We're about to enter a solar system which for us is a very special one. It's the first one that is totally unexplored and unknown to the Federation. The crew of the USS FreshExplorer, ie. us, have the pleasure of exploring this solar system and discover its secrets for the Federation.
For months we've been traveling towards the edge of known space, and now we're beyond the edge of our maps.
We've entered the unknown.
For many in this crew this is a dream come true, yours truly being one of them.
The ship and its crew have really come together over the past few months, having been together on this new ship since it left spacedock.
We've worked out most of the bugs in the ship's systems as well as in the crew's social dynamics becoming a true community. I feel we're now one of the finest crews in the fleet, and that we're serving on one of the finest ships Starfleet has in it's fleet.
I can only wonder at the strange new worlds we'll explore. Marvell at the new life and new civilizations we will seek out, and where we'll be after going boldly where no man has gone before.
"End log recoding" Captain Sheesh ordered. The computer let out a merry chirp to acknowledge it had understood and obeyed the Captain's command.
John looked around his office reveling in the realization that they had finally made it into unexplored space and were now on the brink of surveying their first solar system. Sensors had indicated there were 7 planets orbiting a medium sized star and that 2 of them were potentially Minshar class.
He had been ecstatic when his science officer, Lieutenant Bli Triak, informed him of the sensor's revelations. He hadn't expected to find an interesting planet or solar system in the first 10 they came across, but this was only the third their sensors had laid their powerful technological eyes on.
The office, the Captain's ready room, was finally beginning to feel like somewhere he could feel comfortable. It was large, compared to the workplaces he'd been used to before he became promoted to Captain, and it had been difficult to find the right decorations to make it "his".
A glass display case ran along the longest wall displaying several museum pieces out of Earths Information technology history. A replica of the fist Personal Computer, an original Commodore 64, a later model PC in a modded case showing its Ati Radeon 3870, AMD dual core 5600+ x2 processor, 4 GB of ddr2 memory and 1,5 Terabytes of harddisks were among his collection.
On the wall behind his desk a collection of swords and other hand weapons from all over the Alpha Quadrant were randomly arranged. The desk was made of fake oakwood and had his computer console, some holo-pictures and a classic desk lamp neatly arranged on the desktop.
Under one of the large windows two comfortable leather couches and a coffee table were arranged so the occupants had a marvelous view outside.
His comm badge interrupted his reveling with a chirp announcing someone wanted to talk to him. "Sheesh, go ahead" he spoke to the communication device on his uniform. The disembodied voice of his 1st officer came from the comm badge to reply.
"We're about to enter the solar system Captain." she stated matter of factly. Instead of replying he was already walking through the door onto the bridge and closed the comm signal.
"Drop out of warp and proceed at one quarter Impulse. Full sensor scan of the area." he ordered sitting down in the seat his Klingon executive officer had vacated.
"We've dropped out of warp and are proceeding into the solar system at one quarter impulse" reported ensign Nereeh from the conn station. "On screen" ordered Nuq, son of ghoH, the Klingon commander. The view screen lit up to display a bright star with the planets clearly visible in various orbits around it. The background was filled with the blues, greens, yellows and reds of a distant nebula.
From behind Lt. Triak began reporting what the sensors were picking up. "7 planets. Three gas giants, the others are solid." he began, then stopping for a moment while a smile splashed on his face. He nearly succeeded to conceal the excitement in his voice when he continued. "Three of them have atmospheres and the computer confirms two of those are Minshar class."
At that cheers went up around the bridge and John could swear he could even see a small flash of a smile shooting through the Klingon's features. Bli wasn't finished yet though. He himself couldn't believe their luck when the sensors came up with it. "Sensors indicate signs of civilization on the moons orbiting the third planet from the star... scanning."
Immediately the bridge went silent again as they all realized what that meant. Before they could even come close to the solar system they had to establish if there was a civilization and if so if it had faster than light technology.
If not, all they could do was scan from a distance and continue on their way. "All stop" ordered John. He turned towards his chief tactical/operations officer asking "No sign of other vessels, or warp trails?"
"Negative" answered the Vulcan, sounding annoyed despite the Vulcan claims of not experiencing emotions. "i would have informed you if there was" he added pointedly.
"Sir, I am having trouble getting readings from the third planet itself. The moon seems to contain a small concentration of metal alloys not known to exist naturally." Bli Triak said scowling, adding "The planet seems to be bouncing back any sensor signals sent to it. Nothing is penetrating its atmosphere."
John frowned at that last bit of info and turned to look at his friend and 1st officer. His expression showed he was just as surprised as John was. "That's odd. Any ideas as to why? Any satellites orbiting the planet? Some dampening field projected from that moon perhaps?" he asked the Trill science officer. Bli shook his head. "Negative sir, to all three questions. No ideas as yet, no satellites and nothing I can detect is being projected from the moon." he answered.
