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.
Could a crashed shuttle on an uncharted planet be a link to long-forgotten memories?
Brushing aside a screen of dense foliage, the three Federation officers surveyed the scene of the shuttle crash. Lt Scates, phaser in his hand, stayed alert for any sign of danger. Dr Lojika scanned for life signs, finding none but the crawling biomass of the surrounding jungle. 421, the eight limbed alien engineer, examined the ship itself. Something tugged at a distant memory. Somehow, this ship seemed familiar…
It was clearly not a Federation ship. There were no clean rounded lines to the design, no micro-aerodynamic surfaces typical of Starfleet craft. It was all hard angles and utility, reinforced and reliable. There was no outward sign of what caused the crash.
At the rear of the craft, the boarding hatch lay open, revealing an interior devoid of any artificial light. No readouts flashed at any console, and it was only by dim filtered sunlight that the body was visible. It was propped awkwardly in the pilot’s chair, unmoving.
“Have you seen any ships like this before, 421?” asked Scates as the group moved closer.
The furry humanoid scratched its head in a strangely human gesture. “Yes, of course, yes. But who, when, where? Telarite? Yes? No no no. It’s Bajoran!” cried 421, triumphantly.
“Doesn’t look like any Bajoran shuttle I’ve ever seen.” Scates remarked. His eyes continued to survey the surrounding jungle.
“It’s a special service craft,” explained 421, “Bajoran Vedek Assembly use them. I repaired one once, a long time ago.”
“You met a high priest of the Bajoran faith? What did you think of their teachings?” asked the Doctor.
“I listened,” 421 said with a tilt of its head, “and when they were done I sent them on their way.”
“But their ship was nice, like this one,” continued the engineer, wiping away some foliage to expose the shuttle identity number. As the leaves fell away and the number was revealed, 421 froze, its purple fur bristling.
“What’s wrong?” Scates asked, phaser suddenly in his hand.
“This shuttle… This is the shuttle I repaired all those years ago. The very same one.”
“Who did it belong to back then?”
“A Bajoran missionary named Hiktok Mu. He and two disciples docked at my station for repairs.”
“For your sake, I hope you weren’t close friends,” said Dr Lojika, “because this man is dead. But this is strange. By these readings, this man died before the shuttle crashed! And what is this on his face?”
Under closer examination, Dr Logica’s flashlight revealed the oozing, pustule-covered face of the Bajoran pilot. Even as they watched, some of the open sores weeped pus in yellow rivulets down the dead man’s features.
“What is wrong with him?” Asked 421, reaching toward the man.
“Don’t touch! It’s a disease that is deadly to Bajorans. Humans are unaffected by it but we have no idea what it would do to you. It’s known as the Bajoran Plague. I’ve seen sufferers before, but never such a profound effect. The disease may have mutated in some way.”
A short time later, Lt Scates rejoined his companions inside the shuttlecraft. “I’ve erected a security perimeter and alarm, ” he explained, pointing to a thin metal tripwire around the crash site. The Doctor shared her discovery of the Bajoran Plague, and 421 repeated the story of the past encounter with this ship.
As he listened, Scates noticed something in the dirt outside the entry hatch. Among the fungus, stones and mud he could see a set of booted footprints leading away from the crash.
Was the dead man the Bajoran missionary 421 had met years ago? And what had happened to the survivor who had walked away from the crash? Find out next time!