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Fic: The Odyssey, xlii. the man trap
nine
anon_j_anon
--


The last mission I tell is much like the first
mission recounted in another universe
they put the ship into orbit around planet M-113
to check on the health of the archeological team
there was Dr. Kratir of Andoran descent
and Dr. Nan-Chi whose life work had lent
startling insights on the decay of old species
the team studied extinction of advanced pre-warp beings
when the away team beamed down, the dig was a-flurry
someone had discovered a something, that could be
the last remains of this remarkable species
Jim ordered assistance; Sulu led a team
to help excavation, while Chekhov stayed to beam
supplies and extra medical personnel
Bones and Christine brought equipment to help
Uhura coordinated, took the conn, held the chaos
that characterizes a discovery’s seance
Scotty and Keenser helped her keep ship controls
Carol and Darwin stood with Giotto on patrol
0718 stayed with Sulu and used his compass head
to guide them through tunnels, for the first time he led
Drs. Kratir and Nan-Chi couldn’t contain their excitement
these tunnels glowed programs and would bring such enlightenment
on questions about growth, damage, sustainability
between tech development, resources, and toxicity
each extinct advanced species had shown signs of decay
but what led to extinction? no one cause could claim
as definitive factor that put ambitions to rest
from expanding, exploring, to survival at best
Spock stayed on the surface and talked to the archeological team
discussed research while Bones examined everyone, everything
it was then that Bones noticed sharp nutritive deficiencies
in everyone’s blood-- nothing serious, but worrying
Christine administered booster shots and a dose
of lime juice to keep scurvy off their list to diagnose
“Spock!” Jim shouted, “You’ve got to see this to believe--”
Spock ran to his captain as the team re-emerged
with the first artifacts, the strange fruits of their search
over the next 72 hours everyone worked in shifts
to clean, classify, record, repair, rescue, refit
pre-warp technology which they found ran on salt
using ion cascades as the power default
can you imagine the thrill? can you imagine the start-
ling realization that they could connect to a part
of this dead, disappeared people through the machines left behind
programmed in language unknown for purposes undefined?
The captain asked for Uhura, Keenser, Chekhov, and Scotty
to lend their expertise in this venture enthralling
Dr. Nan-Chi and Madeleine decoded auxiliary systems
Dr. Kratir and Sulu ventured deeper in distance
until they came to a wall that offered resistance
0718 did deep tricorder scans and to his disbelief
there were life signs-- a person
breathing shallow, core temp frozen, like a cryotube closed
the last of her species in frozen repose.
Sulu relayed coordinates, breathless, and Chekhov transported
Bones, Chapel, and Carol place cryotube in a biobed
while Kratir and Nan-Chi faced a question of conscience
do they attempt to revive her for the sake of their knowledge?
It would be, no doubt, a great opportunity
for the last person to speak, lend insight to theory
but a life is a life, with its pleasures and pains
what if she did not know that she alone remained
could they ask anyone to face that kind of death
for one day she must die, and all her kind with it
they found they could not, out of respect for the ghosts
they had faced in the years on their past mission posts
but on the other side of this death argument
was the one about life-- was it life then to spend
the rest of her time until the cryotube failed
a silent specimen of study, her cold sleep now a jail?
would not anyone take a chance to see life
after sleeping the centuries, hoping for better times?
they could never predict her reactions and thoughts
if she chose to sleep more, they’d respect that for aught
if she wanted to live, they’d provide life support
and respect what she wanted, even their mission abort
so they decided to chance it, but before that, they needed
a way to communicate so her desires could be heeded
Spock touched the tube and felt the thrum of old dreams
withdrew to his quarters to prepare his mind for extremes
the rest of the team stayed on task to decode
the technology and her nutritional nodes.
When time came she unfroze, her tentacles clung to Spock
she gasped for salt water and body went in shock
Spock began screaming, “the sea, the sea, the sea--
It’s gone now, it’s covered with nothing, deceased!”
Bones sprang into action:
“Get her into a tank of water with epsom salt
monitor her ion intakes and add whatever we’ve got!
