06
Aug
10

The Titanium Ribbon

    Sal thought about the last 16 hours and could not believe the changes that had transpired. Back at the Maze he was a stranger. It was obvious that he didn’t belong in this painting. He could have easily past for a travelling businessman speculating new frontiers in the Cluster. Tranquility was hardly a ‘Club Fed’ resort spa but there was booming commerce there. The City spanned nearly a 25-kilometer radius and many of the buildings rose to 50 or more stories in the Federal District.

    The whole scene had reminded him of Platte on Goren IV. The Goren system edged the Briar Patch and contained three habitable planetoids, two of which were minor planets that loomed above the huge gas giant of Daugant. The third was known as Helbosia by the natives and categorized as Goren IV as it was the fourth world in the system to be surveyed. Platte was one of the larger settlements on that world and a major space port in the area. Helbosia was an arid world and barely met the classification requirements to be considered class-M. It was nearly 30 degrees warmer year-round and life outside man-made structures was brutal.

    The El Paso was sent to Helbosia in ’98 to investigate some geological phenomenon that was occurring there. They had picked up Dr. Gail Winters, PHD and her entourage on twenty geo-physicists at Starbase 216 and taken them to Platte. The El Paso was stationed there in standard orbit for nearly six weeks while Dr. Winters collected data on the geothermic ribbon that lay just beneath the planet’s crust. Sal served as the liaison between Winters’ surface team and the El Paso and so he had several opportunities to beam to the surface. Sal learned that the ribbon actually contained pure molten titanium and was 5 kilometers wide in some places. Dr. Winters wanted to tap into this resource that lay 450 kilometers below the planet’s surface. Although the phenomenon was interesting to Sal, the work was extremely tedious and often boring.

    Platte, however, could not be described as boring by anyone. Like Tranquility City, it was contained beneath energy domes that maintained a stable atmosphere. Although it was smaller in size, Platte had several different sections and they all had their unique flair to them. The populous was mostly made up of titanium miners with a smaller municipal group that governed and managed the city. Sal’s temporary assignment included escort duties and so he had spent a week prior to Winters’ arrival studying the local culture and customs of Helbosia. One thing that was never boring about being a Starfleet officer was the many hats that one had to wear. The infamous 32nd Avenue was well known for its open-air bars that lined the street and Sal had spent many evenings with members of Winters’ group who required time away from their terminals and mundane data streams.

    The Helbosians were a brutish people and why Sal was assigned this duty baffled him. He was thankful that a detachment of security officers were at his disposal. Although the expedition was essentially funded by the UFP, Winters’ group were not Starfleet officers and so sometimes their actions needed to be restrained. The games that the Helbosian miners played were a little more extreme than what the naïve scientists had expected and that usually resulted in trouble. There had been many times that the mixture of drink and low oxygen content had gotten the better of peoples’ morality.

    Sal shook his head and brought himself back to his present surroundings. He hadn’t thought about Helbosia in at least 10 years and often wondered if, Franks, that young scientist who had stayed behind, had ever adjusted to his new life with the woman he had met there.

    The one thing that stuck in his mind and wouldn’t let go was the Titanium Ribbon of Tranquility. After Winters’ visit and the subsequent development of the drilling rigs that released that vein of pure, the planet Helbosia had changed. The planet was the center of attention for nearly five years as it contained the largest natural resource of titanium within Federation borders. The UFP had placed two research facilities, R-1 type orbital platforms, in permanent orbit in the system. McCormick Station was now15000 kilometers above Platte in geosynchronous orbit and the Edison-Blake Research Facility hung about the Goren sun which was known on many Terran star charts as Wasat, at approximately 1 AU distance. With this new found wealth came speculators and developers from across the Federation who built hundreds of cities that climbed out of the harsh Helbosian deserts. Fortunes were made and many peoples’ lives changed almost overnight.

    Tranquility had been abandoned by the Federation and yet the Taurians, the natives of this cluster, had focused vast amounts of wealth in developing this unforgiving landscape. Sal wondered what it was that had kept the investor’s interests salivating. He wondered about this Minos character and he also wondered about Manning. Had one or both discovered Tranquility’s secret? Sal needed time in front of a terminal. He needed to get the information promised him from Harry’s father on the Captain. He needed more data and running around chasing bad guys in rough neighborhoods was not filling in the blanks fast enough for him.

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