The overwhelming heat of the desert made it difficult to breathe, and the dryness of the environment made the little humidity that their bodies could retain disappear. Golden mountains painted the surroundings. The light of the twin suns reflected on the sand created a kaleidoscope of blinding mirages.

Sand tongues had swallowed up the remains of the escape capsule that had brought them to this dying and desolate planet. Abandoned many days ago; along with the rest of the crew.

Fortunately, the scanners had detected traces of civilization not far from where they had landed.

Beth continued to analyze the ruins of the only structure that showed an intelligent culture, perhaps advanced, but extinct thousands of years ago.

Ensign Jim was resting under the covers of a makeshift pseudo tent. His dry throat was crying out for water, but the rations were already critical. A thought kept going through his mind, like the propellers of a windmill.

Was it worth continuing to ration the water? he was sure they would die just like the rest of the crew.

Beth wrote down each discovery on her console attached to her forearm, moving from side to side, trying to decipher the strange writing carved in the stone ruins. From time to time she would stumble and fall to the ground, but again she would get up and continue her research.

Maybe she lost her mind. Would she have gone crazy from the abrasive heat, Jim thought

The ensign was still lying under the tent, not taking his eyes off the lieutenant.

Maybe she's suffering from sunstroke. She has a lot of time under these inclement twins.

He untied his shoes and shook the sand inside them.

- Damn sand, it gets everywhere!

He wiped the sweat from his forehead and closed his eyes.

Possibly she could not bear the loss of her companions; she was the second in command of this expedition. I am sure she blames herself for what happened. However, there was no way to predict the effect of the strange phenomenon that damaged the FTL engine. After the death of the chief engineer, everything fell apart; none of us knew how to repair even a plasma conductor.

Jim backed up and watched as tiny beams of light poured through the holes in the blanket that served as his roof. Occasionally, a small gust of wind would shake the canvas and make the light beams dance.

Suddenly, a new idea illuminated his mind as he saw Beth dancing among the ruins of the vanished civilization. She literally danced.

God damn it! So many unfortunate events cannot happen randomly together. This is a test. I'm sure I'm on a holodeck and we're being tested at the Space Academy.

The ensign got up as fast as lightning and started screaming.

- End simulation! End simulation!

Seeing that he was still feeling the abrasive heat of the twin suns, he shouted again

- Computer! Finish the simulation. Code Alpha, Romeo, theta, four, nine, zeta, sigma, epsilon.

He repeated over and over again, shouting to the sky.

Beth ran to Jim and slapped him.

- Ensign!

Jim broke into tears on his knees in front of Beth.

They both crawled under the tent and lay on the sand

Beth wiped her face with her hands. Her burned skin stung at her touch. She knew that the ruins she had found indicated the presence of an advanced civilization and that she might be able to find a way to communicate with Starfleet. She was close to a solution, she knew that it was right in front of her, but no matter how hard she tried, her efforts were in vain.

Perhaps she had lost her mind like Ensign Jim. And like the Ensign, she decided to get the sand out of her shoes. Her bladder-filled feet were grateful.

- We are going to die, aren't we? Jim suddenly let go

Beth took a sip of her ration of water and offered it to Jim, who thanked her for the gesture.

She took a look at Jim. Hidden in the ensign's eyes was a glimmer of hope.

- Possibly. Beth responded bitterly.

She lamented having crushed the Ensign's small hope. Lying was irrelevant.

- After a quick scan, this was the only planet in the solar system that could easily support human life. By the time I was able to check the data, its gravitational pull had already drawn us toward it. However, before we crashed, the sensors indicated that it had crossed Roche's limit.

- Damn it! The ensign spat out

- We may only have a few days before the planet disintegrates.

Both of them were immersed in their thoughts. Suddenly, the ensign burst out laughing.

For a moment Beth thought that the dehydration had finally driven Jim crazy.

Beth watched in confusion.

- Excuse me, Commander. A few moments ago, I thought you were dancing. It was very funny for me. I guess the dehydration is affecting my sanity.

- That's right! Beth shouted

- Come with me, Ensign, make an effort. You may have saved our lives.

Jim was about to protest but the commander's sudden enthusiasm was contagious.

Beth landed on one of the edges of the rocky surface emerging from the sand and motioned to Jim to stand on the other side of the structure.

- When I step to the right, you do the same, to your right. You understand me, Jim?

Jim nodded and stood on the other end. Each of the rocks in front of him converged toward the center of the structure in a spiral shape.

- We have to do it at the same time. Like we're dancing.

- Have you ever danced, Ensign?

- Affirmative, ma'am.

They began to perform the movements, but tiredness and thirst made it difficult to perform simultaneously.

After 10 minutes, Jim fell to his knees in discouragement.

- What the hell are we doing, Beth?

- Keep your mind busy, Ensign Jim. On your feet. That's an order. Beth ordered

Jim remembered his training at the Academy and his body reacted to the order issued.

- Let's go! From the beginning. One, two, three... Left, right, left, turn.

Beth continued counting to the rhythm of a military tune they used to use for cadet training at the Academy.

With each step, they got closer and closer, until they were facing each other.

For a moment nothing happened. Jim closed his eyes as he realized once again, his hope of survival was dissolving like the moisture in his body. His dry, chapped lips could not utter any more words.

Beth didn't understand what they had done wrong. She was too exhausted to think. All her strength was gone with the last movement. Her body fell into the ensign's arms and she lost consciousness. At that moment the rocks on which they had been dancing lit up and a blinding light enveloped them. Jim clutched the commander's body tightly and closed his eyes before noticing that the structure under his feet was disintegrating.


Beth felt the freshwater running down her throat. Her chapped lips were grateful for the refreshing cold.

She opened her eyes and saw Jim with a big smile.

- Take it easy. Whatever you did, it worked, Commander. We are many light years away from where we were.

Beth took a look at the place where they were. Tropical vegetation flooded the scene and the sound of a stream explained everything.

- You can rest, commander. I detected a Starfleet ship nearby and they responded to our distress signal. They will be here soon.