"Surrounding space is devoid of any non naturally occurring activity we are able to detect sir" Yavin reported from his Tactical/Operations station. Surprisingly it was Eve Cassierre who chimed in from Communications next.
"Sir, I am detecting an odd signal coming from the planet. It's artificial but the computer can't decipher any of it. It can't even tell if it's a data stream, visual communication or audio signals." she said in her melodic voice.
"All I can tell is that it is on a low band subspace frequency sir." she added as he locked his eyes with her stunningly beautiful blue ones with a bit of a scowl.
As she turned back to her readouts John rose from his chair and walked up in between the conn and the communication stations. He came to a decision.
"Set a course for the moon orbiting the third planet. Put us into standard orbit and continue the scans of the moon, the planet and the rest of the solar system. I want a staff meeting with a report from all sections as soon as we're in orbit." he ordered, and as the eyes came back from all around him he moved to his ready room.
"You have the bridge Nuq" he added just before the doors to his office swooshed shut behind him.
30 minutes later the staff had gathered in the conference room and he was ready to open the meeting. "Report." he ordered, rather snapping. He was annoyed by the lack of useful information he had found in the Federation database on dealing with planets surrounded by sensor deflecting fields.
In most of the few known cases that were recorded the crews of the star ships had gotten into real trouble when they had investigated closer.
The thing that made their case unique was that there was no sign the area had been traveled through by faster than light vessels in the last 200 years. Any older warp trails would have decayed beyond the FreshExplorer's sensors to detect, and that there was no indication of the field being generated somewhere off planet.
Nuq rose and flicked on the holographic display unit at the center of the conference table. It created a photonic replica of the planet around which the moon they had taken up orbit orbited.
"Sensors are still unable to get any reading from the planet. The sensors are reflected when they are 9 kilometers from the planet's surface. As the atmosphere of the planet rises to over 15 kilometers we can assume that even though sensor signals do not penetrate the field is not impenetrable.
The atmosphere above the field indicates the atmosphere is breathable by most humanoid lifeforms."the Klingon started the summary of the analyses the department heads had provided him with.
A touch of a button caused the planet to disappear and to be replaced by a recreation of the moon they were circling. "Our sensors have done a deep scan of the planet's moon where we originally detected the metal alloys.
They revealed a collection of small buildings at the planets north pole and a network of subterranean tunnels and cavities up to 3 kilometers deep." Nuq continued and then pushed another button.
The moon seemed to become see through and inside it a glowing set of lines and boxes became visible and highlighted. At the bottom of the schematic a red dot glowed brightly.
"They seem to contain some form of technology. Machines, computers, tools... that sort of thing. At the bottom of the complex sensors indicate an operational fusion power source, but sensors can pick up no operational equipment.
The ionic decay in the machinery indicates they've been without power for at least 200 years. The structures are estimated to be approximately 300 million years old. No life signs either on the moon, the planet or anywhere else in the solar system." Nuq finished sitting down.
He then turned off the display and went on to round up the summary. "The signal ensign Cassierre picked up on subspace is still a mystery. It doesn't match anything we've ever come across. The only thing the computer can tell us is that is is artificial.
It is originating from one of the caverns in the lower sections of the complex inside the moon. It is close to a section which the sensors cannot penetrate and signals are bounced back, much like the signals directed at the planet"
John took a few seconds to look around the room taking in the expressions on the faces of his staff officers. Most looked intrigued and enthused, one looked expressionless and one looked worried. It was his Cardassian chief engineer, Commander Scroll Takud.
"Mr. Takud, I can see there is something bothering you. Please share it with us." John asked. The Cardassian looked at his Captain as he spoke. "Two things trouble me about this whole thing Captain. The first is the fact that there seems to be one, 200 year old, warp trail in this sector and it leads right into the solar system.
The warp trail doesn't continue from there. This means that either the trail is from a ship that came from the solar system left the system or that whoever traveled into the solar system never traveled back out again." The engineer said.
He went on before anyone could reply or remark to that. "Second thing that bothers me is that a field around a planet can have two functions I can think of Captain. It can be intended to keep something from the outside out or something on the inside in."
After a few moments to let those words sink in Scroll continued. "It just seems to me that this field surrounding the planet, and part of the subterranean complex inside the moon, are signs of advanced technology. I cannot imagine something as large as a planetary field can be created using only fusion technology.
One has to wonder if maybe the field is placed to contain something dangerous and to protect others from whatever is under it."
