Tales of Starbase 600
The stories here are the result of the on-line Star Trek game played by myself and Jay P. Hailey. Some of thise short pieces are by myself, some are by Hailey. Usually he writes in his version of Trek and I write in mine. I am happy to say that some aspects of my universe have grabbed him enough to inspire a few short pieces. These appear with his gracious permission.
I consider anything that happens in the game to be part and parcel of Epiphany Trek, and I take it into account. Parts of the game have made their way into ST-OM proper as well. A good deal of the plot for Rondo in Green was extracted from game moves in the Phoenixplay game. Some of Jay's characters have had cameos on Epiphany Trek as well.
Bribes and Graft in the Rear
I walked to Anderban's Tasty Treats. I love the way that place smells. I have never found a better environment for a diplomatic meeting. But today I was hoping to avoid a war. Two races so locked into their mindset that they had no way to flex to meet the other side. Two races whos cultural assumptions were almost fatally mismatched, each of whom blithely assumed its rightness in the great scheme of things. If it blew up it wasn't going to be fun.
The City was eerily quiet. The Aneilogs are a telepathic species. I assumed that the air around me was filled with telepathic chatter, laughs and conversation. It was large club and I wasn't invited. Did I even want to be?
The huge brick cooling towers of Fusion Plant One loomed in the background. A fusion reactor built by steam technology, muscle power, and careful use of hand tools. I oriented myself by it and continued. I loved Fusion Plant One. When did one see an industrial revolution age fusion power plant? It was an engineering marvel and sure enough, I marveled.
On the other hand the Aneilogs were building a fusion power plant with steam driven machines and hand tools because the Kliges'chee didn't leave them any other choice. I winced at the extravagant use of Aneilog-hours and the brutal labor involved.
Soon my nose caught the wiff of the waffle cones and the freshly made ice cream of the home of the planetary ruler. I could see why the Ane confused and frustrated diplomats. They had a telepathic mass mind. The All was spoken of in an odd number of contexts. The All could be the ruling body of the Ane, a sort telepathic mass congress where anyone who cared could voice an opinion. The All could be a place where Aneilogs went, away from normal reality. When an Aneilog was firmly in contact with the All he was in a deep state of meditation all but unconscious of the world around him. The All was the Aneilogs' mass communication medium. They had no phones, no radio stations or television. They were building a datanet based on Starfleet technology, but that was mainly to store mathematical information and calculations so they didn't have to redo them mentally every time the subject came up. In some contexts the All was the Aneilogs afterlife. The All was the Aneilogs' racial memory.
Anderban was asked to perform the role of representative of the All to folks who weren't dialed in, like me. It was more convenient for me to consider him the planetary governor. In truth he got the job because when asked he didn't refuse it out right, and could perform the function part time, while pursuing his true avocation - purveyor of ice cream and other tasty treats.
As I approached Anderban's an Aneilog woman I'd never seen before walked casually up to me and handed me a flat crate of cherry tomatoes. She kept walking away, as if nothing had happened.
Bemused, I continued towards Anderban's. As I approached I saw a new addition to his sign. It said "Bribes and Graft in the Rear" I feared the worst. I went around back.
A Ferengi Daimon was there with members of his crew. They had flat crates of radishes, celery, and Vulcan tokra. They also had a chest of gold pressed latinum and exotic gems and jewels.
The Daimon looked about ready to cry. "You won't get in, hoo-man," The Ferengi First officer said.
"Oh?" I asked.
"Anderban is a cruel man. He demands a specific bribe for his favors, but will not tell us what the bribe is." The Ferengi said. He shook his head in admiration of the mean spiritedness.
A Ferengi Nagus would hold up seekers of favor and make them jump through hoops. He had the latinum, the access, the infrastructure to make great things happen. If you wanted some of his valuable time, it was an invitation for him to abuse you.
I quirked my lips. "Interesting. Aneilogs usually go for the radishes." I wasn't making this up. I often smelled radishes on the breath of Gensilan, my Aneilog wife. She approached radishes like Stephanie Anderson approached chocolate... hungrily.
"What do you have there?" The Ferengi officer asked.
"Cherry tomatoes." I said simply. I stepped forward and knocked on Anderban's back door.
The door open quickly. Anderban looked at me with a haughty, almost disdainful face. "Do you have the bribe?"
I held out the flat crate of cherry tomatoes. Anderban took one and ate it carefully as if tasting the quality.
He stood back. "Come in."
I bowed and said "Thank you, Anderban."
The Daimon was shrill at me. "How did you know!? We tried everything! How did you know?"
I couldn't help myself. I gave him my best "Well duh," look and said "They send out memos at about 9am. Didn't you get yours?"
I don't know what a Ferengi having a stroke looks like. But if I had to guess, I'd start from the Daimon's expression. "They send out MEMOS!?"
"Well yes, or else no one would know what to bring." I stepped through Anderban's door, closing it on the outraged Ferengi.
Anerban's grin was wide as we walked into the body of the ice cream shop. Lenilan was working the front counter. She grinned and winked at me. Several other Aneilogs were lapping ice cream and smiling. I heard a three toned fluting laugh.
"Where would you like these?" I asked Anderban, holding up the tomatoes.
"Oh, just set them over there," Anderban waved at the counter.
I abandoned my arcane and difficult to obtain bribe for the planetary leader and sat down across from Anderban in our customary booth.
"Listen, Anderban..." I said.
