A freighter mystery

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 887.8

Why?

Of all the questions that remain unanswered around the recent events, that is the one I keep coming back to. Why blow up an unarmed freighter? The Dubozians say they were chasing pirates, but if they were, why attack a freighter? Even if they thought that the crew were in cahoots with pirates, there’s no justification for blowing up an unarmed ship without warning.

There is something we are missing, and I suspect that whatever it is will be important in the days to come.

The potential influence of ion storms on the Ego extinctions

Balducci, R(a1), T’Laan(a2)

Received: stardate 845.2
Published: Pending

Abstract

A recent ion storm on Ego(1) interacted with previously unexamined rock substrata to produce a form of radiation detrimental to living creatures. The radiation resulted in a variety of rapid-onset mutations, ranging from apparent devolution of advanced life forms to simpler point-mutations in more primitive life forms. In this paper, we will examine the the rock structure and composition, storm conditions and both observed and projected effects upon living creatures, and present an argument on how the radiation may have contributed to the extinction of the Ego civilisation.

Greetings from Thuln

Chief Engineer’s Personal Log
Stardate 837.7

I should not have fired. It has deprived us of crucial information and destroyed any chance we have of understanding how that item came to be aboard the Onik.

But in that moment, all I could think of the face of that Earth First terrorist, of what I did to him, and whether it could happen again.

“Greetings from Thuln”, it had engraved upon it. That much I do remember. Wood and glass, filled with vegetation and the slug oscillating through rainbow colours, and a presence in my head trying to take over.

Did the crewman we found outside the bridge die from fighting against the slug’s control? Or did he succumb and die unaware? Did the one who turned off all the internal systems do it of his own accord?

We will go to Thuln, perhaps not immediately but we will go. The mystery and the potential threat to the Federation demands it.

But I would rather cross the Fire Plains alone at midsummer than venture within 5 light years of that planet.

The River

I heard it first. The deep, distant roar, low and powerful. At first just on the edge of hearing, but louder minute by minute, hour by hour. I knew what it was, what it had to be. The River.

It has no other name, it needs no other name. The myriad streams, creeks, brooks and springs that crisscross our land are but poor imitations of the River, tamed, harnessed and serene.

What could you call a torrent of water, moving faster than a horse could gallop, faster even than a rythan could fly, wide enough that the other side can be but dimly seen even by the sharpest-eyed scout and cutting the land apart as sharply as a knife cuts through cheese?

From the first I heard the roar, it was still three days travel to reach the edge of the River. I had been here once before, as a boy. It’s a rite of passage, to travel to the River and spend three nights on the edge. It hasn’t changed much since then, but I hadn’t expected it to. The River is eternal.

Imagine it, if you can. The woodland thins out, you can smell the water in the air, see the haze, see the moisture on the leaves, hear the deep, visceral roar which blends into a vibration from the ground itself. As you get closer to the River, so the vegetation thins further until the ground is bare rock. Bare rock which suddenly drops away revealing a sheer-sided chasm through which the River flows, its surface easily a spear-throw below the edge. An expanse of water too wide to see across, roaring past, white-flecked and violent carrying debris from lands afar.

And I have to get to the other side.

What can be found in the bookshop

I pushed the bookshop door open, slowly. Not by choice, it was one of those heavy doors that require effort to open. It creaked, as old doors tend to do, and a bell rang deep within the shop.

This was one of those old shops, wood shelves, creaky floors, narrow aisles with books piled everywhere. Knickknacks filled the few empty spaces, an old-style globe of the world here, two candlesticks with melted candles there.  At the end of the aisle, a small alcove held a table and two armchairs, the table covered in still more books. A black cat slept on one of the chairs, oblivious to my presence.

I’ve always loved bookshops with character and this one had character in spades. I almost expected to find a working crystal ball, or a real spell book filed under , that tired plot-point from so many recent stories and movies. But there were no actual spell books, no swirling visions of the past or future, just the best collection of old books and first editions I’d ever seen. By the time I’d finished browsing I had probably half a month’s income worth of books in my pile, and the sun was low in the sky.

