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Slowly, over a millennia of growth and development, the humans evolved. They began building shelters; rudimentary at first, but as they evolved so did their intelligence. Great structures were created, holy places where they could worship their Gods. Many argued over who was the true God.
Technology improved as their scientists continually worked on ways to better themselves. And yet…they yearned for more. They yearned to be out among the stars, gliding through the endless night to look for something more. A purpose.
Eventually, they managed their first space flight. It was not an elegant affair, but it was sufficient.
Several centuries after that, warp drive was developed and the humans encountered their first alien species. The Vulcans. A great feeling of trepidation enveloped the planet. Most were overjoyed at the idea that they would be able to travel at vast speeds through the greatness of space, but there were those who were concerned at taking the risk.
With the Vulcans, the humans soon formed the Federation - which eventually developed into a community of thousands of planets and hundreds of systems working in harmony. To explore.
The Federation spread out across the galaxies, nebulas and planets. And yet still…still they were not content. They wanted something more. A great purpose.
Some of them were about to realise what that purpose was.
Kathryn Janeway hummed as she left her quarters. Her day had been going decidedly well so far. They'd just completed a diagnostic of all ships systems and Voyager was in the best condition it had been in for over a year. And to top that off, she had a date on the holodeck with Chakotay this evening. She felt a thrill pass through her body to her toes at the thought at what she would do to him tonight. She'd been saving up her replicator rations and had created a new dress that she knew that would bring him to his knees, so to speak. Well, if she wore it well enough it would bring him to his knees.
Grinning evilly she headed toward the turbolift, absently nodding at some crewmen who passed her in the corridor. No doubt they were wondering why their Captain had such a big grin on her face, although she had her suspicions that some of them knew exactly why she was smiling.
Still half-humming she entered the turbolift and ordered it to take her to the bridge. As the 'lift came to a halt, she abruptly stopped humming and tried to hide her impulse to throw herself at her First Officer.
The doors swished open and she walked confidently onto the bridge.
Everyone reported in and confirmed what she knew anyway. Voyager was in good shape as were her crew. A slight upturn at the corner of her lips was all that gave away her happiness. That, and the way she eyed her XO who was grinning up at her from his seat.
"Commander." She greeted.
"Captain." He replied, with that damn big grin on his face for everyone to see. Well she wasn't going to discourage him. She knew he'd never really step over the line between their professional and personal relationship while they were on duty. While they were on the bridge anyway - her ready room was an entirely different matter, as she had discovered with a great deal of enthusiasm last week. She was never going to look at her ready room desk in the same way ever again.
"Captain," Harry called as his console started beeping "I'm picking up a M-class planet on long range sensors."
"None that I can read from here, but we may be able to detect some if we moved within a closer range."
Janeway nodded thoughtfully. There was a good chance that the planet might provide them with supplies. Standing, she spoke to Tom Paris. "Lieutenant, set a course for that planet. Maintain our current speed."
As usual she couldn't feel the change of direction, but she loved watching the changing perspective of the stars as the ship moved gracefully through space.
"ETA?" she queried.
"Two hours, thirty six minutes." Tuvok replied in his usual staid voice.
Janeway puckered her lips slightly then turned to Chakotay. "Commander, you have the bridge. I'll be in my ready room."
He nodded his acknowledgement and watched her leave.
On the planet, it existed. It was not waiting, it was not bothered by being alone. It simply was.
"Captain to the bridge."
At Chakotay's hail Kathryn gulped down the last of her coffee then made her way to the door, pausing only long enough to fondly run her hand over the table. She struggled to remain looking professional as she entered the bridge.
He was standing by Harry's station so was looking down at her as he began speaking. "We'll be in transporter range of the planet within five minutes."
Harry was busy at his console, if the beeping was anything to go by. "I'm not picking up life signs Captain. In fact I'm not picking up any signs of life whatsoever. No life forms, no vegetation. Nothing." His frown became more pronounced. "Captain...I'm picking up some kind of…" he searched for the right word "…disturbance in the atmosphere over the Southern region of the planet."
"Unknown." He mumbled.
Janeway moved forward to look at the planet on the viewscreen, running her hands along the railing in front of her. "Do you think it would create problems if we sent an away team down?"
"No. We'd need to do a slight reconfiguration of the targeting scanners, but we could beam down."
"And the planet is definitely inhabitable?"
"Yes Captain. Short-range sensors confirm that it's an M-class planet. They shouldn't have any trouble."
Janeway slapped her hands on the railing then turned. "Okay Commander, I want you to take an away team down to the planet. Let's hope that this 'disturbance' is confusing our sensors and there are some supplies down there."
Chakotay winced slightly as he re-materialised on the planet. Harry had been right - it hadn't been the smoothest transport ever but it had done the job. Activating his tricorder he took in his surroundings. Harry had also been right about them as well. No plants or animal life that he could detect. He wondered how this could be an M-class planet if there was no photosynthesis occurring. Where was the Oxygen coming from?
He could hear Tuvok and his security detail moving behind him, their feet crunching on the gravely ground. No doubt there were as baffled as he was.
Chakotay swivelled to look at the chief of security. "Yes Tuvok?"
The Vulcan had his tricorder pointing at a slight rise in the ground that obscured their view of the horizon. "I am detecting a faint temporal signature just beyond the rise."
He didn't doubt him for a second, but Chakotay swung his own tricorder round to confirm and got the same readings. Intrigued, he starting climbing up the rise, looking behind to check that Tuvok and the two security guards were following.
When he reached the top, what he saw amazed him. Chakotay stumbled down the other side, too shocked by the sight of what greeted him to check his footing. He finally reached the bottom and moved closer to the object.
"Hello?" Chakotay called out.
He waited a few seconds and thought that he got a response before realising that it was his own voice echoing back at him. How was that possible? The acoustics of this area wouldn't make his voice echo.
Not really expecting a reply, this time he directly faced the object and spoke to it. "Can you hear me?"
Chakotay blinked. "Who are you?"
I am the Guardian of Forever.
END PART ONE
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