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.
Will a distraction keep the locals busy while the team confronts their quarry in the caves?
The silence hung heavy after the Chieftain’s angry outburst. “Your companion disobeyed my wishes,” he repeated. “He entered the caves, where none may go.”
“Do you know why he would disobey you? Where is this forbidden cave?” Lt. Scates asked. He was a seasoned security officer, and he knew diplomacy wasn’t his speciality, but the Bajoran he was tracking was hurt and may be carrying a deadly plague.
The Chieftain rose from his throne. The alien was shorter than Scates, but he was muscular and wore animal hides that bolstered his stature. From his forehead, a pair of horns protruded, the largest Scates had seen among the villagers.
“There is a path south of the village,” the Chief said. “It leads to the forbidden caves, but you must not go there. Do not disobey me.”
“I will obey your wishes. I will not follow him down the southern path,” replied Scates with a bow. “Come, let us sit together. Tell me of your people. What are these plants you are preparing?”
Hidden in the jungle nearby, Dr Lojika observed the crowd gathered around the Chieftain’s hut. The villagers were so engrossed with Scates’ arrival that she and her companion, the eight-legged furry purple alien named 421, hadn’t been noticed. The conversation inside the Chieftain’s hut was being relayed across an open comm channel. ” I think Scates is trying to keep them busy,” the Doctor said to her companion. “Should we go on without him?”
“He doesn’t seem to be in danger, and he mentioned a path to the south,” said 421, peering through the foliage. “We should find it and follow Hiktok Mu. Lt Scates can take care of himself.”
Circling around the village, and taking care to avoid any more snare traps, Dr Lojika and 421 located the southern path and followed it as it sloped gently upward. A group of rocky hills shortly came into view. The path struck out towards one rocky rise, topped with a roughly conical outcropping and the path lead to a cave mouth at the base of this curious formation.
421, whoes race evolved on a mountainous planet, relished the climb. The rocky slopes reminded it of the home that it hadn’t seen in several decades. 421 eagerly scampered along the path and ducked inside the cave opening. Dr Lojika followed close behind.
Inside the cave mouth, a dark tunnel led them downwards before opening out to reveal an enormous natural cavern. It was well-lit inside. A brilliant radiance shone from something in the centre of the vast space. Near the light, a figure in Bajoran religious garb stood with arms outstreched, chanting.
Dr Lojika readied her phaser as they reached the cavern floor. The priest was unaware of their arrival at first, but after a few moments the brilliant light began to dim and he slowly turned around.
“Put your gun away,” he spoke, softly. “You do not need it in this holy place.”
“Hiktok Mu, it is you!” said 421. “Do you remember me? We met many years ago, on my repair station. What are you doing here, and what is that?”
“I have searched the entire quadrant for this treasure,” the priest explained. He gestured to the trapezoid box on a stone pedestal at the centre of the cavern. The box was open, revealing a glowing, rotating shape inside.
“It is an Orb of the Prophets, my friends. Come, look upon it and behold the holy visions it has to show you.”
As he finished speaking, the brilliant light flashed and Dr Lojika and 421 were unable to look away. The radiance grew from the orb, enveloping them…
What would the visions show Dr Lojika and 421? Was Hiktok Mu suffering from the deadly Bajoran plague? Find out next time!