Lab Mountain of Gemini Enigma Federation Colony
Looking out the window, the only thing he sees is that odd heap of wood and metal fashioned into what looks like an ancient deathtrap, sadly reminding him of his exile. He's sick of it! The flies, the smell, the humid heat--tired of it all, though he has not experienced it personally.
"How long do I have to stay in this hellhole before someone comes to rescue me from this miserable insect heap?"
There is no reply of course--he being alone. Periods transpire where he is unaware if he's speaking or if he's thinking because no one's there to tell him.
Not the computer. Why would it count as someone? It has a voice and neural interface but it doesn't count. He thinks what he requires and the computer responds. No, it isn't that the accommodations are lousy. No, that isn't the trouble at all. It is boredom.
Technology only serves to entertain for so long before the need to get out into reality manifests itself.
That's where he is mentally. The Holo-Imaging-Chamber has monopolized his time for as long as humanly possible. It isn't like the holodeck on Jupiter station back in the Sol System, good old sector 0-0-1, but it serves him for this hopefully brief stay. All of the holograms seem like real people! If he spends one more minute in that HIC he will suffer from Holo-addiction, addiction to fakery!
"Holograms aren't real," he thinks or says in frustration.
Holo-addiction is a psychological disorder in which a person preferred the fictional world of the holodeck to the real world. The addiction functioned as an escape mechanism, symptomatic of deeper psychological problems.
No, I have to get out of this pod and back down in that humid, green mess. Well. down for the first time. Sensor readings don't count he thinks.
"Computer," he commands either by voice or thought--he can't tell. "How far is the rescue shuttle from this location."
"There has been no response to subspace communication beacons and an estimated distance or time of arrival is undeterminable at this time."
The computer definitely responds out loud. It burns him each time the A.I. has to respond verbally when he can communicate with it by voice or thought while in this pod, which he always is in the pod!
"If only I can figure out how to make this thing respond to me in my mind..."
Distracted by consternation over computer-to-human neural integration, he wonders off-topic considering some interface that would make it safe for the A.I. to respond in his mind.
Starfleet Tactical Research has been working on a method to safely develop a neural interface where A.I. can respond to the human brain mentally in lieu of audio or visual stimuli or the use of a prosthetic device without causing a neural cascade, frying the brain. Every holo-program simulation he runs provided a 37.7% death rate or a 70.23% rate of damaging higher brain functions.
It's his life's work to develop a non-prosthetic neural computer interface for humans, and he's not there yet!
The Terrelians have already mastered the technology and he spent months researching their findings only to discover that Terrelian physiology provides a buffer to electrostatic surges that may occur due to direct neural transmission to the brain. He cannot duplicate that without some bulky contraption being slapped on the base of the skull.
"Computer," this time knowing he speaks aloud because he feels his baritone voice rumbling in his chest. "Prepare to transport me to that structure located directly below the pod on the surface." It feels good to speak aloud.
Enough is enough. Three days he has been stranded in the planet's atmosphere without investigating the planet. Of course, he isn't an explorer per se, but he is bored. He is a Starfleet doctor!
"Warning, atmospheric pressure is 3.357% higher than is accustomed to human physiology, gravimetric tolerances slightly elevated for human physiology."
"Oh, shut-tup computer," he barks stressing the letter "t" on the second syllable of the word. Why, he wonders, does Starfleet have to program all computer A.I. to be such prudes about regulation? "Adjust transporter targeting to compensate for atmospheric and gravitational differences and await my command to energize." The A.I.'s melodious chirp indicates that it has complied.
"I should have programmed the computer to be a fully function A.I. Maybe I would not then feel the need to leave the pod."
The doctor retrieves an outfit from his wardrobe. He has been nude for two days just to make life more interesting, besides the fact that he is a closet narcissist if such a thing can exist, enjoying viewing his perfectly symmetrical body and musculature.
"Computer, keep a transporter lock on my skeletal system and my com badge just in case of an emergency situation. Prepare to transport me back to the pod every thirty minutes unless I indicate otherwise."
No more chances he thinks. The last time he went on an away mission he ended up stranded for several hours because his combadge malfunctioned.
Commbadge (Communication device)
"Warning, Starfleet protocol recommends remaining in the pod when waiting for rescue unless there is imminent danger."
"There is imminent danger, computer, I am bored out of my mind."
"That is not sufficient cause to leave the pod, doctor,"
"Dr. Luntu W. Clinfiche protocol override alpha, alpha six."
"Override accepted. This will enter into the public log..."
"Dr. Luntu W. Clinfiche log override alpha, Pi one."
"Log entry override accepted."