As John considered the words of the Cardassian Chief Engineer his Klingon friend voiced his opinion on them. "I agree it is a possibility which we cannot ignore. Whatever course of action we decide upon we must be prepared for anything." his deep rumbling voice contemplatively spoke.
The chief science officer nodded at that. "It could be a quarantine field of some kind" she agreed. The subterranean complex seems to be devoid of atmosphere so any visits there can only be made with environmental suits. There are no indications of harmful radiation or other health risks." she finished.
John didn't show it but inside he was torn between his gut instinct in his belly and the scientific mind in his head. His gut told him something bad was waiting somewhere in this area for them but his mind told him that this was what they were out here for; to explore and investigate anything that could expand their knowledge.
He decided to let his mind win for the moment. "Nuq, assemble an away team and beam down to the moon for an investigation. Find out what you can and see if you can get to the source of that subspace signal." he ordered. "Dismissed."
As everybody rose Nuq turned to John. "I will take Commander Takud, Lt. Comdr Yavin, and Lt. Triak sir." the xo said. "Wise choice. Keep an open channel. We'll keep transporter lock on you at all times. Be careful my friend." John answered.
Ten minutes later the away team was assembled on the transporter pad and Nuq signaled the operator to energize. As the sparkling transporter beam diminished and released them Nuq raised his phaser in one hand and a tricorder in the other.
They had been deposited in a large cavern which was dimly illuminated by small lights in the ceiling high above them.
They were at the center of what seemed to be banks of machinery placed in neat rows almost a meter apart. The rows of identical box shaped objects went on for hundreds of meters in every direction.
The other two members of the party had their tricorders out as well. "I'm not picking up any life signs" said Yavin. "The signal is coming from the cavern next to this one. Its connected to this one by a short tunnel, north of our position." Scroll added, continuing to sweep the tricorder back and forth.
"I can detect no energy sources or flows other than the fusion generator which is about 200 meters below us." he added.
"Fascinating." mumbled the Vulcan as his tricorder revealed the inside of the machinery they were surrounded by. "These seem to be part of some sort of parallel processing network. Each of these boxes is filled with what look like crude microprocessors.
Hundreds in each one. They are all connected to each other by conduits running below the floor." the Vulcan scientist explained.
Scroll had now picked up the underground conduit network as well and followed where they led. "They seem to converge on the north side of this cavern and connect somewhere in a cavern below the one on the other side of the tunnel that connects to this cavern." he said.
"The one place our sensors cannot penetrate" the grave Klingon voice replied as Nuq directed his tricorder's sensors to that cavern. Suddenly a red green swirling beam engulfed each member of the away team for a few seconds before disappearing as suddenly as it they had appeared. "I think we were just scanned" muttered Scroll.
"We'll go to the cavern to the north, and see what we can learn about that subspace signal" Nuq ordered and started to move there.
He hadn't gotten more than 5 meters when suddenly the light in the cavern brightened and all around them sounds of machinery coming to life grew louder and louder crescendoing into a cacophony of different pitched humming.
On the USS FreshExplorer John listened to the audio feed with interest. Suddenly though, the audio feed was cut and nothing remained but static. "Report!" he barked. The young lieutenant junior grade that replaced Bli Triak at the science station gawked wide eyed at his readouts. "Oh oh" he muttered.
"Oh oh is not an acceptable scientific term on this bridge Lieutenant! Report!" John snapped turning to look at the inexperienced officer.
To his credit he regained his composure immediately. "The fusion generator's output has increased a thousand fold and the machinery throughout the subterranean complex appears to be powering up.
A dampening field is jamming our communications with the away team, as well as blocking our transporter lock." he reported. "Sir, I'm picking up what seem to be energy weapons signatures from the surface of the moon." the odd voice of the Narkinalian Tactical officer replacing Yavin said sounding concerned.
"Looks like low-yield ion cannons sir. Nothing our shields cant handle" she added sounding somewhat relieved. That relief was short lived however as the ship shuddered beneath their feet and the lighting went down to almost nothing before getting back to normal levels again.
"A tractor beam has locked onto us." the shocked Tactical officer told John. "Shields!" John shouted, adding "Red Alert!" while moving to his chair and sitting down.
"Helm, reverse thrust, one quarter impulse! Lets see if we can break free of this tractor beam." he ordered. "Sir, the weapons just went off line." came a shout from tactical. From the helm another voice yelled "The helm is not responding. Impulse and warp drives are off line!"
"upload our logs into the black box and Launch the black box probe!" John shouted, ordering all the ship's sensor logs, personal logs and other data to be uploaded into a long range probe programmed to travel back to Federation space and launched so that Starfleet would at least know what the USS FreshExplorer had discovered and that something had gone terribly wrong.
