Episode 3: The Blooming

In the next episode, I wanted to lean-in to the Probability Matrix for much more of the story elements.

My goal was to find out what was ailing Saavik. I decided to use the Probability Matrix entirely to determine the plot. Whatever was chosen, I would make it a flashback to her earlier career and use it explain the origin of the disease.

I rolled a “Patrol” plot, then re-rolled since the last episode was patrol-focused. I rolled “Cosmozoan Lifeform Mistakes Ship for Rival,” and re-rolled once again since that was too similar to Episode 1. This time I rolled a 20, indicating to “roll two,” and the next two rolls gave me “Deep Space Exploration” and “Research and Development.”

I rolled on the R&D project and got “Deflector Upgrade.”

I brought back the idea of the Cosmozoan as something we might encounter in our Deep Space Exploration, and rolled its nature: a Carbon-Based Plant with Mental Awareness whose motivation was Adaptive and whose preferred environment was a Wormhole.

I was fascinated by these selections. I suddenly knew why Saavik was ill, and could not wait to encounter the spaceborne plant.

Captain’s Log, Stardate 8454.1

Today, I step aboard a Starfleet vessel for the first time as her Captain. I will conduct a review of my expectations, to align myself most favorably towards success.

My associates have made remarks upon the challenge of “handling” the Le Guin’s size. I presume they refer to the difficulty of managing its larger crew complement, rather than its incrementally larger frame than the USS Enterprise or the diminutive Grissom.

I do not share this apprehension. Whether through Vulcan cultural conditioning, my Starfleet experience, or simply a personal predisposition, I do not find the oversight of people to be taxing. I am suited to Command. I have received this feedback consistently from my earliest instructors, to Captain Kirk, to my friend Amanda Grayson. The latter’s encouragement has led me back into a career in Starfleet after my recovery following the events surrounding the Genesis project.

I do expect a difficult time finding footing in the relationships with my senior officers, none of whom I have met personally. I expect the need to “prove” myself, my relatively young appearance inclining them to believe me unprepared.

I expect the unexpected. Though non-rational, there is admittedly an element of faith in embarking on such a path, the destination of which I cannot possibly predict.

“Captain. Ma’am. Captain?”

“Yes…” Saavik mumbled, her cloudy eyes finding Dr. Gajarr’ s vigilant reptilian face. “Yes?”

“You trailed off there for a moment,” he observed.

“I see. I apologize,” she said, shifting weakly upon the biobed. “I believe I fell into a reverie.”

“Well, I hope it was a good one,” said the Xindi doctor, “but we still have much ground to cover.” The doctor consulted his PADD. “We’ve gone through your childhood, your time at the Academy, your stints aboard the Enterprise and the Grissom, and your leave of absence on Vulcan. Now we come to your service aboard this ship. Are you able to go on?”

“Yes, Doctor. Please, let us continue,” she said, summoning strength.

“Very good, Captain. The sooner we get through this, the sooner we may find leads to follow, in determining where you have contracted this elusive disease. Now, can you recall any assignments on which you encountered a plague or virus of unknown nature?” Gajarr asked.

Saavik took a deep breath, methodically reviewing her memories. “None in which I was personally exposed,” she related.

I had also rolled a B-plot using the Probability Matrix, and learned that a key NPC was trying to Clear Their Family Name. Since this was a Science-focused plot, I decided that this character would be her old Chief Science Officer. I rolled their Species and got Suliban. I figured that by the Movie Era, it would not be unheard of for a Suliban to be a Starfleet officer. The space/time aspect brought in by the plant’s wormhole had affinity with the Temporal Cold War. I decided that this officer had expertise in space/time, and had designed the Deflector Shield under test, which would make wormhole travel safer.

Gajarr nodded. “Thought so. Ma’am, your Chief Science Officer for at least your first tour -“

“Doctor Arjin,” offered Saavik.

“Yes,” said Gajarr, reviewing his PADD. “Did you ever have cause to suspect this individual of wrongdoing of any kind?”

Saavik stared, a flood of memories rushing back. “Never. What can you be suggesting, Doctor?”

“Let me back up, ma’am. This Suliban officer -“

“…and top-rated graduate of Starfleet Academy,” continued Saavik.

“Yes, quite right. But it says in our data banks that this Suliban individual hails from a family associated with terrorist activity against the Federation. The Time War, ma’am. Looking only one or two generations back, his direct ancestors appear in our archives as figures involved with both temporal tampering and illegal genetic engineering - ma’am, please lie back. I must caution you not to become agitated.”

I decided Saavik’s first Task was to maintain composure using Fitness + Command. She failed.

“I fail to see, Doctor, how a retread of guilt-by-association smears, now three quarters of a century old, is going to treat my condition, which as yet you have failed to diagnose. You propagate a libel against an innocent man whose service to Starfleet and contributions to science have been invaluable. If you will excuse me, Dr. Gajarr,” she said, swinging her bare feet off the biobed, “I must consult with Lieutenant Commander C’Tosin, to make arrangements for -“ she gripped the bulkhead, standing now, barely maintaining her balance.

“Ma’am, do not attempt to rise too quickly. It’s best if you don’t rise at all. Technician!” Gajarr called, stabilizing Saavik at the shoulder and checking her for fever. A technician handed him a hypospray, which he applied.

