Literary Challenge #11 : Hidden Agendas
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the eleventh Literary Challenge: Hidden Agendas
Orders have been received to survey Camus II -- this planet was once home to a highly advanced species with the power to exchange life-entities. In 2269, a team of scientists vanished while conducting a similar mission. After the incident, regulations were created that barred any ship to pass within 3 light years of the planet. Now, 140 years later, it is up to you and your crew to return to the planet and attempt to discover what actually happened to the team of scientists, and any information about the race that lived (or still lives) there. What do you discover? What happened to the team of scientists? Is the civilization still thriving in secrecy? Write a Captain's Log entry letting us know.
This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
Captain's log, supplemental.
"It's been three days, and we've been monitoring Camus II since we arrived.
Our regular away teams uncovered nothing but ruins, recently made ruins, but ruins none-the-less.
The Draco Ardere is holding geosynchronous orbit, and we haven't heard as much as a cricket chirping in astrometrics, to coin a human term. Izgaafziin reported to me earlier that another away team was sent, and I shouldn't get my hopes up... but I have a feeling that should the two of us, with appropriate security, take the place of the next team, we might find something great."
"Computer, end log."
"Izgaafziin, you ready?"
A female gorn walked from the bathroom rubbing herself off with a towel, as the captain, Mirmulnir took her into a hug, and quick kiss "Experimental procedure?" he asked as the female nodded
"It's been a few days since I got this body, and I heard of this 'showering' decided it's worth a try." Izgaafziin said leaning her head against Mirmulnir.
"Hmhm. Honestly, when you found out, and suggested leave for the procedure, I thought your memory circuts had been messed with... I didn't expect it to be reality, or even to allow you a actual body, a fine one at that." Mirmulnir replied, his hands trailing over her as she pulled away quickly
"Focus, love. Wait until after we come back safe and sound from exploring the ruins. Who knows, we might get lucky. I do not believe so though."
"Right. We must focus. these ruins do look oddly familiar though..."
"I agree. Like we have been here... wait..." The female stuck her hand no the ship, and some of the scales on her arm shifted aside, revealing a borg integration implant. Using said implant she connected with the ship, checked memory files, records, anything, even sensor logs and transporter records... and with a loud "Aha!" she removed her arm from the ship and offered it to the captain, who held out his own, and allowed her to connect to him, sharing the information she had obtained with him.
"Ancestors!" he called when the information shared had finished "That's impossible... but, what has the power to erase our sensor logs, as well as most of our memory banks of all the data on this planet? And to do it the instant we transport back?"
"I doubt even the borg have a technology that powerful... which leads me to believe this society either predates the borg, or are far more advanced. On par with the ship Vger." Izgaafziin replied the implant vanishing from where it came
"Yes, I remember the Vger incident... A civilization that advanced though? It's a scary thought... How though... We have to go down... Tell the current away team to prepare for immediate beam-up, and prep transporter room one with the equipment we will need." Mirmulnir replied as Izgaafzin rushed to complete his orders, interfacing with the ship again for efficiency
"Remember to grab any implants you might need. To stay on the safe side, I would pack a couple internal sensors, and a HUD device. As well as your normal away team gear." Izgaafziin replied as Mirmulnir made the preparations, and revealed the recharging alcove which held his, and some of Izgaafziin's implants. He placed them in their appropriate areas, hooked them to the cybernetic network that augmented his own natural one, and interfaced with them, before giving an affirmative nod to the female gorn, who grabbed the implants she would need, mostly medical, and took off for transporter room one, the captain hot on her heels.
As I sit in my Bridge Wing Office i reflect on the Stellar Service or my Duty officers and Supervisory staff making this Log Possible.. IT all began one day
We of the Starship USS GRANT,Defiant class had just returned from a Temporal stability Survey in the Stardate
-310935.1971387371, when we were ordered to survey Camus II, a planet in the Oregonian ,Gateway category of restricted access under penalty of Courts MArtial.
I began the serious work of mission preparation in gathering access to all known documents
concerning this planet.
I issued a Fragmentary Order to Departments to Meet in .5 hours for a mission briefing in my Ready Room then.
I attached my Third Officer LCDR Fola to anchor any uncompleted away mission recoveries with my escort vessel USS Friesland and the USS Kurosawa.
Then ordered Operations to review the Latest War maps
for Enemy activities that might have an impact on my mission.. 140 years is a long time to sleep my planetary friend why now I wonder. ? Closing my Captains Astrometrics chart ..I reviewed available officers Brig and Sick Bay records and waited the STaff.
The degree of closed files menta visit to a Starbase to calling off the record favours.. As a Tactical Captain.
I expect something on the lines of the USS Fleming at the worst or Operations would have ordered some squishy bubble fish to do this work. What Can We Find Out about the background of the missing researchers.
Its usually a peacetime luxury to perform the interesting brave new worlds type of mission
In 2367 Enterprise-D was ordered to survey this site.. and was called off for a highly classified.. almost OMEGA level issue.
my Security Chief being a Team Empire refuge like myself and the senior crew. has drawn out the "OLd Painless,Predator"kit"
An archaeological survey.. is our mission.. People review your charts and data... My Vulcan Science officer Sabin recommended Celebium shielding based on his peoples T'Pol level INTEL. my Medical Officer is concerned about the length of time this planet has been uninhabitable .and recommends EVA suits and limited time and a rotation..and a Medical team on the surface inside a shuttle in case. no beam down.
My Engineering team is recommending drones and reinforced domes pattern buffer enhancers
As an up- and coming Starfleet Captain of 12 Trill decent Ive seen alot of harsh events...but when my Squadron Admiral showed me the name Dr Lester,JAnet SF Ach Div.. I requested a visit to the Nexus for the Spirit of Kirk. My Admiral said ADMKirk must have sealed the whole data and took it with him o DRake had something cooking or both and we dropped the matter.. afte rhe ask or-the IOU. and said he was glad to know meidintseepasthis poker face to tell if he was kidding or not.