"What will you have?" He asked with a smile. If I was asked what a basso profundo flute would sound like, I'd guess Anderban's voice. But he had three of them at once. They were harmonized. An Aneilog choir is like nothing else I have ever heard.
"I love your vanilla." I said.
Lenilan began to scoop one for me as soon as I said it.
"What brings you to my shop today, Jay?" Anderban asked.
"Well, the Ferengi are starting to nut up." I said "We've had some incidents at the station. They're as frustated as anyone I have ever seen."
Anderban looked at me for a moment. His expression was eloquent. Then he gave it voice. "Why is this my problem?"
"There aren't enough of us from..." I tripped over it. The Aneilogs considered themselves members of the Federation along with their four legged relatives the Ane. The were all tied into the same All. So to say that my Starfleet crew was from the Federation didn't actually say anything, since Anderban was, by self indentity from the Federation as well. "...Starfleet." I said. It was a nice compromise. I said Starfleet to rhyme with "Home" and "More sane places where things make sense." Anderban also correctly heard Starfleet to rhyme with "A pack of fuddy-duddies without enough sense of humor, and a disturbing tendency to take themselves too seriously."
"There aren't enough of us to smooth things over with the Ferengi." I said. "I know they're irritating, but contact with the Ferengi may prove useful to your world."
"What would you ask of us?" Anderban said. It sounded formal.
"Let up on the Ferengi a little. Give them a break." I said. I couldn't articulate it any better than that.
"Jay, look behind you." Anderban said.
I looked. There were the booths with the rest of the Aneilogs in them. The front of the store. The door was open to allow the smell to waft out and drag customers in by their noses. It all looked perfectly normal to me. "What?" I asked.
Anderban smiled faintly. "The door is wide open. The Ferengi don't have to bribe their way in to speak with me at all. When they approach me directly and openly I'll cheerfully take any offer they like to the All and we'll discuss it."
I sighed at Anderban and smiled slightly myself. It was like talking to a fuzzy, warm brick wall. He just wouldn't get it. "Alright." I said. "Then that's the way it goes."
Lenilan handed me my ice cream. I stood up and took a lick of it. It was very rich, very dense. They gave me a tiny portion that was just right. Just enough to get the taste across my tongue and the feel that I'd had ice cream through me. But no so much it sat heavily.
"I'll be on my way, Sir." I said to Anderban. Anderban is a sweet guy, but sometimes when the Aneilogs know they're right and demand everyone else bend to them, they can get a little annoying. Anderban knew I was frustrated. I could see it. But he wasn't going to budge and he wasn't going to give the Ferengi the satisfaction of telling them what they were missing.
I walked out the back intending to tell the Daimon to just go talk to Anderban and see what happened. I opened the door with Anderban right behind me. Again I felt that he knew what I was up to, and despite the fact that the entire Aneilog population didn't think so, he was going to be a fair sport about me deciding enough was enough.
The Ferengi weren't there. The crates of vegetables were there. I noted the latinum and jewels were gone.
"Wonderful!" Anderban said, his musical voice carrying pleasure "They left the radishes."
The worst part was that I couldn't help but to play jokes on them myself. The Ferengi just asked for it so hard.
I wondered what the Aneilog/Ferengi war was going to look like. I couldn't see any way to avoid it.
Anderban looked at me with a mouth full of radishes. **Do what it takes to avert the war.** He thought to me. **We'll be good.**
"Thank you, Anderban." I said. I liked the Aneilogs, but they were nothing if not stubborn.
Now to see if the Daimon was feeling any more reasonable.
Bribes and Graft in the Rear -- Jay P. Hailey, December 2004
The Emerald Palace of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz reached into the skies, art deco grandiosity. I was on my way to talk with Anderban again. Getting ice cream was only secondary, I promise.
A cackling figure roared through the sky on a broom, sky writing with holographic smoke "Surrender Dorothy". From vaguely just out of sight, the sound track from the early 20th century movie "The Wizard of Oz" played. It was surreal and strange, but fun in a Disneyland sort of way. The Cowardly Lion laughed abashedly at a comment from an Aneilog girl and made bashful gestures with the end of his tail.
Anderban's Ice Cream & Tasty Treats was still right where it always was. But they'd built the Emerald Palace on the back of it, like an add on. If you didn't know where to look, you might miss Anderban's ice cream shop in the aggressive art decco of the palace. But I knew like all the Aneilogs did. Anderban's was the real place. The Emerald Palace was the after thought.
Something caught my eye. About a block away in a new open area in a street intersection there was a statue. I stopped and looked at it. It was a huge bronze statue of a fish. I felt my head tilt to the side. The Aneilogs were pretty aggressive about their humor. I worked hard not to lose my stride or self possession. The Aneilogs took this as a challenge. So I knew something was up as I walked towards the statute with curiosity poking me in the side.
The statute was about four meters long. It must have been a ton and a half of bronze or more. The fish it depicted was flat and ugly. Water spit from it's mouth in a nice foutain. I walked around the statue. I'd have to ask Carlos Mendez about the artistry when he got back from his latest tour with the Discovery. But it looked well crafted to me. It was resting on a baroque pedestal in a pool made of swooping concrete. The concrete had swirls in it. After a moment I realized it was meant to suggest water in the art decco style that the Aneilogs found so amusing. As I got around the the opposite side of the statue looking back at the Emerald Palace, I saw a plaque. The bronze looked hand worked. Each detail was subtly different, so it wasn't machined or faked. Someone shaped this giant ugly fish into that shape painstakingly by hand.
