Heart of Darkness

Captain’s Log, Stardate 120118

We’ve begun the journey east, skirting the edge of this subspace void. We were told that before the ion storm, this was a scenic flight to rival the beauty of any planet in the Federation. The inhabitants here faced the abyss with festive colors and stalwart charm.

This is maybe a reflection of humanity’s own great desire to face the universe which lies beyond themselves. These are the same urges which have carried Discovery and her crew across the far reaches of uncharted space – a need to confront and wrestle with the unknown, regardless the dangers.

The landscape undergoes a dramatic, gradual change as our impulse drive carries us onward. Hope comes first as we see the remnants of civilization gathered in manageable piles beside newly patched and painted buildings.

After a month and a half, they’ve rebuilt, they’ve survived.

Further on and roofs are still peeled back as though the ion storm had intended to pluck out the people inside. Signs for businesses have been toppled or shattered, their empty frames a beacon for no one.  Crews work tirelessly to collect those never ending piles of debris, which have only grown deeper.

Too deep. This damage is on a scale Starfleet has never witnessed. It’s not in the  Federation records. The computer with all the answers doesn’t speak in her calming voice…

But the people are busy. Fighting the devastation. On cranes, in cherry pickers, on rooftops, people work to repair and heal the wounds left behind. They’ve got this.

Then we see a building, or what used to be one. Metal, it has been crumpled and tossed aside like wadded paper. An small park where the trees are bent like straws. A ship…

Shattered, torn open, it lies motionless as we pass. No distress signal, no life boats, the crew long gone.

“How will they be found?” I ask. “Were they pulled out into the void and shunted to a different sector? Or were they just carried inland and balled up inside one of those buildings…”

“They weren’t there,” my First Officer says. “They don’t live in theirs, like we do.”

Their what? Their…starship? Where would they live? At a space station? An outpost?

“What is happening here?” I ask. I can’t piece it together. “Starfleet hasn’t…how could this…”

My first officer places her hand on mine. She doesn’t speak. She only watches me with a combination of sympathy and pain.

A notice flashes at the navigator’s station: We’re still twenty miles from what was the heart of the storm.

We pass through a military base where structures hardened for a different kind of attack have survived, but not unscathed. Outbuildings lie in ruins. Every spare parking lot and piece of open ground is filled with temporary housing. Ships…recreational vehicles…like Discovery, or even simple tents where the hundreds, maybe thousands, of soldiers there continue to fulfill their duty.

Duty. To the…Federation. Like mine, a Captain. Or was it some other planetary force? I can’t remember the briefing. It’s getting fuzzy, faint.

Beyond the base lies what used to be a forest. Thin, spindly, stripped bare to their bark, the trees bow as far as the eye can see, forever in awe of the passing storm. A lone truck along a ten mile stretch works beside piles of trunks and stumps, feeding them, one a time, into a machine.

There are millions to go.

Millions.

I guess.

The scanners won’t function. The view screen, won’t change.

Slowly, we start to see signs of civilization once more. Mattresses. Furniture. Appliances. All scattered in the broken trees.

There are fewer crews. Passage is rough where the storm has eaten away at the warp corridor…I mean, the roads. Houses on the Gulf side are cracked open like eggs, or more often they are missing entirely, stilted foundations stripped to the bone. On the other side are piles of wreckage. Homes with their faces peeled away. Their roofs pried off. Disintegrated in the horrific gale.

The gale of a terrifyingly real and monstrous hurricane.

Words have been painted on the sides of many of the empty shells. Codes, of some sort, perhaps to tell the workers, when and if they come, which structures might be safe, or who owns the salvage rights. One says something else:

“Mexico City will rise again!”

I look around at the empty streets, clear-eyed. At the utter devastation. A handful of homes have been rebuilt or experienced some kind of miracle. Most lay in ruins along with the businesses which supported them.

Can anyone possibly rise up from this?

If so, it will take longer than a month. It will be years.

When we finally stop, I head for the transporter which isn’t’ a transporter. I stand there, wishing it was. Wishing I could create some imaginary ion storm and be whisked away to the mirror universe where this hadn’t happened.

 

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