Ensign Pavel Chekov groggily woke up and stared at the chronometer on his nightstand. It read 0730.
He thought with horror. Oh, no! I was going to get up early to finish my research on the Alrischan star system before going on duty. Im supposed to report my findings at a meeting first thing this morning. And Captain Kirk and Spock are going to be there!!
Chekov recalled setting the alarm on his chronometer an hour earlier than normal. However, he had also stayed up late the night before working on a special project for Science Officer Spock who had asked for his assistance in analyzing data about magnetic forces on the fifth planet in the system. He suddenly remembered a dream from earlier that morning that included an annoying buzzing alarm. I must have been so tired that I incorporated the alarm in my dream and somehow turned it off.
He had only a half-hour before his scheduled duty shift, which included showering, getting dressed, and eating. There was no time to gather any more information about Alrischa. As he proceeded to Briefing Room 7, he thought with resignation. Ill just have to wing it from memory.
When Chekov entered the briefing room, Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock and various department heads were already present. This included Security Chief Giotto, and Chief Geologist DAmato. Chekov, feeling all eyes upon him, sat at one end of the table. With dread, he knew that both Kirk and Spock would be firing questions at him, and he was not well prepared.
Consulting a computer display, Spock spoke first. "Captain, the Alpha Piscium star system is now in sensor range."
Captain Kirk replied, "Good." He then addressed the young Russian. "Mister Chekov, this mission is to give you more experience. Can you tell us about this system?"
The young officer cleared his throat before answering. "Well, the Alpha Piscium star system is a double star system 139 light years from Earth. Its main star is Alrischa A, and there are eight planets orbiting it. The fifth planet is Class M." Chekov knew that information from plotting the course there as navigator.
"Can you tell us the purpose of our mission in this system?"
Chekov remembered reading about the purpose but could not recall very many of the details. He had planned to study the information more thoroughly but had been unable to do so. He hesitated before answering, "I vaguely remember that its a follow-up visit. The Federation had visited this system about thirty years ago but hasnt been back since." Chekov paused, trying to remember more details.
Kirk addressed him sternly, "Mister Chekov, I had asked you to do some research on this world, but its obvious that you havent done a thorough enough job. Im very disappointed in your performance this morning."
"I believe that I must bear some responsibility for the ensigns lack of preparation, Captain. I had him working on a project for me until late last night," Spock explained.
The captain turned to the Vulcan. "Then perhaps you could enlighten Mister Chekov as to the purpose of this mission?"
Spock raised an eyebrow before replying. "Of course, Captain. Approximately thirty-one point four years ago, a Federation-affiliated science team mapped out the geophysical characteristics of the planets in this system. Our current visit is, as Mister Chekov suggested using one of his quaint Human colloquialisms, a follow-up visit. No Federation personnel have returned to this system since that initial survey."
"Report on this system?"
Spock keyed in a series of commands into the computer station. "Captain, the star system here is indeed a binary system, as the ensign indicated. The primary star is an A0p and is approximately 2.3 solar masses. Its companion star is an A3m and is approximately 1.8 solar masses. The fifth planet orbiting the primary star is a class M planet about 1.2 times the mass of Earth. Eighty-eight point four percent of the worlds surface is covered with water, but there are several land masses, the largest being approximately 2.3 times the surface area of the continent of Australia on Earth. The climate on this world is primarily tropical, but subtropical in the polar regions. The largest land mass contains a rain forest in the interior, with a mountain range traversing one of the coasts. We have detected unusual magnetic readings coming from a valley between some foothills that lie between the mountain range and the ocean."
"Negative. While the world contains many different species of animals, there is no evidence of current humanoid habitation. However, during their survey, the Federation science team reported discovering some artifacts that are likely not of natural origin. This may be evidence that this world was previously inhabited by a sentient race. This is substantiated by the fact that the magnetic field readings on this world are more consistent with that of a civilization rating Class G on the Richter Scale of Cultures than that of an uninhabited planet."
"The magnetic field readings?" asked Kirk.
"Unknown, sir," answered DAmato, "but they appear in the subduction zones and in several other geologically unstable areas as well."