It was something, the crew knew, only done when the Captain considered the chance the ship would be destroyed significant. Just as the probe launched the ship's power went down completely and the crew was enveloped by total darkness.
Then a blinding flash went throughout the ship, from stem to stern and each and every one of the three hundred and twelve souls on board the USS FreshExplorer lost consciousness simultaneously.
Inside the moon's subterranean complex the away team were hastily making their way towards the tunnel leading to the cavern to their north. Their tricorders had indicated that indeed all the power and other conduits that ran through the devices rowed in the cavern they were in and through its floors and ceilings converged there, or in the cavern below the one to their north.
Just 50 meters before they reached the tunnel however they were stopped in their tracks by beams like the ones that had scanned them only colored yellow and blue. Before they knew what happened the cavern they were running through disappeared and was replaced by a room which was no more than 5 meters by 10 meters.
It was bare save for odd devices sticking out from the 2 meter high ceiling. None of them could move, and all save for Yavin were momentarily so disoriented by the shock of their sudden abduction that their minds took a few moments to catch up to events and their situation.
Though Yavin could not move a muscle, save for those controlling his eyes he was frozen with his hand up and turned so that the display from his continuously scanning tricorder was readable. He tried and found he was able to speak. "tricorder is unable to scan beyond this room.
The signals are being bounced back. We must therefore assume we are now inside the area which our sensors could not scan inside." he said sounding as if he was telling them water was wet.
suddenly a voice boomed out from seemingly everywhere. "I am the keeper of what will be. Until the Universe has ripened to be worthy of conquest once more, what will be must remain undisturbed." the voice intoned an introduction of sorts. "I am Commander Nuq of the Federation Starship USS FreshExplorer on a mission of exploration from the United Federation of Planets. We have no intention of disturbing anything." He shouted. After a few seconds of silence he snarled "Release us!"
"The analysis is complete. The evaluation of available facts sufficient for conclusions. The time has not come. What will be must remain undisturbed and will be undisturbed. You are not worthy to be conquered yet." was all the voice answered. Red orbs started to descend slowly from the ceiling to the away team members.
Nuq knew his end was at hand and told his fellow officers. "What a dishonorable way to die. But I am honored to know I shall row for eternity together with you on the barge of the dead"
Just before the orbs touched their skulls dissolving their molecules into loose atoms in a terribly painful process he added "Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam"
Seconds later an orb just like those that killed the away team breached the moons surface and slammed into the USS FreshExplorer. At first it seemed it had no effect but then the vessels outlines started to blur as water paint getting wet as slowly the molecules of the ship, and its crew, drifted apart. Then, as the magnetic seals containing the antimatter failed the annihilation of matter and antimatter lit up space in the entire sector.
Seconds later all that remained of the USS FreshExplorer and the crew that manned her was an expanding cloud of heated gases and plasma. Remarkably the moon, and the planet around which it circled came out of the blast that the exploding warp core had caused without any damage at all.
To the voice though, it was far from remarkable. It knew the blast wouldn't harm it. It wouldn't have allowed it otherwise. It had to protect the planet, and the sleeping race of creatures on and below its surface until it came across proof that the recovery of the Universe had reached the parameters specified by its creators all those eons ago.
Its creators were a race of creatures who believed the only reason for existing is to conquer others. For millions and millions of years they had conquered all. Their own Galaxy at first but as they achieved the ability to travel between galaxies they had continued to conquer those to. Ultimately they had conquered all. The entire universe had been defeated and subjugated.
That was when they realized that they no longer had a reason to exist. Their society collapsed and almost the entire race committed suicide trough out the entire universe at the same time, believing their life had served its purpose, had no reason for existing and therefore had to end.
On the home planet though a plan was set in motion to ensure that their race, their history and their civilization would not be lost for ever. The entire population of the planet was put into stasis. Inside the old ruins on their moon where the first off world buildings their civilization had build hundreds of millions of years ago before they had even developed warp drive they constructed an artificial intelligence, the Voice, to protect and maintain the worlds population in stasis until such time as the life that was left in the wake of the destruction of conquest had recovered and developed enough to provide worthy opposition.
Any who would come close enough would be scanned, all information would be extracted and analyzed and then destroyed to ensure no information leading to the planet would ever be known to any other.
The recovery was proceeding quickly know. Just two hundred years before the lifeforms and technology of the ship and creatures he'd captured and analyzed then had only recently discovered faster than light travel.
The database on the vessel he had only just annihilated indicated that there were interstellar Federations forming. This 'Federation' had knowledge of trans warp theory and had encountered species that had mastered the technology for it.
Soon, no more than a few centuries, it would be time to awaken that will be and what will be will be once more.
The conquest, the reason to exist, would start a new.