I stepped up and looked at the Plaque. It said -
I snerked. I couldn't help
it. I looked down at the ground. This was the Aneilog-iest thing I'd
ever seen. This was the Aneilog mind in one large ugly bronze statue,
loving sculpted in exquisite detail, to really, really sell a cheesy
Anderban and I were going
over a collection of PADDs with details about the development of the
space infrastructure of Oz.
**Jay, have you ever considered fathering a child?**
I lay on the bed, our bed, and stared at the ceiling. Gensilan was cuddled against me twining her fingers through the hair on my chest, pressing her breasts against my side, softly pressing her mound against my leg, waiting for an answer. My mind was churning, gears stripping. I have faced off against Klingon warlords, dealt with ship-swallowing spacial anomalies, even (shudder) talked to god-like beings. Yet there I lay unable to form a coherent thought in the presence of a broody woman.
"Ummm.... This is something you'd like to do with... me?" My voice squeaked in a most unmanly manner.
**Yes, why would I ask you if I didn't want you?**
"Well, yes, that...." I rolled to face her. "I didn't think you could, do that the old fashion way."
"I can't. One of the shortcomings of a biomech body. I can however start a new RI, like Serilan.**
I knew Serilan, her cute, precocious Ane child. Another of the Ane computer people. One day I came home and there she was. I was at a total loss over how it was done. "Would you borrow my mind for that, or what?"
**Hardly borrowing, we do it together, the new, and old fashion way. The gift to a child must come from both parents. Some of me, some of you, the best of both. Remember when you told me there ought to be Aneilog RIs?**
Gen rolled up and bounced off the bed. I like watching her bounce. She gently lifted a bundle from the deep arm chair by the bed and brought it back. She worked back into a close snuggle. and opened the blanket. **Here it is. First of it's kind, but not until we start it, together.** The bundle in her arms was an Aneilog child, eyes closed, breathing softly.
"Oh my God." I breathed. I looked at the little creature in our arms. My guts were wrenched. What would happen if I said no? I felt dizzy, vertigo threatened. "I have no idea what to do." I barely whispered, unwilling to wake the child.
**She isn't a person yet. It's only potential. To make her real we have to give part of ourselves, our innermost self. I will guide and help you do it, if it is what you want.**
I swallowed the bile that wanted to rise. One hand the idea was wonderful, joyous. No woman has ever offered me this. I was giddy. On the other hand I was as scared as a rabbit facing a fox. I swallowed working up enough moisture to speak. "What do we need to to do?"
**Relax and let me work.**
Gensilan/I were/was floating
in a gray place filled with images, colors, sounds, smells and the
memory of touches. There was almost no difference between us. Only the
memory of that difference. I knew I had to keep that up. To absorb
someone else's identity was a massive faux pax among the Ane. Also I
liked Jay and wanted him as him, an active, living being, capable of
thinking and doing and being in his wonderful, strange way.
**Mommy? Daddy? Can we wake up now? I want to see the world!**
**I need a Starfleet uniform, current style, full Admiral.**
**It has been a few years.**
**One Vice Admiral Hailey has lost his firewall on Oz. I have been asked to step in.**
**Uniform is ready.**
Jerry entered his bedroom. Elizabeth was stretched out on the bed in all her glory. Jerry shucked the caftan he was wearing to put on the uniform.
**However the current crisis is not. Please have the Serendipity sent out to meet me at Starbase 600. Aleilan and I are taking the Express.**
I lay in a bed of cotton
wool. At least that is how it felt. I felt fragile, over used. The last
thing I remembered was the Klingon, and certain raciest remarks.
Jerry walked into the
Admiral's office on Starbase 600. He logged himself in and stopped.
The white washed out into
colors, muted colors to be sure. I was really seeing this. I hadn't
felt this way in years, in fact, since the morning after my last drunk.
I realized why I didn't miss it anymore.
Jerry told his body to mind its manners as he came around the desk.
I sat at the table and ate
for the first time in over a week. My body still felt as if I had been
carefully beaten by a Klingon heavyweight determined to not kill me,
but make me wish I was dead. At that I still didn't feel very well
attached to my body. That worried me. My guardians were always near me.
I could actually feel them better than see them. If I closed my eyes I
could tell right were they where.
Jerry looked at the Emerald
Palace, and shook his head. He had heard about Coventry in the All, but
the newly renamed Oz was taking the usual Ane love of a joke to
excesses he had never seen. Aleilan walked beside him with a couple of
Aleilog kids riding her back.
Ashilan, I was starting to
hate her. Starfleet marines could take lessons in inflicting pain from
this woman, and she never had to touch me.
Admiral LaSaille looked at
the Klingon across his desk. "/Captain Bahd'ash. If you and you crew
cannot be a positive force in this sector you will return to Gowron at
I lay back on our bed, my
heart pounding. The female orgasm is an intense, whole-body experience,
and I was getting the full effect for the first time. Gensilan was
spooned against my body shivering with the afterglow. Our minds still
mingled I was in a happy place.
Thunder, you could feel it through the rocks as the sea pounded ashore. Salt laced the spray filled air and the spray beaded on his bare skin. Anderban shivered, cold in the chill of the false dawn. Chill aside, he was not moving. He had come a long way to sit on this rock, to see and feel what was about to come.