“Who’s Lt. Commander C’Tosin?” asked the tech as he worked.

I rolled a Caitian as Saavik’s first officer when she took command of the Le Guin.

“He was her first officer aboard this ship,” Gajarr said under his breath. “That was eighty or more years ago. Please lie down, Captain. Sedative!” he called. Saavik sank bank into the biobed, the bright lights of sickbay beginning to blur.

Lieutenant Commander C’Tosin. Lieutenant Commander C’Tosin.

“Lieutenant Commander C’Tosin, ma’am, at your service.” He extended a rough Caitian paw. “Welcome aboard, Captain.”

“It is agreeable to meet you in person,” Saavik replied. The hubbub of the ship’s new Captain’s arrival was starting to die down. Red-uniformed officers and enlisted staff began to disperse after the formal welcome had concluded. Saavik looked her new first officer over - a bit more rough around the edges than his formal profile image had depicted. Then she met his eyes. “Mr. C’Tosin, I wish to make an address to all officers and crew. Would this be an acceptable time?”

“Right now?” he asked, scratching the fur at the back of his neck. “I don’t see why not. I’ll show you to the bridge - this way.”

“From my shuttle’s viewport I noted that the experimental deflector has already been affixed,” Saavik observed, as they walked.

“That’s right, ma’am.“

“However, in reviewing the logs, I noted that some pre-installation diagnostics had indicated the need for recalibration.”

“True,” admitted C’Tosin, “but we can do that on-site, so we went ahead and installed it. Didn’t want to delay - any concern?”

“None,” Saavik replied. “I merely seek confirmation of proper procedure. Our mission is to test novel deflector technology. One might characterize it as a field test of the laws of physics themselves. Fine precision is called-for. Humans speak of getting one’s ‘ducks in a row’, and though an obscure analogy, it seems apt.”

C’Tosin nodded, and hit the keypad as they entered the lift. The young Captain and the shaggy First Officer stood in awkward silence for a beat.

C’Tosin’s whiskers seemed to explode like a scraggly beard from his tight white collar. How might one describe his kindly, but aloof presentation? she pondered. ’Professorial’? No, too casual. ‘Avuncular,’ perhaps?

C’Tosin let out a breath. Younger than me, and already Captain. Some people toil away for years waiting for recognition, and then there’s those in the orbit of the USS Enterprise.

“I have a confession to make,” he said, to break the tension.

“Please proceed,” she urged.

“I’ve never understood that expression, and I didn’t want to ask. I mean, if each ‘duck’ is behind the next, you’ll only get to shoot one - two, at most.”

Saavik rolled to impress her first officer using Presence + Command. She failed.

“Well,” said the Captain quizzically, “perhaps the ‘ducks’ are to be arrayed laterally.“ Saavik coolly aimed her fingers like a gun, felling imaginary ducks as the bridge doors slid open. The senior staff all turned, stunned to see their new Captain picking them off one-by-one.

“Captain on the bridge!” C’Tosin bellowed, horrified.

Saavik advanced from the lift chamber as obliviously as she could. “At ease,” she offered, summoning her Vulcan conditioning to process a wave of mortification.

The new Captain went on to make awkward introductions to each of her senior staff, the most stand-offish of whom was the aging Dr. Arjin, her Suliban Chief Science Officer. Shaking her hand with a mumbled address, the reticent demeanor she’d read about in his profile came through immediately. Having lingered long in lower ranks, much longer than others of his age, he’d recently been promoted to Lt. Commander and given this assignment aboard the Le Guin.

Can he truly run a department? she wondered, as he stepped back to let another officer through, his aloof eyes now watching her closely, now staring at the floor. Unsociable. Displays of mild misanthropy., his profile had assessed. Will his knowledge and capability outweigh the difficulties of working with him? Regardless, he is our expert. At this thought, and with the greetings complete, she cleared her throat and requested a ship-wide channel.

“All hands aboard the Le Guin, this is Saavik, your Captain,” she began, her eyes passing between her attendant officers as she spoke. “I have reviewed our vessel’s readiness, and conclude that you have made acceptable preparations. We embark in four hours, to begin a voyage during which we will continue to configure our new deflector for testing. This test, the first of its kind in the field, will see us journey into…” She paused, struck by an impulse as her eyes met Dr. Arjin’s guarded gaze.

“…space,” she said. “More fundamental than air, water, or sunlight. Inescapable and omnipresent. And yet, even in the twenty-fourth century, it remains our continual frontier.

The faces of her senior staff brightened, except for Arjin’s, whose froze.

“These words were written by a theoretical physicist,” she went on, “a man who stands on the bridge of the Le Guin today. Our Chief Scientist Dr. Arjin’s early work underpins the technological enhancements with which we are now equipped, and hope to carry us where no one has gone before. Our destination is the Shackleton Expanse. Our testing ground is a series of spatial anomalies which to date have been dangerous to, or even un-navigable by, Federation vessels. A ship’s deflector, wrote our Dr. Arjin, is more than armor - it is a light in the darkness, an emitter of rich, exotic particles, illuminating a path through the forest of twisted spacetime. With it, we hope to traverse folds, pockets, the scorched earth of damaged subspace, and even wormholes. One might imagine that not far into the future, transit through wormholes to far-flung locales may be a commonplace occurrence for Federation vessels.

