DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2002 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.



ARENA: TO SERVE MAN

Cheree Cargill



Stardate: 3046.8, Personal Log. First Officer Spock recording.

We have returned to Cesstus III to retrieve the medical team left searching for survivors of the Gorn attack on the outpost. Dr. M'Benga was in charge of the thirty-member rescue team which included Drs. Ratliff, Aconga, Xhin, and Krishnamurti, as well as Nurses Chapel, Botana, Secord and Harrison. We have now retrieved the medical personnel and the appallingly low number of survivors.

The numbers disturb me. There were 284 people stationed on Cesstus III. Only 22 were retrieved, living and dead. The other 262 are missing -- no bodies, no remains, simply missing.

Logically, that can mean only one thing -- the Gorn took them prisoner. But why? Seemingly the Gorn were out to eradicate the human outpost they claimed was in their territory. Moreover, they lured the Enterprise to Cesstus and attempted to trick us into bringing our own personnel ashore by faking a message from Commodore Travers. I now believe it was their intent to capture us as well. Otherwise, they would have simply destroyed us as we entered planetary space. They undoubtedly had the fire power, if their capacity and speed were any indications. And they may have had a cloaking device or at least sensor jamming apparatus. We did not detect the Gorn ship until it left orbit. In fact, we never obtained an image of their ship at any time and very little information with our sensors.

The Captain is extremely agitated by the fact that he was unable to apprehend the Gorn ship before we were both intercepted by the Metrons. I do not understand this human need for vengeance. It is an obsession I have seen in the Captain more than once. He calls it "justice" but it harbors a need to destroy and, once his mind is set, it is quite difficult to dissuade him. And yet, as his refusal to kill the Gorn captain demonstrates, there is also a quality of mercy in him and the ability to make leaps of revelation and thus alter his previous rationale. He has been in command of the Enterprise just over two years now and I still do not profess to understand him completely. He is, at times, quite emotional and illogical, yet those qualities seem to serve him well in his position.

I regret that we lost the opportunity to learn more about the Gorn. It was surely vital information that would aid in locating our missing people. What sort of beings must the Gorn be? I bring to mind a very old scenario put forth by 20th century Terran paleontologists about the dinosaurs. They took what was arguably the most intelligent dinosaur, Troödon, in particular the species Stenonychosaurus, and postulated what it would look like if the species had not gone extinct but had continued to develop, assuring that mammals -- and particularly man -- had not evolved to their present form. Is this, I wonder, how it was on the Gorn planet? Are they, in fact, dinosaurus sapiens? It seems likely. A race of reptiloids with technology that allows them interstellar warp travel? Equal in every way to the humanoid or Vulcanoid races?

We may never know. We were hurled a vast distance from Metron space. We can only guess where the Gorn were sent. Now there is no way to know where in all that unthinkable area of uncharted space their ship may have gone. To the Gorn homeworld? How many planets do they inhabit? Do they have outposts themselves?

And what would they want humans for? If their purpose at Cesstus was to destroy the settlement, why take so many prisoners? To use them for ransom demands? As slave labor? The possibilities are almost endless.

We discussed this at the debriefing and Nurse Chapel said something quite disturbing. As we debated the Gorn motives in the attack, she sat looking very pensive and then spoke. "I keep remembering an old vid I saw when I was a kid. It's been so long ago, I don't even remember now what it was. But it was about some aliens who came to Earth and said they were there to serve man. And they were really helpful and friendly so that everyone trusted them. One person didn't and managed to get his hands on an alien book and began working to translate the language. When they finally did, it was too late to save mankind. They found out it was a cookbook."

Some of the people around the table laughed and others grimaced. The Captain was one of those who looked serious. "You think that's why you didn't find any survivors? The Gorn took them for ... for food?"

Chapel's expression was a bit apologetic. "I don't know, Captain. Sorry. That's pretty horrible, isn't it? Never mind. I'm sure I'm way off course here. We don't even have any proof that the Gorn took them in the first place. Forget I said anything. Sorry."

She glanced around the table at her colleagues and fell silent again. The discussion went back to more theoretical topics, some arguing that the personnel of Cesstus III had simply been disintegrated by the powerful Gorn phase-beams, leaving no trace. It was as the Gorn captain had told Captain Kirk through the translating device, that the humans were encroaching on Gorn space and were removed forcibly.

The Captain has already sent a subspace message to Starfleet Command regarding this attack. It will take over a week for it to be relayed back to Federation space from this distance and then it will be out of our hands. We will be long on our way to our next assignment. Starfleet will work in conjunction with Federation diplomats to establish ties and contacts in this part of space, hopefully contacting the Metrons and/or the Gorn. If the missing people on Cesstus are in Gorn custody, a release will be negotiated for them.

However, I cannot seem to get Nurse Chapel's words out of my mind, nor the idea that she may be right. And I remember something Dr. McCoy said to me just before we beamed down to Cesstus originally: "I for one could use a good, non-reconstituted meal."

Is it the same with the Gorn? Troödon was carnivorous and it was their hunting abilities that gave them the intelligence and manual dexterity that might have assured their survival had they not become extinct. I have an unsettling feeling that the same is true with the Gorn and fresh meat might be just what they were seeking. I have an unsettling feeling that they might indeed be "serving" man even now.

THE END

To read more on this theme, see my story "Trust" at http://www.geocities.com/falconprss/trust.html