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Pod 12, Part 2: Lock, Stock, and Barrel [PLOT]

Posted on Tue Oct 16th, 2018 @ 9:31am by Petty Officer 3rd Class Fhiri & Lieutenant JG Murril Na & Lieutenant JG Yikete Oggt

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Planet ZP0442
Timeline: 11 July, 2394 - 0800 Hours


"How is it possible that we've lost all electronics? Flashlights, communicators, tricorders... this isn't just a broken escape pod," Yikete complained as he sat outside the pod and took inventory of the medical kit and some other first aid supplies he'd gathered from the pod's own stores. The sun was just cresting the eastern horizon, painting the sky in streaks of lilac and blue, and the cold night temperatures were quickly giving way to the heat of a new day. He'd stripped off his uniform jacket already and stuffed it into a pack.

Fhiri was sitting in the most shaded portion of the escape pod. She knew soon the sun would be high enough that there would be almost no shade. The area around them was barren as far as the eye could see, with sand dunes rising and falling like a great fossilized ocean.

"No it isn't just broken. Something is interfering with all electronics. Nothing else would account for what is going on. And I took apart a few of the circuits inside to make sure that they hadn't all burned out. Everything is in perfect working order. Nothing is working!" She yelled at the end. "Stupid planet," She said. "How much water do we have?"

Murril Na replied, "Enough for drinking. Not enough for showers. Ten days according to the written manual found under the seat." He was looking at a plastic bar he had removed earlier from one of the escape pod's storage shelves. After all, the shelves weren't necessary anymore. The bar was sticking straight up out of the sand. Murril leaned in and drew another tick-mark upon the shadow's tip with his finger.

"At least the nighttime temperatures should continue to be within reach of what those emergency blankets can handle," Murril said. "We've slept one night without the climate being a health hazard, so spending more nights out here is looking pretty probable." Murril stepped over to a long, hollow, transparent tube, also positioned straight up-and-down. This tube formerly encased several wires which had led to Life Boat 12's useless main thruster. He watched the tube's sand continue to pour downwards from a chest-sized, sand-filled drum through the tube at a steady, reliable rate. The grains fell past distinct marks with little numbers next to every tenth mark.

Murril walked a couple of meters away and drew another oversized equation in the sand. Nothing complicated. Just multiplication and proportions. Finding a median and an r. "This switching from a PADD's tiny screen to entire meters of erasable sand is taking some getting used to." He laughed, but it sounded too hollow for his taste. He returned to a flat portion of the escape pod's exterior where his uniform's black jacket was draped.

With a watery, whitish-yellow paste, Murril inked another point onto a dried graph which he had painted earlier onto the shoulder of his uniform. "I don't think we were hit with an EMP, either as a weapon or a natural phenomenon. Otherwise, we should have noticed a change in our consciousness. What's odd is that we can still think at all. From dendrites-to-axons, our nervous systems run on electrical signals. Why are WE still able to function when our gear can't? What do YOU think, Doc?"

Oggt gave a shrug. "I don't know. You're right. Why haven't our bodies shut down, our hearts stopped beating? We're capable of a wide bioelectrical output range. It's possible that we're being affected at the some levels but we just don't realize it yet. Without equipment and a lab, I don't know how to test any of this." He closed up the med kit. "What I do know is that we're too exposed here and we can't possibly take all the water with us. In this heat, you're both going to need at least two but more like four liters a day. I can get by with less. That makes our range limited to what we can carry. So we need to concentrate on finding water within one or two days travel... through the dunes."

Fhiri listened to the two officers talk. Her fingers tapping against her portable console without realizing she was doing it. As an enlisted member of Starfleet, she was used to taking orders from officers. Most of the time they were reasonable orders. If not, she was pretty persuasive. But she found herself feeling agitated at the discussion.

"So are we leaving or not? You're both the same rank so I don't know who is in charge but I don't think we should stay here indefinitely. I know there weren't any other ships near the Firebird and who knows where any of the other escape pods are," Fhiri said, crossing her arms.

