Monday, 31 December 1990

The Valkyrie Chronicles: The Prisoner Chapter 1

Magus sat, alone in a laboratory. Behind a mirror screen sat James Watt, on temporary leave from the Valkyrie, & Platox, chief scientist of the Starfleet research unit. Around Magus were a series of screens, to one side was a multi-level chess board. Magus was himself linked into a stratagema game. Each of the screens flashed up various mathematical, philosophical or other questions. Magus answered these whilst playing both games. Behind the screen Watt looked at Platox.

    “How is he doing?” he asked.
    The Socratian looked at the computer.
    “All of his knowledge is there. IQ of 3000, everything he has learned in ten centuries of existence, he is as he ever was. There is one more test.”
    As they watched a screen at the other end of the lab drew back to reveal a huge pipe organ. Magus gazed at it for a few seconds, then walked over and seated himself. His fingers began to dance over the keyboard as he played Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in G Minor. Watt looked at Platox.
    “As you say, he is as he was.”
    Later that day Magus & Watt both left the labs.
    “You don’t need to nursemaid me James. If I can come back from the dead then I can look after myself for a few weeks.”
    “I was due some shore leave.” replied Watt. “And don’t forget, you’ve done a lot for my family. If it hadn’t been for you my great grandmother would never have been released from Russia. The list goes on and on.”
    Magus smiled.
    “Very well, James. The first thing I want to do is to go and find my dogs!”

    The U.S.S. Valkyrie neared the Epsilon-Beta sector, a previously unchartered system. It’s mission, a routine mapping assignment. In temporary command of the Valkyrie was Captain Connor McCloud. This was a sort of homecoming for McCloud because he had commanded the Valkyrie some seven years ago. His first officer was someone by the name of Watt, and also under his command was a young Vulcan ensign, Sutek.
    McCloud walked onto the bridge and took the captain’s chair. Pendragon and Trospheo sat either side of him. McCloud looked around at his surroundings and smiled.
    “It’s good to be back at the held of this old girl.” he said. “A pity it’s only until Jim returns from Earth.”
    “Message coming in from Starfleet Command.” reported Lieutenant Amarus at tactical. “From Captain Watt. Magus is doing well. He will return in three weeks.”
    “How long until we reach the Epsilon-Beta system?” asked McCloud.
    “Forty-seven minutes.” Tompkins replied.
    “You have the bridge, Commander Pendragon.” said McCloud. “Call me when we reach the sector. I’ll be in the Gresley.”

    A few minutes later McCloud was sat in the bar in the Gresley, a glass of synthahol in his hand. He appeared deep in thought as Dr. Singh approached.
    “May I join you?” asked Singh.
    McCloud nodded. Singh took the stool next to him.
    “Is anything wrong, Captain?” asked Singh.
    “It’s nothing, Doctor.”
    “Captain, I may not be a psychologist, but I can tell something is troubling you. And if you can’t tell your doctor, who can you tell?”
    McCloud took a sip from his glass.
    “It’s this whole thing.” said McCloud. “Ever since the Lohengrin was destroyed I’ve been shunted around as if I was in a railway goods yard, keeping the seat warm while a ship’s captain takes a holiday.”
    “You could have requested shore leave yourself. You could have gone back to Scotland.”
    “Earth is the last place I want to go. Surely you’ve studied my medical records. Whenever I return to Earth I stop ageing. That’s why I took a voluntary de-motion. When I’m in space I’m a mortal!”
    “You don’t have to return to Earth, Captain. I’m sure someone of your vast experience and knowledge would make a fine ambassador.”
    “I hardly see myself as a diplomat.”
    “Then why not migrate to one of the new colonies in the Thiros quadrant?”
    “And become a pioneer of the future? Hardly my scene.”
    “Then it seems you are in a catch twenty-two situation. You want to leave Starfleet but no other career interests you.”
    Then a call came through from the bridge.
    “Pendragon to McCloud.”
    “McCloud here.”
    “Can you report to the bridge, Captain? We’ve found something that will interest you.”
    McCloud was soon on the bridge.
    “We’ve picked up a planet on the sensors.” said Pendragon. “Mr. Greenleaf?”
    “A class M planet sir. Oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, no visible life forms.”
    “I was involved in the study of the information of the probes they sent out here nine years ago.” said Pendragon. “They reported no planets in this system. And a planet like this would take millennia to reach this stage of development.”
    “You have the bridge, Commander Pendragon. I’ll lead the away team on this one.”
    “But Captain….!” protested Pendragon.
    “It’s a lifeless planet, with no life forms.” said McCloud. “What harm could become of me. And don’t forget, I’ve nearly a thousand years experience of combat.”
    McCloud gestured at Amarus and Tompkins.
    “Commander Sutek report to transporter room three.”
    A couple of minutes later McCloud, Amarus and Tompkins entered the transporter room. Sutek was already there.
    “Just a routine scouting mission.” said McCloud. “The usual things, soil, rock samples.”
    “I would feel safer if we all had phasers.” said Amarus.
    “You of all people have no need for them.” said McCloud.
    The away team stepped onto the transporter pad.
    “Energize.” ordered McCloud.
    Within seconds they were on the planet’s surface.
    The sight that greeted them was one of a barren wasteland, a sort of desert/mountainous type terrain. As soon as they had materialized Sutek took out his tri-corder and began scanning.
    “Anything?” asked McCloud.
    “I am detecting nothing.”
    “Pan out a little.” McCloud ordered. “Take the usual samples and readings.”
    A few minutes passed as the away team carried out their tasks. Then, Amarus found something and called to the others. They soon joined him.
    “Steps?” puzzled McCloud.
    The steps led to what appeared to be a ledge. Sutek climbed the steps and reached the ledge. He began scanning with his tri-corder.
    “I’m picking up an energy reading of a type I’ve never seen before, from inside the mountain.”
    “How can that be?” asked McCloud.
    “Unknown.” Sutek replied. “But there appears to be a network of caves below the surface.”
    McCloud joined Sutek on the ledge.
    “If there’s caves below then there must be an entrance on this ledge.” he said.
    McCloud began to feel around the wall of the mountain, looking for a lever or something. Then, suddenly, a glow surround McCloud, and a second later he was gone. Sutek activated his communicator.
    “Sutek to Valkyrie. Captain McCloud is gone.”
    Sutek held his tri-corder near the wall of the mountain.
    “There appears to be some sort of lift shaft behind this wall.”
    “Move out of the way!” said Amarus.
    Amarus raised his hand at the mountain, and using his natural heat generating ability unleashed a huge and continuous fire burst at the mountain. Rocks and rubble began to fly, and it appeared as if Amarus was having some sort of effect against the mountain. Then he stopped his fire burst. He had managed to burn his way through the rock of the mountain but he was unable to get through the metal doors. Sutek again scanned the area.
    “The door is made of adamantium. There is no way your fire burst would have been able to penetrate it.”

