A/n: Hi there, this is my first Star Trek fanfic but I'm currently editing majorly. For now please comment, suggestions are more than welcome! Also if there's any spelling mistake and such please tell me. Hereby I disclaim every character except Selena and Haileen and my other OC's. Enjoy this first chapter!
The class M planet Valeritas, as it's named by the native population, is an Earth-like planet in a small solar system with five other planets and two suns. Valeritas is about 2.1 times smaller than earth and its gravity is about 0.94 times that of Earth.
A single day lasts 22.62 hours and a year lasts 379 days.
The planet is made up of five continents, which make up 67% of the planet's landmass.
Two moons orbit the planet and Valeritas itself orbits a white sun in a fairly circular orbit.
The underwater world of this planet is truly a feast for the eyes. Thousands of different soft and hard coral species cover the ocean floors, most of which have a form of bioluminescence, which makes the night even more magical than the day. These bioluminescent corals offer homes to plenty of creatures, which they need to be cleaned, while at the same time trying to attract the very same creatures with their lights so they can eat them. A truly remarkable balance.
The plant-like organisms on this planet mostly consist of large fungi and trees, with a few dozen flower species, but almost no grass or bush species. The trees are fairly similar to what you'd find on Earth, but the fungi are completely different. Most of them are huge and colourful. Despite their obvious differences, the fungi tend to mimic the overall shape of trees. Some even have branch-like tentacle growths, but with tiny hairs instead of leaves.
Nutrients are always needed but not always around, so organisms have to find ways to get them. Common ways are using different roots to find them in the deep or shallow grounds or even stealing them from others, but on this planet, many species have found a different balance. Unlike most plants on Earth who tend to only produce oxygen and nutrients (in the form of sugar) for itself, the organisms on this planet also produce other forms of nutrients for itself, usually for different purposes. These purposes often lead to many byproducts which they don't need and are thus discarded. These discarded products are exactly what other species need to live and in turn produce byproducts they discard for the other organisms, leading to a delicate balance.
Surviving is always high on the list of priorities of any organism, which includes reproducing. The organisms on this planet have taken this to a gorgeous next level. Almost all of them are bioluminescent. These lights will attract animals, who will spread the seeds and pollen one way or another. However, perhaps the most intriguing part is that each colour combination is appealing to different groups of animals, creating an awesome, nighttime eating balance.
The minerals and metals present in the planet's soil are easily obtained and thus of great value, and the composition of the atmosphere makes human settlement possible.
(McQuinton, Colin F., 12.5.2005, Status Report on Mining Project V, NASA)
"One more question and you're ou-hout!" Amber sang when she added another point to her score.
"No way, because if I can answer the next one within three seconds you'll have to do an extra round," I pointed out, handing her the pile of green cards. Amber had insisted on playing an old card came she'd found in the attic.
When she read the question, her eyes lit up in triumph. "Ha! You'll never get this one right!" she yelled.
I shifted on the blue carpet. "All right, we'll see about that. Now, what's the question?"
"What is not a diagno-nostic property of minerals?" she asked with a smug smile, tripping over the word diagnostic.
"That is.." I was thinking rapidly, I knew this one.
It was on the tip of my tongue. It was... Ugh, I had learned this for a test once…
"Colour!" I nearly shouted.
Amber huffed in defeat. "Ohw come on! Why do you always know everything?" she mumbled disappointedly.
Smiling, I wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Don't worry, soon you'll be just as smart as me. Probably even smarter!" I reassured her.
Her light auburn wavy hair dangled as she shook her head. "No, I won't. You're 7 years older! And you're as smart as dad."
"And you have mom's beauty," I opposed and began to tickle her.
She giggled, which sounded enormously adorable. Then she laughed out loud, the sound bouncing off the red walls. The only furniture in the room consisted of two big wardrobes, a small coffee table and some chairs – they hardly ever used the attic room. A large, round window showed the edge of the forest, with big tree-like fungi in front. The fungi could be any colour, some had combinations of two or three. Visible through the windows there was a bright yellow one, one blue-red combination, and two green-orange combinations. They lighted up the room with their colours.
