“Captain’s log supplemental. Telemetry has come back from the probe and it would appear that the inhabitants of the planet are in a stage of development similar to that of Earth’s late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries as they appear to be experimenting with internal combustion engines and other technologies invented around that time.
“The local population are bipedal, with a small cranial ridge about three centimeters in length and spots not unlike those of the Trill. Their hands appear to consist of two main digits and an opposable thumb. Based on these scans, it shouldn’t be a problem for Dr. Brant to perform the necessary surgery on the away team and the computer is presently analyzing and preparing replication patterns for the wardrobe.
“I’m not thrilled about sending a team into a place where the risk of cultural contamination is so high, but Command has made it clear that locating any information about the Tkon is paramount. The away team is set to depart in short order. I can only hope that we’re taking every possible precaution to prevent such contamination from happening. End log.”
Treylana leaned back in her chair with an exasperated sigh and started to massage her temples. She was beginning to feel a little stressed from the last couple of missions and her mild headache was proof of that. Some rest and relaxation was in order, but it was going to have to wait until the Tkon business was dealt with.
With the pain beginning to subside, she gathered what was left of her thoughts and left her ready room. She noticed a bunch of younger faces on the bridge. Phil and William had managed to get their plan to rotate the shifts in order and got a quick shift change in while they had been waiting on the probe data. Not wanting to disturb them, she quietly nodded to Phil who had glimpsed her arrival onto the bridge and nodded in kind. “I’ll be in sickbay if you need me.” she told him.
By the time she made it to sickbay, Dr. Brant was just wrapping up surgery on Sumiko, affixing the cranial ridge to her forehead. She almost wouldn’t have recognized her senior officers if it had not been for their normal human features, but to the naked eye they were a spitting image of one of the planet’s inhabitants. With any luck, they would not have to test the integrity of the doctor’s surgical abilities.
Paul was going to be in charge of the mission, so Treylana made sure to approach him first as she drew closer to the three away team members and the doctor. “Remarkable work doctor.” she said, eyeing the level of detail he had applied to Paul’s spots.
She wasn’t expecting a response and continued to address the team, though mostly directing her instructions to Paul. “We have reason to believe the wreckage is buried below the surface. It’s the most reasonable assumption if it’s been there for hundreds of thousands of years. There are some mountainous ranges west of the settlement we observed that could contain caves. That’ll be your primary means of access. I would rather not use the ship’s phasers to cut our way in. You understand your mission?”
“Get in, find whatever it is we’re looking for and get out. Avoid contact with the locals if at all possible.” Paul replied.
“Good, I’ll leave you three to it then. I’ll expect hourly progress updates.”
Paul nodded and Treylana left the three of them to finish their preparations.
Tekris had finally made it back home about the time his mother was finishing dinner. He was famished after having spent the better part of his day hauling his father’s equipment. Fortunately the errand was not in vain as the town blacksmith was able to repair it. The trip home however gave him the time to think about what Dotan and Horom had shown him. Whatever it was looked very old and the markings were not something he recognized, but he certainly wanted to learn more. If nothing more than to satisfy a curiosity. But how will I convince mom and dad to let me go? He thought to himself.
He took a seat at the dinner table just as his father was coming in from outside. “Ah Tekris! You’re home. What did the blacksmith have to say?”
“He said he was able to figure out pretty quickly what was wrong with it. I don’t remember exactly what it was he said was wrong with it, but after a few hours he told me it was as good as new. I left it out on the cart outside.” Tekris replied.
“That’s great. Maybe I can get your help later to hook it back up?”
“Actually dad, when I was in town today, I ran into Dotan and Horom. They asked if I wanted to join them for a night of camping under the stars. I told them I would ask you and mom first.”
Tekris knew what he had just told his father wasn’t the complete truth, but it was close enough. He would in fact be with his friends, and the camping idea would be a good enough alibi for being out all night.
“Son, you’ve already been out all day. Granted, you were doing me a favour, but I really could have used your help. I would really appreciate it if you could stay here tonight and give me a hand.”
Tekris felt a sudden wave of disappointment hit him and his mother could see it in his face. Doing as any mother would when a child was sad or hurt, she came to his defense. “Tekram dear, let him go spend the night with his friends. It won’t be long before his studies begin taking up much of his time again. Let him have at least one night of adventure before then.”
With a sense of being outnumbered and defeated, Tekram moved to embrace his wife and kissed the back of her head. “As always my dear, you are right. I’m sure I can manage on my own tonight.” he said to her before looking toward his son “Go and enjoy yourself, but when you return, I’m going to need your help if we’re to make up for the last couple of days.”
Tekris’ face turned from the look of disappointment to one of sheer excitement. “Yes father! Absolutely!” he exclaimed in response before rushing upstairs to his bedroom to pack some supplies.
The away team materialized in an open field with but a few trees nearby. The three of them gazed around at their surroundings to make sure they hadn’t been spotted. Noticing a small town to the East of their location some few kilometers away, it was safe to assume that no one had seen them appear out of thin air.
Paul pulled out his tricorder for a deep pocket in the right side of his garment and opened it up. He conducted a quick perimeter scan to get his bearings. The mountainous region still a couple of kilometers to the West was their destination. He wasn’t registering any cavern entrances in the immediate vicinity but was picking up a very faint energy signature. He hypothesized that if they made their way toward that energy reading, they might find an entrance there.
He motioned for the others to grab their gear and then pointed in the direction they were going to go. The sun was beginning to set, so they would have to hurry if they were going to find an entrance before dark.
It took them well over an hour to reach the base of the mountains. It was now almost completely dark. The only things keeping them going in the intended direction was the now rising moonlight and the steadily increasing energy signature.
Paul scanned with his tricorder once more, “There appears to be a cave about fifty meters that way.” he said pointing North from their present location.
The cave was narrow at its entrance, but once inside and the team’s lights began to reflect off the walls it opened to a much wider area. The walls appeared damp to the touch and there were a multitude of stalagmites and stalactites. To the right observer, one could say almost picturesque.
“We’ll set up a camp here.” Paul began, “Sumiko, why don’t you ignite a couple rocks for some extra light. Lieutenant Mathers and I will scout up ahead and see if we can find anything.”
The two men continued through the passageways following the energy reading they were detecting until they came upon the edge of a small cliff that bordered a vast area at least several hundred meters across and about ten meters down. It was too dark to see even with their Starfleet issued flashlights to be precise. Paul could just make out the silhouette of what appeared to be a ship or what was left of it in the pit below. He also noted additional stalagmites at the base of the cliff. They were going to have to rappel down to check it out, but it was doable with caution.
The two headed back to camp to meet up with Sumiko and get the gear they needed for the climb down.