I rolled on the Probability Matrix to learn: what kind of Deep Space Exploration plot will this be? The result: “Cosmozoan Lifeform Wants to Mate with Vessel.”

I set the Mission Tracker at 15 boxes, 5 per each of three Acts. Normally the player marks one box per Scene, but I planned to mark one box per Task to watch the arc of gameplay unfold more quickly.

Episode 1: The Call

Saavik’s referring to events from an adventure concept I developed aimed at recreating a “Star Trek Kaiju film.”

Personal Log, Stardate 51964.5.

Let it be known that we have slain the Beast. Millenia ago, the Shapers of Saras 5B declared as much, carving their proclamation into stone. Today, our Coalition forces - and those of the Dominion - declare the same again, for we may consider our mission a victory despite its great cost. Only the ages ahead will reveal whether this victory is fact or presumption.

With the crisis mitigated, I have yielded command of the Le Guin back to Captain Tholima. I now set myself to the task of making a full report of Starfleet’s encounter with the Saras entity and the Dominion confrontation which triggered its re-awakening.

Saavik took a long, slow breath. The task ahead of her was involved, at times quite taxing, yet no threat to life and limb: writing.

She knelt upon the floor of her quarters. They were guest quarters, suitable for an ambassador or other figure of note. Here she was, a passenger on her own ship.

Not her own, she noted, chastising herself for a Kirk-like sentimentality. None of it belongs to us as individuals she mused, we merely share it for a time.

Sentiment had been easily triggered in the past few days. As an Excelsior-class vessel in 2374, the USS Le Guin remained in fine shape, looking much as it did when she disembarked it for what she’d believed was the last time. Pressed back into active duty by virtue of her security clearance, she’d been unprepared for the emotions it brought forth, even here in the nondescript guest quarters. That touch of wistfulness and nostalgia which she’d seen in McCoy, Uhura, even Spock himself - was it arising in her? A loosening of the mental muscles, borne of age?

She rose to her feet.

As someone who’d sailed the galaxy for a century, Saavik knew: the danger was in inactivity. Self-preservation through that long, slow Vulcan middle-age was of the essence. Age need not be a hindrance, if the body and mind were kept honed, and the mind was the body.

She began her program of Vulcan calisthenics.

Saavik’s first challenge: a Fitness + Medicine Task to restore equilibrium. She succeeds on both dice, gaining Momentum.

The exercise was invigorating. The fog from sleep lost during the mission was extinguished. She felt her old frame alive: wiry, sluggish at times, but responsive, and shot through with her practiced awareness. When the comms chime intoned, she had almost anticipated it.

“Tholima to Saavik. I’m sorry to disturb you, ma’am.”

Saavik relaxed her body with a vibrant breath.

“I am ever at your disposal, Captain,” she replied.

“We’ve received a strange signal, and we’re trying to figure out what it means. Your considerable experience might help us cut through this. If you’re up to it, I’ll have Ops send the data to your quarters.“

“Negative,” she replied. “I shall be on the bridge in two minutes.”

“Thank you, Captain!” replied Tholima. Saavik was already in her closet retrieving the black-and-indigo Starfleet uniform.

“I presume you’ve run the signal through Starfleet’s data archives,” Saavik asserted. She, Captain Tholima, and the Le Guin’s Chief Science Officer Lieutenant Hernandez were huddled over the science console. The signal oscillated on the LCARS display, a metallic hum accompanying it.

“Of course, ma’am,” the Captain explained. “It matches no protocols from any known civilizations.”

“It’s not a civilization,” said Hernandez, shaking her head. “The signal’s rough, organic. Maybe even biological in origin. It’s definitely not machine-made. It’s an animal, sir, I’m sure of it.”

“On what channel has the signal been received?” inquired Saavik.

“It’s odd, ma’am,” said Hernandez. “The hull of the Le Guin itself seems to be resonating in response to some stimulus.”

