A huge thank you to Acacia at Acacia Story Corner for drawing a cute picture of Zad Riker! Visit Acacia’s blog at: https://acaciastorycorner.wordpress.com/ for short stories and more art.
Towing Data back to the shuttle was no easy task. It would have been hard enough if Data had been a regular human male, but he was an android. And it didn’t take long for Zad to find out that android parts were very, very heavy.
Zad half lifted, half dragged Data back to the shuttle, which took a good solid hour or so. By the time he safely transported Data to the shuttle, Data was a tangled mess of ripped cloth, dust and mud.
Zad was feeling the same way as well: dirty, spent, and exhausted. But Zad ordered a sandwich and a caffeinated energy boost from the food dispenser and plodded on.
Zad sat down. He pinched his eyes together.
He breathed three deep, long breaths.
First, the plant.
Zad stepped outside the shuttle and locked the doors, trying the handle several times to make sure.
Now energized almost a little too much, Zad picked up Data’s tricorder and began scanning. Zad make some mental notes.
No, the plant obviously wouldn’t be growing among rocks, and not in the water either. If one could even call the murky mud water.
He located a patch of green and found the plant with ease. Gathering a large bunch, Zad headed back to the ship.
He unlocked the ship, placed the plant in a sample container, and slumped down in the seat. He ran his fingers through his floofy hair, cleared his head, then turned on the engine. The engine roared to life, but soon stalled and lay dead.
Expending his dictionary of Klingon, Romulan, and Ferengi curses, Zad checked the engine coil. It looked fine. He stepped outside the ship and took a look up the cylinder; that looked fine also.
He checked both the coil and the cylinder again, this time with an engineering tricorder. It all checked out.
Then it hit him.
When they had landed, they were low on fuel. Grumbling, Zad scrambled to the pilot’s chair and flicked the fuel reserve lever. It was enough for about three hours of comfortable flight, but far from enough to carry them back to the Enterprise.
“Computer, where is the closest fuel station?”
“Searching.” After a few moments, the computer finished calculating. “Ursa Omicron V. Three point five hours from current location.”
Could he make it? It would be risky. But he had no choice.
Ursa Omicron V. Zad laid in the course. He had attempted several flight simulations with his family on the holodeck before, but he had never actually flown a real ship in real life. With the course laid in, the shuttle Pythagoras lifted into the sky, through the atmosphere and into the stars.
Zad exhaled. It would be a long night.
Although Zad put the ship on autopilot, he didn’t sleep a wink.
He didn’t even try, because he knew the moment he laid his head down, he’d never be able to wake up again. By the time he downed his fifth energy boost, he felt that the drink didn’t even work anymore.
Before exiting the shuttle Pythagoras, he scrounged around for anything that might be of value. Somehow, he managed to find an ancient wrist watch, an old-model phaser, and Data’s violin. Data had brought it along with hopes that the hopeless boy might practice between destinations, but to no avail.
Bearing the items in his arms, he exited the shuttle and walked to the fuel station. Ursa Omicron V was not an unpleasant place, although it was rather desolate.
There were houses and there was a school, but nobody seemed to occupy neither house nor school. People definitely lived in the small town, but he scarcely saw anyone.
The door to the fuel station opened with a haunting jingle of bells. An old woman at the counter wore glasses, despite the fact that Zad’s society had progressed to laser eye treatment.
There was little light in the small fuel station, save the large window above the door. In the back, there was a refrigerator section for drinks along the wall. In front of that, there were rows of snacks and candies.
The old lady looked sharply at Zad. “Can I help you sir?”
Zad cleared his throat. “Yes ma’am, may I have a fuel refill for my shuttle?” The woman squinted in his direction.
“How old are you, boy?”
Zad hesitated. How old could he look at his oldest? “Seventeen.”
The woman looked shocked. “I’ll need some kind of payment. A shuttle requires quite a bit of fuel. Do you have anything?”
Zad pulled out a silver case. “I have a 120 year old violin. Would that cover the fuel costs?”
The woman’s jaw flopped open. In fact, it flopped open so much that her glasses fell off her nose and onto the floor with a small crash.
“Y-y-yesss. That will very much so cover it. Is—is there anything else you would like?”
Zad looked around the run down fuel station. Everything he could get from the food dispenser or he already had on the ship. “Uh, it’s okay. Just a fuel refill. I hope you enjoy playing violin.”
Zad smiled, but in truth, he wanted to get out of there. And back to the Enterprise.
The old woman shuffled and sniffled and took her own sweet time filling up the tank. Zad resisted the urge too many times to kick the old lady out and fill up the tank himself. But he kept his cool and kept quiet.
An hour later, Zad faced the stars once more.
The eighteen hours back to the Enterprise would be the longest in his life.
“Approaching the USS Enterprise in thirty minutes. Approaching the USS Enterprise in thirty minutes.”
The droning sound of the shuttle drove Zad’s nerves raw. Everything now seemed to irk him.
First: code the door open. Second: land with all precautions. Third: make an antidote with the plant. Fourth: cure the medical team. Fifth: Take a nap.
A nap sounded particularly appealing at the moment. He had never liked naps until now.
The Enterprise loomed magnificently ahead. Home. Within thirty minutes he was nose to nose with the shuttle bay doors.
If only Data was here—he could do all this coding in warp speed.
His brain wasn’t functioning anymore. His temples pounded painfully and heat burned behind his eyes. Having gone almost twenty-four hours with no sleep, it would be near impossible for him to do anything, let alone code a door open.
This, too, he had never done before, but as always, he had practiced on a holodeck. With the deft precision of a Starfleet–born child, he punched the codes into the console almost mechanically. Moving in a daze, the door of the ship parted before his eyes.
Now on manual, Zad maneuvered the shuttle Pythagoras into the shuttle bay and landed.
Zad sighed and ran his dirty fingers through his messy brown hair.
At last he was home.
Wasting no time, Zad jumped out of his seat, grabbed the strongest energy boost, and ran. Regretfully leaving Data behind in the shuttle, Zad snatched the sample container and dashed into the lab.
Now, with a clear-ish brain, Zad opened the half finished document of Data’s analysis.
Okay, deep breath. What would dad do? What would Admiral Picard do?
He opened a new document, his own document. Zad saved it as ‘Mytochondryham Ephusus’.
Dad would . . . Admiral Picard would . . .
. . . make a detailed log on the plant.
And log exactly how he went about doing it.
Grumbling to himself on his misfortune, Zad opened a new document and voiced in each step.
Peering through his foggy lab goggles, Zad transferred the plant to the liquid concentrate machine. With one tap of the finger, the machine whirred to life. Zad slowly fed the leaves of the Hurtyl through the opening and watched thick, gloopy drops fall into a flask one by one.
Now, diluting the solution by a four to one ratio of water to concentrate, Zad filled up the first syringe. Zad tested the mixture once in a medical simulator. It all checked out. He just hoped it would be strong enough.
And he hoped his sweat, blood, and tears would not be wasted.
. . . to be continued . . .
—part seven next week—
Author’s note (Evelyn): A couple years ago, I went to a fossil park five hours from home with my family. And that’s where my inspiration for Ursa Omicron V came from. As you can imagine, it was a pretty desolate place and if it didn’t have cool fossil museums, nobody would dare step foot in that haunting town.
Emily says: As I edited this piece I was soooo proud of Evelyn! This fanfiction lit up my day yesterday when I was stressed about a school project. My favorite part is when Zad gives the violin to the old lady on Ursa Omicron V.