Meandering Corridors of Time
In a small conference room on Starbase thirty-five, where the Condor was stationed for repairs, Captain Phillip Reming and Commander Donna Reed sat quietly listening to Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith speaking at the front of the room.
"The installation of two new systems is nearly complete. We will be beta sting both of them."
"What kind of systems are they?" asked Reed.
"One is a new tractor beam emitter. If it works as advertised, the beam should have the ability to handle masses three to five times greater than before. The other system is...a..." In the middle of her sentence, Carol became overwhelmed with emotion. She paused a moment to try and control her feelings.
Reming and Reed look at each. They both knew how difficult it was for her to get over the events that occurred a few days ago. It came as a shock to her and the others when they learned of their actions during the time they were under the influence of the Cardassian computer virus. Although the others had spoken to counselors, some where still having trouble with what happened. Carol was taking it the hardest.
"Why don't you and the others stay here for a few days? The tests can wait," Reming said quietly.
Carol stiffened. "No no, I'm fine. Besides, only Masters, Terry and myself are still having a little trouble getting over it. Nick and Mike have already put it past them."
"Carol, everyone handles things differently. There's no reason to rush it. We all understand how you feel," Reed said.
"I'm fine, really."
"Okay, it's up to you," sighed Reming. "Commander, notify the troops. We'll be departing in a half hour. We will continue this briefing en route to the test site."
Lieutenant Commander Michael Parks sat on the floor of a darkly lit, but comfortable room, grinning wildly. His best friend, Ensign Nicholas Smith, leaned back, giggling and struggling to catch his breath. Across from the two young officers sat two sparsely clothed, stunningly beautiful women.
The dark hared woman wet her lips and leaned over to Nick. "Oh you boys win again. Nick, you're so much fun."
"Thanks," said Nick, turning red with embarrassment.
The platinum blonde woman with smiling eyes moved a little closer to Mike. "Yeah, I love you guys. So, what do you want to do now?"
Nick glanced at Parks and then to the girls. "How about another round?"
"Another game of Strip Twister? I think we can think of something else," laughed the dark hared girl eyeing Nick.
"Umm...how about...Strip Monopoly?" Nick asked, somewhat puzzled.
The young blonde moved closer to Michael. "No....how about -" The young woman's suggestion was interrupted by a chirping sound coming from Michael's communication badge, still attached to the uniform lying behind him.
Mike picked up the uniform and hit the communicator. "Parks here."
"We're shipping out soon. You and Smith are due back on the Condor in fifteen minutes," announced Commander Reed.
"Aye sir, Parks out. Nick, we got to go," Parks said, while struggling into his gray Starfleet uniform. Nick whined a little, but proceeded to get dressed. The two beautiful women looked at one anther and then back at the officers.
Nick turned to his nearly dressed friends. "Got to go, girls. Sorry,"
"Aren't you forgetting something?" asked Parks.
Nick's eyes lit up. "Oh yeah." He then leaned over to the dark hared siren and kissed her full on the mouth. When the kiss had finally ended, the young woman was breathless.
"No, that's not what I meant. Oh forget it, I'll do it. Computer; end program." The two stunning beauties illuminating the dark room vanished. In seconds the room was bare. Only yellow grid lines decorated the black walls. "Computer, exit."
Reming sat alone in his darkened office on board the Condor, staring at the stars wiping past his window. "Captain's Log, stardate 54341.1. We have departed from Starbase thirty-five and are currently en route to a nearby asteroid field. Once there, we will perform tests on the new tractor beam system by having the emitter lock onto several asteroids of different sizes. Once we have performed a sufficient number of tests, we will report our results back to Starfleet. I'm hoping the tests will go without incident. Like my chief engineer, I'm still trying to put the pieces back together after the events with the Toronto. A nice quiet mission would help to put the whole crew at ease."
"Captain, we are approaching the asteroid field," announced Reed.
"On my way. Take us out of warp and move us in close to the field."
Methodically and tediously, the Challenger class starship glided closer to the great mountain sized rocks hanging motionless in space. Reming watched his helm officer impressively pilot the ship. The only thing that unnerved him was the fact that Nick was reading a text file off his console entitled "So you want to pilot near Asteroids" while flying the ship. Reming then noticed that if he closed one eye, he could watch Smith with pride while also blocking out his view of the instruction manual. This made him feel much calmer. However he quickly grew tired of watching Smith through one eye and instead gazed upon the main view screen. That's when his heart began pounding again. Reming found himself forcing himself back into his chair as he watched a massive asteroid begin to fill the view screen. "That's close enough, Ensign," he said nervously.
As the ship slowly glided to a stop, Captain Reming turned to his composed first officer seated next to him. "Is the new tractor system on-line?"
Carol Smith sat in her office in engineering, staring blankly at the readouts on her display. Shield modulation: 5463.32... Warp power efficiency: 92 percent... Matter-antimatter containment field: 100 percent...The information passed by her eyes, but seemed meaningless to her. Before, engineering was her life. Now it was just a job. Even Lieutenant Terry was merely going through the motions, forcing himself to concentrate on his tasks. Carol gave her other engineering officer, Lieutenant Masters, the day off. She had to. The Lieutenant could barely keep her mind on her work, so Carol sent her to her quarters. Carol wished she could do the same, but she knew at least one person had to be on duty in engineering and with the tractor beam test about to start, she didn't want to be the only one monitoring the situation. She didn't trust herself to keep focused. That’s why she was keeping Terry around.
