Captain’s Log, Stardate 122218
We have arrived at the planetside location known as Tate’s Hell and it is, indeed, hellish. The shuttle landing pad is constructed from countless corpses of what appears to be an alien species. Little remains but their shells.
I do not wish to speculate how they met their fate. I can only assume it was at the hands of this beast lurking in the dense, trackless vegetation. The victims appear to be small of stature and were likely not very mobile. An atrocity. We at Starfleet are cognizant of the vast array of forms which alien life may take and are sworn to protect them. I make a scan of their remains and send it to the ship for analysis. Science Officer Alfie and I are now more determined than ever to solve this mystery.
I will begin daily logs as we will no doubt soon be lost for days. Our brave efforts must be recorded for those who will come after us.
The shuttle pad is adjacent to an informational sign. It is no doubt a warning to all who come here. This may, in fact, be my final mission. I have written out a will and settled my affairs beforehand. In it, my First Officer has been notified of her promotion. It will be up to her to continue our perilous adventures where no man…person has gone before*.
(*As per the conditions of my will, my remains are to be fired from a photon torpedo tube at a planet undergoing extreme terraforming. In the event of my sudden resurrection, my First Officer’s promotion will be null and void.)
I have instructed Science Officer Alfie to also complete his final requests. His will be forthcoming. Wolfian physiology does not allow for interaction with many ship systems. Keypads are not designed for his paws and the Universal Translator seems to be only capable of translating “bacon,” “play,” and “squirrel!” We have a longstanding complaint filed with Starfleet HR regarding this humanoidist culture. However, such inequities only drive us to pursue our commitment to the ideals of Starfleet. We must understand what happened here.
The sign contains a map. Two clearly marked trails extend from the shuttle lot. It is difficult to understand how Cebe Tate got lost, but perhaps he was lured away into the deep, threatening woods. We could be facing some sort of shape shifting or mind controlling presence. Such tales are as timeless as travel into uncharted worlds.
This should definitely secure a promotion of my own.
We have been hiking for what seems like hours. The trail is winding and often enclosed on all side by a corridor of ferns and tangled brush. We have seen no sign of the beast which lurks here and will continue our journey until the bitter end.
I have decided that in order to complete this mission, we will need to lose our bearings, much like Cebe Tate. The sky is clear, and while there are many trees, there is often a view of the sun. I am also still very aware of a giant landmark to the south – the Gulf. Then there’s the map. I throw the map away so that we can best simulate the conditions which the unfortunate rancher was faced with.
Science Officer Alfie has returned the map. Each time I throw it further, he comes back with it. His cold logic must find it to be a counterproductive idea.
The morning sun has stretched to it’s peak. The land here, outside the clear, sandy path, is treacherous. Still, we have yet to spot the beast or be properly lost.
We have encountered flooding on the trail! Surely this will obliterate our path and our own tracks. This will be where Cebe lost his way. I wish to add to my will that my son, ensign Bryce, receive my communicator when it is found. I have recorded several heartfelt messages and confessions and I wish for him to be responsible for seeing they are sent to the proper parties.
The water has risen to my calves. Science Officer Alfie is having the worst of it. I have tried to convince him to try bipedal movement so that his head might be higher above the water. He continues to resist.
Science Officer Alfie has filed an EEO complaint with Starfleet HR. I have assured him my comments about his quadruped movement were not meant to be offensive. There is also something about recklessly endangering crew members. I’m not sure he understand the concept of away missions…
The trail has ended.
We are staring at the our shuttle. Parked atop the same horrific scene of carnage. My communicator alerts us to an incoming message. Starfleet labs have finished their sample analysis of these unfortunate aliens.
I have deleted the heartfelt messages and confessions from my communicator. Science Officer Alfie and I will soon depart and return to Discovery for a debriefing. The mystery of Cebe Tate’s encounter with a monstrous space beast will have to remain unsolved.