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"Please hang on, sir. We'll have someone out there as soon as we've reestablished power in that region." Shira, a senior technician for the Risan Operations Unit, pulled her earpiece away as the sharp squawk emanating from it became too much for her sensitive ears. She quickly lowered the volume and made another attempt. "I am sorry for the inconvenience, sir, but " She was cut off by an even louder tirade of expletives that would have made even a Nausicaan blush. "Please try to be patient, we " The signal suddenly stopped. Shira wasn't sure if it was the guest's doing or another fault in the system. She hoped for the latter as the guest and two of his companions were hanging from the side of Catona Bluff, a popular rock-climbing formation on Risa. Their antigravity belts had been rendered useless as their power, along with all energy circulating in the region, had mysteriously vanished. The drain was so intense that Shira couldn't even get one of Operations' flyers in the air to rescue the three.
Shira tapped in a request from her keypad for a ground team to make their way on foot to the bluff. Unfortunately, it would take at least an hour to get there. She sighed and looked around the circular control room at her fellow technicians, their faces looking as tired and frustrated as her own. Their consoles were all lit up a bright red, indicating technical problems throughout the Monagas Peninsula, one of the most popular regions on the planet.
"I realize it's not supposed to rain, ma'am, but I'm afraid it's out of our control at the moment," she heard Milan, who was sitting next to her, say a little too wearily for her liking. Despite the troubles they were facing, it was important they maintain a positive attitude. Risa was the number-one destination resort planet in the Alpha Quadrant. It got that reputation because of its constant, stable climate, its attractive landscapes, and most of all, its very friendly staff.
But at the moment, the first two attributes were being threatened. The weather control system appeared to be breaking down. As a result, several popular areas in the region were literally being washed away by developing, heavy storms. Shira turned back to her own console and groaned as she watched another five complaint calls line up in the queue of forty on her viewscreen. She closed her eyes and thought about how nice it would be to sit out on the white sands of Monagas Lagoon. The only problem was that most of the beach had been wrecked by a freak rainsquall that ripped through the area earlier that day. This had been the third power loss in as many days.
The swishing of the doors to the control area and the shrill voice of Tonais, director of the Monagas Lagoon resort, drew her from her thoughts. Shira said a quiet prayer, asking for strength to get through the moments to come.
"And I'm still waiting for an explanation for all this." Tonais was speaking to his assistant, a mousy little individual with his nose buried in a large data pad. He stopped short, his assistant nearly colliding with him. "Technician Shira, correct?"
Shira turned around in her seat to face the two, not attempting to rise. "Senior Technician, yes," she responded, making every effort to keep her tone even. The director had been a general pain in the neck since the crisis had begun. Granted, a great many of the complaints from the guests had fallen on his plate, but his hourly visits to the Operations Unit just seemed to add to their problems.
"Have you come to any conclusions, Senior Technician?" His tone dripped with sarcasm as he uttered Shira's title. He was decked out in a long flowing robe that didn't cover enough of his girth for Shira's satisfaction. He wore no shoes, and he tracked sand into the room. It was clear that the director had no respect or concern for anyone but himself.
"None, sir." Shira hated admitting it. She rose from her chair and gestured toward a map of the southern hemisphere projected on a large viewscreen overhead. Pulsing maroon indicators winked on and off in one particular area. "All we have so far is that this wave of freak " She held up a hand to halt the oncoming protest she saw brewing in the director's eyes. "I'm categorizing them as 'freak,' since I can offer no cause for these problems freak power outages that began in the Monagas Peninsula and are now spreading to other resorts in the region."
"There is no such thing as a freak occurrence, Senior Technician," Tonais responded. "At least, not when it comes to a magnificent system such as ours. There are fail-safes, backup systems. Why are they not engaged?"
"They have been, Director, and in some cases they are working normally."
"In some cases?" he repeated slowly.
"Whatever is affecting our systems is affecting them too."
"But those are independent arrangements, Senior Technician. You cannot tell me this is a freak occurrence too?"
"I really don't know what to tell you, sir," Shira replied, wincing as she brought her shoulders up in a shrug. She didn't like appearing so incompetent, especially in front of Tonais, but the answers were eluding her.
"Excuse me, Director," the assistant squeaked, not looking up from his notepad. He had a deep nasal tonality to his voice. "But we're getting a report from the resort. There are three rock climbers trapped on the side of the bluff."
Shira winced again. She was hoping to deal with this situation on her own.
"Well," Tonais snapped, "take care of it."
"I'm afraid it's not that simple, sir." The assistant looked up for a brief moment. Although his head was completely bald, he sported a thick mustache that curled on the ends. Shira thought the two were an odd pair. If the situation wasn't so desperate at the moment, she might have almost allowed herself to laugh aloud.
"You see, the transporters have no power to their systems and we can't seem to get our flyers off the ground. The climbers were equipped with antigravity belts, but they won't function."
Tonais's eyes flashed with anger. "You call this a freak occurrence too? I want more than a pat answer to all this!" He tapped his assistant on the shoulder. "Have a rescue team organized to ascend the bluff and get those people down!"
"I already " Shira started to explain, but was cut off.
Tonais whirled toward Milan. "You! Contact Starfleet Command!"
Shira followed the director. "Starfleet Command? Don't you mean the nearest Federation representative, sir? Ambassador Li "
"No, I want Starfleet Command. They're the only ones who can handle this situation now."
"The only ones?" Shira's voice began to rise in anger. "With all due respect, Director "
"No," he cut her off, "don't say another word." He leaned over to Milan. "When you have Starfleet, get me Captain Montgomery Scott of the S.C.E. division." "S.C.E.?" Shira was confused.
"Starfleet Corps of Engineers," Tonais explained, nodding his head and adding with a note of hopeful confidence. "They'll get to the bottom of this."
"But sir " Shira tried desperately to regain control of the situation.
Tonais turned to face her. His facial expression had changed, softened somewhat. "Please understand. We cannot afford to have this kind of interruption in services for any lengthy period of time. At the moment, we are preparing to receive a group of scientists from throughout the Federation for a symposium. Some of the guests are already here. If word gets out that we are not capable of accommodating their desires..."
He didn't need to finish the sentence. Every person in the room, indeed, every Risan knew of the importance of total guest satisfaction.
"I have Starfleet, Director," Milan called out. "Captain Scott is waiting for you."
Suddenly, the lights in the room dimmed. Monitors began to wink out one by one around them. The large overhead viewscreen faded to black.
"This is intolerable," Tonais muttered. Aloud, he said, "Captain Scott, this is Director Tonais of the Monagas Peninsula on Risa."
The only response was static that faded away as the lights in the room continued to ebb.
"Get them back!" Tonais barked.
"I can't, sir." Milan moaned as he tried to comply with the order. "We're losing power to our systems."
Tonais turned his questioning gaze to Shira, who could only answer him with a confused stare.
"Now what are we going to do?" the assistant blurted out as the darkness engulfed them. Star Trek® S.C.E.: Paradise Interrupted copyright © 2004 by CBS Studios Inc. All rights reserved.