Carol knew what their problem was. They were all still struggling with the traumatic events of the previous days. Trying to return to their duties as if nothing happened seemed almost impossible. They should have all taken shore leave, but they all had decided that getting back into the old work routine would help. It didn't.
Carol sat back in her chair with her eyes closed and her head leaning back. "Computer, what were the results of the level two diagnostic on the tractor beam?"
"A level two diagnostic was not performed on the tractor beam system," the computer responded flatly.
"Sorry, the level one diagnostic."
"A level one diagnostic is complete. All tractor beam systems are functioning within expected parameters."
"Bridge to Engineering," said the disembodied voice of Captain Reming. "Lieutenant Commander, are we ready to begin the tests on the new tractor beam systems?" he questioned.
"Yes sir. I just finished the final diagnostic and everything looks ready."
"Good work. Bridge out."
Carol pressed her hands over her head and pushed her hair back off her face. "Your welcome," she said to herself.
"Mr. Parks you can start picking up rocks. I'd advise you start small and stop the tests immediately if anything goes wrong," ordered Reming.
"Understood sir. Firing beam now."
Right on cue, a small focused beam shot from the Condor's belly and onto a nearby asteroid. From the viewer, the bridge crew could see a small bolder moving closer to the ship. A moment later, the rock stopped its progress toward the ship and started slowly backing away. "So far so good," thought Reming.
"Seems like an odd way to test the tractor beam - moving around asteroids," admitted Reed.
"I thought so too. From what I understand, these asteroids are very fragile. If the beam can hold one of them without allowing it to break apart, we’ll know that the beam will be able to handle very delicate objects as well as very large objects."
While the test continued, an eerie silence filled the room. Reed attempted to cut the awkward hush with a conversation. "So Nick, did you and Mike enjoy yourselves while at the star base?" she asked.
Nick began to smile and turn red at the question. Seeing Parks' grinning face forced Nick to let out an uncontrolled laugh. He attempted to cover it up by faking a cough, which didn't fool anybody.
"I'll take that as a yes."
Reming shook his head. "I don't even want to know."
The sudden spark of levity was quickly cut short by a warning alarm coming from Parks' station. Reming knew something had to go wrong. It was too good to be true. He never considered himself someone who believed in karma. He always felt the metaphysical universe was mad at him for that. That's why bad things kept happening to him - karma was getting back at him. "What's going on?" he asked.
Parks slid his hands across the console. "I don't know. I'm picking up a huge anomaly forming just ahead. It's expanding outward."
Reed leaned forward in her seat. "Red alert! Cut the beam and raise shields! Ensign, back us away!"
Just ahead of the Condor, a huge swirling spatial disturbance grew from inside the asteroid field. As the swirling tornado in space widened, it disturbed the sleeping rocks around it, pushing them outward toward the Condor.
The small science vessel reversed impulse engines and began to back away from the strange growing thing. Unfortunately, its retreat was not fast enough. A shower of small asteroids pelted the vessel, causing the Condor's shields to shriek angrily.
As the Condor backed farther away from the asteroid field, an object began to emerge from inside the swirling anomaly. The strange object soon revealed itself to be a ship. In its attempt to escape the twisting event, the unknown vessel seemed to struggle against the tumult like a horse bucking its rider. The ship released one last burst of energy, forcing itself into normal space. Soon after the ship was free, the spinning anomaly shrunk quickly until it was completely gone. All that remained from the odd occurrence was a tiny spacecraft drifting aimlessly inside the asteroid field.
Reming stood up, staring at the strange ship displayed on the viewer. It was small and angular craft, full of sharp edges and smooth curves. The ship seemed somehow familiar to Reming, but his mind wouldn't reveal to him why it seemed so familiar. Perhaps the image merely triggered some long forgotten memory or dream deep within his mind. Nonetheless, the ship's design continued to nag him. Why did it seem so familiar?
Reed looked at Reming, watching him stare blankly at the view screen. She placed her hand on his shoulder, hoping to pull him back to reality. "Are you all right?"
Remimg tore his eyes from the viewer and focused on Reed. "Yes...yes, I'm fine," he said in a manner that suggested that he was still lost in thought. Clearing his throat, Reming forced his mind back on his command. "Parks, scan the ship."
"Aye sir. Umm...the ship doesn't fit any known configuration. I can't tell you much more than that. Sensors are having trouble scanning it. There seems to be some kind of interference."
"Is it the anomaly?" asked Reed.
"No, the anomaly is gone, but some kind of low-level radiation is still detectable. I think that's what's messing with the sensors."
"Reming to Engineering. Carol, is there any way to cut through the interference that's effecting the sensors?"
Down in engineering, Carol Smith lifted her head off the console and curled her lip at the Captain's query. She looked over at Lieutenant Terry who merely shrugged his shoulders. Carol put head in her hands. "No sir, we can't cut through it. Sorry," she answered. "Engineering out."
