Literary Challenge #38 : We'll Always Have New York
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Join Date: Feb 2013
02-16-2013, 10:53 AM
Right, here's the first part of mine.
Captain's Log, Stardate 844521:
is en route back to Starfleet Command after monitoring a unique subspace anomaly in the Mintaka system. The area of space around Mintaka III "folded in on itself," to use Ensign Sann's words, and, for roughly twelve standard hours, this area of space became subject to unique tachyon fluctuations until the anomaly finally dissipated. Ensign Sann has hypothesized that these fluctuations may be indicative of some sort of temporal instability, and similar emissions from solar flares picked up by long-range scanners suggest that the anomaly may have been caused in some fashion by Mintaka's sun.
We have already forwarded the data to Memory Alpha for analysis. If Ensign Sann's hypothesis is correct, then I feel that further studies of the Mintaka system could very well add much to what we know about temporal astrophysics. We have done several shipwide diagnostics since leaving the Mintaka system, and Chief Engineer Adim assures me that there are no irregularities that might have been caused by our proximity to the subspace fold. As soon as we resupply at Starfleet command and get new orders from Admiral Quinn, the
will be ready for anything. In the meantime, I feel that the crew has earned some much-needed R&R.
Lieutenant Arkos Nair, commander of the U.S.S.
gave a sour expression as he ended the log's playback. There was a human term he had come to be aware of during his visits to the Sol System: "famous last words." Many Humans had some strange notion that saying something positive about one's health, fortune, or continued good luck would inevitably tempt fate in some catastrophic way. Arkos had always thought this was a foolish, irrational belief, but he had to admit that his prior confidence about there being no irregularities on the ship felt fairly ironic now.
"Still no response, K'Nera?" he asked the woman standing at the tactical station directly behind his chair.
K'Nera, Chief Tactical and First Officer of the
shook her head, the motion causing her stalk-like Andorian ears to sway like dandelions in a breeze. "Still nothing, Captain," she replied. "No transmissions from Starfleet or from any ships in the area. And if Ensign Sann is right, there's no Starfleet down there to contact."
Nearby, Ensign Neazri Sann, the chief science officer, pored over the scanner log, her spotted Trill face illuminated slightly by the flickering amber glow of cycling data. "I can confirm it now, Captain," she said, her voice betraying a tremor of excitement. Her obvious eagerness where all things scientific were concerned did much to set her apart from K'Nera's more businesslike personality. "The tachyon pulse that hit us once we entered the Sol System is identical to the subspace fold in the Mintaka system. Somehow, we seem to have taken a part of the anomaly with us."
Arkos groaned. This had just gone from bad to worse with a single diagnostic. He knew he should have had the
scan the anomaly from the furthest edges of the system, but then the sensor returns would have been poor at best. Not for the first time, he mused, his curiosity had gotten the better of him.
On the viewscreen, the azure, emerald-flecked orb that was Earth rotated peacefully below him, pinpricks of light marking its greenery like motes of dust. Unlike all of the other times he had been to Earth, however, the Earth Spacedock was mysteriously absent.
"So," he breathed, "what you're saying is...we've gone back in time?"
Sann turned to face him, brushing some of her light brown hair back from her brow. "Or, potentially, forward in time," she replied. "If this is a temporal anomaly, then there really is no telling when it could have propelled us in the timestream, or how far back or forward."
Arkos sighed. "Well, I think we can rule out having gone forward in time," he muttered. "Otherwise, we would have found up spacedocks, or starships, or any indication whatsoever of advanced technology."
"Barring some sort massive ecological and/or societal collapse, that is," K'Nera added. She winced, then, when she remembered what she had read about the conditions of Arkos' homeworld and how it had come to be that way, and realized how indelicate her statement had been. "Sorry sir," she added.