Murril looked towards Oggt and said, "You're much more the expert on how our bodies will hold up in this environment, but I could use another night to map out the movement of the constellations. Walking across an unfamiliar world's desert by day seems like we would burn through our water supplies too quickly, especially if we don't have a map or an exact destination. Sleeping during the hot day and traveling by cool night could save our strength in the long run. I won't be able to ink my makeshift star map once we start walking, but here by the escape pod, I have stationary objects to orient myself with."

He pointed at the various instruments they had cobbled together after their landing: the straight vertical hourglass calculating a yet-unnamed standard unit of local time, the worthless solar power cells plugged into a deaf-mute Starfleet badge, and his prized masterpiece: a hand-crank dynamo made of the escape hatch's egress handle, loops of cannibalized wires, and the magnet from their life boat's ONLY compass.

In the daylight, Murril saw how pathetic his efforts had been at building all that... ...junk. He kept his mouth shut. Hear ye! I present the universe's most frustrating science fair, guaranteed to cause your children to hate learning science AND math! Come see Maggie the Compass, who randomly changes its mind for no reason! See solar power that goes nowhere, does nothing! Meet the Eared-ed lady, Yik the lizard man, and Murril Mesmiro who can read your very minds! Why you ma'am! Yes, you in the yellow top. You're agitated! You're thinking that this is a rip-off, and you're absolutely right! Murril! Stop it! Don't you dare lose it in front of them! We've got food and water. We've got no injuries or illnesses. You've got a physician AND an engineer! We're all physically and mentally fit. The three of us still have advantages that the rest of the crew might not have anymore. It's up to us to find the survivors of that next escape pod. One-at-a-time. Systematically. Calmly.

Oggt didn't have any clear answers for Fhiri as to who was in charge. Staff officers, like science and medical, were not generally in the line of command. They simply needed to work together for mutual survival, in his opinion. At first he was encouraged by Murril's drive -- the man was doing something to improve their situation, but as he watched experiment after experiment fail, he thought the science officer's efforts seemed almost manic in their desperation. Fhiri seemed at first equally driven to repair the ship, but she had seemingly given up on the problem and Oggt could hardly blame her. It was becoming too hot to care, much less travel across the endless sand when they couldn't even orientate themselves.

"Fine. Another night," Oggt agreed with Murril eventually. He worked for awhile to drape the parachute over the escape pod in a way that created a tent of shade. It was impossible to anchor well into the sand, but he weighed the corners down as best he could. It provided a little relief. "I think tonight we should walk up to the top of the dune and see if we can spot any source of light, anywhere," he suggested. "Maybe we'll be able to see some of the other crews."

Fhiri muttered something under her breathe in Ferengi. Were these officers? Were they going to get her killed? She seriously considered leaving them behind. Not because she hated them but because the odds in her head said she might be better off by herself. Oggt was probably the best suited to survival so sticking with him was a smart move. But the other one? He appeared to be completely mad.

"Did you know that we have one hundred seventy-eight words for rain," Fhiri said, moving to find a sliver of shade near their escape pod. The sun wasn't quite overhead anymore. "I'd really like a good webblening right now. That's a long soaking rain that stings only a little. I'll gladly go on a walk tonight. I feel useless."

The science officer tensed slightly at the sound of the four-letter f word. "You can feel as useless as you'd like, but you're far from useless." Mad Murril Na looked around, not for a mechanical part but for an idea. There. "We could use some sort of tall, flag-tipped pole to help us re-find Life Boat 12 again if we get lost during our initial travels into those dunes. You have building materials at your disposal. You've probably jury-rigged more challenging structures back at the Academy, but if you can build it high enough and durably enough to reach the Firebird from down here, you'll be the first Ferengi to have admirals throwing latinum pips at her when we get home." If we get home.

