USS Excelsior at Warp 9.6
Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 47209.0
Captain Matsumoto Sulu
We press on ever deeper into the Shackleton Expanse, chasing down this intriguing signal. It does feel a bit hasty, flying at high warp straight into the unknown, maybe missing so much as we fly past system after system, all still uncharted by any Federation hand. Science Officer Rekan and his team keep to the sensors, sweeping as we go. But I’m an explorer at heart, and while we are exploring I’d rather be more thorough.
But that can’t be helped.
This signal, and the advanced sphere we’ve already found, tell us of a highly advanced civilisation that could hold so many wonders, such potential for learning, for adventure! Tracking them down and making first contact must be our top priority. And doing so before the Romulans is equally important: the Warbird commander’s demands that the sphere and the space around it were Romulan territory were a clear demonstration of their imperialist intent! I was right to stand up to him, to be belligerant, to rattle Excelsior’s sabre a little bit…
But, blunting the ongoing threat of the Romulans is critical, especially in this new system we’ve just found. We tracked the signal here, to one of the inner planets. The source appears to be deep underground on a lovely M Class planet orbiting a warm main sequence star: it reminds me of home. The planet is inhabited by a semi-intelligent pre-industrial bipedal species, that most amusingly resemble Terran bears or pandas!
They seem to have a fascinating culture, about as advanced as the human Mayan or late Egyptian civilisations – I’d love to spend more time studying them. But with the Prime Directive ringing in my ears we pressed on with the task of tracking down the signal’s source without disturbing them at all. Rekan’s scans showed that the planet’s mantle was very dense, and my Tellarite Chief Engineer, Resh glov Pend, advised that beaming under the surface would be far too risky.
That was a pity: a mission to find the cave system and find the signal on foot would obviously risk exposing us to the “Lovely Pandas”, as the crew have taken to calling them. Despite our best efforts it was almost inevitable we would be seen.
When it happened we were seen by two creatures: we disturbed them at what seemed to be prayer at the cave entrance. My solution, I think, was a good one. As soon as I knew they must see us I had them beamed up, but not re-materialised – they were held in stasis in the transporter carrier wave, until we were done. It was a good job very well done by young Engineer Tokhtakhounov: he had to play the transporter like a grand piano while we were on the surface, to keep the Pandas’ signal together, and keep the creatures alive. We certainly limited the damage done by the exposure and I hope, when they re-materialised, they were just a bit confused and put the glimpse that they saw of us down to too much of whatever intoxicants they like to drink or smoke!
After that excitement finding the source of the signal was pretty easy, with the exception of the giant cave bats that took a huge bite out of my uniform – that could have been much worse than a torn and bloody red shirt! Once again, as soon as we found the source, the signal shut off and Excelsior detected another – the next leg of the trip, so it seems!
We are still days, if not a week, ahead of the chasing Romulans, thanks to the power of Excelsior’s warp engines. But as we prepared to depart I worried deeply about the fate of the Pandas when the Romulans arrived, as they surely would: it’s clear that their determination to track down this signal is as strong as ours, albeit their motivation might be different. The option of remaining here to ward off the Romulans and protect the Pandas would undoubtedly result in conflict: I doubt very much that the Romulan Captain, Nurama, would even believe me if I explained what we had done and freely gave him the new signal – he would assume treachery; and trying to fight them off would be the last of last resorts.
But my crew are as brilliant as they are troublesome, and came up with the idea to try and re-create the signal by dropping a transponder deep into the atmosphere of the red Gas Giant that orbits this system. A brilliant idea, considering that the alien signal has stopped, and by replacing it we might lead the Romulans the way we want. If it keeps them from taking too close a look at the other planets, and keeps the Pandas safe for now, it will have done its job. Another example of the ingenuity of my crew, and a big pat on the back for all of us!
Now, with the decoy beeping away, we are off after the new signal. As exciting as this all is I’m starting to feel that we’re being led by the nose deeper and deeper into the unknown. We have assumed that the civilisation behind this will be friendly and welcome us warmly. I keep Starfleet well up to date with regular and frequent dispatches, just in case…