Star Trek Hunter
Episode 13: The 15,000 Cities of Cun Ling
Scene 6: Trantor Metropolitan Museum of Art
Trantor Metropolitan Museum of Art
On the impossibly large top floor of another skyscraper in another part of Trantor, Commander David Pepper was enthusiastic about a sculpture exhibit that had Transporter Specialist K’rok, Lt. Cmdr. Mlady, Flight Specialist Winnifreid Salazaar, Ensign Ethan Phillips and 2nd Lt. Moon Sun Salek profoundly bored. Only Dr. Napoleon Boles showed some interest in the many individual pieces in this holographic exhibit. Because the sculptures were holograms, there were no ropes or boundaries between the visitors to this exhibit and the sculptures.
People were welcome to touch these sculptures because there was no way they could permanently damage them. It was entirely possible to break the more delicate sculptures or deform them, depending on the material used in the original sculpture. As soon as the person who did this damage moved on, the hologram would simply refresh the simulated replica to its initial condition.
And Boles was touching and breaking everything, feeling how each sculpture was made, interested in the way the materials responded, if they could be broken or deformed, what the inside looked like, whether there were layers of other materials, the same material, or if the statue was hollow.
The Hunter’s crew were far from the only people on this floor - there were easily several hundred. Mlady, uncomfortable in crowds, stuck close to Pep. Boles studied each statue with interest, but kept an eye on the group and managed to stay roughly in the middle of the group. K’rok had taken to watching Boles and stayed with him. Phillips and Moon trailed the group, making fun of some of the statues and trying unsuccessfully to conceal their irreverent laughter.
Flight Specialist Winnifreid Salazaar, trailing Pep and Mlady, shook his head slowly, taking in the forest of statues. Not entirely under his breath, he said in his Puerto Rican accent, “The 15,000 statues of Lin Ling Liu. Only it’s more like 15 million…”
“EUREKA!!!” Pep exclaimed loudly, frightening several of the other visitors. “I found it!!!”
Boles, K’rok, Salazaar and even Phillips and Moon bustled over to him. “Found what?” asked Salazaar.
Pep gestured to one of the most absurd statues yet of Lin Ling Liu, made of wood, bathing in a waterfall, coyly posed, shrubbery growing from her head instead of hair. Like most statues of the planet’s founder, it was far from entirely successful. “Eureka,” Pep explained.
A label hovering next to the statue displayed the word: “EUREKA.”
Pep’s crewmates looked at him, blankly.
“Okay, the 15,000 Cities of Cun Ling…” Pep started. “There are actually only 14,767 cities in the official roster. And some cities are obviously missing - hidden cities: Eureka… th’Istel… Puk… Gondolin… Atlantis… The 233 Lost Cities of Cun Ling. And here is a clue that they might actually exist. People go to these places to disappear…”
Lt. Cmdr. Mlady was distracted and had wandered to the window nearby. Trantor was different from the other cities. While most of the 15,000 cities were, as yet, sparsely populated, nearly three billion people lived in Trantor, making it the largest city in the Alpha Quadrant. Trantor was the administrative hub of Cun Ling - home to the planetary commission that maintained the vast machines in the chasms that held the planet together. Home to the 46th (and second largest) circuit court of the Federation Tribunal. Home to a vast education system, law, engineering, medicine and far more. And home to skyscrapers so tall that the upper floors were pressurized and shielded from solar radiation. From this top floor of the Trantor Metropolitan Museum of Art (commonly referred to as TIMA), Mlady could see those giant skyscrapers carefully spaced so that downtown buildings like this one were not in perpetual shadow.
A burst of activity closer to the ground caught Mlady’s attention - a flock of Trantor police interceptors hovering around an industrial area. Dozens of interceptors swiftly became hundreds.
“Something’s wrong,” she said, interrupting Pep’s musings about lost cities.
Pep and the others joined her at the window.
“The Trantor police are shutting down a fairly large section of the city,” Mlady continued.
“Tauk,” Pep called, activating the communicator embedded in his chest. “Are you aware of something going on that would have the Trantor blue helmets shutting down part of the city?”
“I was just talking with Investigator Shran…” came Tauk’s voice.
“Hang on Tauk,” said Pep. “Conference mode, crew in six meter proximity. Okay, go ahead, Tauk”
“Lynhart was just telling me he overheard a coded message,” Tauk continued. “Apparently the Trantor police just found a dead romulan, a few dead humans and a lot of andorian corpses. Lynhart says it’s probably not the first and won’t be the last. He seems to think this is something big.”
“How does Shran know Trantor police code?” K’rok asked.
“I’d be astonished if he didn’t,” said Pep. “Lenny has a way of arming himself with the knowledge he needs for his trade. He’s not just a great shot with a phaser - he’s a remarkable sleuth.”
“Which means if he thinks this is big…” started Boles.
“He is very probably right,” Tauk concluded.