Murril watched the doctor weigh down the repurposed parachute's tips. "Lieutenant Oggt, if you and P.O.
Three Fhiri here walked to that dune and back, how long do you estimate it would take you, round trip?" Relaxed, deliberating. Murril stifled a smirk. I wish I was as calm as you are, Mister Oggt.

Oggt shook his head as he surveyed the landscape for the countless time. "I want to say a few hours, but I don't know. Maybe it's a fool's errant at night with no light or fixed position to navigate by. There could be sinkholes or predators." The Saurian may have been calm and methodical about their situations, but he was not without worry. "What about..." he started to ask as he looked around at the piled of equipment that had been scavenged from the escape pod. "Is there anything we can set fire to? Maybe we can get a signal to the others."

Fhiri's mind latched onto the idea of latinum pips. She envisioned an entire bag full of them and for a brief moment she stood transfixed by the idea of how beautiful they would be. She shook herself out of the reverie. "Uhh. Let me think," she said. She was an engineer after all, even if she mostly focused on computer systems. An idea began to form in her mind. She glanced over at the pile of parachute material that was clumped together and half covered by sand. "Yeah we can make this work."

It turned out that planet ZP0442 had not one but two moons. The larger of the two rose early in the evening and it was a bright sphere with splotches of gray and blue. Fhiri thought it looked like moldy cheese, which made her smile. She checked the wind again, nodding. The second moon was no larger than her thumb but it was incredibly bright. She figured it was mostly ice. She was standing next to the escape pod, with both Oggt and Murril behind her. She'd spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening twisting and tying the heavy cords that had connected the parachute to the pod. She'd also cajoled her two companions into helping her sew the once bulbous chute into a different shape.

"Here we go!" She yelled and pulled on the piece of cord holding the entire contraption together. For a moment nothing happened and then the chute, which she'd propped up on top of a long pole, which she'd discovered collapsed inside the pod, caught the wind and the massive, reflective kite ballooned as it rose. The length of cord had been wound around part of what had been one of their seats. Fhiri had bolted it to the outside of the pod using good old fashioned arm power. She was proud of the winch she'd created as well. The reflective material on the chute shone as it unfurled and reached the end of their impromptu ground cable. It was quite large and Fhiri knew that as long as the moons were full or mostly full,it would be visible from a long way off. She turned to face her companions.

"What do you think?"

Murril was showing some refilled drinking pouches and two long, sagging, capped hoses to Oggt. These pouches and hoses were filled up with flammable lubricant, taken from the escape pod's systems. Hand on his own chin, Murril gave a better look to Fhiri's huge sail-kite and its moorings. "I hadn't realized the emergency parachute fabric would reflect moonlight THIS well. I like it! And here I was imagining some teeny flag with a finger-sized 25-hour luminescent glow-stick at the top, but your version will be easier to see at a greater distance. We won't have to worry about it running out of power..."

Murril hesitated, then concluded that he had better say it out loud now rather than let it go unaddressed. He asked Fhiri aloud, "If the wind slows down too much, will that shape still be able to catch a new breeze without anyone being here to help?" Murril truly hoped that Fhiri's admirable progress and her good attitude wasn't about to burst from the accumulated pressure of his critique plopped on top of these days' myriad ups and downs. Mostly downs.

"Well done!" Oggt exclaimed enthusiastically as he gave the Ferengi a pat on the shoulder. "Let's hope the others see this." He still had hopeful visions that the rest of the Firebird crew was encamped somewhere just out of view. As always, the decision of whether to leave or stay was ever-present in his mind. This signal device ticked a box in the stay column, to be sure, but it depending on others seeing it. Still, staying here didn't feel like a luxury they would have for very long. It just had to be long enough to be seen by someone.

