Vakai watched as Sivol entered the transporter room, seeing a tricorder and standard field medkit on her utility belt. “Are you up to speed?” He asked her as he checked his own gear before stepping onto the pad.
“I am. Are we really stranded out here?” Sivol asked and then tilted her head when Vakai handed her a phaser pistol holster with the pistol in it.
Which Vakai noticed, “We don’t know what we are dealing with down there. It’s standard procedure to beam down with a weapon to defend ourselves. As for your question, yes. Gomez.”
“The Chief is trying his best but he cannot find out the problem with the warp engines. We have impulse engines but as we were heading down here, the Captain tried to order Ryker’s relief to take us away from the planet on impulse but then they too gave out just on the edge of the ship’s transporter range. Funny part is, we didn’t even drift at all. Which makes absolutely no sense. The thrusters didn’t engage, so we should have continued drifting with our momentum and the planet would have gone outside our transporter range.” Gomez explained.
Ryker shook his head, “It’s insane. By the laws of physics, and of course Newton’s third law. When an object is in motion, it stays in motion.”
Sivol frowned a little. “Unless something kept the ship in place. Then whatever is on the planet’s surface, this…power source…it wants us to stay here. Why?”
Vakai checked his phaser pistol settings, medium stun as he liked it, before shoving it back into its holster. “We’re about to find out.” He then gestured to her to join them on the transporter pad before tapping his badge. “Vakai to bridge. We’re ready to transport.”
“Find out what that power source is, Commander. If someone is in control of it, get an explanation as to why they stranded us here. Are they in trouble? Are they curious? Are they our enemy? Either way, we need to contact TG Command as soon as possible.” Carter’s voice filled the room.
“Understood, sir. We will keep an active Comm Link with the ship.”
“That’s a good idea, Commander. We will monitor your situation and get you out if there is a slight chance that you and your team are in danger. Good luck.”
Vakai smirked, “Thank you, sir.” He then looked at the transporter tech. “Four to beam down.”
With that, beams of light showered over them, disassembling their molecules until they were no longer there in the room, only to be sent to the surface in an instant, at coordinates that appeared to be just above the dirt where their feet would touch as their bodies were reassembled.
With a brief check that they were completely fine. A history of transporter accidents being rare was just that, rare and could very much still happen. Then there’s this planet with this strange energy source that was practically holding their ship hostage. So a brief check of themselves was just another precaution that they were doing to ensure that, whatever was going on, didn’t cause some strange mutation or worse….
Tricorders out, they scanned the area around them. Where they had beamed down to was on the dark side of the planet, of course the side that wasn’t facing the sun, so it took some time for their eyes to adjust without the use of their palm lamps, to realize that they had beamed into a dense jungle, plant life all around them were not only enormous but also quite beautiful.
“I don’t remember our coordinates being filled with trees and bushes.” Gomez told Vakai.
“I know.” He said as he looked around. “Vakai to Centaur. Centaur come in.” And then he frowned when there was no response.
“Are you serious?!” Gomez’s voice began to waver, a hint of worry in her voice. “First this energy source traps our ship in orbit and now we can’t contact the Centaur anymore?”
Vakai did not like this, not one bit. They were blind. No way of knowing what is going on, who or what they are dealing with and worse, there was no way that they could call for backup or to be retrieved if things get worse. Then his tricorder started going off, indicating the direction of the energy source. “Whatever this is, we must be prepared for the worse. So let’s get over there and if someone is there, I will ask the questions. Understood?”
All three nodded their heads, as they all pulled out their phaser pistols with their free hands and powered them up as they began to approach the energy source. They walked for almost a kilometer until they found an opening to a cliff, a cave as it were. Their tricorders indicated that was where the energy source was coming from, inside the cave, which made their tactical situation even worse. Caves don’t always have decent cover and most usually never do, so going in there would be a considerable risk.
Vakai took the lead inside, pulling out his palm lamp and lighting up the way as he led them deep into the cave. They walked for what felt like another kilometer, which made no sense to either of them but when they thought this tunnel was never going to end, they entered an enormous cavern, filled with lights and machinery. They looked around with their eyes as they stood there at the entrance with amazement, as every piece of equipment was alien to them, something that they’ve never seen before, or at least, something that was never seen by Starfleet.
