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Part of USS Polaris: A Place Removed from Space

While Stranded, Time to Explore

Unknown Planet, near USS Polaris in Unknown Space
June 2400, Mission Day 1
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Commander Lewis and two of the ship’s hazard team were first out the back of the Type 11 shuttle, their eyes alert, phasers at the ready, searching for any potential threats.

“LZ clear,” came the call from the Commander a few moments later, at least temporarily satisfied that the immediate area in front of them was safe. In the stillness of the ruins, he knew the shuttle’s approach would have stood out to a sore thumb if anyone remained among these ruins though. That meant neither he nor his hand-picked squadmates lowered their rifles.

Of course it was clear, thought Captain Devreux. Every indication, from the Polaris’ scanners to their probe to the elongated overflight Commander Lewis had insisted on, suggested this was a dead world and that it had been for centuries. The Captain would have rather brought more archaeologists and anthropologists instead of such a significant security detail, but he’d learned by now that it was better to humor their Chief Intelligence Officer’s paranoia than fight him on it. Those antics had saved their bacon on a couple occasions so they weren’t completely unfounded, even if Devreux disagreed heavily with how Lewis had turned the ship’s Hazard Team into what felt like a mini-paramilitary.

As the Captain and the team from the Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity emerged from the ship, they were hit by a strong gust of wind from the east, one that tore its way between the enormous towers of the ancient city. Devreux had to lean hard into the wind and brace himself to avoid getting knocked from his feet. A petite officer in teal, Lieutenant Emilia Balan, was less lucky. She lost her balance, and the Captain extended his hand to steady her. No life had walked these streets for hundreds of years, and it was almost as if the spirits of this forgotten place wanted it to stay that way.

As the away team made its way down the streets towards a central square they had identified during their overflight, they took in the view around them. “It’s incredible, isn’t it?” remarked Lieutenant Balan with a twinkle in her eyes as she looked up at the skyscrapers reaching more than a kilometer high on every side of them. To experience moments like this, it was why she’d joined Starfleet in the first place.

“Makes you wonder if someday all we have built will be nothing more than a memory like this,” commented Chief Shafir with a darkness in her expression as she walked along-side her colleague. “Just empty streets, aging steel and cracked glass.”

“And dust. Don’t forget the dust,” chuckled Captain Devreux as another gust blasted them with thin gray particulates. Lieutenant Balan, their Cultural Affairs Specialist, was a perpetual optimist, someone who’d somehow found beauty and grace even within the militant, ordered society of the Tzenkethi, while Chief Shafir, their Computer Systems Specialist, had done time in prison before she found purpose with Starfleet, where she’d then gone on to spend so much time undercover that she almost lost herself again. Brought together by the Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity on the Polaris, they’d somehow become the unlikeliest of friends, much to the amusement of the Captain.

“But Ayala, don’t you see it?” asked Lieutenant Balan of her colleague, keeping at it. “These people, the ones that built this city, there was so much more to them than that. You can see it in the artistry of their buildings. Like look at those three,” she said, gesturing up ahead. “The central tower is anything but utilitarian with its hyperboloid lattice construction. They chose to give up real estate in favor of design. And those two buildings flanking it on either side, their curved profiles are almost designed to fit within the whitespace the tower creates, when it would have certainly been more efficient to skip that bowed-out design.”

Before the Chief could respond, Command Lewis, the Hazard Team lead, cut them off, completely uninterested in their banter. This was work, and there could be threats in every window and behind every corner.  “We are approaching the square. The anomalous power source we detected during approach is up ahead,” he said, gesturing towards a building in the center of the square. “Hazard Four, Five, Seven and Eight, take up defensive positions around the square. Hazard Two and Six, find a location for overwatch. Everyone else, let’s get moving.”

Commander Lewis’ Hazard Team broke into three distinct movements. An Ensign in security yellow and a Crewman First Class in intelligence red jogged off to find a good spot to cover the square. The four men he’d identified as Hazard Four, Five, Seven and Eight also peeled away, each heading for different corners of the square. The last two members of the Hazard team, along with the Commander himself, tightened up around the jolly band of researchers as they proceeded forward towards their destination. The focused look and precise movements of each Hazard Team member mirrored that of their leader, the man who had picked them and trained them, the man each of them looked up to.