"But it still isn't fair!" Amber shouted, tears of laughter had formed in her amber eyes.
"No? And why not?"
We were both laying on the ground now, and Amber had somehow managed to grab one of my hands. That kid has a strong grip.
"All right, stop, stop! Oof, I surrender!" I yelled when she literally jumped on top of me. She let her head rest on my shoulder and I stroked her hair as we both caught our breath.
Amber giggled once again. "I finally won from you!"
"Yeah, you did. Seems like you're getting stronger by the day."
We both went silent and listened to the wind blowing outside, and the bristling of the leaves. On the red ceiling of the room, projectors showed a part of our system.
It was a lot like that of Earth, of which I'd seen a picture once in a book. This one though held two suns, a red one in the centre and a white one on the far edge, marking the border. The last one was called Leida: 'second'. The red sun provided light to our planet for 6 hours a day – in contrary to Earths, the axis of our planet was almost completely vertical, so we didn't have distinct able seasons. The white sun, Leida, only appeared in the sky once every year. For a whole month, the days were twice as warm as usual. You could call it a one-month summer.
"Can you still name all the planets?" I asked Amber.
"Yes! My teacher said she was amazed by my knowledge!" she answered enthusiastically. With one finger she pointed at the different planets up in the 3D projected space. "The sun, Gijoscio, Valeritas, Nonnomen, Lithona, Leida!"
"Huh. Your teacher must've been really, really proud of you," I commented with a tired smile. "At least I am. Are you still certain you won't outsmart me?" I asked teasingly.
Before she could answer the 3D planets began to flicker. Several times they went on and off, and then it just went dead.
"Is it broken?" Amber asked worriedly. I gently pushed her off me and got up.
"Maybe they went haywire," I thought out loud.
Suddenly the lights turned off too. The whole room went pitch black, which was odd.
Almost all of the organisms on Valeritas were bioluminescent. These lights would always be there, they were the main sign if the plant, fungus or tree was dead or alive. And now even outside there was no light at all.
A warm hand grabbed mine. "Haily? I'm scared."
Amber's voice was trembling.
The lights inside never turned off in the first place except during the day. Power failures were non-existent due to several regenerators which kept the circuits online 24/7. Well, 22/7. Days contained two hours less. We were very much dependant on the lights. With sunlight for only 6 of the 22 hours every day, we had to work in the dark a lot. I wrapped my arms around Amber and held her tight. I was scared as well but didn't say a word about that to her.
"Don't worry, I'm sure the lights will go on any second."
Blindly we went downstairs and made our way to the kitchen, feeling around and keeping one hand to the wall. Light peered through the door opening, and when we entered the kitchen we saw mom lighting a dozen or so candles.
"Mum!" Amber called with a small voice. She let go of me and ran towards Seraphina, who scooped her up and sat down on one of the chairs surrounding the table. Seraphina, my mother, was slightly taller than me, and she had the same light auburn wavy hair as Amber. What I'd said before about Amber having mother's beauty wasn't a lie. They looked alike, and the hardly visible wrinkles on Seraphina's face didn't reduce her beauty. I didn't look like them at all, with my blonde wavy hair and brown eyes.
Now there was fear in mother's brown eyes.
"Don't worry sweetheart, we'll be fine," she reassured Amber, who buried her face in her shoulder.
Her eyes met mine, and I knew we were thinking the same: what is going on?
I didn't sit down, I needed to know what was happening outside.
"I'm going out, perhaps someone else knows what we have to do," I told her and didn't give her the chance to object by running to the front door.
"Haileen, you're not-"
When I stepped outside I was met by darkness and cold wind. I could barely see the other side of the street, which was only meters away. Valeritas was sporadically inhabited, the last time they'd counted there were 16,000 inhabitants. Our city contained 5,674 inhabitants, thereby being the capital. I knew the closest lamppost was only a few meters away, so I went checking it for no other reason than just to be sure.
But as I came closer, every step combined with a terrible lot of noise compared to the spooky silence, the contours of a person slowly appeared, a grey stain in a sea of black.
"H-hello? Sir?" Every tendon in my body was tense, ready to get me out of here and fight, if necessary.