"Boy, that answer came quick," said Reming. He shrugged off his chief engineer’s odd reply and turned his attention back the viewer. "Mister Parks, can we hail that ship?"
After pressing the appropriate switches, Parks shook his head. "No response. It's possible the interference is effecting communications, or maybe their communication system is damaged."
"Or maybe it's not compatible with ours," added Reming. "Okay, what about the shields?"
Parks stumbled over his words. "Huh, Shields? What shields?"
"What shields? Our shields! What's the status of our shields?"
"Oh...umm...we did take a few hits. Shields are holding at ninety-four percent."
Reming tuned to his first officer. "We need to establish some kind of communication...with," Reming waved a finger at the viewer, "...with that. Maybe if we move closer to it, and get past some of this interference, we'll be able to open a dialog of some kind. What do you think?"
Reed was about to speak, but Parks interrupted. "The low-level radiation does seem to decrease at the event's epicenter."
Reming looked back at Reed for approval.
She raised her eyebrows at him. "Well, I think it's a lousy idea, but it's the only one I can think of at the moment."
"Fine. Ensign, move us closer to that ship, but take it slow and look out for the big rocks."
"Ok, Cap. Here we go," Smith said as he rubbed his hands together with excitement.
Reming kept his eyes fixed on the viewer as Smith guided the Condor around the massive asteroids. Several times during the agonizingly long voyage, Smith spun the ship too close to several large rocks, triggering the collision alert alarm. Finally, he managed to bring the Condor into a stable orbit around one mountainous chunk of earth, putting the ship close to the alien craft.
Smith had taken the ship several hundred kilometers into the asteroid field. Reming knew, if getting into the field was dangerous, getting out would be a nightmare. There wasn't much point worrying about that now.
"Are we getting anything from the sensors now?" asked Reed.
Parks shook his head in distress. "I don't understand it. Sensors are still not fully functional."
"Activate the Augmented Sensor Array."
"Activating." After a moment of reflection, Parks sighed in relief. "Okay, now I'm getting something."
"What have you got?" asked Reming.
"I'm detecting a standard matter-antimatter propulsion system as well as some other unknown power system. Life signs indicate one life form on board. Also, I'm detecting some kind of markings on the hull." Parks' eyes widened with surprise. "The markings are in English."
"What? What's it say?"
"It says: Starship Reming."
Parks' analysis of the markings proved to be undeniable. A magnified view of the alien craft showed the words 'Starship Reming' emblazoned across the hull of the alien ship. The bridge crew of the USS Condor stared at the viewer in stunned silence. Captain Reming stared at the image too, however he wasn't stunned. His emotional state was something much more extreme. Confused thoughts raced around in his head, in an attempt to wrap his mind around the paradox displayed in front of him. "Why does this alien ship bear my name? How did it get here?" he asked himself. The questions bounced around his skull in search of answers that were not there.
"What the hell's going on here?" asked Reed in a clearly agitated manner.
Ensign Smith looked over at Parks, who returned his glance. Both knew what the other must have been thinking - It's going to be another one of those days. Parks began thinking about all the other professions he could have gone into. Times like this always made him question why he didn't go with his second choice - high priced porn star.
A flashing light in front on his console brought him back to reality. "Sir, we are being hailed," he said.
"What? We are being hailed? Put it up."
On the viewer, the image of the alien craft was replaced by a large humanoid figure. The sudden appearance of the alien startled Reed, even though the alien's appearance wasn't disturbing at all. His greenish skin was smooth and somewhat scaly. His two eyes were round and black. Two small holes below his eyes served as a nose and a long curved slit must have functioned as a mouth. Over his body, he wore a plain red uniform. No, the creature was not disturbing at all. To Reed, he resembled a big salamander. She quickly shook off her fears and smiled, wondering if she'd ever be able to handle contact with an alien species without running into her irrational phobia.
Ignoring Reed's minor panic attack, Reming stepped forward to address the creature. "We mean you no harm. This vessel is the called the USS Condor and my name is Captain Phillip Reming."
At the mention of Captain's name, the alien quickly bowed his head and dropped to one knee. "I have finally succeeded. My quest is complete."
The giant lizard looked up. "Yes. My name is Utbut. I was selected to go on a journey. My mission was to search for the one responsible for bringing life to my planet. Now my search is complete. I have found you."
Reming wondered if he was dreaming. He hoped so. He began scanning the room, hoping to find some glaring inconsistency that would signal this to be just a bad dream. Unfortunately, everything seemed real enough.
Then he remembered that given a complex problem, often the simplest answer is often the correct one. Therefore, Reming quickly concluded that this gentle looking alien must be crazy as a loon. "Sir, I think you're mistaken," said Reming as calmly as possible. "I have never created life. I think I would remember something like that."
"Oh but you have. And I can prove it too. I have some sacred artifacts with me which will explain everything. Please permit me to show them to you."
Reming tuned to Reed. "What do you think? Do we beam him over here?"
"Hell yes. I have got to see this." She said sharply.