Arkos gave her a slight shrug, as a subtle indicator that there was no harm done. "Thank you, K'Nera, for being the voice of optimism," he grumbled, before turning to another station. "Adim, any idea how the anomaly could have piggybacked onto the ship?" He was already going over several possibilities in his mind, but one of the duties of commanding a ship was to let the professionals on the ship have their say first and feel like they were important members of the bridge.
he recalled Admiral Quinn telling him,
you're now a Captain first, and an engineer second.
Adim frowned as he pored over his own console. Like K'Nera, he was an Andorian, with the distinctive blue skin, antennae-ears and white hair of his race, though this hair extended down into a distinguished beard that covered the lower portion of his face. Like Arkos, Adim was an engineer by profession and by interest, and he was a damn good one at that.
"No idea," he replied. "My only guess is...particles emitted by the anomaly could potentially have gotten caught up in our warp drive manifold, which might explain why I didn't notice them at first." There was a noticeable undercurrent of frustration to Adim's tone, expression and movements. Adim blamed himself, Arkos realized, for what had happened, as he was the one who had run the earlier diagnostic and had given the
a clean bill of health. Arkos didn't blame Adim personally, but he nonetheless made a mental note to give Adim some important duties to make him feel like he was redeeming himself.
"Keep at it, then," he ordered. "I want you to work closely with Ensign Sann to figure out how we got here, and more importantly, how we got back. If we've been shunted back...or forward...in time, then our top priority is finding a way get back to our own timeline before we break something." He glanced back at Sann. "We know where we are, so any idea of when?"
Sann quickly returned to her console. "Sensors are picking up several large habitations on the surface...overall population appears to be roughly one billion...no indication of electrical discharge or similar power outputs...moderate traces of diffused coal in the atmosphere..." She glanced up from her console at Arkos. "Matching historical records seem to suggest that this is Earth, circa 1886."
K'Nera frowned. "1886? I'm a little rusty on my Earth history. Is there anything significant about that year?"
Arkos leaned over and tapped at the console embedded in his armchair, and did a quick perusal of Memory Alpha records. "Hmm...use of steam and combustion power...automated vehicles slowly picking up in use...electrical engineering is a recent phenomenon by this point..." He glanced up at the image of Earth. "Interesting. From a developmental standpoint, it looks like Earth was on the eve of a technological renaissance in this period. An 'age of invention,' if you will."
For a brief moment, the responsible captain in him took a backseat as the engineer in him took over. Before the Fall and before its regression into its dark age, Nar-Etulis had gone through several similar ages of invention throughout its history, each period advancing the Korda people scientifically and culturally. He had to admit, he was curious to see what early human innovation was like, and how this age of invention affected their own people so early on.
Please, let there be an excuse to send down an away team...
"Captain," Sann suddenly spoke, "I'm detecting unusual electromagnetic readings from the surface...too high to be a natural phenomenon...too densely concentrated to be made by any of the technology of this time period."
Arkos bolted upright. "Source?"
There was a short pause. "North American continent...harbor district...New York City."
Though Adim, Sann and K'Nera couldn't see it, the ghost of a smile had crept upon Arkos' blue-grey lips.
He stood up from his chair. "K'Nera, prepare an away team," he said as he strode towards the turbolift. "Adim, I need you to create holo-emitters to make us all look human. Sann, replicate us some period-appropriate clothing. I'll meet you all in the Transporter Room when you're done." As the turbolift hissed open, he glanced back at the bridge crew before stepping in. "Oh, and Adim...maybe hats for you and K'Nera? Just a suggestion."
The preparations for the away team mission didn't take long at all. Adim was able to jury-rig some holo-emitters in the space of a few minutes, and Sann didn't have much difficulty replicating period-specific clothing- complete with walking sticks for the men and handbags and umbrellas for the women. The actual disguising of the crew was a fairly simple affair as well: thanks to the physiological similarities between Humans and Trill, the only thing Sann needed to do was temporarily clear away the spots running down the sides of her neck with an imager. Adim and K'Nera, similarly, only needed to holographically transition their skin from blue to the peachy colour most Humans had, and switch their hair from white to black. They still needed hats to cover up their antennae, however-- K'Nera wore a bonnet which, as she grumpily complained, bent her antennae downward unpleasantly. Adim got off easier, as Sann gave him a tall, cylindrical monstrosity that she referred to as a "top hat."