“Attend to your duties. Remember your training. When we return to charted space we hope to have moved the light of our cosmic understanding forward. End of message.”

Saavik looked around, gauging the reaction of her officers.

Saavik attempts to ingratiate herself to Dr. Arjin, again using Presence + Command. This time she succeeded, and even generated Momentum. I used her Focus of “Scientific Survey” to Create an Advantage: “A Bond With Dr. Arjin.”

After Saavik had taken her seat, and the other officers had set to their work, Dr. Arjin approached.

“You read my paper,” he stated. “The older material. I confess I’m surprised.”

Saavik glanced at her Chief Scientist. “More surprising would be for me not to have,” she said. “Given that the success of our mission rests on your research.”

Arjin approached closer, and spoke in a low, gruff voice. “I love Starfleet,” he said. “I love the Federation. But I’ve ever felt a sense of apprehension from its people. I suppose it can’t be any other way. A Suliban spatio-temporal scientist? They think of the Cabal. I suppose one must wonder if there’s an active temporal war nearby, just being around me.”

“But that is illogical,” she said, gazing at him impassively. “Since by definition, a cabal is an extremely small group. Statistically insignificant that any individual would be a member of it, if it even still existed.”

He smiled appreciatively, then caught himself.

“I study spacetime, Captain. And it must be admitted: the temporal war always exists,” he said. “And my ancestors were known to be associated with it.”

She held his gaze coolly. “You are an individual, Dr. Arjin. Just like every other in the galaxy. Your Starfleet record is impeccable.”

“But do they see that?” he asked searchingly.

“You might ask if you show it,” she said, “or do you keep it hidden?”

He stared, then smiled. “Thank you, Captain.”

Saavik gave a nod, and looked to the viewscreen.

“Captain?” asked a voice. She glanced over her shoulder.

“Captain?” came the voice again. Its source was unknown.

“Captain, can you hear me?”

“Captain, can you hear me?” asked Dr. Gajarr. The aging Captain opened her heavy eyes on the biobed.

I rolled for Dr. Gajarr to stabilize Saavik. I used the ship’s stats Structure + Medicine. It succeeded.

Saavik’s vision swam. Her right arm was sore, and she could feel the pressure of something inside it. She brought her fingers over it: an intravenous line stretched out from the pit of her elbow to somewhere unseen.

“What is this?” she croaked.

“A steady supply of basic nutrients which the disease is steadily depleting from your body,” said Dr. Gajarr. “Yes Captain, at this moment, you may be the only person in 24th century Federation society who’s on a saline drip. But I assure you, it’s quite necessary.”

“I wonder what Dr. Leonard McCoy would say,” she mused sleepily.

“Hmpf. Sense of humor. A good sign your levels are stabilizing - for now,” said the doctor. “We’d been administering nutrients via hypo, but the problem seems to grow around every administration we deliver. Let’s hope we have a sufficient window in which to converse.”

Saavik sank back into the bed. “What is ailing me, Doctor? A virus?”


“Radiation poisoning? A process of decay?”

“No. None apparent. Ma’am, everything in your body appears to be functioning normally. Even the consumption of these nutrients is happening along natural processes. It’s the rate of the processes that’s confounding.”

“Accelerated aging?” she speculated. “A state of hypermetabolism?”

Gajarr grumbled. “It’s nothing so facile, ma’am. It’s as if the laws of physics themselves are altered within your cells. Reactions that should happen rarely are happening routinely. Chance molecular collisions are becoming the norm, through no intervention that we can discern. With the net result that critical nutrients are becoming bio-unavailable at an extremely rapid rate.”

“Is it communicable?” she asked.

“To the best of our knowledge, no,” he said. “We’ve all been exposed, but none other than you bears the probability signature. Though, I have implemented quarantine measures in sickbay. Now I must ask you, ma’am, to think back. In all your long career, have you ever observed or experienced phenomena in which….in which physics and chemistry themselves seemed…altered? Decelerated entropy? Attenuated quantum superposition? Hell, an alteration in the value of Pi?”

Saavik stared into the bright lights of sickbay.

“Dr. Arjin…” she breathed.

“So he was involved?” pressed Gajarr, keying his PADD wildly.

“It was our first mission together. My first voyage as Captain of this ship.”

“This would be the…” muttered Gajarr, scrolling through data files. “…the entity you encountered in the Shackleton Expanse?”

“Yes,” she replied. “It was a mystery never solved.”

“But this vessel came into contact with this being,” Gajarr asserted, placing his hand upon a bulkhead.

Saavik nodded wearily. “I.” she said. “I came into contact with it. As did Dr. Arjin.”

“Tell me everything.”

“A remarkable collection,” the young Captain observed, taking a leaf from one of the Science Chief’s many potted plants into her fingers.

Arjin smiled as he administered a watering to a hanging plant in the corner of his quarters.

“My refuge of peace, after the taxing social relations that comprise a day aboard a Starfleet vessel,” he explained.

“Peace,” Saavik observed, taking in the beauty of the array of greenery. “I suppose it is refreshing to be among those without struggle.”

