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Alphabet Stories A-F by Katarzyna Marcinkowska

Arrogance - Blessing - Curiosity - Dream - Efficiency - Failure

 

Arrogance

They came to what seemed a long deserted two story building. The walls appeared to be made of thick stones but even with their tricorders on they couldn't find any way to enter it. The group of Starfleet officers, a standard away team, stepped back for a short briefing. The first officer asked for reports.

"There is nothing here, commander," said the science officer in blue uniform. This planet appears to be totally deserted, with just this building here.

"Are the weather conditions likely to change any time soon?" Asked one of the men, who was clearly uncomfortable with the tropical conditions they found there.

"Negative, lieutenant. I suppose it's a regular pattern for this world. 40 degrees Celsius is the usual temperature here with likely only a few degrees less at night."

"So where do these readings come from? Have you confirmed their location in this site?" Inquired the first officer.

"It's difficult to say. Something is jamming the signal here, I can't get clear readings, sir. I think that if there's anything interesting it would be inside this structure," she added, pointing at the mysterious building in front of them.

"So there's no way around it. Only how can we enter it? There are no obvious signs of any kind of entrance. No doors, no windows, nothing."

"I say, we simply burn a whole in it with our phasers. The rock appears to be solid but with enough power it will simply vaporize."

"I hate to destroy anything but in this case I don't think we have a choice. Proceed, commander." He gestured for the woman to take a position.

"Set on the highest level and on my mark... one, two, three... mark!"

They fired simultaneously for a short moment and almost immediately, a hole appeared in the wall in front of them. They took some additional scans and, since they indicated nothing dangerous, decided to step in. The science officer turned the small wrist lighter on and led the group inside. The first step she took was accompanied with a loud crack. She immediately stopped and looked down. The floor of the structure was covered with something that looked like colourful glass paneling. They reflected the lights momentarily and the beams of light danced around the people now standing cautiously. Nothing more happened, though, so they decided to move on. Only with every step they destroyed more of the paneling, since it was clearly very delicate and couldn't withstand the weight of humans.

Otherwise the room they were now in seemed empty. There were absolutely no items in the way of furniture or pictures on the walls, nor any control panels or any kind of machinery they had expected to find there. Just four bare walls made of the same rock as the outside of the building.

"I thought it was bigger from the outside," remarked the lieutenant, at least relieved since the temperature inside the building was decidedly lower.

"Maybe there are more rooms outside these walls," said the woman. "The tricorder still doesn't show anything coherent."

"Should we try and break another of these walls?"

"We may. Let's try and walk through the whole structure to see what's on the other side. Still, whoever built this place must have had some teleportation ability. There are no hidden mechanisms to open any doors. Let's do it then."

Once again they tried their phasers at one random spot on the wall ahead of them and fired to vaporise another piece of rock. The room which revealed itself before them was exactly the same as the previous one. The away team ended up vaporizing a few more walls along with a piece of floor and the ceiling in one of the rooms only to find themselves walking around empty rooms through the shattered glass panels. Finally, they decided to give up and beamed back to the ship. There was no way for them to find out the purpose of this sole building in the middle of nowhere on this abandoned planet. The continuous scans from the ship revealed nothing more than the initial weak signature of artificial energy. They set off to seek out other new life forms and new civilizations and wished to have better luck the next time.

A few hours after they left the orbit, something started happening inside the building. The walls began to rebuild themselves ever so slowly and some faint light appeared inside the rooms. The light started pulsating slowly in different colors and it originated from the unbroken panels of glass on the floor. There were no people inside now to hear the silent humming in the air and recognize the patterns of light. If there were, they could perhaps notice that the patterns were somewhat regular. After some study they might even come to understanding the simple language based on the beams of light coming off and on. They might be able to understand the conversation that took place in this strange building long after they had left.

"Do you think these aliens are worthy of contact?" The green light beams conveyed this message. After a moment of darkness, the response came in purple light.

"They are very primitive forms. And they rely too much on their technology. Without it, they are deaf and blind."

"True, but they are curious. That's the first trait of an advanced species." That opinion came in the form of pulsating blue light.

"Curiosity is not everything. Long ago we agreed that we would only seek contact with peaceful races. They were not peaceful. They came here, destroyed our home, killed many of us by simply walking on them and didn't even seem to notice." The red light beamed again somewhat faster.