It was then I realised I hadn’t seen the owner once since I’d walked in.

I walked towards the back of the shop. “Hello? Is anyone there?” No answer. The counter which held the till, and several precarious piles of books, had no one near it. There was a small door behind it, a door that stood open with a cool blue light coming from it.

I probably should have stayed out, probably should have waited patiently, however it was late and the pile of books was making my arms ache, so I pushed the door open and stepped inside. What I saw there, well, I can’t actually tell you. It would violate the oath I swore, the oath I was forced to swear. Not that I mind to be honest, my new job is a lot more fun than being a legal assistant, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to travel on business and…

Let’s just say that the sky is not the limit. Not for me. Not any longer.

The icy wasteland

Kealan gazed down across the ice-covered plain. The sun, hanging just low on the horizon cast exaggerated shadows across the land leaving the plain mottled bright and dark. The wind had died hours earlier and the silence was so profound that it almost sang. To Kealan, it sang with the voices of his friends, his colleagues, his son.

How many had died that day? How many had been driven out to die in the icy wastes to the north? How many had survived only to live each day in fear of been found, of been betrayed, sold out to an enemy that would stop at nothing to ensure that the Seers were no more.

He could remember that day as if it were just yesterday. There had been no warning, no clues, no hints, no indications of any attack, planned or otherwise. It was that the was the hardest to swallow. For a group of people who dedicated their lives to reading the shape of the future to have seen no signs of an attack against them was a travesty, a betrayal of what they were. Had She abandoned them?

Three months ago it would have been blasphemy to have thought that, but today, Kealan was past caring. When he closed his eyes he could still see the dragons swooping down upon the stronghold, riders dressed in a uniform he didn’t recognise. He could still smell the stench of burning flesh; he could still hear the screams of those caught in the dragonfire.

They should have seen it coming, but they had believed that they were above the petty warring of two nations. “She shows us what will be,” the elders had said, again and again, “If they were planning an attack against us, we would know. They will not dare to move against Her chosen.” That certainty had not saved them. The elders had been the first to die.

Kealan pulled his hood up and set out slowly across the ice sheet. Somewhere there was a place of safety. Somewhere.

You can’t take the sky from me

“Program complete. Enter when ready”

The air inside was dry with a distinct chill and a slight smell of dust. The platform was barely 5 meters across and there was no sign of the ground, just a red horizon fading to midnight blue overhead. The winds howled and twisted around the platform

It wasn’t historically accurate, it wasn’t completely physically accurate either. The atmosphere was ship-normal, but a high-altitude Martian atmosphere, a high-altitude, pre-terraforming Martian armosphere would have required an EVA suit and sometimes comfort took precedence over physical accuracy.

Stephan regarded the primitive craft standing on the edge of the platform. A light-weight metal frame with a several meter wingspan covered with fabric, no propulsion of any kind. It was a far cry from modern atmospheric craft. Just getting this far had required months of research. First with the shuttle’s limited computer while in the Gamma Quadrant, then with the main historical archives at Utopia Planitia. Either the early Martian expedition hadn’t recorded the complete schematics of the glider or the details had been lost during the Eugenics wars.

‘No time like the present.’ He climbed into the glider’s framework and pushed it off the platform.

Stephan fought for control as the wind tossed the glider around like a toy. After several long minutes he managed to wrestle the flimsy craft in-line with the wind. The ground, now just visible far below,  raced past at an incredible speed and the howling of the wind faded away.

“Yeeaah!”

Stephan tilted the wing very slightly downwards, dropping altitude would make the view of the ground clearer and with all the dust he couldn’t make out the features of the terrain below. Noctis Labyrinthus was to the North-West, but that left a lot of margin for error. He tilted the glider left, aiming it for a NNW trajectory. As he did so, an errant gust of wind caught the glider and spun it out of control. The fabric on one of the wings ripped away and the glider plummeted towards the surface. A second later the wind ceased, the wide expanse of the planet’s surface was replaced by the yellow and grey grid of the holodeck and Stephan fell 10cm to the floor of the holodeck.