“What is all this?” Gomez asked and then they heard clanking noise as if someone had dropped something, as if they had been startled by her voice. All four of them stood there, waiting as they could hear footsteps…well more like someone not lifting up their feet as they walked…and then a figure came out from behind a large machine in the middle. It was a strange looking alien, like…head of a fly, with those compound eyes. Kind of like the Insectoids from the Xindi but different.
Then it spoke, in a bunch of clicking and whining noises. “Ahh! Starfleet! Yes yes. Come come.” The Universal Translator managed to pick up.
Everyone looked at each other but both felt a sense of calm and peace. The creature certainly spoke friendly and his demeanor was friendly, so it was safe to say that this creature was not hostile in any way. And then suddenly it spoke again, “Yes yes. Friends! We are friendly!” They looked at each other again and then Vakai gave the nod before holstering his pistol, everyone else doing the same.
Vakai then approached the creature, the team right behind him. “Are you responsible for…all of this?” He gestured to the vast amounts of machinery.
The creature nodded. “Yes yes. New power source. Great potential. Must show you. Must save the Federation.”
Gomez frowned. “Save the Federation? What do you mean?”
“Federation. Great danger. Your energy source. Your propulsion systems. Bad. Very very bad.”
Ryker was next to frown. “Our impulse engines?”
“Then our warp drive.”
“But we’ve been using it for over two centuries.”
Gomez sighed, “Great. He’s another one of those species that want us to limit our usage of Warp Drive. Remember that race the Enterprise encountered? Those who actually proved that they were right and Warp Speed restrictions were put in place? He’s one of those…”
“Upset you are. I understand. Dependent on this propulsion system. You are. But this. This new energy source. New propulsion system! Come come come. Must show. Must show!” It then began to walk away, waving its tendril, wanting them to follow.
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “Even if he is, if this happens to change the future of Starfleet…or the galaxy for the better, then we might as well hear him out.” Vakai told them and followed, the rest following right behind him. They followed the creature to four odd looking tubes.
“Stand there. In front. Will show you!” It said and gullible as they were, each one of them stood in front of a tube, assuming that they were the creature’s type of display screen. Boy were they wrong. Suddenly the tubes opened up and tendrils shot out, grabbing the four of them and yanking them right inside, rotating them around so their backs were to the interior wall of the tube, able to see the creature as it stood before them. They all struggled but no matter what they did, they couldn’t break free.
“Commander! We have-” Gomez suddenly went quiet as two tendrils with flat like ends to them mounted to her temples and she was just out cold.
“Centaur! Centaur plea-” Ryker was hoping that they were still listening but he was next to be out cold.
“Vakai.” Was all Sivol said before she was next.
Vakai grunted, trying so hard to break free but he couldn’t budge at all. Then the most shocking thing happened next. The creature before them began to morph, the transition nothing like he had ever seen before, not even from the holo-videos showing how the Changelings morphed. No. This was pure light, but not just one singular light, it was many, thousands, millions of lights, all of different colors. It was now human. “What the hell are you?” Vakai growled.
The man chuckled. “Certainly not a changeling, if that is what you’re thinking. No. I am very much something else.” The man then walked up to Vakai. “Relax. This is going to be fun.” With that, those very same tendrils that had latched onto everyone’s temples have come out and latched onto Vakai’s and in that instant, he was out cold.
. . .
. . .
“WAKE UP!” Vakai heard someone shout, followed by a painful blow to the head. He grunted at the pain he was now forced to endure but when he went to feel his head, he realized that he couldn’t. His hands were bound. Why? Were they still in that tube, in the cave? No. This felt different, and the voice didn’t echo off of any cavern wall, and then there’s that smell…the smell of nature. Suddenly he was blinded by the light of nature when whatever it was that covered him in darkness was lifted off his head. He had trouble seeing as it took time for his eyes to adjust but he could tell that they were definitely not on that planet anymore. What else, he could hear the sounds of metal clanking…rattling together. Where the hell are they?!
