The year was 2899.
It was the night before Christmas, December 24th.
Only days before our arrival, the planet known as The Great Library had 35 million scholars in residence.
The population had been reduced to nothing.
The images filling the screen in front of us showed a vast library that covered the entirety of the small planet, a library which I once remembered as bustling with people from every known civilization and species (and some unknown), was now without a single occupant. It was a city effectively running itself automatically.
Our time ship drifted in orbit overhead.
“Captain, it’s confirmed, we have no response to our communication and no signs life. Not even a mouse.” said my Sensors Commander Tiffany Booth.
“You have a perverse sense of humor,” said my science officer, Commander Rachel Gooch.
I had become increasingly tired of her judging me, without so much as an inquiry as to what prompted my laughter.
I had reluctantly been given the helm of the vessel USS Timeship Enterprise for a variety of reasons I won’t get into – yet.
But this leadership came at a cost: I was forced to deal with a high degree of skepticism among those I was leading, especially Rachel and.
Commander Jaclyn Killeen, my Communications Officer then said “I agree, that was just not funny,”
I had learned to roll with the punches. I was here to teach them about perspective as much as they were here to be a part of a fantasy and family I longed for.
“There’s an earth poem. Ancient Earth poem by your definition. The poem goes something like this ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’,” I breathed.
First Officer Seven of Nine responded “Ironic. I suspect there’s a correlation between that poem and the disappearances.”
“As do I , Seven, as do I,” I responded, finding a little satisfaction in finding a modicum of support on this haphazard team.
“Commander Patel, are you familiar with the poem?,” I then asked.
“I am not, but give me a moment and I’ll look it up,” she said.
“Captain, shall I prepare an away team?,” said Seven of Nine.
I loved that woman. It was almost as if we were in tune with eachother.
“Yes, please.” I said “Seven people: Jackie and Rachel and two others you select and two red shirts.”
“Red shirts?,” Commander Killeen exclaimed, “Are you trying to get someone killed?”
Seven of Nine ignored this and continued to the jetway.
“No, Commander Killeen, I am not,” I said, and without blinking an eye “but if that’s what happens, then it does.”
She gave Rachel a conspiratorial look I ignored.
“COMMANDER PATEL,” I said, in a raised voice, “do you have anything for me?”
“Sir. I have checked all of LCARS and found no record of anything resembling ‘Twas the night before Christmas.’. I have also connected with the Great Library’s computer systems and I have found no record of anything with them either,” she said
Commander Gooch said “Perhaps your memory is flawed?”
“Nice try, again, Commander Gooch, we both know better than that. Commander Patel, do you see any gaps in the library’s texts – where there should be something but there isn’t?”
The Great Library began construction just after the great war ended in 2410. Like so many great engineering projects which came before it, it was the pinnacle of interspecies relationships, engineering, and information technology. The goal for the library was to prevent any wars for information from ever occurring again. And with this – came a great attention to the detail and predictable accuracy of the cataloging systems.
It had to be, after all, accessible to every species without limitation and with ease of use a requirement.
Commander Patel’s eyes grew wide “Oh my God. If this is true.”
A chill went through the bridge.
Commander Killeen said “What, Kena, what are you seeing?”
“My timeline. My world. My entire history. It’s not there,“ said Commander Patel.
“Your world? Our world. But what do you mean gone?,” Commander Killeen said.
Her eyes glossed over, she was fighting tears. “It’s just not there. None of it. LCARS contains records of the starship and crew and our experience, but it has absolutely nothing of our planet’s records.”
I looked at Commander T’Pol, our Vulcan commander of security “Have we been breached?”
“We have not. “
I smiled again, as Seven of Nine showed up on the bridge with two red shirts.
I shouldn’t say red shirts. Since everyone on board the time traveling vessel was naked.
They had been assigned red com badges for the offsite mission.
Commander Killeen sighed at seeing my smile “Why the Cheshire cat?”
I responded quickly, having expected a smart ass remark like that from her “I feel like Sherlock Holmes. We have an honest to goodness mystery at hand.”
She didn’t get the cultural reference, as usual.
I wasn’t sure if she ever really would.
“Captain are you ready?,” Seven of Nine said.
I looked at Jackie and Rachel who nodded affirmatively.
“We are,” I responded.
Seven then said transporter room “Seven to beam down to the surface.”
Commander Lisa Milot – the transporter chief – responded with “Seven why are you referring to yourself in the third person again? Are you feeling ok?”
I laughed, again.
Seven started to respond, but was interrupted.
“Just kidding! I have your com badges locked in, beaming down now.”
And to that, the seven of us disappeared off the bridge of the USS Timeship Enterprise
And instantly found ourselves on the surface of the world known as The Great Library.
(to be continued)