James Timothy Kirk is not what
anyone would call a people watcher. But the man in the Shipview Cafe
was worth watching. It was also what that man was watching that caught
Kirk's eye in the first place. The Shipview faced the Starbase 222
space dock, and the featured player in Starfleet's corner of the
massive El Nanth Builder's Station today was the USS Kongo
NCC 10455. The man looked to be early middle age, about 55 or so. High
forehead, sandy brown hair, silver at the temples. He had sky blue eyes
that seem to hold some secret joke. He looked at Kirk's ship with the
fascination of a grandparent on a new grandchild. He was also a
civilian, unusual in this corner of the space dock. Kirk picked up his
coffee and wandered over.
"Morning, do you like her?"
"Oh yes," the man's gaze took in Kirk's
every detail with a single glance. "I used to serve in Starfleet, I
commanded a Kongo once, but not that ship. Oh,
Jerold Ryan LaSaille, how do you do."
"The same, Captain James Timothy Kirk. I
command this Kongo."
"I think you have done well by her. The
refit suits her to a 't'."
"So, what was your Kongo's
"Please, just call me Jerry. I am long
passed formal titles. My Kongo, well, that was long
ago. However, business was kind to me, by the time Starfleet was ready
to scrap her I had money to spare. I bought her hull, at scrap prices.
I restored her to the way she was when I commanded her. I served with
the Kongo 12 years as commanding officer. I guess she will always be my
first love. She is at fleet dock AA 137. Tell the deck watch I sent
you, they'll let you poke around. Well young man, it has been pleasant,
but I must be on my way. Beautiful ship you have there, take good care
of her. He was gone quickly, and hadn't answered Kirk in the least.
Kirk was both put off, and curious.
As the engineers would be poking around
in Kongo's guts at least another day, and the morning's paperwork was
signed, he decided to have a look. Dock AA 137 was way in the back of
the fleet facilities. Captain's pips got him an inspection cab, and a
docking clearance for the ship. It took a long 15 minutes to reach the
far flung arm of the dock. Except for maintenance lights, the hulks at
their moorings where unlit and quiet. He managed to make out a
Constellation class ship, a few older Frigates, and a Unity class
cruiser, then the lights came up ahead. Kirk just stared, the eggshell
white of the hull dazzled him. A nacelle design a hundred years old at
the least. It was a Constitution class heavy cruiser as cherry as the
day she was launched. The hull said it all. USS Kongo
He boarded like a school kid with an
extra day off and spent the entire afternoon wandering the old ship.
She was perfect in every detail. From the 23rd century instruments in
the sickbay to the commissioning plate on the bridge. Either the old
man was the greatest liar in the sector, or a lot older than he looked.
Kirk sat at the old science station. It
took a moment to figure out the controls and pull up the records he
wanted. If the designs to these things hadn't been standardized
centuries ago, he would have been lost. There, he had it, the captain's
list. Capt. Rodrego Esperato Diaz, Capt. Jerold Ryan LaSaille... The
rest didn't matter right now. He looked up the man's service record.
Retired as an Admiral in 2285. Well, he was, as he thought, one hell of
a liar, or he wanted to know what doctor he went to.
Captain's Log stardate
47123.45. We have passed all engineering tests with flying colors. Both
Starfleet and the Ane designers are in accord that the refit is working
within nominal perimeters. We are currently bound for Deep Space 7 We
are responding to what was described as a 'low priority' planetary
distress call. I am anxious to see what kind of planetary distress the
Commander calls 'low priority'. We are proceeding at warp 8."
Commander Listermen kept a cluttered but
organized office. Nick-nacks of every description covered numerous
shelves. Most seem to be in the archaeological or naturalist fields of
collecting. Commander Listerman was in danger of becoming part of the
collection. She was a late middle-aged woman of medium height with a
Kirk was impatient. "Commander, where is
the distress call coming from? The sooner we know, the sooner we can
"Captain Kirk, please, their is no
reason to get in a lather. No emergency at all."
"Forgive me, but when someone says
'planetary distress call' I tend to think in terms of hurry. Now, were
is the call coming from, and what are the circumstances?"
"Well Captain, the call has been
arriving for the last 70 years. We have only had the privilege of
receiving it since the station was built 20 years ago. However, a few
communication ships placed in the appropriate spots have picked up the
missed messages. Recent events have caused us to consider that distress
was in order."
"I am not getting this at all. A 70 year
old distress message that isn't a distress message until recently?
Please, try words of one syllable."
Commander Listerman looked confused,
then the light dawned. "Ah, I think I understand. Captain Kirk, we have
been receiving sub-light analog video and audio signals. Not subspace
messages. We got our computers around the signals and have been reading
them. Quality varies greatly.
"OK, sub-light signals, what is the
distress element?" Kirk was fed to the eyebrows with the dithering. He
had never blown up with any other officer, and he didn't want to start
"Perhaps I should start at the
"Yes. Please, do." Kirk flopped into a
"Ahem." Listerman began to pace before
her desk, the perfect professor in lecture mode. "You are of course
aware that every deep space station keeps a constant monitor on all
known frequencies both real space and subspace. Shortly after our array
went into service the computer noted these signals. We have been
receiving flat screen, analog, video/audio, and audio only signals from
a system 183.2 light years distant, although that fact was only
recently revealed. Our computer quickly analyzed the signals, and we
have 'enjoyed', news and entertainment from this system since. The
signals have varied in strength and clarity.
Ten years ago, the tone of the
programing changed. What I like to call "vodtreker' themes became the
standard fair. Tales of the brave forced from their homes by nameless
and unstoppable forces. Then two years ago the entertainment programing
stopped. The signal got a lot stronger, and clearer. Instead of dramas,
we where presented with panoramic views of the planet. Analog telemetry
spewed forth by the bucket full. Then, a week ago we got two
correlating facts that brought the whole thing together. Screen on."
The large view screen at the end of the
office lit up. A flat image, shot with static showed a city of striking
and unusual architecture, The light suddenly intensified to the
blinding point, the city caught fire at once, and the image went blank.
"That is a good enough example. I could
show you things catching fire all day. The other factor is the light
from the NGC 370-465 nova reached the station at the same time we got
these images. All broadcasting abruptly ceased."
Kirk was sobered by the brief show. He
sat a long moment, and grieved for a people he would never know. When
he at last found his voice, it quavered a bit at first. "Planetary
distress, but we are 183.2 years to late."
"We have known about the NGC 370-465
nova for a long time. We however never associated the broadcasts as
being from that system. We now know without a doubt where they came
"What do you want from the Kongo?"
"Can you go there, see what there is to
see? See if any evidence of the people that lived there remains? They
have become, in a fashion, our friends. The computer department spent
far too much time translating their shows, and re-imaging the broken up
video so we can run them here. I'm sorry if you came running thinking
lives were in danger Captain, but, these people were important to us.
We hoped, that they had advanced since they made their dramas, that,
they would come here, and we would be the ones to welcome them into the
galactic society." She stopped, sniffed loudly, and walked to the
replicator. "Handkerchief, linen, large." The requested item appeared.
She blew her nose, and wiped her eyes. "Silly of me, I know. I assure
you however you will find my sentiments broadly felt throughout the
"I am assigned to exploration and
enforcement duty in this sector, and I have no specific orders from
Starfleet. I'll consult with my science department, and get back to
"Thank you Captain, is there anything we
can help with?"
"Yes, I'd like to see some of those
The sky was dark with smoke and ash. All
the world had become an inferno of red fire and black smoke. In the
distance the volcano raged still, the angry gods would not be appeased
this time. Slisflix gazed once more on the island village of his youth.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he saw the lava reach the outskirts. He
turned to the boat, and called for the crew to cast off, they where the
last to leave. There was no place to stay, and no turning back. His
boat joined the others far out in the lagoon, they rowed into the wide
ocean unknown. The soothsayers had promised them new lands beyond the
setting sun. He faced bravely forward and joined the farewell chant in
time with the flashing paddles. They would seek the future, and let the
The screen dimmed, and the lights in the
Kirk's dayroom came up. The senior staff was gathered in an informal
briefing. Snacks littered the tables.
Kirk spoke first. "I'm impressed.
Regiban the ship's Ane sciences officer
chimed in. **A most unusual species. They resemble the reconstructions
of the Earth creature Dyninocus, extinct for 65 million years.**
Bob Hanson, the Chief medical office
jumped on that. "Tim asks for a drama critic and you analyze the
species. Yes, I found them interesting as a people. However, their
ability at drama was quite moving. Culture is more important than
Regiban replied. **Must you always find
exception to my observations Doctor?**
Hanson grinned. "It's an old Starfleet
tradition; Doctor harasses Science officer."
Kirk broke into the debate. "Gentleman,
all observations are valued. Anyone else?"
Tathilan said. **Drama? It was well
produced, and well written. I find it hard to judge the acting due to
the fact I don't have a standard of behavior to base it on.**
Spacik put in his two credits. "A
parable I think, not a documentary. The tech level displayed is not
consistent with the tech level required to produce it."
Deateli, the ships Delta Counsellor
picked up the thread, "It was clearly meant to stir emotion. If the
translation is accurate, I would say to sway public opinion as well. I
would class it as propaganda disguised as entertainment."
Kirk took the floor back. "Tathilan,
have you reviewed the rest of the 'Vodtrecker' works?"
"Can you give me a synopsis?"
