The ruins were massive. What were once presumably large, beautiful geometric structures had been reduced to jagged spires of concrete and metal, and were jutting out from the soft, grassy soil at odd angles. Were it not for their obvious age, and the idyllic setting, it would seem like these city ruins were the site of some grand battle, where they’d been bombed out.
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, Simon,” a voice called out. Lieutenant Simon Balboa deLeon stood, and saw that his superior had wandered a significant way away from him. She was clambering up one of the smaller ruins, attempting to reach what was presumably some ledge that only she could see.
“Gawking at and scanning the ruins to determine their age and makeup won’t help you unravel their mystery, or explain how no one noticed this little moon before now,” she called out again. “You need to actually take a look around, get your hands dirty!”
“And presumably haul my awkward, graceless ass up the side of a tower, ma’am?” he called back.
The hell it couldn’t…
Simon was a warp and transwarp specialist, and patently not an archaeologist, xeno or otherwise. When the USS Ride had dropped out of warp to scan this sector, they’d detected an anomaly on this, the first moon orbiting a massive gas giant. He’d jumped at the opportunity to get off the ship for a bit, and had been hoping that they’d transport down somewhere in range of the actual anomaly. Thus far they’d come up with nothing, after scouting the ruins for several hours. The other away teams had come up empty-handed too, and so Captain Nushif Ejoma, the Executive Officer, had decided they should take the opportunity to explore the ruins anyway.
Simon picked up his gear, and began clamoring after Nushif. She had indeed found a ledge, and it looked sturdy enough to support the two of them. As he climbed the last bit of concrete and pulled himself up, he saw her sitting with her legs dangling off, facing the opposite direction.
“It’s really pretty, take a look,” she responded as she handed her canteen to him. As he sat down and took a swig, she continued, “You know we have ruins like this, back home on Bajor. They’re not exactly like this, of course. But we’re an old civilization, and the ebb and flow of population has caused a few places like this to pop up. The Occupation didn’t do us any favors there either.”
“Right,” Simon replied. “I’ve seen holos of some of those, and some of the ones that are being restored.”
“Yeah, the touristy ones are real pretty,” she replied. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re overblown tourist traps, and I’m sure more than a few unscrupulous merchants have set up shop there, but they’re pretty. That aside though, there are places where it’s obvious that massive cities once existed on Bajor that just…aren’t there any longer. Whether that’s because of the natural ebb and flow of population, or because the Cardassians carpet-bombed them into oblivion, who knows? But they look just like this.”
“And you’re hoping that this was because of the natural ebb and flow, and not because they got shelled?”
With a tilt of her brow, she responded, “What are you, a Betazoid all of the sudden? Yeah, I am. I wouldn’t wish what happened to Bajor on the worst of civilizations, but the more of the galaxy I see, the more I realize that war just seems to be this universal constant. This omnipresent, oppressive thing that invariably all civilizations must endure, no matter how far they step out into the light. It doesn’t have to be that way, but all too often it is. And this, ages on, is the result.”
“I didn’t figure you for a pessimist, ma’am,” Simon responded. “But just on premise I reject that. I don’t think that a civilization has to go through war in order to…”
“I didn’t say they have to go through war, Simon,” she interrupted. “I said it just seems to happen more often than not.”
“Fair,” Simon responded. The two sat in awkward but mostly pleasant silence for a few moments.
“Ma’am, these ruins are only maybe a hundred years old, from my scans. Whatever happened here, it was in recent history,” Simon said. “I can think of only a few sporadic species that live fewer years than that on average. All of this…it’s less than one generation ago, most likely.”
“Depending on their tech level when this happened, yeah,” Ejoma retorted. “That’s how it goes though. Cities aren’t built in a day, but they sure as hell can be destroyed in one. Who knows though. Maybe this didn’t happen quickly, maybe it was just a quiet decline and nature re-took these buildings. From the way the vines growing on some of the towers out there…I could see that being the case.”
“Why is this so important to you, ma’am?” Simon asked. “We came down here to find the anomaly, not to sift through the ashes of an old civilization.”
Looking at him with a soft smile, she replied, “Because someone has to be the steward of a people that can no longer speak for themselves, Lieutenant.”