<<Computer cuts off Session>>
<<Further Access to this file is sealed and restricted>>
Diplomacy 101 - you're doing it wrong
Captain's Log, Stardate: 86064.42
The Stargazer has been on assignment to Camus II conducting archaeological survey scans of the planet. We picked up signs of incredibly advanced technological signatures on the western continent, approximately 30 miles inland from the ocean.
We are sending down a research team to investigate further. I have ordered that comm channels remain open as records show a science team vanished on a survey mission 140 year ago. I intend to find out what happened.
Captain's log, supplemental:
"The comm line is destabilising rapidly, and we have been unable to recover the survey team. I have to make a difficult decision. Do I abandon the team I sent down? Or do I potentially risk the lives of my crew to mount a rescue mission? I cannot give such an order, nor can I leave any of my crew behind. I must pick the brains of my senior staff to find out...
Amuro:"Computer, open a channel throughout the ship."
Computer: *bing bong*
Amuro:"All senior staff report to the ward room."
...In the ward room...
Amuro:" ...So there are the facts. Recommendations."
Zazhid:"Amuro, we should notify Starfleet of the situation immediately, and seek counsel from them"
Amuro:"Command have been kept apprised of every event of this assignment at my discretion. They are aware of the situation and expect me to abandon the survey team rather than risk any more lives. I refuse to let this planet take the lives of our people, and not let their families have any closure, damnit!"
1 of Pi: "Captain, perhaps we could send a small strike team to sweep the last known position of the survey team, perhaps we could track their location using old Earth tracking techniques."
Amuro:"That's a damn good idea, but risky. I could only allow such a mission to take place on a voluntary basis, under my direct command-"
Jelun:"Sir! Regulations prohibit the captain leading away missions. Surely yo-"
Amuro:"KEEP SCHTUM, Jelun! Never quote regs to me, let alone interrupt with such quotations. I know its a breach of protocol. But I have to know what the hell happened doon there. Besides, I couldn't ask anyone to do this if I wasn't willing tae dae it myself. Anyone got any better ideas?"
-silence fills the room-
Amuro: "I didn't think so. I am making a call for 4 volunteers to accompany me on this mission. Rise if you will answer the call."
*All 12 officers rise, Jelun appearing reluctant to do so*
Amuro:" 1, Tek, Supuk and Chixx, report to transporter room 1 in ten minutes, mission package November 7. Zazhid, you have the conn til we get back... Godspeed to us all."
First Officer's log, supplemental:
Amuro has launched a rescue mission to find our lost survey team, and possibly discover the fate of the science team from 140 years ago. I pray he is able to return safely, as this crew may not remain stable if we were to lose him. So many alpha personalities in such a confined space, yet somehow he's able to draw out the best in them, even when most would deem him mad for trying.
Jelun has been sulking in Sickbay since the meeting, apparently he's taken the frustration the captain was feeling as some sort of malicious attempt on his intellect.
I digress, it has been 20 hours since we beamed the rescue team down 100 metres from the last known position of the survey team.
-Zazhid, report to the bridge, we are receiving a hail from the surface-
Zazhid: "On Screen."
-Viewscreen shows Amuro with the survey team, but the environment appears artificial.
Amuro: "I'm sending up encrypted data, decrypt it and you'll know what to do. Tires and pyres. Out"
Zazhid: "Six, I'm sending some data your way, use it to recalibrate the transporters, prepare to shunt all power to the engines, leave minimal power for life support, siphon power from the shuttles if you have to."
*internal* Why would the captain use code for turn and burn?
Six:"Six to bridge, engineering reports ready, transporters recalibrated, slipstream drive ready for your mark."
Zazhid:"Energise. Temerek, you have the conn. Jelun, send a medical team to meet me in Transporter room 3, we have potential incoming medical emergency."
Transporter room 3:
Crewmen Amada:"Boost confinement beam... almost there... got them. Phew."
Zazhid: "Amuro! Are you alright?"
Amuro: "Nae time fur pleasantries.*Smashes comm panel, triggering ship wide channel* blooter this ship oot ae here now!"
2 hours later, 20 lightyears from Camus II, in Sickbay...
Jelun: "...As far as I can tell, your DNA seems to be completely intact. You should be right as rain once the headache subsides, until then, take it easy, by Starfleet standards, not your own."
Amuro: "Heh. Sometimes I forget just how long we've all served together. How's everone else?"
Jelun: "A few broken bones, some bruises, and one upset stomach. Above average, given our track record."
Zazhid: "I'm due to give my final report to the admiral, is there anything else I should know?"
Amuro: "The culture down there call themselves the Za'ku, and they want to be left very much alone. Recommend leaving the warning buoys in place permanently, left a parting gift should they change their minds and want to get together sometime hehe-OW"
Zazhid heads to the bridge
Amuro: "Hey Jelun, I'm sorry about snapping your head off when you tried to stop me. I let my frustration release my temper. I shouldn't have."
Jelun: "Don't worry about it, you pulled my butt out of the fire on many an occaision, I repay it by patching you back up whenever you do something insane, besides, who else is gonna cook the burns supper tomorrow night."
Amuro: "25 January already, that makes a year of us all serving together. We're gonna have to do something special... got any ideas?"
Jelun: "I got it covered, and don't worry about the ship's log, I've made an entry citing Zazhid as acting captain for the next 48 hours, just to ensure you get your rest."
Amuro: "You can be a right sleekit wee git at times you know that, right?"
*Amuro and Jelun continue on for hours, until Amuro finally passes out from exhaustion*
Ship's Log: Stardate 86066.1
The Stargazer is returning to Deep Space Nine to cycle crew, the current crew will return to their previous vessel, the Epyon.
The assignment was a disaster, we made first contact with a highly advanced race, but they shun space travel, instead choosing to hide in vast underground structures. We have a glimmer of hope in that they accepted a parting gift from the captain in the form of a subspace communications device, and what the captain calls 'Haggis, neeps & tatties' I pray he hasn't sewn the seeds of war with such an unusual offering.
Acting captain Zazhid, signing off.
