276: This is not a Drill

By -=/\=- Captain Zanh

Time: Current

-=Daybreak: Tower City Complex: Capitol of Stra II=-

A city, teeming with thousands upon thousands of inhabitants, awoke as normal with the rising of two suns. The orange and purple light bathed the streets as the people stirred and opened their eyes to greet the day.

The lamps which illuminated the streets of the city after dark had shone brightly all night long, as usual, and slowly they hummed, dimmed, and faded to relinquish their light to supremacy of the natural dawn.

Everything was. . . normal.

The first public transportation shuttles of the day whirred and skimmed the surface of the trees, swooping down to a stop, taking on passengers, moving them to their intended destinations.

The clock in the City Tower chimed oh seven hundred hours. All was well.

The people went on about their usual daily routines. Many were listening to planetary news, hearing reminders that the rain cycle as controlled by the weather modification net would commence promptly at midnight and so if they were going to be out of doors between that time and the next sunrise, they should have weather resistant gear available to them to avoid getting soaked.

People sent subspace messages, made contact with their friends and workplaces via small communications chips. These chips lay imbedded beneath their skin just above the ear- in most of the inhabitants of this world, on the left side- and so visitors to this place could never be certain, at first, if someone they met was actually talking to them, or was carrying on an entirely different conversation that only they could hear.

This world was. . .comfortable.

This people was. . .numb.

A species anesthetized into inaction for the most part, by access to too many different forms of distracting, and ultimately empty, entertainment and information.

Most people went about the necessities of living- the keeping of jobs, the studying of subjects in school in their youth- only as a means to give them the skills needed to someday leave their parent's homes, move into a small place of their own and then spend all of their available free time either engaging in interactive entertainment environments with people half a globe away, or just sitting, staring, at a screen which hyperstimulated their brain with so much information that they would transcend normal consciousness.

A sort of high was achieved in the process, until finally, more and more input was needed to keep the chemicals in their body which produced this high at the levels needed to sustain their technology addiction.

Addiction was the only accurate word off-worlders could use for the effect that exposure to technology had upon this race of people.

The Strasa were a proud and advanced species. Earth itself could not rival their standard of living. This was due to the fact that while not aligned as a Federation world, they had established a lucrative trade contract with certain prominent Federation powers, Vulcan among them, which allowed the Federation to benefit from the fact that when it came to developing smaller, faster computer components and the programs to run them, no one could match the work being done on Stra II.

For the past century, ever since their society had broken apart, half shunning technology entirely and proselytizing loudly about the dangers that the worship of it entailed, half of the Strasa had taken up residence on the second planet in the system. Writing off what they considered to be their backward, back-woods brethren, these self-proclaimed pioneers adopted a life centered around the pursuit of technology- to achieve application of it to every last detail of modern life, and they had made quite a handsome living at it.

For 98 years, the society had thrived. There was no poverty here, there was no crime. Perhaps because everyone was so happy- or perhaps because they were so sedated by the high levels of endorphins and dopamine-like chemicals in their amber-skinned, humanoid bodies that they were too intoxicated to care.

As the founding generation of the second planet in the Stra system reached its life expectancy, however, things were starting to change.

The hard work that the founding members of this advanced society had put in- long days and nights to build their cities and structures from nothing as led by their own elders- had instilled a solid work ethic in them. This was what allowed them to entice the Vulcans and others like them into holding trade negotiations and ultimately in doing business with them.

This was what established them as the source for the best that technology could offer.

Sadly, this work ethic had not carried over into their offspring.

As millions of children reached what their society considered the age of maturity, four decades of living, they did not want to work as hard as their parents. After all, hadn't the whole idea behind establishing a society based on the use of technology been to make life easier for the inhabitants who would follow in future generations?

Why should they have to go to work four days a week? Why should they study? They did not ask to be brought to life- their parents had made that decision. Shouldn't they be cared for, and allowed to pursue their passions as their desires dictated?

As he contemplated all of these things, the leader of the Stra II sat in his office at the top of the Providence Spire and held his head in his hands. The reports coming in were not good, and he did not know what was going to happen if. . .

He switched off the vid screen, and sighed. He rotated his chair toward the window, and watched the suns continue to rise.


4.83 kilometers beneath the surface of the active city, a heavily guarded structure with thick, stone walls encased its only resident.

Lights flashed brightly, and the small being's bright blue eyes blinked. It reached out a metallic appendage, as it rolled forward toward the controls for the Central Power Allocation Grid.

"Risk of brownout in sector five seven six," the mechanical said softly, to itself, since no one else was there to hear. "Rerouting power from junction beta sigma pi to compensate."

Nodding with satisfaction as the alert light moved from amber to the all-clear lime hued light it was taught to expect, the mechanical was pleased with his work.

A moment later, another warning alarm sounded.

"Reserve levels of clean drinking water for the Tri Tower Complex are below acceptable levels," the mechanical raised its voice. "Must increase amount of precipitation created by the next four weather cycles to compensate."

"Sewage control matrix four in sector twelve needs to be replaced. Dispatching repair technicians."

The little robot moved from panel to panel, all day, all night, just as it had for the past nine decades plus eight standard years, as well.

"Security data for the streets of Tri Tower Complex must be analyzed," it announced next, and as the surveillance recordings began to accelerate to a speed that neither the eyes nor brain of any organic being could process, the Mechanical Interface Maintenance bot, or MIM, watched.

Mim advanced the recording until he saw the figure of a woman walking across the bustling city street at an intersection, holding a smaller Strasa being by the hand.

Mim froze the image on the screen.

