Jen Air: Frontier of Forever, Part One

About fifty years ago, a special event happened that, although it surely couldn’t have been known at the time, would go on to have a profound effect on people for generations to come.  And, well, I didn’t really do anything for Doctor Who’s fiftieth, but I decided I wanted to do something special for Trek.  And so here is part one of a special Star Trek inspired story.  (And yeah, sadly I don’t think I’m going to have time to write thoughts about every episode of TNG any time soon.  Maybe some time though I’ll pick out some episodes to take a look ar).

Synopsis:  Irongate is to host it’s first ever science fiction convention, but as it is about to begin Jennifer detects strange exotic particles emanating from somewhere in town.  What she doesn’t tell her friends however is that these particles may be proof of the existence of pocket dimensions.  The trail leads her to encounter a boy with crippling social anxiety, many colourful metaphors, and a slightly mad doctor.  Will she be able to save everyone and make it home for some Earl Grey before it’s too late?

Jen Air: Frontier of Forever, Part One

Human beings are unique amongst Earth’s species in that they are capable of such wondrous things – such as Stonehenge, or the pyramids, or setting foot on The Moon – and then of doubting that they had ever actually done any of those things, at least not on their own.  Surely gods or aliens must have helped a bit, or even done it all themselves as mere humans just watched dumbfounded, totally unable to aspire to be anything more than slaves to their basest instincts.

But what if it was true?  What if, sometimes at least, human beings were capable of being brilliant all on their own?  What if we were capable of imagination and innovation, of conceiving great ideas and coming together to set our sights higher than the dirt beneath us?  What if, through perseverance and will, we could turn our dreams and fantasy to life, and, although stumbling along the way, get it right?

The new Kosinski Centre in Irongate was, historically speaking, not as important an accomplishment as the pyramids.  Nevertheless, it was a state of the art facility with all the latest in sound, video and holographic technology.  Harry Mann, taking his seat in the middle of the control room, was proud to be the manager of it.  Even if he didn’t approve of all the nerds he could see on the wall of monitors lining up outside in all their colourful costumes, he knew today was an important day as it was the first time the whole building was open to the public.  He was determined that it all go smoothly and that all those dorks leave satisfied with their experience no matter what sacrifices he had to make.

He picked up his tablet, of course connected via wi-fi to the buildings mainframe, and frowned.  The building had to capacity to generate its own power when needed, and so turning to his communicator he called up the engineer on duty in the basement.  “Will, I’m seeing some sort of power fluctuation in section thirteen.  Are you picking it up?”

“Aye,” a voice crackled back.  “It’s that VR simulation suite they have set up there.  Drains more power than expected, but it’s well within tolerances.  Should be fine.”

“Keep an eye on it,” Harry instructed.  After a moment, he spun his chair to face one of the technicians in the room.  “Naomi, would mind going down there and seeing everything’s okay?”

A young woman rose from her seat at the side of the room.  “Yes sir.”

*****

The main doors were not open yet.  In the great hall, various vendors and exhibits were still setting up.  Most of it was just selling books and videos and tat of all kinds of quality, while in other places were displays of space faring vessels, droids, aliens, and in one corner a steel cylindrical frame, with wires hanging from it.  Naomi approached it cautiously, bending over to look inside it and then up to see a heavy looking metal helmet that could be lowered over the head of anyone standing inside the cage.

“Can I help you?”

Naomi snapped up straight, almost striking her head on the bars.  “D-doctor Argyle, I,” she stammered, but then composed herself.  “I just came to check everything was okay.”

Argyle was a middle-aged, balding man with a very wide grin.  “No problems to report,” he assured her, turning his attention to the cage.  “It’s impressive, isn’t it?”

“That’s one word,” she nodded politely, but then decided it was better to just be honest.  “Honestly, it looks terrifying to me.”

“Oh?”

“I suppose all new technology does seem terrifying to people, until they get used to it.”

“True.  It is a prototype.  But you have nothing to fear from this little machine,” he grinned as glided around his device.  “Perhaps you’d care to try it?  It’s unlike any virtual reality you’ll have ever experienced.  Truly it will open your mind to whole new worlds of possibilities.”

“I don’t think so, doctor,” Naomi said, backing away slightly.  “I’m working, so… perhaps another time…”

“It will only take a moment.  It would be helpful just to make sure everything is calibrated before the doors open.”

The staff were under instructions to make sure all the exhibitors needs were met.  “I am here to help,” Naomi smiled her consent, slightly bitterly.  Moments later she was standing inside the cage and the helmet was indeed lowered to cover her entire face.

She heard the doctors muffled voice explaining things.  “Now, it may be disorientating at first, but that will pass in seconds.  Stand by in three, two, one… now!”

Naomi hadn’t been expecting anything more than a screen in front of her eyes blink on.  Instead, one moment she was standing in almost pitch darkness, and next she was standing on a beach listening to waves gently wash along the shore.  She took a breath and then gasped.  “This is incredible!  I can actually smell the ocean!”

“This device is able to stimulate those parts of the brain responsible for sight and smell and touch,” Argyle explained from the other world.  “As far as it is concerned, you are actually there.”

Naomi wriggled her toes, feeling the sand brush between them.  She then leant down to pick some up and let it fall through her fingers being carried by the breeze.  “Amazing…”

“Yes,” away from the beach, in the hall, the doctor shook his head.  Before him, several small monitors displayed scans of the subject’s brain and activity.  “But you are not the one…”

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