Sphere of Terror
A fairly rare stellar body, this form of Neutron Star is one of the more scarce stellar types. This fact, coupled with the indications that the Star was entering into the very final stages of it's life-cycle made the study of this magnetar a particularly appealing mission.
After roughly three days of study, the Hades received new orders from Starfleet Command. They were advised that the USS Onyx a Steamrunner Class vessel on a diplomatic mission had failed to make their appointed destination.
The Onyx had been dispatched on a diplomatic mission by the Federation Diplomatic Corps to aid in the transport of a Nertalli peace delegation to discuss a peace treaty with the Perthalla, with whom they had been at war for the last 75 solar years.
Now with that ship missing, accusations from both sides of the conflict threatened to escalate back into open warfare once again. The Hades, suspended all scientific studies of PX 1354 and immediately went in search of the overdue ship.
Roughly two days after the call came in for the Hades to conduct search operations for the Onyx, the Prometheus Class starship located the ship, powerless floating dead in space.
There was no sign of any power sources on the vessel and external sensor scans proved to be useless due to a large tachyon interference that seemed to be emanating from the location of the vessel.
Fearing the worst, Starfleet Marines from the Hades beamed over to begin an initial search. Once they had determined that there was no immediate danger other members of the ship's crew beamed aboard to conduct a search and recovery operation.
Almost immediately, the Crew began to notice strange quirks about the abandoned ship. There was no sign of the ship's crew, and there was no sign of jettisoned Escape Pods.
In addition to this, the Hades crew found signs of tasks unfinished as if the operator had simply stepped away for a few minutes. In this fashion the Onyx was compared to the Mary Celeste.
However, something much more insidious was taking place. As the crew were searching the ship and trying to figure out why the Onyx had no power, a sense of dread and barely suppressed terror began to make it's presence known.
Before long, something, or someone had instilled a deep sense of absolute blinding terror into the members of the ship's crew searching the Onyx. At first it began with peripheral hallucinations. small noises, or the hint of a shadowy figure. However, it didn't take long before those initial delusions took on full blow threats that altered the perceptions of those affected. Some members of the Away team were suddenly attacking their shipmates, and at least one member of the away team was killed as a result of the hallucination driven responses of the crew.
With the away team threatened by an unknown force, the Away team commander, ordered an emergency return to the Hades.
Bringing Terror Home
The away team was recovered and several members were treated in sickbay for a wide variety of medical and psychological issues. The cases ranged from delusions and unwarranted fear to violent paranoid responses. Several of the marines seemed to have been the worst affected indicating that perhaps there was something that they had been exposed to aboard the onyx that had caused the more intense reactions.
Thinking themselves safe from the strange happenings aboard the onyx, however was not the same as actually being safe. Shortly after the return of the away team to the Onyx, the Warp Drive suddenly and inexplicably failed.
The failure of a single Warp core would have been enough for a need to worry, but when all three aboard the Hades failed within moments of each other despite the multiple redundancies in place to prevent them, there was complete and utter confusion and chaos.
The quick thinking of the engineering staff managed to prevent a core breach which would have destroyed the ship instantly, but that wasn't the only issue that they would have to face. Within just a few short minutes of the warp core failure the ship's impulse reactors suddenly stopped putting out energy.
The fear from the Onyx had followed them to the Hades.
As the Engineering teams struggled to keep the ship operating on emergency power, the science department found itself trying to come up with a hypothesis on what had happened not only to the Onyx, but for what was also seemingly being repeated aboard the Hades.
With nerves spread thin, it also became apparent that not all of the crew could deal with the extreme stress of the rising dread that the situation was creating. Some crewman became violent, while others became catatonic or reclusive. This forced the security staff, despite their own manpower shortages caused by the situation to attempt to enforce order on the ship.
More Questions Than Answers
With the situation worsening by the moment, the science and engineering departments aboard the Hades began to notice abnormal violations of physical laws. These violations were clearly affecting high-order energy interactions, such as magnetic fields, ion flow and plasma dynamics. These affects were believed to be caused by a sort of time dilation that focused around phenomenon, such as antimatter/matter annihilation, magnetic constriction and nuclear decay. Although not provable, indications were present in the form of an on-going tachyon event detected outside the Onyx, which may have been indicative of a prolonged matter/antimatter annihilation event.
While Lieutenants Bracken and Haynes worked hard to define the event, Lieutenant Darla Wright theorized that the time dilation did not prevent the events from taking place, but slowed them to the point that the systems could not function off off the minuscule energy being produced. This explained, at least in theory, why the impulse reactors seemed to have failed to the point that all fusionable materials seemed to stop decay, without shifting atomic structure, and why the warp core seemed to have gone dead. To further support her theory, she observed that the antimatter located in the runabouts, had not exploded despite the appearance that there was no functional magnetic containment field to prevent matter/antimatter collision.
As she was working on her theory, The science team latched onto a theory of their own involving the concept of an Alternative Factor. This factor is a joining of two universes, one the prime universe and the other an Antiverse that had somehow been allowed to seep through the barrier separating the two existences. Evidence of this was located in the old ships logs of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, in which Science Officer Spock had detailed an encounter with such an event.
With a reasonable explanation to what was taking place, as well as a confirmation of Lieutenant Wright's theory, a plan of action was implemented among the chaos.
Meanwhile in Sickbay, Doctor Dolphine had proved to be less affected by the situation than the remainder of the crew. It was determined that he possessed extraordinarily high levels of Dopamine which allowed him to better cope with the fear-like affects that seemed to be plaguing the crew. Although not completely immune, the resistance allowed the medical staff to replicate a dopamine based medicine that once distributed to the crew, some by modified dart weapon, allowed them to retain control for a little longer.
A Plan of Action
With the aid of Spock's logs, Lieutenant Bracken and Ensign MacLiam began to modify the ship's sensors to utilize a dilithium resonance rectifier to allow the ship to map the various breaches of the prime universe surrounding the Hades. These breaches were analogized as being similar to reefs and shoals, and it was discovered that the Hades and the Onyx were both trapped within pockets of this intruding antiverse, wherein the strange laws of physics was causing the fear-like affects upon the crew as well as disrupting ship's systems.
It became very apparent that the Onyx's warp core had interacted with an energy spike from magnetar PX 1354, which in turn caused the tears between the dimensional membranes separating the two universes. With the newly resolved map of the area, Lieutenant Wright suggested that an antimatter torpedo be created from a photon torpedo, loaded with antimatter from one of the runabouts and that it be detonated in such a way as to create a shock wave to knock the Hades clear of the hazard.
Ensigns Eoin McLiam and Takeshi Katsurou were tasked with making the needed modifications. Darla would transfer the Antimatter and Lieutenant Bracken would perform the calculations to determine yield and detonation point for the weapon.
Here's Goes Nothing
With the weapon loaded and ready to deploy, Captain Straton ordered the attempt to be undertaken. The ship, being badly in need of power was forced to weather the shock wave generated by the detonation without the aid of structural integrity fields or inertial dampeners. despite the very bumpy ride, the Hades and the Onyx were both blown clear of the hazard area.
Moments later the reactors came back on-line and the Hades was once again under her own power. they tractored the USS Onyx and set off for Starbase 177 to undergo repairs. With one last transfer of antimatter from the last remaining runabout, the Hades Warp capability was restored.