Previously: Episode One
JUMPER’s LOG, Star Date 2266, April 3rd (8 Months, 4 Days)
Blah Blah Blah. Boring stuff. Skip skip skip. The next incident of any real note, i.e. the next time I played a significant role in something worthy of being reported to Starfleet HQ, was when we picked up a faint radio broadcast while passing through the fringe of a local nebula. Tracing the signal back to its point of origin, we found ourselves near a quiet M-Class planet orbiting a small orange dwarf tucked away in a corner of space we’d have likely cruised right past had we not heard the signal. The signal itself was coming from an old Human Generation ship called the Tannebrook, an automated distress signal triggered by the ancient computers as the ship began to break down in several potentially disastrous ways.
The Tannebrook was abandoned and, thanks to the loss of station-keeping systems, in a slowly decaying orbit that would eventually see it break apart as it re-entered the planet’s atmosphere. The nuclear engines were particularly nasty and would no doubt spread radiogenic particles all across the verdant and largely pristine globe, and the contents of the hydroponics section had mutated in ways that would probably not be good for the local ecosystem even should there not be a radiogenic incident.
Scans of the planet revealed one large human settlement surrounded by a couple dozen smaller ones along the north-eastern coast of a large continent, but we detected no technological signatures, and no other evidence of intelligent life… and the local fauna was mostly aquatic and the largest terrestrial non-Terran lifeform our scans could pick up was the size of a small beaver or large woodchuck.
While Engineering went over to stabilize the Tannebrook so our historians could get at her computers, the Captain authorized a small, discrete away team. I was selected to do the basic medical profile, as Dr Yue was suffering a bit of a head cold and we didn’t want to spread anything to the locals if we could at all help it. Our probes showed that the dress code was what one would expect of a British settlement of the mid to late 1600s, and so, one bonnet later, I looked… somewhat… presentable.
The towns were spread out around the large central port, at distances that ranged from 30 to 145 kilometers, and one was on the far side of the bay upon which most of them were situated. We (well, the senior officers) decided to go there first, as it was far enough away from the city that our behavioural gaffs might be viewed as explicable while not being so far away as to make our presence remarkable. A barge, or at least the sections of it, was fabricated to local specs from wood transported and processed from remote but local forests, and stocked it with glassware, silverware, and pottery that would be seen to be of excellent quality but perfectly possible by local tech levels.
We also produced several copies of the King James Bible, as our probes had shown it to be the text found inside every local church, and all members of the away teams sported the wooden crosses that everyone seemed to be wearing. We weren’t certain our bibles would match the local ones, but hopefully no one would look too closely.
Beaming down into a remote stretch of beach some 15 kilometers outside the town, we set about constructing our barge… or rather the Historical Reenactment Committee did, while I scanned the local flora and fauna. It wasn’t Earth flora, but, like that of most M-class Planets, humans could survive on some of it and would be poisoned by other bits of it. The trees were mostly deciduous, pseudo-oaks and maples. One of them was even fairly close to a sugar maple, though the sap that collected from it would be amazingly spicy as it was packed with capsaicinoids. I took a sample for… reasons.
It took most of the day to get the boat seaworthy and load it with our provisions, then we pushed off into the water and curled around the point of land so that, as the sun was rising, we’d become visible to the town’s early risers without any of them wondering why they hadn’t seen us coming the day before. We were running without any form of light, guided by our tricorders and powered by oars (and a small but powerful impeller engine designed to look like a keelboard). We lifted the keel as we approached the shoreline and hailed the town, our Universal Translators turning our 23rd century English into their 18th century English.
At least half the town had come out to see us land, and an old man dressed as what I recognized as a preacher’s outfit tromped down to the edge of the water. “If ye’ve come to trade, we don’t want any firewater nor wine here, so you can be off with ye if that’s yer business. We’re full up stocked on fish and taters too, and we’ve enough salt poke and iron for the forge, so you don’t need t’ bother. And we’re good on bibles and crosses and we don’t need a bell for the church, thanks but no thanks. And…”
The Captain stepped to the prow as the barge ran aground, hat in hand, chuckling, “I’ll stop you there, father. I’ll just tell you what we’ve got and you can say yeah or nay, no hard feelings. Save you a mite of wind and effort listin’ everything you’ve got that we might or might not have.” That earned a few nods from the townsfolk, who saw the wisdom of the Captain’s words, but it seemed to annoy the padre a mite to be interrupted.
The Captain had chosen to head this Away Mission not because such behaviour is actually typical of Starfleet Ship Captains, despite what you might have been lead to believe by certain over-libidinous hotshots, but because he was both an age-of-sail enthusiast as well as a mature male human, which given the culture apparently locally dominant would be the best leader to present the locals with. He even had a beard, which proved to be an excellent thing.