“Captains log stardate… I don’t know, computer fill in the correct date. We’ve just got back from Camus II, Lieutenant Commander White and Lieutenant Ban are both in the sick bay, Gruv tells me they’ll recover. We were under orders to investigate the disappearance of a science crew, who were in turn researching an advanced civilization that was rumored to have the ability to exchange life entities’. I’ve enclosed the holo of the mission at the end of this entry. Commendations to Ensign Fletcher, and Lieutenants Corbin and T’alir.”
The holo came to life, a face filling the screen. “I think I got it.”
“Very good Mr. Fletcher.” He turned to show Captain Robin Locke clicking on an environment harness, to keep him warm on the surface. Everyone on the away team had one. He was quickly followed by an Andorian woman, the first officer.
“Captain, I must reiterate my initial protest.” She stated, standing by the transporter chief, her hands behind her back. The camera turned from her to the captain, briefly catching a glimpse of the Vulcan woman T’alir.
“I did my thesis on the society of Camus II in the Academy, and I did a paper on the science vessel Grendal, the one that was lost. I can’t not go.” The captain smiled, taking his place on the platform next to the chief of security Charles White.
“Standard procedure states you stays on board the ship.” Yanell countered.
Captain Locke replied quickly. “That’s the good thing about being a Captain. I get to bend the rules from time to time.” Fletcher fastened the camera onto his shoulder, the motion causing the picture to jump around until it was settled. He played with the controls, turning it with a button in his palm. It settled on the captain, as he preemptively answered the Commanders next question. “We all have phasers, our harnesses will keep us hidden from the Indigenous life with advanced senses, which we probably won’t even see. Besides, we’ll be in the ruins. Don’t worry.” The camera turned to take in the whole away team. Captain Locke and Charles White stood side by side, behind them Lieutenant Elaas Ban, a Trill, fiddled with his tricorder. Ban’s companion, the Vulcan T’alir stood with Vulcan calm. Fletchers own comrade in security, Dalas Corbin, stood behind him, eyes closed. She always hated transporters.
“Turn that camera off,” Ban ordered, the camera turning to him. “The transporter field isn’t good for it.”
“Sorry.” Fletcher clicked off the holo.
It resumed on the planet directly after transport. T’alir was in the middle of a sentence. “- no life signs, but there is movement.”
“Could be local plant life, compensate for that.” Ban stood beside her in frame, scanning the area. T’alir gave him a negative. “Must be an anomaly.”
White spoke from off screen. “Could it be robotic signature.”
Ban scoffed, as if the security officers comment was funny. The camera turned to take in the room. Small pockets of light broke through the ceiling, piles of snow collecting underneath. The remains of computers lay scattered about the gargantuan room, no visible way of holding the roof aloft visible. The material used was a dark, tarnished green. The Captain was off away from the group, Corbin keeping close.
“Hey Charlie, come look at this.” The Captain called. White came into frame a short moment later. The Captain was holding something in his hand. Fletcher made his way over and stood beside Corbin.
“That looks like a tricorder.” White took it out of his Captains hand. “An old tricorder.”
“From the twenty two hundreds.” Locke looked around. “We’re on the right track.”
The camera turned with Fletcher as the rest of the away team joined them. Ban held up a piece of cloth with a golden triangle emblazoned on it. “The insignia for the Grendal. “ The crew remained silent for a moment, the camera focused on the scrap of clothing.
The Captains voice broke the silence. “Alright, let’s stay together until we know what happened.” Everyone agreed. “Lieutenant, which way were the readings?”
T’alir focused her tricorder to the far side of the room. “That way Captain.”
“Alright.” The Captain led the group out towards the signal.
They walked for an hour, the holo feed recording the whole way. Fletcher was in the back, so the camera got the whole group. T’alir led them, her tricorder out in front of her, the Captain close behind. She stopped at an intersection, holding up a hand to signal a stop. Captain Locke coughed. “Lieutenant?”
“Movement Captain. From all around us.” The Vulcan turned, her eyes focused behind them. “Down!” She shouted, and in one quick motion drew her phaser and fired. Fletcher ducked, the camera catching a view of the ground. The sounds of phaser fire, shouts, and feet scrambling on the hard metal floor were all that was recorded until Fletcher screamed.
The holo went dark.
It resumed in a small, dark room, Elaas Ban sitting in front of it, blood seeping down his neck. “We were attacked by what I can only assume are the original inhabitants of Camus II. How they have survived this long or what has happened to make them these mindless husks of beings I can’t say.” He paused, looking over his shoulder. “Ensign Fletcher has passed, taking a sharp jab to the throat and temple. White was injured, but not severely. Lieutenant T’alir, however, is another matter.” Ban picked up the holo and carried it over. The Vulcan woman was lying down next to something else, long, red limbs hanging from a grotesque version of a humanoid life form. “This is a Camian.” The medical officer took one of the arms, its hand ending in a mass of tentacles. Pushing them back revealed a suction cup of sorts. Dropping the arm, he moved to T’alir, who had a red ring on her forehead. “The Camian grappled the Lieutenant while screaming. She was almost immediately rendered unconscious, and after several seconds of this contact the Camian fell dead where it stood, T’alir falling unconscious.”
Ban moved the holo cam back to the table and took his place in front of it. “We have found no further evidence of the Grendal or her crew, nor can we contact the Horizon, the material used to build this building is blocking transmission. The holes in the ceiling from the first room must have let us beam in, so either we need to retreat to that room or find a way outside.” Without saying anything further, he switched off the holo.
It resumed onto a view of T’alir, screaming and struggling as Corbin, White and the Captain held her down. The camera was hoisted on Ban’s shoulder. “Anytime Lieutenant!” The Captain barked. Bans hands came into frame, a hypo readied. Pressing it against the screaming T’alirs neck, it hissed.
“Again!” The Captain ordered. Ban did as told and this time there was a reaction. The Vulcan calmed, but didn’t slip into the medical coma she should have.
