A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

Purple Haze, Part II

The Potemkin has made it to the Stellar Fountain after months of traveling across the deep expanses of the Beta Quadrant. Once there it had found a patch of blue haze, which seemed linked to the mystery of what had resurrected Andrea O'Donnell more than a year earlier, and given her precognizant abilities.

The blue haze led the ship to a the lone planet of system, but when it arrived a seemingly pre-warp society had fired on the Potemkin, doing massive damage that killed Doctor Arnet. Warp and Prax were prepared to return fire when O'Donnell suddenly arrived on the bridge telling them that they needed to stop.

Warp and Prax had acquiesced, but now demanded an explanation from her. O'Donnell said that the planet hadn't meant to attack the Potemkin and that a horrible misunderstanding had occurred. The crew was understandably distrustful of O'Donnell who seemed to be confused at times as she tried to explain.

As far as she knew the planet was split evenly between two warring factions. When the Potemkin arrived in orbit, the more militant had seized the compound with the weapon from their enemy and fired on the ship, hoping that the Potemkin would retaliate, killing their enemy for them.

Still not sure whether to believe her, the crew insisted that she reveal how she knew such things. Andrea said it still wasn't entirely clear to her, but apparently the descendants of this planet in the future had sent her back to life and given her this mission, which had slowly been unraveling in her brain, to make sure the Potemkin didn't destroy the people it was about to fire on. Whoever had sent her back had a mastery over time and give her a part of their understanding to prevent this. The last instruction that she had was the ship had to get to the other side of the planet and stop the real responsible party.

Warp and Prax retreated into the captain's ready room to discuss the situation, expressing their doubt about Andrea's story. It all seemed to convenient. O'Donnell, who hadn't been able to talk or show signs of self-awareness for months suddenly showed up on the bridge with a mission? The same person who had destroyed all her clues about the blue haze earlier that morning?

They agreed to go to the far side of the planet as requested, but only to investigate, nothing more. As the pair was talking, a small patch of haze - this time red - passed by the room's viewport...

Down in engineering Bom and his team had discovered that the anti-matter from the Stellar Fountain hadn't actually vanished, but had been turned into deuterium. With an arduous task of converting matter to anti-matter, the ship could eventually have enough fuel to start the warp engines.

Out on the bridge, an exhausted O'Donnell gave Melina the coordinates for where the ship would go. She was feeling exceptionally fatigued from trying to comprehend all the programming left in her mind and trying to convince the crew to believe her. When Warp and Prax announced their plan, she thanked them, sure that they would understand that she was speaking the truth.

The Potemkin orbited the planet, with Rolland's sensors picking up another civilization, which seemed to be at the same level of advancement as the other already encountered. They also found another large complex. There were no weapon systems that sensors could find, but it did appear to be heavily fortified.

Warp and Prax turned on Andrea, peppering her with questions about the aliens who sent her back and what they wanted her to do. She seemed to have an almost visceral reaction to the suggestion of sending down an away team. Finally, Warp announced that once engineering had enough anti-matter for the engines, the Potemkin would head back to the anomaly. Andrea hung her head, but accepted the decision.

Suddenly, in a horrible moment, Arnet's body began to move. He stood up, but his empty face now held glowing blue orbs instead of eyes. In a changed voice he announced that the crew could not leave. Pointing at Andrea, the thing inside Arnet announced that she had failed and that more direct intervention was required.

Ignoring the crew's demands to leave Arnet's body, the thing walked to the tactical station. With a wave of its hand, it through Fuller against the wall and began to arm the Potemkin's weapons. Warp locked down the bridge consoles, much to the being's consternation. It demanded the ship fire on the planet. When Warp continued to refused, Arnet's hands began to surge with blue energy. The being stuck them INTO the console and began to control the computer pathways directly.

Fuller recovered enough to fire on "Arnet" with his phaser. The beam caused the being to stumble back momentarily. However it wasn't significantly weakened and still managed to stop a physical attack by Prax. Andrea, meanwhile, retreated to a corner of the bridge, shrieking out in terror that she had no idea they would get violent if she failed in her mission.

A combination of phaser fire from Rollands and Fuller managed to keep "Arnet" away from the console, and a final phaser beam from Warp - on level 12 - sent the body flying backward. Once it hit the consoles along the back of the bridge, it did not get back up.

However, as Warp, Prax and Fuller approached the body carefully, it began rippling with blue energy once again and started to stir. Warp, with a grim determination, fired his phaser again...

But a strange thing happened. The beam remained after Warp finished firing. Then it start diffuse, become a red counterpart to the blue haze encountered earlier. The blue entity apparently was angered by the appearance of the red and began buzzing like a swarm of bees. The red entity formed a half circle around the blue, as if squaring off. Rollands' tricorder registered humongous amounts of energy being generated by the two hazes.

Suddenly, the blue energy leaped at the red! The bridge became a chaotic scene as the two force collided, sending off sparks whenever they met. At one point the blue seemed vanquished, disappearing into the deck plates, but then roared back to life, attacking its rival with a multitude of electric tendrils.

At this frightening display Prax ordered the evacuation of the bridge. The crew hurried off to the emergency turbolift, pausing only to retrieve Arnet's now vacated body. Meanwhile the fight continued, with the ceiling of the bridge becoming a seething froth of purple energy. As the crew retreated it could see intense flashes of red and blue and hear the crackling grow louder and louder. Rollands' tricorder told her what was possible to detect - the bridge was moments away from exploding.

With no choice, Prax ordered for the ejection of the bridge module. The turbolift whisked the crew away as explosive bolts severed the bridge from Deck 2. The module floated away, with flashes of red and blue to be seen from every porthole. Soon the very metallic skin of the bridge began to shimmer in a violent purple haze. After a few moments of such pressure, it exploded!

The blue haze that remained slowly dissipated, while a victory red cloud remained...

When all was settled down, Rollands' sensors showed the planet and the remains of the bridge, but not any trace of the blue haze or the Stellar Fountain. No one was quite sure what to do now, or completely understood what had just happened.

That's when Arnet's body animated for a third time. It stood, this time with bright red orbs for eyes.

This being peaceful stated that the Stellar Fountain had been a trap the whole time, to bring the Potemkin t this very spot. It also apologized for the destruction of the bridge module.

The being explained they were the descendants of the inhabitants of that planet, but thousands of years in the future after they had evolved past their physical forms. The blue beings are the same race, but with the differing the philosophy of using their powers to assert dominion where they would. The red race had opposed them for sometime.

Lately the two beings have finally managed to navigate time streams and alternate timelines and the blue had hatched a plan to destroy the red. Using Andrea and the Potemkin, but of which should have been destroyed years ago and would not have been monitored by the red beings, they orchestrated the Stellar Fountain to lure the ship out to their ancestral home. Once there, they tried to goad the ship into attacking their rivals before they had the chance to develop. They had learned of the plot too late and only just now arrived to prevent it.

With the threat removed, the red beings promised to leave. However, Arnet's body was too badly damaged and they could not restore him to life. However, the gave one last gift as they went, restoring all the anti-matter in the ship's containers, giving it more than enough to return back to the Federation.

When the beings were gone, Arnet's lifeless body slumped to the ground once again. Warp then mournfully ordered the Potemkin to head back home.

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