Sherp: Space is like soooooooo big
Sherp Uses Tricorder
With its characteristic hum and sparkle, the transporter beam deposited the King Arthur's away team on the surface of Theta Epsilon IV. Glancing around and seeing nothing threatening, the team spread out and the Captain flipped open his tricorder.
"The nearest artifact is this way, just over that hill. Delta formation; stay sharp, team."
The team set out on foot at a moderate pace, the Captain clearly enjoying the fresh summer air and the near--grass underfoot, but then he noticed a troubled look on the face of their orange-skinned Science officer. "Something on your mind, Abrams?"
"It's not that I mind being reduced to my component atoms and beamed through the atmosphere in a billion pieces--I've gotten used to that. What I find disturbing is when the Transporter Chief puts us down more than half a klick from our destination. He knows where we're going--I fed him the coordinates myself. Are the transporter's targeting sensors out of alignment? Or is his aim really that bad?" Abrams asked, one of his long eyebrows twitching.
The Saurian engineer chuckled. "Maybe he thinks you need the exercise."
Abrams turned and fixed him with a glare. "Do you remember that time we assaulted that Klingon research facility on that ice planet? He beamed us down on the wrong side of that camp full of Swordmasters and Targ handlers. We spent half an hour hacking our way through the lot of them in the freezing cold. I fell into a valley of frozen methane. If I hadn't been wearing energy-resistant armor, the Doc would still be defrosting me."
The Saurian didn't blink. "But it was good exercise, right?"
Abrams muttered imprecations to himself as the away team crested the hill. On the gently declining slope they saw a grove of trees with a large clay tablet leaning against one of them. The Captain pointed. "There it is."
The away team approached carefully, keeping a wary eye out for trouble. Abrams knelt and waved his tricorder over the tablet, the little device chirping and scanning the artifact on a dozen different wavelengths. He examined the display. "Captain, this is indeed one of the Tkarian artifacts that was described to us. It appears to be a record of their conquests over time." His brow furrowed. "That's odd."
The Captain raised his eyebrows. "Yes?"
"Sir, there is data encoded into this tablet on the atomic level. The Tkarians of that time period had only just mastered the kiln; it's impossible for them to have recorded information at this level. This tablet may be a fake."
The Captain flipped open his tricorder. "Let me look at that." He frowned. "Why would someone make a fake that was so easy to detect?"
"Unknown. I am storing a copy of the encoded data, but it appears to be incomplete. We should try to find the rest of the tablets; perhaps they contain different fragments of the same file."
"Heh. Space is sooo big."
Abrams glanced up at the Captain, still staring into his tricorder. " Yes sir. I'm reading the next-closest artifact at heading 047, distance 151 meters." They got to their feet. "Shall we?"
The next tablet was much like the first. The away team watched the small avians and the wind blowing in the grass while the Captain took readings from the Tkarian artifact. Finishing the scan, he stood and examined the tricorder's smallish display. "Space is like sooooo big."
The away team glanced at each other. "Is there some reason you're bringing this up, Captain?" the Saurian asked.
The Captain tapped a few keys, projecting the heading to the next artifact as a long blue pointer in the air. "Change of plans, team. I think the Transporter Chief is onto something--you all need some exercise. We're sprinting to the next tablet. Ready? Go!" And the Captain took off at a dead run.
Abrams was somewhat taken aback. S'lessh's earlier jibe had obviously been a joke; everyone on the team was well within Starfleet's personal fitness standards. But there went the Captain, dashing across the grassy landscape, and there was no ignoring a direct order. So sprint they did.
All of them were out of breath by the time they arrived at the third tablet. That didn't faze the Captain; almost before they'd come to a halt, the Captain had his tricorder out and was scanning away. "Space is like sooooooo big!"
"Captain, what's going on?"
The Captain didn't answer, just flashed up the blue directional indicator and took off again. The away team hurried after him. Abrams put on an extra burst of speed and managed to catch up; he got out his tricorder just as they came to a halt and started running a scan of his own. Adrenal levels only slightly elevated, no evidence of disease wait a second. The Captain's tricorder had something unusual onscreen. The angle was wrong for him to get a good look at it, but it was definitely not standard LCARS output--it looked like a moiré pattern of some kind. He adjusted the setting to scan for technological anomalies and jumped a little bit at the flashing warning labels that came up. CLASS 2 VIRAL HAZARD! CLASS 3 MEMETIC HAZARD!
"Space is, like, sooooooooo biiiiig!"
"Captain!" Abrams flipped his tricorder shut just as a hypnotic pattern began to replace its display and controls. Dropping it to the ground, he pulled the phaser from his belt, glancing down to confirm that it was on Stun and crumpled under the Captain's haymaker. "Ungh!"
"SLASH EM TRICORDER! SPACE IS LIKE SOOOOOOO BIIIII--"
PHZZEW! Three phaser beams lanced out and struck the Captain in his torso. He fell with a grunt, dropping the infected tricorder to one side. Abrams worked his jaw, then tapped his commbadge. "Away team to King Arthur! Medical emergency! Beam the Captain directly to Sickbay and put him under quarantine!"
The Captain vanished. The King Arthur's XO spoke from Abrams' commbadge. "What's going on down there?"
"Give us a minute and I'll find out." Abrams picked up the infected scanning device, holding it at arms' length like it was going to bite him. "S'lessh, set your tricorder to Autistic Mode and give me a scan of this thing's databanks. There's a virus on here and I want to know what kind it is."
Very carefully, the Saurian examined it with his own tricorder. He made a slight buzzing noise in the back of his throat, his species' equivalent of an impressed whistle. "Self-extracting, polymorphic, multiplatform, visual-memetic...wow, this is Tkarian work, all right."
"And not a genuine relic from the Tzing Dynasty, I'll wager." Abrams slotted the Captain's tricorder into his belt holster, mentally labeling it "evidence", then glanced at his own scanner, still lying where he had dropped it. "Stand back." Adjusting his phaser to the Vaporize setting, he disintegrated the infected device with a single shot. "It'll be up to Starfleet whether those tablets get destroyed, studied, or used as Exhibit A in a trial. All we have to do is make sure that nobody else gets infected. Let's round 'em up. King Arthur, I'm going to be tagging these tablets; please bring them onboard under quarantine." He stooped and attached a transporter tag to the cryptic monument to a dead empire; it disappeared in a whir and sparkle of light.
S'lessh turned to walk back toward the previous tablet. "Do we have to--?"
"Run? No. There's no hurry." Abrams took a deep breath of the planet's summer air. "It's a beautiful day."