After setting the Aquarius safely down, Captain McCallister led his team across the broken surface of Uxal. Bulked up in their EVA suits, the Starfleet away team moved slowly across the desolate region towards the large complex that their guests had indicated as their home. Even though Voyager had restored their atmosphere and treated the inhabitants of this world from antimatter radiation, the harsh scars of what had taken place many years ago remained. Walking through what appeared to be a neglected settlement, the team kept their wits about them as they surveyed what was left to crumble into the dust that already covered the ground beneath them.
“We’re definitely not on Risa.” remarked Commander Hunsen over their helmet radios. “I’m surprised they’ve not done more to rebuild.”
“Remember Tremt, there were only around fifty-five hundred people living here when Voyager encountered them. That’s barely enough to rebuild a town, let alone anything else.” Counsellor Duncan replied back. “What they’ve achieved so far though is commendable.”
“Absolutely but twenty years has passed, surely they could have expanded further.” Hunsen questioned.
Stopping in his tracks, Captain McCallister looked at his two senior officers. “Gentlemen, these people have endured great hardships. I’m sure their lack of development so far could be forgiven. Remember, we’re here to lend a helping hand. Let’s see if that hand is accepted first.”
It had seemed bizarre why they needed to walk across the distance towards the dome where the Uxali now inhabited. Scans of the dome showed that they did not have anywhere that was suitable to dock any of Odyssey’s auxiliary craft. Transporters were also out of the question due to the interference from the antimatter radiation that still existed within the rocks and grounds. They couldn’t land any closer without landing on wreckage, so the walk was required. Nevertheless, once they reached the dome they would set up transporter enhancers to return to the Aquarius.
Stopping ahead of them was Odyssey’s Hazard Team with Lieutenant Commander Lenjir. The Tiburon commander was scanning the ground while the others secured the area. Approaching them, McCallister, Hunsen and Duncan made their way over.
“What is Cline?” McCallister asked.
Flipping his tricorder close, Lenjir looked up at his superiors. “Missile silos sir.” He pointed towards the large patch of silo doors that faced up from the ground. “And I’m detecting that what they have in them are all active.”
“Glad to hear the Uxali are ready to defend themselves!” Hunsen said as he peered over to look into the small crack.
McCallister, who was also glaring down at the weapons, squinted his eyes. “It’s understandable.” He noted and then indicated for his team to carry on walking across.
Approximately thirty minutes later they reached their destination. Radiation levels were lower nearer to the dome then they were elsewhere on the planet. The dome itself was an impressive feat of architecture. Solar panels and wind turbines sat around the edge of it or on top, providing power for the structure. There were no windows, just a few large doorways that appeared to be built to withstand a strong bombardment.
Approaching the one entrance they were told to go to, McCallister let his Hazard Team advance to it first. The moment they gave the signal that all was clear he followed their path with Hunsen and Duncan either side of him. A smaller entrance began to open and he assumed it was where they would go in. Taking one breath in, he led them inside the dome.
Otrin stood on the other side of the decontamination chamber with bated breath. It was years since his people had hosted any outside visitors, part of him wondered how open they would be towards their new guests. At least this time, he thought, they would not be found wearing rags. Over the last two decades, his people had refined some of their living habits including making new clothes. He wore black trousers, black boots with a dark grey jacket over the top of a khaki green roll neck top. Hanging around his neck he wore his radiation gauge, like a medallion.
Next to him, showing some signs of trepidation but attempting to keep herself calm was Brin. She wore a similar outfit to him, except she wore a maroon red top. Their outfits had been designed so that if in an emergency they needed to quickly put on a hazard suit, there wouldn’t be much to put on.
The cycle for the lock completed its job and allowed their visitors to enter.
With one breath, Otrin welcomed Captain McCallister and his group as he stepped forward and remembered the handshake gesture he had learnt from Kathryn Janeway over two decades ago.
Once introductions had been completed, Otrin and Brin took McCallister and his party towards the inner circle of the dome where a majority of their main operations took place. Eventually after taking a ride in a lift and climbing several staircases they entered into a large hall. Otrin explained it was a place where a majority of their decisions were made. Their ruling body met here on a weekly basis. Offering them some beverages and seats, Brin called over to the stewards that were there to see to their guests’ needs.
