Saturday, August 13, 2011
A Home for the Shadows. How the Story Ends.
I wrote the Voyager mission "Shadows" several years ago. It has been a favorite of many, especially those who enjoy a good scare. Today, an update on Shadows and an answer to the question; What happened next?
The Voyager crew successfully downloaded the extensive holographic program seconds before the Borg cube reached them. The Voyager's nacelles took two hits from the Borg before the captain and crew managed to coax their salvaged Transwarp core to life. Space ignited around the Starship as it disappeared into a quickly dissipating white cloud of supercharged particles. The Borg cube was not prepared and lost them in the hyperspace jump.
The Voyager reached Earth with several tons of Dilithium Ore. Earth was on a high state of alert. Mad Dog and the Orion Pirates were on the move. Earth was in their cross hairs. The latest reconnaissance suggested a full scale attack was likely in one, perhaps two weeks. Our sources on Alph Centarui reported the resupply of the pirate fleet was nearly complete.
The Voyager crew was extensively debriefed. Command agreed with the Voyager Captain's decision to download the entire holographic civilization found on the alien planet. The program was downloaded from the Voyager's computer to Starfleet Command's mainframe computer located deep underground in the Rocky Mountains of North America. Command's best programmers were assigned to examine the holographic code to find the reason the holograms were 'stopping' (freezing) and make repairs if possible.
Mad Dog attacked as expected. Because of the Voyager's successful mission to find and acquire 4 tons of Grade 4 dilithium, the United Earth Fleet successfully defended the planet over a six month period involving several space battles around Earth. Mad Dog escaped and peace was restored.
Three years later, Starfleet Command kept their word to the Voyager's captain and completed the repair of the holographic community's programming. A new home in New Zealand was found for the program to run without interference. A large antimatter generator powered by dilithium was built for the project.
On February 15, 2314 the community's program was reactivated with great fanfare. Dignitaries from across the Federation attended. At 11:59 A.M. the green valley lay empty except for patches of forest with thick waving grasses and several dozen holographic projectors mounted on towers rising hundreds of feet into the air - all evenly spread over the valley. At 12:00 Noon the program was launched and the holographic projectors initiated.
The valley transformed moments later. A holographic city appeared with tall gleaming buildings inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people / holograms. Each computer generated hologram was patterned after someone who lived thousands of years ago on a planet on the opposite side of the Milky Way. The hundreds watching from the grandstands applauded. This drew the attention of several holographic children playing around a tree in a field outside the city - closest to the humans. One of them stopped and curiously walked toward them. He stopped to pick a holographic flower growing in midst of the valley's grasses.
"Amazing," said one of the spectators. "It's so real. Did you notice how that flower blended in with the native grasses?"
"This was the most complex holographic program we've ever seen," replied one of the programmers who worked to restore the alien code. "Look at the boy's face. Look at the complex colors. Notice how his hair blows naturally in the wind. The programming was amazing,"
"How did you restore the code if it was that advanced?" The Voyager's Captain asked.
Several people gathered closer to the programmer to hear his answer. "We found a self diagnostic sub routine in the holographic code that helped debug the program. That's the only way we could have pulled this off."
The Voyager's Captain, the one who risked his ship and crew to download the program so those long dead could tell the story of who they were and how they lived, walked toward the advancing hologram. He stopped and waited for the boy to close the gap between them. The young hologram, the image of a boy who died in a devastating war fought several millennium ago, stopped two feet in front of him.
The boy smiled and presented the alien flower to the Captain in greeting. The captain reached out and the boy let go. The projection fell through the captain's hand to the ground. The boy laughed. He was programmed to understand the difference between solid and light. He held out his hand. The Captain hesitated. The boy waited patiently.
"He wants you to take his hand," the programmer prodded the Captain.
"But there's nothing to hold on to," the captain questioned.
"Your form captures the sunlight, doesn't it?" the boy asked. The captain thought for a moment and understood what the boy meant. He nodded and reached out to take hold of the artificial light. The image of the boy's hand tingled against his palm and fingers, and together they walked toward the gleaming city in the alien sun.
"Everyone, come watch us work and play," the boy said to the gathering. "We have much to show and tell you."