It was Arkos who needed the most work, as Korda had even fewer physiological similarities to Humans than either Trill or Andorians. The holographic emitter hid his grey skin and the silver-blue highlights and at the back of his skull and replaced them with an average human flesh tone, and disguised the bony ridges running horizontally on either side of his upper skull, and the vestigial cluster of tendril-like growths at the corner of each cheek, replacing them with smooth and unbroken epidermis. He was replaced, overall, with the image of a bald human, roughly twenties to thirties, with handsome facial features. Admittedly, Arkos would have liked for his human facade to have hair (the novelty of it was intriguing), but after spending almost ten minutes trying to pick a colour, Adim's patience had worn out and he skipped that detail entirely.
K'Nera was, of course, continuously reminding Arkos of Prime Directive protocols all the way to the transporter room, even after they were all disguised and wearing suitably archaic clothing. The Prime Directive was clear enough most of the time, but in the rare instance of a temporal anomaly, it was especially stringent-- even the slightest bit of interference could drastically alter the timestream, and reality as they knew it (not to mention end their collective careers). They all agreed that their mission was clear: beam down to New York City, investigate the abnormal energy reading, and, if the source was something that didn?t belong in this time period, fix things as quickly and as inconspicuously as possible. To draw even less attention, only the four of them would be beaming down, while the
would remain on standby in high orbit under Ensign Coulton.
Despite his knowledge of the Prime Directive, and despite being the responsible captain that he knew he was, Arkos had to keep reminding himself, all the way to the transporter room, not to act like a tourist...
That sentiment lasted exactly ten minutes before Arkos found himself marvelling at living Human history.
19th-century New York was, in many ways, a more alien environment than anything else the
crew had encountered in their short career. Gaslight lamps, paved cobblestones, walking sticks, genteel mannerisms, horse-drawn carriages and steam-driven streetcars were in abundance, and the gender-specific dress code-- buttoned up shirts, pants, coats, brass timepieces and absurd hats for the men, and corsets, frilly dresses and even more absurd hats for the women-- caused much confusion and awkward walking for the away team. K'Nera especially muttered several swear words about the uncomfortable combination of corset, frilly hat and odd shoes, though for some reason Sann seemed to be actually enjoying her attire.
Arkos and the rest of the away team remained as aloof as possible, mimicking the mannerisms of the people around them to blend in. Thankfully, Sann, with her background studies in Human history, was immensely helpful in telling them how to act. As they made their way to the side of the anomaly, Arkos took what time he had to spare to marvel at their surroundings, observing as much of the architecture, technology, and customs of the era as time and discretion allowed. New York City of 19th Century Earth was not an unpleasant place, he eventually concluded, but it was a stark reminder of how far the Human race had come in terms of hygiene-- the littered trash, outdated sewers, industrial pollution and occasional horse-droppings were a far cry from the practically glittering cityscape of 23rd-Century San Francisco, where the only thing you risked stepping in was the gardener's liverwort.
Still, it was the small things-- the printed newspapers, the gaslight lamps, the street organ grinders and their pet simians, and the public parks-- that really struck a chord with Arkos as bygone artefacts of history. It made him want to return to Nar-Etulis all the more now, to immerse himself in his own world's rich past.
he thought bitterly,
that's beyond changing now.
Eventually, their readings and uncertain navigation of New York's streets took them to the harbourfront district and the seemingly omnipresent smells of sea spray, fish and ship oil. To everyone's surprise, the harbourfront was more densely populated than they had first suspected-- people were bustling to and fro across the wharfs, vendors were serving out snacks and drinks, and red, blue, and white flags and streamers were flying everywhere. The entire area seemed like the focal point of some sort of celebration.