**The 'Vodtrecker' style is consistent
formula drama; One person, or a small group of the society sense an
outside threat of natural origin. Society in general rejects the
threat. At this point the style splits into two types, the first I'll
call "The Chosen People" The threat becomes obvious, and the people
rush to save themselves only to be told it is of little matter and the
threat will pass. The original discoverers work to save themselves and
anyone that will come. Most in ignorance or trust of old habit do not.
The few escape and the many perish.
The second style I'll call 'The Exodus'.
It proceeds as per the first style, except the threat is accepted.
Disorder reigns until the original discoverers of the threat rise to
meet the challenge, and all are saved by dint of total effort. The
future is uncertain, but hopeful.**
"Could they have known they where to
Regiban broke back in. **It is
conceivable Tim. Other than radio and television, we have little idea
as to their level of technology.**
Gwenith Ap Owen the XO spoke for the
first time. "Could the Vodtrecker dramas be a means to prepare people
for the idea they have to leave?"
Deateli replied. "I would say yes. Given
what we have seen, and the synopsis of the rest, it is consistent with
the idea that they wanted to make the idea of leaving a comfortable
one. If we are interpreting this in the proper manner, I would say we
have a good chance of communicating with any survivors."
"That is if we find any survivors."
added Spacik. "I will also point out that even if survivors exist, we
will not easily find them. The globe of space around any star is huge,
within that globe, anywhere, could be our survivors."
Kirk finished. "Point taken. OK, we'll
check this thing out. Spacik, Regiban, investigate any stars within 100
light years of NGC 370,465 that could hold a class M planet. Not
necessarily those that do mind you, but could, based on late 20th to
early 21st century Earth technology. I think that is a comfortable
margin for their technical level. Let's do it. We leave at 0800 hours.
Captian's Log 47127.14 We are underway
for NGC 370-465. Moral is high, and hopes a bit too high for finding
survivors from the civilization destroyed by the Nova. While I
certainly do hope to find some manner of survivors, I don't hold much
hope for it. Fate is seldom that kind.
The Kongo was 4 days
out and fast approaching their target. Regiban was fiddling with the
Science station. The quickly flashing screens caught Kirk's eye. He
went over to the station and sat in the chair the Ane wasn't using.
**I'm not yet sure Captain. A large mass
indicated at extreme range. It looks too vague to be a planet, and too
big to be a loose comet.**
**It's moving, it could be an
astronomical object. I would have to get within short range to make
"OK, mark it, we'll check it out in the
Commander Spacik reported. "Captain, we
have passed the system borders."
"Very well, give me one half impulse.
The Kongo drifted
into the NGC 370-465 system. A bloated red giant filled the screen as
they searched for planets. The reports came in. A rock or two was being
turned up here and there. Two former gas giants, striped of their outer
atmosphere. Two more rocky planets in closer orbit, and one rocky
planet playing Icarus with the very sun itself.
Spacik reported to Kirk. "Diameter of
12000 km, gravity .933 G, no atmosphere."
Regiban broke in. **Captain, I am
getting readings of refined metals.**
"Mr. Spacik, can we safely orbit?"
"Questionable Captain. Solar radiation
levels are higher than recommended. I would not advise longer than a 24
hour orbit, and at that with full shielding."
"Mr. Regiban, use the probes."
**Very well Captain, four probes armed.
A low tension spread through the bridge
as everyone waited for the reports from the probes. Kirk ordered the
video output placed on the main view screen. The probes streaked across
the barren surface of a fire scarred world. Regiban chanted out the
probe data as any pertinent information came in. No one left the
bridge. For three and a half hours the scenery hardly changed. Half the
planet looked cooked, mountains slagged, glassy plains. The other half
only looked charred. Suddenly a half-rounded object came into the view
of probe two. Regiban confirmed it.
**I have an artifact Captain.**
"Full screen, lets hear it."
The Probe circled the object as Regiban
spoke. **A ceramic compound with excellent installation properties.
Their appears to be a structure of some kind inside the dome. Heavy
machinery is indicated, viable life conditions are not.**
Kirk stood. "Get all the readings you
can. Everyone else take a break. Staff meeting in two hours.
Two hours later the briefing room was
full. Every officer that could get an excuse to attend was present.
Kirk started things off. "We have a
confirmed artifact on the first planet. Mr. Regiban, please continue."
The Holographic display lit up with the
scans from the probe. **The Artifact is a silicon ceramic that it is
capable of resisting heat of a nova for a matter of several days if
necessary. It was obviously designed to protect what the dome contains.
The dome itself is remarkably transparent to electromagnetic energy in
the radio range. The primary contents are a large array of structural
girders and parabolic dishes. Underground facilities exist, but
background radiation is sufficient to prevent a good reading. All I can
say with accuracy is that it is a fairly large complex.**
Mrlitath the Cait tactical officer spoke
up. "Is an away team indicated?"
Kirk replied. "You sound eager to check
"Yes sir. It smells of good hunting."
"Mr. Spacik, is this advisable?"
The Vulcan replied. "It can be done
Captain, I would not advise it. The ship must maintain shielding or it
will itself be exposed to the radiation of the star. Travel would have
to be in shuttlecraft. These are not the best shielded ships we have.
Once underground, the away team would be relative safety. Radiation is
80% in the alpha and beta bands with 9% gamma radiation, the remaining
%1 is divided between various types of more exotic particles. Most is
stopped by any good physical barrier. A suit on the surface is not a
good physical barrier."
"Is there a way down?"
Regiban took the question. **I was
unable to determine that Captain. However, further investigation is not
possible without an on sight team.**
Kirk thought about it for a moment. "Mr.
Mrlitath, are you willing to lead this away team, in light of the
"Very well, you will use The Akagia.
Two crew for the runabout, four maximum for the surface team, one
medical on the runabout. The last is not optional. Volunteer only, and
with a full understanding of the risks. Dr. Hanson, what would be the
maximum safe exposure time?"
"On the surface? 15 minutes, 20 on the
"If you cannot find an entrance to the
sub-structure in 7 minutes, abandon the search, and return to the
runabout. You have your orders everyone, lets do it."
Finding volunteers was not hard,
Mrlitath filled the team in no time. They were shortly thereafter
circling the dome. He sat right-hand for Lt. Solin, who was pilot for
"Do you see a way into the dome?"
"No sir, solid all the way round. Probe
scans didn't show a way in either."
Lt. Thass siting third seat looked over
their shoulders. "Can we cut it?"
"Technically, yes" Mrlitath thumbed the
"Akagia to Kongo.
Permission to cut our way in Captain?"
The reply came back. "Permission
Mrlitath aimed the runabouts light
phasers, and fired on the base of the dome. A little clean up work and
he had a hole big enough for the runabout. Solin eased the small ship
into the opening. The outside lights played off the girders throwing
ghostly shadows around the inside of the dome.
Mrlitath turned to Thass. "How is the
"Well within accepted limits inside the
runabout. As expected outside."
Mrlitath turned to he team. "We suit up,
two and two, search the base of the girder structure. Mr. Solin, give
us the count by the minute. Nothing in 7 minutes, we quit and head for
Lt. Cmd. Mrlitath, Lt. Thass, Ensigns
Roberts, and Mordane suited up and cycled through the lock.
Mrlitath issued the orders. "Roberts
with me, Thass you and Mordone take that side. Lets move."
The four jogged to the base of the huge
structure, their lights playing around the ground, and up the girders.
Lt. Solin spoke into the comm, "one
Egn. Mordane looked about. "What are we
looking for exactly?"
Thass replied. "I'm not entirely sure,
stairs, a door, ramps. We'll know it when we see it.
Lt. Cmd. Mrlitath queried the other
team. "Anything yet?"
Thass replied, "Nothing yet."
"There has to be something." broke in
"Perhaps" replied Mrlitath, "but will we
"Hey!" Mordone sounded excited. "I found
a ramp down."
Mrlitath quickly called the other team.
"Thass, Mordone, flash your suit lights, we're on our way."
Mrlitath called to Akagia.
"We are on a ramp down, radiation levels are dropping sharply."
Solin called the Kongo.
"Captain, the team is in."
The four Starfleet officers moved
cautiously. Lt. Cmd. Mrlitath gave directions. "Roberts, you keep track
of our route, from here we stick together. Mordone, Thass record
everything. I will keep track of the radiation levels."
The teams moved deeper into the complex.
Huge machines loomed from out of the darkness. Their use and nature
unknown. The Kongo team walked slowly, tricorders running, and looked
everything over. Thass bent before an open panel.
"Commander, look." The team gathered
around. "Primitive electric valves I think. Should I touch them?"
Mrlitath considered. "The radiation
readings are nominal, but be careful."
Thass reached into the cabinet and
gently grasped the long glass tube.
"It's loose." He reported.
"Take it if it will come free." Mrlitah
replied. "Samples are always good. Can you get several? They may differ
Lt. Thass carefully loosened the devices
from their chassis, and placed three into Mordone's vacuum sample bag.
"Enough" said Mrlitath. "Save room for
The party continued deeper into the
complex. For the greater part of an hour they wandered the halls and
catwalks. The space opened into a cavern that their lights would not
reveal the area of. A great drum like machine filled the space they
could see. Careful recordings of everything were taken. Several times
they stopped to collect bits and pieces of the alien technology. The
team moved between three meter tall half rounded masses. Great pipes
lead into or out of the machines.
Roberts called to the rest. "Over here,
I found something...different."
The other three moved quickly to his
side. There, pinned in the beam of his light lay a lost childhood. A
fabric doll in the image of one of the young of that forgotten race.
Mrlitath kneeled to touch the object, a
gentle caress. "There are always children. The vacuum has preserved it
beautifully." He gently lifted the doll, and placed in into the sample
Solin cut in. "Commander, Solin here,
Father is getting anxious, are you about done?"