Luntu lets fly a few choice expletives to celebrate his win over the computer. "Why does every system on these pods have to have quadruple redundant safety mechanisms!"
"Starfleet regulations ..."
"Shut up, computer!" Luntu walks over to the transporter pad located near the front of the pod near the hatch. Landing the pod did enter his mind, but he figures it's safer in the sky just in case encountering some hostile species on the surface.
Luntu takes a tricorder, hand phaser, and a combadge from the docking station since the neural link with the A.I. only works aboard the pod after checking to calibrate both items before he addresses the computer.
Tricorder (environmental scanning device)
"Computer," Luntu commands. "Of what materials is this structure composed?" The computer lists several elements and peculiarities to the structure as Luntu gazes up toward the sky and the blue hue of it.
Though many worlds crowd his travel dossier, he's always amazed at how atmospheres reflect starlight to make it appear to be a specific color. His home on Betazed flashes in his mind, vivid blues and the luscious greens.
An inkling to return to Betazed, scintillating, a brief panic of emotion for being stranded on the planet, but quickly Luntu composes himself to continue his exploration of the dull-in-comparison-to-Betazed environment.
"This sky does not compare to home, but it does remind me of Earth," he says aloud. He coughs a little due to the denseness of the atmosphere--not thinking such a small percentage of atmosphere would make breathing so rapine. "Computer, I am experiencing respiratory problems. Am I in medical distress," Luntu coughs out?
"Negative doctor," the computer response through the com. "Your lung capacity will adjust to the atmosphere and you will experience a similar adjustment when returning to nominal Terran atmosphere,"
"Great," he coughs out to the computer. "How long with this adjustment take and why did you not inform me of this before I left?"
"You should begin to adjust due to your excellent health standard," the computer flatters as Luntu adjusted its program to do. "You initiated a protocol override which suspended further warning regarding this purpose."
Luntu's breathing starts to normalize. The pressure exerted on his breathing reminds him of an ancient breathing contraption called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. He chuckles to himself thinking that he would have an interesting log entry about how he single-handedly set humanity back by going to a planet and bringing back a disorder corrected 3 centuries ago--sleep apnea.
As his breathing adjusts, he begins to scout around his area verbally logging his observation. "The foliage appears to be some type of grass. Its arrangement appears to be considerably less than aesthetically pleasing."
Walking toward the structure, he continues his verbal description of the area for his Away mission. "Computer, " he interrupts his log. "Compare structure to know database uses."
"Please specify your request."
"Compare this structure to known structures in the Starfleet database to ascertain its use or purpose both modern and ancient."
The computer describes the structure as a type of grain silo attached to a barn with a mechanism for processing various wheat.
"A grain barn," Luntu puzzles. "From ancient Earth?"
"Computer, why is an ancient earth structure on this planet."
"Okay, is this Earth?" Luntu's mind reels. Has he traveled back in time to Earth? It is possible. Suddenly every anomaly or wormhole he encountered for the past four weeks flash before his eyes! He knows that other Starfleet agents have traversed time, but he never suspected he would be one of them?
"What!. What in the hell kind of answer is that!"
"Computer, in what system are we located."
"Unable to comply, sensor grid offline,"
"Oh, I keep forgetting I am STRANDED," he yells into the building's direction. The sensors are offline, communications throughout the system are offline. Distress beacons are continuously transmitting a distress call starting three days ago.
"Computer, am I going to die here?" Luntu asks the question in joking form, but the computer responds.
"It is unlikely Doctor. You have a month's supply of fuel and biomatter for replication. Also, there is a month's supply of rations. The Pods self-repair will complete in seven days and you can leave the system...
"Okay, okay computer! It was a rhetorical question. I am entering the structure."
"Warning, the structural integrity of the building is unstable."
"Understood." The grass crunches under his feet and swishes around his uniform as he approaches the structure. The tricorder, confirms that this is no Earth structure, though it appears to be.
The tricorder also detects a humanoid life sign, very faintly.
"Computer, do you detect any other life signs besides my own."
"Unable to comply, sensors are not functioning at full capacity for life sign analysis."
Luntu utters a few unsavory words as approaching the structure when a groan faintly voiced captures his attention. Forgetting apprehension, he rushes towards the sound to find a person lying on the ground near the barn obscured by the grassy landscape. She appears to be human. Blood is on her forehead and in her hair.
"Computer, medical emergency. Two to transport to the pod."
"Inadvisable. Targeting scanners are still damaged. Single transport recommended. Estimated repair six hours...
"Unable to comply. Safety parameters...:
"Luntu W. Clinfiche, override safety protocol seven..."
