"Universal Constant"
[Previous Post: "Readjusting"]

"If there's nothing wrong with me... maybe there's something wrong with the universe!"
-Dr. Beverly Crusher, TNG, "Remember Me"

"The only constant is change."

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section A, Level 6, Administrative Center
Stardate: 63075.0955

Admiral Charles Koniki sat in his office, his elbows up on the desk and hands steepled as he thought. Like the past several weeks, his routine today had been made up of meetings and more meetings. It was one of the hazards of command and it was becoming tedious.

However, moments of crisis, turmoil and uncertainty brought out the best in his people, and even himself. His confidence in the outcome of this latest event was unshakeable. It was simply a question of how long it would take to get to the other side.

Allyson entered Koniki's office with her usual sunny disposition. "Admiral."

Koniki looked up and into the bright eyes of his administrative assistant. "Yes, Allyson."

"Ensign Thomas contacted me while you were in a meeting. He is asking to be assigned to duty assisting with the refit of the ANUBIS."

Koniki mentally shrugged. Now that Erik was involved to coordinate efforts, the risk at proceeding with the repairs with more manpower was minimal. And the crew of the ANUBIS all had expressed interest in performing work either on the ship itself or in some other capacity while the ship was being worked on. He would have expected no less of them. "He can report to Fairborn immediately to assist." The Oltharian had spent every waking moment since his return near or on the ship, watching over the vessel like a mother bear protecting her cubs. Perhaps this gesture would prove to the Engineer he was not the only one who cared.

"Thank you Admiral, I will inform him at once." The pert blonde turned with a spring in her step and exited the office.

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section I, Level 1, Restricted Area
Stardate: 63075.1130

Koniki entered the private room, which was by nature dimly lit and mysterious. Five others were already there, two men and three women, their identities only known and only important to the others in audience.

"Charles," one of the women acknowledged, and Koniki nodded his head in response.

"Thank you all for attending on such short notice," he said, looking to the others with grim gratitude as he took a seat at the head of the table. "Report."

The man to Koniki's right began to speak. "The damage to the vessel is completely consistent with the mission reports given by each of the crew. We have no reason to suspect that anything took place other than what was documented. There were gaps in the information, but they were extremely small and can easily be explained by the incredible amount of physical and emotional stress they experienced."

"Psychological evals?" Koniki asked.

A woman with a commanding voice answered. "Some of them are suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other associated maladies, however they should all be cleared for duty in that regard in the next four to six weeks. All in all a resilient bunch."

That was to be expected from the elite officers. "And how did they check out physically?" the Admiral asked.

A female medical officer spoke next. "Physical injuries were minor and treated immediately. By Starfleet standards, the crew is ready for duty. However, something unusual was uncovered." She leaned forward in the shadows and activated some controls. A three dimensional image formed in the middle of the large oval table. There were two distinct patterns in front of them.

"And what exactly are we looking at?" One of the men said, his voice tinged with a southern accent and the gruff bark of a marine.

"They're energy signatures," Another man offered with authority.

"Correct," The medical officer replied. "These energy signatures are from the same subject, one of the crew of the USS ANUBIS. The one on the right is a scan taken prior to their most recent mission, while the scan on the left was taken as part of the standard battery of tests upon their return. Generally speaking, any changes to a person's energy signature would not be typical."

"Was everyone on the ship affected in the same manner?" Admiral Koniki asked.

"Yes. There is approximately a two point seven percent deviation from the original signatures of the crew of the USS ANUBIS. That goes for the entire crew."

Koniki thought out loud. "But time stood relatively still for us while the ANUBIS' crew experienced the passage of time. This indicates some sort of temporal or universal rift. That could explain the changes."

"True... but there are other possibilities that should be considered," the man who had identified the energy signatures replied.

Koniki's shoulders almost imperceptibly hunched. He knew the ramifications of what was being said. The crew could have some sort of unidentified illness. They could be brainwashed or programmed by some unknown enemy, ready to be activated at a moment's notice. They could even be from another dimension, evil dopplegangers and not the actual crew at all. They could be a race like the Locustat, a multi-dimensional enemy who had infiltrated their universe years ago and nearly torn everything they had worked so hard for asunder.

The strong voiced woman spoke. "What is our course of action, Charles?"

Koniki rubbed at his brow. "Place Security on high alert."

The older male responded in the same gruff tone he had before. "Yes Admiral."

"Make sure the activities of the crew of the ANUBIS are being monitored at all times. And I want a weekly report on their physical and emotional states until further notice and any unusual behavior or actions reported immediately. If one of them so much as gets a paper cut I want to hear about it."

"Yes Admiral," The medical offer replied.

"Remember tact and secrecy are of utmost importance," Koniki said. "They have given me no reason to believe they are anything but highly functioning  officers trying to move on from devastating conditions."

"But even you know we cannot be complacent, Charles." The senior woman in the group said what they had all been thinking.

"I know, I know, hence the orders. All I am saying is that doubt needs to be a private counsellor."

Susan M Ledbetter
Ensign Eve Dalziel