She pulled up an exploded view of vibrating molecules.

“Duranium lattice vibration. Could it damage the ship?” pressed Saavik.

“Not at present levels, ma’am. It’s mild, but it seems to contain information. I think it’s a call or cry of some kind.”

“What the hell is vibrating our duranium atoms?” asked Captain Tholima. “We’re travelling at warp. No animal’s call could reach us.“

“It’s through subspace, sir,” explained the science officer. “Something is reaching through and interacting with the metallic compounds in our hull. It could be light years away.”

“Then it’s not an animal,” the Captain declared.

I rolled an Investigate Task using Saavik’s Insight + Science: could she draw upon her experience to make a successful argument in favor of the “animal” hypothesis, or would the situation need to escalate first? This succeeded. I used one of her Focuses - Starfleet History - which confers an Advantage upon success. Consulting the Advantages Matrix, I felt “Remember Your Training” was the best fit, and employed this in my narration without randomly selecting.

“Earth, 2286,” recounted Saavik. “A cosmozoic entity traversed vast distances to reach the planet after communication with its aquatic cetaceans was extinguished. I suggest you broaden your search, Captain, to include nearby systems, or sectors.”

The Captain huffed. “Looking for…?”

Saavik exchanged a glance with the Science Officer. “An organism capable of interstellar subspace communications. The source of the call.”

The Captain shrugged. “You heard her!” he shouted to the Ops manager. “Let’s go hunting.”

We would navigate to the source of the signal. Would we miss a key detail, placing us in a compromised situation? I used the ship itself to roll with its Sensors + Conn. I succeeded and gained more Momentum, but I already had Momentum. I chose to spend the excess immediately to move forward on the Mission Tracker progress.

An asteroid field lay across the Le Guin’s viewscreen. Flecks of deep blue slowly milled-about among them like amoeba.

“So these are our animals?” asked the Captain.

The Le Guin had come out of warp in the system pinpointed by their sensor sweep. The otherwise unpopulated, inert system hosted an asteroid belt which was remarkably full of life.

“Yes,” said Hernandez, enraptured at the view. “It’s like a cosmic coral reef…”

“And you’re sure these organisms are the source of the call?” he pressed.

“Affirmative, sir. The biggest of them are larger than a runabout. Subspace comms activity is detectable at their position and our hull’s duranium vibrations have increased 37% in their presence.”

“Still at safe levels?”

“So far.”

“But we seem to have attracted their presence, sir!” shouted the flight controller. “One of the largest has broken away from the belt. It’s drifting at sub-impulse speeds on a course towards our vessel.”


The mass of flesh was strange. Its crablike rocky hide shielded small, bright eyes, intent upon the Le Guin. Plasma trailed behind it from some inner engine-like organ supplying its propulsion.

“Doesn’t look friendly,” the Captain observed.

“We must not presume intent based on our cultural pre-conceptions,” warned Saavik, her aging eyes gazing upon the creature. “Infinite diversity in infinite - “

“Combinations, of course, ma’am,” said the Captain irritably. “I still want a threat assessment.”

“On it, sir!” cried Hernandez.

“Captain,” he continued to Saavik, pulling close to her. “Is it not the case that we’ve recently departed a system in which a large, spacebound entity was attracted to Starfleet technology, with malevolent intent?”

Saavik stared. “Indeed, Captain.”

“If this is evidence that the entity was not defeated, that the Beast has escaped the Saras system, the consequences would be catastrophic.”

Saavik returned her gaze to the creature. “I do not believe that is the case,” she explained. “But I cannot yet articulate why. I would like to assist with the threat assessment.”

“Sure. In the meantime,” he said, passing his gaze across the senior officers, “we’re going to yellow alert.”

Saavik leads the threat assessment with her Reason + Security. She failed initially, but I spent her Momentum to re-roll one die, succeeding.

“Let me repeat what I’ve heard here,” said Tholima. The eyes of his audience followed the blue-skinned Captain from as he paced the conference room.

