A space buoy warns the crew of the Harrier, “Do not approach Gerard’s World”.
What does this cryptic warning mean?
Find out when Captain Hailey and the crew meet The Other.
As always, any comments about the stories be addressed to Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whenever I post Jay’s stories I don’t read or hear much. Either everyone likes them or nobody reads them.
I don’t care, I’m a fan!
Episode 07: The Other
Jay P. Hailey
The buoy’s last message was “Do not approach Gerard’s World.” That was all.
I looked at Harksain Varupuchu, my Andorian Chief of Operations. He looked back calmly.
“Could the rest of the message have been lost?” I asked him.
“I doubt it, Captain. The buoy shows no sign of tampering, or damage. The message has an internal integrity check, which would show if the message had been altered.”
The buoy belonged to the Gallowayans, a race of space traders who frequented the area. They used the buoys as bulletin boards, posting messages about hazards or technical details of travel in the region. Sometimes there were personal messages for the crew members of other Gallowayan starships. There was never any information of a commercially valuable nature.
Generally storm warnings were clear cut, and included scans. Legal warnings usually contained the text of the questionable laws that might affect commerce in the area. This buoy had no specifics, just the warning.
“Tillean, please direct long range scans at Gerard’s World.” I said. We had pulled up along side the buoy when we first received the message, and were attempting to clarify it.
“Captain, I can’t get a clear reading from here. There is some sort of radiation interference with our subspace scanners.”
“Hmm. Could that be the reason for the warning?” I wondered.
“Possibly” Tillean ventured.
“Does the radiation field pose any danger to the ship?” Li’ira asked.
“Not at the strength I’m reading, Commander.” Tillean said.
“Perhaps we could help them out?” I wondered again.
Varupuchu looked at me with a wintry look.
“Do you think it’s worth the risk?” Li’ira said.
“Yes. I do.” I decided “Helm take us on towards Gerard’s World.”
I turned to Tillean. “Keep a sharp eye on that scanner and let me know if anything changes.”
It took us four more days to reach the Gerardian System, and by that time the story had become clearer and much less pleasant.
The planet of Gerard’s World had not been enveloped by radiation; it was the source of the radiation. The natives had nuked themselves to death.
I continued the approach, anyway. Now, it was painful, grotesque archaeology. Some worlds made it through their atomic period and some didn’t. The reasons why were a mystery to the Federation, and a source of some debate.
I didn’t tell myself that we might find survivors. I didn’t think of what I might do if we found any underground enclaves or small groups of survivors.
I had already decided to try save them if we could.