“Ah, but of course, they do struggle!” huffed Dr. Arjin. “Plants in the wild must fight for their lives. Only, we often miss it.”

Saavik raised an eyebrow. “We project our emotions upon them, blind to the reality of their existence?”

Arjin laughed. “Quite right. See, plants use chemistry, where we might use arms. Or words. It’s a subtler battle, but no less potent.”

The starfield outside Arjin’s window came to a halt. C’Tosin’s voice broke through on the intercom.

“We’ve arrived at the first anomaly, ma’am!”

“Excellent,” said Saavik. “Dr. Arjin and I will be on the bridge momentarily.”

Sensor Sweep: Sensors + Science, succeeded.

When they arrived, an angry red giant filled the viewscreen.

I asked the Probability Matrix if the star was stable (50/50): it was not. I decided it was on the brink of going supernova.

“It’s just as Starfleet recon missions reported, ma’am,” C’Tosin summarized. “Dying star. Eaten up half the planets in the system. Short range sweeps suggest that it’s highly unstable, in fact. Nearing the end of its life.”

“And it’s believed there was once a civilization situated here?”

“Recon showed up a few telltale signs. Unnatural scribing in the outer asteroids, suggesting mining operations. No sign of technology left behind, though - unless you count the pocket itself.”

“Let us have it onscreen,” Saavik requested.

“Well, that’s just it,” said C’Tosin, and gave a nod to the Ops Manager. The viewscreen panned to an empty starfield. “It’s not really visible in any conventional way.”

Dr. Arjin stepped forward. “This one - anomaly Theta-967 - is curved inward, almost transdimensionally, ma’am. It would only be visible to the naked eye as a minor distortion in the starfield, and only that from certain angles. We would have to actually attempt to enter it to see if it holds more significant visual artifacts.”

Saavik stared at the starfield. “Entering such anomalies is in fact our mission, to the degree that it can be done safely. Is there a concern regarding the star?”

“This kind of timetable is iffy, ma’am,” said the Ops Manager. “It could be years, centuries before it dies. Or, tomorrow. But we’re watching it, and we believe we can arrange a fifteen-minute warning.”

“In that case,” said Saavik, “we may advance so far as we remain fifteen minutes away from going to warp. Ship-wide, Mr. C’Tosin.”

Her first officer nodded with excitement, opening the channel.

“All hands. The Le Guin will begin to probe our first anomaly, and assess the uses to which our new deflector may be put to aid in our passage. Yellow alert will be raised, for added security and to remind us all to remain at our stations and alert. Saavik out,” she said, and turned to helm. “Well then. Let us proceed.”

Maneuvering into the wormhole: Engines + Conn. Success

Space rippled upon the viewscreen. The stars began to smear, the curvature now visible as the Le Guin delved further.

“Status report,” clipped Saavik. “Start with Helm.”

“Navimetrics are a bit haywire. There’s different curvature at different layers of subspace! I’d hate to think it could get worse, but so far we’re handling it.”

“Be sure you remain within 15 minutes of a return to normal space. Engineering, Ship status,” Saavik continued.

“Structural integrity holding, ma’am. No adverse events of any kind.”

C’Tosin leaned towards the Captain. “Got a brand new deflector, and we might not even need to turn the thing on.”

“Science. What are you seeing?” she asked.

Arjin cleared his throat. “We are rounding the bend. We may get a visual soon, on what lies inside - if anything.”

“Is there another side?” asked Saavik. “Is this a tunnel, or a cave?”

Arjin shook his head. “Projected topology indicates a cul-de-sac, ma’am. Just a dead-end, tucked-away pocket of damaged space.”

“What is this place?” asked Saavik, as the starfield swirled. “What happened here? If you would hazard a guess.”

Probability Matrix: how was the spatial pocket created? 1-5: botched wormhole creation, 6-10: subspace weaponry, 11-15: created as a fortress, 16-20 Tilikaal space fold. Result: 2, botched wormhole creation.

“I think they tried to create a wormhole, ma’am,” said Arjin, squinting at the viewscreen. “Couldn’t close the Einstein/Rosen bridge, and we’re left with this.”

“I see. What do the trace metrics say regarding -“

Probability Matrix: what dangers does the wormhole present? 1-5: radiation lensing, 6-10 temporal fluctuations, 11-15 navigational issues, 16-20 spatial shearing. I rolled 2d20: 10 & 13, temporal fluctuations and navigational issues.

“left with this,” said Arjin again. C’Tosin did a double-take.

“Ma’am, something’s happening,” he said, standing from his seat.

“Dr. Arjin, metrics readout!” she urged.

“Hmm? Ah, well, everything seems fairly normal. All of space is subject to some curvature, after all - wait. Team, are you seeing this?” he asked into the intercom. “The value of Pi was calculated once per second for the last 180 seconds - for the past 35, it has been differing from digit 17 onwards!”

“Copy that, sir!” said a science officer through the comms. “Planck’s constant fluctuating! We’re noticing temporal fluctuations in the - Planck’s constant fluctuating! We’re noticing -“

“The situation is abnormal, Captain!” said Dr. Arjin, with a grave look to Saavik.

“Can the deflector help?” she asked, as the time jitters increased.

“Tachyons,” breathed Arjin. “We must suffuse our local spacetime environment with a constant tachyon output.”

