“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”
― Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
A sharp headache prompts the Pilot of the Rebel Priscilla to wake up from an unnatural sleep. Gone are the familiar consoles of the ship’s bridge. Instead, cold stone and darkness of the kind that can only be found deep underground are her companions. Her clothes too. Not a uniform, and not the assembled fashion of a fugitive, but instead, a springball outfit?
The confusion lasts even as the curses from the Chief Engineer are heard in the distance. At least Penelope isn’t alone in this strange abduction. Fierri is sporting a worker’s uniform, something that reflects their location all too accurately. A mining outfit crafted as if from memory. But they are still short one very important team member…
The Major is in a sundress.
Woken up closer to a set of underground train tracks, the winsome music of her music box accompanies her steps until Annella is reunited with her crew (with moments of blind groping). There are no explanations to be found in the darkness of the mining tunnels, but luckily at least one of them knows where to look for a lamp. It’s anyone’s guess as to which way they should go, that is, until a bouncing springball falls into their path and self propels down one end of the tunnel. The only clues of what lay ahead are given by a quick empathic check from the Major. What she feels shocks her, and she is unable to trust her senses. (Her father, Michael Winters, can’t possibly be down those tunnels, can he?)
Even though Major Annella is reluctant, curiosity got the better of the crew and they followed the enigmatic sign deeper in.
Another song soon fills the echoing air of the tunnel, a worker’s song. A trill woman, deep into some task, fiddling with tools, she sings as the team approaches. When Fierri’s voice joins the old, remembered tune, the other woman looks up. It is Asarri Pren. The person that Lt Nyx calls ‘sister’. This sweet reunion is more than a little suspect. When Asarri’s touch chills and saps energy, the phantom woman fades back into memory, but leaving a parting phrase to Fierri behind. “I can take care of myself, but who will look out for you?”
The answer to that question is obvious in the company of her team. But the encounter still leaves the Engineer visibly shaken. They continue on the path of the tracks until they come upon an empty box car, presumably for transporting workers from one location in the mines to another. The team initially walks by this carrier. Intent to travel by their own steam, but the magnetically run mantrip has other plans. It begins to travel after the team, chasing them down in the narrowness of the tunnel. Only Penelope’s quick thinking and quicker jumping into the trolley result in a safe ending. Bringing the box car to a temporary stop, the Major and Fierri can climb aboard.
The moment of safety doesn’t last long. The trolley switches into high speed when all of it’s passengers have settled in. Taking the team into a roller coaster ride, complete with sudden stop. Dumping them out onto the cold ground once more, but this time, they wake up in a grassy garden. Annella’s childhood memories assault her as she recognizes this place. While this is not readily apparent to her crew, they will puzzle out that this is a shared memory.
On the ground nearby lies an old, familiar tool of their trade – a torture device that agonizes but doesn’t kill the victim. As the only one not yet affected by their ordeal, Penelope begins yelling and demanding that the mysterious force show itself to them. Seeing a flash of white, she takes off into the garden. The farther she goes, the more it grows, rising up impossibly around her and making her feel like a lost child.
Her rash running ahead is rewarded with an opening in the garden’s maze. A white, stone patio where there is a young boy reciting equations and doing homework. The boy’s face is familiar to Penelope. Felix Rush. Her brother, but not as she would expect him to be. When Lt Rush demands to know who this imposter is, confronting him with the fact that her twin would also be 21 years old and not 12, as he appears now. The boy only confesses that he was never very good with math, and though he is confined to a wheelchair, his touch is just as cold and draining as the sister Trill’s was.
Fierri and Annella have some catching up to do, in order to find their errant pilot the Major must attempt to use her empathetic abilities once more. Again, at first her sensations are of a familiar mind, this time it is her mother, Liane Winters is in some kind of distress. But this must be another trick of the unknown abductor’s. Annella presses past that and locates Penelope’s mind somewhere among the maze. Following that, there is only a momentary pause when Fierri spots a blinking red light along the ground of one direction. A guide to the exit perhaps? They can’t take it until they find Penelope. So the Major and the Engineer press deeper into the maze, eventually coming upon the white patio and their Pilot.
The strange springball makes another appearance. Prompting them towards the center, while the blinking red light urges them to the outer most edges. The crew decides to follow the red this time, reaching the end of the maze and waking up back in their ship.
But the ordeal is not quite over, as the intruder alert rings through Rebel Priscilla’s decks.
An internal scan of the ship provides information on Trolic waves, an energy associated with space and time distortions. The Major’s odd collection of knowledge offers them a guess as to what species might be behind their dreamlike imprisonment. The Devidians are a race that exists out of sync with standard time. They also feed on neural energy of other sentient lifeforces. Amoral beings, without ties or care, the sport of inflicting fear into it’s victim is a perfect fit for what the crew has experienced so far.
They continue searching the ship until the alien intruder is found. Fierri is the first to spot the true form of the white energy humanoid. It is set on ripping through their cargo supplies, searching for something, but the Engineer doesn’t stop to ask what. She shoots at the Devidian, and as it turns it’s attention to her instead, the Major and Penelope show up as backup.
It takes a lot of phaser fire to defeat the Devidian. Banishing him by blasting him away.
But even after his final moments, the crew is uneasy and not sure if he is truly gone. They return to the main computer on the bridge to perform a second scan of the ship. This time, they meet the final unknown passenger they’ve been carrying all the while. The Rebel Priscilla AI. She informs her crew that there is no longer a threat from any intruders, however when Penelope attempts to lay in a new course, Priscilla relates that their next destination has already been programmed.
They will go to the planet Regulon. Under the orders of the presumably deceased Colonel Nylor Moris.