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[2009: MAY-JUN] *WINNER* The Mystery of Lengdis VIII


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The Mystery of Lengdis VIII

“Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.”

The 208th Rule of Acquisition

Captain’s log, Stardate 238604.18.

Earlier this morning long range sensors detected an energy signature around the eighth planet of the remote Lengdis system.

We took the Arkham in to investigate and discovered a Ferengi scout ship in orbit there. Scans revealed no life signs although the systems were still powered up.

Lengdis VIII is a Class P ice planet, a frozen ball of rock with no sign of life and a barely-breathable atmosphere. Why anyone would come here remains a mystery. Scans of the planet’s surface reveal nothing but thick glaciers, aeons old.

With no further evidence to go on, I’ve decided to lead an away team over to the Ferengi ship to see if we can come up with some answers.

Captain’s log, supplemental.

Rather than provide answers the trip only threw up further questions. The vessel had been deserted for some time but clearly showed signs that someone had intended to return. From the ships logs we’ve established that there were only two occupants - the Ferengi owner, Joro, and a Trill named Ruben Winter. A search of our computer records quickly identified Joro as being no stranger to Starfleet - he claims to be a ‘dealer of rare antiquities’ although the means by which he acquires these artefacts seems dubious at best. Just last year he spent some time in the brig of the USS Minotaur which caught him sneaking across the Yalosian border with stolen relics.

Of Winter, though, we found nothing. Still, his quarters on the scout ship intrigued me; sparse, clothing still mostly packed as if he did not plan on staying there for long. But the desk was covered with padds on ancient occult beliefs and rituals from two dozen cultures and some were in an alien script that we’ve been so far unable to decipher and yet is maddeningly familiar. Odder still was the sealed crate containing incense, bones, candles and paper books bound in leather covered with strange symbols.

A search of Joro’s quarters provided more tangible results as Ensign Loxley managed to retrieve the Ferengi’s personal logs. I’ve included here only the parts I deemed relevant.

“Personal log, Joro, Captain of the Relentless Profiteer. Well, I picked up this Trill guy, calls himself a xeno-archaeologist, but the stuff he carries ‘round with him isn’t like anything I’ve seen before. Not for real, anyways. It looks more like one of those scam gigs that sells ‘genuine authentic historical’ padds to the gullible. But this guy says the stuff he’s got is the genuine article and, well, remember Rule 16; ‘A deal is a deal.’ Until something better comes along, anyway.”

“Personal log. Winter says he knows where he’s going and gave me some coordinates, but all I can see is dead space. There’s never been any life in the Lengdis system; no civilisations, no colonies, nothing. And yet he swears that the relics I can find there will sell for more latinum than I can count. I pointed out that I can count pretty high.”

“Personal log. We’re only a day away from Lengdis. Winter seems on edge. I spoke to him earlier and, well, turns out he isn’t after the artefacts at all, but something else. He says he needs to satisfy his curiosity. From what I can tell he’s been planning from this trip for a long time, but not for profit. He keeps poring over those padds in his room, reading them over and over.”

“Personal log. Where do I start? Winter was on the sensors as soon as we achieved orbit. He beamed us

down into some huge building, a tomb of some kind I think, although for what I can’t guess. The place unsettled me which is saying something. I’ve, ah, acquired items from museums, mausoleums and crypts across two quadrants but this tomb just felt… wrong! It was the scale of the place, I reckon, and that wind. It was blowing from nowhere and goin’ nowhere, but it felt like it cut right through me.

Winter hadn’t let me take any scanning equipment. He’d been real strict on that, said it would be ‘disrespectful’. I didn’t really see any relics. Not ones I could take, anyways, but there were pillars, massive ones, covered in carved writing - pictograms and hieroglyphics. I couldn’t read them and that’s something I’m glad of - some of the pictures made my eyes water.

Winter is very excited now, more animated than I’ve seen him before. He wants to go back tomorrow to go deeper into the tomb. He says there is something in there he must see, but I’m… I don’t want to go there with him. Whoever or whatever built that tomb didn’t want to be disturbed. We shouldn’t be here, we shouldn’t… Ha! Listen to me! Joro scared of the dark! I’m beginning to sound just like my cousin. No, I’ll go down there with him in the morning and if we don’t find anything I can sell, I’m going to triple my fees. Yes that’s it, that’s what I’ll do. Relax, Joro, relax, just think of that profit, concentrate on the profit…”

Captain’s log, supplemental.

