In the year 2037, Colonel Richey was the Mission Commander of the third manned interstellar flight aboard the ESS Charybdis, which was launched on July 23 of that year. For most of the mission Richey and the other fourteen crewmembers slept in hibernation chambers in a state of suspended animation. The ship's computer woke Richey nine days before they were due to reach the Theta 116 system, and he discovered two more planets in the system than were recorded from Earth from the mid-range scanning data. Once awake. he discovered an irreparable fault in the communications system, but didn't let it stop him from carrying out the mission. He decided that Theta 116 VIII was worth closer inspection as it was the only planet that may have been suitable for colonisation either underground or in pressure domes.
Richey did not wake the other crew as part of the mission was to record data on long-duration crew habitation, although he would not look at his friends and colleagues to check their condition while they slept as it gave him the creeps. Instead, he monitored them from the chamber control panels.
To stave off boredom, Richey exercised, wrote a journal and read Hotel Royale by Todd Matthews, an old printed book he found in the ship's stores. In his personal log, he warned anyone who may have been listening not to bother reading Hotel Royale as it had a bad plot, bad characters and was just plain bad! (Star Trek Magazine Issue 162: "Blast Off!")
After arriving at Theta 116 VIII, an alien intelligence inadvertantly contaminated the rest of the crew, killing them. Richey woke up in a physical version of the Royale Hotel from the book, apparently created by the alien out of a sense of guilt, and spent the rest of his life there.
Thirty-eight years later, Richey wrote a single diary entry of explanation in case his body was found by other humans:
- I write this in the hope that it will someday be read by human eyes. I can only surmise at this point, but apparently our exploratory shuttle was contaminated by an alien life form which infected and killed all personnel except myself. I awakened to find myself here in the Royale Hotel, precisely as described in the novel I found in my room. And for the last thirty eight years I have survived here. I have come to understand that the alien contaminators created this place for me out of some sense of guilt, presuming that the novel we had on board the shuttle about the Hotel Royale was in fact a guide to our preferred lifestyle and social habits. Obviously, they thought this was the world from which I came. I hold no malice toward my benefactors. They could not possibly know the hell they have put me through, for it was such a badly written book, filled with endless cliché and shallow characters. I shall welcome death when it comes.
|ESS Charybdis expedition|
|ESS Charybdis (BBI-103 class extra-solar survey vessel)|
|Charybdis personnel||NASA personnel: Cernan • Evans • Colonel Stephen Richey • Schmitt|
|locations||USA, North American continent, Earth (Sol star system, sector 001, quadrant 0, the galaxy's Alpha Quadrant) • Theta 116 VIII (Theta 116 star system, the galaxy's Alpha or Beta Quadrants)|
|literature||Hotel Royale by Todd Matthews (fictional characters: Ali Baba • Mickey D • Rita • Royale assistant manager • Royale bellboy • Royale croupier • Texas • Vanessa • Ziggy)|
|timeline||2037 (ESS Charybdis launch) • 2038 (NASA loses contact with ESS Charybdis) • 2044 (detour to Theta VIII and loss of all personnel) • 2082 (death of Stephen Richey) • 2365 (USS Enterprise-D investigation after sighting by Klingon cruiser)|