Stardate 74638.4; August 21, 2397
Written by Chris Adamek
CAPTAIN’S LOG, STARDATE 74638.4: After a three-week voyage, the Starlight is in orbit of Gamera II, a remote Federation settlement at the edge of explored space. We have arrived not only with supplies for our fledgling colony, but with a fair amount of excitement. It’s not every day one gets to help build a world from the ground up…
Gamera II was not the most exotic world Alan Christopher had seen. In fact, if he were allotted one word to describe the remote planet, drab would no doubt be among the first to cross his mind. It was—for the most part—flat. The gently rolling hills stretched all the way to the horizon with little fanfare, all of them covered in browning green grass. The flora and fauna consisted of wiry trees and small bushes, their leaves varying shades of pale green. And of course there was the expansive firmament above, a vast and endless sky painted a hundred shades of the palest blues. It seemed that Mother Nature had boring on her mind when Gamera II came into existence.
And as he stepped onto an earthy stone walkway Christopher was relieved to see that dreadfully monochromatic theme would endure in the Federation’s new colony. Though only a few buildings had been erected, they were all of the same design: sleek grayish compounds with gracefully angled roofs and little in the way of any other decoration. The Captain certainly hoped the colonists would spruce things up later on—but as he listened to Lucas Tompkins chat with the colony’s director, Koji Nakata, Christopher decided to keep his hopes low.
“…and—if you can envision it—at the end of this street, we plan on erecting a Zen garden. It should serve as a good focal point for the colony, don’t you agree?”
Tompkins nodded politely in response to Nakata’s statements. Christopher could tell his chief engineer was nearly put to sleep by the man, but listening to his plan for the colony was a necessary evil—that way future supply vessels could bring the appropriate goods. “So,” asked Tompkins, “where are you going to be putting the bar?”
Nakata raised a quizzical brow. “Bar?” he said with a laugh. “Not on my colony.”
“Heh… That’s too bad,” said Tompkins softly. “I could really use a drink right about now.”
Though he occasionally shared a bottle of wine with Erin Keller, Christopher was not normally one to go out and get drunk. But after spending all day with Koji Nakata, the Captain was beginning to see some virtue in Tompkins’ sentiment. “When we get back to the Starlight,” he whispered to Tompkins, “I’ll pull a bottle of the good stuff out of storage for us.”
A smile immediately spread across Tompkins’ face. “You are the man, Captain.”
“I can’t argue with that,” he replied, nodding agreeably as Nakata went off on another one of his verbose tangents—this time regarding the exact specifications of some statue he wanted to erect.
Had Nakata not already spoken about the colony for three hours long, Christopher supposed this particular discourse wouldn’t have been so bad. The statue seemed to be the most interesting thing Nakata had mentioned thus far. But he didn’t really need to dictate the entire life history of the patch of ground the statue would sit upon.
Christopher very much wanted to say something to speed the conversation along, but etiquette simply did not provide an opportunity. “…and on the vernal equinox,” Nakata was saying, “the shadows cast by the statue will fall directly onto this very path, and…”
And Christopher communicator suddenly bleeped. “Harrison to Christopher.”
Hearing the Commander’s voice was like a godsend from the dreary blue heavens above. Christopher smiled politely, and tapped the Starfleet insignia on his chest. “What is, Matthew?”
“Commander Keller informs me that the sensors have been properly recalibrated. We can begin our work at any time.”
Christopher nodded agreeably. “Do you need any help?”
“No,” said Harrison crisply. “I believe the situation is under control.”
Christopher frowned. Wrong answer, Matthew, he grumbled in his mind. “Very well. Have fun.”
“I am uncertain about the enjoyment factor, but we shall proceed. Harrison out.”
Forcing a smile back to his face, Christopher turned his attention back to Koji Nakata. “You were saying?” he asked, feigning enthusiasm.
Though Captain Christopher had deemed Gamera II the most drab planet in the known universe, Matthew Harrison was well aware of the planet’s one redeeming quality: dilithium. It was the precious mineral used to regulate the matter/antimatter reaction aboard most starships, and it was found on only a handful of planets in the Federation. Gamera II was almost literally bursting with it—and the fact that the planet remained unclaimed for such considerable amount of time was nothing short of a miracle.