Captain Reming looked out the conference room window, staring at the lizard-man's unusual spacecraft. The ship was some distance away, and yet it seemed close enough to reach out and pluck out of space. Reming wished he could grab it. Hold it, like a child's toy. He had to find out why the ship seemed so familiar to him. He decided to stop thinking about the ship and instead simply observe it.
From the his inspection, the ship appeared to be running on limited power. Lights along the hull barely glowed. Clearly, the brightest light source on the ship was from a single elongated structure connected to the bottom of the hull. The object had a cool blue glow around it. To Reming, it almost looked like a Federation starship nacelle. But how could it be? How could an alien culture from who knows where develop technology so similar to standard Federation technology? He didn't know the odds for sure, but he knew the probability must have been exceedingly small.
"Captain Reming?" called Reed from behind. When he turned around, he found Commander Reed accompanied by the alien named Utbut. The friendly alien held a large case in one hand.
"It is good to finally meet you, your eminence," said Utbut.
"You too. Why don't we sit down."
The three of them took a seat at the conference table. In front of him, Utbut put his large case on the table and softly patted it.
"Now, maybe you can explain to us this business about me having something to do with your planet."
"Many years ago, my people became interested in the origins on our existence in the hopes of better understanding ourselves. We learned that as each new race of Susu evolved, it established its communities on top of the fossils of the old race. So, our scientists began their research of our prehistory by digging into the earth. As they dug and searched, they found younger and younger versions of ourselves dating back millions and millions of years. Then one day, as the scientists searched for more of our ancestral record, they noticed something. They found nothing - no further trace of our ancient history. This was perplexing. There should have been some record of yet another younger version of ourselves, younger than anything discovered thus far, but there was nothing."
"A missing link," said Reed.
"A missing what?"
"A missing link. Your people were missing something that would link your species back farther into your prehistory."
"Yes, that's exactly right. And as I said, this perplexed us. Could our ancestors have merely blinked into existence? Is it possible that some all-powerful being created us? Many people thought so and still do today."
"But you don't," affirmed Reming.
"Well at the time I certainly didn't. I decided that there must be some other explanation, but we found none."
"Isn't it possible that you're missing ancestors originated in some other part of your world and merely relocated at the location you...your people were studying?"
"We considered this, but there was no evidence of a great migration from any other location to the area we've studied. From all indications, the area we've been studying holds the evidence of our earliest natural history. It appears my ancestors actually traveled outward from this location to other areas of my world."
"Perhaps some catastrophic event greatly changed the land masses of your planet, destroying any evidence of an earlier record of your species."
"We considered this too, but surface scans of our world performed from space show that the planet hasn't changed in over four hundred million years. Long before the first Susu existed."
Reming took at long deep breath and sighed hard. Reed folded her arms and glanced up at the ceiling. Both of them were turning the problem over in their heads, trying to find another possible explanation. Both were unsuccessful. Finally, Reming turned to their guest. "Well, I'm lost."
Utbut smiled a lizard smile and laughed. "So were we. Our last resort was to turn to the one theory that could explain the sudden appearance of my species. The theory is called the Divine Creation theory."
"Divine Creation theory?"
"Yes, that's what my people call their ‘all-powerful being’ idea."
"Do you prescribe to that idea?"
"I didn't for a long time, until..."
"Until what? And what does any of this have to do with me?"
"I'm coming to that. About a year ago, while supervising at one of our prehistory dig sites, we came upon some interesting artifacts. One artifact in particular has a direct baring on the birth of my species. It is our belief that the artifact was left behind on my world for just such a purpose. The rest of the artifacts point to the identity of the being."
"May we see them...the artifacts?" asked Reed, eyes wide with interest.
"Of course." Utbut then opened his case and pulled out a small cylindrical object. He handled the object with great reverence as if in awe of its beauty. Gently, he handed it over to Reed.
Reed gratefully took the object and studied it. It appeared to be a container to her. A small glass jar, to be more specific. The outside was covered in a thin layer of dust and dirt. Carefully, she turned it around in her hands several times until she came upon a label. After studying the label for some time, she looked up at Reming and then back at the writing on the container. She blinked hard, as if to force her mind to believe her eyes.
A twisted expression grew over her face. Reming tried to read her expression but couldn't. Soon enough, Reming would understand her expression perfectly. He took the container from Reed’s hands and studied it for himself, turning the object until he came upon the label. The label itself was worn with age. Whole pieces were missing or torn off, but there was enough there for Reming recognize what the label read. "Oh God, it’s Peanut Butter!"
"It’s…it’s a jar of Peanut Butter!" said Reming. He looked up at Reed, hoping she could explain the whole thing. She stared back at him, holding her hand over her mouth in shock.
Utbut took the jar from Reming. "As you can see, most of the letters are faded. Only five letters are perfectly clear. I took those five letters U-T-B-U-T and used them to form my name – Utbut.
"So…so you’re named for the contents of the jar. You named yourself after peanut butter?" asked Reed, wondering if she fully understood the absurdity of the situation.
"In an manner of speaking, yes."
