2,112 words; about a 11 minute read
Mission 1: To Catch a Thief
Location: Chin'toka Starship Graveyard
René was piloting the shuttlecraft on approach to the wrecked hulk of a Galaxy-class starship where the away team was stranded following the explosion of the Romulan Warbird. He looked over his shoulder at Toareth and her enlisted Hospital Corpsman companion that comprised the trauma team to assist in the rescue mission. "Standby. I am going to try and get us docked on the ventral portside airlock."
"There is some debris in the way," she said looking at her console. Toar's hands danced back and forth across the touchscreen. "I can try to move some of it with the deflector." She looked at him. "Slow down and you can bump some of it out of the way." She shrugged. "Could speed things up."
René looked at the debris between the shuttlecraft and the air lock. He decided it would be best to use the tractor beam to move the debris field. "We move those three large hull plates and we can access the airlock."
"On it," said Toareth. "Kez, make sure the deflector is moving the small bits out of the way."
"Yes, ma'am," and Kez used his PADD, synched with the shuttle, to perform his work.
The closest of the chunks of hull started to move as Toareth worked the controls. She kept the movement slow so as to not send the chunk off and away. She worked the tractor beam to stop the bit of debris once it was clear, deactivated the tractor beam, then started targeting the next bit. Without skipping a beat, Toareth fished a hypospray out of her satchel and pressed the business end to her jugular on the back of her neck to the right of the top of her spine, sending forth a dose of medication.
"Another migraine, Toar? asked Kez from behind.
"Just making sure I don't have one in the next couple of hours," she responded automatically.
René checked the communications systems and took note that the interference from the warbird explosion was dissipating. He activated the away team's frequency and made an attempt to make contact. "Commander Mercy, Rouen here. Please respond. "
"Exposed hull is giving off faint radiation spikes," said Toareth. "Once I move this next bit, you should get a clear signal." Toareth continued working the tractor beam and shook her head as the phalmectin did it thing in her system. "Sending a repeat of you message now," she finished.
Startled by the sudden new voice coming over the comm, Naois nearly lost his footing as the team was trying to find some kind of safety aboard the now very dangerous derelict vessel. "This is Mercy," he answered as he turned to face his two remaining team members, surprise very evident on his otherwise pale features. Amara's death was clearly hitting him hard. "I have lieutenant Ko'dar and Lieutenant Vonn with me. Unfortunately we lost Lieutenant Naidoo." It sounded a little hollow and if it were up to him they would not leave her body behind.
Inside the shuttle, Toareth looked sorrowfully at René, knowing just as he did that he was suddenly the Chief of Security for the Britannic. It took a second for a voice to come over the open channel again, a long second. "Understood," it was Toareth's voice. "Transporters are down, Brit is powered down at the moment. Once we get this debris out of the way, we will dock with you. ETA...two minutes. Prepare all personnel for evac."
Kod'ar reached for the commlink link on his own EV suit, "Lieutenant, you mentioned the Britannic is powered down currently. Can you explain further please?" The Chief Helmsman moved towards Lieutenant Vonn to assist him with the bodybag that contained the remains of Lieutenant Naidoo.
René Rouen keyed his communications panel at the pilot's seat. "The shockwave disrupted main power. Impulse and thrusters are operating at reduced effectiveness. Repairs are underway but a full damage assessment is still pending."
"Lieutenant Vonn here," came the Bolian's voice now over the comm. "Any indication as to why the warbird decided to spontaneously put all of our lives in danger? Besides being Romulan, of course. Uh... no disrespect intended to anyone.." he muttered, his voice trailing off.
Toareth shrugged in her seat beside René. She was more agreeing with the statement that simply being Romulan was enough for them to spontaneously put lives in danger. "Unknown," she replied. "Investigation is pending while repairs are underway. Right now, our focus is the return of our personnel. Attempting to dock in 20 seconds. Prepare for evac."
René grabbed his helmet and put it on before lining up for final approach for the air lock. "Everyone don your helmets. Docking in three, two, one, mark." A metallic clank sounded as the shuttlecraft connected to the airlock port. "Ensure a hard seal."
"On it LT," said Kez as he spun in his chair to the docking controls behind him.
"We do need to hurry," Toar said to René. "I am sensing some strong anxiety over there."
"Air leaking out of the seal sir," returned Kez. "Must be...nope...It blew out. Must have been a chunk of debris. "Air containment at 95...96...100%. Hard seal acquired, sir."
Toareth grabbed her helmet and started working it on. "Kez, helmet. We don't know the air temperature nor pressure over there. We don't need you passing out if it proves too thin." She grabbed her satchel, opened it for a quick inventory, then held it tight.
Rene stood up and walked over to Toar and Kez and double checked their helmet seals. He nodded and gave a gloved thumbs.
Kex started but Toareth moved in and started checking René's helmet. First under the chin and the sides. She made a swirl in the air with her finger and checked the back after René spun around. Toar double-checked the seals and the latches and then gave René a pat on the shoulder as all was well.
René depressurized the main cabin and popped the hatch. He stepped forward and used the manual override for the derelict door.
