the Last One Out Please Turn Off the Lights?
The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a
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assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or
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Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD
effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s Captain ipso facto.
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This mission may not be reproduced in any form without
the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.
The fabled and enchanted world of Spindizzy faded away to nothing
behind USS PHOENIX—nothing more now than a tiny speck lost in the
vastness of space—as the ship headed back to it’s home port,
Starbase Flying Cloud. Three days out, Captain T. E. Lawrence
and Commander Wolphbayne Stryker sat in The Nest, each of
them nursing a drink with a faraway look in their eyes. Spindizzy
had been perhaps the most beautiful planet either had ever seen.
T. E. sighed heavily.
"Captain?" Wolf asked.
T.E. shook her head. "That’s an experience I’ll never forget."
There was a tiny, musical laugh in Wolf’s head that he
immediately recognized as The Lori Lynn. Stryker smiled. In a
wistful tone, he agreed. "Nor I. I don’t believe that any of us
They lapsed back into a warm silence.
Jeanna Jameson, who always seemed to be on duty in The Nest,
appeared at Lawrence’s side, an apologetic look on her face.
"Captain? Sorry to bother you, but Admiral Evans is calling."
The spell broken, Lawrence stood up. She thanked Jeanna and
headed for her quarters to take the call. She pressed the
Acknowledge button on her computer and Admiral Evans’ face filled
the screen. He was smiling.
"I know I told you this before, T.E., but I wanted to tell you
one more time. You and your crew did a fantastic job on Spindizzy.
I’ve never seen this many smiling faces in Starfleet or in the
Secretariat. And on top of that, the PHOENIX is awarded the
Presidential Unit Citation. Plus, each Spindizzy partner will be
receiving a Federation Distinguished Service medal."
"Thank you, Daniel. It was an interesting mission that turned out
perfectly. I’m glad we were chosen for it."
"You were chosen, but not by me. The LoriLynn has already
opened negotiations for membership in the Federation. There’s no
doubt they will be accepted. And," Evans was beaming, "She has
insisted that the formal acceptance ceremony be held aboard the
T. E. was surprised. Starships were not usually involved in such
high-level diplomatic matters. "We will be honored, Admiral."
"Now, to the purpose of my call." He paused.
"Yes, Admiral?" T.E. was suspicious of the tone in Evans’ voice.
"About a month ago, the freighter SS Maria Cristina Innes
was knocked off course by an ion storm. Damage wasn’t severe, but
they wound up many light years away from their normal path. They
found what they think is a Class M planet orbiting a small star just
on the boundary of Federation space. I want you to change course and
do a detailed survey of the planet with the idea that it might be a
good place for a colony. Take all the time you need and get us every
scrap of information you can. I’ve sent the coordinates to you in a
separate message and your navigator should have them already."
Her interest piqued, T.E. asked, "Does this planet have a name?"
"It sounds like an interesting planet." A small frown flitted
across Daniel’s face. "There’s pressure from several groups in the
Federation who want a planet of their own—or at least part of one.
Maybe Enigma will be what they’re looking for."
"Sounds like fun!"
"New planets are always fun, T.E." Evans sighed. "I wish I could
go myself, but that’s a game for the young. Be my eyes and ears, T.E.
Go for me."
"I’ll give you a full report, Daniel."
Admiral Evans smiled and broke the connection. With a grin,
Captain Lawrence pressed the button that would connect her to the
Five days later, USS PHOENIX was orbiting the only planet around
a Type O star.
From over her shoulder, Captain Lawrence asked her Chief Science
Officer to, "Bring up the atmospheric composition, Commander T’Pel."
LCDR T’Pel pressed a couple of switches on the
console and was rewarded with a detailed breakdown of the planet’s
"Now, let’s look at the mineral make up. Maybe
we’ll find something new."
Stryker whistled softly. "Look at that! One
"Yes, but look at that," Lawrence pointed
to a line on the screen. "Ten percent unknown. I’m more interested
Stryker turned to stare at the planet on the Main
Viewing Screen. It was beautiful, with green continents, blue
oceans, and swirls of white clouds everywhere. "Any signs of life?"
he asked over his shoulder. Could it be another Earth? He
said in one corner of his mind.
"Oh, my!" came the soft exclamation from the
Captain. "On land, in the air, and in the seas. Life everywhere!
But–" Lawrence bent closer to the screen. "– There’s no sign of
Captain Lawrence sat back down in her command
seat. "Lieutenant Somerville, place the ship into a polar orbit. I
want to survey every inch of the planet."
"Aye, aye, Sir"
Lawrence and a small landing party beamed down to
the planet surface to take a look. Within thirty minutes Stryker was
summoning the party back aboard the PHOENIX.
"What is it, Commander?" Lawrence asked as she
gathered her group around her.
"There is a… unexplained and unstop… drain i… th…
ship’s engines, w… the … increasing in ra…. Communications…
"Beam them up, Ensign Lanakai!" Stryker ordered
the Transporter officer.
Within three hours, communications were
completely gone, the transporters were inoperative, and both warp
and impulse engines were dead. Stryker and Lawrence stared at each
other across the Captain’s conference table on the Bridge.
"I don’t see that you have any choice, Captain,"
Stryker said softly. "The PHOENIX can only stay in orbit for six
more weeks before it enters the atmosphere and life support will be
gone long before that. At least the shuttles are still working—why,
nobody knows, but they are."
Captain Tanya Elizabeth Lawrence closed her tired
eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn’t find an alternative
either. Lose my ship or lose my ship and my crew. There’s
not much choice. She murmured, "Starship commanders are to
consider their crew’s lives as sacred and will place the crew’s
lives and well-being above the ship’s safety...."
Stryker nodded. "General Order Number 5."
Her mind made up, T.E. opened her eyes. "Very
well, Commander. Begin the evacuation of PHOENIX immediately."
Stryker stood up.
"Strip the ship, Commander. I want anything and
everything that we even remotely think might come in handy to go to
the planet’s surface. If it’s not bolted down, it goes. If it is
bolted down, unbolt it!"
Silently, Wolf nodded and turned to begin the
process that would leave a proud ship gutted and floating in space,
waiting to die a fiery and ignominious death.
Little did the crew of the PHOENIX know the
dangers that lay ahead!