"And…and that…that artifact…what does it have to do with…"
"Once my people came upon the container, we studied the contents. After careful scrutiny, we made an incredible discovery. We found out that the compounds of this…this…peanut butter is made up of complex chemical structures. And these exact chemical structures only appear in one other place – in the DNA of my race. The contents of this container somehow combined with other complex chemical compounds found on my world. The result was, well, my species."
"Are you sure?" asked Reming.
"Oh quite sure. The discovery was a shock to us as well. It was clear to everyone that the object is not naturally occurring. It is clearly a constructed thing. And the compounds inside are the building blocks of life on my planet. So, it became obvious to us all that some other being left it on my world for the sole purpose of producing life. Many people felt -"
"Stop a minute," yelled a frustrated Reming. "What does any of this have to do with me? What makes you think I’m responsible?"
"Well, several other objects were also found at the same dig site." Utbut then proceeded to pull out a small card from the case in front of him. Reed extended her hand and Utbut dropped it in.
Reed studied the small card for a short time. With a shrug she handed it over to Reming. "It doesn’t prove anything," said Reed.
Reming looked at the card and recognized it for what it was. "It’s a baseball card. It’s Flinch Peters when he played for the Magnificent Bastards. The Bastards won the World Series that year. I think I had a card just like this one a long time ago."
"A lot of people could have owned that card. You don’t have any proof that it’s Phil’s," said Reed in earnest.
Reming noticed that she referred to him using his first name. He couldn’t remember her ever doing that before. Why did she refer to him like that now? Reming realized that Reed must consider the situation to be a lot more serious than first thought. Maybe she’s stating to believe what this guy was proposing.
Utbut didn’t withdraw from Reed’s charge. He merely handed her another item from his case. It was a small book. "A comic book? This doesn’t prove anything either," said Reed as she tossed it over to Reming.
Reming’s eyes lit up at his first glance at the cover. "Wow! I haven’t seen this in a long time. It’s issue number one of Captain Sheerin, Canada’s Second Super Hero." I loved this comic. Reming attempted to stifle his immature enthusiasm. "Again, just as…uh…Donna…said, this doesn’t prove anything either."
Utbut produced another item from his case. "I think this will convince both of you," he said, handing the large piece of paper to Reed. She looked down at it, then quickly looked up at Reming. Her mouth opened but made no sound. She placed the paper on the table and slid it to Reming.
Reming picked it up and looked at it. It was a picture. More accurately, it was drawing. It was a drawing of a ship. The schematic-like drawing was clearly from the imagination of a youthful person. It was the whimsical drawings of space and spaceships. The thing that stuck Reming was that the ship drawing perfectly matched the design of the ship floating two hundred meters beyond the nearest bulkhead. Reming began to feel physically ill when his eyes drifted to the bottom of the paper. There, at the bottom, was written: By Philip Reming ’58.
Utbut stood up and faced Reming. "It is my opinion, and the opinion of others, that these artifacts are undeniable proof that our species spontaneously evolved through the actions of a superior entity. That superior entity is you."
Reming glanced at Utbut then down at the paper and then at Reed. Reed immediately stood up, attempting to take charge of the situation. "Mr. Utbut, the Captain and I need to take some time to review the information you‘ve brought us. While we do so, won’t you be our guest on the Condor?"
Utbut looked over at the Captain and met his stare. He bowed slightly, then turned his attention back to Reed. "I would be most grateful."
"Fine," said Reed as she slapped her comm. Badge. "Bridge to Engineering. Lieutenant Commander Smith, since the tractor beam tests have been put on hold indefinitely, I think you’re free to give our guest a quick tour of the ship. Please show him around and then set him up with diplomatic quarters."
"Can’t you find someone else for the job?" said a disinterested Carol Smith.
"That’s an order, Miss Smith."
"On my way."
On the bridge of the Condor, Lieutenant Commander Parks sat back in the Captain’s chair staring off at nothing in particular. Ensign Smith kept his place at the helm, trying to think of something to keep himself busy. He finally resorted to tuning different sub systems off and then on again just for the fun of watching the flicker of the power readout display.
"Hey Mike?" said Nick.
"It’s a nice ship, don’t you think?"
"Weird how it has the Cap’s name on it."
"What is it with you with this ‘Cap’ stuff?"
"I like it. I’m making it my new trademark. Why, you don’t approve?"
"It just sounds…stupid."
"Well, I’m keeping it."
"What is it now?"
"You know how my sister is giving that lizard guy a tour of the ship?"
"Oh course I do. I was here when she escorted him off the bridge. What about it?"
"That guy makes me hungry for some reason."
"Yeah, now that you mention it, me too. He sort of smells like something good, but I can’t figure it out what exactly."
"Do you think she’ll show him the holodeck?"
A bored Carol Smith walked the corridor with the strange lizard man at her side, trying to think of something else to show him. She had no idea how long the Commander wanted to her to keep him busy, and she didn’t care either. Carol thought about dropping him off at his quarters early but couldn’t. She knew the maintenance crews were still putting together something close to ‘diplomatic quarters’. She had already showed him engineering, Sickbay and the shuttle bay. She even showed him the lavatory, but that, of course, was his idea. It was either that or have him beamed back to his ship, which was out of the question.
