Iota Crucis IV, 2267
’s away team found upon materializing on Iota Crucis IV was nothing short of impressive. The L-class planet had been considered by Starfleet as barely inhabitable but apparently that hadn’t stopped the Xenarth to make it their home. And they had done so with surprising effort, considering Queen Selphi’s own admission that this world had never been their destination, nor did they plan to stay here for long. At least if it were up to their current Supreme.
Even more astonishing was what the Xenarth had achieved after only having arrived on this world a few years prior.
The rusty-red and rocky surface had been repurposed with huge, transparent domes, the largest of which were a good three hundred meters tall. The Xenarth worked and dwelled within the habitats in structures of various size. Most buildings were spiral-shaped, built in a corkscrew design and arranged in what looked like circular pattern with the tallest building close to the center of the habitat and surrounded on all sides by steadily lower structures. It almost gave it the appearance as if they had tried to emulate the look of an old-fashioned circus tent, made up of dozens of buildings, each one gleaming in uniform, metallic silver.
Each of the transparent domes was connected by an extensive network of equally transparent tubes, snaking along the surface in every which direction. The tubes not only provided wide walkways to easily reach the closer habitats, a rapid moving bullet-style train ran at the center to allow quick travel to other sets of habitats located further away.
Towering over the settlements was one single, massive structure. At least twice as high as the tallest habitat and painted in dark black, it bulged outwards towards the top not unlike an umbrella, trying to protect the domes below. This, Bob Wesley had learned, was the newest incarnation of the Star Portal. The same device which had brought the Xenarth to this world and which was to be used once again to allow them to depart as well.
Commodore Wesley and his landing party consisting of Commander Kuznetsov, Doctor Vincent, Commander Zha’Tara, Lieutenant Mtolo and Doctor Bendes Ketteract were treated to a great view to all of this from their beam in location within a dome on top of a small mountain range at least five kilometers from the nearest cluster of habitats.
“This is amazing,” said the Andorian science officer, standing next to her colleagues and taking in the sight presented to them in the valley below. “And you built all of this within only three years?”
Queen Selphi, who had greeted their arrival, and now stood nearby answered promptly. “The Star Portal transphased most of the materials we needed to re-build the Colony from Xenarth Prime. And while we lost a great many sisters and brothers in the process, we’ve always had a very dedicated work force. And those who remained, quickly took to the task of building a new home for us here,” she sounded noticeably proud by what they had been able to achieve. “The structures on the surface are only part of what makes up our Colony. Each of the larger domes also has extensive subterranean dwellings which you are not able to see from this vantage point.”
“Like busy little ants,” said Vincent quietly as he too let his gaze wander across the settlement blow.
“Hardly little,” said Mtolo.
“How many of these settlements are there, Selphi?” asked Wesley.
The Artisan Queen had been quick to point out that her name was all that was acquired when addressing her. “There are twelve main settlements across this continent of which this one is the largest,” she said. “If it were up to some, we’d built many more on Xentarra.”
Selphi gestured the team to follow her towards one of the corkscrew shaped buildings within the dome and the landing party followed.
Wesley had not missed the fact that they had been practically surrounded by armed guards form the moment they had arrived. They were distinctive by a golden moon-shaped symbol on their simple tunics which differed from the crescent symbol on Selphi’s dress. The guards carried spears which appeared to be more sophisticated at second glace and kept a respectful distance. He could tell however by their stances and their erect feelers that they were on high alert. He doubted that the Xenarth had come across many, if any visitors since their arrival on this world.
He and his landing party quickly followed the Artisan Queen and the guards were close behind. “Xentarra? Is this was you have named this word?” he asked.
“It is the name Supreme Ergia has chosen,” she said and not doing a great job at hiding her disapproval. “It is an ancient term of my people which translates to ‘Place In-Between’.”
Vincent nodded in understanding. “The place in-between where you came from and where you’re trying to get to,” he said. “This Xendaru, was it?”
“Yes,” she said sadly as they stepped into the building. “Ergia is more determined than ever that we will reach Xendaru this time. She is convinces that an error in our original calculations landed us here by mistake but that this time we will end up in the right place.”
“You do not sound convinced of this,” said the Russian first officer.
She jerked her head slightly. “I fear that we are more likely to wipe ourselves out of existence than be able to transphase again. The Xendaru particle is far too unpredictable to be a reliable means of transportation. I am convinced our first transphase was pure luck. That is if you believe that losing more than half of the Colony can be considered lucky.”
“That’s why I’m here,” said Ketteract. “I will help your people to stabilize the Omega molecule so that you’ll be able to go on your marry way to wherever it is you are hoping to go.”
“Doctor, with all due respect,” said Vincent. “The Xenarth have had decades to study this molecule. You’ve had days. What makes you think that you’d be able to succeed where the Xenarth have failed.”
Ketteract looked almost hurt by the doctor’s implication. “No disrespect to our hosts,” he said and shot the tall insectoid a quick look. “But I have made incredible advances in quantum physics over the last two decades and I have long speculated of the existence of a super-particle like what we’ve found here. Applying my groundbreaking research to the Xenarth’s own findings, I am absolutely convinced, my dear doctor, that I will find a way to not only stabilize Omega but harness its power for the safe use for countless practical applications. Without exaggerating, I believe you are all about to be witnesses to a revolution in the making.”
“Without exaggerating?” mumbled Mtolo and shot the others an incredulous look.
Zha’Thara replied with a little smirk to let the security officer know that they were getting used to the scientists’ relentless hyperbole.
Selphi let her alien visitors enter a lift which was too small to allow for their entourage to follow. The Artisan Queen turned to the landing party after the doors had closed behind them and the lift had begun to move downwards. “I must make you aware of the precarious situations we find ourselves in at this moment in time,” she said. “While Supreme Ergia may be determined to move forward with her plans to make use of the Star Portal once more, Queen Quelphi and her followers have made their opposition to this plan known quite publicly and relations between the castes are more strained than they have ever been in the past.”
“Are you concerned that it could turn violent?” said Wesley.
Selphi didn’t respond to this straight away, perhaps because she hadn’t considered that question before. “For a queen to turn against the Aggregate and the decree of the Supreme is unheard of,” she finally said.
“But you said it yourself, the risks of using your Xendaru particle are enormous,” said Vincent and immediately raised his hand to stifle a comment he expected from Ketteract on that subject. The scientist closed his mouth wisely and the chief surgeon continued. “Perhaps this warrior queen of yours is right to try and stop this from happening.”
At that Selphi’s antennae noticeably twitched. In indignation or agreement, not immediately apparent. “Don’t misunderstand,” she said. “While I may not fully agree with Ergia on her plans and I do believe that Quelphi’s point of view of trying to make this world our new and permanent home instead warrants further consideration, I do not support the Warrior Queen. I believe her blatant xenophobia and lust for power are as dangerous to our people as Ergia’s obsession with Xendaru. If Quelphi had her way, not only would we abandon the Xendaru particle, she would throw our entire world into a technological and social dark age from which we may never recover.”
The lift arrived at its destination, the doors opened and Selphi promptly disembarked.
landing party remained behind for just a couple of seconds longer, enough time to allow Vincent to shoot his captain an imploring look that seemed to say; see what kind of mess you’ve gotten us into. You should have listened to me and stayed away.
And Robert Wesley was beginning to think that his doctor may have been right all along.