Rubbing his face, Captain McCallister couldn’t quite believe what he was now confronted with. Standing in the exobiology lab after being called down by Doctor Slyvexs, he was now trying to make pleasantries with an ancient hologram. A photonic projection that made the EMH Mark I appear revolutionary by its responses.
“Unable to process inquiry. Please restate.” The Farmer said again for what felt like the hundredth time, but most likely was the sixth time in the space of five minutes.
Frustrated that he could negotiate trade deals with the Ferengi, outsmart a Cardassian gul as well as survive a Klingon assault, but right now McCallister couldn’t get anything out of this hologram that was useful. So far all they had learnt was that his program was designed to oversee the growing of the crops on the planet and to ensure there was plenty of supply for the inhabitants. Lieutenant Jines was running an analysis on the hologram’s datacore while McCallister and Lieutenant Flemen continued to engage the Farmer.
“Can you tell us who created you?” Flemen asked, trying to outsmart the program by asking an alternative question they had not attempted yet. McCallister had been impressed with his new diplomatic officer so far, his young fresh eagerness reminded him of how his first officer was like when he joined the Odyssey over a decade ago.
The Farmer looked at Flemen and nodded. “My creator created me.”
Rolling his eyes in reaction, Flemen shook his head as he turned away from it and flipped his hands up in the air.
Chuckling somewhat at the two command officers in the room, Doctor Slyvexs was leaning over one of the side consoles with her hands firmly grasped together. Bowing her head as she tried to hide her expression, her blonde curly hair shrouded her face somewhat before she looked up. “This is like asking if water is wet.” She said, the amusement still echoing through her voice. “So, we know it can tell us what its purpose is, its designation, that it had a creator and how it goes about working, is there another route in?”
Crossing his arms against his chest, McCallister considered the doctor’s challenge as he looked at the hologram. “Are you Tkon?” He asked the Farmer.
“Unable to process inquiry. Please restate.” He replied.
Soft banging of Lieutenant Flemen hitting his forehead against the nearby bulkhead quickly followed. The whole scene was comical.
“Do you know who the Tkon are?” Lieutenant Treiskreedfrek tried. The Ktarian man was now sitting on one of the stools and like the captain had his arms crossed against his chest.
“Yes.” The Farmer said, blinking twice at the exobiologist.
That answer peeked everyone’s interest.
Smiling with some sort of pride for getting a helpful response, Trei asked another one. “What do you know about them?”
Standing almost like a lost child, the Farmer’s unremarkable body language with its plain features blinked again at Trei before answering. It’s demeanour was innocent. “A great deal.”
The Ktarian surrendered to that response with a huff of exasperation and flew his hands in the air. “Seriously?” He poked back with.
Flemen, who had stopped hitting his head against the wall, had turned around and reassured his colleague that what he had said was helpful. Standing almost face-to-face with the Farmer he spoke back to it. “Unable to process answer. Please elaborate knowledge of Tkon further.”
Twitching its head to one side, the Farmer blinked at Flemen now and replied. “The Tkon are the caretakers of the homeworld, they created our crops.”
“Jackpot Craigen!” McCallister said with pride in the diplomatic officer. “Keep going.”
“Unable to process response. Please elaborate further.” Flemen said, finally feeling confident he had found a way to communicate with the hologram.
“The Tkon provided the nourishment and resources to maintain the homeworld.” The Farmer answered, again two more blinks followed.
“Unable to process response. How did the Tkon provide for the homeworld?” Flemen asked.
Looking down and then back to Flemen, the Farmer replied. “The Tkon provided for the homeworld by establishing organic produce and natural resources to maintain the people residing on the homeworld.”
“Response processed.” Flemen attempted. “Are the Tkon your creators?”
“No, the Tkon are the caretakers. I was created by my creators.” The Farmer replied back with.
“Done.” Lieutenant Jines said as he got up from scanning the inner circuitatory of the console from where the Farmer was being projected from. “Captain, there’s nothing wrong with the Farmer. They’re functioning perfectly. They were only programmed with about two hundred rudimentary subroutines. Most of them are linked to monitoring of the genetic tags.”
McCallister acknowledged the lieutenant’s insight with a nod and a smile. “That would understand its limited ability to interact with complex language that is beyond its operating system.” He looked at the hologram, the once former operations officer within him was eager to strip the entire console apart to see how the Farmer worked, urging to get out, but he had to suppress it. “Decter, keep monitoring the program, see what else you can learn.” He looked at Flemen. “Craigen, I’ll leave you here to carry on with our first contact. See what else you can find about the Farmer’s knowledge of the Tkon and their interaction with their people.”
“Understood sir.” Flemen said, pleased he was now getting somewhere with the hologram.
McCallister looked at the other two scientists in the room. “Do you two need anymore to complete your research on the planet’s food supply?”
