The Lost Kingdom (cont.)
Entering the cargo bay, Sanjay stopped and looked up at the flying elephant cruising the top half of the bay. Shaking his head, he made his way over to Korlu and his techs. “What have you got?” he asked.
“Korlu shook his porcine head. “It’s a bio-mimetic coating of some sort.” A large snake slid past the techs, whispering to itself. Korlu absentmindedly side-stepped it as he continued his report. “Whatever is happening, the sheath becomes thinner whenever one of these things appears. Then it grows in the real sense of the word and gets thicker again. Then something else spawns off of it and wanders out the door. I’ve seen at least three young, human females, a fish with a crown that didn’t last too long, a dragon and an old woman who insisted we eat the red fruit in her hand. We had to stun her,” he said, gesturing off into a corner. Sanjay could see an old lady in a black robe splayed out on the deck, unconscious. An apple lay near her hand. “Captain, what the hell is going on?”
Sanjay grimaced. “I don’t know, Chief, but I think it has something to do with whatever that thing is that you are working on. I want your team armed with phasers. If this is what I think it is, there could be some fairly dangerous creatures, uh, ‘spawning’ from that bio-mimetic sheath. And contact Mr. Burke’s second. Tell her to find that snake that just left here. I’m not worried about someone getting bitten but I don’t need a mutiny on my hands.” Korlu looked at him oddly for a moment and then began shouting out orders. Sanjya exited the cargo bay and headed for the turbolift. He reached for the control pad and then hesitated for a moment, his hand poised in midair.
Shaking his head, he tapped the ‘OPEN’ button. When the lift opened he waited long enough to check the car out before stepping in. “Bridge,” he said. The turbolift shot off to the Bridge and spit Sanjay out in time to see two squirrels, a mouse, a skunk and a rabbit make a beeline around his feet and into the turbolift before the doors closed. A pair of bluebirds were flitting around the top of the dome ceiling. Sanjay sighed and took his seat.
“T’Mon, do we have the traced projection of the object’s path? Can we backtrack it to the point of origin?”
The First Officer consulted his records screen. “Yes, Captain. We have a possible trajectory out to forty light years, based on the Hermes’s original sensor records.”
Sanjay thought for a moment. “Very good. Take us to the last known point of origin, maximum warp.”
Twenty-seven hours later Sanjay had slept and returned to the Bridge. The Cochrane was approaching the object’s point of origin. The navigator, Ensign Byrd, looked up.
“Sir, we are as far as we can go. The Hermes’s sensors weren’t strong enough to penetrate beyond this point.” When Sanjay didn’t answer Byrd looked back at him. “Sir, what do you want me to do?”
“We’ll wait here,” Sanjay replied, stroking his beard. “Chief Korlu, cut the bio-mimetic sheath off of the object. Use whatever you need to make it happen, short of destroying the machinery underneath.”
“Aye, Captain,” came the reply. “Uh, sir, a large, striped, feline spawned off of the sheath. We had to kill it-it was aggressive beyond belief. I’m sorry, sir.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about. You did what you had to do,” Sanjay replied.
Korlu opened the circuit but hesitated before he spoke, “Sir, it talked to us as it attacked.” He paused and then, “I’m sorry, sir, we had no choice.”
Sanjay contemplated Kipling and the vagaries of the universe. “Chief,” he said, his face a mask, “Don’t worry about it. You did the right thing. Take my word for it, that cat was a sheer killer. Sanjay out.”
The Bridge was quiet, except for the two bluebirds dancing around the ceiling. Sanjay waited for Korlu’s next report.
“Captain, we’ve cut the sheath free of the, well, thing. It looks like a coffin, sir. Mostly transparent aluminum. The design is so antiquated, I’m surprised it’s still working. Definitely Human technology but very old. Sir, we tossed the sheath aside. Something is trying to spawn but…,” here the Chief sounded puzzled, “It’s like it’s struggling.”