“Let it be done, immediately,” ordered the Captain, as her heart skipped a beat.

Using the ship’s Structure + Science to try to apply the deflector shield.

“Activating!” cried Arjin. The view screen took on a pale glow.

“Status. Constant readout, please,” requested Saavik.

“Ma’am, I think we have reason to believe it’s working,” said Arjin, staring at the data.

“Planck’s constant normalized, sir!” came a voice from his team.

“How’s Pi?” asked Saavik.

“Normal,” said Arjin, turning from his console with a self-satisfied look. “To the finest precision of which our computers are capable.”

Saavik breathed a sigh of relief. “So we may expect normal causality while the tachyon field is in place?”

C’Tosin strolled to Arjin’s station and flicked his shoulder.


“Seems pretty normal to me,” the Caitian observed.

“Ma’am, we’re at the 15 minute line,” said helm. “And that’s on impulse.”

“Very good,” said Saavik. “Full stop! Officers, we have had our first successful test of our new deflector technology. Dr. Arjin, your research has brought us safely where no one has gone before. We shall hold our position to take readings, and then return to -“

“Lifeform readings!” cried Ops. “Inside the pocket, ma’am!”

“That’s impossible,” muttered C’Tosin.

“Improbable,” Arjin corrected.

“You said it was a pocket of empty space,” said C’Tosin. “Nothing could survive in there.”

“Technological signals? Some kind of life support system?” asked Saavik.

“Negative, sir! Just…lifeforms.”

“How many?” she asked.

“Uh, one…it’s really big. Bigger than the Le Guin by far.”

The officers looked at each other.

“Cosmozoic life, while rare, is known to be viable,” observed Saavik, “often extremophilic, employing uncommon biologies to -“

“It’s a plant, ma’am!” cried Ops. “I’m reading chlorophyll and signs of an active Calvin cycle. Oxygen transport, carbon dioxide offgassing. It’s just…a plant. Trying to get it onscreen - interpolating across curvature distortions - there! It’s even green.”

“Holy -“ said C’Tosin, catching himself as he took in the sight.

Upon the screen was a colossal mass of vines, a living weath of countless leaves and pods.

A moment of silence passed as the bridge basked in the view.

“How is it surviving?” asked Saavik.

“There’s atmosphere in here,” Ops read-out excitedly. “The curvature is acting as a kind of gravity well, keeping it in. It’s hot - I mean, hotter than space. A little bit wet. It’s like a greenhouse, ma’am.“

“What about sunlight?” asked C’Tosin. “That’s star’s old and dim.”

“Take a look at this, sir,” offered Ops, placing a picture-in-picture view of the star from their location. It was small, and glowing a golden yellow. “It’s the effect of the lensing from the curved spacetime.”

“Remarkable,” muttered Saavik.

“It’s astounding,” declared Arjin, now standing to look at the screen. “Perhaps my wormhole theory was incorrect. Everything about its environment has been arranged - quite improbably so - for it to survive in this desolate place.”

“Well, with that star about to die, it’s not going to survive much longer,” said C’Tosin.

Probability Matrix: I need Saavik and Arjin to come into contact with this organism. Does it attract them with beauty or utility (50/50)? Result: beauty.

“It’s moving, ma’am!” cried Helm.

“Plants don’t move,” said C’Tosin warily.

Arjin rolled his eyes. “Commander, one wonders how you passed the Academy science examinations. This is not locomotion. This may be a simple phototropic adjustment towards better light.”

“No,” insisted C’Tosin. “That seed pod, that bud or something - it’s opening! Shields up!”

“They already are!” cried a voice.

“Tactical, phaser lock on - oh my Gods…” The Caitian Commander was caught short.

On the screen, the bud opened. A million petals unfurled in kaleidoscopic patterns, a luscious fractal unfolding into more and more complex symmetry, seemingly endless.

“Record this!” cried Arjin, glued to the screen. “Don’t lose this!”

“Be at ease, Doctor,” said Saavik, in barely a whisper. “All viewscreen footage is preserved for later review, per Starfleet protocol…”

The unfolding suddenly stopped. A subtle ripple swept through the gargantuan flower. It exploded, yielding its brilliant petals everywhere to float in zero-G. Through the cloud, the bud could already be seen to wither.

“Wait!” cried Arjin. “We could…project a structural integrity field from the deflector…or, use a tractor beam to… Helm! Full impulse towards the organism!“

“Negative. Doctor!” Saavik cried.

Saavik uses her Presence + Command to talk Arjin down, successfully.

My ready room, right away, she almost said. But after a breath, she thought to make the point here and now, in front of the rest of her staff.

“You will never again give an order to helm when you do not have the conn,” she said firmly. “Which you will not be given, until I can be sure of your sound judgement.”

Arjin was abashed. “I’m so sorry, ma’am. I was overcome.”

“Mr. C’Tosin, Mr. Arjin, join me in my ready room. We will determine whether and in what way we may investigate the lifeform. Helm, take us out of the wormhole and to warp upon the slightest change in the star’s status.”



“So…you went on from there?” asked Dr. Gajarr.

“We did,” the weary Captain sighed. “For better or worse.”

Captain’s Log, Stardate 8455.4.

