outside, begging him to enter.

It was a pleasure really, talking with the first person in seventeen years to successfully breach the barrier and return. Was it a risk trying the method on a grander scale as soon as it was ready. Certainly. His future self warned of danger. He had to find out what it was. And stop it before he grew totally mad.

As he sipped his tea and watched the swirl of the zone, Harvey hoped that he wouldn't lose himself during this ordeal. He'd gained so much, and there wasn't a chance he'd allow himself to lose it again.