"Mrlitath here. Yes, we have about has
much as we can get. ETA 30 minutes. Radiation readings have remained
low." Mrlitath called to the rest of the team, "let's go, we've seen
Twenty five minutes later they where
unsuiting in the Akagia's decontamination chamber.
The outside of the sample bag was cleaned, but it remained closed and
in the isolation hold. Forty minutes later they were in the main cabin
with Dr. Kendar checking them over.
Mrlitath said. "Lt. Solin, report we are
out and leaving, then take us back."
Kirk was doing everything possible to
not pace. News that the team had cleared the dome and the Akagia
was returning deflated his worry. Once the Akagia
was back on board and thoroughly decontaminated he called a debriefing
of the crew, and scheduled a general briefing at 1000 the next day. The
sciences department needed time to go over the records and samples.
Kongo was moved to a safer distance from the red giant.
Kirk changed the briefing location twice
due to the requests to attend. At last he ordered the briefing limited
to the away team, and department heads. All other interested parties
could remotely view from their department centers. Those with pertinent
information not at the briefing would have holopresence if required. He
started at 1000 on the nose, and no one was late.
The samples taken where laid out on the
briefing room table like exhibits at a trial. The doll drew the most
Kirk began the briefing. "Gentles, we
have here a most remarkable report. Regiban, begin please."
The Ane broadcast to the meeting. **The
complex, as first suspected is a communication array. It is capable of
sending over 300 channels of analog audio/video, and an additional 500
audio only channels. The shell was designed to take the heat of a nova,
and succeeded quite well. From the preliminary studies of the data the
away team returned with, the cause of failure was in the generation
plant, not the array itself. This facility produced its own power by
means of a combustion steam turbine generator system. It failed when
the nova burned off the oxygen, and the fires under the boilers went
out. Fuel was a liquid hydrocarbon. Residue is still in the tanks. The
highest level of technology found was the solid state transistor.
Evidence that vacuum tubes where very much still in use was also found
and returned. No evidence of any biological forms was found, except for
Commander Ap Owen questioned. "No germs
**Nothing, as far as we can tell, the
entire planet was sterilized.**
A question came form the anthropology
department. "What about nuclear technology?"
Regiban replied. **No evidence of
fission or fusion power was found. This does not mean they did not
Someone asked. "Do we have any idea
where they went?"
Spacik took the question. "There are 28
possible destinations based on Captain Kirk's original search
parameters This however, does not mean they had any means of leaving. A
search of all 28 will take some time. If there is anything to find.
Kirk took the meeting back. "In short we
haven't a clue where to search, or if even to search."
Regiban answered. **That, in essence, is
"OK well take 48 hours on this site.
Everyone that wants it gets access to the records. If there are any
brain storms, report to your department heads. Dismissed."
Dr. Hanson felt whipsawed. On one hand
the hope of survivors was good, but reality was creeping in, and saying
that one doll was all anyone would ever see of that culture again. He
decided to check the brew supply at the Nara Lounge.
Hanson waked in, and bellied up. He has
his brew ordered and in hand before the noise got to him. A sound like
a love-sick horse, a whole barn of them. It seem to be coming from a
small knot of crewmen gathered around some device. There, that was the
sound, it was coming from that box. He looked at it intently. A
viewscreen of some kind, but the image was flat and wavered a lot.
Several vaguely equinish beings cavorted around a room, talking in some
Hanson buttonholed the crewman playing
with the knobs. "Hey, what is that thing"
(one of the creatures fell down, the
sound came out again.)
The crewman didn't turn from the box.
"It's a television. A flatscreen analog video device. I thought about
it and decided to replicate one and see if it told me anything."
"So, what has it told you."
"Two things Doctor. One, that if you
fiddle with it, you can get Algorian broadcasts to work on it. Two,
that in 200 years Algorian TV has not improved in the least."
"How did you come to that conclusion?"
"well, the broadcasts we're getting here
are 200 years old. Algoiran is a Prime Directive quarantine world about
20 light years from DS7. The TV programs from there aren't any better."
"Why would they be broadcasting in the
"That's just it Doc. They haven't had a
technological advance in 400 years. 200 light years from here the
programing would likely be just as bad."
The Crewman caught Hanson with a
mouthful of beer. Said beer that was spewed all over everyone. Hanson
made quick apologies, and ran for Kirk.
Kirk turned to find Richard Hanson
charging down the corridor at him. "Tim, I HAVE it. I know where they
are if they are anywhere."
"Whoa, slow down and let me catch up.
Who, where, what, when, and most of all why?"
"The Dino people, I know where they
"And what has led you to this insight?"
"Bad Algorian TV. They have been
broadcasting for 400 years. In the same format. Its a homing beacon to
someplace with someone. Even if you can't understand the signals, if
you can receive them, you can know they ARE signals."
"I haven't half an idea what you're
saying, but how about saying it to the entire staff? Tathilan."
**I'm ahead of you Captain. Staff
"10 minutes, lets go."
Kirk brought the meeting to order. "OK
Doc, spread this insight of yours."
Dr. Hanson looked suddenly embarrassed.
None the less he dove in. "OK, 200 years ago, you have a bunch of
people that need to leave, with no idea where to go. They have
television, assume they have space flight of some kind. They get
signals from a distant place that are a lot like the TV they have. Now,
if you had to leave home, needed to pick a road, where would you go?
Into the dark with not a clue, or follow a path you know someone is at
the end of? I am willing to bet that if we find anything, it will be
between here and Algoria."
Regiban took a thoughtful turn.
**Capitan, remember that loose mass we detected at the edge of sensor
**If memory serves, it would be in the
"Your memory has yet to fail you or me.
Stations everyone. Kirk to bridge."
"Make course for Algoria, warp 5."
"Aye aye sir."
Two days later the Kongo was at
operational alert. Kirk was once again beside Regiban at the sciences
station. "So, anything more definite."
**Yes sir, the mass is definitely a
large number of masses. The energy signature is extremely low. To low
for spacecraft however.**
"Could they have tried and failed?"
**Yes Captain, failure is always an
"OK, lets close the gap."
The closer they got, the clearer the
picture got. There were ships, a vast armada in the darkness. 2364
ships spread over a cubic AU of space. Kongo floated at one tenth
impulse next to one of them. The mighty starship was dwarfed by a ship
almost 166 km long, over 46 km wide. It dwarfed any construction Kirk
had ever seen, or heard about. It was bigger than any space station by
several factors in size. And it was only one of over two thousand like
it. The massive ship rolled slowly along its axis.
Kirk spoke softly, as if not to disturb
the sleep of the giant next to him. "Regiban, any energy readings."
**Yes Captain, faint, very faint. Small
electrical generators and devices. I am also picking up life forms.**
Lt Cmd Spaick spoke, "Captain, the
vessel appears to be riveted together, from steel plate.
"There is someone alive in there?" Kirk
could not tear his eyes away from the ship.
**A great many someones Captain.**
"What about drives, a ship this size
would need massive power plants."
**They are present, but currently shut
"What kind of drive Regiban?"
The Ane turned to Kirk with the most
curious expression he had ever seen on such a creature. **Chemical
rockets Captain. The most massive chemical rockets I have ever seen.**
You could have heard a pin drop, and the
bridge was carpeted.
Back in the briefing room. Kirk swiveled
slowly in his chair. "So, the entire fleet is chemical rocket powered?"
**Yes captain, not a trace of any
fission or fusion power plants in the fleet. They do appear to be using
advanced electrical generation methods. Hoffman tubes are dotted over
the hull of every ship. They use the difference in temperature to
generate electricity. They are the largest examples of that technology
I have ever seen.**
"What are the chances we have been seen?"
Mrlitath took the question. "I have not
detected any active sensors. Passive senors might have spotted us
within minutes of our dropping from warp."
Spacik continued. "We have spotted
several smaller craft among the larger ships. These have small reaction
drives as well. They are shuttling between ships."
"Are any of the ships dead?"
"Yes Captain, 37 of the ships have no
life signs, and no indication of a livable atmosphere. One we scanned
extensively looks like it has been mined. "Booby trapped?"
"No, reclamation of resources."
Kirk paused. "OK do we have any evidence
that we have been spotted."
"No Captain, none."
"Very well we will move out of the fleet
and well away from it."
"Yes sir. Aren't we going to contact
"No, we are not."
"We're not?" This from Deateli.
"Captain, the Federation can save them countless generations, we can
get them settled on a new world."
"This might be true Counselor, but there
is the small matter of the Prime Directive."
"How can that apply? They know about
other worlds, they are in interstellar space." Deateli was on her feet,
gesturing. It was clear that she had a good deal of support in the room.
"Their technology is vastly inferior to
ours. No warp drive, they don't even have a decent impulse drive. They
are coasting along on a 1,832 year voyage. This was not exploration for
them, it was survival. We are looking at a population of close to one
hundred million. Where do you plan to put them? I don't know that
contact is a wise idea. I want to let Starfleet in on this one in
person. No reports that might get leaked. Decision is made. No contact
until Starfleet in informed, in person."
Deateli sat back. She knew when not to
"Personal log stardate 47232.34 I have
opened one Hell of a can of worms. Deep Space 7 is swarming with more
admirals and social scientists than you would see at a convention of
the same. My report on the Exodus Fleet, as it has come to be known,
has galvanized Starfleet and the upper halls of the academic community.
A semi-formal symposium is to start today, and I am giving the keynote
speech as the discoverer of the Exodus Fleet. Public speaking has never
been one of my strong points. My only hope for survival is to fall back
on those endless Academy drills I hated with a passion. End log."