We hold our position deep within a pocket of curved spacetime, at the edge of a fifteen-minute escape journey we must take in the event of the explosion of a nearby star. A star which shines upon a system abandoned by its denizens, excepting this unique, colossal vegetative lifeform which seems to have nestled into this near-wormhole, clinging to life despite the imminent destruction of its source of sunlight.

My senior staff have advanced various theories about the marvel to which we bear witness. Is the entity a “potted plant of the Gods,” carefully placed in a stellar greenhouse to survive long after its cultivators were gone? Or is it simply a life form which has improbably found its way to a safe refuge - however temporary on a cosmic scale - like some weed cropping up through cracks in the interstellar pavement?

Our next step must be chosen with care. My first officer wishes to depart the system for a safer vantage point, while my chief scientist wishes to stay.

“Our mission is to test your equipment. We’ve done that,” C’Tosin reasoned. “We make a report to Starfleet, and move to the next waypoint. They can come back anytime they want and check it out further.”

“It’ll be gone!” protested Arjin. “We’ve heard the report: the star has little time to live, and thus so does the organism itself. We may have just witnessed its last blooming! It may be one of a kind. No sentient being may ever gaze upon such a flower again.”

“The thing’s huge,” said C’Tosin. “Size of a city. It’s got so many buds - probably blooms once a day.”

“No!” said Arjin. “Scans revealed no evidence of decaying floral matter. If it’s done this before, it was centuries - maybe millenia ago. Maybe never! It bloomed in our presence. Captain,” he said, turning to Saavik. “I am the last to invoke the specter of the Temporal Cold War. But from painful knowledge I am keenly aware that these kinds of coincidences must be looked upon with a critical eye. Think of it: what are the chances? We are days away from its death, and possibly its first admirers - we, who are only here by the grace of my deflector, only installed yesterday!”

“You mean to suggest that we are meant to be here,” said Saavik.

“Precisely! We must stay, and investigate further. All the more because of the instability of the star!”

“What do you propose?” she asked.

I wanted Arjin to push for closer contact. Probability Matrix:

  • does he urge the whole ship forward (50/50)? No.
  • Does he advocate beaming aboard a sample (50/50)? No.
  • Does he recommend an away team (50/50)? Yes.

“An in-depth, full-contact examination. Give me a shuttlecraft, Captain, and I can perform short-range sweeps, take samples - even exit the craft on spacewalk if necessary. Keep your fifteen-minute window!” he argued, cutting off C’Tosin’s objection before he could voice it. “And to avoid endangering any of the crew, I…I’ll go alone. Please, Captain. Remember - I am not merely a physicist. You have seen my quarters. Botany is a passion. This thing…”

“Was made for you,” muttered C’Tosin. “Got it. Captain, if I could speak with you alone, please?”

Saavik took a deep breath, considering. “Affirmative. Thank you Dr. Arjin, you are dismissed. I will let you know my decision.”

“What if he’s more right than he knows?” asked C’Tosin, when they were alone.

“Explain your theory,” Saavik urged.

“It’s the same as Arjin’s theory, it just makes more sense. He’s using the temporal cold war as a metaphor for the mysterious coincidences surrounding this space plant. I’m wondering: is the plant a weapon in the literal war itself?”

“You hypothesize that this entity has been placed here by the Cabal - or its enemies - in order to ensnare our Chief Science Officer?”

“He’s a spatio-temporal botanist. Here’s a one-of-a-kind cosmozoan plant living in a wormhole that only his technology can reach. He’s a descendent of known Cabal figures and would be a huge weapon in a temporal war. I know it sounds crazy, but if you’ve got all the time in the universe, you might be able to arrange this kind of thing.”

“Curiouser and curiouser,” sighed Saavik, contemplating.

C’Tosin shook his head. “I don’t catch the reference?”

“It is obscure and unimportant. Thank you, Mr. C’Tosin. I will deliberate, and join you shortly on the bridge.”

“My decision is final,” Saavik reiterated, after listening to C’Tosin’s protest on the bridge. “Dr. Arjin will have his shuttlecraft. And I will go with him.”

“Excuse my impertinence ma’am. But this is crazy,” he said. “You leave this ship and you’ll be subject to the time fluctuations we experienced earlier!”

“Dr. Arjin will configure the deflector to project a wider tachyon beam, providing stability as we investigate.”

“Yes, that should work!” the Suliban doctor agreed eagerly. “We can achieve much higher tachyon throughput than currently demonstrated.”

“Ma’am,” said C’Tosin, “we can’t risk you.”

“I appreciate your concern. We cannot risk the Le Guin or the lives of its crew. But as you suggested, Mr. C’Tosin, neither can we take this situation at face value, and leave Dr. Arjin to encounter the entity alone. You have the conn, Mr. C’Tosin. I am counting upon you to take this vessel out of the wormhole if the dying star becomes a danger.”

“And you?” he asked. “If safety’s 15 minutes away for an Excelsior, there’s no way a shuttlecraft can be out of there any faster. It’s possible the star could explode any minute!”

“Possible,” said Saavik. “But improbable. Have courage, Mr. C’Tosin. In all probability we will return shortly with clippings for the Doctor’s conservatory.”

They sat in the cramped shuttlecraft, each outfitted with an EVA suit in case of egress. The data was remarkable, but the view was even more so. Up close the plant was no less picturesque, and even more intricate.