As the main group came upon the door, with not so much as a word, one of the Hazard Team members placed a directional charge, while Lewis extended his arm to stop the advance of the rest of the party. A few moments later, the charge blew. As the dust settled, the team proceeded forward.

“Wow,” exclaimed Lieutenant Balan as the team stepped over the rubble into an ornate atrium. The floor was lined with clean white stone, sculptures along the walls on either side, a high arched ceiling at least three floors overhead. “Need I say more about their artistry?”  It was a shame Lewis’ team had blown up the door and done damage to the place rather than find a more delicate way in.

While the research team took in the sights, the Hazard Team members moved methodically through the atrium, tricorders out and phasers still at the ready, narrowing in on the power source they had detected.

“Over here,” gestured the Commander towards Chief Shafir as one of his team members pulled off a panel of the wall, unveiling a power source of some sort, glowing a dim blue, attached to some sort of a computer device. “Looks like we hit the jackpot. A power source, and a computer.”

Chief Shafir was only a few footsteps behind them. Like the Commander, she was here to do a job, not marvel at the sights. She dropped to a knee and opened her pack, pulling out a set of adaptive signal interfaces, a bioneural processor loaded with a digital infiltration and system interoperability suite, and a PADD to serve as her console. And then she got to work.

“This is no standard issue quantum processor,” the Chief remarked after a few moments. “In fact, it’s not like any digital system I’ve ever seen before.” She stepped back from the screen, pulled out her tricorder, and began scanning the power source. “Hmmm, that’s interesting…” she mused, before returning to her PADD and beginning to type furiously again.

Devreux watched on, but Shafir’s screen was unintelligible to him. Unfortunately, in this case, the data coming off the interface with this strange computer was unintelligible to her as well.

Shafir tapped her combadge: “Shafir to Lockwood.”

There was a pause, and then the combadge came to life. “Ayala, unless you’re calling about an indefinite non-degenerate bilinear form that yields accurate intervals in this distorted spacetime, I’m a bit busy at the moment,” came the Commander’s response with a mix of frustration and distraction, this call tearing him away from his work trying to figure out how to make adjustments to enable warp in this exotic spacetime. It was not pleasantries nor professionalism that got the eccentric scientist his commission as head of Astrophysical and Exotic Sciences for the Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity. But in this case, even beyond that, their issue here was personal. Lockwood had been stranded once before, for multiple years that time, and he didn’t have any intention of reliving that again.

“No, Mr Big Brain PhD, that’s why we have you,” countered the Chief as she rolled her eyes, drawing a stern stare from her Captain for how she spoke to the Commander. But Ayala Shafir also wasn’t here on behalf of her professionalism, and Luke Lockwood was a pain in the ass. “But do take a look at what I’m uplinking you, if you would be so kind.”

The line was silent for an uncustomary period of time, and then two words. “What the…”

“Yeah, my thoughts exactly,” replied Shafir, becoming as animated and excited as she’d been this whole excursion thus far. “Is this computational model what I think it is?”

“This would only be possible in an Anti-de Sitter space… Chief, what the hell are you plugged into?”

“Sending you some readings from my tricorder too.”

Again, another long pause.

“Chief, this has never been more than hypothesized until now,” stammered the scientist. “Let me pack my things. I’m coming down.”

Lewis and Devreux made eye contact. Devreux’s brow was furled, and even Lewis’ usually guarded and stoic demeanor showed a hint of surprise. Lockwood was an elitist who considered dirt, physical labor, and most of the material world beneath him, preferring to stay in his lab with his carefully selected team of preeminent scholars.

“But don’t you have some equations to solve to reinvent spacetime, Commander?” chuckled Shafir.

“Those can wait.”

  • Gérard Devreux

    Squadron Deputy Commander (Mobile Element)
    USS Polaris Commanding Officer

  • Jake Lewis

    Squadron Intelligence Officer
    USS Serenity Commanding Officer

  • Luke Lockwood, Ph.D.

    ASTRA Lead, Astrophysical & Exotic Sciences
    Chief Science Officer

  • Emilia Balan

    ASTRA Staff Researcher, Cultural Affairs
    Diplomatic and Cultural Affairs Officer

  • Ayala Shafir

    ASTRA Staff Researcher, Computational Systems
    Intelligence Specialist & Hazard Team Operator