“Vakai!” He heard Gomez’s voice, turning his head to see his team, and saw that everything was horribly wrong. They were wearing cloth like tunics, pants, shoes and worst of all, their hands were bound together in shackles, connected together by chains. Then their surroundings, nothing like what they saw when they beamed down onto the planet. Sure there were trees, forests, but they weren’t anywhere near the tree line, because all he could see was the tips of the trees behind the stone walls of what appeared to be some sort of fort. Suddenly Vakai heard a ‘SMACK’ and Gomez crying out.
“NO TALKING!” That same voice shouted, the one that told him to wake up before being hit in the head.
“Hey! Keep your hands off of her!” Ryker shouted and suddenly his face went pale when the one that was doing all the shouting had drawn his sword and pointed the very tip to Ryker’s throat.
“Or what, you filthy scum?” This man looked like a soldier, cladded in thick leather armor with metal plates. Vakai needed to do something, and fast.
“What are we doing here?” Vakai stood up as he spoke.
The man looked at him and then smiled before shoving his sword back into its sheath. “Ah. So the leader of the group finally speaks. I swore that you were going to stay silent to the very end, when we beheaded you all.” The man chuckled.
“What are our crimes, sir?” Vakai asked.
The man’s face then changed as if he had been insulted, who stormed over to Vakai and grabbed him by his throat. “What are your crimes, you say? You dare act ignorant in this kingdom?! You mercenary scum. All of you. You four come from lands that know the laws of this Kingdom, the laws that forbid mercenaries to come here, because our great King doesn’t see you as warriors.” He then spat in Vakai’s face. “He sees you exactly for what you are. Murderers, savage beasts. The King made it very clear to all the lands around his own, that no mercenaries will ever be welcomed on his holy land. And yet, you filthy mongrel mutts were found approaching his castle. You’re either very bold, or very very stupid. And I say, that all four of you are incredibly stupid indeed.” He let go of Vakai’s throat, who wheezed and coughed as he quickly filled his lungs with air.
“We didn’t know!” Ryker told the man.
He pointed at Ryker. “Ignorance is for the damned and you will suffer the consequences. Move him to the block!” Suddenly Ryker was grabbed from behind and shoved forward, with his ankles shackled, he tumbled over onto the ground.
“No!” Gomez struggled but a guard behind her was keeping her in place.
A guard then picked up Ryker and dragged him over to a large block of wood with an indentation in the center for his head, in which they placed his face into.
The man, the leader of this prison camp as Vakai assumed to be, raised his voice. “Violators of the most sacred law of this holy Kingdom will be punished accordingly to the law that they have broken. And any Mercenary who breaks a law in our holy Kingdom receives the one and only punishment fitting to their own murderous crimes. Death.” He turned to look at the executioner. “Proceed.”
Vakai struggled in the grips of the guard behind him, as he tried to break free, desperately trying to get over there and stop this madness. And as he was struggling, so too was Gomez and Sivol, all of them wanting to get free, to get out of this nightmare. Vakai then looked up at the sky, “I don’t know who you are, or what you are. But stop this! Stop this madness!! St-”
“STOOOOOP!!!” A very loud, yet feminine, voice boomed over everyone, filling their ears and halting every movement. Stopped the executioner’s swing, stopped the leader from finishing his steps back towards Vakai’s group, and even stopped them from struggling in the grasps of their guards. It was a woman, in full clad armor, approaching them and the look on her face…she was absolutely furious, so furious it looked like she could shoot laser beams out of her eyes and burn holes into the head that she so well chooses. And she was choosing the leader of this place.
Vakai stared at her, they all did, but he was most curious. Who is she? Where are they? What the actual hell is going on?! He sincerely hopes someone will give them answers.
– So they found the energy source, and it turns out the alien that they saw was not at all what it appeared to be.
– And now, where are they? Did they travel back in time? Or is this some sort of virtual reality technology that they’ve never seen before? And why are they there?
– But is this energy source the real power in holding the Centaur hostage? Or is it the being? More to come, more to reveal… All in due time.