Another had brought him to this lonely rock on the edge of the sea. There was no road, there was no track. Long generations before the Rishians have stripped him and his kind of the ability to teleport to give them hands. Anderban suppressed the anger that wanted to rise at the thought that they would take what the creator gave. He was what he was. Nothing could change that. He had a reason to be here, and such thoughts were not in accord with his purpose. His overmind suppressed them, and he waited.
The sky turned from rose to blue. The sea birds rose in the new light, their cries mixing with the thunder of the waves. With a sudden flash El Nanth broke the horizon. Anderban's eyes turned a solid blue and his third eyelid flicked across his eye instinctively. Slowly the distant sun rolled up the sky and bathed his body with light and heat. He could feel the tingle of its harsh light against his skin.
For the first time in his long life Anderban sat in the light of the sun he was born to live beneath.
The Sun -- Garry Stahl, September 2005 Necessity
The ADF Necessity ghosted into STB-600. A sleek new stingray class out of El Nanth shipyards. Admiral Hailey looked up from the report in his hands. A report that both elated him, and came as a crushing blow. Hailey was a starship bunny, and he was the first to admit it. The Stingray was a class he had never seen before, although he had read of them. There seemed little reason to not have a closer look.
The small Necessity
crew stood at the dockside supervising her resupply. Old, every one of
the all Ane crew had to be over three hundred years old, the long
crossed horns, the dried look to their faces. Hailey walked up to
The sensor reading from the
Coventry Subspace Array played out. The planet split with sufficient
force that the shock wave sent rocks heaving throughout the system.
I sat in a lounge and stared blankly out into space. Renaisance station stretched out into the distance. It looked larger than a planet. It was much much smaller than a planet of course. But you expect planets to be large. You don't expect a space station to stretch off into the distance.
I wasn't really looking.
I understood the mission of the Necessity. It made perfect sense. I'd felt a very mild echo of the madness and death the Rishan race maker left in its wake on Oz. I'd also felt an old lady Aneilog make the cross over. She happened to catch me and use me as a cane as she painfully shuffled to the sickbay to donate her body to science. She went from this side and what the Ane call Sensate Life to the other side, The All. The Ane didn't die. They became part of the great telepathic mass mind of the Ane.
So the old timers of the Necessity just elected to endure an uncomfortable trip and then make a deliberate cross over to kill a thing that hurt them more than English could ever describe. Yeah. I got that. It was a Kamikaze mission, but that wasn't all that big a committment for the Ane.
I stared out the window. I wasn't going to die.
I arrived in a beat up old starship, with a beat up patchwork crew, and found Coventry on it's knees. Now I commanded the second biggest starbase ever over a rollicking Federation central node. Everyone was having a good time, and I was never going to die.
It creeped me out. Humans aren't built to go on forever. We had a couple of old timers on Renaissance Station. One was a thousand years old and it made him weird. I'd never really understand him.
Would I ever really understand me? Eventually I would be part of The All. What would I do with myself? What was it like?
Gensilan tickled my mind.
**Hey,** I said.
**You can ask. You wouldn't be the first human in the All.** She said.
I sighed. **True**.
After a while I went ahead and seperated myself from Gensilan on the conscious level. I didn't think I could let her go subconsciously anymore.
I hate going to The All by myself. It always feels like I am going into someone else's church and talking too loud. I had to take ownership of it. I was as Ane as I would ever get now. It was waaayyyyy to late to back out now, by almost a decade.
I raised my Aspect and elevated my Icon. I wasn't good at it. I felt small and weak. Like a child trying to open too big a door. It was, in fact just like that. I found myself in The All. I can't describe it. I could sense the active voices of millions of Ane, using it as a mass communication system. I could hear the cheerful greeting of a few who recognized me. I sent a happy greeting back.
Then I just asked. It was more that I deliberately felt the request emotionally. **May I speak to human in the All, please?** I was in the presence of Akimbomoto. A tribesman from Africa some thousands of years ago. he wasn't clear on the Julian date, didn't especially care and Stardates were beyond useless to him. I could feel his faint, paper thin joy.
**What do you do here?** I asked. It had an undertone of **What's it like to be dead here?**
**It's not like that.** Akimbomoto answered. **Time is also a sensation, young man.** He addressed me as a fondly considered young man. I was odd to be considered such. I was over 65 years old, and heading for 70 at warp speed. Akimbomoto died when he was in the vicinity of 49. But he was wiser than I, especially in regards to the Ane or the All. He'd been part of it from birth, and was raised as it.
**So, you're not here unless I ask for you?** My image was a like a computer program that wasn't active until it was called.
**No. It's not like that either.** Akimbomoto grinned at me.
**So... What's it like?** I asked.
I felt my self drift away. I lost all sensation It was like a dream where I was in a group of talking friends.
Gensilan yelled **HEY!!**
I mentally blinked and found her holding me. **What?**
Akimbomoto was apologetic **Sorry, young man. I didn't realize how new you were.**
**Umm. Thanks** I held on to Gensilan tightly.
**I was told that other humns don't know what their afterlife is like.** Akimbomoto said. **How sad.** I felt myself sliding back down into my own head. **The Creator knew we'd be here. It's meant for us, too.** Akmbomoto said as I fell out of the All.
I opened my eyes and found myself looking at the overhead in Sickbay. Gensilan looked at me with concern. "I'm fine." I said, "I'm not doing that again any time soon."
She shook her head **Be carefull what you ask for 'young man'**
I decided not to sweat the All for a while. There would be plenty of time later.