Sanjay looked at T’Mon. “Captain,” the Vulcan said, “It may have something to do with proximity to the inhabitant of the cryogenic capsule.” Sanjay nodded.
“Chief,” Sanjay said, “Move the sheath as far as you can away from the capsule. That might alleviate the spawning problem.”
“Captain…” The tone in T’Mon’s voice made Sanjay focus. “We have two large vessels…Captain, I’m not sure what they are doing but they are coming into proximity with us.” On the view screen the two ships, easily the size of a standard Starfleet space station, shimmered into view. A voice boomed through the ship’s communication system.
“Why have you stopped the dreaming?” A figure appeared on the screen. It lacked a neck, although it seemed to be humanoid. A half-dome composed its head. It had only a mouth and what passed for eyes. The skin was grey, and it wore no clothing that could be discerned.
“The dreaming?” Sanjay asked.
“You have stopped the dreaming. Why? We found this Dreamer drifting and gave it the means to feel it’s dreams. Why have you interfered?” The figure showed no signs of emotion but the universal translator conveyed anger.
“Uh, if you could give us a little bit of time to evaluate our data I will give you an answer. There are many unknowns here.”
The figure on the screen contemplated for a moment and said, “Do not waste time as this state is difficult for us. We must soon return to the dreaming.” It vanished abruptly.
Sanjay looked at T’Mon in astonishment. “T’mon, this has been a very weird day. My brain is dead. What did he just say?”
“Sir, I believe that what he is saying was a statement about his race. Perhaps they live in a dream state and functioning on a level that allows them to interact with us is unnatural to them.” T’Mon looked intrigued.
“Is that possible,” Sanjay asked, “to perceive reality from a dream-state?”
“It would not be impossible. Many beings that we refer to as mentally ill perceive their reality in a fugue or dream-like existence but if that was the natural way for your race, adjusting to our way of consciousness would be…like making yourself intentionally insane. We should hurry with our analysis of the current situation-I doubt these beings can communicate with us for long.”
Sanjay slapped his com badge, “Korlu, what do you have for me?”
“Sir, I don’t know much about Human history. I’m going to let Ensign Sanderson explain what we have found.”
Ensign Sanderson began to speak in a hesitant way. ”Captain, the cryo unit has a plaque welded to it. Sir, have you ever been to Disneyland over in Paris?”
Sanjay thought of a warm summer day with his parents, a day he had wished would never end. “Yes, Ensign, I’ve been there.”
“Sir, the plaque says: ‘Walter Elias Disney, 1901-1966’. Sir, I thought he was a myth.”
“I guess there really was a Disney, Ensign. Chief, has one of the doctors examined the, um, body?”
“Korlu cut back in. “Yessir. This guy is totally dead. His body didn’t survive the cryogenic procedure. It was pretty primitive technology, sir.”
T’Mon interrupted. “Captain, the dead brain of some humanoids, including Humans, can retain engrams beyond death if they are cryogenically suspended. It is possible that these people have used a technology that taps into that.”
Sanjay looked at him. “So you think all of these manifestations are the dead dreams of a dead man?”
T’Mon gestured at the bluebirds pinwheeling around each other near the ceiling. “That is a possibility, sir.”
After Sanjay contacted them and explained that the Dreamer they had ‘helped’ was, in fact, deceased, the Dreamers had vanished the bio-mimetic sheath and all traces of the manifestations from the Cochrane. They did not use a transporter. Their ships shimmered away soon after.
Sanjay went down to the cargo bay. When he entered, Ensign Sanderson was standing near the cryo unit.
“Hello, Captain,” he said. His hand rested on the sarcophagus.
“Ensign,” Sanjay responded. “I went there, too. I’ve seen the Magic Kingdom.” His voice sounded wistful. “I can’t help but wonder what he might have created with the tools we could have given him. It’s a shame the technology wasn’t good enough to save him. I would have liked to have seen the castles he would have built.”
Sanderson just watched him as he rubbed his hand on the sarcophagus, touching the plaque with a reverence.