Eventually everyone was comfortable, allowing for the main topic to be discussed. Otrin asked McCallister what he meant by providing them with further help and aid.
“I’m going to be open and honest. The recount made by Admiral Janeway and her crew about your people is one that many back home in the Federation feel extremely guilty about. My ancestors were wrong to allow Friendship One to just float out into deep space without any warnings to others. For that Earth is extremely sorry for their misjudgement and as a result the Federation wants to provide any further help.” McCallsiter shared.
“That’s very generous of you captain,” Otrin remarked. “Nevertheless I can assure you that Admiral Janeway’s actions went a long way in repairing the damage between our people when she helped us over twenty years ago. My people feel it is now down to us to stand on our own two feet so we can rebuild.”
“And we completely respect that sir.” McCallister stated. “Without causing any more upset or tension, we want you to know we are here to help you further.”
Brin looked at Otrin and a further smile of acknowledgement appeared. “We are grateful, captain.” She said. “And I think I can speak honestly with you when I say we would gladly accept your help.”
“Brin is right, if there is anything you can do to help my people survive we would appreciate it.” Otrin said.
“My chief engineer, Commander Hunsen, has numerous teams that can work with you in enhancing anything you have.” McCallister began by gesturing towards the Betazoid that sat next to him. However before he could share what Doctor Sylvexs could offer, Otrin interrupted him.
“Captain, I think you need to be aware of something. We do not plan to remain on Uxal anytime soon.” Otrin shared. “We are planning to leave the planet behind.”
Surprised to hear that, McCallister looked to Duncan and then back to Otrin and Brin. “Can you clarify what you mean by that?”
However before they had a chance to say it, Hunsen spoke up. “The missile silos, they’ve not got warheads in them. You’ve converted them into passenger ships. You’ve got warp drive.” He paused and realised he had read their thoughts. “I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have done that but I can hear and feel your thoughts.”
“Commander Hunsen’s readings are correct.” Otrin stated. “We’ve focussed a lot of our work on developing a rudimental warp drive.”
Brin smiled with a sense of pride. “We’ve been working on methods to convert our remaining missiles to become ships that could take us to the inhabitable world that Admiral Janeway had originally looked into taking us to. Our plan was to move everyone in one big move. It would take us a few years to get there as we would only be able to do a top speed of warp two, but once we would arrive then we would start over again.”
Impressed at their bold plan, McCallister smiled at their eagerness to succeed as well. “That’s a very ambitious goal. Why don’t you wish to remain on the planet?”
“Uxal is filled with too many bad memories for our people and even with our skies being clearer, the radiation on our soil makes it hard to be able to grow fresh crops.” Brin explained.
“You want to restart your civilisation elsewhere?” Duncan rhetorically asked.
“We’ve proven that we can rebuild and use other sources of power but none of what we achieve here will make a difference in the long term. It will be several more decades before this area which we inhabit would be free of residual antimatter radiation. It will take centuries for this planet to return to how it was, but with us remaining here we may interfere and ruin nature’s way of recovering.” Otrin said. “A new home is needed for my people and we need to engage with the rest of the galaxy if we are to survive. Trading with others will only make things better for us, instead of being isolated.”
McCallister took a moment as he rested back in the armchair he was sitting in. “Let me clear it with my superiors first, but I’d like to help you with that plan. We could, in the meantime, assist with the essentials like medicine, fresh food, and water as a start.”
“Captain, with your permission I’d like to bring an engineering team down to see how far Otrin and Brin’s people have got with their warp drive. We could give them some advice and consult them. I’m sure the brass wouldn’t mind that?” Hunsen pleaded slightly.
Nodding in agreement, “Yes of course Tremt.” McCallister said, glancing at his chief engineer. Looking back at Otrin and Brin. “Let’s see what we can do to help your people make their lives a little bit easier to deal with.”
Otrin and Brin grinned at the captain as McCallister returned the gesture.