We’ve managed to dig out some coordinates from the Ferengi’s transporter, presumably the site of this ‘tomb’, but the place is over ten kilometres underground. We’ve checked and double checked the numbers and we’re certain they’re correct and yet our sensors detect nothing at that location - no subterranean structures, no caves, just solid ice. But the computer on the scout ship clearly shows that Joro and Winter beamed down there twice. Although on the second occasion they did not return.

If this is an elaborate hoax, then why go to all the trouble? But if there is some truth in Winter’s research and Joro’s logs and there is something under all that ice then it much be ancient indeed, built fifty thousand years before life ever crawled upon Earth’s surface if our geological surveys are anything to go by. What manner of creature existed in this galaxy at the very beginning of time?

I need to know. I’m ordering my First Officer to take a team to investigate. I don’t want to risk a blind transport so they’ll take a shuttle down to the surface in an hour see if there’s any sign of a passage or tunnel.

I don’t care about Winter’s superstitious beliefs, the away team will be fully equipped with tricorders and phasers. We’ll keep an open comm line and a constant transporter lock just in case.

* * *

“Commander Harker, can you read me? We’re getting some interference from the atmosphere.”

“Aye Captain, we can still hear you. The descent is a little choppy but we’re approaching the target now. No sign of any structures or openings on the first fly-over. I’m taking her in to land.”

“Copy that, Harker. I want detailed scans of the whole area.”

“Acknowledged. We’re leaving the shuttle now. Scans show… nothing here. Exactly the same as the Arkham’s readings, just glaciers for miles in every direction.”

“There must be something there, Harker. The Ferengi and his friend didn’t beam into solid matter. Maybe the place is shielded against scanners? Try remodulating the tricorder output and keep looking.”

“Yes Captain. I’m still not… wait, what did you say, Ensign? A hole? Show me. Captain, Ensign Loxley has found an opening of some sort, I swear it wasn‘t there a moment ago. I’m standing right in front of it but it’s not showing on my tricorder at all. It looks artificial, though, unnatural. ”

“Proceed, Harker, I want to know what’s down there.”

“Captain? Do we… Yes, of course, sorry Captain. You heard the order, men, check weapons. I’ll lead, Loxley take the rear.”

“Harker? Harker! Where’s he gone now?! What sort of spatial interference? Unknown! Don’t give me that! Compensate for it and get the comm line back now.”

“Cap… passage leading underground… scan… not showing anything… in dark… Wind, cold wind.”

“Harker, you’re breaking up, tell me where you are.”

“Somewhere deep… metres… can’t be this far down so soon! It’s vast… can’t see ceilings… pillars of some… Wait! It… here, Sir. It’s… big, not exist… woke… something impossible… it can’t be!”

“Harker!”

“By the Gods, Captain, get out of here! Get the Arkham out of here before it’s too late! Go!”

“Beam them back now! Now!”

* * *

Captain’s log, supplemental.

We only managed to get a lock on Ensign Loxley. He came back screaming, completely insane, and died shortly after. The Doctor couldn’t fathom it, said the only thing he could suggest was that it was caused by pure terror. I didn’t see Loxley’s eyes, but the transporter Chief did and she said it was enough to almost drive her mad, too.

I ordered the Ferengi ship torpedoed and dropped a warning buoy at the edge of the system. We’re currently on our way back to Federation space at maximum warp. I’m an explorer, for me the unknown holds no fear. At least it didn’t used to, but the sound of Harker’s voice… What did they see down there in that tomb, in the ancient darkness? What did Winter and Joro wake up from an eternal slumber? My mind shudders. It is something we were not meant to know.

* * *

The USS Neptune approached slowly. On the viewscreen Captain Freemantle watched as the Renaissance-class Arkham drifted dead in space. The Arkham had been lost for almost a year after embarking on a deep space exploration mission. The Neptune had already sent over away teams and found it deserted. Freemantle had just finished viewing the Arkham Captain’s official logs and now he sat in his command chair stroking his chin in thought. He, too, was an explorer and because of that he couldn’t leave a mystery unsolved or a question unanswered.

“Helm, set course for Lengdis VIII, warp 6.”

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