“In addition to the high range optical sensors which you call ‘eyes,’ we believe from its neural functioning that the creature possesses a three-dimensional mental readout of the field. Just as our starship sensors provide.”

“That’s right, Captain,” admitted the science officer.

Saavik spoke up. “It is not so surprising. One might compare it to the natural sonar possessed by the fauna of many known worlds.“

Tholima frowned.

“It’s got plasma cutters for hands,” he continued. “Capable of eroding our shields, given sufficient time. Am I right?”

He was met with a nod.

“Weaponized acid injectors in its mouth -“

“Salivary glands,” Saavik interjected. “‘Weaponization’ is perhaps a premature characterization.“

“If you would allow me to finish, Captain?” he asked, unable to suppress a glare at the venerable Starfleet luminary.

Saavik could sense what was happening. The two stared at one another, and yet did not see eye to eye. Emotion swayed many non-Vulcan individuals, she reflected, even leaders. Especially leaders. Ego was sadly a prime factor in organizational relations, despite insistence to the contrary.

“By all means, Captain. I apologize for the interruption,” she replied.

“Acid injectors,” he repeated. “And plasma engines capable of near impulse speeds at maximum power. When will it reach our location?” he demanded.

“15 minutes, sir,” said the science officer.

“A living starship,” the Captain observed. “On an intercept course. Calling out to our hull’s duranium. It is hostile, and poses a material threat.”

“May I offer a perspective, Captain?” asked Saavik.

“Go ahead,” he replied, staring.

Saavik makes a case for calm apprisal using Presence + Command, succeeding.

Saavik took a breath, summoning some of the bodily calm she’d possessed during her exercise regimen.

“You have accurately assessed the creature’s capabilities. And I concur: it does threaten this vessel, and its behavior seems predatory.” Captain Tholima softened a bit, to hear her acknowledge the danger.

“So…we just leave the system,” offered the first officer. “It’ll forget all about us after we’re a few parsecs away - we just…leave it in peace!”

“We can’t leave it in peace,” Tholima stated, “if it’s the Beast.“

Saavik was the first the break the ensuing silence.

“The Captain correctly observes that we do not yet know the creature’s true nature,” she ventured. “Nor its intent. What are its drives? What destiny does it seek, wittingly or not? What is truly happening here?”

All eyes were upon her.

“Let us move the vessel to a safer distance, but one from which we may still observe the creature,” Saavik requested. “Allow me a team, Captain, to assemble a full profile of its biology, its life cycle, its origins, and to the extent possible, its motivations. Then we may draw informed conclusions about our vessel’s next best course of action.”

Tholima stared, then shrugged. “Captain, we’re lucky to have your contributions. You’ll have your team. Let’s do this, people - dismissed.”

“But Captain?” Tholima asked, as most of the officers had filed out. “You’ll have one hour. After that, I’ll need to make a determination.”

Saavik pursed her lips. “There is much that can be done in one hour,” she acknowledged.

“If it’s the Saras entity…” Tholima spoke low, and only the two of them remained in earshot. “We will need to notify Nechayev immediately. It will then fall to us to sterilize the system.”

No, she thought. Her centenarian cells came alive to the danger the Le Guin’s Captain now represented. She tried to inquire: why? How am I so sure? Intuition was not anathema to a Vulcan. Intuition was a guide; it need only answer to reason in the end.

Her investigation must bear it out. These are innocent animals, and this man is proposing genocide.

“I understand, Captain Tholima,” she replied gravely. “I will keep you apprised.”

Though Reason is commonly used in scientific tasks, due to the pressure Saavik assists the research with Daring + Science, succeeding again and earning Momentum.

“Before you begin,” said Captain Tholima, “I want the creature onscreen. Has it continued its pursuit?” he called.

He was seated in the commanding officer’s chair aboard the bridge. All officers were at their station, except for the science officer who stood with Saavik to the side of the viewscreen, as if to give a presentation.

