Stardate 74542.3; July 17, 2397
Written by Chris Adamek
It was always desirable to start off the day with some clarity. It kept the mind sharp and focused, and gave one the willpower necessary to maximize efficiency, while at the same time ensured one was able to keep an open, yet objective mind. This moment of clarity might last seconds… minutes… it was difficult to say—but duration aside, this fleeting moment would set the tone for the entire day.
Previously, in a time long before darkness had swept the galaxy, achieving a state of clarity was a simple task. I would simply close my eyes and imagine myself amidst the calm of a tranquil universe, existing harmoniously with the basic elements that brought me into this world. During those few precious moments, I could see the path before me—and it was crystal clear. But then one fateful day, the clarity vanished, and the darkness prevailed.
From then on, the path before me was no longer certain. It was dictated by elements beyond my control, and as the path descended into chaos, so too, did the galaxy. It was the dawn of a new age, and as my people emerged from the shadows of a long forgotten realm, the only thing that became a certainty was war. I did what I thought necessary to stem the tides of darkness—it was a long, arduous process, and I am not proud of the dark deeds committed during the war. But I allowed myself to believe it was a necessary evil—that it was for the greater good of the galaxy, but until I could close my eyes and see clearly the path before me, there would be no respite from the dark.
I needed to get away… to distance myself from the Federation and seek the clarity that had once guided my every action. I needed to go home…
The decision to leave the Starlight was not an easy one to make. The vessel had been my home for nearly three years, and it had done well by me. The confines of the small vessel had allowed me to flourish like never before; I made many new acquaintances, perhaps, a few friends—and of course, there was that matter of winning the war against my people. Still, the fact could not be denied: in the aftermath of that victory, my usefulness to these people had dwindled. Not only was my clarity obscured by darkness, by path was truly uncertain.
Admittedly, I did have some stature with my people—in fact, the Cerebrate deemed me her successor. At a moment’s notice, I could have retreated to the territories once controlled by the Breen and taken control, but I was not hungry for power. I was well aware of the mentality such hunger incurred—and I had little desire to become a maligned despot like Xi’Yor. So I remained on the Starlight…
Four months have passed since the end of the war. In galactic terms, that was barely the blink of an eye, but for me, it was more than enough time to realize that I needed to move on—at least until I learned the truth about my being…
As I stepped onto the bridge, I duly noted the Captain’s voice was as pleasant as usual. Of all the people on the Starlight, he was easily the one I most respected. We spoke frequently, and though he was often pompous and egotistical, Alan Christopher never backed down from a challenge; in his mind, losing was not even an option. But perhaps the quality I admired most was his sense of humor; it was strange, but managed to keep the crew calm even in the most dangerous situations. And on that thought, I turned my gaze upon the Captain and produced a faint smile. “No,” I said, approaching the mission ops station. “Not yet.”
The Captain nodded. “Erin wanted to throw you a going away party,” he continued, “but I managed to convince her otherwise.”
A part of me almost desired to see what Commander Keller would have done. If it were anything like the reception she had thrown for Admiral O’Connor several weeks ago, my tenure on the Starlight certainly would have ended in fashion. Of course, I was never one to enjoy parties in my honor. “Perhaps you should encourage Commander Keller to instead focus on wedding plans,” I suggested. “Besides, if all goes well, my absence from the Starlight should last no longer than a couple of weeks.”
The Captain immediately raised a dismissive hand. “Take as long as you need,” he said kindly. “You’ve been away from your people for a long time. There is little use in rushing your visit. Besides, if you really think you’re going to miss me, I could easily provide you with a holo-image.”
I shook my head. “That will not be necessary.”
“Are you sure?” asked the Captain. “I’m working on a wall-sized version.”
In the moments that followed, I soon realized that I had underestimated the size of Captain Christopher’s ego. And while it was a certainty that many of the senior staff had tart comments on the tips of their tongues, none of them had a chance to speak, for a sensor alert promptly erupted from the tactical station. I immediately came about to hear Lieutenant Bator’s report.
The Phobian tapped at the controls for several moments, during which a slightly confused look fell upon his face. It was an unusual occurrence, but nothing to warrant much concern. “We are receiving a distress signal,” he said a moment later.
“Can you determine the source?” asked Commander Harrison a moment later.
Bator shook his head. “Its point of origin is in the Beremar System,” he said, “however, I cannot be more specific than that.”
“There are unusually high levels of teryon particles in the Beremar System,” added Commander Keller. “They are no doubt giving the sensors a bit of trouble.”
Though I was hardly as accomplished a scientist as Commander Keller, I was familiar enough with teryon particles to know that they were not a naturally occurring phenomenon. “Can you specify the source?” I inquired.
“No,” Keller promptly replied. “There’s too much interference.”
A few stray thoughts crossed through my mind—most notably the realization that the phaser banks on Elorg vessels generated teryon particles. But it was an errant thought. The last time I checked, the nearest Elorg vessel was more than three weeks away—and it was an unarmed scout ship. Left with more questions than answers, I looked forward to investigating the mysterious distress call.
But the Captain’s face did not harbor the look of determination I had been expecting. He was concerned, but for reasons that were obviously beyond my comprehension. “Bator,” said Christopher quietly, “inform Starfleet Command of the situation. We can’t afford to stray from our path…”
The words echoed inside my head for a long while… Stray from the path? What path? Certainly my rendezvous with Elorg space could wait while the investigation proceeded—but as Bator complied with the Captain’s order, it became obvious that I was the only one that had a problem with this.
Not only had my usefulness on the Starlight decayed in recent months, it now seemed that I was no longer privy to the goings-on of the senior staff. To use a human colloquialism, I was out of the loop—even so, I was not about to surrender the lives at stake in the Beremar System…