Turn Off the Lights
Up Phoenix Rising Pandemic Intruder Alert! Enya By Starlight Black Ice The HanI’Rhy Mystery Passion Fruit The Object Tombstone Trek City Under Glass The Witch Hunt Spindizzy Turn Off the Lights Trekkin' Flying Cloud What The Hell's... Survival Of The Fittest On The Edge Candescium Blindsided Shore Leave Melissa Wells The Listening Post Nostalgia The Artifact The Darkness Within Let The Games Begin Enemy Action Here's Mud In Your Eye The Tungsten Factor Xanadu Sicilian Defense When Worlds Collide Color Of Justice The Gin Joint Sabotage It's About Time Papa The Willow Race

 

Table Of Contents

Mission 13:  Will the Last One Out Please Turn Off the Lights?

The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a "compilation" under the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code (known as the Copyright Act): that is, "A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." As such, it is the property of the ship’s Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s Captain ipso facto.

As outlined in Circular 1 (Copyrighted Basics, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USGPO 1989-262-309/12), "copyrighted in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution."

This mission may not be reproduced in any form without the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.

Prologue

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 will."

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 PHOENIX!"

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?"

"Enigma."

"Interesting 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 Bridge.

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 atmosphere.

"Now, let’s look at the mineral make up. Maybe we’ll find something new."

Stryker whistled softly. "Look at that! One percent dilithium!"

"Yes, but look at that," Lawrence pointed to a line on the screen. "Ten percent unknown. I’m more interested in that."

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 sentient life."

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… failing…"

"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!