These are the voyages of the USS Burketown. Her mission: to discover strange new worlds, meet new civilisations and to carry out her Federation orders despite being cobbled together from two different vessels, having lost its Captain and being run by a skeleton crew.
The distress signal of a crashed ship sends the crew searching for survivors in an uncharted alien jungle.
The humid jungle air rang with the chirp of a thousand insects. Jutting through the dark, verdant foliage stood an outcrop of rock, the only feature to break the rolling canopy for several kilometres. Atop this rock, three blue columns of light flashed into existence. The columns grew, flickered and died quickly, leaving three figures standing above the jungle expanse.
Two of the figures were human, male and female. Both carried large packs, sidearms, and wore the uniforms and badges of Starfleet Officers. The third figure was humanoid in general shape, but had eight limbs instead of the human-standard four, and its Starfleet combadge was pinned to the dark purple fur which covered its entire torso. The trio surveyed the area.
“That way,” said Dr. Lojika, pointing. In her hand, the tricorder chirped away, confusing the local insects. “The signal is weak, but it’s definitely coming from that direction.”
“How far?” asked Lt. Scates, checking his equipment. He reflexively loosened his phaser in the holster at his hip.
“No idea,” Dr Lojika replied. “I think the jungle is messing with my scans. But definitely that way.”
Beside them, the furry purple creature, named “421”, bounded forward over the rocks, scrambling downwards with a cry of “Let’s go!” Rolling their eyes and settling their packs on their shoulders, Scates and Dr. Lojika followed their companion into the jungle.
“Don’t worry,” Scates explained as the trio wound their way through the undergrowth, “If anything is hunting us, you probably won’t hear it before it gets you.” Behind him, the Doctor and 421 exchanged concerned glances but said nothing.
As he cut the trail for the rest of the group, Lt. Scates couldn’t help but admire the unique flora and fungi that filled the jungle. The Federation database listed this as an unexplored planet, and Scates stopped occasionally to collect samples of fungi that had fallen naturally to the ground. The variety of fungoid forms around him was so exciting that it overwhelmed his laconic nature, and he began pointing out the interesting details of the purple, red and iridescent green fungi that grew in clumps over the wood, mud and rock of the jungle floor. This wealth of knowledge came as a surprise to Lt. Scates’ companions, who until now had known nothing of his secret passion to one day become a renowned botanist. In the mean time, Scates returned his attention to the mission at hand, and continued leading the party through the heavy jungle terrain.
It was several hours trek before the group found the first sign of the downed ship. A small section of jungle canopy had been ripped away, sending a shaft of bright sunlight down into the clearing made by the crashed shuttle. It took some time for their eyes to adjust to the brightness, after their hours beneath the dim canopy, but as they began to see more details of the ship they noticed several important things; that the ship was of a strange alien design, that the rear hatch was laying open, and that an outline of a humanoid form was slumped over the controls in the cockpit.
Who could the ship belong to, and what could have caused this crash landing? Is the figure in the cockpit alive or dead? Find out next time!