"Perhaps because we are so different. Maybe we should have attempted contact, then they would've noticed us."

"And would likely have killed more of us. No, I think it's better like this. They're gone and we are again in peace. Once they mature enough, perhaps one day we'll establish contact. As it is now, they have a lot to learn. The Great Order of Non-Interference should be extended over them."

And slowly the lights became dark again. On some deserted planet, in the middle of nowhere, the dark, mysterious building remained, waiting to lure in other explorers who might be sensitive and cautious enough to be worthy of the first contact.

 

Blessing

He stood at the entrance of the church for a long while. There were still many churches on Earth, it's just that not many people these days visited them. He appeared to be the only one when he finally decided to walk in. The building felt strange for him with it's high ceiling and long, narrow rows of benches. The altar seemed cold and distant. However, he was not heading there. He took a look around and saw a man in long, black robes near one of the benches. He walked over to him and asked shyly.

"Are you a priest?" The man turned around and smiled at him. He had a very warm, gentle smile.

"Yes, my son. Do you seek confession?"

"No...," He hesitated, unsure what to say to this man. "I just wanted to talk... father." He added after another pause. The man looked hardly older than himself, it was strange to call him "father", yet he knew that was the common way of addressing the religious leaders.

"Very well," answered the priest, immediately abandoning what he had been doing and turning to face the man. "Let's go some place else," the priest added and led the man outside through some side doors. They found themselves in a small but nice and tidy garden. The weather was wonderfully programmed for this early spring day: it was sunny and comfortably warm. The priest gestured for the man to sit on a bench in the middle of the green bushes. The place was peaceful and private, probably especially designed for such events.

"How can I help you?" Asked the priest when they sat down. The man sat quietly for a while, contemplating the surroundings. There had to be some creek hidden in the midst of the plants because he could hear the shimmering sound of water. It only added to the sense of tranquility. He only wished he could feel such peace within himself. Finally, he decided to speak.

"Does God exist?" The question was blunt. The priest looked only a little amused.

"I don't know, my son. That question has been asked probably as many times as a human was born but nobody found an answer to it yet." This statement surprised the man.

"But you are a priest. Aren't you supposed to say "of course He exists?"'

"It's not a matter of knowledge, son. It's a matter of faith," answered the priest calmly. "I do believe that He does, but you have to ask and answer that in your own soul. Everybody has to decide for themselves." The man thought for a while before he spoke again.

"If I decide He exists, then what about other races? I mean, if I believe that He created humans, who created the Vulcans or the Klingons, father?" The priest again looked slightly amused. Or perhaps the sunlight created this twinkle in his eyes.

"He must have created them, too, don't you think?" He answered.

"How come then, that every race has different beliefs? The Klingons believe in Sto Vo Kor, the Ane have their All and it's not a religion at all, the Bajorans believe in the wormhole creatures, the Jem'Hadar and Vorta believe the Founders to be gods... Surely it is not right." The priest sighed. He, among many other people of the 24th century had asked himself similar questions. Certainly faith was a complicated problem in the universe as they knew it.

"I don't know, my son. I know nothing for sure," he started. "I just think that God created all life in the universe for his own purpose. We know that God created us, humans and showed us what to do. We are the race of explorers and our role in the galaxy is to unite different races - the ultimate expression of the love Christ taught us. To embrace every sentient being in peaceful coexistence. To respect the ways of others and maintain our own ideals. Perhaps He had different roles for our brothers and sisters? Perhaps the Vulcans are supposed to follow the path of logic instead of that of love? Maybe the Ane have been created with their special ability to communicate with the All to achieve their own goals known only to God? The Klingons have been created as warriors and that may be their own path to God. What are we to understand His doings, my son? Our task is to believe and follow our own conscience. The Bible had been written for humans. Other races have their respective holly books or perhaps they do not need them. It doesn't mean there is no God above us all."

"And what about the Borg, father?" The man blurted out. The priest didn't answer immediately. In fact, he had struggled with this very problem many a time and still haven't found the answer. He said:

"You've lost someone to them, haven't you?"

"Yes," the man replied quietly. "My wife. She was on an exploration ship which was attacked. The whole crew was assimilated. She had done nothing wrong, father, she didn't deserve such a fate."

"No one deserves it, my son."