Fhiri grinned at Oggt. "Thanks! I know it isn't portable but we will be able to reach all the dunes around here and see what we can find and then be able to get back," she said and then looked at Murril. "And if the wind dies, the balloon will remain in the air for quite a while. There's some helium I scavenged inside some smaller balloons tucked inside the whole thing. They won't be enough to keep it up forever but hopefully just until the wind comes back. And thanks to your data," Fhiri said, pointing at Murril's strange workspace, "I noticed that the wind here is incredibly persistent and steady. So hopefully your numbers are right."

She walked over to her small pack and picked up a water pouch. "Water is good," she said. "But we need more. Are we going for a walk?"

Oggt nodded to her in answer.

Murril followed the direction of Fhiri's index finger and saw the small windmill he had built hours ago. The table he had drawn into the sand was only partially erased from the wind.

He flipped his jacket over, now that the ink of the latest tables and graphs had dried. "For as much as I want to come along, I'll stick to my part of the deal and get to painting us a usable star map." He displayed the mostly-empty spine of his Starfleet jacket at his companions. He had painted a huge circle on its back earlier, using the small container of permanent whitish-yellow "paint" mixed out of unnecessary escape pod chemicals. Small tic-marks were drawn every 45 degrees on the circumference. "If I'm napping when you get back, don't worry. I've got an alarm clock set up. After the initial layout of noticeable constellations is inked, all I have to do is keep track of how much they've rotated overhead."

To demonstrate, Murril cupped a hand under the vertical drum-and-tube hourglass, temporarily stopping the downward flow of sand. A rasping, annoying, clicking noise issued from an adjacent contraption. Murril took his hand away and reset the noisemaker. "By this time tomorrow night, we should be able to travel indefinitely in a relatively straight line with a wearable map."

"A wearable map? I didn't think I'd hear that phrase today. Although it makes me wonder if that is a potentially profitable business model. I doubt it but I'll tell my brother anyway," Fhiri said. She walked over and looked up at Oggt. "Lets go for a little walk. You go first because... well you go first. I'm really hoping that we go over that huge sand dune and there's a tropical forest. Or a lake. Or even a marsh. I can handle bugs."

"Bugs would be good," the Saurian agreed as he picked up a pack and looped his arms through the straps. "Sustainable nutrition source." He threw Murril a settling glance before they headed out, noticing for the first time that the Betazoid's skin was becoming red and inflamed from exposure. "Yes, get some rest, Murril. Use some of the burn cream on your nose." With that sage medical advice, they headed off on their slow trek through the desert.

The bugs were biting Fhiri's ears. A lot. she swiped at them for the one thousandth time, shooting an annoyed look at Oggt, who was impervious to their attacks. "Bugs are not good. For the official record, sir," She said. She glanced over her should, taking some comfort and pride in the fact that her kite shone brightly in the moonlight. It was working just as she'd hoped. As long as the winds didn't gust and carry the whole thing away, they were safe. The sand beneath her feet was far softer than she'd expected. They were approaching their destination, the crest of the largest sand dune, or sand mountain in Fhiri's mind.

"So what exactly are we going to do if we see some kind of city or town or... whatever? We can't just go walking into it and ask for water."

Fhiri posed a valid question that Oggt had yet to consider-- civilization, if it were to be found, might not take kindly to humanoids, giant lizard men, or petite big-lobed-goblin-Ferengis. He continued walking in silence for several moments as he thought on it. "A settlement means that there is food and drinking water nearby. We don't need to be right on top of them, but if we find shelter several kilometers away, we stay in range of supplies and we don't disrupt the locals."

Fhiri nodded, her feet dragging in the sand. "Right, right. But we could probably do some trading, depending on what we find. I mean, doing business isn't disruptive. I could even make sure that we don't make hardly any profit from our deals. No more than," Fhiri grimaced. "Five percent or something. I'm sure we have lots of things we could trade to them."

As she finished speaking, they crested the hill and paused. The sand hill was indeed the highest point for a long distance. Fhiri guessed it had to be many kilometers. But at some point over the life of the planet, large asteroids had fallen, leaving the landscape beneath them covered with numerous deep depressions. In the moonlight, it looked like parts of the asteroid craters lay in shadow and some of those shadows had small winking lights.

