“It would seem my initial calculations were correct, Captain. No life forms present.”
Jim nodded at Spock’s assessment, eyes taking in the absolute barren emptiness around him. There used to be a colony; a thriving population, cities, 21st century technology, and now…nothing. Higher command had sent the Enterprise to investigate when communication had been lost a few weeks prior. Just out of the blue, all contact ceased.
Jim and Spock had landed a few minutes ago and were shocked by the state of affairs. They hadn’t been expecting total annihilation.
Everything in ruins. Destroyed.
Not a living soul. No bodies either.
They’d walked around curiously, Spock analyzing with his tricorder and Jim looking for survivors. Well, really looking for anyone or anything. But besides the remains of burned out and crumbling buildings, and the dregs of battles begun and ended, they found no evidence of life. This colony just ceased to exist, almost spontaneously. It may have been a civil war, famine, Klingon interference, natural disasters, any number of possibilities and scenarios. Hopefully Spock would be able to provide some answers.
Jim kicked at a rock near his foot, unable to fight the rising level of dread in his chest. He couldn’t exactly put his finger on it. But this place had sent shivers down his spine from the moment him and Spock beamed down.
There was something wrong with this planet.
And he wanted nothing more than to leave that very instant. Turning jerkily, Jim cleared his throat.
“Uh, Mr. Spock. If you are quite done with your readings, I suggest we contact the transporter room...”
“Very well, Captain. I believe I have sufficient data.” Spock paused, looking around him inquisitively. “It would seem most prudent to minimize our time on this planet.”
Jim smiled. “My thoughts exactly Mr. Spock.”
The two began their short walk back towards the clearing they’d beamed down in. Spock continued with his readings and observations, while Jim stared at the destruction around them. The captain ran a hand over the ruins of an old building. He caught his hand on a rough edge, nicking his palm. Hissing in annoyance, and with a heavy sigh, he realized he was much too preoccupied. Preoccupied with what happened to this place and why. The why was killing him. Answers were what he wanted, needed, most now. Things like this didn’t just happen every day.
He stopped briefly to stare at an empty room. A kitchen table was knocked over, chairs upturned, a discarded teddy bear lying in a pile of rubble and dirt. So much upheaval. So much death. It confounded and confused. But why. Why? Jim hastened to catch up with Spock, not wanting to dwell on the family that used to live there and their unknown fates.
At a brisk jog, the captain joined Spock. His pressing desire to leave the planet was increasing with every moment. Even Spock seemed slightly rattled. The pervasive dread that had sunk into Jim’s bones, set his teeth on edge, and itched at his skin was becoming a little too much to handle. It choked him, drowned him. Fear darting and weaving through every fiber of his being. It was a completely foreign and terrifying experience.
Jim was pleased to note that his first officer already had his communicator out and had coordinated their transport back with Mr. Scott.
“Beaming up momentarily, Captain,” Spock briefed as Jim joined him.
The two shared a professional nod.
“Thank you, Mr. Spock. Let’s get out of here.”
As the beam locked onto their location, Jim couldn’t help but feel relieved at their departure. It could not have come any sooner. He could feel the warmth from the transporter begin to divide him into particles and pieces, grabbing him and Spock and their equipment and returning them safely to the Enterprise. But, amidst this partitioning and separating, an odd sensation began to bloom within him. It was different from the beam. This felt too hot in some moments and too cold in others. It stole the air from his lungs and robbed him of his strength, pain mercilessly alight and raging. Consuming.
Before he could truly understand this overwhelming sensation, he and Spock were beamed off the surface of the inhospitable wasteland.