"But it's not only that, father. She's out there somewhere, doing terrible things as a Borg drone. How do I still love her if she is that? How will God love her? I don't believe He could forgive her all those sins. Or maybe He doesn't care?"

"That's certainly not true," said the priest decidedly. "If there is anything certain, is that God does care."

"So that would mean that He forgives everybody and everything. What sense does it make?"

"It's not that mechanical, son. What you have to remember is that God created us with our respective souls and a free will to pursue our lives the way we choose. And that is universal. No matter the race, every sentient creature has these gifts. The Borg drones, on the other hand, have been stripped of these. They cannot be held responsible for their actions since they are not committing them of their own accord. Doesn't that answer your question?" He looked at the man, whose expression visibly darkened.

"No, father," he answered standing up from the bench. "It doesn't. Because it means, there is no one responsible for this evil. Nobody will pay for that, since there is no one to blame. That is not right. That is not right," he repeated as he headed back to the church and then out to the streets. The priest remained in the garden long after the man had been gone.

 

Curiosity

"Mummy, can I go to the town today?" The girl of about twelve was looking at her mother hopefully. "Iím old enough now, arenít I?" Her mother wasnít so sure about it. She was worried. They were living in a small settlement on a distant colony that once was a thriving, technologically advanced, alien world. Now, most of its premises were long abandoned. The ďtownĒ her little girl was referring to, was particularly dangerous. For some reason, the previous inhabitants departed in such a hurry that they had left almost everything behind. It was now a closed area, as most of the technology there was unknown, and therefore considered dangerous, to the people living there now. Children in particular werenít allowed to go there.

"Honey, you know itís forbidden." She finally said. Long ago she had decided to let her daughter go there. She only thought that Honey was still too young. "Maybe next year," she added eventually.

"You say that every time," said the girl looking wounded.

"Itís time you went to bed." Her mother decided to ignore it for now. "Youíve got school tomorrow."

Honey sighed. It happened every time. Her mother was just obsessed with school. Whenever Honey wanted to do something exciting, she always reminded her about it.

Iíll play truant tomorrow, she decided suddenly. Otherwise, sheíll never let me go! Iíll skip the classes tomorrow and go see all this marvellous technology. She quickly kissed her mother goodnight and went to her room.

The next morning, she sneaked out of the house very early. She only hoped that her mother wouldnít be alarmed by the teacher. The lessons were typically conducted through subspace communication, so the teacher might attempt to contact her immediately.

She was now walking through the maze of wide and seemingly endless streets. The tall, elegant buildings around her were empty but didnít look crippled. It was almost scary, as if some strange power suddenly blew all the life here, not touching any inanimate objects. The strangest thing was silence. Honey was used to living in a small, crowded place, where children were playing and people were constantly laughing and talking. Here, there were even no birds, no wind, as if everything was quietly frozen. The girl shrugged at the thought and continued on her journey. By now, her teacher might have decided to call on her mother after all, and she may have gone to look for her. There was no time, she decided, for being afraid. She approached one of the buildings. The door she stood before, suddenly snapped open, as if inviting the girl inside. She looked around and entered it.

She was surprised to see only a short corridor leading to the entrance on the other side of the building. There were no stairs, no lifts and no other doors. She simply walked out on the street. It was almost the same as the one that had led her here. Only now there was some gentle breeze and she heard a bird chirping somewhere. She continued her trip for the next five hours, only occasionally stopping to rest and eat something. She has brought some food with her, but once outside that strange building, she noticed working replicators. After all, there was nothing interesting there, so she decided to go back home. Returning was easy, as she remembered the direction she came from and was careful not to turn around too much. Now, she simply turned back and went home, disappointed.

Strangely, her mother wasnít angry when she found out about Honeyís escapade. She only smiled, stroke her head and called her a ďbrave girlĒ. She didnít even mention Honeyís skipping classes.

Over the course of the next few days, Honey was further surprised with how her mother had changed. Not only did she stop harassing the girl about her school projects, but she also allowed her to do most of the things she had never even wanted to hear about before. Maybe she finally decided that Iím grown up, already, thought Honey. Things were still changing, though.

At school, Honey always hated physics. She was overjoyed when she heard the teacher announcing that next semester they were going to choose their favourite subjects. She could concentrate on history and sociology rather than doing stupid calculations.

