Literary Challenge #27 : Return to Terra Nova
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Join Date: Jun 2012
09-12-2012, 12:22 AM
"Captain, I'm reading a distress call."
In mid-snore, Captain Chep Magosh startled awake and looked around the bridge of the USS Tesla. Blinking under the bright lights, he kicked his feet off the arm of his chair and rubbed sleep from his eyes. He wiped the drool from his chin as he focused on the source of the voice. "Report."
Torin replied without looking up from his screen, "We picked up an automated distress call, but it's badly distorted when we picked it up and now it?s gone. It originated from a human colony."
Chep slowly rose to his feet, stretched, and strolled over to Torin with a grunt. "Which colony?"
"It?s Terra Nova."
"Terra Nova? I never heard of it," Chep growled.
Torin turned to regard his captain with curiosity. He was never quite sure when the Tellarite was joking. He was still unsure, so he decided to explain. "Terra Nova was the first human extra-solar colony established in 2069, just 6 short years after discovering warp travel. It?s just 20 light years from Earth but it took the colonists 9 years to reach the planet. The Great Experiment, as they called it, was a great success, until Earth decided to send more colonists to the planet. Relations between Earth and Terra Nova broke down and the two planets lost contact. It wasn?t until 2151 that contact between the two worlds was reestablished."
Chep turned and started walking away from Torin. He had heard enough. He was awoken in the middle of a pleasant dream involving him in a mud bath with lovely Vulcan who fed him some wonderful sausage for a history lesson on pre-first contact earth. This was not what he needed right now.
The eager Vulcan junior officer continued to provide him with additional information. "Sometime after 2083, a meteor strike irradiated the colony. The Novans managed to survive the disaster by taking refuge in caves. A whole generation of Novans grew up believing that humans had been responsible for the attack on their world."
Chep reached his seat and hoped into it. His feet dangled inches from the floor. Then, he realized that Torin was still talking. Chep counted silently to keep from losing his temper in front of the young science officer. Numbers ran through Chep?s head, not once, or twice, but three times before he finally felt calmer. "If I want a history lesson, Mr. Torin, I?ll ask for one."
"When Captain Jonathan Archer was ordered to investigate Terra Nova, he discovered ?" Torin stopped in mid-sentence. He had been warned by more experienced Vulcan Officers that he needed to be more concise with his reports, especially with the captain of the USS Tesla, the gruff and stodgy Chep Magosh. Nearly very Admiral at headquarters had dealt with Captain Magosh at one time or another. He had been promoted and demoted more times than anyone could recall. It could be a Starfleet record, but that sort of information wasn't a priority for Starfleet's data miners.
Chep ordered the helm to set a course for Terra Nova, before he settled back into his chair with the hope of continuing his nap. With his eyes closed, he said, "Wake me before we arrive."
The Tesla dropped out of warp in orbit of Terra Nova. The planet loomed large and menacing on the viewscreen. With a confused expression on his face, he asked Torin, "This is a human colony? It doesn?t look like it can support any type of life on it."
Torin checked his sensor scans. "It's a nuclear winter. The planet is being choked by superheated dust and debris. I'm not detecting any life signs on the planet."
"What happened?" Chep asked, horrified by the scene.
"According to these readings, the highest temperatures are originating from the Northern hemisphere, approximately 500 kilometers from the nearest metropolitan area. I?m initiating a detailed topographic scan of the area. However, I would venture to say that a meteorite impacted with the planet only a matter of hours ago."
"How unlucky can a planet be?" Chep wondered aloud.
Torin responded, not realizing that it was a rhetorical question. "Luck, Captain? There is nothing lucky or unlucky about it. The planet's orbit borders the system's asteroid belt. I'm surprised that this hasn't happened more often."
Chep hung his head for a moment and mourned the loss of the Novan civilization. He tapped his helmsman on the shoulder. His voice cracked with emotion when he said, "Take us out of here." He turned and began to walk towards his ready room. "If anyone needs me, I'll be working on my report for Starfleet command."
Before stepping off the bridge, he paused a moment. "Mr. Torin, could you please join me in my ready room? I think it's time for a history lesson."