“Yes, Captain! It has adjusted course and will intercept in 10 minutes.”

“Dogged,” said the Captain, nodding, and looked to Saavik. “Team. What have you got? Be brief: we have less than ten minutes.”

“Ms. Hernandez,” said Saavik gently. “Why don’t you present your findings?”

“Well,” began the Science officer. “My coral reef metaphor was apt. There is an absolute explosion of life in this asteroid belt!”

“Explosion?” asked the Captain.

“A complex ecosystem,” she continued, “all genetically derived from a common ancestor. All manner of shapes and sizes, from single cells to starship scale!”

The Captain looked Saavik dead in the eye. He is taking the wrong conclusion.

“We believe activity has increased due to seasonal mating patterns,” Saavik prompted.

“Mating?” asked the Captain. The Bolian Captain ran his hand over his deep blue face. “Now you’re going to tell me this thing is making our hull resonate as some kind of romantic overture.”

I thought to offer a twist on the plot of “Cosmozoan Lifeform Wants to Mate with Vessel”, keeping to the spirit but changing the stakes.

“Negative, Captain,” said Hernandez, laughing. “It’s even more touching than that. This crab, the one that’s set its sights on us -“ she turned to gaze on the creature which filled the screen, “it’s pregnant. You see, they reproduce asexually, relying on mutation for genetic evolution. Once young have been conceived, they’re implanted into an asteroid with rich mineral deposits - food, for the young. The asteroid acts as a kind of…matrix of raw material which the newborn devours, building biomass until it’s mature enough to seek its family again! The Le Guin is simply the richest mineral deposit around.”

“It eats minerals? It mines asteroids?” asked the Captain.

“Yes! It’s biological, but inorganic. Heavily silicon-based, with biological uses for iron, titanium, -“

“Take us to Red alert!” said the Captain. The faces of the officers were bathed in crimson as he stood from his chair and strode forward.

Saavik conducts further research with Reason + Science. She succeeded, and I folded it into the current drama as if it had already taken place offscreen.

“Captain!” said Saavik loudly, commanding his attention. “I have taken the liberty of running a genetic comparison of the asteroid creature with the entity of Saras Vb.”

The hubbub was silenced.

“It is inorganic, but so are the Horta. It certainly shares protein substitutes with the Beast, just as both you and I share proteins with a Klingon targ. A common genetic origin has been assessed as extremely unlikely.“

“Unlikely? Or impossible?” asked the Captain.

Saavik took a breath, considering her next move.

“Ma’am, it is a gift to have you aboard this vessel. But I am responsible for the lives of its crew, including your own,” he explained, to which Saavik nodded gravely. “What’s more, you and I both share a responsibility to protect the entire galaxy from the virulent pestilence barely suppressed at Saras V. Open a channel to Admiral Nechayev, high priority, full encryption.”

“Open, sir!” shouted an officer.

“This is Captain Tholima of the USS Le Guin. En route to Starbase 1 from the Saras system, we have encountered a subspace-capable creature with the power to influence our vessel’s hull. The science is inconclusive, but its system is characterized by inorganic biochemistry and asexual reproduction, with the capability to mine material, build sophisticated body parts and grow to starship scale! Our team believes it means to implant its genetic material aboard our vessel and appropriate it. A potential conclusion must be that it is an offshoot of the technomimetic, shapeshifting entity recently discovered in the Saras system. Requesting immediate assistance - meanwhile, we will enact quarantine measures and employ extreme prejudice to protect the galaxy. End transmission.”

“Tactical,” he said, after a breath of silence across the bridge. “Prepare phasers.”

“Phasers armed,” breathed the tactical officer. He glanced up to the graceful creature drifting closer upon the screen.

Probability Matrix: is there comms interference? Highly probable (1-15 on a d20), and yes there is.

“Captain!” Ops interjected. “Subspace relays not responding! It’s the creatures, their subspace soundings are occupying the normal channels.”