And so, another few months passed. Honey wondered sometimes how strangely the world around her seemed willing to accommodate her wishes. Once, she thought how much she hated the boy next door. He had always teased her and used to call her names. After one particularly nasty quarrel with him, she shouted how much she wished he was gone. And the very next day she learned that his parents suddenly decided to move away. She never saw the boy again. That day she was scared. She started thinking that something was wrong. She even tried to talk to her mother about it, but she only smiled and assured here that everything was all right.

"Itís just a coincidence, Honey. Nothing to worry about."

As the years passed, Honey got used to such coincidences. She quickly learned how to use them to her advantage. She was of course careful not to say things she would regret later, but otherwise she was just a happy girl living in a very friendly environment. She finished school learning only what she considered interesting and found herself a job as a historian in the local library. She met a wonderful boy and was planning to marry him. Then, one day, everything changed.

Honey was sitting in the middle of a green meadow outside the settlement. The meadows appeared there just a couple of days ago, when she decided it was warm enough for a picnic. She was waiting for her boyfriend, when she saw something strange. Suddenly, out of nowhere, in the middle of the grass appeared a strange gate. The gate opened and in, or out, she wasnít sure, came three people in strange, blue uniforms.

"Who are you?" Asked Honey, startled.

"We are Starfleet officers, exploring this site," answered one of the women, with black hair. "And you must be..." she referred to a small, flat device in her hand, as if reading some information. "You are Honey Starling, reported missing four years ago."

"Missing?" Honey couldnít understand.

"You have been living in a kind of complicated holodeck." Answered the woman. "The computer running it is very advanced. It was apparently able to read your mind and recreate your environment in every detail, so that you never even noticed. We were told that the search for you was abandoned about three years ago as nobody suspected youíd survive that long."

Honey was stunned.

"So all of this... itís a projection of some kind?" She thought for while. "It must have been when I entered this building..."

There was no time to discuss the details, as the Starfleet away team was preparing to shut down the place once and for all. Honey was given a physical which confirmed her perfect health and returned to her mother. For Honey it was as if she came home after a few hours, but her mother hugged her and started crying. When she calmed down, everything went more or less back to normal.

Only Honey had to relearn many things. And most difficult of all was to get used to the world which did not bend to her wishes anymore...

 

Dream

Christina woke up in a bad mood. It was her work day and she really hated her work. She was a waitress in one of the bars in the area and serving synthehol to people pretending they were having fun was just not her idea of good life. The computer woke her up at eight o'clock. Definitely too early for her taste. Still, she had to get up and get ready if she didn't want to be late again. She didn't. Being late for the fifth time this month meant loosing the job and that was something she couldn't afford. Oh, that whole propaganda about people of the Federation not having to work! How she hated it. Of course she didn't have to work, but without these extra credits she wouldn't be able to afford anything she got used to. No enhanced replicators, no fancy clothes, no extra time in the local holocabin...

It was much better to sacrifice these five hours every second day, she decided as every day and stretched lazily in her bed. She opened her eyes and looked at the window. "The computer must be malfunctioning again," she thought as she noticed the pattern of starts streaking outside as if she was on a starship at warp speed. "Computer, turn the viewscreen off!" She yelled and immediately the tall, elegant buildings of the city appeared outside.

She knew the design was the most popular in the building she lived in and probably all the others in the city since most of the people dreamed about being in Starfleet. She hated that even more. When she was still at school, she couldn't stand her peers talking about nothing except how they would go through the Academy and become starship captains and officers. Most of them actually tried but almost all failed. The Academy only admitted a small percentage of all the volunteers, which was not surprising after all. Someone had to stay on the ground and do all the real work.

She sighed at the last thought and finally decided to get up. Just when she was rising herself up, the computer panel on the desk in the other room beeped indicating that she had a message incoming.

"Who's it from?" she asked even as she headed to take it.

"Peter Townsend," replied the computer in its flat feminine voice. Even the computers were programmed standardly to sound as those on starships. "What does he want again?", Christina thought as she hit the receiving icon.

The face that appeared on the screen was quite handsome. The man was in his mid-thirties, fit and slender, with appealing smile. He was wearing a Starfleet uniform indicating that he was a commanding officer in the rank of lieutenant. He smiled as he saw her face.

"Hello, Christina."

"What is it, Peter? Don't tell me you're gonna be late again." The man's smile faded away and now he looked rather apologetically.

