Part of USS North Sea: Comp Entires


USS Calypso
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Over 20 years ago, the USS Enterprise-D discovered a Dyson Sphere, an alien megastructure built around a star. Such a structure was thought impossible and discussed only in theory. Yet, there it was. Who could have made such a mechanism? No one knew as the inhabitants were gone. Where did they go? Why did they leave? Such questions were part of the shell’s mystery. With a team from the USS Calypso and scientists from two other starships, Lt. Fawkes hoped to help solve that puzzle.

The Galilean telescope belonged to her father – a replica made in 1974. How many times had Fawkes admired the red leather and gold leaf trimming as she sat in his study, smelled his pipe smoke, and listened to his stories about Starfleet? She couldn’t recollect. The number was too great. So many memories were attached to the cylinder that it might as well have been the real thing. Charlotte held the artifact with deft fingers as she moved toward the window of her quarters. She marveled at the Dyson Sphere’s concave shape. Its surface seemed to climb into the heavens and disappear into a faraway mist. Why did they leave?

Over the years, the leather-bound telescope had grown rough. Charlotte felt the coarse texture with her fingertips. The gold leaf flaked in places, but the overall design remained intact. As with the original spyglass, the field of view was small, less than 1/4th of Luna’s surface. It had grown darker from pipe smoke, sitting in her father’s study for 20 years.

She wished he was there to share the moment. Commander Fawkes would have marveled at such a testament to ingenuity – the ability to harness the energy of a star. The construction required the cooperation of generations of an entire civilization—a magnificent achievement in and of itself. 

After such an accomplishment, why did they leave? Did the sphere’s populous abandon their home on purpose, or did forces drive them out? There was no sign of attack nor evidence of a plague. There was only an empty shell. 

Lt. Fawkes stood at the port window and looked through the eyepiece. The window distorted the view, but she could make out a tiny section of an overgrown city. Char giggled as the moment ignited a memory of her father. When she and Commander Fawkes would scour the night sky with the same leather-bound scope, afterward, he regaled his daughter with tales of the stars and the people who sailed them – Magelion, Armstrong, Cochrane, and so many others. 

Why did he leave?

Charlotte placed the telescope on its pedestal at her desk. Soon, she would beam to the planet below. What would she find? An unfinished breakfast? An abandoned transport? A pipe on a desk in a study, half filled with tobacco? 


  • I really love the rhythm of this piece! The 3x repetition of "why did --- leave" frames her observations nicely and the 3rd one landed very effectively, a simple way of showing the immensity of Fawkes's grief and the way lingers even when her mind should be overwhelmed by other things. And the last line hit just right, so bittersweet and melancholy. I'm glad this competition brought your writing to my attention because now I want to read more of it!

    February 13, 2023