We missed the goddamned obvious-- the ion cascades!
This planet was under a huge ocean unmade
find the cause why it’s gone and you’ll find why they decayed.”
Scotty worked on his instincts, submerged machines in salt water
they whirred to new life, emitted light in soft colors
Nyota looked at her and her colors changing on each side
she theorized their language was in the colors applied
Spock breathed deep and opened his eyes in wide shock
“What is this? Where am I? What is this walk and talk?
I can see in two bodies: one in water, one in dry
and another mind with me who connects us in psi.”
Jim, Kratir, and Nan-Chi stood and witnessed in silence
Jim stepped forward and reached for Spock’s hand, his eyes brilliant.
“I am James T. Kirk, the mind with you is Spock
will you tell us your name? would you be willing to talk
to us of your people for you’re the last of your kind
we believe they died when your oceans declined.”
“He lets me borrow his body. He sees in my mind
he feels my great sorrow-- his is as deep as mine.
He says I can trust you for you too have once died
and spoken to dead peoples desiring to understand life.”
And while speaking, her body changed colors in bursts
Nyota recorded to understand her words
while Christine continually added a mixture of salts
this life form desperately needed after years in her vault
Meanwhile Bones and Scotty conferred with the other teams
to warn them that the machines leached their body, blood clean
of ions to feebly power their work
which explained the deficiencies Bones discovered at the first.
Carol and Chekhov were the first to rewire
a machine in the water it opened and fired
a glowing model of their undersea city
which spanned a huge circle of coral-basalt buildings.
Sulu stayed planetside, ordering halt to the dig
until he heard back from the Enterprise bridge
while Keenser tinkered to find a way to revive
the remains of the city.
He theorized that this coral is a hive
a spectrum of species building calcium nests.
Perhaps under the shells was something that possessed
faint life signs, for if something was taking ions in blood
that implied a need for food in the bud.
“We were destroyed in our oceans in the course of the planet’s cycle
but we also contributed to our own early demise
our machines used sea ions and produced heat in excess
this didn’t matter at first, but with time it accumulated
the temperature of the waters rose, other species began dying
we didn’t think much of it, believing progress answers all things
and perhaps we would have found a solution but it happened
that under our planet’s crust volcanic activity increased
heating the waters until finally catastrophe
changed our oceans to steam, killing huge swaths of people
and the remnant were ill, living in boiling waters
barely surviving each day.
The volcanoes were ceaseless for a few thousand years.
In that process everything dried up, land appeared
I was not supposed to survive; we did not know if the technology
would work but either way we had to take a chance to see.
We were once numberless, the rulers of our seas
now I am only one after thousands of years sleeping.”
Then after struggling to speak, she abruptly expired
her colors went blanks and she ceased to respire
some thousands years sleeping, then waking in shock
was too much to handle for her internal clock
Spock slumped next to her, their psi points still connected
for a moment he followed her death, then rejected
that path for faint brightness of life like light dawn
reemerged surrounded by his friends, every one
and one who was as precious as the blood in his heart
to stand with him in life and stand with him in dark
They didn’t say much, but all eyes expressed relief
they quietly went on to work on the city reef.
Keenser’s coral project didn’t give any success
Sulu, Kratir, Nan-Chi buried her in the desert
Bones, Chapel and Carol made sure archeological crew
had plenty of salt and med supplies too
Scotty and Uhura wrapped up research committees
wished the scientists good luck, beamed up to resume duties
Chekhov was busy coordinating transporter times
but before they all warped out, they received one last message:
a request to come down and see this ineffable sight.
It was raining on planet
for the first time in years
in the rain, there was lowing
and somehow there appeared
migrating to new pasture
a huge buffalo herd
amidst the machines glowing
licking the salt coral stored
they kept moving
they didn’t stay at
the salt lick overnight
the sound
and the smell were
an incredible sight
perhaps several
millenia past
cephalopods covered this world
but today it was bison
evolution uncurls.


--

The Man Trap

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