"I'm really sorry, honey, but I won't manage it this time. You see, the ship needs a refit and I..."

"Don't tell me," she interrupted feeling her irritation coming back. "You're assigned to oversee the repairs and won't have your promised shore leave." The man tried to say something but Christina didn't give him a chance.

"That's it. I'm fed up with this. It's finished, Peter. I don't want to see you again, do you hear me?"

"But..."

"Don't "but" me!" she was yelling at the man on the screen. "It's the third time in the last two years! How am I supposed to be with you if you're away all the time? I want a normal home, family, children, don't you get it?" She had to take a breath so Peter finally was able to say something.

"You know who I am. It's my job to be out here, I can't just take leave whenever I want to..."

"So don't bother." Christina simply turned the computer off again not giving the man a chance to respond. For a while she just sat there thinking. She didn't really want to break up with Peter. A few years ago she had actually hoped that he would finally resign this damn Starfleet and stay with her. The years passed, though, and as he was promoted he became even more excited about his job. Once he even tried to convince her to try and take the exam to the Academy. She even hated the way people referred to it as "the Academy" as if it was the only high school on Earth. There were other academies and universities, however she never attempted to get into any of them as well. Not that she didn't believe she could make it, it was just that nothing apart "the Academy" seemed to matter in this crazy world anymore. She sighed as she got up and headed to the bathroom. Thanks to this unexpected call she now didn't have time for her morning bath, so she settled for a quick sonic shower. She chose a simple beige dress from the replicator and put on some make up. At least that would clearly indicate she wasn't one of all these freaks out there who kept on pretending they were Starfleet even if they were not. The streets were full of both men and women dressed accordingly to the protocol with shortly cropped hair and clothes designed in a uniform style.

That day after work she finally could afford the holocabin. She never went for the cheapest ones which typically accommodated the great majority of people out of job. They were rather primitive with only some basic programming and Christina simply wasn't thrilled by the typical mass entertainment. She went to her favourite club on the other side of the city. She had to take a glider to go there but at least she was sure nobody would recognize her. Not that she had anything to hide, she simply liked some privacy. She was able to pay for the whole hour and finally she entered the room with black walls and yellow grid all over. She had given the owner of the place a small chip which contained her favourite holonovel and was now ready to have a full hour of real fun.

"Computer," she said quickly as if afraid of loosing any more of her precious time here. "Enter programme Chris - alpha-one-one'

"Program loaded and ready," said the computer.

"Activate," said Christina and immediately the black room vanished. Instead, she found herself in the centre seat on the starship bridge.

"Captain, we are being hailed," she heard one of the holograms in the red uniform addressing her.

"On screen," she said, smiling broadly.

 

Efficiency

The Birati were a very proud race. They were vaguely humanoid, but in their case "vaguely" meant a whole lot of difference. The Birati were a handicapped race as they only had very short, three-fingered hands. They couldnít achieve much in terms of technology but they developed theoretical sciences: mathematics, psychology, literature and others. They would stay confined to their small planet somewhere at the outskirts of the galaxy, if not for a lucky coincident. One day, as the Elder taught a spaceship from another solar system came. The Birati had long ago believed they were not alone in the universe, but they had no means to see it for themselves.

The aliens came not to pay them a visit, but in search for help. Fortunately, they had been looking for the only kind of help the Birati could offer them: mental treatment of some of their crew. After several months of working out the ways of communicating, learning about the alien physiology and mental specifications, they finally achieved success. The grateful aliens wanted to share their technology in exchange for the help, but Birati didnít want the technology. They wouldnít be able to utilize it. So they asked the aliens if they could build them simple robots. The kind of machines that were easily repaired could build more of their kind and that could manipulate objects the way Birati could not. The aliens gave them what they wanted and left. The Birati were never the same afterwards.

They ordered their robots to multiply so that in time every family on the planet owned a sizeable group of them. The Birati started experiments using their robots. Soon, they were able to build better houses, vehicles and machines. Finally they felt they were beginning to advance the way they deserved.

"Mum, are you there?" The voice of her daughter interrupted a very detailed scan of some mechanism, doctor Lou was conducting. She felt irritated.

"Iíll call you later, now go, play, Mou. Take your sisters with H-72 for a walk!" The girl didnít give up that easily, though.