“This organism,” began Saavik, “carries a strong significance for you. It is indeed quite beautiful, possessing an abundance of the qualities you must appreciate as a botanist.”

“It’s not just beautiful,” said Arjin, staring now through the viewport. “It’s alone. Cut off from its roots. Adrift among the stars… Somehow, it has adapted to such a life. It’s found a safe, little space, in which it hopes to finish out its days. Through all this it lives on, always striving to fulfill its purpose no matter how solitary it has become.”

One wonders if you describe yourself, she thought.

The ship uses its deflector to extend the tachyon field to the shuttlecraft, using Structure + Science - it failed! This was very exciting. Based on what I’d established, this would mean time jitters, even a breakdown of cause-and-effect. Anything could happen under the plant’s effects - even contradictory events from parallel timelines.

Dr. Arjin stared at her. “Truly, Captain. For one so young, you see a great deal of truth.”

Saavik flushed involuntarily. So she had said it aloud. “I apologize, Doctor. I meant no offense.”

“Hmm?” asked Arjin, cheerfully surveying his data. Then he turned to her with a smile. “But you haven’t said anything, Captain.”

Saavik’s stomach dropped. “Dr. Arjin, I have a concern. Please assess the tachyon field and confirm the proper functioning of spatiotemporal causality.”

I started to have fun with the organism “pushing the clutch” on causality.

  • Probability Matrix: does Arjin take offense to Saavik’s remark (50/50)? Yes.
  • Does he nonetheless test the tachyon field (50/50)? No.
  • Does the 15-minute warning trigger (50/50)? No.

Arjin stared hard at the Captain.

“You must think me a pathetic figure,” he remarked. “You all do. But do you see the thousand events that shape each of our lives? Look at yourself. Kobayashi Maru overseen by Admiral Kirk himself. An early career in the draft of Starfleet luminaries. Then look at me, and where I come from.”

“Doctor, the tachyon field is insufficient!” she cried. “Events are not following from their predecessors! We must intervene!”

**Probability Matrix:

  • Does Arjin investigate the organism (50/50)? No
  • Does he investigate the time jitters (50/50)? Yes.

“My word, you’re right,” muttered Arjin, reviewing the metrics. “Planck’s constant is oscillating wildly!”

He turned to face the Captain. “You must think me a pathetic figure. As do you all.”

I decided to roll a task to see if Saavik could make amends, in a timeline where she’s not yet aware of the time jitters. She used Presence + Command, and succeeded.

“Not I,” said Saavik, returning his gaze. “You are shaped by the events of your life, as are we all. I merely observe a beauty in the kinship you may have found with this entity.”

The old doctor took the Captain’s hand. “Fair to say I’m near the end of my days,” he said. “Like this old one. I hope it will have meant something - the life I’ve led.”

“We bear witness to this miracle now only through your life’s work, Doctor,” said Saavik reassuringly.

Probability Matrix:

  • 15 minute warning (50/50)? No.
  • Does Arjin contact the ship (50/50)? Yes.

“My god!” Arjin suddenly exclaimed. “Ma’am, the tachyon field is failing! Are you seeing its effects?! Le Guin, Le Guin, we are experiencing temporal fluctuations! Increase the tachyon field by 150 percent! 200!”

Saavik investigates the entity with Reason + Science, succeeding.

“This is curious,” observed Saavik, bent over a sensor readout. Dr. Arjin walked calmly to her side, looking over her shoulder. “Being vegetative, the entity lacks what we would call neurology. However, its cellular signalling appears so sophisticated as to represent a process of mind. What is your opinion, Doctor: might a plant be sentient?”

Saavik looked up into Arjin’s eyes.

“Ah, this topic has been endlessly debated! But it has been put to rest, in favor of floral sentience. The Phylosians! Your Enterprise had contact with them, actually.“

“Doctor!” she cried. “I cannot be sure if you have heard my words! Abort mission! Abort mission! We must endeavor to return the shuttlecraft to the Le Guin’s denser tachyon field!”

Probability Matrix:

  • does the Le Guin respond (50/50)? Yes.
  • Does Saavik remember the call (50/50)? No.

“Copy that, Doctor!” came C’Tosin’s voice over the comms. “Increasing tachyon field now.”

Saavik lifted her head from her work, raising an eyebrow.

“Explain, Mr. C’Tosin,” she asked, loud enough for the comms. “Why would you increase the tachyon field?”

“Ma’am, you just called us - temporal fluctuations, the Doctor said.”

“I do not believe…” began Saavik, but was struck with a thought.

Probability Matrix:

  • 15-minute warning (50/50)? No.
  • Does C’Tosin risk moving the ship closer to retrieve them (50/50)? No.

“Ma’am I don’t like the sound of this. I think you should return immediately,” said C’Tosin.

“Patience, Mr. C’Tosin,” said Saavik, shooting a confused glance at the doctor. “We have only begun our investigation.”

Another Task to investigate the plant with Saavik’s Insight + Science. I was prepared to let this Succeed at Cost to introduce key facts with a Complication, but it succeeded.

Dr. Arjin turned to Saavik coldly. “You must think me a pathetic figure.”