Spirit in the Sky -- Jay P Hailey, April 2005
I don't even know the date on the real calendar any more. Not that it really matters. I am assured that time flows a little differently in all places.
Today has been a Hell of a day. Caught in a three way throw down between idiot factions of places I can't even pronounce properly, trying to get someplace I am not even sure it's good idea to go to.
It's that time when you look yourself in the face and ask "What the Hell am I doing here?" I last had one in Viet Nam in 1972. A place and a date I can point to as real. At least then I had some answers. They weren't good answers, but they were answers.
So I look around me with people I don't know trying to kill me, again, and think, "What the hell am I doing here?" I am a pilot on a Starship. That sounds Outstanding, especially to someone who had his application to NASA rejected. That's why I took the job.
But this isn't at all like NASA. This is a freelance garbage scow that can't get out of it's own way. This thing can move at speeds that make me dizzy and make F4 Phantoms look like tricycles in the driveway. But compared to the ships we just faced, it was a DC-3 in a jet dog fight.
And that's just a normal business day on the free trader, Ochre Pleasure. Free trader... Yeah, my aunt Fanny. More like "perpetually broke and scrambling trader." The Captain/owner has this thing mickey moused eleven ways from Sunday. I don't know what 80% of the doo-dads and devices on this tub do, but the 20% I do recognize are wrong.
So what am I doing here? I was very nearly not here, except the bandits were more interested in doing dirt to each other than to us. But why did I come along?
I guess I wanted to prove that I could do it for myself. Hailey and the Aneilogs treated me like a charity case and it bugged me. I guess I found their concern and support a bit. cloying. Besides, the Anelilogs still bother me. It's not fair. I was an intruder on their slap-happy little paradise. But the fear turned into a little tiny lump of disquiet and heartburn. It never really went away.
So I find myself on a comic opera space galleon trundleing from world to world, somehow managing to become slightly more broke each time we do a transaction. I tried to talk with the Purser about it, but he wouldn't hear it. These Youn are a bunch of stuck up bastards. We have a hodgepodge of people from all over this end of the galaxy here. The Vargr are keen. They remind me of the stories medieval cartographers told of people with dog heads living in far away places. Could there be something there? Could that Erich Von Daniken idiot be on to something?
At least these people deal in money. It's weird money, but it's money. The Aneilogs and the bellhops of Starfleet can't be bothered.
I am an idiot. I don't care about money, except as a means to an end. And what's that end? My own life on my own terms out here centuries later in space.
Madeline, I miss you. I guess I always will. The records told me you'd remarried and had a long and happy life. That our son went on to serve his country.
And here I am playing Buck Rogers.
Why? Hailey offered to transfer me laterally into Starfleet. I could be training now as a Starfleet officer.
But I didn't. They all look a bit soft to me, and they look like some fag bellhop's idea of a military service. So here I am with "The Pirates of Penzance" in space. But those are live weapons firing at us.
On some level I guess all this is happening for a reason. I am a God fearing man. He put me down here in a frankly looney tune place. Maybe I am hallucinating from oxygen starvation? No, I have hallucinated before. That time with Archie out in the desert and those damned mushrooms. Hallucinations don't have mundane things in them like "who's turn at the dishes is it," or dirty underwear.
I don't want to live on Starbase Six Hundred. I suppose because that means I'll have to admit that I am not ever going to go home.
I miss the United States of America. I miss drive-ins, hamburgers and numbskull crap on TV. I miss a movie with Madeline. I miss cocktail parties where we can argue about Richard Nixon's next term. I miss baseball.
I have to either accept what has happened or start taking real, concrete steps to do something about it. Taking this job and running away from Oz (I still can't believe they named their planet that) was an evasion. A cop out as the kids used to like to say.
After this run is over I'm going to go back to Oz (Back over the rainbow) and start living my life like I mean it.
I have been avoiding the idea of going back to Earth. I know that if I step foot on Earth and it's as weird as Oz, I'll finally have to admit to myself that I am not going to get home.
Maybe I need to do that. Maybe I need to find your grave, Madeline. Maybe I need to get over being homesick and get on with my life.
Or maybe it's a bad dream and I'll wake up soon.
Either way, this "perpetually in the hole trader" isn't cutting it. I am better than this, primitive aborigine that I am.
I need to get some sleep. Time for lights out.
- End Journal Entry
The McGuffin in this
case was a Rishian artifact in Klingon space, an area of continuous
interphase known as the Ghost Lands that was causing people and vessels
from across time on Earth to be dumped onto and around Oz. Everything
from American Airlines flight 523, which they saved to a Viking ship,
which was beyond saving.
Ree'ok looked at the new ship and sighed. It was a wonder of engineering and manufacturing skill. In it he and his brave crew would venture out to face madness and death. Ae Tabooist purpose. The ship was sleek, a wider, broader manta ray, one of the new Dolphin class cruisers. A roomy hull and advanced warp drives that were faster than anything else in the quadrant.
"Thank you, my friend." Ree'ok said to Anderban.
"You are, of course very welcome." Anderban bowed. Gensilan smiled and inclined her head as well.
"It is with utmost regret and sadness that I must ask your people not to accompany us on our holy mission." Ree'ok said. Anderban blinked. Gensilan shook her head. "Not going to happen Ree'ok."
Ree'ok sighed deeply. Some people simply took a while. A long while. "Your All represents the work of a beautiful and sane creator, my friends. I could not, in good conscience, deface the work of these beings with any more interference from the artifacts of my own creators."