Tholima swallowed. “Do what you can to get the message through. Tactical, Lock phasers on the creature. Helm, I want a course out of the system and warp drives online.”

Probability Matrix: are warp drives affected as well? 50/50, and no, they are still functional.

“Roger! I can get us out of here the moment you give the order.”

Tholima sank back into his chair, satisfied. “We’ll fire a warning shot, and see if it responds to animal instincts. If it’s anything like a targ, it won’t likely approach further.”

Tactical looked back nervously. “Is that an order, sir?”

“May I suggest an alternative -“ began Saavik.

“The entity is minutes away from appropriating my ship. It needs to be deterred.”

“She is a mother,” said Saavik.

Probability Matrix: does the Captain dismiss Saavik? 50/50, and no, he does not.

Tholima glared in response to Saavik’s rebuke. “Captain, you’ve been standing overlong. I suggest you take a seat. Tactical: fire.”

A bolt of energy shot forth, raking the creature’s carapace and sending it into a spin. Dust clouds erupted, limbs flailed. “Keep it onscreen!” the Captain ordered, as Saavik slid into a chair to his side.

“I…I prepared a glancing blow, sir,” explained the tactical officer. “I aimed for dense mineral concentrations, and set the power low enough not to penetrate deeply.”

“And its response? Science!”

“Analyzing, sir!”

“She…she’s struggling to find a new flight path,” said Hernandez, back at her console. “But sir, I’m picking up increased subspace activity across a wide spectrum. Its as if her voice has been joined by a chorus of others like her.”

I rolled three times on the System Hit Probability Matrix: which systems are affected by the intensified call? Structure, Sensors, and Engines.

The entire ship rumbled, forcing the bridge officers to grip their seats.

“What’s going on?” barked the Captain. An unnerving metallic hum suffused the bridge.

“I’ve lost sensors!” said the Ops manager, shouting about the background noise. “Internal diagnostics say pallets are under structural strain!”

“Get us out of here!” ordered Tholima.

“Can’t sir! Warp engines offline. the duranium in our nacelles is vibrating too intensely. Increasing structural integrity fields to protect the lattice structure!”

“It’s…she’s…the crab is doing this?” asked the Captain.

The Le Guin’s optical sensors zoomed out under Hernandez’s commands. “It’s not just the one. More crabs are emerging from the reef, Captain! It’s a chorus of voices and their effect on our mineral vibration is additive.” A flock of the large creatures began to break away from the asteroid belt, heading towards the camera.

Attempted Retreat via Thrusters: Engines + Conn. Succeeded with Momentum, spent to mark extra progress.

“Get us out of range! Are any engines functional - impulse, thrusters!”

“Doing what I can, sir!” shouted helm.

“Arm quantum torpedoes,” said the Captain.

“There are too many,” advised Saavik tensely. “And the phaser fire has only aroused their vigilance.”

“Just as the Saras entity behaved!” observed Tholima. “They’re attracted to violence! They’re swarming, acting as one.“

“They are a family, a community,” insisted Saavik. “They are responding to a threat to their ecosystem.”

Tholima sighed. “Do you have a better plan, Captain?”

Saavik stared at the asteroid field.

I wanted Saavik to put to rest the concern of the creatures’ threat level. She attempted to do this by checking past flight records: Reason + Conn, succeeding.

“Trade routes,” Saavik began. She stood next to the monitor in the conference room. She conducted the briefing as calmly as possible given the incessant hum and occasional rumble throughout the Excelsior frame of the ship.

“These are the records of shipping logistics, mining operations, and the like, which coincide with this system’s location over the past two hundred years,” she continued. “Mere footnotes, and it has taken an extensive search to compile them, but together they form a pattern.”

“People have been here before,” observed the Captain.