Transporters activate as he attempts to provide his command override transporting him away from the woman who had awakened as he argued with the computer. Before he dematerializes he sees that the woman is not quite what he expected. She may appear human, but her eyes are fluorescent blue.
Luntu materialized in a different location on the planet.
"Computer, what did you do!"
"Proximity sensors in your suit detected several aggressive lifeforms approaching and activated emergency transport."
"Computer, why did you send me here instead of the pod?"
"Targeting scanners are still malfunctioning and could not rematerialize you to the transporter platform."
"Dangerous life forms! Computer, you stated the sensors are not functioning. How did you detect the dangerous life forms?"
"Computer, please respond."
Something jams his com signal. Luntu's mind races with explanations. Explanations are what he is good at and it keeps him from panicking.
"Luntu, stay in control. Make an assessment of your surroundings."
As he walks slowly looking around, he notices another structure. "It has multiple colors," he continues his log using the tricorder to calm down, "and is attached to metal rods along the ground."
"Is that a train?" Luntu can not believe it!
How can there be this Earth vehicle here on this planet? Though he was born and raised on Betazed, he knows Earth vehicles. There are still nostalgic history sites on Earth and Mars that use trains! A Ferengi mogul, Quark, has just opened an ancient earth halo-theme park at Deep Space Nine!
"What in the..." Several humans, or so they appeared, exit from around the train. It is apparent they used a transportation device to appear in that location. Their eyes radiate with blue, disturbing Luntu immensely because he is unaccustomed to seeing this on humans. His rational brain snatches control deciding they are not human and calms what he guiltily perceives as a specist phobia, xenophobia?
Still, as the aliens approach, he can not ascertain their intentions toward him as he clutches his hand phaser.
"Halt, undesignated man," one of the radiant blue-eyed aliens commands Luntu. His eyes are just as hypnotizing as the woman's he found earlier. :Luntu can not resist the command.
"I am complying," Luntu utters in surrender.
The alien approaches Luntu with some apprehension. Luntu towers over the man with intimidating stature. "Did you not heed the subspace messages emanating from the orbital satellites. This planet is quarantined."
"What," Luntu slowly responds as if he's dazed. Something about the alien's eyes produces an uninviting effect on him--intoxication. "I am from Betazed. I come in peace."
"Commander Thomas Cleary here," the blue-eyed glowy man says to Luntu. "We are quarantined on this planet because our empathic abilities cause other humans harm.
"Humans! Your eyes..."
"We will get you to the facility and get you a neural inhibitor. I will explain everything."
Luntu finds himself gazing out from a facility in what looks like the snowy mountainous slopes of Andoria, a Terran ski-haven.
The dense cloud lets him know that it is not Andoria. It looks more like steam than clouds to him. Trees hug the base of the mountain and fill the valley below. No trees on Andoria. Turning to view his new accommodations, Commander Cleary approaches him. Luntu withdraws in apprehension as phase rifles pointed in his direction making the high-pitched whir sound for firing--on stun he hopes at least.
"What is going on here, " Luntu demands in a voice that betrays the fact that fear grips him. "I am a Federation citizen and this is Federation space I know--even if I don't know this planet."
"Calm yourself, sir. We will not harm you. We are human."
"Okay," Luntu accepts out of sheer exhaustion mentally. "What about the phase rifles pointed at me?"
"Stand down centuries." The sound of phaser rifles powering down send palpable calm through Luntu's soul. "We have not had an off-world human visit us in almost ten years." Commander Cleary waves his hand to dismiss the centuries as he approaches Luntu.
"I don't understand. Why do you keep using my Terran designation like that?" Luntu braces himself for an attack by the commander.
"I apologize. We are not accustomed to Terran guests on Gemini Enigma anymore. There are thirty of us here on this planet. We came here to recreate 20th-century earth, without the pollution of course--as you have seen some of the structures."
"Well, apparently something went wrong because the one building and transport I did see looks dilapidated and YOUR EYES ARE GLOWING BLUE!" Luntu just cannot ignore the Rigelian elephant in the room any longer. "I know what Terrans are supposed to look like and even with mixed-species I have never seen one with glowing blue eyes!"
"I can explain, but please calm down. You are more a danger to me than I am to you. We are not like traditional Terrans. Before we talk further I must caution you to be mindful that physically, you are four to five times stronger than are we."
"What? Sure, I am larger, but what does that....
"Our empathic abilities developed on this planet due to the neural energy emanating from some of the vegetation. Over time, and after ingesting what we thought were harmless indigenous biomatter through the replicators, certain sections of our brain began to activate and our eyes began to change color and become luminescent. We developed the mental ability to implant suggestions in the minds of people and The Federation Council feared it would cause a problem in society, so we stay. We have strict laws governing those abilities.
