Alathea settled into the pilot chair, adopting the Zen-like pose of cosmic indifference, eyes shut tight. With each jerk of the ship, she counted breaths like a galactic yoga instructor leading an interstellar class. The ship performed its interpretive dance through the Null Sphere and beyond. Alathea, with her eyes firmly closed, let the cosmic choreography unfold without the privilege of sight.
Finally, as the celestial rollercoaster came to a halt, Alathea found herself suspended in a gentle absence of gravity, akin to a spa day, for her relaxed arms floated above while she remained tethered to the pilot chair.
She opened her eyes, expecting to see a shimmering galaxy or quirky space café. Instead, she was greeted by a reddish cyclone with a fashionable touch of black at the center.
“Oh, lovely,” she deadpanned to the cosmic void. “A black hole.”
So close to the event horizon, her ship decided it was done with thrusters, opting for a spontaneous spiraling routine towards the ominous center. Alathea instinctively reached for the controls, only to be met with a cold, unresponsive touch. The controls were dead, rendering the ship an inescapable trap—an intricate contraption designed to execute her and mete out a cosmic punishment simultaneously.
“The Mother Superior has a real flair for dramatic exits,” Alathea muttered. The vessel, now a reluctant dancer in the gravitational ballet, seemed intent on turning her into a cautionary tale for a future Gholas.
With a certain cosmic irony, time dilation would ensure that her demise unfolded in slow-motion grandeur. The black hole, a cosmic vacuum cleaner, would greedily slurp her ship into its gravitational maw. Outside the dark influence of the event horizon, her craft would descend into the black hole at an agonizingly sluggish pace, perhaps for the next millennium.
She looked around, searching for a flash of metal, a reflection that would show another ship. And there it was, a fleeting gleam on her right, a small, metallic wink in the cosmic void. Yes, they are observing her.
Alathea clenched her jaw, realizing the absurdity of her situation. Trapped on a ship hurtling toward the gravitational clutches of a black hole, she would experience the ominous-sounding fate of “spaghettification” long before breaching the event horizon.
As Alathea faced the impending spectacle of spaghettification, a morbid curiosity overcame her. She contemplated the potential pain of the process and wondered at what point consciousness would slip away amidst the cosmic contortions.
With a blink, she considered jotting down her experience. Perhaps a cosmic memoir titled “Spaghettified Chronicles.” A momentary chuckle escaped her, but the laughter quickly dissolved into a sigh. What was the point? No one could reach her or the doomed vessel. No information could escape the clutches of the black hole’s gravitational embrace.
As uncertainty swirled in her mind, Alathea buried her head in her hands. The Empire, once a vast canvas of possibilities, now seemed like a claustrophobic cage closing in on her. There was no refuge within its borders for someone marked as a Ghola, the indelible tattoos on her body exposing her true nature. Yet, if she could wrest control of the ship, perhaps she could chart a course beyond the Empire’s reach. Others had done it before—made a daring leap into the unknown.
Unfastening her belt, Alathea crawled beneath the control console, prying open a small panel to peer inside. In the dim light of the ship, she embarked on a desperate mission—a quest for control in the face of cosmic chaos.
There it was—a metallic box, looking as innocent as a robot puppy with a “Don’t Press” button. Alathea squinted at it, considering the galactic irony of her fate resting in the hands of what seemed like a DIY space contraption.
As she pondered the box’s removal, the ship decided it was time for a surprise dance routine. A sudden jolt sent her head on a collision course with the access panel—cosmic whiplash, the least favorite move in her newfound space ballet.
The ship’s enthusiastic spin transformed Alathea into an unintentional breakdancer. “This isn’t the Zero-G dance-off I had in mind,” she muttered, contemplating the irony of her escape plan turning into a cosmic disco.
Undeterred, she pushed off the floor, a reluctant participant in the ship’s impromptu twirl. The centrifugal forces were having a party, and Alathea, desperately trying to maintain her dignity, was the uninvited guest desperately clinging to the dance floor.
As the spin sped up, she found herself in a delightful game of “How Many G-Forces Can You Handle?” With a chuckle, Alathea wondered if she’d accidentally triggered the ship’s “Extreme Spinning Class” mode.
Finally relenting to the cosmic whirlpool, Alathea embraced the forces like a cosmic pancake flipping in a space-age skillet. She lay down, positioning her body that ensure the survival of the highest G-forces. The gravitational fiesta flattened her chest, making her feel like a sentient accordion playing a symphony of distress.
Through the dizzying spin, a corner of a spaceship window emerged like a hesitant cameo in a galactic sitcom. Beyond it, stars danced their celestial jig, and a peculiar metal structure zoomed past like an overenthusiastic extra in the cosmic background. Amid her involuntary space ballet, questions swirled in her mind like a caffeinated tornado. Where was she? What had transpired? Was this a rescue mission, or had she stumbled into an interstellar carnival?
As the gravitational forces cranked up the intensity, her efforts to vocalize her concerns morphed into a futile grunt. The centrifugal chaos painted her surroundings with hues of gray, and her vision succumbed to the inescapable pull of tunnel vision.
“Oh, no,” she attempted to articulate her dismay, but the only response the universe granted her was a cosmic silence. The relentless forces tightened their grip with each spin, dragging her further into the cosmic abyss. As the blackness enveloped her, the last vestiges of consciousness whispered their farewell to the vast expanse of the void.
A peculiar smell tiptoed into Alathea’s recovering consciousness—a whiff of carpet, trodden upon by boots caked with the mud of a forest stroll. Synthetic fibers, rather unceremonious in their roughness, met her hands. An overpowering brightness assaulted her senses, an unwelcome intrusion into the darkness she expected after the cosmic ballet of G-forces.