Oggt surveyed the strange patterns in the landscape and raised his hand to block out the glare from one of the moons overhead. He imagined water at the bottom of some of the depressions and maybe clusters of homes as the sources of the lights. The prospects raised his hopes a bit, though he truthfully didn't know how to interpret the strange geography in the dark. "At least it's not just sand." He cast a look back over his shoulder, toward Fhiri's makeshift signal balloon that still kept watch over the escape pod in the night sky. It looked smaller from here but was still an impressive signal effort. He wondered if had been noticed by anyone else.

"So should we go down there and get a closer look or should we go back?" Fhiri asked. Her stomach rumbled audibly. "I'm, uh, fine with either option."

"The most important thing is to stick together. We should go back for Murril and make a plan to leave the site. If we haven't gotten word from command by tomorrow evening," Oggt surmised out loud. He hated making these decisions. He wanted to go and explore and have questions answered but he knew this was the responsible choice.

"Boring," Fhiri said and then shrugged. "But you're an officer. Lets go," She said and turned around, retracing her footsteps that had been left in the sand. The wind had partially filled them in but they were still visible. After ten minutes of walking, they ran across a third set of tracks, heading directly towards their escape pod.

"Uh. This can't be good," Fhiri said.

"It could be a crew member. Whoever they are, can't be too far ahead of us," Oggt said with urgency as he picked up the pace.

Back at Escape Pod 12, Murril had started awake out of a shallow sleep of questionable usefulness. Rather, Murril thought he had been asleep. I remember a dream about a battle-damaged Firebird landing hard in this desert with me still aboard, but that's not how it happened. His stiff arm and fingers were already moving towards his jury-rigged paintbrush as he blinked his eyes. What is that?

Squinting, Murril believed that he had seen something far off, below the horizon line. Is it a lantern? A torch? How many? I don't see it anymore. Groggily, Murril checked his sand timer and stirred the tiny container of moist, manila-colored paint. He watched the horizon again. ...assuming that point of light had ever actually been real to begin with.

The click sounded loud in the night as the figure stepped out around the side of the escape pod and held up a long barreled pistol. It was hard to tell exactly what the figure looked like but it was certainly bipedal and was wearing a long dark coat with matching pants. Its head was covered with a wrap of similar dark cloth and a pair of large goggles perched above a small nose.

"I'm not a seeker," the figure said in a calm, low pitched voice. "But I would venture to say that you are not from around these parts." The hand without the gun pointed to the glimmering kite overhead. "And that is definitely not normal. Who are you?"

The U.S.S.'s Firebird's assistant chief science officer had no reason to answer dishonestly, but he also wanted to look before he leapt. Excellent! I can understand the language! Whoever this is, it's shoot later and ask questions first. Seeker? Normal? I need more light to see by. Murril pointed in the same direction that the dark stranger was pointing. Murril answered, "It's made of the reflective fibers of our ship's parachute, and it works better than I thought. Thanks for coming to investigate our crash landing. I am Murril Na of the United Federation of Planets."

"United... what is that? Are you a member of the Techlons?" The figure asked, the weapon never wavering. "This egg thing looks like something they would have. If so, I will have to take you in to a Seeker so they can decide what to do with you."

Murril knew that if he left with this... person... it was all over. We're supposed to be finding the rest of the crew, not getting split even further! Worse, there was a distinct lack of curiosity in the featureless stranger's emotional state. Murril wanted to slow the situation down, so he began gesturing calmly with expansive motions about the camp, turning slowly around to check for other stealthy locals. Nothing ruins plans like a sharp blow to the back of the head.