Anderban looked thoughtful.
Gensilan squeezed Ree'ok's hand. "It's Okay, Ree'ok. Every Aneilog and Ane on your crew has experienced The Change. They know what the risks are. We're as devoted to The Mission as you are."
Ree'ok sighed again. They didn't really understand. The Rishans were insane and insanely dangerous. But by experiencing their artifacts and their mad thoughts, a Tabooist could reach out and touch the face of God.
While the Ane were dead set on neutralizing every Rishan artifact they found (and suceeding through some mechanism Ree'ok was not able to pry from them). The Taboooists were ambivalent about approaching the works of their creators.
To have a contemplative glimpse into the mind of a mad universe and quietly think about what it truly meant in the cosmos and existence as a whole...this sublime experience was difficult to acquire among angrily, bloodthirsty herbivores. The Tabooists feared the Rishans and viewed them with awe. But they didn't hate the Rishans, a distinction lost on the Aneilogs.
Ree'ok felt these emotions with a quickness that belied his bulk and then accomodated himself to the universe, a skill well practiced among the Tabooists. The Mission must come first.
"Thank you my friends. Of course every hand bent to the Holy Task is a beneficial and desirable thing." Ree'ok said, slowly.
Anderban and Gensilan, unable to read Ree'ok's mind felt that he was simply thinking slowly, a misconception the Tabooists subtly encouraged by deliberately talking slowly.
"Shall we take the tour?" Gensilan asked.
"Please." Ree'ok shuffled along with his friends.
The Ship, of course would be a wonder. Pathetic and inadequate next to the works of the Rishans, but what else could be expected of mortal hands? As far as modern ships went the Dolphins were the top of the line.
Ree'ok looked at details slowly as he shuffled. This ship brought home a dilemma that no Tabooist thought would come in their own life times. With ships like these there was a possibility that every Rishan Artifact could be found, examined and neutralized. Then what would the Taboosists do?
Some felt that as the last Rishan artifact that the Tabooists should neutralize themselves.
Ree'ok reached a slow, but inexorable decision...He, like all of his people was much more graceful in the water than on land, although not nearly as graceful as the Ur-Tabooists, the innocent turtles which even today lived their lives on the home world. Ree'ok imagined himself sunning on an OZian beach, Surfing and swimming, and communing with the last Rishan artifacts that would be active. The Aneilogs.
His sigh was warmer and happier as these thoughts and images crossed his mind. Now all he had to do was survive second hand contact from his creators long enough to get there.
New Ship, Old Mission -- Jay P Hailey, July 2005
I didn't come to the All often. It felt like someone else's church, and I was the three-year old without any volume control. This session had been longer than most, but the conversation with Ane that had been present to observe the Iconian civilization had been insightful. What I had learned here would help Starfleet, and myself, deal with the Iconian technology we found in our hands.
I was about to lower my Aspect when something caught my eye. If you can call it an eye, but it was something I sensed as seeing. How do you define a place within something without physical boundaries? Anyway, it caught my eye and I wanted a closer look.
The All is both busy and empty. If you allow the whole of it to impinge on your consciousness you can sense the billions of presences. Or, if you wish you can closet yourself away with a few.
Before I left the All I liked to take in the wholeness of it. To soak for a few minutes in the wonderful strangeness of this alien experience that few Humans got to experience.
I'm an engineer. Anomalies are what engineers look for, a slight difference in the tone of a well tuned device, a waveform we have never seen before. What I was "seeing" was an anomaly. In the density of the All there was a gap, an area of nothing. No, not nothing. As I approached it I could see a chasm with something on the other side of it. That's the best I can describe it in words. It wasn't what was really there, but that is how I perceived it. A deep chasm, something that could be crossed only with great effort and possibly great danger. On other other side I could barely make out more aspects but nothing in the middle. I drew myself in that direction. This was different.
The presence before me was immense. Weight, gravity, mass, age, all these things and more filled the Aspect that was suddenly in my way. I stopped and waited. It was unusual for an Aspect to stand in your way. I wanted to hear him/her out.
**Don't go there Jay.** The voice was the most parental thing I had ever experienced. I fell a profound need to be that way to my own children. A need I knew I would never fulfill.
**Why is this place different? I thought all of the All was open.** Dammit, I wanted to see!
**There is nothing to stop you, no, but this is the place you have been warned about. Beyond this place lies madness.**
I feel the lack of hair on the back of my neck stand up. **Madness? It has a physical place?**
**A very physical place. Few are the Humans that can even sense this gap Jay, and that which is beyond it. Humans are not wired to even perceive it.**
My throatlessness was dry as a bone. I thought I knew the answer, but I had to hear it. **So, why to I perceive it?**
**As you guess Jay, you have been touched by it. That which you have been made aware of you can perceive.**
**And might I know the nature of the madness I can see?** I can never leave a stone unturned.
**Beyond this gap, and beyond countless others like it, are alternate realities. It is the most familiar that are the most dangerous. It is those you will find first.**
I could feel sweat breaking out on my body and I was nowhere near it. My grip on the All was starting to slip. Damn, Gen would tisk at me again if I fell out. **Right. Just what I don't need. How do I avoid them?** I felt my wavering control steady. It was helping me.