We lowered the front of the barge and rolled one of the four carts we’d loaded as displays out onto the beach, laying wide planks for them to rest on so they didn’t get lodged in the sand. We barely got them above the high tide line before the townsfolk gathered round, oohing and aahing and picking at our wares.
“Will you folks be staying long?” one of them asked.
“Just till monday next. Can’t go sooner and give you folks chance to consider your purchases, can’t go sunday cause that’s the lord’s day. So monday it is,” responded Captain Rademacher. We (the archeology department at least) were fairly certain the locals used the same seven days as most of the Human Race did, but it was a risk, especially since we were only vaguely certain today was tuesday. They did and it was, so that worked out, but it was close, since linguistic drifted had changed the names of the days to maundee, duesdee, wansdee, tursdee, freydee, sautyrdee, and saundee, but our accents seemed to be within acceptable limits.
There wasn’t an inn in town, but a couple of the town Aldermen offered to allow us to use the town hall to camp out in if we promised to clean up after ourselves and donate that fine crystal goblet to the town Church. The Captain agreed and we rolled our carts up into the town and set up shop on the edge of the village green, where several sheep were grazing.
Natural curiosity seemed a little lacking in these folks, we noticed over the next few hours, but careful probing wasn’t seen as offensive and we learned all about the history of Provincetown (pronounced Prahvehnztaun). It were the fifth Colony here in Massachusetts Bay, established in the Year of Our Lord 1700, and it was on that spot right over there that the Mayflower Compact was signed, yes indeed. The city folk may have settled over in Plymouth (Plehmuth) or up in Boston (Baaastun) which was looking to maybe overtake the capital in a few years, but everyone knew that Provincetown was really where New England started.
The thing was… this wasn’t New England. This wasn’t Massachusetts Bay or anything like it. As close approximations came, it was actually closer to The Gulf of Tonkin, but on the other side of the planet and upside down. And yes, that big old Island turned out to be Rhode Island. It was like a sick joke. Finding out what had happened to Old England earned us a lot of laughs and a couple of, “Well, if they could breath water, I guess they’re still there, living with the fishes.” And one “It sank, din’t? Pa sais it sank, in the flood and all.. Like all the rest of the world’s evil doers. Just us left, and all.”
It was at this point I decided to steal one of the town’s bibles… for a few minutes. Pretending I’d accidentally dropped mine overboard (In actuality I’d shunted it into my warehouse) I entered the church. “Father?” I called softly.
He looked up from where he’d been polishing the Altar “Yes Child?” He asked in a tone that said, “Go away, stupid woman.”
“I… I accidentally… there was this swell… and I was reading…”
“I dropped my bible overside… and its only. You said the town had plenty… Could I borrow one? Just… Just till we leave? Or… or I could pay-”
“No!” he snapped, sputtering as if the idea was somehow shocking. “I mean, yes, yes of course you can borrow one. From… from the old ones by the door… yes, that’s it.”
I noticed he didn’t move any closer to me, just waved me towards a couple of well thumbed leather bound bibles by the door. “Just return it before you leave, child.” He seemed to stress the word, as if only a child would be so stupid. I ground my teeth, but took the book and fled.
I took refuge out in the fields outside of town, then, hiding behind a tree, OmniGeared the heck out of that book. The OmniGel flowed out into the pages, then whisked back, leaving the book slightly cleaner than it had been. “Well?” I asked VIctoria, my VI after she’d had a second or two to run a comparison.
“There are many differences between this edition and the standard King James,” she replied.
“There are too many to list in a short time, but this version rearranges many things, removing practically all contradictions, leaving the word of Jesus incontrovertible. The creation story has been modified to say Day of Eternity, and the Parable of the Bird and the Mountain added to the text to explain it. Adam and Eve are the leaders of the people of the Garden of Eden, the first King and Queen of mankind. It also moves the flood to the very end and puts Revelation in its place. Thus, this world is full of only the righteous who have survived both the test of fire and the test of water. It also includes most of the myth of Atlantis, replacing it with England… which also replaces Rome. Lastly, there is no mention of slavery anywhere in this book. The concept has been completely scrubbed, as has the ownership and sale of women, as well as animal sacrifice. The ambiguity of many of the commandments is clarified, usually in the most direct way possible. For instance, the line now reads ‘If a Man fornicate with a Man, as he does with a Woman, He shall be flogged in the public square.’ Incidentally, almost all the commandments have such punishments for infraction, save murder, the molestation of children or animals, and witchcraft. For Men, masterbation is advised to ward off the sins of infidelity or other temptations, and for Women, Lesbianism or The Sisterhood of the Flesh, is advised, for ‘no ill can come of it, even should a married woman lay with her own daughter, be she of age.’ It also advises that both men and women in their prime of life should do the work of the town while those who are two score and ten or older should have the charge of raising and educating the young. In addition-”
“I get it. Lots of changes. Oy. I better get back.”