"Mum, I need to talk to you, please! Itís important."

Doctor Lou sighed. It wasnít easy to work while having 15 daughters who constantly needed her attention. All the Birati had between 12 to 20 children in one go, and usually of the same sex. Since they also had robots to do all the work for them, it usually was no burden. Just thinking of the older days, without the robots, was scary. Still, Dr Lou was a very busy person. She was working on a very important invention and sheíd very much preferred if her daughters were more self dependent.

"All right, come in," she finally consented. "You can try your new prosthetic arm while weíre talking." The door opened and in came a nice Birati girl. She was tall, about 110 cm, and weighing only 70 kg. The ground length hair was beautifully red and she had deep, purple eyes. Everybody would call her a beauty, if only for her speciesí standards.

"But, Mum," she started arguing the moment the door opened. "I donít want this arm! Everybody is laughing at us and calling us names. They say we look like our robots!"

Dr Lou eyed her daughter. What a nonsense, she thought. People were always so apprehensive to new things.

"There is nothing wrong with having a prosthetic arm, Mou," she started explaining patiently. After all, the prosthetic arms were one of her most genius inventions and she was very proud of them. "It allows you to do many things your friends cannot, isnít that nice?"

"It is," said the girl uneasily. "But Noe called me a girl-robot and said that I wouldnít be admitted to the University but rather work in the Factory with other robots.

"Thatís stupid and you know it, Moe. If our people had both the mind and the able body, like our robots, we could achieve much more. Imagine all those experiments you will be able to conduct when you are at the University! Youíll become a great scientist and youíll be able to prove your theories without the help of robots! Isnít that worth a little inconvenience now?" The girl didnít look convinced.

"Yes, Mum," she said, "but could I at least leave my arm at home when I go to school? Iím sure the rest of the girls would prefer that too, only they donít want to bother you."

"But you have to learn how to use it. Otherwise, youíll have the same problems I do. Can you see?" The doctor lifted her own clumsy, artificial arm. It was a prototype. The one she was particularly proud of, as it enabled her to work more efficiently on numerous other projects. It was still difficult for her to operate it, though. Thatís why she insisted on her daughters getting used to them from a very early age.

The doctor pointed to the small table in her private lab where this conversation was taking place for a hundredth time perhaps, as Moe was a very stubborn little girl. There were various mechanical parts, electrical conduits, microchips and other technical stuff that also cramped every cubical meter of the small room. It was hard to move around there, not to mention move around creatively. The doctor picked up one of the smaller parts of the mechanism and brought it up against the girlís face.

"This is something that will make you much more efficient in future. Provided, of course, that you stop moaning and let me finish my work."

"What is this?" Asked the girl curiously, already forgetting about her problems.

"It is a part of a neural interface I am working on. Once itís ready and tested, Iím going to implant it into your brain."

"What will it do to me?" Moe was as much excited as frightened by her motherís work. It was true that life was much easier with all of the artificial augmentation. She loved being able to manipulate small objects the way her peers could not. She and her sisters were not very popular for this, but they knew very well that everybody envied them. They were still asked to participate in every secret game because with them, the other children could leave their nosy robots at home. "It will allow you to co-ordinate all your artificial parts more easily. And you will able to add others as you wish." Answered Lou dreamily.

"And how will you call it?" the girl asked excitedly, looking with her laser eye at her motherís work.

"Bioneural Operational Routine Guard," said the doctor, stroking the implants on her daughterís face. "The BORG. Once you get it, youíll be perfect..."

 

Failure

"Captain, Iím getting strange readings from the third planet in the nearby system."

The captain looked at his Science Officer. She wasn't a freshman right out of the Academy, she should know the proper protocols. On the other hand, he was new to this crew and this starship. Perhaps there were some things going on he wasn't aware of.

"Can you specify "strange'?" He simply asked.

"I'm not sure," came the hesitant reply. "It's reading some kind of life forms but I've never seen anything like it before."

The man in the centre seat was now really intrigued. He leaned over his console and tapped a few icons to make it show the readings in question. The resulting picture puzzled him. He had been trained in engineering before he took up the command track, sensor readings were definitely not his area of expertise. As a captain, though, he had learnt some basic ropes of all the departments. He was pretty sure he could read standard life forms scanned on a planet surface. What he was looking at now, was too complicated for him.