**Don't cross the gaps. There will always be gaps. You can see them. Don't cross the gaps and you will remain as well as you are now.**
**Thanks. I'll remember that.** It was holding me. I know my control was totally shot.
I slid back down into my body with a thud. I was soaked in cold sweat. I jerked off the bed like it was going to eat me. Damn, how could I face the All knowing those ... gaps ... were out there?
A slender beam of calm opened into my mind. I rushed to meet it. Gensilan. **You will because you can Jay. It is no greater a danger than other your have faced, and one totally within your will.**
**I know my will is weak.**
**And thus you have strengthened yourself.**
**From a Human point of view, I would have to agree.**
**Do you see the gaps?**
**We are aware of them. We don't see them exactly as you do. It is no wiser to cross them, for the sensate.**
**Only for the sensate?**
**Yes. You will lose yourself that way and never get back to the sensate existence. There are those that have died that way. They drift off and never return.**
**You can take it that casually?**
**Jay, we are wired that way. It is why Ane always seem at least a little crazy to Humans. Do you want me to come?**
**No, yes, later. Later, have work I need to do.** I got up and dressed.
I sat in my office a long time, but I didn't do any work.
Admiral Picard read the memo from Starbase 600. Captain Gensilan had been promoted to Rear Admiral and placed in direct command of Starbase 600. He sipped his tea and smiled. This would turn more than a few heads among his more staid peers. Gensilan was after all an "artificial" lifeform.
The door swished open and Commander Data entered his office. "Admiral, the errors in the system have been corrected. I have personally verified all data against known parameters."
Picard nodded. "Thank you Data." He looked at his old friend. "I don't think that you are thanked enough for the extraordinary efforts you place into your work Data."
Data cocked his head in the peculiar way that he had. "I do not understand why this should be necessary, Sir. I serve as I am able."
"Have you no personal ambitions Data?"
"Yes Sir, I pursue them as time allows."
Picard looked at Data standing in front of his desk. "Please Data, sit down." Once he had Picard indicated the memo. "I had hopes that one day you would be the first artificial lifeform to make flag rank, Data. I am afraid Gensilan has beaten you to it."
Data read the memo over. "This does not displease me Admiral. While I have ambitions, I have no ambition to lead."
"You do not want your own command?"
Data shook his head. "No sir. I find the idea of sending life forms to their possible death by my orders disquieting. I am satisfied with my place as your aide."
"What will you do when I retire?"
"I have considered retiring myself and entering the Academic world. There is much knowledge to be discovered. I believe I could serve well in that endeavor."
"You are going to outlive all of us Data. Can you really retire?"
Data blinked. For a brief moment thoughts warred visibly across his face. A wooden expression finally fixed on his face. "I ... find that issue ... difficult to face Jean Luc. While I have never faltered in the face of any fact, I do not wish ... to think ... of losing my friends." He stopped for a moment. His face cleared to a more normal expression. "I have found a failing within myself."
"Then old friend, you have gained something far more valuable than rank."
"I do not understand."
Picard smiled softly. "You have become, Human."
Milestones -- Garry Stahl, July 2006
Kayne slouched in the booth, looking
at the Zarian across from him with drink-bleary eyes. "Ya see,
it's this way. I hired on with the Capitan, oh...some 6 years ago. He
had a better deal. And over time I've found that his better deal
is the best deal I've ever had. Result, being the goal oriented
type, I stick with it. We've had a few ups and downs but the
Tranquility was a good ship.
Reality is the Agreed on Delusion
Robert Kohl looked out the view port
at subspace hissing passed the hull of the Kingfisher. In his
hands was the white black and gold cap of an officer in the United
States Navy. On his terminal was the message he had just received
from Earth, and on the table was a half finished double shot of bad
The Wandering Jew
"Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu
Melekh ha-olam, bo're p'ri ha-etz."
The words fell from the lips of Isaac Laquedem without effort or
sadly much thought. He placed the slices of fruit on the tray and
took it to the table of Aneilogs that had come to his tea house. Once
he had served them he moved to the edge of his patio to gaze at
the sky of Oz. Somewhere between the stars his faith had died, but
the centuries long habits of culture had not. Isaac shook his head
at the humor upon himself. To outlive the very thing that defined
one. Little his Father could have known. Yes, even that, he had not
thought of his Father in many a long year. So much his parents had
given him, so little of his life they had lived. the last he had
seen either of his parents they had been dragged from the ruins of
Jerusalem by the Romans. His Father he knew was dead, his Mother, he
never saw her again. His world crushed as he was dragged off to be a
End of the Shift
his orders to the relieving officer. He gladly passed off the opps
station on the Crystal City. He left the bridge with others
from his shift. Little was said. Little needed to be said.
Beach in June is a fun place to be. The sun is warm baking your body
in a most agreeable way. The sea wind wicks the sweat off and keeps
you from over heating. Young women wearing very little make for nice
scenery. So I was at an outdoor cafe in the middle of Venice
Beach working on my memoirs. An exercise my counselor suggested. As
usual I was offending fashion for at least 50 yards with my shirt.
But such offenses are actually fairly common in Venice Beach, so in
that I didn't even stand out.
Created By: Garry Stahl
Number of Members: 2 billion. A member of the Ane Confederation
Nature of Members: Ane Humanoids or Aneilogs. Aneilogs are digagrade bipeds standing on average 5'7" with taller and shorter possible. The talest known adult is 7" the shortest was 4' 5". The typical weight is 120 pounds at average height. They have small horns a slight muzzle and the Ane typical eye. Their hands have four digts, thumb and three fingers. Aneilogs are mostly hairless, the mane on their heads and a tuft at the end of their tail is all the hair they can claim. They have a low tolerance for cold. Aneilogs still posses the vocal apparatus of Ane, and have difficulty speaking humanoid languages. Among themselves they never bother except as an art form. They cannot teleport as their quadrupedal cousins, that part of the brain was reworked to give them hands.