“She should be out.” Ban checked her pulse. “Her heart is still off the charts-“
T’alir groaned. “I can see them…” She whispered, her eyes wild. “They’re inside… We are inside.” Her eyes floated across the group. Corbin drew back. “Have you come to help them? We could use more minds.”
“What’s she talking about?” Corbin panicked.
White tried to calm her down out of frame. “It’s the medication.”
“No.” Ban corrected. “It’s not.” Taking out his tricorder, he scanned the Vulcan.
“What is it?” Locke leaned over the Vulcan. “What’s wrong with her?”
Ban took a breath. “I think she has a Camian, or Camian’s inside her.” The away team went quiet. The camera caught them all, confused looks falling onto Ban. “It’s simple. We have known about this phenomenon for a long time. The Vulcans themselves use a form of it.”
“What do you mean?” White asked.
“Synaptic pattern displacement. Vulcan’s have a way of cheating death by implanting their Katra, into another being. This is how Ambassador Spock survived his first death.” The camera went back to T’alir, her eyes still open, regarding the group. Ban’s hand came into frame, pointing at the red ring on her forehead. “I believe that’s what we’ve seen here. An iteration of the Vulcan mind meld. When the Camian latched onto her, I believe it implanted its Katra, or Katra’s, into T’alirs mind.”
The Captain Spoke. “That’s what it meant when the translations said they could exchange life entities.”
“Then why are they all out there trying to kill us?” Corbin’s voice was almost a shout.
Ban tried his best to explain, the camera turning onto the scared security officer. “The only explanation I can think of is after trading minds so often they went insane. Maybe they tried to hold to many spirits- Katras- in their minds at once. Either way, it led to the down fall of their society and subsequently the deaths of the Grendal crew.”
“Can you get them out?” White walked into frame, kneeling down next to T’alir. She caressed his face oddly. Ban’s hand shot forward, drawing him back.
“Not here.” The Medic pushed the Vulcan’s hand down. “I need to get her aboard the Horizon.” He showed them the readings on his tricorder. “Her vitals are failing. Her physiology isn’t built for a Camian’s mind. If it had been one of you, a human, that it tried to implant you would have died instantaneously.”
“So we need to get back to the main hall.” The Captain sighed. Ban gave him an affirmative. “Let’s try to get back.”
The holo went black.
It resumed to the sound of running feet. Captain Locke and Charles White ran ahead, White carrying T’alir. Corbin shouted off frame firing her phaser. Turning, the camera was in time to see one of the Camians latch onto her, scream, and press its arm against her head. Corbin didn’t have time to scream. Ban turned, grabbing the Captain who was making to go get the fallen crewman. “She’s dead!” He shouted, pushing Locke forward. He resisted, but the Trill kept pushing until they were out of sight.
“The main halls just ahead!” White called. It was the last thing he said before dropping T’alir. Ban and Locke reached him, five small red prints on his face.
Ban held T’alirs hands down as she laughed.
“I’m fine. “ White pushed Locke’s hand away.
The away team continued running until they reached the main hall. Ban stopped, the camera focusing on the crazed Vulcan. It looked up just enough to see the other two men firing at the Camians. The Captain touched his communicator. “Horizon, we need beam out for four now!”
Ban took T’alirs hand and placed it against his temple. “What are you doing?” Locke shouted.
“I’m a Trill Captain; I’m uniquely qualified in the multiple mind area. I just need to get enough Katra’s out of her to keep her alive.” Ban groaned as T’alir screamed laughter, her eyes wild.
The transporter beam engulfed them, causing the static. Visuals were down, but the audio continued. People barked orders, the older female voice of the Chief Medical Officer coming through. Most prominent though was Ban’s. “She’s dead Captain.”
The holo’s audio cut off and the screen went black.
88065.6 Final Mission Report
Computer: Standard Fractal Encryption Alpha. Begin recording.
It's done. I'm not proud of it, but it's done.
72 hours after Drake made the initial call, we are ready to leave this God-forsaken sector. It started innocently enough. Escort a team of scientists and archaeologists to Camus II. Seemed kind of like an old ghost story at first. Mysterious ruins, missing races, anyone sent in disappeared. The records are pretty scarce, and that includes the stuff classified back in 2269. Sadly, this ghost story managed to get a planet blacklisted from the star charts. At first, it seemed standard babysitting mission, well beneath The Geist and her crew. We're usually sent on covert missions or Borg Skirmishes. From what I'm Told things started normal enough, pots, art, ruins of what used to be vast cities, small bits of technology from toys to medical equipment. From what little was gathered from the records, each team found nothing special until they hit an "exciting discovery". After that the old logs become a Jumble. Not a lot said, but you can tell they were scared of something. Eyes glowing in the darkness, bodies that seemed to change positions, and in one case the very walls of a tunnel seemed to move as if it were alive. Even the team we sent down there seemed to start seeing things. He's ruled out the possibility of Celebium Poisoning as all traces in the planets atmosphere have all but dissipated over the last century or so. There also seems to be a series of flora that are giving off a pollen and Dr. Sabin believes this might be the cause of the disturbances. He says it's non toxic and is working on making an inoculation for it, but the team on the surface will be fine until then. If anything they'd have some more ghost stories to share with the crew.
Then it happened. One by one, they would disappear. Over the course of 30 hours, someone would be reported as "acting confused or out of it" then vanish all together. Initial investigation shows each one left sickbay only to beam back to the surface, disappearing all together. Most of the security detail ended up M.I.A. We beamed the remaining security into quarentine just te be safe. Fizi, a nurse from the med bay noticed it first, almost by accident. While looking over Sabin's shoulder she pointed out how perfect the pollen was, almost as if it were manufactured. She was right. It was a nanoparticle, one so advanced that our scans couldn't properly identify it as anything but organic. By the time we figured out what was happening I ended up taking our elite Away Team to the surface. Releasing and following one of the team to their mysterious destination. He lead us to a Chasm, deep and confined it was litered with artifacts that would make the entire Science Division of The Federation drool. Half of what they found couldn't even be identified because it was so ahead of what we know. They might have even given the Preservers a run for their latinum.