Kirk sat back in his chair. "Well," he
thought, "I'll shortly know how Roman lion victims felt." He grabbed
his PADD had headed out the door.
The Speaker stood before the assembled
audience and began. "Gentlebeings, Welcome to the Ad Hoc Symposium on
the Exodus Fleet. Captain James Timothy Kirk, commander of the USS
Kongo, the discovering ship will give our keynote address.
Captain Kirk." A smattering of polite applause followed Kirk up to the
"Gentlebeings. I am not a speaker of
note, a scholar, or scientist. I don't write papers publish books or
teach the young. I am your humble servant, a citizen-soldier who's
place it is to do those things necessary to secure you the liberty to
do the writing, speaking, and teaching that progresses knowledge and
disseminates it to all peoples.
I stand before you today a proclaimed
discoverer. A title I have come to mean as 'the right person in the
right place, at the right time.' No great effort on my personal part.
Indeed, were it not for the excellent work of the crew of the Kongo,
this meeting would not be happening. Let proper credit fall where it is
I will ask this of you, to consider
these points as you consider this question. We of the Federation, who
have slain prejudice formally in the document that binds us together,
have a great deal of prejudice still within us. We smugly believe that
we have the best of possible civilizations, and there is no harm in
teaching others of our enlightened nature. The fallacy of this point of
view is a lesson that was hard learned. It is the reason that the Prime
Directive was established. Because not everyone is ready to accept or
reject the lesson of their own accord. We resent this assertion when a
civilization more technically advanced than our own encounters us, we
should keep it well in mind when dealing with others. We are not the
best of the possible for everyone.
Remember, that the mark of a civilized
people is not the level of their technology. There are those among us
who have no native technology of their own, but we count them as
equals. We have also encountered those with technology advanced enough
to look like magic to us. We have found in some cases, that the minds
are not the equal of the tools. Do not hastily judge a people by the
sophistication, or lack thereof, of their tools.
We have before us a race with an
indomitable will. Who among you can honestly say that faced with such a
choice that your people would have done the same? To take to the stars
each and every one of your kind, in ships that would take a 1000 years
to get anywhere? Human-kind prides itself on our ambition, and will to
survive. However, faced with the same choice in our late industrial
period, I believe that the first, and last, any of the rest of you
would have heard of Earth was exploring the charred remains of our
planet. We may find these people do not like our little Federation. Are
you prepared to wage a war to keep them from annexing us?
Lastly, I ask of you to be kind. We may
find that in spite of the Exodus people's best interest, we would
rather be the instrument of their leaning than allow someone else to be
the teacher. I believe that enough crimes against civilization have
been committed preserving the Prime Directive at any cost. The Prime
Directive is a valuable principle, I do not believe however, that it
should be inflexible. Which is of greater value, the people, or their
culture? My choice would be the people, I hope you would agree.
In closing I wish wisdom to prevail at
this meeting. You hold the fate of a race in your hands, judge wisely.
Do not let your personal theories or agendas cloud your vision. We the
People are watching you, and history will judge you.
Lastly, my crew and myself will be at
your disposal as long as Starfleet wills we are available. No emergency
withstanding, I hope to close this conference as well. Thank you, and
wisdom guide you."
The applause was not thunderous, but it
was plentiful. Kirk was happy they didn't boo him off the podium.
The Conference was two days underway
when Kirk ran into Admiral Quinn. Kirk was grabbing a bite in one of
the local restaurants when Quinn came to his table.
"Got a spare seat Captain?"
Kirk stood. "Sure, help your self. Good
to see you."
"Relax Captain, we're both off duty."
"You might be sir, I have a ship under
power, even if I'm not on the bridge."
Quinn sipped his coffee, and leaned back
in his chair. "Kirk, sometimes I wonder if you're not too much of an
idealist for the Service."
"I don't take your meaning Admiral."
"Your insistence on constant duty, that
speech you made the other day. These are things that some would say do
not a realist make."
"Reality is what I make it Admiral. If I
hold my high ideals as reality, especially in the office I hold, other
people will see that I accept them as reality, and they will accept
them as reality, and they will then be reality. 'Heavy is the head,' as
the old saying goes. I hope my neck is thick enough to bear the weight."
"Do you ever let up Kirk? Every time I
have met you you're preaching."
Kirk looked a little abashed. "Well yes
Sir, I do have to sleep."
Quinn laughed. "OK, I asked for that
one. I do have some serious questions if you have the time."
"No one needs me in the next hour."
"Back to that speech if I might, and at
the risk of getting you in a sermonizing mood. What exactly did you
"I thought my meaning pretty clear
Admiral, 'don't make hasty decisions'."
"You spoke of "crimes against
civilization', where were you headed?"
"Admiral Quinn, we both know, you better
than I that the Prime Directive has been used as a political smoke
screen by those that didn't wish to take needed action. It's a order
for Starfleet, not the Federation at large. It is in the books in bold
black, General Order Number One. It is not in the civilian law code."
"What is your personal take on what
should be done?"
"Me, Timmy Kirk, not Captain Kirk?"
"Yes, you, not the Captain."
"I would hang out a big sign saying
'we're here, lets talk,' and let them make the next move. I favor
contact, but cautious contact."
"So, why didn't you?"
"First, that general order we both know
so well. Second, it was clear they where not in any danger. I therefor
had no justification to set aside the Prime Directive. Had I
encountered a leaky tub in danger of shortly killing all aboard, I
would have taken action."
"You might have been welcomed as a hero."
"I might have been shunned as a devil,
elevated as a god, attacked as an enemy. I knew nothing about them
except for a hand full of movies that were two hundred years old. Which
by the way, had been dubbed into standard."
"So you did nothing?"
"No, I did something. I didn't contact
them, and I did inform the first contact office."
"How would you hang out the sign?"
Kirk leaned back. "Television. We have a
understanding of their system here at the station. They are still
homing in on the Algorian TV signals. We can put a ship in front of
them, and broadcast. Then, wait for the answer."
"That's a reasonable plan. In fact it
has been discussed already."
"Has it been decided on?"
"No. Nothing is decided yet. You should
attend a few of the meetings."
"I have, one or two."
"There is a strong 'leave well enough
alone' faction. Claim to be prime directive fans. The funny thing is I
remember at least one of the self same persons arguing for opening
"Some one would have to give up a prime
colony site if we open the gates. Who stands to lose?"
"That is a point to consider. Well
Captain, I'll see you around the conference."
Quinn got up and left. Kirk sat for a
while yet and pondered his own question. Who did stand to lose if a
colony world was given to this new people?
Kirk decided to keep a closer ear to
proceedings. A day so engaged taught him much. Three general attitudes
prevailed. The most common was sensible and cautious approach. That was
his personal favorite. The second most common was the hands off
approach. They are doing fine, leave well enough be. He was taking
notes on who held that viewpoint. Last, and least was the open arms
viewpoint. Dive in and tell all. He understood the feeling, but
questioned the sensibility of that course of action. Various other
ideas had been floated without much serious consideration. Among them a
"say hi but hands off" policy, what was the point? One guy thought he
could attach warp tugs without the Exodus crews noticing. Additional
ideas where even more far fetched.
A little skull sweat proved that the
Freisian delegation was the most active in lobbying for the hands off
approach. Further investigation showed they had no vested interest in
the sector. While yes, they were in this sector. They had three
systems, and the Federation treaty allocation for viable worlds did not
reserve any more for them.
There were three pre-contact worlds in
the sector, and all viable worlds were reserved for them. The
pre-contact worlds where the quarantined Algoria. A world stuck in the
post industrial era. Hanoveria, a atomic age world without spaceflight.
They were however experimenting. They had fought a limited atomic war
already, they didn't seem inclined to repeat the mistake. The last was
Baifer. A pre-industrial world that didn't seem on the brink of
Kirk decided to break the delegates down
by special Interest and see if that proved a pattern. The core worlds
of the Federation didn't send political delegates, however most of the
scientists came from those worlds. "Mr. Warp Tug" was from Alpha
Centaurus. Most of the political types where from the First contact
office or local worlds, within a sector or so. The political types had
no discernible preference for any course of action. They broke down
almost to the percentage with the rest of the conference. Politicians
from the same place didn't even sway the breakdown, except for Freisia,
which was solidly against any contact. Scientists had no preference by
world. They mostly fell into the open arms group. Starfleet, the last
major group was heavily in the cautious contact camp.
Kirk decided to stop beating his head
against conspiracy theories, and leave paranoid thinking to the
intelligence flacks, However, by the fourth day of the Conference he
still felt that somehow, undue influence was being pressed for no
His mind was taken off the problem when
his communicator gave a silent alert in the middle of a debate. Kirk
stepped outside the room to answer it.
**Capitan,** it was Tathilan, the ship's
computer. **We have a quarantine violation of Algoria. Starfleet wants
it checked out.**
"Very well, call the crew back, quietly,
and beam me up."
It took three hours to get the crew
together, they where underway in three hours and ten minutes.
"Helm, warp 8 for Algoria."
"Aye aye sir, Warp 8 for Algoria, ETA 4
"I'll be in my ready room, Spacik, you
have the comm."
Kirk was heavily involved with yet more
reports on the local sector when the bridge called him.
"Ap Owen here sir, Algoria in five
"Very well Commander, I'll be in."
Kirk stepped onto the bridge, and Ap
Owen gave him the conn.
"All warning buoys are in position, the
violating ship is an Atlas class bulk freighter. SS Cronos,
Portsmouth Colony registry."