He didn't even turn to look. "Tryin' to fix this damn thing, so go waste someone else's time," the man spat at me. I recognized the voice though, it was old Beryl. He was a bit nuts.
"But there are hundreds, if not thousands of lampposts in this city, so how do you know this is the right one?" I pointed out to him, annoyed by his rudeness. This time he did turn. He looked mostly like a homeless person, with old clothes and a messy beard. Or at least that's what I remember him looking like because the darkness made it hard to see anything.
"Now listen up you-"
I'd never got to know what he wanted to say, however.
A loud roar suddenly echoed through the street. Next, the ground started shaking violently, making me fall to the ground. Screaming raised from the houses as they started to crack. The shaking didn't stop, it grew worse. My breathing sped up, fear overwhelmed me.
"Haileen!" someone called my name and pulled me onto my feet. I unfroze when I realized it was Ander. My dad.
"Are you all right?"
I sighed and held onto his arm. "Y-yes, I'm fine. But mum and Amber are still inside, in the kitchen!"
Dad almost dragged me along to the front door, where he left me as he literally kicked the door open.
My eyes had slowly adjusted to the darkness, so everything looked grey instead of black. I jumped when with a loud cracking sound one of the buildings on the end of the street collapsed.
The loud rumbling and screaming filled my ears.
People were running out of their houses, of which some already had gone down to the ground.
Cracks appeared on the ground.
Dad came out of the house with Amber in his arms and mom in front of him. Just in time, because only seconds later the walls went down under the weight of the roof.
It tumbled on top of the neighbours' house. I hadn't seen them get out before it got smashed.
"No…" Nonono, this wasn't happening. It was all a nightmare, this couldn't be real.
"What in the world is happening?" mom shouted to dad. Her voice was squeaky.
"Valeritas is collapsing!" he shouted back, dragging us along.
"Just run!" he shouted back, holding tightly onto a quivering Amber.
Mom and I ran after him, which was a hard thing to do because the ground kept shaking and huge pieces of debris kept falling out of the dark around us. I tried to ban out the screams of agony and fear and tried to think more clearly. We were running towards dad's work. It was an enormous building with half a cylinder-like hangar on either side. A stream of people came out of it while we were running towards it. Why were we... A sudden realization hit me. Our project. We were going to the place where we were working on our top-secret project. And with 'we', I mean dad and me.
We pushed our way through the crowd and ran the last part to the main building. The doors which normally were closed and under guarding were opened now. Inside we had to dodge ceiling pieces, but it all went past me in a haze. Through another set of doors, another hall, more doors. I knew exactly what came next, so many times I'd been here. But now everything was the same: darkness, destruction, pain. I tried not to think about what I was looking at. More than once I tripped, but the pain stayed out, perhaps I was just too shocked to feel it. I wasn't scared. I was petrified. The irony smell of blood made me want to throw up, and the screams that we could hear even here, far below the surface, I would always remember them.
Eventually, after a lot of stairs and doors, we reached a big space. It had barely changed since I came here a week ago. The earthquake hadn't had much impact on it since the walls had been made of a thick layer of concrete and iron plates. But it was still a mess, we always forgot to clean up. In the middle of the room stood a machine, half of it covered was covered with a tarpaulin. It was an alien shuttle. It was a fascinating machine because it was supposed to fly. And not just fly, it was supposed to go into space. Dad pushed me, mom and Amber inside the small machine through the open door. Mom took Amber on her lap when she sat down on one of the three seats. She hadn't spoken a single word since we'd left our street. Her face was pale, her eyes wide open. Like me, she was in shock. Amber, on the other hand, was crying, and I felt terribly sorry that she had to go through all of this at the mere age of 8.
"Haileen, do you think this thing is ready to show what it can do?" dad asked sternly.
"You mean flying?!" I exclaimed. "But I.. We still haven't.."
Dad grabbed my shoulders and asked again louder this time: "Haileen, I need a copilot. Can you fly this thing?"
I was silent for a moment and heard the iron plates on the walls screeching. They wouldn't hold much longer.