Naois wanted nothing more than to return to the ship and to his family. Right now he was questioning his own suitability to lead an away team. Questioning his decision to split the team, because if he hadn't, perhaps Amara might still be alive. He glanced back at the covered body Vonn had managed to retrieve, feeling very much like he had failed her
At the sound of a hiss, he glanced back at the hatch. "We are ready," he announced over the still open comm
René stepped through the hatch and took a quick survey of those gathered. He didn't see any obvious injuries or suit damage. He looked at the covered body that was...had been his first line leader. He swallowed hard.
Toareth was close behind René and could feel his pain through her empathy. El-Aurians had a way of describing what they sense emanating from others. Sometimes what they sensed could be described a gaseous and sometimes liquid. Toareth felt a solid and opaque wall of pain coming from her husband. She knew there was anxiety and confusion mixed in with that as well, but she had to power herself to focus on the task at hand and the tricorder in her hand. "Minor abrasions and lascerations. A concussion and a fracture. Nothing we cannot handle on the fly back. Kez," she spoke to Keselowsky as he stepped in and observed the same. Toareth knew that René was the team leader for this rescue but also felt his emotional pain was expanding, possibly as a result of his experiences from the Dominion War. "Kez, prepare the Away Team for evac. Would you agree?" she asked René, "Lieutenant," she emphasized so as to get his mind back on track.
René came out of his momentary shock and nodded. He began assisting the Away team into the shuttlecraft before tapping Kez on the shoulder and gesturing to the body bag. The two men lifted the bag and got it into the shuttlecraft.
Toareth continued her blanket scan of everyone and provided aid when someone needed help getting up and moving. "I will do what patchups I can make en route."
Naois allowed himself to be guided to a seat, never once taking the initiative to take his helmet off. His eyes never left the covered body of his long time family friend. How was he going to tell his children their beloved 'aunt' had died?
The horrors of the Dominion War have returned... were the only words that kept going through Chexor's mind. Over and over and over again; like a strobe light of mental anguish. He followed behind Britannic's First Officer to an empty seat. He didn't have much to say. What words would even come out of his mouth at this point? The stresses of being a Starfleet Officer... they were starting to be a little too much now.
TAGs (Movement onto the shuttlecraft)
René started the repressurization process and moved to the pilot's seat. He double checked the sensor monitor to look for debris that could impede the return flight to the Britannic. "Everyone buckle in. This could get a little bumpy."
Toar and Kez were checking on everyone, making sure they were secured and bulked in and that any injuries were also secured; limbs slung to keep any movements from worsening any injuries.
Though highest in rank and position as soon as he boarded the shuttle, Naois considered himself to be in no condition to take the lead. He felt numb, and those sensitive to reading emotions could plainly sense his feelings of loss.
After checking on the others, and after double checking Kez's checks, Toareth returned to Naois. She could feel his pain, another almost solid mass. She placed her hand upon his shoulder and shook him briefly, getting those eyes of his to tear away from Amara's remains. She looked Naois in the eye and his gaze was almost of stone, unfocused, and searching. Toareth had no words for him just like she had no words for what René was feeling. Toareth did give Naois a nod and a pat on the shoulder, hoping to drive home the idea that they were still alive, and part of a team, and there for each other, and going home.
As Keselowsky was securing himself in his seat, he gave a thumb up and Toareth returned to her chair beside René. "All secured."
"Cabin containment secured," came Kez. "Ready to detach."
"Tractor beam online for debris removal." Toar looked to René. She could feel his pain as well, but could see that he was still performing his duty masterfully, when they needed him the most. "Take us home LT."
René released the docking clamps and used thrusters to maneuver away from the derelict. He adjusted the shuttlecraft's pitch and yaw to put them on course to clear the debris field. It took several minutes but they finally exited the majority of blown out hulks that had once been starship with hundreds of living souls aboard. "Kez, please see if you can raise the Britannic. Let them know the situation and that we are on our way to the rendezvous point."
"On it, sir." Kez spun to his terminal and started tapping away. "Britannic, this is the shuttle Cavendish. Come in, over."
As Kez continued, and as René expertly piloted the shuttle, Toareth typed away a message to her husband. It read, 'Be sure Sabine speaks to Naois. He is in great pain.'
"Britannic, this is the shuttle Cavendish. Come in, over," Kez continued. "Nothing yet sir," he said to René. "Perhaps I can get a laser sight line set up once we clear this debris."
"They are expecting our imminent return," said Toareth. "With injured. I am sure they are waiting and ready for us."
René nodded and finished maneuvering the shuttlecraft to get completely clear of the debris field. Sensors picked up the Britannic about a quarter of an AU away near another cluster of debris. He adjusted course and accelerated to full impulse. He activated the communications system himself. "Britannic, Cavendish. Hold position if possible. We are eight minutes out with two injured and one dead aboard. How copy?"
Toareth was working her controls. "We are receiving a textual response. 'Good copy. Stop. Preparations underway. Stop. Shuttle bay 4. Stop.' They will be ready for when we return."
René input the course corrections required for the rendezvous with Britannic and sent the shuttlecraft on its way. Several uneventful minutes passed. René dropped speed and engaged maneuvering thrusters for the final approach.