USS Aquarius (NCC-80000/1)
Following on from his first successful meeting with the Uxali leadership, McCallister and some of his team had returned to the Aquarius after setting up transporter enhancers. The small support ship now served as a relay between the Odyssey and the planet as Hunsen started to bring down teams to assist the Uxali with material support. Alongside that Doctor Sylvexs and her medical department were sending down smaller teams to provide further medical help. While all of that was taking place, McCallister had used the small conference room on the Aquarius to contact Commodore Bennet on the Discovery.
Bennet’s face was on the projected screen where McCallister sat at the head of the small rectangular table. The two men were similar in age, whereas Bennet had been luckier with the amount of promotions he had received to gain a place as part of the admiralty.
“So commodore, it would seem that even though they want our help it’s not quite the help I think Starfleet had in mind.” McCallister explained as he finished off his report.
“Well done James in being able to get them to open up about that.” Bennet responded with. “Making the overtures would be no small thing, but do you have something else in mind?”
Appreciating that the commodore was open to listening to his ideas, James nodded once. “I do sir. I think we should help them with their move.”
Caught off guard in hearing McCallister say that, Bennet’s eyes opened quite a bit. “What do you mean James?”
“They want to leave by using converted missiles to travel to this new home. Their convoy of ships would barely be able to reach warp two. The journey would take them a long time.” McCallister answered. “Either we help them improve that technology or…”
“Or we take them ourselves?” Bennet finished with. “Can Odyssey ferry that many people?”
Pleased the commodore caught his train of thought, McCallister said yes straight away. “Odyssey’s emergency capacity of twenty-thousand people wouldn’t be met by the Uxali population. There’s approximately ten-thousand of them. We could do this quite easily sir and help them build their new homes as well.”
Bennet scratched his goatee. “Alright James, you can go ahead with proposing it to the Uxali but if they say no then that’s fine and don’t push them anymore.”
“Thank you sir, I appreciate your confidence in myself and my crew to do this.” McCallister said with a grin.
“Good luck, Bennet out.” The commodore closed the channel at his end which resulted in the holographic display closing down by itself.
Uxal, Uxal System, Gradin Belt, Delta Quadrant
The siblings, now the de facto leaders of the Followers of Verin, stood within the dark confines of the cavern that they inhabited. The death of Verin had brought their community closer together. Their cause was simple, they wanted to remain on Uxal and prevent others from bringing in any other outsiders. They were against the Voyagers, the Humans that had visited their world under the guise of peace over twenty years ago. Those that followed Otrin and Brin, called Verin and his group deranged, nevertheless their desire to remain away from those that were blessed to be on the surface had never faltered in the past two decades. Verin claimed that the Voyager cure was an attempt to prepare the Uxal for slavery. Just as Voyager’s ancestors had done a century ago by killing their people, they would take the remaining Uxali to become their workforce. Verin had almost tricked the Voyager crew in taking them away from the planet but when they cleared the skies, their true plans for conquest of the Uxali people was made plain and obvious for Verin to see. He returned to the caves with some of his followers to prepare for the last remaining effort from Earth to attack them and enslave them all. He would not allow it, so he prepared the few people that followed him. Now, after his death, Elsin and Yanrin promised to follow in his footsteps and complete his work.
Reading the latest update from their spy, Yanrin looked up at her brother and sighed heavily. “This is not going to be easy.”
“Father never said it would be.” Elsin replied back with. “Maybe we should reconsider our target. Instead of the Voyager craft that we aim for, we should attack Otrin where it hurts the most.”
Shaking her head in disagreement, Yanrin told her brother off for his cavalier suggestion. “No, if we assault Brin or anyone else on the ruling body then we’d only make them a martyr to the people and we would lose any support we hope to gain.” She considered their options one more time. “Perhaps we should take a lesson out of our history books.”
Elsin squinted his eyes. “What are you referring to?”
“The Uxali people were once at war with one another before a certain accident wiped out our people. Perhaps something of a similar nature, on a smaller scale of course, could take place?” Yenrin said as she pulled up the latest information they had on the planet’s former powergrid and the missile silos that they powered.