"What do you make of it, Commander?" he asked his First Officer, turning the console slightly in her direction. The woman had far more experience than he did. Sometimes he felt awkward in her presence as if she had been more qualified for the job. Most of the time, however, he was glad to have her there, on his first command. This was just one of such times. Commander only took a casual look at the screen and said.

"It looks like the kind of readings you'd get from a frozen body, sir. The life is most certainly there, yet it's slowed down just like in our hibernation tubes."

"Lieutenant?" The Captain turned back to the Science Officer. The woman at the science station tuned some more controls and then answered.

"I think it is possible, sir. At least I see no other explanation."

"Shall we investigate?" This came from a very young man at the helm. He looked almost like a first year cadet and was in fact not much older. "It might be some survivals awaiting rescue in this state!."

The captain was also excited. His very first mission and there was a possibility of bringing long lost survivors back to their families. It was the next best thing to discovering a new, friendly civilisation.

"Yes, that would be appropriate," he said. "Helm, plot a course to this planet. Commander, gather the away team as soon as we are in orbit." He listened to own his voice, giving orders. He sounded calm and professional.

"Aye, sir," sounded nice as well. He was satisfied.

(five years earlier on the surface)

"Do you think it's possible to build some kind of a shelter?" Asked the younger of two men walking through the forest. The older one looked at him thoughtfully and replied.

"Some animals do, but they use them to hide themselves. We don't need to hide, there is nothing dangerous here and the weather is always nice."

"Yeah, but I don't like these shadows," said the first man looking cautiously around. The plants around them were not very thick and in the changing light he thought he could spot some movement. Yet, when he looked directly, there was nothing to be seen. He really hated that.

(now, on board the Starfleet vessel)

The captain was unhappy to remind in his seat. He wanted to go down and see everything for himself. At least he had double checked everything, including the terrain and the planet's atmosphere to make sure it was safe to send people down there. Now, the away team was in the transporter room, awaiting his final order. He gave it from the bridge as if he was commanding a starship to battle.

"Energise!" he yelled and the group of people disappeared from his vessel to rematerialise on the surface of the unknown planet. He had chosen the exact spot himself, after having consulted a couple of people to make sure everything would go smoothly.

The away team found themselves in the middle of a loose bunch of huge trees. They immediately turned on their tricorders to check the surroundings.

"Can you see any pods?" Asked the captain impatiently.

"Negative, captain. There is nothing here... wait!"

"What, what is it?"

The away team saw a group of strange object. They immediately walked closer to examine them.

"Captain, there are some huge... monuments."

"Monuments?" The captain snarled. "You're supposed to look for life forms!"

"I know, captain," the commander sounded puzzled. "These monuments are the source of our initial scans."

"Does this mean they're alive?"

"I don't know..." The commander and the rest of the people came closer and looked curiously at the two huge, apparently humanoid shapes. The sculptor who created them had been very talented. They almost looked alive. Every detail of their facial expressions, muscles and clothes was absolutely perfect. One could almost believe they'd start to walk and talk. In fact, after a while, an ensign investigating one of the three metres tall sculptures screamed.

"What is it?" asked the commander.

"I swear it moved, commander! Slowly, almost imperceptibly, but it moved!"

"How can you tell?" All of them now turned to the young man who was shaking with excitement and pointing at the face of one of the figures.

"It's eyes were closed when we came, see? Now he began to open them!" Everybody looked at the slightly opened eyes of the monument. After the next half an hour they decided it was true: now the eyes were fully open.

The away team spent a few more hours on the planet, transported to two other places with the same results. Scattered all over the planet were the huge humanoid creatures in different poses. Some of them were caught walking, others were sitting and apparently in the middle of a meal. The crew spent a few more days in orbit, pondering on how to establish contact with this strange race. Finally, they gave up and fled, sending the report to Starfleet Command. Undoubtedly others will come and seek contact where they have failed.

(in the meantime, on the surface)

"See, the shadows again! I told you I hate them!" The younger man blinked and looked around him again. "They come and go so quickly, they scare me." The older one just shrugged.

"They have always been here. Every now and then someone sees them. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about it. It's just the way it is."

Slowly, the two men walked away. It took them another five years (in human perception) before they reached a clearing and sat down to a meal in the middle of the forest.

 

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Last modified: 06 Feb 2017 
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