What follows is the first part of my Star Trek fan-fiction following the unadventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Quotidian. The stories speak for themselves, so I’ll offer no further introduction.
The second installment, “Dignified Relations”, can be found here.
The third story, “Muses of our Fates”, can be found here.
U.S.S. Quotidian, Captain’s Log, Stardate 41153.7
We are engaged in a routine survey mission, cataloguing instances of carbon-rich asteroids in the Cortix system. All operations are proceeding smoothly, with no incidents of any kind to report whatsoever.
“Captain, we’re receiving a text-based communication from the Lenibus. Seems to be quite a short message.”
“Thank you, lieutenant.” Captain Miller turned her chair to face her head of operations, Commander Sarr. “Ops, can you confirm the latest report that the Lenibus sent to headquaters?”
Sarr, which was an old Bajoran name meaning “clerk”, scanned through a list of entries on the console in front of her. “Five hours ago, captain. Just an update on position and status, nothing out of the ordinary reported.”
Miller looked around nervously. “A short message? Okay, read it out.”
The communications officer looked perplexed as he scanned the message. “It just says, ‘Bagsie Not It.’ Is that a code?”
“Bagsie not…” Miller stroked her chin, then lept out of her chair. “Damn! Science, quick, shut down the -”
The science console chirped in alarm. Lieutenant Baker, the science officer, rolled his eyes.
“- sensor alerts.” The captain sank back into her chair with all the gravity of a neutron star. “I take it the computer logged that already?” Baker nodded, and Miller’s head slumped. “Out with it, then.”
“First off captain, allow me to apologise for my sluggish reactions. Secondly, there seems to be a…” He sighed expressively. “There seems to be some kind of gravitic energy burst emanating from the nearby Admodum system, eight lightyears away.”
Miller brought up a navigational chart on her armrest display. “Are there any other ships in the sector?”
Sarr responded. “One, captain.”
Miller’s eyes narrowed. “It’s the Lenibus, isn’t it?”
“I’m afraid so, captain.”
Miller cursed the other ship’s captain. Then she stood up, straightened her back. “Bridge to engineering, this is the captain. Chief, we’ve encountered a spatial anomaly eight lightyears away.”
Chief Shmeh was on the other end of the line. “Shmeh here, sir. Eight lightyears, understood.” The line went quiet for a few moments. Miller scratched the back of her head idly, whilst Sarr and Baker exchanged hopeful glances. Suddenly, the sound of the ship’s reactors fell away to nothing, leaving the bridge eerily quiet. Shmeh’s voice rang out not long after. “Captain, we’ve just completely lost warp field integrity. The whole system just went dead. I am unable to ascertain how or why.”
Miller nodded her head. “How quickly can you restore warp engines, Shmeh?”
“Well, captain, as I don’t understand the cause of the problem, I can only recommend a level ten diagnostic on all power and propulsion systems before I attempt any repairs, or else risk making matters worse.”
“How long will that take?”
“At least ten hours, sir.” Shmeh paused for a moment. “To reach a minimum standard of safety. Captain.”
“In that case, we’d better make it a Level twenty diagnostic. And run it on all ship functions, just in case whatever issue this is starts affecting life support, navigation or even the holodecks.” Miller looked around and addressed the bridge in general. “You can’t be too careful.”
The other officers nodded their assent, then turned back to their stations. Sarr whispered her appreciation to the Prophets, but cursed in old Bajoran when she looked down at her console. “Captain Miller! The anomaly, it just started accelerating toward us, at warp speed! Estimated time to intercept, ninety-six seconds, captain!”
Miller thumped her armrest. “Damn it! Okay, think fast people – Baker, is it definitely headed for us? Is it possible that it just started moving in this direction randomly?”
Baker pressed his eyes to the sensor scope. “Negative, captain, it looks like it’s making a beeline straight for the Quotidian. It’s possible that it’s responding to our background subspace radio emissions. If we were to shut down all onboard power sources, except minimal life support, it’s possible it would be unable to detect us, as long as it doesn’t pass into visual range.”
“Understood. Commander Sarr, make it happen. Bridge to engineering – Shmeh, we need to shut down everything except life support, and even then we can run it on minimal, we’ll just breathe like yogis if we have to. If we’re lucky, whatever this thing is will pass us by and we can contin-”
The ship shook violently, rocked from side to side. Damage alerts flooded in from all decks. Sarr clung to her console. “Some kind of energy field, captain, pinning us in place! It’s beyond anything I’ve seen before, our scopes can barely measure it. Trying to compensate.”