Murril asked, "So, these seekers aren't a member of this techlong group, then?" Na deliberately mispronounced the word to get across the point that the UFP wasn't a player in the local political squabbles. Keep sloooowing the situation down, Murril. He hasn't fired or threatened yet. We seem to be alone, for now, but he's still out of arm's reach. "I'm afraid I don't have much to offer in the way of hospitality. Our water is limited and the food you're carrying is probably a lot tastier than any of the emergency rations I've got. The United Federation of Planets are not invaders. We're explorers. We didn't even know you were here or what your planet's name is. That egg is a life raft, an escape pod. As you can see, we're out of power and had to reinvent the proverbial wheel."

Murril had bristled angrily a bit at "egg". If the closest analogy this guy could come up with is an egg, that reduces the likelihood that there's a spaceport nearby. Still, if they've got domesticated livestock as a sustainable food source, that's got some promise. His emotions are still too suspicious of me, though. He hasn't even stepped out of the escape pod's umbra, yet. I can't even tell if it's a he or a she, or what species I'm dealing with.

The figure didn't move, standing silent in the darkness. A stray cloud passed in front of one of the moons, momentarily reducing the bright light. The wind continued to blow, kicking up a light spray of sand, which rattled against the escape pod.

"You're not from Far Wanderer," it said in a soft voice, as if speaking not to Murril but to itself. The weapon dipped for a moment and then came back up. "You're some kind of Techlon then, even if you aren't from here. You've been using this tech-egg to get here."

Fhiri and Oggt had followed the footsteps as quickly as possible and arrived at their ramshackle camp in time to hear the last of the commentary by the unknown visitor. Fhiri shook her lobes at Oggt and held her hands up in a What now gesture. They were on the opposite side of the escape pod from the intruder. She made another gesture, a more violent one, with her hands, indicating a blow to the head. Then she grinned and held up a finger an pointed at Oggt and made a fierce toothy snarl.

Oggt gave Fhiri a look, but was resigned to her plan being the best option on short notice. He picked up a piece of conduit that Murril had been using as a sundial or something and headed back away from the escape pod with the intention to skirt around and come up behind the man. He kept thinking as loudly as possible through the steps of the plan, as though thinking loudly were somehow the same as shouting a whisper to the Betazoid. Keep him distracted, Murril. We're on our way.

Needing time to think, Murril avoided eye contact with the stranger. This wasn't going well. Murril exclaimed at the visitor, "DON'T MOVE!"

Pointing at the sand underneath the stranger's boots, Murril explained, "You're standing on a table." The gun didn't move. The visitor didn't care. The visitor was standing on the sandy ground. The science officer held out both arms in a palms down stopping gesture. Murril took one big, slow, exaggerated step to demonstrate. "Could you take one big step out of your square before you accidentally erase half the numbers. It took me hours of stargazing to get those last few rows filled in." The Betazoid sensed that this stranger was now amused and confused. Murril pointed up at the sky, and the stranger's eyes followed slightly. "I was making a star map before you found me. It's to navigate over land by night." Murril circled widely around in an unassuming manner, mentioning, "If the number by your left foot is a 1.8, I can still rewrite the formula in the sand later."

Murril's look of worry was real; he did not want any more of that table wiped out tonight! The stranger obliged and took a steppin' o'r the imaginary barbed wire fence. Murril exhaled, "I can see the 1.8 from here. Thank you." ...for not erasing a whole night's work AND for letting me get this close.

That's when Murril saw past the stranger's shoulder, where on the far side of camp, a Ferengi and a Saurian were attempting to sneak up on the armed visitor. Uh oh. Their emotional state was akin to watching two underaged freshmen walk up to a bar with blatantly phony identity cards. Nonono. Not the sundial, Oggt! Nothing ruins plans like a sharp blow to the back of the head.

Murril kept talking with the uncommunicative stranger. "...and why are you still pointing your weapon at me? Are you worried I'll rob you with my paintbrush? I WANT you to introduce me to these seekers of yours. Whatever community you're from, I figure they've got food, water, shelter, and maybe even a way for me to help me get out of Far Wanderer and back where I belong. I have nothing to gain if you're dead. If you wanted ME dead, you would have hung back and watched this whole time, free of risk, as I died of starvation, exposure, or hungry wildlife. Yet, you approached me and offered to bring me back to your settlement. Why would I NOT want to come with you?"