    McCloud lay unconscious. Slowly he began to regain his senses. He slowly sat up and began to feel his head. It felt like someone was trying to kick their way out of his head. He allowed himself a slight groan. He then began to look around. He appeared to be in some sort of cave, but what was different about this cave was that the other wall was transparent, as if lined by glass. McCloud got to his feet and walked over to the transparent wall. He began to feel around the wall but could find no way of escape. He did the same with the brick-like wall, but again no luck. He looked out of the transparent wall and saw a long corridor. There appeared to be other “caves” like his along the corridor. He could also hear others in those caves. Then, from the end of the corridor, he noticed a door open. Two large humanoid beings walked out of the door. Behind them was another, and this one was restraining what appeared to be a human woman, about twenty years old. They approached McCloud’s cave. One of the men pressed a button on a panel, and the transparent wall opened. McCloud attempted to make his escape but the other man pushed him back into the cave. The third then threw the young woman into the cave with McCloud. The transparent wall was then closed. The three humanoids then left via the door.
    The woman got to her feet. McCloud began to ram the transparent wall with his shoulder. It didn’t budge. He then turned to the woman.
    “Who are you?” he asked.
    “My name is Capria. I’ve been here for seven years.”
    “Impossible. The Valkyrie is the first manned starship to visit this sector.”
    Then, McCloud turned around again, and he saw what appeared to be a female watching from the other side of the transparent wall. She stood silently, watching McCloud. McCloud approached the wall.
    “Who are you? Where is this place? What am I doing here?”
    The woman was silent. She continued to stare at McCloud.
    “Why don’t you answer me, damn you?”
    McCloud again rammed the wall with his shoulder. The woman flinched.
    “Interesting. The subject shows violent tendencies, a savage side. We must study more.”
    McCloud was amazed. The woman had spoken without moving her lips.
    “How did you do that? Is it some form of telepathy?”
    “All will become clear within time, Captain McCloud.”

    Commander Pendragon paced up and down the bridge. He kept glancing at Sutek, who sat at the helm.
    “How long is this going to take?” asked Pendragon.
    “I am working as fast as I can.” Sutek replied.
    “Well work faster!” Pendragon snapped. “I want you to find that energy source.”
    A few minutes later Sutek found what he was looking for.
    “The energy source is far beneath the planet’s surface.”
    “Can we beam a rescue party into the caverns?” asked Pendragon.
    “No Commander. The energy source is creating some sort of force field between the surface and the caverns. The transporter signal would just bounce off.”
    “Then the only way in is through that entrance.”

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