The shaking subsided as the inertial dampeners took effect. Miller glanced around in alarm. “Tell me there’s a way out of-”
“MORTAL LIFE FORMS.” A booming voice filled every molecule of atmosphere within the ship. “I AM VIRRIDITTAR THE ELEVENTH, HIGH EMISSARY OF THE GLORIOUS STAR EMPIRE OF VIDUMET. I BRING WITH ME AN OFFER, AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUR ENTIRE RACE.”
Miller, slumped in the captain’s chair, tipped her head back and pinched the bridge of her nose, inhaling deeply. “On screen.”
The main viewer changed from a pleasingly soft gradient of greys to the external view, and the vibrant, garish form of an enormous ancient warrior floating in space, shimmering and blindingly bright, clad in nought but a face-concealing helmet and wielding a huge, kilometres-long spear.
“Based on these readings, I believe it’s a psychic projection, captain,” Baker volunteered, “an image created to aid communication. Although that doesn’t explain the loincloth.”
“MORTAL LIFE FORMS, WILL YOU ANSWER MY CALL?” the warrior boomed. “MY PEOPLE SEEK A DISCOURSE WITH YOUR SPECIES, TO SHARE OUR WONDROUS TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS. YOUR LEADER, YOUR SO-CALLED CAPTAIN, HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS YOUR AMBASSADOR. SHE MUST ADDRESS THE HIEROPHANTS OF VIDUMET, THE EXALTED HEIRS OF THE ROYAL BLOODLINE OF KARSIS, HOLDERS OF THE KEYS OF-”
VirridIttar continued for some time, listing the many titles of his leaders. Captain Miller didn’t move once throughout, but sat motionless, her head still tipped back. A junior lieutenant at the weapons station had his head in his hands, whilst Commander Sarr was forcefully tapping the side of her console with her fingertips and grinding her teeth.
“- THRICE-REMOVED, AND OVERSEERS OF THE SACRED BATHHOUSE. BUT BEFORE SHE IS PERMITTED TO KNEEL BEFORE THESE NOBLE GODS, SHE MUST FIRST PASS A SERIES OF DEADLY CHALLENGES, TO ENSURE THAT SHE IS WORTHY. ONCE YOU START THE TESTS, YOU MUST COMPLETE THEM. SHOULD YOU FAIL, YOUR LIFE, AND THE LIVES OF ALL THOSE ABOARD YOUR VESSEL, SHALL BE FORFEIT. THESE CHALLENGES SHALL PUT TO THE TEST YOUR COURAGE, YOUR RESOLVE, YOUR-”
Miller now had her hand on her forehead, slowly pushing her fingers back through her hair. Baker had started a conversation with the ensign sat behind him, asking about her dissertation at the academy. Sarr was now picking at a loose thread in the upholstery of her seat.
“- AND YOUR GASTRIC FORTITUDE. HOWEVER, THE MERCY OF THE HIEROPHANTS IS GREAT, AND THEY OFFER YOU NOW THIS CHANCE ESCAPE NEAR-CERTAIN FAILURE AND SUBSEQUENT ETERNAL TORMENT,” Miller perked up, eyes wide. “BY SACRIFICING ONE OF YOUR OWN LOYAL FOLLOWERS.” The iridescent hoplite fell silent, anticipation heavy in the air.
Miller held the warrior’s gaze. “Just one?” Then she began tapping words into a written message on her armrest display.
Virridittar’s voice boomed once again throughout the ship. “AH, YES, JUST ONE. BUT TO DO SO WOULD BE TO DENY YOURSELF ACCESS TO ALL THE UNIVERSE’S KNOWLEDGE, TO DENY YOURSELF ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGIES AND WEAPONS BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. CURES TO EVERY DISEASE, PROTECTION FOR ALL, AN END TO SUFFERING, AND EVEN IMMORTALITY ITSELF. ALL OF THESE GIFTS YOU COULD SHARE WITH YOUR-”
Miller turned to the weapons station. “Lieutenant Smith?”
Smith looked up. “Was tired of living anyway, captain.”
Miller nodded. “Outstanding.” She drew her phaser, pointed it at Smith and vaporised him. As the glowing particulate remains of Smith faded away, she turned back to the viewscreen. “I believe we’re now free to go?”