“Correct,” she continued. “It has been explored several times, often with negative concluding incidents. These incidents notably coincide with Ms. Hernandez’s projections of mating season, in which the vulnerable young are deposited within asteroids for gestation. In 2215 it was labeled in Ferengi records as a nuisance. In 2243 the Orion Syndicate classified it as unsuitable for mining, and lamented the loss of two ships.”

“They’ve destroyed ships before,” concluded Tholima. “Eaten them.”

“Indeed, Captain. And while this is tragic, we may derive comfort from the fact that they have consumed warp-capable vessels and yet have not developed warp capability themselves. This is not the Beast of Saras V,” she declared.

Tholima sighed. “Right. Just a pack of sirens which will ultimately devour our vessel. Can they outpace us?” he asked the flight controller.

“Affirmative, Captain. On thrusters only, they can match our speed. As their proximity increases, so does the resonance, and our engine functioning conversely goes down. They’ll overtake us, cut through our shields, and eat us,” she explained.

“But…you have a plan?” Tholima asked, turning back Saavik.

Theorize: Insight + Science, succeeding.

“You’ve heard Captain Saavik’s orders,” said Tholima, back on the bridge. A fresh rumble sent him clutching the edge of his chair above which he stood. “We’ve got 5 minutes to interception. Let’s execute this flawlessly and go home!”

He nodded to Saavik.

“Ms. Hernandez,” she said, “the main deflector modifications, please.”

“Activating, ma’am!”

Succeeded at a ship shield augmentation task, using Structure + Engineering. One of my dice rolled a 20, also generated Threat. I spent my Momentum to cancel this.

The picture on the viewscreen was suffused with a dull glow.

“Is it working?” asked Tholima.

“I think so, sir! It’s diffusing the duranium resonance, applying a lens to the echoes so they don’t appear concentrated in one place!”

“Like a cloaking device, for minerals,” he muttered. “Are they buying it? Finding us less tasty?”

“The pregnant mother has changed her course. Another has broken away from the herd as well! They’re returning to the asteroid belt!”

“Then why are the rest of them maintaining their intercept course?”

“They are protecting the mothers,” surmised Saavik. “Our lensing has thrown off the ‘scent’, but the creatures have eyes. Their warriors have fixed upon us as a threat to be neutralized.”

“Good thing there’s more to the plan,” he said, eyeing her. “There’s more to the plan, Right?”

An Engines + Conn Task to make a daring maneuver. Succeeded on both dice, neutralizing Threat.

“Helm,” said Saavik. “Accelerate towards the vanguard.”

“Ma’am!” affirmed the flight controller.

“This better work,” said Tholima.

“We must speak with the language of animal behavior,” Saavik reiterated. “Allow them to posture, believing they have secured their nesting place. By intercepting the vanguard we may hope to contend with a smaller contingent, rather than suffering the entire swarm’s wrath.”

“You have a…way about you, Captain,” he stammered, as the two stared at the rapidly advancing warrior crab.

“Collision in 15 seconds, ma’am,” said the flight controller.

“Slow the engines, to muffle the impact,” she instructed. “We aim only to take a single blow to our shields.”

“10 seconds!” Tholima glanced again at Saavik as the creature spread its claws wide to strike, each igniting in plasma.



The crab brought its stone-tough, plasma-cutting pincher down against the saucer of the Le Guin.

I rolled a ship Task to resist the attack, using Structure + Security. This failed and generated Threat, which I spent on a Complication: damage to the saucer.

“Breakthrough on dorsal saucer shields!” cried Tactical. “Restoring!”

“We’ve lost all forward momentum and have entered a head-over-heels spin, clockwise about an axis 13 degrees off forward! Our nacelles will be in striking range of the creature in 5 seconds!”

Saavik directs the group using Control + Security, successfully.

“Release the debris,” Saavik declared, standing now.

“Cargo containers, scrap metal, and empty shuttlecraft released, ma’am!” cried the Ops Manager.

The ship makes another Task to maneuver away, using Engines + Conn.