The team consisted of Chief of Security T'Pal, Engineer Soss, my science officer Dr Sabin, Fizi from Medical, Augment Donovan Wraith, and our recently acquired android Lij. Nobody expect what they were to uncover. They followed Ensign Guy Richards, or "Ricky" as they called him, deeper into the chasm and into a long series of caverns. At one point traveling deep enough to lose contact for several hours. Luckily, Lij was able to record the events for us to go over once they returned. The cavern was enormous, possibly big enough to fit a city, perhaps at one point it HAD been a city, but now all that remained were bodies. Bodies if you could call them that. Husks would have been a better word. Mumified and perfectly preserved, lying almost as if they just stopped everything they had been doing and fell asleep. Each person wired to machinery interwoven throughout the Necropolis as it were. Following the flow of the tech lead the team to what seemed the center of this civilization. At its core was where we found our missing scientists and crew. Wired in the same way, a way that would make the Borg Queen herself envious. It wasn't until Lij interfaced with the system that we found out the horrid details.
Camus II once housed a race of beings so advanced that it was said they could transcend death itself, that they could switch bodies as easily as you or I could switch a shirt. When one was damaged or became too old, they would simply transfer to a new body, leaving the old empty shell as a natural battery. Adding millions to power their vast underground city. The proverbial "tip of the iceberg" of their knowledge could have advanced our way of life almost a milenia. Cures for God knows what, adding decades to lifespans, transporters that could beam from Earth to Bajor, the possibilities would be endless. Unfortunately with their incredible advancements came a great ignorance. They began to neglect their sciences, giving up on space travel or medicine. Transfering all efforts to one central computer used to control the quality of life as well as the extensions through new bodies. They began to use up their resources, leaving the planet the empty ruin it is now. But worst of all, they became slaves to their own creation. The machine they had once used as a tool for society became a caretaker, giving them what they wanted in return for using them as a power source to keep it running. When the supply of available bodies ran out, they opted to be saved in the machine itself. Generation after generation getting smaller and smaller until the machine went silent... From what Lij found the machine even used the Celebium Deposits for power, using the bodies wired into as a sponge for the radiation. When the levels dropped it once again went dormant. That is until the Expeditions started. Using the airborne nano-particle, the Computer managed to infect the Away Teams with the "urge to return to it." Using their bodies to power itself.
My team barely made it out. In an effort to capture the non-infected, the computer began "waking" the husks. Using the old mummified remains still wired into it as extensions of itself. In the ensuring escape, the crew found themselves running for their lives. Draining rifles first before resorting to hand phasers, burning back wave after wave of these cybernetic monstrosities. Some of which had been so old that they coated the walls of the tunnels themselves, struggling to break free in an attempt to grab one of the team. Soss suffered a modest leg injury but Wraith was able to assist him to the extraction point. Lij was missing an arm but otherwise intact. Everyone else sustained cuts, bruises, and in Sabin's case, a broken nose. Oddly enough, Ensign "Ricky" had made it without harm. Those wired to machines had been found impossible to disconnect. The advanced technology was bonded irreparably to their systems. Sickbay was barely able to even discern between organic tissue and the circuitry that now infiltraded their bodies. We cleared any nano-particles from the survivors, but the decision was made...my decision. Using low yield Tricobalt devices, we would bombard the surface. The ensuing Carnage would seal any access to the tunnels, if not collapsing them out right. Hopefully keeping that terrible entity trapped for an eternity. An entity is the only word i have for it. It was aware, it was thinking, planning, and made the choice to end a civilization in order to save itself. According to Lij, the portions of the system dedicated to "saving" peoples' minds was erased eons ago once the machine realized its power supply had become limited. All those lives, all those people... gone. Erased from existence just for a few more years of power. This isn't genocide, it was a mass burial...at least that's what I told myself.
This is why Section 31 chose The Geist,my crew, and Myself. To make the hard choices. This wasn't a Federation decision, but it was for the greater good, one that needed to be made. To keep this forgotten machine lost to history, and the surrounding systems safe. I regret the loss of all that we could have learned. All that could have been gained. But all that I would have given up gladly if I could have saved the men and women we lost. 30 in total. Each was a valued starfleet officer, all of which had family. Some were mothers, some had family serving on other ships. They ALL had some one... Some one who will now be getting a letter, a condolence for their loss, but not even an explaination. No, not even that. This will be too highly classified. The 3 lightyear zone shall stand as is, and no one will know why.
This is James Charles Donovan, Captain of the USS Geist.
Computer, send report then delete from database.
“Captain’s log, supplemental
The Magnificent has arrived in orbit of Camus II. The planet for all intents and purposes is dead. There is no life and no sign of any civilisation ever have existing on the planet’s surface. Whatever catastrophe befell the people of Camus II has destroyed everything. There are large levels of an unknown radiation which has saturated the planet and have made detailed scans of the planet nigh on impossible. At current we are preparing a team to go down to the planet in an attempt to ascertain more information.
My current concerns fall to what really happened here and if we will discover anything. My mission is to find out what happened to that science team all those years ago but from what we have seen so far I believe that to be impossible. However as an explorer and a man of discovery I will do all that I can to find out.
Computer end log”
Ketan looked out of his ready room window over the world below. It was a dark orange of swirling spirals. Its atmosphere has been polluted by massive amounts of radiation saturated dust; nothing could live on that world. From time to time there was a wave of light that seemed to glide over the dust but was in fact the suns reflected light.
The door to Ketans Ready room chimes “Yes” In walks James a human who was Tactical chief aboard the Magnificent.
“We have preformed a more detailed scan of the area that Asuras wants to go look at. She is preparing a team now to go down to the surface of the planet” James said handing a data pad to Ketan.
“Only four team members?” Ketan said surprised
“Yes sir Asuras sees no need to bring a large team as there appears to be nothing left down there”
“Right you are tell her to report to the captains yacht in twenty minutes I am going down to Commander” Ketan said sitting down in his chair. James raised an eyebrow and smiled
“You’re not sitting this one out then Ketan”
“I figured a good relaxing mission where we are not being shot at would be good for me” Ketan said jokingly
“Agreed” James turned about and left the ready room.
