A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

The Savages

On course toward the anomaly dubbed the Stellar Fountain, the Potemkin received a distress call from the Ishikari, a runabout from the long-range scientific survey vessel the USS Goodall.

Being one of the fastest vessels in the convoy, the 'Tem arranged to meet up with the other ships and headed off to the world called Erum by the crew of the Ishikari. Once in orbit the sensors picked up the runabout and Starfleet combadge signals, along with three humans, one Andorian and one Vulcan. At the same time, Fuller was picking up energy readings from an object 40 kilometers from the runabout, which Rollands was able to match to similar readings taken by the USS Enterprise in 2269.

Prax decided to risk an away team, calling for Castleman and Arnet to join, but reminded everyone the Prime Directive was still in effect. The team arrived next to the runabout in a wooded area, finding a lightning storm about the start. Indeed, it looked as if lightning had struck the port nacelle of the runabout, burning a few bio-neural gel packs. After a few moments the team's tricorders picked up an Andorian running toward them.

The Andorian, Shelwar, burst into the clearing, with a stab wound to his side. Arnet and Aston instantly moved to treat him, while the Andorian babbled, asking if the away team heard what he did - a pulse, beating, or rhythm. Even as the doctors worked on him, Melina, Rollands, and Arnet felt an unconscious desire to hum a song they only half knew. Castleman and Fuller also began to feel strange and exhibited primal behaviors.

Out of the blue, arrows began raining down by the away team. They found themselves surrounded by the world's inhabitants, proto-Klingons who had lighter skin with lesser pronounced striations along the forehead. The natives had managed to grab and render Prax unconscious, and their leader was wearing a tattered Starfleet uniform shirt. When Arnet tried to question him, the doctor was unceremoniously shoved to the ground.

During this Shelwar continued to babble, indicating that natives worshipped an obelisk nearby which was the cause of the energy signature detected from orbit. The Andorian also indicated that when his team had gotten near it, they had gone mad.

Suddenly lightning flashed and thunder rolled. The natives scattered, dragging the unconscious Prax with them. Arnet ordered Fuller and Rollands to come with him to rescue Prax, while Aston, Melina and Castleman were to check out the obelisk Shelwar mentioned.

The two teams ended up on different sides of the Obelisk, where the remaining members of Shelwar's team were tied up. As they contemplated the best way to rescue Prax and the rest, the Obelisk began to shake and then a door - perhaps thousands of years old - on one side slid open and a bald humanoid figure stepped out.

The figure spoke saying: "Children, the time has come. Our world will not come to collect yours. You have not been judged to continue on the path to Preservation. I am truly sorry." It then continued to say how the world would be destroyed, which caused a great uproar among the assembled natives. Not unduly either, for the Obelisk started putting out alarming levels of nuclear radiation.

Arnet called for Tora, who had been left working with the damaged runabout, to beam anyone with a communicator badge away. However, predictably, the Obelisk was messing the targeting sensors making that impossible. The engineer did get the runabout working and flew it above the tree line.

As the sight of the runabout, the figure near the Obelisk shimmered slightly and then said: "Children, the time has come. You have been deemed worthy to continue on the path of Preservation." The natives, hearing the opposite message from before, became greatly confused that their world would now be surviving. The nuclear radiation dropped altogether. A thunderclap sent the natives scattering, leaving the Starfleet officers by themselves.

The rest of the away team moved in to rescue those strapped to the Obelisk. Arnet tried to question the figure that had appeared. It only said, in a tone like a pre-recorded message, that he should rejoice for his world would be saved. It called himself as part of the "Cenancestor" the "Preservation of your race and all races."

As she was cut down, Dr. Cassar, the leader of the team from the Goodall, said the world was a giant experiment. The figure replied that this was true, his people had deposited genetic material on this world 700 million years ago and would have destroyed the planet, but stopped because of the shuttle - the world was spared because it had demonstrated evolution past their expectations.

Feeling that they had saved a planet, but wary of the figure's warning that the almost-destruction was to save the world from "the pains of Rebirth," the away team took off in the Ishikara to head back to the Potemkin.

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