"We contacted Starfleet to apprise them of this phenomenon advising Terran and similar species to stay clear of here years ago. We send data so that they can help to develop an antidote to the effects of the neural energy we ingested and with which we are constantly irradiated."
"Why does that make me five times stronger than you," Luntu queries trying to digest all of the information Commander Cleary provides.
"Well, what I mentioned to you happened forty years ago. I am Thirty-two. I was born here. The planet somehow effects our development. Also, our mental abilities also have the effect of increasing the average Terran's strength hormone and rage production. The atmosphere is thick, but gravity is not standard like on most M-class planets in the Federation. In some places, it is extremely powerful to the point that some people cannot stand upright. In most places, gravity is similar to that on Mars before the terraforming."
"Wait, I have been trying to contact Starfleet for rescue for three days."
"All unauthorized signals are jammed. We found your pod and thought you were an invader. We saw Clara, the woman you found, hurt near the old barn and thought you had attacked her."
"Commander Cleary, I need to get in contact with Starfleet. I am due..."
"Please doctor, we are dying slowly. We checked your database and know that you are a stellar medical, psychological and surgical doctor. Our research is at a standstill. We could use your expertise, your skills. You are the foremost neuroscientist in this sector. Please, help us."
"I will need to contact Starfleet first to see what we can do."
"Sure, we have contact with a Vulcan outpost in the area. Fortunately, Vulcans are immune to our new abilities."
Luntu spots Claire pensively staring out of a window at the snow-capped peaks of Lab Mountain. She senses him walking past and turns abruptly in his direction. Though several meters separate them her movement startles the doctor. Claire eyes Luntu several decided moments before she suggests that he remove the neural inhibitor at the base of his skull. Commander Cleary goes to secure communication with the Vulcan outpost to reach Starfleet Command.
For some strange reason trusting Claire, Luntu deactivates the device and immediately becomes inundated with the thoughts of the other people in the building.
Luntu can you hear me Claire thinks toward him.
As clearly as if you spoke the words, but it is difficult to filter out the others thoughts.
Quickly, she thinks, we have very little time. This is a trap. You are not safe here. Those neural dampening devices serve also as an amplifier if the right frequency is transmitted. Cleary wants to leave the planet in your pod. That cannot be allowed. He is unstable, but the others don't believe it. He has imprisoned 9 of us for speaking out against him. He must not be allowed to use you to vacate this planet.
"What is going on," Luntu says aloud shaking his head as if by so doing he can rid himself of the tender voice.
The voice you hear is from me, Claire. I am part Betazoid and have a greater capacity than the others with these new powers. I can hear thoughts and read emotions just like a full Betaziod, but I cannot push the power of suggestion on Terrans like the others.
"Okay lady, why is that..."
Speak to me with your thoughts she mentally shouts toward Luntu with interrupting force.
"I don't know..."
Just speak normally with your mind. Your voice is already quite clear.
Luntu's thoughts flood the telepathic link with Claire like a ferocious targ! Concentrate doctor, we do not have time. Cleary will return with fraudulent excuses why the Vulcan outpost cannot make contact. He will try to control you to kill us prisoners with your bare hands.
I do not know how much your untrained brain can handle, but this is everything. Claire sends more telepathic messages about the true origin of the colony. It is a prison. Cleary and his five guards are sentries to keep the prisoners on the planet.
Cleary enters from tactical to address Luntu's good fortune. The outpost had reached Starbase Seven when he notices that the neural suppressor is missing from the base of Luntu's skull. His eyes are gray and every visible muscle in his body is poised. Luntu bounds towards Cleary and snaps his arm, then his neck.
Vulcan scientists arrive three hours later, to find a bloodbath and a woman huddles in a corner alone, seemingly shaken.
"Are you hurt," the Vulcan officer asks as the other officer takes readings of the situation. She notices that all the bodies are not crushed or broken. One, a very large one is alive underneath others,
"Are you the inmate number 1455X112C, Claire Twanis?"
Claire does not respond. She sends a telepathic message to Luntu, attack! The Terran stands. Green blood flows.
Two figures dart away from the planet in a Vulcan survey vessel. One washes the blood from his body. The other controls his mind.
Subspace message on all frequencies continuously broadcasted from Gemini Enigma
"This is an automated notification. Warning! Warning! This is restricted space. All Terrans will be detained who enter the planet's atmosphere.
Warning! This planet is restricted to all Terrans. Hazzardous! Warning! Voilaters will be detained!"
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© 2016 Rodric Anthony Johnson