Kirk "humphed" over that. Portsmouth
Colony was the latest port of convenience. No standards, and nothing
better than a third rate spaceport. 9/10ths of the Portsmouth
registered ships could not be serviced in their "home" port.
"Very well Mr. Ap Owen, make yellow
alert. Mr. K'tera, open a channel." Kirk waited a moment while the
ordered actions where carried out.
"Channel open Captain."
"SS Cronos, this is
Captain Kirk of the Starship Kongo, you are in
violation of Prime Directive Quarantine. Acknowledge."
"Kongo, this is
Captain Halderman Master of the SS Cronos. Your
message is acknowledged. We have suffered a navigation sensor failure.
Assistance is requested."
"Why didn't you send out a distress
"Other than not knowing where we are, we
are not in distress. I expect to have the matter under control in 24
Kirk signaled for Lt. K'tera to mute the
channel. "Mr. Solin, what is their condition?"
"As indicated Captain, navigation
sensors are inoperative."
Kirk signaled for the channel to be
opened again. "Captain Haldeman we will take you under tow out of the
system, my engineers will aid your repairs."
"Thank you Captain, but your assistance
in repairs is not required."
"I insist Captain. Prepare to receive my
away team." Kirk knew he was being pushy, but he wanted a look aboard.
He punched the intercom. "Mr. Felialan, please send four engineers to
the SS Cornos to aid in repairing navigational sensors. Mr. Ap Owen,
take the Cronos under tow, and remove her from the system. You have the
conn. I will be in transporter room two."
Kirk quickly left the bridge and headed
for the transporter room. He met the engineers as they gathered in the
"Felialn, are you going with them?"
"Good, keep your eyes and other senses
open to anything unusual. This is a strange place to have a break down."
**Agreed, We'll all keep sharp. Any
Captain in distress that doesn't want a free fix from Starfleet has
something more than a dirty engine room to hide.**
Four hours later repairs were complete
and the Cronos was on her rightful course. The Kongo
was heading back to DS7. Kirk called Felialan into his ready room.
"Anything of interest?"
**Other than one of the sloppiest ships
I have even seen?**
"Yes, other than that."
**The ship had only three crewmen.
Captain, engineer, and cargo handler. I never saw the latter. The
Captain was very close with his emotions and thoughts. He kept his mind
on the ship. The engineer was oblivious to anything but the ship. There
was one odd thing. An odor you don't smell on starships, it was heavy
in the air.**
"What was that?"
**Cedar, the smell of fresh cut cedar.**
"Forgive me, but what is cedar?"
**A fragment wood Captain. I remember it
well. I first smelled it in Lebanon.** Felialan's eyes lost focus.
**The humans hewed the great trees with axes of bronze.** She shook her
head. **Sorry Capitan, mind wandering again.**
"Axes of bronze?" Kirk was genuinely
"Ahem." she cleared her throat. **A
shared memory. I personally have never been to Lebanon.**
Kirk looked at her like she had grown a
third horn. "OK, I'll ask later. Meanwhile we have to figure what this
means. ...Cedar, Lebanon you say?"
**3000 years ago.**
"OK, I'll think about this."
Felialan left the ready room. Kirk left
his desk and sank into the couch he had installed after the Xanadu
mission. "Secure the room. Emergency access only." He heard the bleep
that indicated the ready room was locked. Some people thought well on
their feet. Kirk had found he thought best when as close to boneless as
possible, or, under pressure. Right now he didn't want that kind of
There was a brief pause. **You wish my
"Yes, I need a 'wall' to bounce ideas
**One wall ready and waiting.** He felt
the giggle in the thought.
"OK, I get the feeling that someone is
driving the debate in the direction of non-interference. No real proof,
but just a feeling. The question I can't find an answer for is who,and
**Who would profit from
"That, is the question."
**I thought 'To be, or not to be?' was
**Hamlet, play by William Shakespeare,
circa 1600 OEC.**
"If you say so."
**Didn't you study the classics
"No more than necessary to pass."
**I'll refrain from classical allusions
in the future.**
"Thank you. I still have the question,
who can profit from this?"
**Could you have the wrong end of the
"What do you mean?"
**Who would stop profiting if contact
"You figure some one would lose if
contact was made?"
**I don't know Tim, I'm just tossing
your thoughts back at you.**
"Alright. I don't have any answers,
worse I don't have any questions. Lets take it from the top. Assume
that it is decided that contact be made, this is done successfully and
the Federation will settle the Exodus people on a world. The procedure
**A world must be chosen.**
"Correct. The Federation being the cheap
outfit it is, will not want to move them any farther than it must."
**An agreeable assumption.**
"They will however want the new race
well within Federation borders."
**Again ample reason to consider this
"So, what is the next step."
**You decide which world open for
colonization is to be settled.**
"How well mapped is the sector?"
**Very well. If any class M worlds have
escaped the survey, they are cloaked.**
"OK, so how many are we dealing with."
**This sector is not a rich one. We have
two Federation members, one with three systems, one with two. An
independent world, and three sub-star flight worlds. There are six
other class M systems in the sector. All are under Federation
"So one of the six would be the lucky
**I would think so.**
"Now, which world? I would assume that
survey data was available for all six."
**To some degree yes, all six are
"So a complete and exhaustive survey
does not exist for each and every world?"
**No, it would depend on the world, some
get a better survey than others.**
"So a survey would have to be conducted
to see which of the choices was best suited to the colonizing life
form...." Kirk trailed off thoughtfully.
**Yes...** Tathilan matched his tone.
"And if I didn't want a survey done of
one of these worlds?"
**It would be best to prevent the
conditions that would lead to such a survey.**
"I think we have a possible motive, if
not a perpetrator, or a reason for the desire. It's too slippery. Why
would someone want to prevent a survey of an uninhabited world?"
**Your guess is as good as mine.**
Kirk got that certain look, Tathilan
picked up on it immediately.
**Staff meeting in?**
"You're worse than a wife."
**Why thank you Captain.**
"1500 hours. No emergency, I think."
Kirk left the ready room and stopped on the bridge on the way through.
"Mr. Ap Owen, Increase warp factor to warp 9.5. What would that put our
ETA to DS7 to?"
"We should arrive at 1600 hours Captain."
"Very well, I'll be in my quarters."
Kirk sat down at his terminal in the
Captain's suite. He punched the comm button.
"Comm here, how can I help you Captain?"
"Get me a secure channel to Admiral
Quinn, priority three."
"Yes sir, comm out."
Kirk fiddled around his quarters until
Comm called him back. He picked up the Holocube of Teialan. "I hope I'm
doing the right thing Lady, better action than none I guess." He busied
himself tidying a neat room. The comm chirped at last.
"Admiral Quinn on the line sir." Kirk
had a seat.
"Good afternoon Admiral. How goes the
"It looks like tomorrow will be the last
"Any idea how it will turn out?"
"The no contact lobby is pushing very
hard. They are swaying a lot of people. Kirk, you didn't call me on a
secure channel to chat. What's on your mind?"
"I have reason to believe, that a person
or persons unknown, has reason to prevent contact that has nothing to
do with contact proper, but the chain of events that might result from
the contact, no proof mind you, but some ideas."
"No, that is the problem, In half an
hour, I am holding a staff meeting to toss the ball to my people. In
one and one half hours we should be docking at DS7. Admiral, may I have
the pleasure of you company for dinner at 1800 hours? I might have
something more tangible for you then."
"Any of your staff attending?"
"If you wish."
"I wish. I'd like to meet the bunch you
have put together."
"As you wish sir. undress, 1800 hours
"Very well, I'll see you then Kirk.
Kirk closed the channel "Tathilan?"
**Dinner, undress, 1800 hours.**
"You have it. I recall loading some 10
tons of fresh fruits and vegetables at El Nanth. Have you guys eaten it
**No, 'we guys' have barely made a dent
"OK see that a good supply of the same
makes it to the table."
**Yes sir, no replicated veggies for the
"I'll make a Yeoman of you yet."
**Ha.** Her laughter followed him down
to the briefing room.
Kirk took in the assembled staff as he
entered the briefing room. He kept it short and sweet, recounting the
matter as he had discussed it with Tathilan.
"For now, that is it. I don't expect any
answers yet. Roll it around your brains and see what comes up.
Meanwhile, undress dinner with Admiral Quinn at 1800 for all senior
officers. We will discuss the matter then. Dismissed."
Kongo had docked with
the usual efficiency, and right on time. Felialan had hit the dock as
soon as the ship was fast. She wanted a bit of something new to wear at
dinner. She had poked around several shops on the promenade already and
had yet to find the necklace she wanted. She entered yet another shop,
her bio at her heels. Aromatic oils assaulted her nose. One however,
stood out. The faint odor of cedar, but not quite. She followed her
nose. Yes, that box.
**Get the box.** She ordered the bio.
It reached down the box. It was a
beautiful finished wood with inlays in some blue shell-like material.
The bio opened the box. Felialan all but
stuck her nose in the small box. She took a deep breath. Yes, the odor
of cedar...almost. Her sensitive nose detecting the faint differences
in aroma. However, it was the same wood she smelled so strongly on the
Cronos. She took the box to the counter.
**This box please. By the way, where
does it come from? It is so beautiful.**
The clerk managed to find her jaw and
replace it long enough to make the credit exchange. "It is from
Freisia, a local product."
**Thank you.** Felialan had some
research to do before dinner, and not long to do it.