It took a moment for Virridittar to respond. “I – EH, YOU, YOU JUST KILLED HIM.”
Miller nodded. “That gets me out of the tests, correct? And out of the audience with your leaders?”
“OF COURSE IT – THAT WAS THE TEST. YOU JUST – THE TEST WAS TO SEE IF YOU WERE WILLING TO RISK YOUR LIFE TO – YOU JUST KILLED HIM.” Virridittar’s form began to sparkle a little less, and began to slowly shrink down to a more moderate size. “YOU DIDN’T EVEN, LIKE, THINK ABOUT IT.”
The envoy’s form was becoming less martial, the helmet morphing into a more elegant circlet and revealing a beautiful, if somewhat aghast, alien face. “We were offering you UNLIMITED power, we offered you IMMORTALITY, and all you had to do… I mean, it’s normally hours of deliberation, then they decide to risk it for the good of… Or they try to decide who to sacrifice, then we reveal… But you… You just killed him.”
Virridittar’s humanoid form was now fading entirely, revealing a small and incredibly advanced alien vessel just a few hundred metres from the Quotidian’s bow. The voice was faint and getting quieter. “Just… just killed him. Unlimited power. Killed him.”
The Quotidian shuddered as the energy field surrounding it dissipated. Miller and her bridge officers watched as the alien ship turned away and began moving off, accelerating quickly. For a moment, it seemed as though there was one last, resonating sigh as the ship vanished into the distance.
Miller counted to ten. “Baker, is that thing turning back at all?”
“It’s already left our scopes, captain. No sign of it for five sectors.”
The captain let out a breath. “Bridge to transporter room; Smith, did they grab you?”
Smith sounded relaxed. “Got me right on time, captain. No damage done.”
Miller smiled. Smith was a consummate professional for such a young officer. “Okay, get yourself back to the bridge, via holodeck three, you earned it. Engineering, Chief Shmeh, switch the damn engines back on. Commander Sarr, make a note in the log – first contact with the… whatever they were called. Unable to establish communication, possible failure in the universal translator.”
“Aye, captain, I’ll have comms look into the issue as soon as possible, but it could take weeks.” She punched a few commands into her console. “Would you like me to plot a course for the next asteroid cluster?”
“I think we better had, we were making record time. After that, we can start logging the base rate of neutrino emission from the -”
The whine of the transporter filled the room as the anxious form of the first officer, Commander Aufregend, materialised next to Miller. He looked around wide-eyed, phaser in hand. “Captain! Are you okay? Is the ship safe? Do you need me to secure the area?”
“That won’t be necessary, number one, the, ah, spatial anomaly has departed.”
“Spatial anomaly? I heard the voice captain – immortality! Unlimited power! If you would like, I could take a shuttle and a science team! By recalibrating the navigational array we could track the molecular disturbance in the subspace field and follow it back to its source. Once we’ve determined its origin, we could -”
Miller waved her hands. “That won’t be necessary, Typhon, really, the situation has been resolved.”
“But – oh. So quickly? I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner, but the door to my quarters jammed again. I tried to gain access to the jeffries tube like last time, but it was somehow filled with plasma. Luckily, I was able to reroute the comms circuit and hook up with one of the shuttles, managed to reprogram its remote access algorithm so I could use the on-board site-to-site transporter and get myself here. That makes the third time my door has jammed during a crisis, do you think it might be an issue with the EPS conduits? Maybe if we remodulate the ship’s internal -”
Baker tapped something on his console and a high-pitched alarm sounded. He cried out, “Commander, there’s a plasma fire on G-deck! In the entomology lab! We need someone to put it out before it engulfs the ship!”
Aufregend spun on his heels. “Plasma fire? Entomology? The insects!” He sprinted to the turbolift.
“Stop by engineering once you’ve dealt with it,” Miller called after him. “Ask Shmeh to fortify the security access on the shuttles, if you would.”
Aufregend disappeared behind the turbolift doors. “We need to try something different next time, he’s catching onto the door thing,” Sarr said, not looking up from her console.
“Agreed,” Miller said. “Maybe some kind of coolant leak in the adjoining corridor. Run up some scenarios, let me know how you get on. Anything else?”
The stand-in tactical officer cleared his throat. “We’re getting a distress call, captain, from the Lequ system.”
Miller sat firmly in her chair. “Are we the only ship in range?”
Miller smiled. “Fantastic.”