Trei responded first, “I’ve asked Naef to provide me with a complete scan of the planet’s biospheres. I want to see if these tags operate in other organic matter, now we know how to detect them, we can see if they appear elsewhere on the planet and if we can access the signal.”
“I’d like to remain working on this case sir, this level of sophisticated submolecular technology is a once in a lifetime project to be a part of.” Slyvexs added with an eager smile. “This could be the first breakthrough in understanding one aspect of Tkon science knowledge that we’ve not had access to for decades.”
Nodding with the doctor’s request, McCallister knew she would be an asset to the research. “Keep me updated, I’m heading to the shuttlebay to see how the analysis on the obelisk is getting on.”
Thankfully shuttlebay one had a huge hanger deck, allowing for various smaller support craft to be housed as well as guest ships too. The obelisk had been rematerialised after being stored in the Invicta’s transporter buffer. It’s retrieval had been a bit dramatic and the only casualty was the transporter system on the Delta-class runabout, however engineers were currently working on repairs. The long artefact now rested on its side along the shuttlebay’s deck with a number of the ship’s science and engineer crew scanning it at various areas.
Working his way around the point of the monument, Lieutenant Commander Lenjir held his tricorder in his hand while his close friend, T’Rani, stood almost by his side, scanning it as well. “Your hypothesis appears to be correct, Cline.” She indicated after looking from her handheld scanner to the object before them.
“I want to be certain before the captain arrives.” Lenjir said as he tugged on his left earlobe. “Tierra, your analysis.”
“Based on what we know about Tkon energy signatures, I’d agree with Lieutenant Commander T’Rani’s assessment.” The Deltan assistant chief engineer replied with. She was standing by a nearby console, working on a quantum analysis of the obelisk. “From what I can determine, the technology in this huge plinth is similar to what the away team on the underground settlement encountered with the console that Doctor Slyvex was working on. It’s not Tkon technology, but I am detecting some level of Tkon inspiration.”
“Unable to process inquiry. Please restate.”
The voice of the captain startled every one of them as he entered the shuttlebay via the main entrance and walked over to join them. Seeing their confused looks by his statement, McCallister just gestured for them to ignore it while he smirked. “What do you three have?”
“Some good news and some bad.” Lenjir answered, before pointing at the huge artefact that laid on their shuttlebay floor. “Naef’s theory on this being the device that emitted a Genesis-like wave is right.”
“Is that the good news?” McCallister wondered as he looked at the obelisk, surprised at how big it was and now understood why it overloading the Invicta’s transporter pattern buffer.
“I’ve barely touched the surface, sir.” Lenjir replied. “Unfortunately sir, it’s not Tkon technology. That’s the bad news.”
Disappointed to hear that once again another piece of technology they had dug up wasn’t from the Tkon, McCallister’s shoulders appeared to deflate at that news, “so what’s the good news?” He asked his security chief.
“I am certain this is good news, but it is certainly an interesting revelation.” T’Rani answered. “The obelisk is of the same technology as the control interface that Doctor Slyvexs’ team is analysing at the moment.”
“Oh dear god, I do hope it does not have a hologram as well.” McCallister quickly said and then realised he had interrupted his Vulcan pilot, so insisted she carry on with her presentation. “Sorry.” He added.
Bowing just her head slightly as a gesture of gratitude for him allowing her to continue, T’Rani explained that they believed the obelisk was based on Tkon technology. “We are also assuming that is why the underwater city was designed in the Tkon symbol. This was at the centre of their city, so logic dictates that it was the inhabitants’ way of replicating the work of the Tkon.”
“Their caretakers.” McCallsiter said before explaining what he had found out with Slyvexs, Flemen and the others with the Farmer. “So do we think they created the two Genesis waves?”
“No.” Tierra said. “From what we can see, this obelisk’s circuitry was burnt out when it was used to create the genesis wave.” The Deltan assistant chief engineer showed the captain a holographic representation of the scans she had taken of the device, showing exactly what she said.
“We’ve scanned the planet captain and we think the valley that Doctor Slyvexs investigated was actually created by the impact of a powerful strike and it was there where the first wave was detonated.” Lenjir explained. “From orbit, we think the Tkon terraformed this world and then its inhabitants tried to replicate the technology.”
“And failed?” McCallister added.
“Indeed.” T’Rani said. “The evidence of what we’ve seen would back that idea up. The second wave came from the obelisk.”
“But why would they want to detonate a second wave?” McCallister asked. “If the Tkon had already terraformed the planet, why do it again?”
“That we are not clear on.” Lenjir answered.
“Two possibilities are that the inhabitants were trying to impress the Tkon, the way the city is laid out could be an indication of some sort of worship by wanting to aspire to them.” T’Rani suggested.
“And the other idea?” The captain questioned.
Lenjir answered, “the Tkon terraformed their world in a way that wasn’t habitable for the natives and they had to turn it back to the way it was. However we’re not relying too much on that notion, as this planet is the only one in the star cluster that is inhabitable.”