Felialan entered the Ane sleeping
quarters. About half the ship's Ane population was present. Haifaban
had "the look", good, it would take her too long to prepare herself to
join the All. That was something to never be rushed. She lay along side
of him, physical contact strengthening the already easy bond.
**Felialan, you seem perturbed, how can
I help?** She could hear the rush of the All behind his voice.
**I have a question, I also have dinner
with the Captain and Admiral Quinn in half an hour.**
**I see, ask, and it shall be given unto
**Are there any cedar analogs on the
worlds of the Freisia Confederation?**
Haifaban turned his full attention back
to the All. She felt the nearness of it, and a need for the contact,
but for her it would wait till later. If Haifaban was still in the All
after dinner, she was going to get as connected as possible.
**That can be arranged.** Came his reply
to her unvoiced desire.
**Good, I'll be eager.**
**The answer to your question is no.
There are no cedar analogs, or cedar on the worlds of Freisia.**
**Thank you, that makes everything much
clearer. While your at it, find out what anyone knows about this
wood.** She gave him the odor of the wood she had smelled. **I must
attend the Captain and his guest. I'll be back for you later.** She let
the feel of her lust brush passed him.
He shivered slightly. She knew he would
be ready later.
Dinner started with appetizers precisely
at 1800 hours. The Stewards served and stayed out of the way.
Conversation stayed light throughout dinner. Quinn used the time to
catch everyone up on the progress of the Conference, and to become
acquainted with Kirk's staff of senior officers. When at long last
coffee, tea and a light fruit tray were left on the table, Quinn got
down to business.
"You indicated you had some suspicion
that there was an ulterior motive for the opposition to contact."
"Yes sir. Felialan found the evidence we
needed just before dinner. I was given the idea that what we where
looking for was not a direct profit from no contact, but a loss of
profit from contact. I might even have a lead as to whom."
"Kirk, you work fast. You called me this
afternoon with a glimmer of an idea, now you have leads? So let's have
the whole story."
"The violation we set out to take care
of turned out to be a damaged freighter. The full incident is in my
official report. What that freighter had on it was the interesting
part. How interesting we only learned after returning to the station.
**I went over with a team of engineers
to fix their little problem while we towed them out of the restricted
zone. The entire ship smelled of fresh cut wood. Much like cedar. I
noted it, but left it at that. On return to the station I did a bit of
shopping, some new do-dad to impress your sweet self, and my nose got a
whiff of the same wood. It is not cedar, but a close analog. It is
marketed as a native wood from the Freisia Confederation. No such cedar
analog exists on any one of those three systems. Not only that but the
ship full of that fresh cut wood was inbound to Claas, and not from
another world in the Freisia Confederation.**
Kirk picked up the story again. "One of
the things that must happen before any new race could be settled would
be a through re-survey of the available worlds. Someone does not want
such a survey to take place. So they are trying to prevent the contact.
I have reason to believe that the wood that Felialan smelled on that
ship, and bought on the station promenade was taken without permit from
a closed world."
Quinn scratched his chin. "These are
serious charges Captain. And I can see that you have reason to level
them. Can you reach that ship before they enter Freisia Confederation
"Very well Captain, do so, I'll make use
of your Comm and get a subspace warrant from the Federation Justice
Advocate for the sector. Do you have any idea which world the wood is
"Yes, only one of the available worlds
is on a possible flight path that would lead anywhere near Algoria.
While the survey data is not sufficient to pin the wood to that world,
circumstantial evidence does point in that direction. Will it be enough
for us to force a merchantman to heave to?"
Quinn asked, "Which planet?"
Regiban replied. **It would be the Davv
System, Davv 5 on the charts.**
"Very well. Kirk, get your ship moving,
if I could have use of a cabin, I'll be going with you. I also have a
few calls to make."
Kirk got up from the table. "Yes sir,
we'll be on our way as soon as we can get station clearance."
"Admiral on the bridge." Announced
Mrlitath. Kirk turned to see Quinn enter from the turbolift. He looked
grim. For the last two hours Kongo has been
shadowing the freighter SS Cronos.
"Kirk, could I see you in your ready
Both officers entered the office. As
soon as the doors closed Quinn started talking. "I couldn't convince
him. I can't get a warrant." Quinn looked like a man not used to not
getting his way.
"Did he say why?"
"Insufficient evidence of wrongdoing',
Kirk sighed and threw up his hands. "Our
hands are tied then. Unless the ship is in clear violation of
navigation or safety standards, we can't touch them."
"That is the case."
"Is there anything to keep us from
poking in at Davv 5, and maybe catching someone red-handed?"
A grin spread over Quinn's face. "Not a
bloody thing Captain, not a bloody thing."
"Well then Admiral Quinn, unless you
require that I deliver you back to DS7, I'll think I'll check up on the
Davv system. With the recent quarantine violations, you can't be to
"I need a change of pace Kirk. It would
be good to see a little field work. That desk at Starfleet Headquarters
can narrow your point of view to the point you're useless. So, unless
the Captain can state a reason he should not have an Admiral aboard,
I'm with you."
Kirk stopped thoughtfully. "What about
Quinn waved it away. "Lost cause.
Nothing we could do before it ends will affect the recommendation one
way or the other. You'll have to skip your shot at speech making
"Do I look too relieved?"
"A little. Come on, all is not yet lost."
Two days later the Kongo
eased into the Davv system. Kirk strained at the viewscreen as if he
could pick violating ships from the black background by power of
desire. Admiral Quinn stood behind the tactical display. He exchanged
comments with Lt Cmd Mrlitath. Kirk issued orders.
"One quarter impulse."
"Aye, one quarter impulse."
"Let's check out that 'cloakless cloak'
we installed, shall we? Engage stealth protocols. Passive sensors only."
"Stealth protocols engaged, passive
"Make course for Davv 5, parabolic
approach, one tenth impulse."
"Aye sir, course set for Davv 5,
parabolic approach, one tenth impulse."
In theory the Kongo
should resemble a small asteroid, if it was noticed at all. Kirk had
his private doubts about the theory. After all, Kongo was a highly
refined asteroid. The only advantage would be if whoever was there
failed to notice them at all. At a tenth of full impulse, they had most
of a day to wait before they could get any real data from Davv 5,
unless a ship left or approached the planet. Kirk got up from the
center seat and headed for his ready room.
**Staff meeting in?**
Kirk made a face at the ceiling. "...One
hour. Admiral, care to join me?"
Quinn nodded and entered the office with
Kirk. Kirk flopped in his chair and indicated the couch for the
Admiral. "So, we shall know shortly if we are chasing wild geese."
Quinn noted Kirk's confident pose. "You
don't think we are."
"No sir, not in the least. I think we'll
catch someone red handed with their paws on the wood."
"Why the stealthy approach? Why not
"I would like to get logging activity in
action if possible. That will not be possible if they see me coming.
One of the actions of the stealth protocol is suppressing our IFF
signal. If they have a standard idiot navigation buoy in orbit it will
not be blabbing out we are here to whoever is listening."
"I didn't think you thought that
"I don't, but the hunters I have aboard
do. Mrlitath observes that 'Even the best hunter is foiled by the
keecee bird.' So we invented a method to avoid birds if you will."
"A keecee bird?"
"Small noisy bird who's presence is
generally overlooked until it makes a racket that scares your prey, at
least that is what I was told."
"I see, I think. Avoiding the common
things that identify a ship to people, like traffic control buoys.
Idiot devices that rebroadcast your IFF to any and all who feel
"Exactly." Kirk paused, looked
thoughtful. "Admiral, has anyone thought to copy Romulan traffic
control buoys? The might have secret codes that let the people with the
need know where cloaked ships are."
Quinn thought a minute. "I don't know,
it might have been looked into, might not. In either case, I will look
into it. What now?"
"I get my teams together, and break out
the marines. Let's do it."
Kirk strode into the briefing. "Okay,
lets get down to business. Regiban, we stay passive until you see
something worth going active for. This is your call. Get as much sensor
evidence as possible. Major Yalack, Commander Mrlitath, I want three
teams combination security and marines. Arrest is the object. Combat is
to be avoided if possible. However, it is not to be shied from." The
Andorian and Cait nodded. "Mr. Faile, you will have ship's tactical,
anything that moves gets a warning. If they don't stop, they get shot.
Disable if possible. Commander Ap Owen, Take the Akagia.
You will orbit 180 degrees apposite the Kongo.
Don't engage anything bigger than you are, call for help. Use the
stealth protocol as well. Tathilan, I want you with those telepathic
probes you have. They don't emit a detectable signal. Take the polar
orbits. Nothing gets off this planet we don't know about."
The entire staff looked ready and eager.
Kirk took a breath and dived back in. "I know we can come up from this
with egg all over our faces. We could find nothing. We could also have
a hell of a fight, or worse, kill innocent civilians. Let's avoid the
last two at all costs. Any questions?"
Kirk looked around the room. There were
no questions. "Good, lets do it."
Quinn watched from behind the tactical
station. The entire bridge crew was tight as a fiddle string. Kirk all
but lolled in the center seat. Quinn envied him.
"Lt. Commander Spacik reported. "Akagia
Tathilan added, **Probes away and hot.**
"Davv 5 in five minutes." Reported Lt.
Minutes ticked off, the crew waited as
the planet came up on them them.
Lt. Solin broke the silence. "Navigation
Buoy signal sir, it isn't echoing us."
Davv 5 rolled out below them. Vast
tracks of green covered the surface of the virgin planet. A dust cloud
rose over one section of plains.
Kirk spoke. "Mr. Regiban, what is that."
**Herbivores sir. A very large herd.**
A small section of the screen focused in
on a close-up. Huge animals, at least 10 tons each ran in a herd of
Kirk whistled. "Megafauna."