Naturally, there were a few drawbacks, the most notable being the dilithium’s purity—or lack thereof. That was where the Starlight came in. For the past several hours, Commander Keller and Lieutenant Bator had been reconfiguring sensors to accurately map the dilithium deposits. Once they had an accurate record on file, the Federation could easily begin to mine the purest veins, and set up refineries closer to the tainted ones. Naturally, the colony would flourish.
“So far, so good,” announced Commander Keller as the first bits of data began to trickle in. “But it’s going to take awhile. There’s so much dilithium down there the sensors are having trouble penetrating it all…” She tapped a few commands into her workstation and then turned a whimsical gaze upon Harrison. “You and Bator could probably go and play on the holodeck for an hour or two…”
“We do not play,” Bator promptly announced—taking the words straight from Harrison’s tongue.
“The very fate of Lordaeron hangs in the balance,” Harrison continued. “If anything, we are on a mission of the utmost importance.”
Keller grinned. “And if you fail, you can always hit the reset button.”
The Commander had a valid point, but it was not one Harrison cared to dwell upon. Failure was never an option to begin with. “If you were to join us once, perhaps then you could understand the importance of our most noble quest.”
“Are you saying you want me to join you on the holodeck?” Keller inquired sheepishly.
“It seems to be so,” Harrison replied. It was amazing how things changed. Years ago, he would have found the simple task of interacting with Erin Keller to be dreadful—and now he found himself inviting her into his most treasured world of magic. “We are… friends, Commander—and any friend of mine is welcome to fight alongside me in the name of all that is good.”
She nodded politely. “That’s very kind of you, Matthew. I just might take you up on your offer—as long as I have a decent part.”
“According to the Captain, thou art the fairest princess in all the land,” he continued. “I believe that part would fit you well.”
Keller’s smiled widened. “That’s so sweet,” she chirped. “But it looks like our fun is going to have to wait. If we’re going to bring a sample aboard the Starlight to study, we might not be able to beam it up—there’s too much rock in the way.”
“We may have to drill for it,” Bator added. “If we were to modify our phasers, I suspect we could easily clear away enough rock.”
Harrison was a bit crestfallen—he had indeed been looking forward to spending some time on the holodeck. But duty called. “Proceed with the modifications,” he ordered.
On most days, Megan Reinbold would not complain about doing research in a sparse, drab forest on some backwater planet light years from civilization. But doing research was only one of her jobs; raising a teenaged son was the other, and when the two jobs crossed paths, Megan found that she almost never enjoyed the results. “You were supposed to be doing research,” she said sternly to her son.
Justin shrugged indolently, and brushed a few dead leaves out of his vivid green hair. “I was doing research,” he said. “On the female body.”
In a manner of speaking, that was research—Megan had to give him that much. “But it was not the research you were supposed to be doing. You are way too young to be doing that kind of…research.”
“It’s no big deal, Mom,” he said softly. Given his tone, he was obviously trying to downplay his actions. “We only did it twice.”
“Twice?!” exclaimed Megan. She had not intended to let that slip out, but as she reviewed the other thoughts racing through her mind, that was perhaps the only one she wanted Justin to hear. She paused for a moment, and then grabbed the boy’s muscular shoulders. “You are grounded,” she said sternly.
The words hardly resonated with Justin. He was grounded so frequently that it was hardly a threat anymore. He simply shrugged Megan’s hands off his shoulders and continued wandering through the browning forest. “Oh no,” he said sarcastically. “Please don’t ground me. Why don’t you just send me to Starfleet Academy? I’ll bet Admiral Miseric is still looking for some new recruits…”
Anger began to flow through Megan’s veins. If there was one thing she hated, it was being mocked. “If you don’t adjust your attitude, Admiral Miseric is going to be the least of your concerns, Mister.”
He quickly came about with a tart reply on the tip of his tongue, but when his mouth opened, nothing was said. Instead, Justin frowned and asked, “What’s that?”
He was pointing at something behind Megan. She slowly turned around and—at first—saw nothing. But as her eyes searched the browning trees and underbrush, they eventually fell upon an elaborate gray obelisk standing in the foliage nearby. It was about a meter tall, covered in wiry vines, and shrouded in mystery…