Then Carol thought of something to show him. "Mr. Utbut, would you like to see the holodeck?"
"Please, it’s just Utbut. What is a Holo-deck?’
"It’s a place of recreation. Many crew members use it for entertainment during long voyages." Carol proceeded to lead the lizard man to a huge doorway. "Here we are."
"How does it work?"
"It’s uses holographic technology to simulate different situations or environments. Like I said, it’s mostly used for recreation, but it is can also be used to simulate mission scenarios so the crew can practice certain theories or skills."
"Aint it, though," Carol sarcastically said as she studied the holodeck control panel. "Hmmm…according to this, a program is presently running. Computer: what program is currently running on holodeck one?"
"Program Smith-zero-three," said the monotone computer voice.
"It’s one of mine?" she asked herself. "I don’t remember leaving one of my programs running." Carol decided to shrug it off as absentmindedness brought on by her poor mental well being. "Oh well, why don’t we take a look at which program it is. Come on in."
As Carol and Utbut stepped into the holodeck, two nearly dressed females met them at the door. Carol at once knew this wasn’t one of her programs.
The dark hared woman stepped forward. "Where’s Nick?"
Carol stamped her foot in anger. "Damn it, Nicholas! Why can’t you remember to put your toys away!"
Wearing a huge smile across his reptilian face, Utbut eyed the two female humans standing in front of him. "Tell me Miss Smith, is this particular program used for recreation or as a mission simulation?" he asked.
"When it comes to my brother, who knows."
"THINK!" shouted Commander Reed. "How is any of this possible?"
Reming looked up at his first officer, oblivious to her agitated state. He was in mental state so unique, it’s without a name. "You’ve got me. I mean, I vaguely recognize this stuff. And this drawing. Now I know why his ship seemed so familiar – I drew it."
"But how? How?!"
"How everything! Nothing makes sense. How could you influence the creation of a species that’s been in existence for millions of years." Reed took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself. "Okay, let’s try to understand this from a different direction. Let’s just agree, for sake of argument, that everything Utbut said is true."
"Okay, I guess."
Reed picked up the drawing and focused on the bottom. "It says: 58."
"Yeah, that’s the year – 2358. I guess I was about ten or eleven."
"Did you drew it for a class project?"
"Ah!" shouted Reming, as if in pain. "I remember…something. My friend Zippy and I used to draw this kind of stuff all the time. Yeah, that’s right. He and I really liked this one, too. I forgot all about that. We used to do the drawings in science class. We hated science class."
"Okay, now can you tell me anything about the baseball card?’
Reming picked up the card and held it close to his face. "As a kid, I was a big follower of the Bastards. I remember when they won the series in ’59. Flinch here got traded the following year. When I heard about the trade, I remember searching the entire house for his card, but I never found it. "
"Okay, that trip down memory lane wasn’t much help. What about the comic? Do you remember anything special about it?"
Reming picked up the book and thumbed through the pages. "I remember reading it over and over again."
"I remember…" Reming’s voice trailed off as he drifted into thought. He did remember something about the comic book, but it wasn’t something tangible. "I remember…wind."
"Wind? You remember wind? What’s that mean?"
"I remember the wind blowing in my face."
"So, the last time you read it, you were outside. Anything else?"
"No, not really." Said Reming as he tossed the comic book to Reed. "We’re getting nowhere with this."
"Now wait a second, I think we are getting somewhere. Think about the comic, the picture and the baseball card all together."
Reming thought about all three for a moment. A flash of a memory blinked into his mind. He did remember something, but as quickly as the memory appeared, it was lost again.
"Okay, don’t push it. Let’s go back to the comic book again. You said you remember reading it over and over. Did you read it over again for a reason?"
"I think I used to take it with me whenever I went on a long trip or something."
Reming’s eyes widened. "YES! That’s right. I do remember reading it on a school trip!"
"You said you and your friend would draw star ships in science class. Is it possible you were on a science class trip?"
"Okay, I’ll buy that."
"All right, now let’s go back to the baseball card for a moment. When did you your interest in the Magnificent Bastards start?"
"When I got the card," said Reming, almost as a reflex.
"When was that?"
"Zippy gave it to me. I remember now. While on one of those long shuttle trips, we compared our lunches. He said he’d trade me his root bear and Flinch Peters card for my orange juice. I went along with it."
"Where were you going?"
"Where were we going? We were on a trip to…to Gamma-Alpha three. Yes, I remember now. We were on a class trip to Gamma-Alpha three. We were going to study the plant and animal life there. It’s M class, you know. While on the surface, we had our lunch. Zippy and I worked on that picture while we ate. I had a peanut butter sandwich and drank his root bear. I remember now. I remember everything. Geez, I must have left all this stuff on the surface by mistake. Maybe that’s where Utbut got this stuff. I wonder what’s the present status of Gamma-Alpha three? Maybe we should go there now?"
Reed sat down, completely exhausted from the mental exercise she just went through. "I don’t know, sir. Computer: what’s the current status of Gamma-Alpha three?"
The computer whined a bit before finally answering. "Unknown. Gamma-Alpha three vanished approximately eighteen years ago."