Murril ambled slightly off to the right a bit so that the stationary stranger wouldn't be able to see what was coming up from behind. "Please, put your gun away. You won't need it." Watching Fhiri rub her hands together as she grinned nearby, Murril realized that even if the stranger heard footsteps and whirled around to shoot, Murril himself could close what little remained of the distance to disarm him, maybe without anybody getting killed tonight. Maybe.

Oggt crept forward, really not paying attention to what words Murril was spouting, just fixated to what he was going to do if the stranger turned and saw him. He'd had a quick internal debate with himself on the way there about where to hit the stranger and while the head would definitely have produced a more dramatic result, the last thing he wanted to do was to kill the man and start a war. He was still a doctor, afterall, and he still wore the uniform of Starfleet and even here in this desert of some forsaken planet, that had to stand for something. He could heal a shoulder injury, brains were trickier.

He raised the conduit like he was getting ready to hit a baseball and when he was in range, swung sharp and hard toward the man's glenohumeral joint, the ball-and-socket joint of the arm that was holding the gun. A successful hit there would leave the man without the use of his dominant arm.

Murril calculated that as long as Yikete's blow would send the stranger into either death or unconsciousness in a single sharp impact to the head, the gun probably wouldn't fire straight directly into Murril's chest.

CRACK! Miraculously, the stranger didn't jerk back on the trigger, but he did start to whirl around towards Oggt. Nobody screamed nor uttered a word. Murril sensed that the visitor's emotional state had switched from dutiful calm to shock, survival, and anger. Oh, and pain. Mostly survival and anger, though. Murril couldn't read Fhiri's mind, but Yikete's adherence to the Hippocratic Oath was clear.

Murril's emotional state changed, too, as the difference between medical and science philosophies became evident. Murril took advantage of the distracted stranger to rush towards the gun and loosely grab the barrel via the right hand. The long barrel made it easier to tell when it was finally pointed enough in a safe direction.

Whether accidentally or deliberately, the stranger stepped hard on Murril's foot, pinning it painfully in place. The science officer considered that the firearm and the stranger's free hand were the two threats he could actually do something about, so instead of bothering with the trapped foot, Murril reflexively passed the barrel from right hand to left hand, ignoring the loud BANG which sent a bullet puffing safely into the sand.

Murril diverted the stranger's incoming punch via a free right arm, then rotated hard at the waist to use an elbow to drive into the stranger's injured glenohumeral joint. CRACK! Before anyone could take further action, the stranger blacked out and collapsed from the pain.

The gun loosened into Murril's fingers. Throughout the fight, no one had yelled nor spoken a word. Murril stepped out of reach of the stranger's limp body, glared harshly at Yikete Oggt, and said nothing.

The science officer studied the features of the unfamiliar firearm in his own palms, letting the focus of analysis settle his own emotions back down. Murril had no jokes this time.

"You're welcome," Oggt said to Murril as he bent down to assess the unconscious stranger. He poked the man's shoulder, feeling around the tissue with his long padded fingers. "Fhiri," he called out to the engineer, "Some cabling maybe? Something to restrain him." He continued his quick check. "Human or something thereabouts."

"Yeah I have a couple pieces left over," Fhiri said and scurried over to her stash of random supplies she had scavenged from the pod. She dug under a flat piece of paneling and found a thin black cord that had, in a previous existence, been part of the electrical wiring. She made her way over to the fallen intruder and quickly secured its arms and legs. It moaned as she did so and after Fhiri couldn't help herself. She reached up and pulled down the mask, revealing a young human woman with dark skin and long eyelashes.

"Yup. She's human. Which is weird, right? I mean, how did she get out here? And what was all that stuff she was babbling about? Also, and I'm just an enlisted person but isn't there some kind of directives we are supposed to be following?" Fhiri asked as she stood back up. "I don't think she's going to be out long. We should try to question her, right?"