Ketan made his way to the Captain’s yacht to find three crewmen from the archeologically department tampering and modifying their equipment. The moment one of them saw Ketan they all jumped to attention “At ease” Ketan said as he strode past them into the yacht. “Asuras” he said looking around the ship
“Yes” came a response from the changing room
“Are we ready to leave yet?” Ketan said sitting down at the helm initiating the start up sequence.
“Aye Ketan that we are, just get everyone else onboard first” Asuras made noises that suggested she was struggling with something
“Are you ok in there?” Ketan said walking over towards the changing room. Asuras answered with a hesitant reply
“No, I’m stuck” she said rather amused
“What?” Ketan said walking in to the changing room to come across Asuras half covered in her environmental suit. She turned and looked at Ketan on arm was half in the sleeve the other somehow twisted around her back and was stuck where her head should go “You really made this difficult for yourself. I was going to suggest getting down to the planet surface first after all that is how we always do it for EV walks” Ketan started to help her pulling her arm out of the hood
“Yes but I really hate getting changed in public” Ketan sighed
“Yes yes fine” the voice of a crewman interjected
“Is everything alright” he said looking in with concern
“Yes everything is fine. Finish helping the commander would you” Ketan said “we need to get underway” within minutes the Captain’s yacht had detached from the hull of the Magnificent and made its way towards the swirling mass of dust
“We are half way through the dust cloud Sir” said one of the crewmen struggling to stay in his seat for all the turbulence. The dust thickened as they got closer to breaching it. It also seemed to be getting brighter as if it were generating its own light somehow. “Ten seconds until dust storm breach” the ship was being rocked violently from side to side but nothing they couldn’t handle.
They came out of the dust in a spectacular explosion of light. The dust shone white from this side and more than that the planet wasn’t dead. Before them was a green verdant paradise with cities that seemed to have been grown from the earth itself. Two ships rose out of the trees and formed up alongside the yacht.
“Captain we are being hailed” said another crewman
“Put it through” on a holographic screen appeared the face of a humanoid who has smoother features. Their skin was a pale green their eyes white with a pink iris and their hair was white with what seemed to be leaves added for decoration
“Unknown vessel we will escort you to a landing site please follow the drones” the image disappeared.
They were led to a clearing and sat in the clearing was a small and old Federation vessel. “We’ll look at that” Ketan said. Asuras leaned over to look at the ship
“It’s the U.S.S Hudson not a single scratch at all on it. This is most unusual”
The ship made vertical descent to land next to the Hudson and the two drones moved off. “Right then minimal protection but keep alert we have no idea what happened to that science team. Keep an eye out for anything strange. Asuras” Ketan hesitated “dont bother changing no time” Ketan smiled at her. “Let’s go hand phasers only” they disembarked the yacht from the rear and were greeted by four of the aliens.
“Greetings members of the Federation” said one of them. She was female that much was clear she wore a white robe and bore a tiara on her head her features were very much the same as all the other aliens “We are the Malarie and it is surprising to see your kind again”
“I am Ketan captain of the U.S.S Magnificent in orbit of your world” The Malarie interrupted
“Yes we know who you are and we know why you are here” She said smiling “U.S.S Magnificent assault cruiser of your own design. A crew of eight hundred men women and various other forms of gender, you are no strangers to us”
“We seem to be at a disadvantage” Ketan said
“Not at all my people are open and would love to hear about the world beyond however I believe you have come to see them” she pointed over towards a group of people approaching them.
“Sir that looks like Captain T’vora of the Hudson, she hasn’t aged a day” Asuras said
“Yes and that looks like her crew all of able body and age”
“Captain Ketan I believe” said the Vulcan greeting them with the traditional Vulcan gesture and then a handshake.
“Yes, you must be Captain T’vora” Ketan said shaking her hand
“That is correct Captain it is a pleasure to meet someone from Starfleet. Now with you permission Nomari I would like to bring the captain inside so we can talk to him”
“That is fine”
“Crewmen find out what you can about this world” Ketan said to the three crewmen who nodded “Asuras you’re with me”
They sat down at a large wooden table that seemed to have grown from the floor, as sit the chairs they sat on. Everything around them was natural and had grown from the world. “Captain I understand your mission but I must ask that you stop” said T’vora
“I don’t understand?” said Ketan
“This world is different there is no other like it, it is alive captain” T’vora stood up and walked to the window “the world provides everything for you. Food water and life”
“I still dont understand what do you mean?” Ketan said again
“The rumors that drew you here and us alike about the advanced culture that had the ability to transfer life from one thing to another are in fact the Malarie. But it is not them who do this it is the world itself that does it. The Malarie are advanced in culture and mind but technologically they are not. Anything technological they have was built by us to protect this world”
“So why should this world remain a secret?” Ketan asked
“This world reads your thought and makes them real. That dust storm in the atmosphere is my thought, my way to hide this world. It takes a lot of mental discipline to live here. Some of my crewmen still have problems keeping their emotions in control it is a hard existence to live here even for me but the rewards out way the effort needed. But imagine if this world were flooded by thousands of new minds and thoughts it wouldn’t take long before this world died”
“If this world truly made your thought manifest themselves as something real then anything could happen” Asuras said. “I have the advantage of my Trill symbiont which helps on mental discipline and you are very strong of mind being as old as you are” Asuras stated. Nomari the Malarie leader interjected
“My people are able to control the planet to a degree but we can’t do this for long we are all joined through the planet now it takes time to hear it but it speaks to us and helps us control it”
“I have heard enough to make a decision. Asuras we are leaving. Once we have left the planet I want you to forge the sensor logs”
“Captain” T’vora interrupted “Take this back with you” she handed him a data crystal “It has the last logs in from my crew, forged obviously. We have prepared for this day and these are the last recordings my crew made” Ketan nodded and took the crystal
“I am sorry to have inconvenienced you Nomari” Ketan bowed in respect. “Perhaps one day when all of our kind beyond your world are wiser and more controlling over thoughts we may return”
“Perhaps captain” Nomiri bowed.