“For all we know the Tkon may have made those planets uninhabitable too.” McCallister stated. He enjoyed hearing his officer’s thoughts on this mystery they had come up with.
“Reyas to the captain.” spoke his wife’s voice over the intercom.
Tapping his combadge in response, McCallister answered her. “Go ahead commander.”
“Sir, we’ve got something you may want to see. Can you join us in astrometrics?” Reyas stated, sounding excited.
“On my way now, McCallister out.” He looked at his officers. “Keep poking holes in the obelisk, see if there are any more clues we can find.”
All of them confirmed their orders with an acknowledgement and the captain left their company. He hoped that once he arrived in astrometrics that his wife had found something that was Tkon in originality.
“The short answer is no.” Reyas said flat and plainly, before carrying on. “But we’ve found other evidence you’d be happy to hear about.”
Disappointed that the computer storage devices they had retrieved that were marked with Tkon symbols were not Tkon originals, McCallister sighed slightly as he motioned for his wife to carry on sharing what she, Hunsen and Jen had found so far. They all stood in the astrometrics lab with various displays being shown around them from the data from the computer storage devices. Most of it was in the alien language they had discovered on the planet below.
“The inhabitants of Outré collected vast amounts of information on the Tkon, mostly observations and scans. We’ve only broken through the tip of this iceberg, but from what we can tell they worshiped the Tkon as their caretakers.” Reyas explained.
“That would go along with what the Farmer told us and what Cline, T’Rani and Teirra believe based on the obelisk. Trying to emulate the Tkon in their technological level.” McCallsiter said. He was pleased to hear that some of the pieces of this huge puzzle were finally coming together.
Nodding to Jen to carry on, Reyas smiled at her husband and appeared quite giddy at their finds. “The computer is still translating their language, most of it is made up of symbols and pictures. Very similar to the hieroglyphs of the Ancient Egyptians from Earth’s past and Ancient Bajoran language. Each one has its own meaning, so attempted to crack the code is taking longer but from what we’ve been able to translate the people,” The Trill looked at the captain, “we’re calling them the Outréans for now, appeared to have a strong and rich culture prior to the Tkon arriving on their planet. We believe their technology was advanced, perhaps not as advanced as the Tkon, but from what we can gather they looked at the Tkon in an almost god-like way due to their advanced technology and abilities. It created some sort of race for them to advance their civilization in an attempt to rival the Tkon. There appear to be legends from their past of their people wanting to be members of the Tkon Empire but the Tkon refused.”
“Why is it a legend?” McCallister asked.
“As there is conflicting data showing that their people’s perspectives on this story differ on whether it was real or not.” Jen answered. “Nevertheless their fascination with the Tkon is what drove their people.”
“This drive made them focus their efforts in following in the Tkon’s footsteps. Everything they made was Tkon inspired.” interjected Commander Hunsen. “Trying to emulate them was not a past hobby. They were fanatics. Living, breathing and eating the Tkon.”
“Which leads us to our next discovery.” Reyas said as she pressed a few buttons on the main astrometric consoles. “Their star charts are quite accurate of the surrounding space from the era they were made. They launched a number of probes trying to find the Tkon, but instead found nothing. However their last effort resulted in them speculating in them believing they knew where the Tkon were resting and waiting for them.” She pointed at the large wall monitor as it changed to show the old star charts to a more recent scan of the region. It ended up zooming in a certain place, in the south-west part of the sector. “They called this the Belt of the Tkon Outreach. Only one of their probes was able to cross it, but in the centre is a planet they believed to be a Tkon outpost.”
Showing an area of space that appeared to be unstable with a range of anomalies surrounding it, McCallister walked up to view the data closer. “A thick layer of thermobaric clouds, an intense plasma field, a radioactive Mutara class nebula, a dense region of subspace vacuoles and a large type 4 quantum singularity. This is not normal Karyn.”
“No it’s not.” She answered back to her husband as she joined his side. “I’ve already spoken with Naef and several others and they certainly believe that these spatial disturbances were placed here on purpose. It is highly improbable for them to ever occur naturally so close together.”
“So are we thinking they were placed there by the Tkon?” McCallister asked.
“Placed there,” Hunsen replied, “or created there. We think they’re a natural barrier from stopping anyone from reaching the Tkon outpost.”
Looking at his wife, McCallister smirked. “This was certainly something I’m happy to hear.”
“Good, we’ve already started to train our sensors on the Belt, but we’ll need more time to really understand them.” Reyas said.
“Captain, before you say it, I want to remind you that these barriers could cause significant damage to the ship and the crew. That radioactive nebula for example will require us to be clever in protecting the crew.”
“Then let’s get on with it. We may not have another opportunity like this again.” McCallister said, now sounding excited. “Is there anything else we need from the planet?”
All three officers shook their heads.
James turned back to the data before him on the large screen, he could feel they were closer to their prize.