Captain Reming and Commander Reed stared at one another in stunned silence. They were waiting for the computer to explain what it just said. Both were wondering the same thing - how could an entire planet disappear? Reming jumped from his seat and picked up the star ship drawing lying on the table. "Computer," he said. "How is it possible for Gamma-Alpha three to completely vanish?"
"The exact circumstances surrounding its disappearance is unknown. A Federation Gamma-Alpha natural preserve satellite recorded increased neutrino emissions just before it vanished. Presently, it is believed that Gamma-Alpha three fell into an unstable wormhole."
"A wormhole? My god, it must have been massive," said Reed. "But how could the planet survive the trip? It should have broken up as soon as it entered the event horizon."
Reming sat back down and spun his char around so to face the window. Again his gaze settled on the alien ship which closely resembled the drawing in his hands. "Maybe it didn’t."
"What do you mean?"
"Maybe the Gamma-Alpha three as we know it didn’t survive the journey. Maybe on its way through the wormhole, it was transformed somehow."
"So you’re saying the conditions inside the wormhole somehow effected the planet on a quantum level, changing it."
"Yeah, that’s what I mean. Maybe the radiation inside the wormhole reorganized the planet on a molecular structure, incorporating the peanut butter into its matrix."
Reed rolled her eyes at the idea. "That’s the most ridiculous theory I’ve ever heard."
Reming spun around to face Reed. "Well, maybe it didn’t happen that way. But what do we think could have happened? A chemical reaction allowed the peanut butter, that I left behind, to be used as the building blocks of a higher life form on Gamma-Alpha three after traveling through space by way of an enormous wormhole. And all this took place some eighteen or so years ago."
"That still doesn’t make sense. Eighteen years isn’t enough time for a species to evolve as far as Utbut’s did."
"Okay, when did he say the last global change happened on his world?"
"He said it was about four hundred million years ago."
"That’s it then."
"The wormhole didn’t just take the planet to a different place. It transported it to a different time as well. The wormhole took the entire planet about four hundred million years into the past."
"Oh man, I don’t believe this. It’s beginning to make sense."
"Sentient life evolved on Utbut’s world because of me – by accident, of course."
"That’ll teach you to litter."
"So what do we do now?"
"Well, we have to figure out what Utut’s real motive is for finding you. That’s what really concerns me."
"I’m sure he didn’t travel all this way just to say ‘hi’. He wants something from you. I believe he want’s you to come back with him. Maybe become a king on his world. Maybe he wants to give you eternal life by dipping you in bronze. I don’t know for sure, but he will try to take you back with him, by force if necessary."
We could just throw him in the brig – if we had one - and tow his ship back to the nearest star base. I’m sure Starfleet would love to get their hands on that…that…whatever it is that got him here."
"Maybe, if we ask, he’ll come with us willingly. You never know."
"No, I have a better idea."
"NO! Right hand on red! RED!" shouted Carol Smith. From her prone position, she could barely see where Utbut’s hand was. To her, it definitely felt like he had it in the wrong place. "Get your hand off of there." The blonde hared woman bent over Smith’s left leg suddenly lost her balance. Her weight knocked Utbut flat on top of Carol, knocking the wind out of her. "Okay, that’s it! I’ve done enough public relations for one day. Everybody off!"
Slowly, the pile of people climbed off of Carol. Finally, she was able to lift herself back to her feet and catch her breath. "Come on. I’m sure your quarters are ready by now."
Utbut turned to the ravishing females and bowed respectfully. "A most enjoyable game, dear ladies. Thank you for the entertainment." The two women turned to one another and giggled.
"Lieutenant Commander Smith, this is the Captain," echoed Reming. "Could you please escort our guest back up to the conference room. We would like to talk to him."
"Captain are you okay?" Reed quietly asked.
Reming turned from the conference room window to face her. "Yes, I’m fine. It’s just…"
Reed folded her arms and tilted her head. "What, sir?"
"I’m not sure about your plan. I just don’t feel right about it."
"Well, sir, it’s a little late to back out of it now. He’s on his way up here," said Reed, taking a seat on the edge of the conference table.
"Yes…yes, you’re right."
"You know what to do, right?"
Reming was about to answer her when the conference room doors opened and in walked Lieutenant Commander Smith with Utbut at her side. Reed quickly hopped off the table and took her place beside Reming. "Thank you, Miss Smith. You’re dismissed," said Reed. Smith acknowledged the Commander’s order with a nod and backed out of the room.
Now, with Smith out of the room, Utbut took a step toward the two high-ranking officers. "I assume you’ve looked over the evidence. You believe me now, don’t you?"
"Yes, we believe you, sir. What we would like to know is: Do you believe you?"
Utbut looked a bit startled by the question. "Of course, I believe. I would not have agreed to the take on the quest if I did not believe."
"And now that your quest is complete, what will you do now?"
Utbut chuckled at the question. "You are a smart person, Commander. I think you’ve already figured it out. I intend to take your Captain back with me. My people…want him."
Reming stepped forward. "Your creator does not wish to go with you. I wish to remain here. As your creator, I command you to pilot your ship and follow me back to MY people, never to return to your own world. I, your creator, demand this of you."