"Magnify." Mim's synthesized vocal processors requested, and the image increased in size. Slowly, Mim reached his pincers out toward the screen.

He wasn't sure what drew him to the image, but every day this same woman walked her child across the street on the way to a pre-primary school childcare facility, and every day, he had to stop the recording and study them.

What made her care for the smaller being? What was the reason that the female always seemed to smile down upon the young male? Was it her occupation?

A moment later Mim's small head pivoted round toward the large set of reinforced doors which led to the master computer room which he called home.

"M8, what are you doing?"

The woman approached with a deep frown on her face.

"You were instructed to stop pausing the security tapes. You are to review them once through from beginning to end in order to ensure that the equipment is recording every moment of every activity that our citizens engage in upon our city streets. You are not to be entertained by them."

This woman was a new Overseer- one he had never seen before. Mim looked at her curiously, tilting his head to the side.

"Are you my Builder?" he asked.

"No, M8, we have already told you many times," she shook her head sternly. "There is no builder."

Mim nodded.

"Do you have the new communications chip prototype? Starfleet is expecting it soon."

"I require another seventy three hours to complete diagnostic testing. There are remaining inconsistencies in its operation which must be resolved in order to bring the device's functions within acceptable performance parameters."

"You have forty-eight." The woman replied, as she turned to go. "All the more reason that I do not want to catch you watching the city street tapes again. You do not want to have to submit to another short-term memory wipe, do you?"

The small mechanical did not answer.

"I thought not. Back to work."

Mim watched as the woman in the white lab coat released the door. As it clanged loudly shut, the last traces of light from the corridor disappeared, and Mim sat once again in the dark of a room lit only by control panels and the small optic sensors which served as his eyes.

As he turned back to his work, one question, the same one as always, repeated in his readily accessible memory subroutines.

He thought about the image of the woman and the smaller being, and he knew that everyone had to have come from somewhere. Everyone, even that small being, so helpless and in need of protection, had a Builder, or some means of coming to life.

"Where is my Builder?"

An alarm rang off- the public transportation distance control grid was demanding Mim's attention. Shuttles were traveling too closely to each other and a warning had to be sent to the system to realign their courses to the predetermined routes of navigation. Mim began to input the command, but stopped as the question once again dominated his attention.

"Where is my Builder?"

The automated communications connection relays were heavily laden with morning traffic, and as the business day began, the relays of the smaller, less urban communities in the hemisphere would need to be utilized to help reroute overflow.

Mim stopped his work on the transportation grid, leaving it unfinished, as he began to try to prevent a crash in the communications network.

As one task after another demanded his attention, something happened that had never happened to Mim in his ninety eight linear years of continuous service.

His wiring suffered an overload.

"Where is my Builder?" he asked again aloud, as warning sirens heralded an impending, catastrophic systems failure.

One by one, the power control grids of the city above him began to wink out and go dark, and the resulting panic was instantaneous, and overwhelming.

The people, so dependant upon technology, were now stranded at the top of their high-rises, without their communications devices, without their gadgetry- with a mere thirteen hours of daylight to figure out why this was happening before the whole of the metropolis was plunged into darkness, as well as chaos.

-=Aboard the USS Serendipity=-

[Captain to the bridge.]

Zanh Liis responded to Salvek's hail immediately, leaving the reports of the crew evaluations she'd been working on and jogging up the steps from her ready room to the bridge, proper.


"Captain, we have received an emergency distress call from the Reja farming settlement on Stra II. They are reporting that the planet's capitol, Tower City Complex, has gone dark."

"What do you mean, gone dark?" Zanh took the command chair and spun to the left. "Communications grid failure?"

"More than that, Captain. They have no power, no water, no waste control management. The people are requesting any and all help we can provide."

"Don't the Strasa provide a lot of computer technology to the Federation?" Zanh asked, turning to TC Blane.

"Yes, Sir. It's unthinkable that they, of all people, are having problems with their technological infrastructure."

"Open a channel to Starfleet Command," Liis directed.

"Channel open."

Admiral Vox appeared before them. Liis brought the Admiral up to date on the situation, and requested orders.

[Do what you can to help them regain control in the short term, Liis, until we can send more help,] Vox requested. "You need to help them organize their people the old fashioned way- so that their own law enforcement and governmental structure can handle the crisis. If you can help them at to figure out why the failure happened in the first place, so much the better, but frankly, as much as we have learned from these people- I don't know what we can do to help them on that front.]

"That may be so, but I have a resource available to me that they do not."

[What's that?]

"Salvek, Dengar, and Lair. The Three Musketeers of Engineering."

[True. Keep me advised, and be careful. One technology these people do not possess is transwarp, and so keep all security protocols in place to protect the Alchemy. Vox out.]

"You heard the man. Thomas, suspend all cross-departmental training and form Away Teams to assess the situation. Return the crew to normal duty rotations, and be sure that they know that this is not a drill."

"Aye, Sir."

Liis turned to Hok, who was still getting accustomed to the temperamental helm of the Serendipity. "Hok, set course for Stra II, maximum warp. Salvek, call a senior staff meeting in half an hour. I suppose I'll have to meet with their. . ."

"Resident Overseer, Captain." Salvek filled in the proper political term for her.

"Resident Overseer." Zanh repeated. "Salvek, try to get a message to them that help is on our way."

"Course laid in, Captain, we will divert course and arrive at our destination in two hours, forty five minutes. Ready to engage on your mark."

Zanh raised her left hand and gestured toward the helm. "Go."


Mechanical Interface Maintenance Bot, Generation VIII
Technology Allocation Control Center
Beneath the surface of Stra II


Captain Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012