Kira, Nige and Benton had been working on the Iconian gateway for nearly two days trying to find a way to merge the gateway's capacity to transport people over immense distances with Kira's abilities to pass through time and space. Their efforts were not wasted as they had finally found a way to control where the gateway would take them. The only problem that they had run into was this: although they found a way to take them where they wanted to go, it would be a one way trip; there might not be a way for them to get back.
Currently the three officers were huddled around the control panel of the gateway making their final adjustments to the system before calling it quits for the day.
"That should do it," stated Benton in his monotone voice.
Each of the three officers heard the hiss of the final stages of the decontamination sequence systems, followed by the sound of their current commanding officer's footsteps.
"What are your plans?" said Pike as the doors opened before him.
"We've managed to isolate a planet in the Kelvan's home galaxy," stated Nige.
"So we can get to their original galaxy," continued Benton, "but we've not been able to modify the system to create a large enough tachyon field to transport us back in time to the original event that triggered the destruction of their galaxy."
"We'll have to bring the Commander along with us in order to take us back in time prior to the event," said Nige, completing Benton's train of thought.
"That's where we run into problems," interjected Kira. "In order for me to be able to transport us that far back in time I'll have to drain the power from the other gateway in the Kelvan's galaxy."
"That's a lot of power, Commander," said Pike. "I have two concerns. First, can you handle that much power, and second, what will happen to the gateway when you drain its power source?"
"To answer the second question, the gateway will permanently shut down," answered Benton.
"That's one of my questions answered. The other question, Commander?" asked Pike.
"I can handle it, Sir. I'll be channeling the power *through* me versus storing it for later use," said Kira.
"Very well. So after you've gone back in time, what will you do then?" said Pike.
"We'll be taking a subspace transponder with us on the trip that we'll set up once we've arrived at our final destination. After doing some research with the Kelvan data core, I've managed to find some information about which transponder signals were used at that time. We'll send a distress signal saying that we've crash landed on the planet and request assistance from any nearby Kelvan ship," said Benton.
"Benton will have to transmute into his original Kelvan form once we're there. Nige and I will have to remain hidden on the planet until he is able to get back to us with a ship of some sort. Hopefully, he'll be able to help the Kelvans find a way to detect the impending problem in their galactic core before the neutron stars collide and cause the disturbance that destroys their galaxy," finished Kira.
"In case Benton isn't able to help the Kelvans stop the disturbance from occurring, the Commander will have to try to control it remotely," said Benton.
"It will be a long shot, but hopefully I'll be able to control the rate of the disturbance's expansion and channel it back into creating a star or something of the sort much like what I did with the Genesis Torpedo. That way the gamma ray bursts won't destroy their galaxy," stated Kira.
"And thus our own Galaxy will be saved as well," said Nige.
"The only thing I'm concerned with is what will happen to our timeline as a result of this change. The Kelvans won't be a threat to our Galaxy, nor their neighboring galaxy. That's a lot of change that will occur at once. If we somehow manage to get back I'm not sure what will be different in our timeline after such a big change," said Kira.
"Millions of civilizations, our own included, will be saved by this change. Many lives depend on your success," said Pike. "Damn the temporal laws in this instance." Pike paused momentarily to gather his thoughts before giving his final orders. "Leave as soon as you can."
A few hours later, the three officers had assembled the equipment they required in order to carry out the task before them. At the beckoning of Admiral Pike, the entire senior staff had assembled to see them off. The gate room had an emotional atmosphere that was a strange mixture of nervousness and sorrow, as two main events were being dealt with prior to the start of the mission. All eyes moved toward Pike as he raised his hands to silence the hushed whispers that were coming from the crew.
"These past few days have been hell," he started. Pike paused for a moment to let the full effect of his simple, yet totally inadequate words sink into the minds of those around him. Glancing over at Commander Bentara, he continued his speech by saying, "Some of us have lost more than others, but we know that all of us are grateful for the sacrifices that were made by those who were lost."
Karissa was visibly crying now, as she once again realized the loss of Evans in the very room that she was standing in just days before.
Undaunted, yet not wholly unaffected by the emotional displays that were occurring around him, Pike continued his speech. "Before us stands our Galaxy's only hope of survival. In a few moments Commander Kira, Lieutenant Commander Nige and Lieutenant Benton will step through the gateway and embark on a mission of lofty ideas." Pike dramatically paused at this point before continuing. "Should they succeed in their mission, the Kelvan threat as we know and understand it will no longer be an issue. Many of you have brought before me questions concerning whether we ought to try and change something as auspicious as the historical course of three galaxies by preventing one event in their collective pasts. To be honest with you, I don't know how to answer that question. But I do know that in order to preserve our way of life we will *have* to alter it. As to the degree of alteration that will occur, only these three before us will be able to attest to the difference, should they find their way back home."
The room was now silent as all eyes turned towards Kira, Benton and Nige as they realized the full weight of the mission placed before them. Pike paused for yet another moment or so before uttering his final words.
"Gentlemen, it is time. Say your good-bye's people, we may never see them again on this side of the universe."
The senior staff ran forward as one to embrace their comrades in a final showing of emotion that portrayed their concern for their friends. Unfortunately, this moment could not be extended any longer than it had been allowed already. Pike lifted his hands once more in order to gain their attention for a disturbing piece of news.
"Gentlemen, our time is brief. As I spoke I received word from the remaining crew manning the *Ronin*. The Kelvans have found a way to penetrate the Briar Patch, and are on their way here as we speak. You must leave quickly in order to accomplish your task."
"Understood, Sir," said Nige as he hugged Dinara one last time. In his heart of hearts he didn't want to let Dinara loose from his embrace, for he knew he may never see her again.
Kira was standing with Karissa, who was holding his hands in a tight embrace, pleading with him to succeed in order that he might return and help them find Evans. After assuring her that he would do his best to return, Kira tapped Nige on the shoulder and nodded toward the gate. After Nige had let loose Dinara, she immediately wrapped her arms around Kira trying to give him a big bear hug.
She motioned Kira to lean down a bit and whispered in his ear, "Bring both of yourselves back here, Kira, any way you can."
"I will," was Kira's whispered response to Dinara's request.
Benton, who didn't seem to have anyone around him, was looking rather annoyed at the proceedings occurring before him. "We must hurry. We don't have much time."
Kira let go of Dinara and gave her a knowing nod that was designed to make her feel secure before looking around him one last time to make sure that he had said good-bye to all those who mattered to him. Realizing that he had accomplished this task, he looked Nige directly in the eyes and told him, without saying a word, that it was time.
Getting the meaning of Kira's glance, Nige started to walk in step with Kira shoulder to shoulder. Benton followed beside them so that the three men walked in a row as one toward the gateway. Benton tapped a short key sequence on the control pad as he walked by, which garnered him a quick look of questioning from Kira.
"I set the system to begin cycling in random order in case the Kelvans should try to find our destination and stop our plans," explained Benton as he continued to walk side by side with the other two men.
Nodding their approval, Nige and Kira continued with Benton toward the gateway and without any pretense, pomp or circumstance, simply walked through the gateway and into a new world. After each had gone through the gateway all three paused to look behind them as they saw the final glimpse of their crew through the archway wink out of existence before being replaced with another view from another gateway.