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Updated: Oct 23, 2019

By Nathan Warner

The Enterprise investigates a mysterious stellar phenomenon that may harbor an intelligent civilization

The U.S.S. Enterprise dropped out of warp near the outer entrance to the "Celestial Gardens" - an expansive nebular cluster that occupied a poorly charted region of space. They were following up a report of a dying star from a Bolian freighter that had passed that way last week.

"Take us in," Captain Picard ordered the helm, "but gently does it - these are rough waters." At his words, the powerful Galaxy class cruised forward and slipped through a natural break in the near wall of the nebular cluster to enter the inner sanctum. The sight was breathtaking and the bridge was hushed so that the only sounds were consol chimes and the Viewscreen throb.

"Its like we're a speck of dust floating inside a geode," Riker reflected with awe seeping through his eyes. Picard took a breath through his own wonderment.

"Alright," he said, bringing everyone's attention back to their purpose, "what are we looking for?" Lt. Commander Data adjusted the Viewer to magnify on a lone speck of light against the colorful tapestry of gasses behind.

"BR-12," Data announced. "A white dwarf star with unusually low radiation readings."

"Cause?" Picard asked. As he was watching the star, it appeared to dim and flicker every few seconds in its rotation. Data appeared puzzled.

"Captain, there appears to some form of structure in the atmosphere of the star," he reported. "It is absorbing some of the radiation and occulting the light output.

"A naturally occurring structure?" Picard inquired. Data tilted his head.

"Judging by the organization of the structures, it would appear to be the product of intelligence," he answered. Picard stood from his seat and strode to Data's station.

"Intelligence?" he asked. "But what could it be?"

"It might be a mining operation that has found a way to withstand those temperatures," Riker suggested.

"Or a civilization that calls the atmosphere of a white dwarf home," Picard countered. "Either way, whatever it is, we'll soon find out."

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