And I did… but I tell you… kids are damned fucking sneaky… and good at hiding. And I was in a hurry. I’m not saying what happened was all my fault. Oh no. We’d already tripped the town’s suspicion meter, but me talking to a disembodied voice in Vulcanese didn’t help at all.
I reported in to the Captain, and he blanched visibly. “That… was very good thinking. We’ll… have to get our books replaced at once. As soon as it’s safe.”
I agreed, volunteering myself and Zane to head into the woods with the old bibles and to bring back the copies. I’d already transmitted the revised text up to Potemkin and they’d begun fabrication even before the Captain ordered it. That went without a hitch, at least, thanks to Apparition. We snuck out of the building in the middle of the night, the bibles already transferred to the warehouse, Zane in dog form and me under my cloak, then, hunkered down in a field of grain,
I jumped to the vacant beach where we’d launched from and Zane joined me a moment later. I patted his head “Good Puppy” and he shifted back, grinning at me.
“Romantic night. We could stay for a few hours and-” He had the good grace to oof as I elbowed him. Vulcans are fairly strong, even without all of my boosting.
We transported the new books down, and I promised the XO that the old books were well and truly dealt with, then jumped back… only to find that the Captain and everyone else had been clapped in irons and dragged to the church.
“Zane… go Fido” I told him, as I transformed into my Asari form and went full stealth. I pictured the inside of the Chapel, using my Hypervisor to look through the walls until I found a safe spot to apparate to. I did so as the noise level peaked inside.
“They’re in league with the Devil!”
“Two of them’s missin’!”
“I followed their tracks and they vanished!”
I groaned silently, watching the Provincetown Witch trial in the making. I apparated back out and subvocalized, “Commander, they’ve taken everyone besides Zane and myself. There are approximately 380 of them. We could, in theory, stun them all, but they’d definitely notice being knocked unconscious and then having 12 suspected witches just vanish.”
“Stand by. Don’t do anything unless the away team is in immediate danger. We’re getting data off the Tannebrook. It looks like the colony was deliberately designed and indoctrinated to believe they’d arrived here by boat and settled naturally. It looks like they landed their pods on the Island, built boats, and sailed into the bay from there.”
“Fascinating. But what about the Captain? We can’t just prove they aren’t witches. By these people’s standards they are. But if we prove them right, we’ll just start a purge. And if we go the other route and create a miracle, then we’ll start a new wave of fervour. And if we just tell the truth, we’ll be violating the Prime Directive,” I rattled off the various disastrous possibilities as calmly as only a Vulcan can.
“I’m not sure of that. Strictly speaking, these are Earthlings, from Earth, and they’ve been lied to by their own ancestors. A reasonable interpretation of the regs says this should be considered a lost colony that’s reverted, either through action or accident, to a Primitive State. Screw it. We’re coming down to get the Captain. Stand by to assist the tactical team.”
“Rodger.” I motioned to Zane, hissing, “Change back, help’s on the way.” And transformed myself. Moments later the Commander and crew beamed down… in… I kid you not… Red Coats and holding muskets… well… phasers built to look like muskets.
“If anyone asks, we’re British,” she said, and then they kicked down the door of the Church.
All things considered, explaining that Britain had… ahem… been lifted into the Celestial Realm and transported to another Eden, rather than sinking, was… questionable. But we landed a shuttlecraft… painted to look like it was made of wood… outside for the townsfolk to gawp at. The Captain, taken aback, quickly understood, and explained that, yes, we were simply… visitors… checking in with the daughter colony to make sure all was well and faithful and that, soon enough, others would come, bringing with them fascinating tales of the old world and… wondrous goods from across the sea. We presented them with a lovingly detailed copy of Principia Mathematica, with sections on all sorts of useful inventions that might help their society, then bid them a fond adieu. I did have to explain to the child that I’d been praying in Latin, a language he’d never heard of, but I explained that Latin was the language Jesus spoke and he nodded as if this was sage wisdom.
“Oh. That makes sense, ‘cause English is British, not Israelish, Right?”
I nodded vaguely. “Something like that,” I said, then patted his head.
We left at that point, crowding into the shuttle and leaving our boat and wares behind. After many tense seconds, the Commander commented “These clothes itch,” which cracked everyone up. I got my second citation for that, nothing fancy, just the Prentares Ribbon of Commendation. Praising a Volcan for being levelheaded… obvious much?
Oh the other hand, Zane got one too and, I have to tell you, he looked excessively pleased with himself. Praising Zane for anything but courage… possibly unfounded.
Next: Episode Three
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