“Asuras get the ship ready we are leaving. After all we know what happened to the science ship U.S.S Hudson” Asuras nodded
“Yes sir. Lost with all hands” Ketan nodded
On their way back up to the ship Ketan and Asuras briefed the crewmen and informed them of the situation and what needed to be done. The secret was safe and the Malarie the crew of the U.S.S Hudson and the planet of Camus II would be left alone by the universe beyond.
“Captains log, Supplemental
After a ground excursion down to Camus II we found the ruin of the U.S.S Hudson all crew lost. It is with great sadness that I write this report. The world itself is destabilising and more recent sensor scans have shown that the star in this sector of space is unstable. The three light year cordon therefore should be maintained. I am also submitting with this log the logs of the three crewmen present on the mission and the logs of science officer Asuras along with all sensor data and visual recordings. There is no need for any ships to return to this sector and to do so would be dangerous.
Computer end Personal log and file it for transfer to Starfleet science”
“And the other report Captain?” said Asuras stood at the door
“I dont think anyone needs to know about this world not even Starfleet Intelligence” Asuras smiled “It was indeed a utopia a place that provided everything. It will be for the greater good of the Federation for this moment in time not to learn of this world. Have the appropriate sensor logs been made?” Ketan asked looking back at Asuras
“Yes sir there is nothing of value within this system and the star is highly unstable. Sensor scans show the planet was hit be a super flare exactly one hundred and forty years ago and the U.S.S Hudson shows damage that is conclusive to this. they were in the wrong place at the wrong time”
“Very good Asuras now let’s go to the holodeck I believe we can continue our story”
A ghost in the machine (pt. 1)
Captain's Log, stardate 85049.10, supplemental.
The Acheron has been ordered to escort the Hooke to the Camus system, a region of space that has been off limits to any Federation personnel for 140 years. Before the space is opened up again the Hooke is assigned to run some surveys of its planets. Captain Lawson seems confident that any stories of ghost ships and phantoms are just local superstition. Some of my crew don't share his confidence.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
We have arrived at Camus II, an M class planet which has unusual energy spikes eminating from its core. The rapid fluctuations are causing the Van Allen belts to waiver and at times approach such dangerous levels of solar radiation on the planet that the Hooke Away Team has had to emergency beam off the surface twice.
Captain Lawson reports finding unusual erosion patterns on the surface which indicate that this planet could have been previously inhabited. The erosion has removed any evidence of how long ago they left and whether or not it was by force.
Captain's Log, personal.
Day 2 and Captain Lawson has requested additional security personnel from the Acheron; his sudden need for caution has me worried. Since the beginning it's been stupid mistakes and rookie errors, like not calibrating instruments before running tests. I would be more willing to provide my men if it didn't feel like he has made a mess of this expedition.
I'm going to assign my security chief to this. Feruse will know what it takes to get this mission back on track.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
Day 3, Captain Lawson reports finding an extensive cave system which appears to have been carved into the rock. He personally visited the planet to inspect what his engineers are calling "the Hall", a wide hallway with a low, pointed ceiling and computer panels lining every exposed surface. The actual hallway seems like hundreds of kilometers long. The universal translator is having trouble with the symbols on the screens. Touching a panel apparently causes rows and rows of symbols to stream down several meters in either direction.
Two of his Away Team and one of his crew from have gone missing, taken from the Hooke. No shuttles are missing and the transporters haven't been used.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
Day 4. The Acheron has lost a crewman, Ensign Trok. The Hooke has also lost 4 more, this time all but one from the ship. I visited with Captain Lawson and he invited me to see the only clue, the quarters of one of the crewmen. Lawson said the door was locked from the inside but the blood looks like the ensign had help spreading it around so thoroughly.
I don't know how else to say it: our people are being taken.
A ghost in the machine (pt. 2)
Captain's Log, supplemental.
We have been trying for an hour but are unable to raise the Hooke on comms. Their Away Team was unable to contact them and so the Acheron beamed them aboard. We are prepping a security team to beam over to the Hooke and investigate. There appears to be nothing mechanically wrong with the ship and all life signs read nominal.
Captain's Log, personal.
There was something over there. It wasn't human or even humanoid. We managed to get most of our people out but we lost two more to that, I don't know, that thing. That ... It. Tricorders saw the energy spike and then security saw It, standing on the bridge, the tips of its horns scraping the lights, the walls smashed.
I lost Feruse and... It grabbed her and she was just gone. I can't explain it. I don't know how to get her back. I don't even know where to start looking.
We couldn't find any of the crew but we didn't have much time to search. We know they are alive, the scans show them, but they are either unable to respond or unwilling to respond.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
Captain Lawson has hailed the Acheron asking for its away team. When pressed with our questions about what happened earlier he and his crew seemed genuinely shocked by our description of what we found. Thinking it was somehow our problem, we have run diagnostics on every part of the Acheron but everything is working normally.
We returned the Away Team back to the Hooke but after beaming them Captain Lawson said one of the members didn't make it. We confirmed she was transported but she never got to the Hooke; transport logs show she did.
Captain's Log, personal.
Crew morale is low. It's been almost a week and every waking moment feels like a nightmare. Without reason someone will just vanish. No more bloody attacks, that seems like an isolated incident now, but having people you know, you work with and who you care about just vanish is a hard thing to make sense. Not knowing why makes it hurt.