**Yes sir. Quite a bit of it.** Regiban
broke off. **I have energy readings. I am going active.**
Seconds passed like hours. Regiban
stared intently at the panel.
**Confirmed, on screen.**
An area of the planet jumped up on
scale. A forest with tracks cut through it. A small class five
spaceport and town.
Kirk all but spat. "Teams away, secure
Transporters reported "Teams away."
"Mr. Faile, open channel, all subspace
and radio frequencies."
"Aye sir. Channel open."
Kirk gave his teams time to get in
position. "This is Captain Kirk of the Federation Starship Kongo.
All personnel on Davv 5 are under violation of Federation Code section
235 regarding closed worlds. You are under arrest. Davv 5 has been
secured from space traffic. Surrender peacefully and no one gets hurt."
Mrlitath materialized between two
buildings. His combined team of security and marines ready beside him.
He listened for a moment. Kirk's messages came over the comm.
"Move out, stun any that resist." His
tail twitched, the hunt was on.
The teams moved swiftly between the
buildings, entering each as they went. Most inhabitants were more than
a little surprised. The Kongo's transporters where kept busy moving the
Captain Yalack (he was only a Major in
the ship.) moved his men out. They circled around a large building,
made from local wood. Shots came from a group of vehicles to the right.
The marines peppered the area with phaser fire, and a stun grenade was
launched into the midst. The miscreants gathered up and transported to
He moved his team into the big
structure. A warehouse by the looks of it. A running Fresian all but
ran the Andorian down. Stopped short by the fixed bayonet on Yalack's
phaser rifle. He was detained and cuffed. The office he ran out of was
quickly found and the remainder of the staff detained.
Lt. Garril, spread her team out in the
woods. Hand signals only. They came in the back way to the logging
camp. The slim Human was taking no chances. She turned to the security
officer beside her. "Any lifesigns in the woods"
"Yes sir, woods are full of life sign. I
am having trouble distinguishing sentients from the local fauna.
However, all the energy readings are coming form the tents."
She broke radio silence. "Move out, take
Ten minutes later the confused
lumberjacks where cuffed and herded into a group for transport.
Kirk and Quinn looked over the reports
Kirk spoke. "300 civilians, millions of
credits in machinery, and over 2000 square kilometers of virgin forest
clear cut. This amounts to a good sized colony, and every bit illegal.
Hell, they even have kids here."
"But we do not yet know who is
"No, Security is interviewing the
'colonists' right now. Most think they are part of a legitimate colony.
They are the true victims."
"How are you on space?"
"We can't remain on post. Even with
cargo holds converted to secure living space the ship is overloaded.
I've already made a preliminary report to Starfleet, and requested
another ship to watch the system. I didn't get any promises of relief."
"So, your next move?"
"We go to Starbase 88. Cmd. Ap Owen and
the Akagia will remain on station for five days or
until relieved. I am sure you can pick up a ride there Admiral."
Three days after making Starbase 88 Kirk
was still filling out reports and attending debriefings. Breaking up
illegal colonies was not day to day business, and bureaucrats hated to
be jolted out of comfortable ruts. They punished you by inventing
reports to fill out.
The colony leaders where pointing
fingers at each other, and a dozen people not present, including high
members of the Freisian Confederation government. It could take the
Advocate General years to sort the entire mess out.
His door beeped.
Who ever it was would be better than the
endless reports. Admiral Quinn entered, Kirk started to get up.
"Keep your seat Captain. I came to tell
you I got that ride."
"So, leaving us then."
"No, you're my ride. And a second chance
for the Exodus Fleet."
"When do we leave and how do you mean?"
"Any time you're ready and we,
especially you, are going to speak to the Federation First Contact
Office personally. As we suspected, the conference recommendation was
for no contact. However, that is not binding on anyone. In light of
what came to light, I have cashed in a few favors, and got us an
Kirk touched the intercom. "Bridge."
"Lt. Solin here sir."
"Has Akagia returned
"Yes sir, two hours ago."
"Very well. Call back the crew, we are
leaving in four hours."
"Aye aye sir."
Kirk turned back to Admiral Quinn.
"Well, Admiral, let us not waste the opportunity given."
Kirk punched the comm for engineering as
they left Starbase 88.
"Mr. Felialan, are your engines tuned."
**Yes Captain, as always.**
"The record for the Starbase 88 to Earth
run is, 17.7 days. Would you like a crack at that?"
**Give the word Captain.**
Quinn's eyebrows were seeking his
hairline. Kirk threw a rakish grin over his shoulder. The Ane engineer
suddenly appeared on the bridge.
"Mr. Felialan, the word is given. Warp
speed control to engineering."
Kongo cracked out
of the vicinity of Starbase 88 fast enough to suck space behind her.
Twelve point two days later the Kongo
passed the edge of the Sol traffic control zone with her intercoolers
white hot and the engines purring like twin tigers. Quinn shook his
head as the Kongo cruised into space dock on excess
momentum. Kirk looked like a schoolboy with the best toy in class. He
was talking with Felialan who was down in engineering.
"How do things look down there?"
**Nominal Captain. She took the high
speed endurance test without a hitch.**
"And you set a record that will likely
stand a while."
**I don't reject records Captain.**
"As soon as the umbilicals are attached,
do a grade one diagnostic on the entire warp system. Let's see what we
**Aye, aye Captain. Will do.**
Kirk turned to Quinn. "Admiral Quinn, we
have you safe and sound back to Earth, and in record time."
"Kirk, has anyone ever called you a
"No sir, I don't take chances."
"I can't believe you said that with a
straight face. Very well Captain. Thank you for the lift. I'll see you
Kirk slept the night in his cabin on
ship. He didn't keep apartments dirtside. The hull was carrying the
thumping of the engineering crews to his bed. While soft, they were
keeping him awake. He at last tossed the covers off and padded over to
the replicator. He starred to open his mouth, and a hot coco
materialized on the platform.
Kirk sniffed it. "I was going to ask for
**At 0225 when you would rather be
**If that is a proposal, I'll have my
social body and a preacher in here in short order.**
"What would my Mother say?"
**That could be a problem.**
"That is a question I have been meaning
to ask. How functional is that thing?"
**Personal question time?**
"Tell me to mind my business if it
**It can do everything a female Ane can
do but reproduce. You would never know the difference, a medical
scanner wouldn't know the difference, a diagnostic bed would.**
"So you can get physical."
**Can and have Tim.**
"Who are your parents?"
**I am the official offspring of
Tesalan, and Veban.**
Kirk found a couch and sank into it with
his coco. "So how is it, done? You aren't born or some such. Do they
get an adult body, with an infant mind?"
**No, I started in a youth unit. My
brain was separate, but the only input/output I had was the youth unit.
I realized fairly fast I was not a typical child. Everyone else grew, I
had to switch bodies. Not a lot is made of it. I was a bit the slow
learner. I didn't get the free standing body until I was a year and a
half old. Social suit as you would know it. I didn't have access to a
super unit like the Kongo. I kicked around five
years before I took my calling seriously.**
"No one pressured you to work?"
**I didn't ask to be born any more than
you did. I could have spent my life eating grass and doing nothing. I
wasn't made in that image however, so I didn't.**
**Sort of. A kernel that craved
"Come on in then."
Tathilan beamed her social body into the
chamber. **How is this?**
Kirk moved close to her. "Do you mind?"
**No, please, touch all you want.**
Kirk ran his hands down her neck,
marveling how the chest moved, the eyes where wet and real. Even her
nose was wet.
"I can't imagine this as anything but a
living breathing being."
**That Tim, is the idea.**
Kirk sat back. Curiosity wanted more,
but propriety was fighting with it. "I shouldn't get this personal with
**You have been dying to touch one of
us. Wanting to pet, to brush, to learn. We have been willing, but your
manners required that you ask first.**
Tim Kirk felt a blush rising. "Ahem.
Well, I am curious. It is not polite to say to someone. 'Gee, your body
shape fascinates me. Can I fondle you and examine it'?"
**To some it would not be polite, to
others it is a natural extension of curiosity. 'If I show you mind,
will you show me yours?' To Ane, is a matter of no matter. Physical
contact with my fellows is as natural as breathing. Intimate physical
contact is a matter of mutual pleasure. The body is a vessel for the
mind, not its sum and limit. I know this better than most. I can change
vessels at will.**
"So the body is not you?"
**No, the body is me, as long as I
inhabit the body. I will bleed if you cut me, I will feel the pain of
the wound. I enjoyed the touch you gave me. I am a sensate being. Tim,
this is always active in the sleeping room. I was born at my Mother's
side, I crave that contact, like all of my kind.**
"I think I know so much, and I know so
little. I have lived among your people now for over two years, and I
have never touched one of you. Yet you crave the touch."
**You are Human Tim, and we know that,
and do not expect to be touched by you. It would not be shunned, if you
"I'll have to rethink my command style I
think. Meanwhile, I could really use some sleep."
**I can help.**
She settled in beside his bed on the
floor. **If you will allow contact, I can help ease your mind on the
"I talk with you all the time, what is
**Not much, less talk, more a feeling.**
"Very well, I shall." Kirk got back into
bed, and slept with pleasant dreams.
**Did you sleep well?** Tathilan woke
him with the shift change chimes.
"Hum, yes, very well." Kirk's schedule
popped up on his terminal.
**You have a lot on your day.**
"Indeed I do." Kirk suited actions to
words and got up and headed for the shower. She was still there when he
got back. He was dressed and ready.
