Surfacing, part IV

By Seema

When I entered the Bridge, I saw Tom Lewis sitting in my seat at the helm. I paused for a moment, hoping not to startle the young man. He was twenty-three years old, a fresh graduate from Starfleet Academy, when he joined us on the Defiant one year ago. That trip had been his first - and last - away mission.
Tom was a competent and fairly reliable science officer, but his knowledge came from books rather than experience, and he spent most of his time here on Gaia trying to get our unique circumstances to fit one of the textbook definitions he had memorized at the Academy. I admired his enthusiasm, understood his longing for home, and hated myself for wanting him to give up on his attempts to return.

"Tom," I said.

He whirled around, "Commander."

I frowned, "Jadzia, please. No titles, remember?"

"Yes, ma'am, I mean, Jadzia."

I smiled at him; it was hard for him - and others - to adjust to Benjamin's order to do away with Starfleet ranks. In time, Benjamin reasoned we would no longer follow a Starfleet way of life; dispensing with formalities would allow us to better work as a team.

"What are you doing, Tom?" I asked, coming over to his side. His face flushed pink in the dim light.

"Um, monitoring the barrier."

"I was just coming to check on that," I said. "See anything interesting?"

"No, um, but I, um, came up with a new equation."

"A new equation?" I tried to keep my voice even and calm. "Tom?"

"I know, I know," he said. "Lo-look here. It's re-really quite simple."

He punched a few buttons on the console and brought up his latest theory. I studied it, giving it the attention I knew Tom deserved.

"You used the Camilek Principle," I said. "That's not an easy thing to wrap one's mind around."

Tom beamed, "I-I did my senior honor thesis on the Cam-Camilek Principle."

"It appears you learned it well."

"It-It makes sense," Tom said eagerly. In his excitement, his stutter all but vanished. "We can create equal and opposite temporal anomalies. The attraction between the two will create a temporary wormhole leading back to the initial moment when we were first sent back in time."

The initial moment. I closed my eyes, steadying myself with a hand on the back of Tom's chair.
In my mind, the whole scene replayed itself in vivid color, almost as if I was sitting at the helm, guiding us back through the energy barrier.

Then the jolt that sent me flying out of my chair; sparks sputtering around me, Sisko calling out orders -

"Commander?" Tom asked.

I blinked.

"Sorry," I said. "I was just thinking back to the moment when we collided into the anomaly."

"I've been reading the sensor logs," Tom said.

"I imagine you have them memorized," I said. I certainly had spent enough time going over the records of the accident to the point where I could identify the time signature of each event

"You noted an increase in the tachyon particle ratio as the Defiant's angle of ascent leveled off," he said, his face growing animated as he spoke.

"I remember."

"If we use inertial dampers to compensate for the increase, we can apply Camilek to get us out of here. What do you think?"

I leaned forward to study his work, "Have you compensated for the window of collapse?"

"Not really," Tom confessed. "I couldn't figure out how to cushion it so we could create the exact anomalies; I could only come up with an approximation. But it could still work, couldn't it?"

"Tom," I said quietly. "We've been over this before. We can't approximate. If you don't know what the radii of the anomalies have to be, then we take the chance of the wormhole collapsing on us before we make it back to our point of origin."

Tom's fingers flew over the console, rapidly punching in formulas. After a few minutes, he turned to look back at me, his head cocked slightly to the side.

"If I increase the magnitude of the anomalies to create a larger wormhole, we would have more time to journey through wormhole."

"Can you tell me with certainty how large those anomalies would have to be?" I asked again, my voice growing sharper with impatience.

Tom looked down at his fingers still splayed across the console.

"No," he murmured.

"Tom, we can't take chances. You can't arbitrarily assign values to temporal phenomena. It doesn't work that way. One miscalculation and we risk getting hurled back even further in the past or we could be sent four hundred years in the future. Either way, we risk jeopardizing the timeline. We can't do anything that will change it. Do you understand?"

"I suppose if I compare the before and after-"

"Tom," I interrupted. "It doesn't work like that. Don't you think we looked at this possibility?"

My tone was harsher than I had intended, but it was difficult for me to maintain my equanimity. The hopeful expression in his eyes echoed those I had seen so often in my fellow crewmembers. That look tormented my waking hours and kept me awake at night.

Tom turned away, looking back down at his console, as if the answers would magically appear from beneath his fingers.