Gender differences are more obvious than on unaltered Ane. Females have pectoral mammaries typical of bipeds. They are never as large on average as humans. They have no need for a bra. Males keep the internal genitals at a reduced size. They also retain the scent glands under the eye, but without the black fur markings. There is an obvious difference in hip width, again as typical for bipeds.
Organization: Working Anarchy
Game Role: Base for the Starbase 600 game
World Role: Residue of the Ane encounter with the Rishans.
Relative Influence: Minor Only one world on the edge of the unknown.
Public or Secret?: Public
Publicly Stated Goal: Live our lives and learn stuff.
Relative Wealth: Wealthy, one planetary system
Group advantages: The Aneilogs are humanoid Ane. They have hands and walk bipedally. This has allowed them to construct a technological society.
Contacts: Starfleet and Starbase 600, The All.
Special Abilities: Racial memory and powerful telepaths.
Group Disadvantages: Aneilogs have had their technology pounded flat in the last 500 years. Development back to an industrial base has been uneven given that they are ecologically conscious about said development. They will not use polluting technologies, which severely limits the available power grid in both where it can be and how large it can get.
Who belongs: Anyone that really wants to.
Who doesn't belong: Anyone that doesn't really want to.
Those who favor them: Ane Confederation, UFP Starfleet
Those opposed to them: No known enemies at this time outside generic UFP opposition.
Area of Operation: 20 light years from the Zantree Alliance at the 7:30 position looking down from galactic north. Approximately 600 light years form Earth.
Headquarters Location: Emerald City
Public Face:Perky, happy bipeds with cute noses.
Notable Members Anderban: The current "head of state". He had the least objection to taking the job when a face man was needed. His primary duty is being a "face" for the planetary consensus. An expected figurehead for people that expect a government. Anderban lives in Emerald City, now the de facto Capital. When not playing the role of Head of State he runs his ice cream and cheese shop named "Tasty Treats". With the change of the planet's name to Oz, certain functional changes have been made. A true Capital building has been constructed complete will long impressive hall and flaming holotank throne, pay no attention to the Aneilog behind that curtain. The sign on the door still reads. "Planetary Capital: Graft and bribes in rear"
Vice Admiral Jay P. Hailey: The Federation commander that found the Aneilogs and decide it was a good place for a starbase.
History of the Group: Coventry (now Oz) was one of the many Ane worlds founded during the initial Ane Diaspora. They prospered as much as any Ane world, accepting various visitors and learning all they could. 100,000 years ago the Rishans dropped by. They thought the Ane design was awkward. Intelligent species should be bipeds with hands. So they fixed it.
Eighty precent of the population died within a few days. The survivors staggered around dazed. The shock to the All itself has never been equaled. The Rishans watched for a while, when it was clear that the remaining 20% would not curl up and die, they called the procedure a success and moved on.
The Aneilogs picked up the shattered shreds of their lives and tried to make a go of things. They had no technology and no skills. They formed into wandering bands and began a gatherer existence. They knew tools were possible, and taught themselves the necessary skills by trial and error. Their first useful tool was ironically was the horns of the masses of dead.
Remembering the lessons of a hundreds of races that had destroyed or came close to destroying their ecologies they proceeded with technology slowly in a planned and measured manner. 800 years ago they had achieved a warp capable culture. By 600 years ago they found and colonized a world near them, and were planning for the next stage of warp technology when they would have a chance at uniting the Ane worlds with Ane build warp drives. They had peace with the neighbors and prosperity.
Then came the Kliges'chee. First it was rumors, then refugees. A vicious race was boiling out from the rimward. They smashed all before them and were relentless. Race after race fell to the raiders. Their colony was in the path, and mass movement started for the home world, but not in time.
Coventry saw the writing on the wall. The attacks came until whoever was beaten back. The harder you resisted, the more they pounded you. The Aneilogs threw everything into defense. Protected caverns, food and water stores, tools, but only the basics. There was no danger of invasion, the Kliges'chee were liquid methane creatures. A class M world was useless to them. The Aneilogs retreated below ground, and let their technology take the brunt of the attack.
As of 500 years ago their cities were ruined, the space port and hard won starships wrecked. The Aneilogs were back to the iron age, but they were alive.
In the time since they have carefully rebuilt. Their knowledge of technology survived if the means did not. With the arrival of the Discovery, the Aneilogs have physical contact with the UFP and technological support to quickly regain what was lost.
As part of the STB-600 exploration push Starfleet officers have been sent out in "Free Traders" to gather man in the street data about the warp capable cultures in the neighborhood. The first such is the "Curious Minnow" commanded by Lt. Commander Brett Tyson, and his five Aneilog crew. Approching Mongo, and wishing to keep is point of origin secret for the moment, Brett announced he was from "Oz". The Aneilogs picked up on it and soon a lively debate sprung up as to renameing Coventry. Well the Oz case won out. The whole planet has gone a bit crazy over it.
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The Above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Stories Copyright © Jay P. Hailey: 2004. Stories Commentary and Profile Copyright © Garry Stahl: 2004-2011. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.