After further discussion of the world and its characteristics, Kirk declared, "Well send a landing party down there to investigate." To DAmato, he said, "Id like you to send down two people from your department."
DAmato had an immediate answer: "Ill send Carstairs and Santiago."
Spock commented, "I concur with Mister DAmatos decision. The expertise of both of them will contribute greatly to our landing party."
Kirk turned his attention to Giotto. "Id like you to assign two security officers."
The Italian scratched his head before answering. "Ill send Lieutenant Onozuka and Ensign Diener. Onozuka majored in Geological Sciences at Starfleet Academy but is currently serving as a security officer on this ship to broaden his experience base. This assignment is ideal for him, since it makes use of his expertise."
After the assignments for the landing party were complete, Captain Kirk closed the meeting, "I would like all personnel assigned to the landing party to report to Transporter Room Three at ten-hundred hour. Mister Chekov, Id like you to come along. And Id like to see you more prepared than you were for this mornings meeting."
"Yes, sir," Chekov acknowledged his order with a contrite tone of voice.
"Dismissed," Captain Kirk replied.
Chekov left the briefing room to prepare for exploring Alpha Piscium V. He returned to his quarters, signed onto his work station and spent time reviewing information about the planet. He reviewed data about the worlds exploration history and climate as well as data about its magnetic fields. One of the things he wished to learn were possible sources of the electromagnetic radiation that he had helped Spock study the previous evening. I need to find out as much about this world as I can. I dont want to be in any more trouble with the captain than I already am.
He was engrossed in his studies when a reminder chime sounded from his chronometer that indicated it was now time to report to the transporter room. Chekov grabbed his tricorder and his communicator just before leaving his quarters.
When Chekov arrived at Transporter Room 3, he saw some of the landing party already present in the room, milling around near the transporter operators station, specifically Diener and Onozuka from Security. He was pleased to see Josh Diener who was an old friend of his from Starfleet Academy. On the other hand, Chekov felt intimidated at the prospect of working with Onozuka. The ships rumor mill had it that he was very demanding and a real stickler for following protocols. Chekov had even heard him referred to by such uncomplimentary terms as "hard-ass" and "anal-retentive."
The remaining members of the landing party drifted into the room, one by one. First was Ensign Linda Carstairs, a geologist. After that, an extremely tall, brown skinned male ensign with frizzy black hair dressed in a blue science officer uniform walked into the room. Chekov didnt recognize him and immediately walked over to the man, extending a hand towards him. "Pavel Chekov."
"Im Maxim Santiago, but my friends call me Max."
As he shook Santiagos hand, Chekov realized that he only came up to his colleagues neck, but was pleased that he seemed friendly. "Pleased to meet you."
Captain Kirk was the last member of the landing party to arrive. As soon as he arrived, they all stepped onto the transporter platform disks. Captain Kirk issued the order to Transporter Chief Kyle: "Energize."
They materialized on top of a hill that was near the base of a mountain but where the ocean was visible. The physical terrain was very similar to that of Southern California. Kirk did a visual scan of the terrain before issuing orders. "Onozuka, take Chekov and Santiago with you. Ill touch base with you periodically. Diener, Carstairs, you come with me. "
Chekov thought to himself upon hearing the team assignments. Too bad Dieners not in my group. I would have liked to work with him. But Santiago seems pretty friendly. I just hope that Onozukas not as bad as his reputation.
Kirk led his team in the direction of the nearby mountain. As soon as they left, Onozuka summoned Chekov and Santiago for a short meeting. "Well head down the hill towards the valley below. Once were there, well fan out and scan for any lifeforms and unusual magnetic readings."
Onozuka led Chekov and Santiago in the opposite direction that Kirks team had headed. "Ensign Chekov, concentrate on taking readings on the lifeforms in this region while Santiago and I concentrate on studying the electromagnetic forces here."
Chekov objected, "Lieutenant, last night I was helping Mister Spock check the magnetic field readings on this world. Maybe I could see if the readings here match up with what we discovered yesterday."