Utbut shook his head. "You know, I’m really getting tired of all this." He then pulled out a small hand held device and pointed it at Reming. A beam of light shot from the device, hitting the Captain directly in the chest. Without explanation, a shimmering force field enveloped Reming’s entire body. He did not struggle against it.. He couldn’t. The force field surrounding him acted like a stasis chamber, placing him in a cryogenic state.
Reed reached out for her Captain, but Utbut stopped her. "STOP! He’s locked in a stasis bubble specifically engineered to match his DNA. If you try to tamper with it, a three-second-detonation sequence will initiate. When the three seconds are up, an explosion will go off, destroying him, you, this ship and anything else in the sector."
"You would rather see him dead rather than let him stay here?"
"My mission was to have him return to my world with me. I could not return without him. You know, it’s interesting, Commander. You were right about me. When I first arrived here, I didn’t truly believe in the quest. I’m not sure what I believed. But you convinced me. You put the pieces together. You filled in the blanks. You arrived at the conclusion that I was right after all."
"Oh come now, Commander. I can’t be the first telepathic species your people have met, can I? My time on the holodeck was fun, but I must admit, my attention was focused elsewhere. My attention was focused on you."
"What will you…your people do with him?"
"They’ll decide that when I return. Maybe put him on trial for littering. Maybe grant him eternal life by dipping him in bronze. I wouldn’t worry about it." Utbut then pressed a button on his waist, initiating a transporter sequence. Within seconds, Utbut and the Captain were gone.
Commander Reed frantically ran onto the Bridge. "Utbut has abducted the Captain. We have to stop him."
Parks and Smith looked at one another in stunned silence
"You head me! He’s got him over in his ship. He’s going to escape. Parks, fire the tractor beam at that ship – NOW!"
Parks immediately ran from the Captain’s chair to his station. He ran is hands over the console and fired the tractor beam. The beam locked onto the alien ship, holding it in place. "Got him!"
"Good! Now drag him in."
An alarm began blaring from Smith’s station. "Commander, something’s happening. The anomaly is returning. It’s forming behind the alien ship. I think he’s making a break for it."
"No! We can’t let him go!" Shouted Reed, leaning over Parks’ station. "Increase the power on the tractor beam immediately. Let’s see what it can do."
Parks’ pushed the tractor beam’s power distribution to maximum. "Okay, we still have him. He’s not going anywhere."
"Okay, Nick, full reverse. Get us out of here."
The Ensign looked up at Commander Reed with immeasurable fear. "What? You want me to fly out of the asteroid field backwards?! Are you crazy?"
"JUST DO IT!" yelled Reed. "Parks, can you get a transporter lock on the Captain?"
"No, I can’t. Something’s scattering the transporter lock."
"Just keep the tractor beam on that ship. Don’t let it go." Reed turned to the helmsman. "Smith?"
"I’ve plotted a course out of the asteroid field. I’m starting out now." Smith studied the instrumentation in front of him. He decided to rely on the computer to do most of the flying. "Okay, it’s working. We’ll be out in four minutes."
The entire ship shook violently beneath their feet, as if it were being pulled forward sharply. "He’s fighting us! He’s trying to break free. He’s firing phasers!" yelled Parks.
"Raise shields!" ordered Reed.
"Shields up. Wait…he’s not firing on us. He’s firing on the asteroids. They’re breaking up!"
Again the ship fiercely shuddered. Lights and consoles began to wink on and off. It felt like the whole ship was beginning to come apart. "We’re hit!" shouted Smith over the warning alarms.
"WARNING! Hull integrity failure. Complete hull collapse in nineteen minutes," announced the computer in an eerily calm manner.
"Reroute all available power to the emergency force fields!"
Parks slammed his fists to the console. "I can’t. My console is locked!"
"Commander," shouted Lieutenant Commander Smith over the comm. system, "we’re losing power all over the ship. We have to get out of here!"
"We’re not leaving without the Captain, Miss Smith."
Just as Reed completed her statement, the blue sparkle of the tractor beam began to flicker. The flickering increased sharply just before the beam shut off completely. "What happened?! Carol, I want that beam back - NOW!"
"I’m sorry, sir. The tractor beam system is completely fried. It’ll take hours to get it back, and to be honest, that’s not my highest priority right now."
"Make it your highest priority, Engineer!"
Parks tugged on the Commander’s uniform, turning her attention back on the viewer. "Look, Commander. We’re too late."
Before their eyes, they saw the mysterious anomaly that brought the alien ship begin to grow. When the huge swirling tumult reached it’s fullest, the alien craft flew into it. Within the moments between seconds, the strange ship and the swirling anomaly both disappeared.
Reed fell backward into her seat in stunned horror. "We’ve lost him."
TO BE CONTINUED…
Borg Like Me, part deux, part two
|Episode Thirteen - Deep in the Delta Quadrant the Condor crew find an exploded Borg cube. With help from The Resistance they take action to find their missing crew in Borg space! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why it took 10 years to write 44 pages. Second half of Story One of Three in the Delta Story Arc|
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