A disembodied voice punctured the hazy confusion. “How are you feeling?”
“Voice?” Alathea mumbled, her words a hesitant dance between comprehension and bewilderment. “Why is there a voice? There shouldn’t be a voice.” In the aftermath of cosmic chaos, the intrusion of sound felt almost offensive, a disturbance in the celestial serenity she had braced herself for.
Alathea squinted, determined to banish the intrusive brightness, and blinked her eyes open. The luminosity persisted, revealing a middle-aged, bald man’s face looming into her field of vision. Startled, she instinctively pulled back, only to collide with the floor.
“Careful. You were exposed to very high G forces,” the man cautioned.
“I know,” Alathea mumbled, her words a blend of cosmic fatigue and stubborn determination. Ignoring the protests of her disoriented body, she attempted to rise from her unintended rendezvous with the floor, eager to regain a semblance of composure in the aftermath of her cosmic escapade.
A whoosh of an automatic door, accompanied by the commanding tones of a booming female voice, heralded another person, “How is our guest, doctor?”
“She is still recovering from the G forces effect. It will take some time,” came the doctor’s response.
Alathea, on all fours, crawled until she reached a nearby table, using it as a makeshift support to hoist herself up. The room revealed itself—rounded walls, a peculiar console at one end, and an overall design that felt foreign. The table she clung to for stability turned out to be a narrow and peculiar bed among a line of three.
In her disoriented state, Alathea took stock of the room, her eyes meeting the gaze of an odorless man in a black and blue uniform. Beside him stood a pale redhead woman, emanating a perfume that seemed to permeate the entire space. As the pieces of her surroundings slowly clicked into place, Alathea couldn’t shake the feeling that she had ventured far beyond the confines of her expected cosmic script.
Alathea squinted her eyes, attempting to clear the cosmic haze that lingered. The room, the people, the very essence of her surroundings—it was all a departure from the cosmos she knew too well. The question lingering in her mind found its way out. “Where am I?”
A woman, strikingly rare in her genotype, stepped forward. “You are on Federation starship Voyager. I’m Captain Janeway.”
The revelation prompted Alathea’s silent speculation. The captain’s appearance, particularly her pale red hair, hinted at a genetic rarity—a feature so peculiar that it almost begged an explanation.
“Sister Alathea,” she nodded, her figure adorned in the unmistakable robes of the Bene Gesserit. Alathea noted that, despite whatever intervention had occurred, the traditional attire remained untouched. Cosmic drama did not warrant a wardrobe change.
“How did I get here?” Alathea questioned, her curiosity matching the cosmic puzzle unfolding before her.
“We transported you from your ship.”
“And where is my ship?”
“In our cargo bay. It took some time to stop the spin. Luckily, we saw your ship approaching the wormhole from the other side, so we could react quickly and mount the rescue mission,” the explanation unfolded,
“A rescue mission? You pulled me out of the black hole?” Alathea questioned, a mixture of disbelief and curiosity painting her expression.
“No. Your ship made a strange entry vector that caused you to collide with the wall of the wormhole. That sent your ship into a spin. The collision destabilized the wormhole, so I need you to tell me from where you are coming. We predict the wormhole will end up collapsing soon.”
“What are you talking about? What wormhole? Are you calling the black hole a wormhole?” Alathea’s bewilderment deepened as the captain’s explanation hinted at a cosmic twist she hadn’t expected.
“Captain, give her some time,” the odorless man interjected, approaching Alathea with a cylindrical device in hand. He waved it around her, his attention fixed on the readings displayed on the instrument.
“And who is he?” Alathea shifted her focus to the man.
“That’s our doctor.”
“Alright, but what is he? He’s not human.”
The man set his instruments aside and directed his gaze at Alathea. “How do you know that?”
“I’m Bene Gesserit.”
“To us, that means nothing,” Janeway remarked.
Alathea fixed her piercing gaze on the captain. “Explain.”
“I do not... we do not know what Bene Gesserit is,” the woman admitted, a genuine lack of familiarity coloring her words. Alathea found it perplexing—how could any human not know of the Bene Gesserit? Time seemed to play a mysterious role in this cosmic odyssey.
“Do you have any Astro-navigational maps? I would like to see where I am.”
“You are in the Delta Quadrant.”
“Madam, as you do not know what Bene Gesserit is, I do not know what Delta Quadrant is. So, shall we start with the maps if you have them?”
“Yes, we have maps. So you came not from Earth?”
“Earth? That’s a strange notion,” Alathea mused. “How do you mean coming from the earth? Are you talking about religion? Like we are all made from the dirt?”
“No. I mean planet Earth. You’re human, aren’t you?”
“What else could I be?”
“Alien,” the doctor interjected. “There are many species in the galaxy.”
Alathea turned her attention to him. “Like you?”
“Not exactly,” the captain clarified. “But let us go back to the question of planets. What was the name of the last planet you were on?” Alathea grappled with the notion that her celestial journey might have surpassed the familiar bounds of humanity.
Alathea studied Janeway, analyzing her body language and microexpressions. The woman exuded friendliness and sincerity, yet an underlying command presence lingered. There seemed to be no hidden agenda—just a genuine pursuit of information. A peculiar absence of covert actions.
“The last planet I was on was Chapterhouse,” Alathea disclosed, inching closer to the peculiar holographic man. “So, what is he?”
“I’m a hologram,” the man responded.
“What is a hologram?” Alathea inquired.
Janeway stepped into Alathea’s field of view. “We really know little about each other. Maybe your suggestion is the correct one. Let us see the maps.”