Part of Starbase Bravo: Q2 2400

Leave No Trace

Starfleet Academy Campus, San Francisco, Earth
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The wind slipped between the branches of the trees and scratched the ground with stray leaves, giving a voice to the most complex lifeforms remaining in the sphere, but it told her nothing. It didn’t matter to the creeping vines who had built the walls and buildings they now claimed as their own.

Far below her feet were profound vibrations, undulating into infinity like a leviathan’s breath. They rushed toward the mist on the horizon and then started again. Or circled back around?

The sky was painful to look at, but it moved? It rippled? How long had she been staring at it, trying to decide if what she’d seen were real?

Dawa clutched her head and crouched low as her vision spun, and she willed slow, deep breaths into her lungs, and back out. In, and out.

Where did you go? The words were tight in her throat but she couldn’t push them any further, afraid that the intrusion of her voice would pierce the light-minutes distant sky and collapse the impossible structure like dominoes. A snort of air did escape as the absurdity of the idea settled in.

She rocked back and sat down, closed her eyes, and listened to the wind and the hum. Alone. Her classmates were gone, had already explored the buildings. Empty buildings. No trace of the architects save for the doorways. Human-sized doorways. Too-small doorways.

How could the ones who had built this impossible structure fit through such a door? How could they leave without painting the sky in ions and stardust with every footstep? How could they disappear without a trace?

Are they still out there?

The door to the holodeck opened, and Cadet Wong popped her head inside. “Dawa! The exhibit hall is closing in 15 minutes. We’re going to dinner at Sisko’s next if you wanna join us.”

As reality filtered back in, Dawa steadied her breath and found her voice. “Sounds great! I’ll be right out.”

Her legs trembled but held as she stood up, and when she stepped out of the exhibit hall into the cool night air she glanced at the placid stars above San Francisco, apparently unchanged from the night before, and the night before that. Not one had been plucked from the sky.



  • This is a gorgeous bit of writing right here. I'm really taken by how the grandeur of the sphere is overwhelming to Dawa. It's mystery and majesty seem to be physically crushing her; every word conveys the tension more and more. "Profound vibrations" and "painting the sky in ions and stardust" are really gorgeous turns of phrase. Expertly done!

    February 5, 2023
  • Great take on this prompt, and your writing is elegant in its descriptions of both emotion and place. Love the mystery of it.

    February 13, 2023
  • Dawa Vlček

    CO, Bomber Squadron SB4-T1 (White Squadron)