“In the Heart of Darkness”
Stardate 75057.5; January 22, 2398
Written by Chris Adamek
CAPTAIN’S LOG, STARDATE 75057.5: Two weeks have passed since Erin Keller’s death. Though there have been no further hostilities against the crew, everyone is on edge. Life aboard the Starlight has gone from simply unpleasant to nearly unbearable—and with no apparent evidence left behind, the investigation into the attacks has gone virtually nowhere.
Meanwhile, after weeks of travel, the fleet is finally approaching the Navarre Cluster to restock dwindling food and energy reserves. Thankfully, the Starlight remains in reasonably good condition, and does not presently require much in the way of food or energy reserves. Thus, I hope to spend most of our time on Navarre in search of additions to our fragile alliance.
* * *
“We are approaching Navarre.”
Upon hearing those crisp words fall from Neelar Drayge’s mouth, Alan Christopher vacated the warmth of his command chair and approached the Bolian at the helm. “It’s about time,” he softly stated. Two weeks at low warp was hardly Christopher’s idea of a good time—especially with so many unpleasant issues milling about the ship. Plagued with hours of down time, Christopher quickly found those unpleasant issues lingering like unwanted guests. “Drop out of warp.”
Drayge’s deft fingers immediately fell upon the helm controls, and moments later, the stars on the viewscreen gracefully streaked into tiny points of shimmering light. After a few seconds, the earthy brown hues of the planet Navarre eclipsed the scintillating starfield. It was hardly the most exotic planet Christopher had ever beheld—but he wasn’t the tour guide…
“Assume a standard orbit,” Harrison ordered a scant second later. He, too, rose from his chair and slowly crept to Christopher’s side. As they exchanged glances, Christopher detected a glint of concern in Matthew’s eye, but the thought was interrupted before he had a chance to vocalize his concerns.
“The strong get first dibs!” General Kron’s voice suddenly thundered across the bridge, catching Christopher off guard. His pulse quickened, and his head snapped back to the viewscreen just in time to see the slovenly General flash his rotted teeth. “Once we are through collecting our resources, the rest of you may beam to the surface to take what is left.” And just as quickly as he appeared, Kron signed off, his lumpy reptilian face promptly replaced by Navarre’s uninviting brown terrain.
“We have received a transmission from Commander Bruton’s ship,” Bator announced amidst a series of computer bleeps. “We have been given clearance to join General Kron’s group on the surface.”
Harrison produced a faint smile. “Is there anything down there worthy of our attention?” he inquired. In tandem with Christopher, Harrison turned his attention to Kendall Johnson at ops.
“I… I can’t really tell,” Johnson replied, shaking his head indolently. “There are vast pockets of condensed lazon beneath the surface. It’s interfering with sensors.”
“Naturally,” sighed Christopher. “Then I suppose there’s only one way to know for certain…”
Five minutes later, a gentle swirl of azure light deposited Alan Christopher and his away team on the surface. From orbit, Christopher was could tell that Navarre was no paradise—but it was not until he stood upon the rugged terrain did he realize the span of the gloom…
Navarre was a dead world. Brownish-black rock sprawled endlessly across the craggy terrain, unrelenting in its desolate scope. If the resources Kron promised existed, Christopher could not fathom where they might be, for the planet Navarre appeared completely and utterly devoid of value…