Stardate 76204.3; March 16, 2399
Edited by Peter Bossley
Written by Chris Adamek
Admiral Kathryn Janeway
Lieutenant Commander Turathan Karalis
Lieutenant Commander Ian Meade
Commander Amy Robinson
Lieutenant Commander Jayla Trinn
High Overseer Xi'Yor
Dimovius was a barren, windswept world. Great dunes of golden sand stretched far beyond the distant horizon, glittering like a sea of jewels under the burning sun. All life had forsaken this sprawling desert many aeons ago—but remnants of the past still scarred the terrain.
Large ivory bones poked out from the golden sands, harkening back to the forgotten age when Dimovius flourished. Once long ago, those bones were flesh and blood—living beasts that roamed the tropical islands between the planet’s cerulean seas. It was a lush and prosperous world, one that was now lost to the ages—but fossils and skeletons were not the only secrets buried beneath the sand…
Far, far away, on some distant horizon, a giant monstrosity jutted from the golden dunes. Twisted and mangled obsidian shimmered in the unrelenting heat; at a glance, the object was little more than some ancient ruin, erected long ago by some ancient civilization that had long ago passed into shadow.
The assessment was not entirely incorrect.
In many regards, the object was indeed an ancient relic; it was dilapidated beyond repair and its creators existed now only in myth—a true mystery for the ages… But this ancient civilization never set foot on Dimovius, and their creation was hardly a conventional temple. It was a starship.
An Iconian starship.
Many months ago, it came to Dimovius. Cast from the stars by a passing anomaly, the ancient craft was quickly drawn into orbit. It streaked through the atmosphere aglow in orange and yellow, and plowed into the golden sands with a sonorous cry to the heavens from whence it came…
Days passed, then weeks, and the sands slowly encroached upon the fallen giant. At first the sand seemed to hesitate; it would swirl across the obsidian hull and then wander off into the desert—but as the weeks turned into months, the sand began to collect until finally, the ancient craft was nearly entombed in the glittering dunes. Still visible, however, was an ancient marking etched into the glittering hull—some sort of grotesque serpentine entity flanked by several tears…
…Talyere stood in admiration of the etchings for only a moment, however. Curiosity demanded he open the doors—and he willed himself to do just that… But in spite of the commands, Talyere found himself just standing there, listening to the thunderous pulse pounding in his head…
The doors opened.
Talyere glanced down and noticed the dagger in his hand. He smiled thinly.
Reinbold glanced up, anxious. “What are you waiting for, Talyere? Kill him!”
He nodded, and prepared to strike…
Tiny droplets of crimson blood fell to the ground as the blade pierced flesh. There was a scream! A gasp!
Reinbold’s eyes went wide as she pulled the bloodstained blade from her abdomen. Unspoken words danced on the tip of her tongue, but…
And Talyere’s ashen lips curved upward in pleasure.
Underling Tassadar strode into the Aldaris’ mess hall under the pretext of ingesting a decent breakfast. It was certainly a valid reason for his presence, and in retrospect, the niva berries that Artanis had mentioned last night were sounding rather appetizing—but as he approached the replicator to order his food, Tassadar could not deny the fact that his mind was elsewhere.
Once he gathered his food, Tassadar hastily plucked it from the replicator basin. He briefly pretended to search for a seat amidst the crowded mess hall, and while there were a few open seats that Tassadar could have taken, his journey ultimately brought him to Talyere.
The Overseer sat alone in the corner of the room, simply gazing at his slice of perfectly browned khala toast as if it were alive. At first, he didn’t even seem to notice Tassadar, but when the Underling finally cleared his throat, Talyere looked up from his breakfast.
Tassadar flashed a wan smile. “Is this seat taken?”
“It is not.” Talyere shook his head. “Please, sit.”
That had been Tassadar’s intent all along. He had glimpsed Talyere in the corridor nearly an hour ago; the Overseer looked somewhat distracted, but at the time, Tassadar was able to dismiss the incident. Talyere, after all, was a very busy man.
But when he reached the bridge shortly after the aforementioned encounter, Tassadar couldn’t help but overhear Artanis’ conversation with Zeratul—Talyere had apparently been acting strangely all morning. It wasn’t anything irrational or threatening, but it was certainly not what Tassadar had come to expect from the future Cerebrate. So he vacated the bridge in search of answers.
And the search quickly brought Tassadar to the mess hall. “You seem troubled,” he noted, not bothering to waste time with the usual pleasantries.
Talyere’s weary orange eyes ventured away from the plate. He took a sip of his juice and said, “Your eyes do not deceive you, Tassadar. There is something about Dimovius that has brought warning to my heart.”
Though he was not at all troubled by the situation (it seemed to be going well), Tassadar did not take Talyere’s sentiment lightly. “Can you be more specific?” he inquired. “Is the Aldaris in danger?”
“No,” said Talyere, shaking his head, “I do not believe we are in any danger just yet…”
It was a cryptic response. If Tassadar had been speaking with anyone else, he would have demanded clarification; riddles only served to complicate matters, and the situation with Xi’Yor was already complicated enough. But Talyere was an individual seemingly touched by the chi-goehs; they occasionally sent him visions—and they were always cryptic.
“You had another experience?”
“The same as before,” Talyere solemnly confirmed. “I am in an ancient temple with some of the Starlight’s crew. We are working to evade some unseen forces of evil, when I apparently have… a change of heart.”
Tassadar was already familiar with the tale. He had heard it many times in recent months. At first, it seemed like little more than a nightmare to be dismissed—but with this recurrence, the underling was no longer so certain. “It is a powerful vision,” he tentatively replied.
“Yes,” Talyere patiently replied. “But what does it mean? That I will terminate Commander Reinbold?” He chuckled faintly. “I find that situation highly unlikely.”
Perhaps he was more of a pessimist, but Tassadar was not quite as skeptical. “Things change,” he calmly reminded. “Besides, that would not be the first unlikely situation you have faced, Talyere.”
“Nor will it be the last,” he sighed. He once again started to pick at his toast, but so distressed was Talyere, he could not bring himself to eat. “Unfortunately, I cannot be specific, Tassadar—the chi-goehs were not forthcoming in their visions—but the pieces are slowly falling into place… And I know that our pending journey to Dimovius will be akin to opening Pandora’s box.”