“Now helm,” Saavik ordered, “compensate for the spin. Thrusters at maximum. Peel away with our tail between our legs.”

The Le Guin’s hull shrieked as it pivoted, gripped by the intense resonance of the crab’s subspace sonar call.

“Creature out of striking range,” breathed the flight controller.

“What about the rest?” shouted Tholima. “Are they following?”

“They’re swarming…” said Hernandez, “…around the debris! They’re consuming it. One of them’s got the shuttlecraft and is carrying it back to the belt!”

“No pursuit?” demanded Tholima.

“Negative, sir! Duranium resonance decreasing with every kilometer,” came the response from helm. “We should have warp engines online in 5 minutes!”

Tholima let out a breath of relief. “Notify me the moment the situation changes. Captain Saavik,” he said, “if you would join me in my ready room.”

“I’m sick to my stomach, ma’am,” he admitted. “I was prepared to commit genocide. I ordered my own tactical officer to fire upon an innocent animal. A mother,” he said, meeting her eyes.

“The Beast of Saras V was an existential threat,” said Saavik with sympathy. “Threats induce trauma, and trauma responses. We may observe this in the behavior of the asteroid creatures themselves.”

“Captain, it occurs to me that while you are aboard this ship it would do me good to officially integrate you into the organizational structure.”

Saavik smiled slightly. “Should you wish for a temporary first officer, I believe I am suitably qualified.”

Tholima huffed. “Captain, I’m not asking you to be my first officer. I’m asking to be yours.”

It was Tholima who exited the ready room first.

“Captain on the bridge,” he announced, and stepped aside. Saavik strode in, all eyes of the officers upon her with understanding.

“Ma’am,” spoke the flight controller first. “Engineering reports the warp drive is back online.”

“Excellent,” she said, sliding into the commanding officer’s chair with Tholima beside her.

“What should we do with the message to Nechayev?” asked Ops.

“It is acceptable to me if it is simply deleted,” stated Saavik.

“Thank you, Ma’am,” said Tholima, “but if I may, I would like to include that message in my personal report. I think there’s much to learn here regarding contact, escalation, and organizational psychology.”

She looked at him approvingly. “Granted, Number One,” she said, then caught herself. “I presume that moniker is acceptable? It may be of use in resolving the ambiguity of two individuals with the rank of Captain?”

Tholima grinned. “That moniker suits me just fine.”

Saavik relaxed her arms against the armrests. My old ship she mused again. ours: all of ours who serve aboard her. The young crew looked at her with admiration. Not a soul aboard the Le Guin had been serving aboard it when she’d been her captain years ago. So fresh-faced, much as she had been upon joining the Enterprise.

“I entrust the report of this encounter to Acting First Officer Tholima. We return to our prior objectives. Our mission is simple: to convey a single Federation citizen, myself, to the nearest Starfleet outpost, after which the Le Guin will return to service in the war against the Dominion. Maintain alertness for new orders, distress signals, or any other means by which we may be of service. Set a course for Starbase 1.”

“Already laid-in, ma’am,” said the helm officer, smiling.

“Then let us proceed.”

Captain’s Log, Stardate 51966.3.

We may have slain the Beast, but I suspect the shadow of contagion and quarantine shall hang over us for some time.

Despite our welcoming of Horta officers into Starfleet, inorganic life remains suitably alien to the organic sapients among us, so as to trigger our biases. We must learn continually, ever building our mental muscle to embrace infinite diversity.

Under my temporary command, the Le Guin returns home. Having encountered near-destruction, logic and mathematical probability predict an uneventful remainder of our journey. Taking the seat of command aboard the Le Guin once again, my intuition tells a different story.

The humans among whom I’ve worked for over a century speak of a postulate known as “Murphy’s Law.” Dismissed by some as a superstition, I perceive it to be an intuitive, even counter-intuitive framework for understanding life’s events. Perhaps our short voyage home shall put this postulate to the test.