“Damn it.” He pushed himself to his feet and leant against the nearest wall, willing his hands to stop shaking. “Computer, analyse the last 5 minutes of the flight, identify the cause of the structural failure.”

“Working”

“Back to the drawing board…” Stephan muttered to the empty room as he left.

 

Homeward bound

Personal log Stardate 52110.1

—- Text only —–

First time I’ve flown a freighter since I joined the Marquis. Was one of the motivations for joining, so bored of flying cargo ships. Still this one’s rather manoeuvrable for a freighter, I wonder if the insectoids used this as a blockade runner on occasion.

I like flying ships, but 3 months of 12-hour shifts is starting to wear. I hope those really are indications the wormhole is open, I don’t like the idea of spending another couple of months here.

Three and a half months. What’s happened back in the Alpha quadrant in that time?

Unwanted news

Location: Salva II

The transporter sparkles dissolved into a view of a small agricultural settlement, still showing the signs of the recent Cardassian occupation.

Lieutenant Commander Tony LeStrange, USS Boston, sighed and headed down towards the center of the settlement. Third and last visit of the day, then he intended to find a bar and get seriously drunk.

He checked his padd and looked around, but didn’t immediately see anyone matching the picture he had. ‘Excuse me,” he called out to the  nearest person, “I wonder if you can help me locate someone?”


Twenty minutes later, on the outskirts of the settlement, Cmdr LeStrange spotted the person he’d come to see. He was part of a group clearing away debris from what appeared to be a collapsed building of some form.

“Excuse me,” Cmdr LeStrange called out, “Mr Carthright?”

“That’s me,” the oldest man in the group answered, “What can I help you with?”

Twice that day and three more times the previous week and it never grew easier. “Mr Carthright, I regret to inform you that the ship your son was serving on has been declared lost with all hands. Starfleet sends their condolences and if there’s anything that that I can do to assist, you just have to ask.”

Malcolm Carthright took a step back, shaking his head, ‘I think you’ve got the wrong person, my son’s not in Starfleet.”

Cmdr LeStrange checked his padd carefully and frowned, “Lt Stephan Carthwright, Starfleet service number 28492992, born 2346 Salva II, joined Starfleet 2374 as part of the Correctional Service Amnesty Program. Assigned USS Rutan stardate 51834.” He looked up from the padd. Malcolm had gone several shades paler and had pressed a hand to his chest. “Sir, the USS Rutan was declared lost with all hands stardate 52002. I am sorry to be the one to inform you.”

‘No…” Malcolm staggered back against some debris and sat heavily, ‘No, no, no!!!!”

Going away

———————   Subspace message Stardate 51833.8 ———————
———————–    Destination: Ivor Prime Colony     ————————
———————–       Recipient: Sarah Rotheford      ————————

Congrats on the promotion. You’ll be running the entire colony in no time I’m sure.

I’m going to be out of contact for a while, should just be a couple of weeks. Can’t say more, you know how it is. Please tell Ken I wish him a very happy birthday in advance. I’m glad he’s feeling better than when I last saw him. Oh, and he doesn’t owe anyone anything. Personally I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy a stay in a Cardassian prison. I told him that when he was onboard the Agora, maybe he’ll believe it if it comes from you. If he insists on doing something, he can send a ‘thank you’ message to Captain Jason West, USS Rutan. It’ll get to us eventually.

I will speak with Father again when I get back, if only to stop you nagging me. I don’t know what you expect to achieve, but you were always the peace-keeper in the family, even before Mother died. Honestly though, he’s made up his mind about me, it’s going to take some significant event to make him reconsider, you know how he is.

Look after yourself and the brats, love to you all, I’ll call when I can.