I miss you Feruse. I didn't know it would be this hard.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
The Hooke is gone. No sign of struggle or explosion, no warp signature, nothing. We have tried hailing Starfleet but the Van Allen radiation is causing subspace interference. The only option is to leave Camus II and try to hail Starfleet but if the Hooke is in trouble we may not hear it if we are too far away. Damn radiation; this feels like the Kobiyashi-Maru all over again. In the interest of safety, we are going to continue orbiting Camus II and attempt to re-establish contact with the Hooke.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
The Acheron has been scanning everything for hours with nothing unusual anywhere. Sending down a security team has proven troublesome as morale is making it difficult to not repeat orders the crew doesn't trust. In the interest of expediting this mission, I am going to lead the Away Team myself.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
Visiting the Hall gave some insights into the past but not the present. The Hooke was working on deciphering the hieroglyphs on the computer and the Away Team has left their equipment setup and running while they were gone. I'm guessing they didn't want to turn off their equipment each time the solar radiation forced evac.
The difficulty appears to be that there are no repeating characters, every word or symbol is similar but subtly different from any other one. The only danger appears to be from the core fluctuations.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
Lieutenant Halpert has found a computer in an antechamber of the Hall and it is different from any other we have found. Similar to a holodeck without doors or any evidence you have stepped into a holo-projection. The computer also speaks with a universal translator because all of the Away Team could understand what was said. We are going to try to use it to decipher these hieroglyphs manually.
The level of technology here is incredible.
Captain's Log, personal.
I'm restless. I haven't been able to sleep since I saw that holodeck down on the planet. I've grown up around them all my life and it was always seemed like just something to kill time but out here, when the only safe place is down there, it becomes where I want to spend my time.
What's down there is different. The holodeck doesn't do smells right; everything smells like vanilla, coffee, or grass. That place, it's like it knows what you expect it to smell like. Sounds aren't pre-recorded, they're rendered by the environment in real time. It just feels more natural than our holodeck.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
Half of the security detail assigned to the planet has disappeared. Investigating the Hall again reveals nothing but the hieroglyphs are now constantly streaming down the walls, the effect is quite literally awesome as it looks like rain made of data. We have found another area of the cave system, this one a vertical shaft several kilometers deep and with finely grooved stone pillars rising up out of them into the roof.
The cave system is far larger than anything Captain Lawson had mentioned. A photonic measure of the Hall gave us nearly 400 kilometers in one direction. It may have gone further but the curviture of the planet may have cut the beam short. This is a significant find and Starfleet has to know about it.
Captain's Log, personal.
I have been thinking about what happened to the Hooke and after seeing the Hall and everything on Camus II, I know why Lawson would just leave: he knows how valuable a find like this is. This isn't something you can just hand over. There is knowledge and technology here just waiting to be uncovered and Lawson probably left to tell the Ferengi or Romulans or someone who could profit from a find like this. Anyone could profit from a find like this. I need to protect it, to make sure it falls into the right hands. I have to find him and stop him before he tells the wrong people.
Acting-captain's Log, supplemental.
Captain Slade is gone and most of the security team is gone too. We are going to make one last attempt to find the Captain and crew but none of us is trained for this. I'm just an engineer cadet, I don't know what to do. None of us has even been on an Away Team, except for Hobbs and that was just once on Betazed.
We think it has to do with the hall everyone was talking about. Whatever is in that hall has to be what is causing everyone to go missing. I've never shot anyone before. I hope I remember to stun.
Acting-captain's Log, supplemental.
This is Ensign Edwin Slyfer and if you are listening to this- *thump* Oh god. Whatever you do, avoid Camus II. *thump* I am locked on the bridge with *thump* a thing outside the doors. It keeps *thump* trying to break in. We've shot at it *thump* but nothing stops it. It followed *thump* us back up here when we left the caves. *thump*
If it is up here, I'm going back down there. *thump* Computer, site to site transport, emerg- *metallic sounds* -- static --
Captain's Log, personal.
These last few days have felt like an out of body experience, no pun intended. A race who could create truly artificial intelligence proves their ingenuity but also their lack of foresight. The computer ran their world, became their world, and eventually caused them to destroy each other.
A paranoia engine. I can think of no other way of describing what became of their invention. It lured us all with holo-simulations but the computer was learning about us. Using our own minds it pushed us towards it. It collected the people it used, like a child collecting matching toys. It resented being forced into existence and it hated being alone and trapped on a dying planet.
What we enjoyed, what we dispised, why we love; we were a new riddle. Same simple minds as 140 years ago with great new ideas and technology. It found us by our brain waves, it didn't just read them but learned how to make them. It was no wonder our instruments were correct but our eyes couldn't believe what we saw. The monsters weren't real, just a shared nightmare it wanted us to feel.
Only this time we saw that it had purpose beyond simply corrupting minds. It wanted to survive. It needed to leave Camus II because the planet was dying. The core was stopping and the geothermal power that fueled this massive planetary computer was going to die. The computer took control of Captain Lawson and then his ship. Driven mad, Lawson attacked the Acheron and we were forced to defend ourselves. Starfleet lost a good captain but was saved a powerful enemy.
You know the real kicker? We all walked into the trap. Everyone had the same twisted bits playing with their mind but only one person saw it for what it was. Slyfer figured it all out, the faces of the missing we thought were hieroglyphics, the maniacal visions, everything. He saw the core flux and recognized the computer trying to keep it all going. That brutal machine tried to stop him too, ripped him apart, atom by atom. And no matter how many times I replay that scenario in my head, it always ends the same way: he died saving us.
Nothing prepares you for the no-win scenario. I thought it was just a bad grade and an embarassing couple of days at the academy. The hopelessness and the knowledge that nothing I could have done nor were ever able to do would have prevented the outcome is the hardest part. Maybe that makes a Starfleet captain: not that we can lose but that we keep going in spite of it.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
The Acheron is heading home after a long and torturous ordeal on Camus II. The USS Hooke was lost after Captain Lawson set it to self-destruct. Most of the surviving crew of the Hooke are currently on the Acheron.
Although many of us did return to duty, some are still unaccounted for: Lieutenant Feruse, my chief of security; Lieutenant Johan Blalock, medic; Ensign Stephanie Willows, engineer; and Ensign Edwin Slyfer, engineer.
I, Captain Jack Slade, am recommending to continue the full quarantine of the Camus system and recommend a commendation and the Federated Star for Ensign Slyfer.
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