The Captain held up a finger. “Doctor, I have heard you say the same sentence multiple times. I believe we are experiencing significant temporal fluctuations.”

The Doctor stood at attention.

“Yes, the tachyon field is inadequate,” he gasped. “Perhaps it is the entity itself, and our proximity to it, which is loosening the hold on causality!”

“Yes, yes!” Arjin continued, with wonder. “This is complex microbiology, organized with sophistication to a degree I’ve never seen!”

“Sentience?” asked Saavik.

“Beyond,” said Arjin, shaking his head at the data readout. “The entity’s cellular signaling system…it uncannily resembles a quantum computer.”

“A quantum computer is capable of simulating multiple outcomes simultaneously,” remarked Saavik. “As if running computations in multiple overlapping universes…”

Probability Matrix: 15-minute warning (50/50)? No. The star was giving me quite a stay of execution…

Doctor Arjin froze, and turned to stare at the Captain. “You must think me a pathetic figure,” he began.

“Doctor,” she cried. “The organism has enlisted us in multiple simultaneous universes! We must abort mission and escape!”

Saavik uses Control + Command to push through the time jitters back home.

Saavik seized the controls and pivoted the shuttlecraft.

“A living quantum computer…” muttered the doctor as he strapped-in to his seat. “Incredible. Such an organism could be uniquely adaptive. Why, it need not be sentient in any conventional way. With sufficient computation, it might simply align itself with events and possibilities, even coincidences, so as to find the optimal path to survival. Captain, we must take a sample home for further analysis, before it dies along with its star.”

In truth it is a profound discovery, remarked Saavik inwardly as she steered the shuttle through curved space. Not only for the advancement of biophysics, but for this man who seems to have been placed here to make it. She wanted to say yes.

“No,” she said. “We cannot risk its disruption on temporal dynamics.”

“Captain,” said Arjin suddenly, as if not having just spoken. “We must take a sample home for further analysis, before -“

“Absolutely not,” she said simply, shuddering at the latest time jitter. “Proximity to the dense tachyon field?”

“Nearly there, Captain.”

As the shuttle crept safely into the lee of the Le Guin, Saavik removed her helmet, sweating from the anxiety of the encounter. She noted that Doctor Arjin had done so as well, and was now standing over a container, admiring a sample of green material.

“What is that?” she asked, aghast.

He turned to her. “I’m confused, Captain. I had asked to acquire a sample via transporter, and you agreed. Was I mistaken?”

I must have done so, she thought. Another me, another possibility.

“No,” she replied. “But I have thought better of the decision. It must be destroyed.”

Arjin opened his mouth to protest, but she interrupted him.

“Doctor. That is an order.” Arjin nodded slowly, and began to work the necessary equipment.

The sample destroyed, Saavik led the way out of the shuttle into the bay, where her first officer awaited.

“Welcome home!” he cried. “So…what was it like?”

Saavik flashed a look of amazement at his joviality. “I thank you, Mr. C’Tosin, for enhancing the tachyon field.”

“Come again?” he asked. “I never enhanced the -“ he broke off, taking in the desperate look in Saavik’s eyes. “Whoa. It got weird out there, huh?”

“Mr. C’Tosin,” said Saavik, “on the bridge you delivered a sporting gesture to the doctor’s shoulder. A superstitious ritual of existential reassurance, much as humans ‘pinch’ themselves to discern if they are dreaming. I believe I am in need of such reassurance.”

C’Tosin placed a paw gently upon her shoulder. “You’re on solid ground, Captain. Tachyon field holding. Planck’s constant…constant. One thing follows another. All your ducks are in a row.”

Arjin approached to stand with them. “Captain, once again my poor judgement has led us into danger. I could never forgive myself if something happened to you. If you will still have me, I will strive to be more objective.”

Saavik turned to the doctor.

“Indeed, we should not have taken that shuttle trip. However,” she added, “we bore witness to an astounding mystery. We may be the only two who have come so close. And only you could have led us there. We must learn from our mistakes, but we may also receive the experience as a blessing.”

Dr. Arjin stared at the Captain with admiration.

“Truly, Captain,” he said, “for one so young, you see a great deal of truth.”

An alarm sounded. Saavik raised an eyebrow.

“Bridge to the Captain. Fifteen minutes on the star!”

“Then without delay, Mr. C’Tosin,” she said, the three of them striding off to the bridge, “let us proceed!”

Captain’s Log, Stardate 51970.5.

The intravenous line has been removed, and a nourishing meal awaits on the table before me. I feel strength increasing, and a cessation of the nausea whose onset had disrupted my interrogation of the Vorta commander. That gentleman and his squad of Jem’Hadar warriors are presumably still aboard this ship, and I hope they are not giving further trouble to Captain Tholima and the Le Guin’s security department as they fuss over my needs.

The fog in my cognition is clearing. And yet, I must of necessity entrust this situation to others. For while I feel increasingly capable, Dr. Gajarr assures me that my reprieve is only temporary and limited to this chamber, which he has suffused with tachyon radiation in order to regulate the improbable biochemistry at work in my cells.

We have a treatment, but not yet a cure. We depart in search of further insight, starting with the last known whereabouts of Dr. Arjin, now long deceased. From within these walls I will endeavor to remain grateful, and make myself as useful as I can.