"Or gain her confidence," Oggt suggested, "which might be hard.. because... well, we just beat her unconscious, which I was trying to avoid," he looked up at Murril. "Or I dose her up with 6 hours of sedative and we leave her. She'll be safe in the pod. She'll get out, go home, and we'll be a dozen kilometers away if she brings people back looking for us. We need to avoid the indigenous population. That's reason number one," he added, pointing to the gun.

Murril took no additional offense, since the doctor's thoughts were focused upon the weapon rather than the person currently holding it. Murril sat down on one of Escape Pod 12's supply containers and set the soothing, L shaped puzzle to one side. "What's done is done."

The smelly firearm rocked to and fro on top of the container's lid. Murril inhaled a fresh breath of natural wind sharply through his nostrils. There was no good way to lecture a physician about how the human body works, but something needed to be said sooner rather than later.

The science officer exhaled a measured reply, "Lieutenant, I honestly thought you were planning to strike her in the back of her head or to strike at the gun itself." Hold it in, Murril. This is not the place to start a fight. State your peace and move on. That PO3 doesn't need to see a schism in command structure. Not here. "I'm grateful," I'm lying. Murril continued, "and I understand Starfleet Medical's oath to protect all lives equally. But, if our positions were reversed, I'd have put a lot more priority on saving you than on saving her." You nearly got me killed, Yikete Oggt.

Murril's expression lightened. Giving the physician time to absorb and respond, Murril looked at the Ferengi. "As for following the Prime Directive, yes, we'll have to leave our unconscious visitor here as we steer clear of local entanglements for a while."

"I'm confused, Lieutenant," Oggt said pointedly, irritated and purposely mirroring Murril's use of formal rank address. "Are you upset that I didn't use enough force, in your opinion, or are you upset because you misread my thoughts and didn't know where I was going to strike or why?" He motioned to the woman on the ground, still pretty much unconscious. "It's very simple. Her life has value. The situation is diffused. If you think I should have killed her instead, then find a superior officer and put it in a report."

Fhiri was half paying attention to whatever kind of officer politics was going on between the two fiesty lieutenants. She rarely thought about officers unless it was someone in her chain of command and these two certainly didn't fit that description. Usually. She still wasn't sure who was in charge so maybe it meant nobody was in charge? A strange noise filtered in through the officer speak. She tilted her head.

"So I hate to interrupt your command course or, whatever, but I'm pretty sure there are more people out there and they are coming our way," Fhiri said in a low voice. She immediately grabbed the makeshift bag of gear she'd created.

Murril agreed that the situation required everyone to set aside differences. He attached the lid on his paint jar, put his mostly dry jacket over his head, disconnected his sand timer before its time was up, and started pulling on a slab of the escape pod now serving as a cargo sled. The sled's trailing edge would help erase their tracks as they walked.

Oggt bent down and picked up the unconscious woman in his arms. "We don't know who those people are and I need to make sure she's okay. So either she comes with us or I stay back. We don't have time to debate it."

Fhiri shrugged. "Hey, throw her on the sled and lets get going. We might be able to barter with her when she wakes up," Fhiri said. She eyed the kite and looked at her companions. "How adventurous are you two feeling? I've got an idea."


Lieutenant JG Murril Na
Assistant Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant JG Yikete Oggt
Medical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

(NPC by Djokovic)

Petty Officer Third Class Fhiri
Transporter Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298


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Comments (1)

By Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt on Thu Nov 1st, 2018 @ 3:34pm

This JP covers a lot of ground and throws a lot of interesting details into survival. Each character has a distinct approach. They don't agree, they irritate each other, and they manage to work together. This lends a very "human" aspect to the JP. Fhiri manages to lighten the mood when needed but the tension is always present. It's the way survival is likely to play out between even good friends. Now, what does Fhiri have up her sleeve?