As they negotiated the crowd and walked the wooden floorboards of the harbourfront, the away team eventually found themselves looking at a large offshore structure that appeared to be mounted on an artificial island of some sort. The structure itself was quite tall, roughly a hundred and fifty feet or so, and, curiously, was covered with a very large series of canvasses and drapes. The general outline of whatever lay underneath that canvas did
look like a traditional building. The four of them leaned against the railing of the harbourfront walkway, doing their best to look inconspicuous. To better fit in, Adim, looking rather genteel under his top hat, glimpsed through a nearby pintle-mounted set of binoculars to get a better look. He cursed when he discovered that he could not magnify the vision without inserting some sort of coin.
"Sann, what can you make from that structure?" Arkos asked, both hands placed on his cane as he adopted a pose he'd seen some upper-class human males use in this timeline.
Sann discreetly took a tricorder reading as she pretended to look in a pocket mirror. "I'm detecting heavy amounts of copper under those drapes...some steel components...dimensions are not static at all..." She paused and suddenly smiled. "It's the Statue of Liberty, sir."
Adim blinked. "The what?"
"A large copper statue built in the late 19th Century, as a gift to the United States of America from France," Sann explained. "It's full name is the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, though sometimes it's simply referred to as 'Lady Liberty.' It has immense historical significance as an American landmark-- it was seen as a monument to the American ideals of life and liberty, and was usually the first thing seen by immigrants crossing the Atlantic. It was destroyed during World War III, rebuilt in 2063, and its remade version is still standing in our timeline."
Arkos gazed up at the veiled form. He had to admit, he was curious now to see what it looked like under the drapes. "Impressive," he said. "The Federation could use something similar to to greet its own refugees, I think." At the back of his mind, he began to ponder the logistics of a gigantic spaceborne statue...
K'Nera peered intently over the rails of the walkway at the shrouded colossus. "That's some gesture of friendship," she mused. "But why is it in drapes?"
Sann shrugged. "Well...if this is the year that I think it is...then we've arrived right on the eve of the Statue's unveiling."
Adim finally gave up on the binoculars and stared up at the statue as well. "So, right on the eve of a major historical event," he muttered. "Our timing couldn't be better. What about the energy signature? Any idea where it's originating from?"
Sann's expression darkened, and she glanced back at her tricorder. "Well..." She bit her lower lip. "The energy source appears to be...inside the statue."
If Arkos recalled human terminology correctly, what happened next was commonly called an "awkard moment of silence."
"You can't be serious," K'Nera moaned.
The Trill shook her head. "The readings are accurate," she replied. "The Statue of Liberty is the origin point of...whatever it is that we scanned from orbit."
"So, the mysterious energy signiature is inside a historically significant landmark," Arkos muttered. "One that is probably heavily guarded, and that we can't intrude on anyway without potentially altering history." He took a deep breath, and wondered how much the universe hated him today. "K'Nera, suggestions?"
The Tactical Officer folded her arms and stared up at the statue as though meeting some unspoken challenge from the metal titan. "We wait until nightfall," she said. "We'll be better able to infiltrate the Statue that way, and any modern technology we're forced to use will is less likely to be seen."
Adim stroked his beard. "Makes sense," he said. "That would also give me time to head back to the ship and jury-rig some useful equipment for the job. I think some sound dampeners would work."
Arkos nodded. "Then we're agreed," he said. "We head back to the ship and reconvene here in roughly four hours. We?re going to try to solve this problem with as little noise or fuss as possible."
K'Nera raised a hand. "Will we still have to wear historical costumes, Captain?" she asked, glancing down at the corset that had been bothering her since they first arrived.
"I'm afraid so, K'Nera," Arkos replied, giving her a sheepish grin. "Sorry, Ensign, but historical continuity takes precedence."
Last edited by ambassadormolari; 02-18-2013 at