**Breakfast would be indicated before
you attempt coherent work.**
"True." He ordered a breakfast, and
Tathilan caught him up on the news.
Kirk had a lot to think about as he
headed to the transporter to bean down to Headquarters. Not all of it
concerned the Exodus Fleet.
At 0855 Kirk met his senior staff in
front of the Fist Contact offices. Commander Gwenith Ap Owen; first
officer, Commander Regiban; Sciences, Lt. Commander Felialan;
Engineering, Lt. Commander Robert Hanson; Chief Medical Officer, Lt.
Commander Spacik; Operations and ship's second officer, Lt. Commander
Deateli; ship's counsellor, Lt. Commander Mrlitath; Tactical and
security officer, and Tathilan, the ship's computer. Kirk carried a
small bundle with him. At 0900 hours the Commander and staff of the USS
Kongo was shown into the First Contact hearing office. It resembled a
court room. The Hearing Panel sat at a raised bench, two tables before
them, one empty, for himself, and one where the "Ludite" or more
formally the "Advocate in Absentia" sat. It was his place to endlessly
oppose all first contacts. Seated at the panel was Admiral Jean McCoy
representing Starfleet, Dr. Stolok for the Oversight Committee on First
Contact, and Hrn. Vaalcatack, of the Federation Council. Kirk took his
seat and laid the bundle on the table. His officers filed in behind
him, and sat in the gallery.
Dr. Stolok stood and began the hearing.
"Gentlebeings, we are considering the question of the Exodus Fleet. To
date we have considered the findings of the USS Kongo,
the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Exodus Fleet, and the
evidence of Admiral Quinn, of Starfleet Command. Before us today is
Captain James Timothy Kirk, commander of the USS Kongo,
the discovering ship.
Captain Kirk, I understand you opened
the Ad Hoc Committee?"
"Yes sir, I did."
"You are not in accord with their
"No sir, I am not."
"Can you explain you opposition Captain
"I will attempt to do so." Kirk opened
the bundle, and laid the alien doll on the table in front of him.
"My comments here will not be based on
logic, or scientific data, you have read all that is known about this
people from what few readings we have been able to take. The
circumstances preclude the usual methods of the First Contact office.
'Duck blinds' are impossible, we have no species in the Federation that
can impersonate one of these people, so we cannot walk unseen among
them. I base my position on the only data we really have. That supplied
by the people themselves. The hours of video, and the physical evidence
before you." Kirk gestured at the doll on the table. "These people fled
certain death, to an uncertain future. A future they chose to believe
was bright with promise. They chose to believe that they would find, in
the vast tracklessness of space, another people, that loved life like
themselves, and would welcome the traveler home. I want to be one of
Kirk slipped a data solid into the
terminal. "I want you to watch a little compilation of the endings of
ten of the "Vodtrecker" epics. These, as best we can translate them are
the very words of those people. These are the next to last words we
have from the mouths of the people themselves." Kirk sat down, and the
recording played. Deateli, Tathilan and himself and worked for 10 days
on the short film.
...The soothsayers had
promised them new lands beyond the setting sun... We will find new
lands my friends, the past is lost, let is seek the future... Somewhere
beyond the mountains other people like us must live... Her heart broke
as the city sank beneath the waves, but hope was to be found in the
rising sun... Other islands, other places must dot the endless sea...
The sun will die, will we die with it? I say no... Great arks can carry
us, but all must labor lest all be lost... We will follow the trail of
signals, people have made them, life can exist... After every night is
the sunrise, this night will be long, but a sun will rise... Search the
stars, can we be the only people with dreams?
As the screen faded to black Kirk
addressed the panel once more. "Mark the measure of these people. How
they sought to live, and how they expressed this in their art.
"I have one more thing to bring before
you, the last word of the Exodus People. Gentlebeings I was sent to
respond to a distress signal. At first we thought there was none, but
we were wrong. Tathilan in analyzing the signals sent from that world
as it died, found one pattern repeated over and over. It was not a
video signal like the others. It was a binary pattern, a digital
message that the TV fans on DS7 missed. Tathilan has decoded the
message, and I will play it for you now."
The light came up. A small group of the
aliens stood before a structure. Three adults, a half dozen children,
they stood still and looked into the camera, the image was black and
white, low resolution, and crude. One of them spoke.
"To people that may know my sending.
Know that all we are, and all we were is to end. Within a short span of
years, our sun will die, and with it our world. We will not die with
it! We have raped our beautiful home, taken without reason to
consequence all that she could give. With this meager sacrifice we
fling our beloved children into the void." He placed his hands on the
two other adults. "I ask of you, be kind to them, and their offspring,
for even these young before us will be dust before my sending comes.
Only one road is apparent to us, we will seek a rising sun. Yet, yet I
fear that all our skill is not enough. Our skill in the void is young,
I fear our efforts will not last the race. Please, if you can hear, and
understand my sending, help my children." The camera focused in on the
elder. "I am old, and I will stay, and watch my world die. Give me no
tears! If you be a people of passion and lust of life spare no time for
wailing. Save my children."
Kirk faced the panel. "This broadcast
was repeated endlessly for two years. From the time of the last
entertainment broadcast, until the nova knocked out the transmitter.
Gentlebeings, we have a plea for help by a people that expect the stars
to be populated. In the name of all we uphold, we cannot ignore it." He
The Ludite didn't even answer him, he
didn't even try.
The Hearing panel conferred without
leaving the bench. Admiral McCoy spoke.
"Captain Kirk, does the Kongo have a
"Yes Sir, exploration and enforcement in
the Fresian Sector."
"Your new orders are thus...."
The Kongo hung in
the interstellar void, and cried out in a small voice. For days, no ear
turned to hear. At last Lt. Cmd Mrlitath heard a soft taping at the
"Captain Kirk to the Bridge, we have a
Kirk dove out the door and onto the
"Audio or video?"
"Match their protocol, On screen"
An image of want looked like a small
dinosaur peered at them. It was a soft mottled brown, with four bold
strips of blue on its face. Its eyes where yellow with six pointed
"Small house, answer with me, what is
your reason and being?"
Kirk stood, he let the being take the
entire bridge in before he spoke. "I am Captain James Kirk of
the Starship Kongo. Greetings from the United
Federation of Planets. We the peaceful peoples of the stars you seek,
have come in answer to your Elder's calls. We offer you an end to the
long journey. You shall have open skies, and free air to breath, and a
new world for you and your children."
The being's face flushed with even
brighter colors, it danced about the space it was in.
"Say again small house, say again!!"
The lights along the flanks of the huge
ship began to ripple. In minutes as the light traveled from ship to
ship the others where flashing and rippling as well. Soon the entire
fleet was a show of lights.
Kirk grinned like a fool. "Welcome home
Gentlebeings, we have come to take you home."
-- Garry Stahl, December 1997
Sociological Report, The Sixliss.
The Sixliss are a warmblooded, placental
non-mammal. That is they give live birth, have a placenta, but do not
suckle their young. In form they are sauriods. Bipedal, with a long
balancing tail and manipulative forearms. What we would label
"dinosaurs". They are omnivorous, and durnal. They average about 100
kilos each and stand a meter tall at the hips. Lifespan is 90 standard
years on average.
Family structure is a loose clan of 4 to
6 adults that cares communality for the children birthed by the clan's
females. The clan is divided evenly by gender. Pair bonding is unknown.
Sex outside of breeding is possible, but not wide spread. Females (and
anyone with a good nose) know when they are fertile. Young are born
live, semi-helpless and able to digest anything an adult can eat. They
could possibly survive without adult care within six weeks of birth.
The time from which they are fully mobile. Physical maturity requires 8
years. Cultural maturity 17 years.
Social structure outside of the family
is arranged in a quasi-military organization required for the smooth
functioning of the ship. Advancement is by merit and ability. The
training of professions is done by a modified apprenticeship method.
Each section recruit is put under the command of a master that trains
him. Captains of ships are selected by the senior section masters from
among their own number. How this system will survive once planet fall
is made is not yet known. Each ship regards itself as a separate nation
cooperating with the others, but sovereign.
The ruling body of law is "The Legacy" A
selection of what the elders thought was the best in custom and law
from the days before the fall. The Sixliss regard this document as
sacred. Captains must swear to abide by it, and surrender all power
when "the sky is open".
The ships themselves called "Great
Houses" are one of the most remarkable achievements of any culture.
They are propelled by chemical rockets, and powered internally by a
tidy and simple electrical system. Technology is the equivalent of
Earth's mid 20th century, however no atomic theory is known. Sixliss
scientists cling to the model of the Bohr Atom.
Electrical technology is well advanced,
with the development of the integrated circuit shortly before The
Departure. This technology has been refined in ways seldom thought of.
Semiconductors are widely used, and they specialize in the custom chip.
Almost all programing is hardwired. A computer is built to do its tasks
in the hardware. Two computers are seldom alike. These are limited but
sophisticated analog systems.
Sixliss enjoy a wide and varied cultural
heritage. They have their share of great writers, poets and
philosophers. They possess about 5000 years of recorded history, a bit
spotty in the beginning, but known of. Regrets are heavy here as they
know that any earlier history was lost forever. Drama, music, and
visual arts are all well established and practiced.
Subtext 2011 -- An
additional editing pass and a light Lucasing in preparation for
conversion to e-reader files. In this case simple continuity matters.
or questtons on this file? Mail
Return to -- Epiphany Trek: The
The Above is a work of fiction.
All characters are fictional, any resemblance to persons living or dead
Garry Stahl: December 1997. All rights reserved, re-print only with