Onozuka frowned before replying sharply, "Santiago and I have much more training in the geological sciences than you. The trouble with you bridge officers is that you think you can violate the chain of command when working with other members of the crew. You think youre Captain Kirk and Mister Spocks little hotshot. But you have a lot to learn, my friend."
Chekovs face fell at Onozukas words. I thought it would be logical to make use of my work from last night.
The geologist-turned-security officer continued his tirade at Chekov. "And some little hotshot you are, anyway. Ive heard you werent even prepared for this mornings briefing and that Captain Kirk wasnt very happy with you. What are they teaching you cadets at the Academy these days? How not to be prepared? You have a lot to learn about how to function on landing party missions."
"But..." Chekov started to explain but stopped himself. I cant seem to do anything right today. Ive been rushing around so much that I havent had time to think straight.
As Onozuka walked out of earshot, Santiago approached Chekov. "Pavel, youll have to excuse Kevin. Hes in Security. Hes a real nut about being prepared on landing parties."
Chekov shrugged. "Max, Ive been having one of those days. I started off the day oversleeping and then got into trouble with Captain Kirk. And now Onozuka's yelling at me for making a suggestion about what I should do."
"That doesnt sound too good. A lot of folks below deck consider you the whiz kid of the bridge, but Im sure its not all its cracked up to be. Youre under the microscope all the time."
"Thats the truth."
Onozuka, Santiago, and Chekov continued to explore the region, tricorders in hand as they took readings on the lifeforms and electromagnetic radiation characteristic of this world. There was plenty of vegetation and insect species and even some small mammals; however, no humanoid life was detected, which was consistent with the initial studies of this planet.
A short time later, Onozuka announced, "Im detecting some unusual forms of magnetism up ahead."
Both Chekov and Santiago interrupted their current tasks as Onozuka issued further orders. "Itll probably be more fruitful if we split up. Ill go up the hill. Id like you both to go closer to the ocean. Santiago, since you have more training in the geological sciences, Id like you to take the lead."
"Yes, sir," said Santiago.
"While were separated, Ill contact you every fifteen minutes so we can update each other with any developments. If you dont hear from me at the scheduled time, please contact me."
Chekov spoke up. "Lieutenant, dont you think its inadvisable to separate? Landing party guidelines recommend that"
"Guidelines, Ensign, not regulations." Onozuka addressed Chekov with a patronizing tone of voice. "Now you go along with Geologist Santiago, and be sure to provide him with as much assistance as possible."
Chekov felt deflated but answered, "Ill do the best I can."
As Onozuka left the other two, Chekov thought sourly, Gee! This guy seems to have no respect for me. Hes treating me like a child.
Santiago noticed Chekovs glum face. "Pavel, I know Onozuka seems to be hard to work with. It took me a while to get used to him when we were on the Yorktown together."
"I cant seem to please anyone today." He sighed deeply.
Maxim laughed. "Well lets hope your girlfriend thinks otherwise."
Chekov and Santiago laughed together at that remark before they returned their attention to taking tricorder readings. At least I enjoy working with Santiago.
Soon, Santiago looked up from his tricorder, a very concerned expression on his face. "Pavel, it looks like a major storm is headed this way according to my readings." The young geologist directed Chekovs attention to the aerial weather readings on his tricorder.
"I see." Pavel pondered the readings on his colleagues screen. "My tricorder isnt programmed with all the fancy weather detection features that you have. Even though I've been cataloguing lifeforms, Ive concentrated more on the electromagnetic readings here. Many of my readings on the lines of force here are more consistent with inhabited worlds even though this world is uninhabited."
"Goes to show you. I concentrated more on geology and environmental science at the Academy while you obviously concentrated more on the physical sciences. Thats why Im a geologist, and youre up in navigation." He paused with a sincere look. "Just make sure youre getting a full catalogue of the lifeforms in this vicinity. No need to give the lieutenant more ammunition."
Chekov nodded. "Da, thats true."