I felt guilt, but I wanted to grab Tom by the shoulders and shake him. I wanted to scream at him, hit him, anything, to make him understand, to realize that… And then I looked at him. Really looked at him and saw a young man with reddening cheeks, eyes pooling with water, and a jaw biting down hard.

I laid my hand gently on his shoulder, regretting the unsympathetic tone I had taken. To tell the truth, O'Brien and I had looked at the Camilek Principle almost immediately when we were actively searching for a way to get home; uncertainty in the science had forced us to abandon the most promising theory we had at our disposal.

"It's okay, Tom," I said gently. "I know it's hard. It's hard for all of you."

"I thought this theory would work. In the books, it seemed like it would work."

I sighed.

"There's a difference between theory and reality, Tom. Edgar Camilek never encountered a magnetic barrier like this one before. There are variables we cannot always explain, forces we could never have predicted when we first proposed the theory."

"Does this mean there is no hope?"

"I wouldn't put it that way," I hesitated. "Tom, Captain Sisko - Benjamin - has made the decision to stay here. Even if we could find a way to make your idea work, we no longer have the resources to repair the Defiant. You know that."

Tom bit his lip; I squeezed his shoulder.

"It's all right, Tom," I said. "I'm glad you tried. We can use the data you collected for other experiments. There is a wealth of scientific knowledge we can gain from the barrier and from this planet."

He nodded and then slid out of the chair.

"I'm sorry for wasting your time, Commander."

"No," I said. "I enjoyed our conversation. In fact, I'm glad you are here, since I'm going to need help with some scans I'm running. Do you have a minute?"

Tom nodded, "I would be happy to help."

Tom was long gone when I finished collecting the data from my scans; he had helped for a couple of hours before he to return for a shift in the mess hall. I rubbed my temples with my fingers and then moved back to massage my shoulders and neck, trying to ease the tension in those muscles. I rolled my head to the side and then back again.

I could not tell how long I had been here on the Defiant; the chronometer had been disabled around the same time we took that uncaring and taunting computer voice offline.

I got up from my seat and took a long look around the Bridge. Some of the equipment had never been repaired since we crashed, including the console where Kira had been sitting.


A day did not pass when I didn't think of Kira. More than anything else, I blamed myself for her death, knowing if I had not insisted on investigating the planet, she would still be alive today.

To her credit, Kira never complained about her situation; she never even acknowledged she was dying until the last four or five days of her life. Rather, she was her fiery self, arguing with Sisko and Worf about pretty much everything. She was also the only one who had spent time with Odo, talking to him, when no one else had the time to sit down and explain what was happening.

Days after we had buried Kira, Julian finally remembered to tell Odo. Julian told me that Odo's golden gelatinous surface rippled as he broke the news and then Odo was still.

I touched the console where Kira had been sitting and then moved over to Worf's station. His screen was frozen on the readings that told us we had been hurled back in time.


I whirled around to face O'Brien.

"Sorry if I startled you," he said. He held up a clunky metal object. "I finished the water pump."

"That's good news," I said, recovering my composure. I took the pump in my hands and turned it over. It was rather heavy, silver in color, and featured a lever on one side and a spout on the other. It had been constructed out of an alloy mixture, manerite, most commonly used to build bulkheads or used as protective shielding for volatile materials. From the various color variations in the metal, I gathered that O'Brien had taken the material from the casing that surrounded the Defiant's warp core. The craftsmanship, like all things O'Brien did, was precise; I was sure that no materials had been wasted in its construction.

"Looks good," I told him honestly. "How does it work?"

"Like this," O'Brien placed the pump on the console next to me. A long, slender lever extended from one end of it and directly below the lever was a thick tube with a short pipe attached to it in the middle. "You pump the handle up and down and it forces the water up through the pipe and out through the faucet."

"That simple?"

"That simple," he confirmed. "Are you almost finished here?"

I sighed, thinking about the amount of data left to wade through.

"I've got some more to do," I told him. "But nothing I really want to get started on."

"You want to tell me about it?"

"No," I answered and I was surprised by my truthfulness. Every day, I forced myself to make the trip to the Defiant to collect the readings Sisko wanted on the energy barrier. In addition, at his request, I was also taking readings on other planetary phenomenon like shifting tectonic plates, pressure systems, and radiation levels.
Most of the time, I just downloaded the data onto a PADD and handed over to Sisko; if he ever read it, I did not know. For my part, I rarely looked at the data and never performed the type of analysis I used to do back on Deep Space Nine.

Go to part V

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