"If you think the systems will hold, I think it can-"
"Then help me get it out of here NOW!" he pushed me in the copilot's seat and sat down in the one next to it. Unbelievable this was actually happening. I had hoped to fly this thing for so long, but not now... Not this way…
We all buckled in.
"All right," dad said the things he was doing out loud so I could keep up. "Engines on." The lights inside turned on.
I switched some buttons, I knew what to do because I'd studied this thing for years with dad.
"Disconnecting with the ground.." The shuttle started hovering a meter above the ground. "Ready for take-off."
"Where do we go?" I asked, coming out of the shock more and more.
Dad pulled a lever and pointed at the darkness outside. Two white light beams from the shuttle lighted up the area in front.
"You see those doors?" In the far distance, there were two grey spots. "You think we can handle that?"
"I hope so," I whispered. If we had to die, then we'd at least died in an attempt to escape.
The rumbling grew louder, and the iron began falling off the ceiling.
Dad and I shared a look, and without any more words, we made the shuttle move straight forwards at an increasing speed. The speed surprised all four of us, mom yelped when we suddenly bolted to the front. The lights inside the shuttle flickered, and more and more iron plates lighted up in the shuttle beams as they fell down right in front of us. Amber softly wailed, and dad's face had gone pale. I was feeling nauseous but didn't know whether that came from flying in the shuttle or the horrible run towards it.
"Everyone hold on!" dad shouted as the doors came in sight.
A loud bang and an abrupt stop came as a reply. We were thrown to the front. The seat belt kept me from slamming against the panels, but the force cut off my breath. None of us had the time to recover, because now in open air we were heading straight to what was left of the houses surrounding the hangars.
"Up! Up! We need more height!" dad yelled, and the shuttle quickly went up when he pulled the lever. The shuttle started shaking violently as we went through the atmosphere. When the bright stars appeared in front of us I stopped and turned the shuttle. We all were trying to catch our breaths, but what we saw didn't let us do so. Fear and despair came over me when I looked at our beloved planet.
Its purple-blue glow had died, a black planet with red cracks remained. The cracks spread across the surface, red magma flowed out of them like blood. The lights of the city and other towns had died. Considering the height we were at, it wasn't hard to imagine the chaos and destruction going on below. Complete continents rose and sank into the sea of fire. Warm tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched.
The shuttle yanked backwards, away from the dying planet. Dad had gotten us into space. Tears blurred my sight, and I turned my head to look at mom and Amber behind me. They were crying too, they had all the right to. We had all right to assume everyone we loved, everyone had died.
Everyone. My best friends, our relatives...
The air had grown heavy, my chest felt tight. Dad kept shaking his head as he sent us further and further into space. And under the weight of my sadness, I slowly fell asleep.
Seven days later we still hadn't seen any signs if a nearby planet.
We'd found emergency supplies in a small iron box in the back, but that had only been enough for two days, even on ration. At least I guess it had been two days, the display that showed the time had turned off days ago. Most of the water and food we'd found had been given to Amber and me. I hadn't wanted it that way, but mom and dad had insisted.
After two days we'd run out of food.
After twice that time out of water.
And now we were running out of air as well.
Only by a miracle the engines were still working, though we had no hope left that we'd find a habitable planet or a spaceship. One by one the other systems were shutting down. We were asleep most of the time, trying to save some air. And because of the lack of food and water, we hardly had enough energy to stay awake.
I had woken up minutes ago. My vision was hazy and I couldn't think clearly. But one thought remained: if Amber, mom and dad wouldn't wake up, they'd die. If I went to sleep, I'd die.
They had to wake up, they had to stay awake. With my last bit of willpower, I reached out with my hand to them.
"Wake up…. Wake up….."
I grabbed mom's arm and shook it, but I got no response. The same happened when I tried it with dad and Amber. My arm dropped, I left it dangling to the ground and stared into space.
Deep, dark space.
Is this the end? The small conscious part of my mind wondered. Has it all been for nothing?
Slowly my eyes closed, thoughts long gone. My subconscious noticed there was something strange about the space outside, something blocked the stars.
Darkness took hold of me.