Soon, a glance at the sky confirmed Santiagos dreary forecast. The clouds rapidly darkened, the wind increased in intensity, and the branches of the nearby trees swayed in the wind. The skies grew darker and darker. Eventually, sprinkles of rain began to fall. The sprinkles gradually became a torrent. Their clothes and hair became drenched. The rain poured so fast and so furiously that neither of them could see much ahead.
"Might be time to beam back up," suggested Santiago.
There was a bolt of lightning, and the thunder shook the very ground they stood upon.
"We need to seek shelter immediately," suggested Chekov as they both wondered about possible shelter options in an outdoor venue.
The two officers soon found a cave that was on the side of a small mountain and sought shelter there. Beaming up during a thunderstorm was a risky proposition at best. They could wait out the storm in relative safety in the cave.
Santiago suggested, "Why dont you try to contact Lieutenant Onozuka while I try to see if theres going to be a break in the rain any time soon?"
They both moved closer to the cave entrance. Santiago aimed a tricorder at the cave entrance to analyze the upcoming weather pattern. Meanwhile, Chekov hope to improve his chances of being within communicator range of Onozuka but remain sheltered from the pouring rain.
"Chekov to Onozuka. Chekov to Onozuka," he said into the communicator. He heard the characteristic beeps in reaction as it attempted to contact his landing party team leader. However, the attempted connection was unsuccessful. Onozuka neither answered Chekovs page nor attempted to contact him in return.
Chekov turned to Santiago. "I cant raise Onozuka."
The geologist volunteered, "Ill try contacting him." However, his luck was no better. "Lets see if we can raise the captain or the Enterprise." Again, there was no reply.
After ruling out any possible communicator malfunctions, Chekov pointed his tricorder towards the cave entrance to check for any agent that could possibly hinder communications. Sure enough, he detected several possible causes of interference within the immediate region, including a magnetic force field. He also detected some unusual radiation from underground. He figured he would investigate further once the rain let up.
However, the rain continued to pelt the land outside. Santiagos readings on the weather indicated that no immediate relief from the storm was in sight. During that time, further attempts to contact Onozuka, Captain Kirk or the Enterprise were unsuccessful.
Chekov commented sourly, "It never rains but it pours. An old Russian proverb."
Santiago took a break from tricorder weather readings. "Yeah, its a pretty intense squall line. It blew up out of nowhere."
"And we cant contact anyone."
Eventually, the storm subsided. Chekov and Santiago emerged from their cave with a sighs of relief but discovered that the ground outside was extremely muddy and hard to walk on with any degree of traction. Chekov slowly walked along the terrain, taking tricorder readings, slipping on several occasions, getting his uniform caked with mud.
This is just great! the navigator thought with disgust as he shook some of the mud off his pants.
Soon Santiago shouted with alarm, "I think I see a mudslide up ahead!"
Chekov turned his head in the same direction as Santiago. He noticed a rapidly moving stream of mud, rocks, and tree branches heading towards him from a nearby hill. Bozhe Moi! It is a mudslide! He turned around to try to escape the avalanche headed his way, but without success. He was caught in its maelstrom, as was Santiago. They slid along with the flow until it stopped several hundred feet down the hill.
As he tried to extricate himself from the mud, he tripped on some rocks and found himself hurtling into a hole and crash landed onto a rough surface. He tried to climb out of the hole but before he could, another flood of rocks, mud, and tree branches headed his way and caused him to fall once again.
As soon as recovered from the shock of his fall, he tried to get up, but a stab of pain in his ankle that prevented him from standing. He eased himself into a sitting position and assessed the damage. He noticed several lacerations on his hands and face, and numerous bumps and bruises, especially an ugly black and blue bump above his left eyebrow. His ankle was likely broken, given that it was pointed in an unnatural position.
Assuming that Santiago was probably close by, he called out, "Max, are you here? Are you okay?"
There was no answer from the geologist. Chekov then tried to contact him by communicator, which was also fruitless. He felt miserable as he thought to himself, Oh, great! This has been a very bad day. Whatever can go wrong has. I get in trouble with Captain Kirk. I get yelled at by Lieutenant Onozuka. We lose contact with the rest of the landing party. We get caught in the rain, then a mudslide and now to top it off, I hurt my ankle and cant walk, and cant find Santiago.
