Captain’s Log, Stardate 11032018
We’ve reached the area of space from where the distress signal was transmitted and uncovered a thin sliver of civilization surrounded on all sides by a restless void. An almost soothing presence, it is hard to believe that terrible anomalies can emerge from such a tranquil horizon.
These subspace tempests form in regions unknown and wreak havoc across the colonized areas. Sometimes, they strand travelers from distant worlds as well, creating an interesting combination of Federation and alien cultures which we are eager to encounter. It has even been theorized that these anomalies can affect navigational systems…
“Why is that guy following so close?” asked my First Officer, irritated.
She’d been at the helm for hours. As captain of this light vessel, I often took on piloting duties, but the backlog of paperwork meant I was riding shotgun. Our warp transit had been tense. With the irregularities in the subspace field, we were forced to approach through a narrow, winding course barely suited for our class of ship.
“Don’t worry, that’s normal.” Apparently, I’d been the only one to read the mission briefing. “It’s a local custom. They call it ‘tail gating’. They even have a higher education sports team devoted to the practice called the Gators.”
“This emergency of yours better be good,” she said. “How old did you say that distress call of yours was?”
“I didn’t,” I replied. Weeks? Months? It had been buried. “Minor oversight from Starfleet.”
Before long we were in orbit on the edge of the void. Aside from a rhythmic flicker of light and a lulling pulse, we detected no signs of danger.
“On screen,” I said.
My first officer eyed me and tapped the console. Our blast shield rose slowly, revealing a blue paradise fringed by what could only have been stardust. We both stared in awe.
Science Officer Alfie had joined us to gaze longingly at the alien trees framing the view. Average height, their leaves only grew from the top in a bladed tuft and their trunks were smooth and unobstructed. I could tell he was eager to investigate.
“Looks good to me,” said my First Officer. She was already up, headed for the shuttle bay.
I was all set to follow her when an inhabitant strolled by. Male, he appeared to be wearing a pink loincloth and what might have been netting on his legs.
“We’ll need to replicate some clothes to blend in…I guess.”
“You do that. I’m headed to the beach.”
After gathering our gear and getting suited, we disembarked to get a closer look at the subspace rift. The closer we got, the more I could feel the radiation against my skin. Blending with the local attire had meant ditching my Starfleet uniform down past even the inner environmental shell.
“Maybe we shouldn’t get so close.”
My First Officer, however, was on a mission of her own. Loaded down with gear, she’d brought a radiation barrier, complete with chairs, blanket, and her data tablet.
“We’re going right to the edge, Captain.”
Clearly, this was not open to debate.
We’d almost reached the point of no return where we’d be treading on stardust, the subspace waves lapping hungrily at our toes, when we spotted a sign.
“That…that looks like you,” I said to Science Officer Alfie.
There, on a metal signpost, was a silhouette designed to look exactly like a Woofian. Across the image was a red line.
“Seems they’re not very accepting of your people.”
Despite the obvious injustice, we chose not to upset the Prime Directive by interfering with their established laws. Science Officer Alfie and I kept a respectable distance from the rift, leaving my First Officer to take charge of the field research. Aside from the awkwardness of being barred from the research site, and an uncomfortable bunching caused by the native outfit, we were finding zero signs of distress.
“What do you think? Back to the ship and run some surface scans?”
My Science Officer wagged his tongue to indicate a yes. Once back, I poured through the navigational data and came to a startling conclusion.
“We’re off course,” I announced. Science Officer Alfie raised his head from the couch where he’d been resting. “We’ve landed here. The subspace tempests have shown activity on both sides, just not right here.”
I sat at the helm, trying to understand how we could’ve ended up so far from the distress call. Why hadn’t we flown right into the shattered heart of this colony? Was our autopilot malfunctioning?
No, due to the treacherous route we hadn’t engaged the autopilot. We’d had to enter orbit manually. This could only mean one thing.
“Mutiny!” I cried.
Science Officer Alfie huffed indignantly and settled his head back onto his outstretched paws.