He attempted to contact Onozuka again. As in previous attempts, there was no response. He decided to try the captain again. "Chekov to Captain Kirk. Please read me. Ive lost contact with the rest of my team." There was no answer from the captain. He even tried to contact the Enterprise again to inform them of his plight but got no answer from the ship either.
Time passed. Pavel Chekov began to despair. Is everyone so mad at me that Im not worth rescuing? Do they think Im totally incompetent? I know I shouldnt think this way but the longer Im out of touch, the more worried I get.
Recalling some training from his Academy days, he calibrated his communicator to emit a universal Federation distress call. This particular signal had a transmission range greater than the range for normal communicator signals and a greater ability to penetrate force fields that would block regular communications. He knew it was a grave crime against Starfleet to misuse this signal but justified its use given that he was trapped in a hole and unable to climb out without assistance. This meant that he could not forage for food or water, which would result in a medical emergency within days. While Humans could live for weeks without food, they could not survive days without water. Just thinking about that made Chekov thirsty.
He heard a signal from his tricorder, picked it up, and noticed that it was detecting some underground electromagnetic radiation to the right of him. He turned in the direction of the radiation and crawled towards a clump of loose rocks. He saw that among the rocks were some flat discs, which resembled old fashioned compact discs from the early 21st century. He grabbed a couple of discs and visually examined them. They certainly look man-made, or rather humanoid-made. Could this be the remains of an old civilization? If I ever see my ships crew again, they would be very interested.
The discs held Chekovs interest for a few minutes until he was overcome with the pain of his ankle. Once again, he was filled with despair of ever getting rescued and imagined himself dying in the hole in which he was trapped. What a way to die!
Finally, Chekov heard some voices. As they grew closer, he could hear snippets of conversation.
"detecting a lifeform."
"Could it possibly be"
Chekov tried to sit up to see who his rescuers were but was too weak to be successful. It sounds like Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy and Lieutenant Onozuka. He shifted his weight, and suddenly was overwhelmed with such pain that he blacked out.
Pavel Chekov found himself lying on a diagnostic bed in Sickbay. Standing beside his bed were Doctor McCoy, Captain Kirk, Lieutenant Onozuka and Nurse Christine Chapel.
McCoy bent over him. "Son, you certainly look a sight! Like youve been dragged through the mud." The doctor broke into a reassuring smile. "But dont you worry; well fix you right up."
The doctor then discussed Chekovs medical condition with Chapel. "Nurse, let's get this boy a painkiller and then a saline drip. He's on the verge of dehydration. We also need to set his broken ankle and put a regen unit on it. Well keep him here overnight for observation."
As Chekov was given the prescribed medical treatment, the navigator asked, "What about Max?"
"Ensign Santiago is back in his quarters, resting," replied the captain, matter-of-factly. "Doctor McCoy treated him for some minor injuries."
Chekov smiled with relief. "Working with Max was the only good thing about today."
"Hmm," murmured McCoy.
The Russian continued, "Well, its been a Muraviovs Law type of day for me. Whatever can go wrong did."
Kirk was puzzled. "Muraviovs Law?"
McCoy snorted. "He means Murphys Law!"
Chekovs expression was earnest. "It was originally Muraviovs Law, in honor of Vasily Sergeyivich Muraviov, but somehow the name got changed when it spread outside of Russia."
Both Kirk and McCoy started shaking their heads. Kirk then declared, "I cant believe hed claim the Russians came up with Murphys Law when it isnt exactly something to be proud of."
"Then again, Jim, the Russians are famous for their fatalism, so its not out of character for them to come up with such a law."
Captain Kirk gave the doctor a "yeah, right" look.
The captain came closer to Chekovs bedside. "The day was not all bad for you. It appears you found some relics from an old civilization. Ive turned over those discs you found to Mister Spock for analysis. Well be sending down an archaeology team down there to study things further. You can assist Lieutenant Palamas, once youre out of Sickbay. And, by the way, we found a way to disable the forcefield that prevented communication."
"Im glad something good came out of this mess after all," cracked the young Russian.
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