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Pod 8, Part 2: Go West Young Man [PLOT]

Posted on Mon Oct 22nd, 2018 @ 8:40am by Petty Officer 1st Class Kipp Lak & Lieutenant Nora Morrison M.D.
Edited on on Wed Nov 21st, 2018 @ 9:33am

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Planet ZP0442
Timeline: 11 July, 2394 - 0900 Hours

[ON]

After a short period of rest, Nora and Kipp decided it was time to venture out of the escape pod, Although Kipp wasn't feeling 100% due to his concussion, there really wasn't adequate justification for staying put any longer, and they both agreed they would ultimately be safer knowing what they were facing and trying to mount their own rescue. They would be taking a risk by leaving the relative safety of the pod, they both knew, but the risks seemed worth the potential reward. They elected to take a what few supplies they had, which didn't amount to much, but were still essential: a couple of medical kits, rations, and blankets.

Moving carefully for Kipp's benefit, Nora offered hopefully, "Maybe we will run into some of the crew."

Kipp adjusted the med kit that he'd slung over one shoulder. The strap was narrow and was digging into his shoulder. It was troublesome that none of the other escape pods had landed near them. He was worried that they all suffered landings similar to their own and the thought chilled him. Who else was injured or worse? His own injuries were bruises and a lingering headache that he'd suffered with until Nora had insisted on a hypospray, which had worked.

"I hope so," Kipp said. "It would put my mind at ease. While we have a small crew, some of them should be nearby," Kipp said. They'd made their way through a small hilly area and were headed down into a shallow valley. Or at least Kipp thought they were. Their view was obscured by a swath of small, gnarled trees with green buds instead of leaves.

"I think there's water nearby," Kipp said. "Can you hear that?"

Nora stopped and focused her attention on the sounds around her, something she hadn't been focused on compared to what she could see. She briefly wondered if Kipp was hearing water because he was as concerned about finding it as she was. If they couldn't find water, they wouldn't last long. "I think...I think so. We should check it out," Morrison replied.

Kipp nodded and lead the way. They'd been moving through a thick swath of trees, giving them good cover from the sun but the need for water had been on Kipp's mind. He'd been watching for it, knowing it was critical to their survival and also could lead to other members of the ship. He pushed aside a low branch and found himself staring at a medium sized river, moving slowly. And even more important, a small town was perched on the far bank, no more than a kilometer away. Kipp knelt down, motioning for Nora to do the same.

"It appears that there is indigenous life after all," Kipp said. The town's buildings were all made of wood, some weathered and old and some still bright and new. Most were only one story but a handful were two. He could also see a bridge that reached across the river and on that bridge were wagons, being handled by humans.

"What is going on here?" Kipp asked, half to himself and half to his companion.

From her position beside Kipp, Nora tried to ignore the sun beating down and her dry mouth and focus on what was before them. At least they'd found a water source. The question now was, how, if at all, were they going to interact with the people nearby if they were going to get access to it? "It feels like we've stepped back in time, to another era in human history. We don't really have much choice but to interact if we are going to find our people, but it's a sure we are going to stick out like sore thumbs if that mode of transportation is any indication," Nora said, gesturing to the wagon.

Kipp nodded. "You're right. We need to find something to wear," he said. His eyes roved across the river and the town, settling on a barge that was tied up near their position. A worn looking dock, no more than five feet long, connected the bank to the barge. On the shore, at the end of the dock, was a small shack, with a clothesline behind it. Kipp saw an assortment of clothing, including a dress and a shirt and pants.

"It looks like we're in luck. I'll go borrow those," Kipp said. He motioned for Nora to remain and then crept forward. It was no more than fifty feet to the clothes but he moved as if he were creeping into a secure facility. His hand felt empty without his sword. The momentary reflection on its loss distracted him and he stepped on a branch. He froze. Inside the shack people were talking. The last thing they needed was to be caught for stealing. He refocused and slipped up next to the clothes line, quickly grabbing the plain colored dress and a shirt and pants.

A moment later he was back in their hide, handing the dress to Nora.

"If you prefer the pants and shirt, I'm sure I could pass for female," Kipp said.

Accepting the dress with a nod of thanks, Nora smirked. "I think we've done enough daring things for the moment. I get the feeling those people down there may not be as flexible when it comes to gender identity, so we may as well not borrow any more trouble."

Morrison stepped several feet over so she could use the trees as cover while she changed. To avoid the awkwardness of the moment, she said, "You did well, Kipp. I just hope we don't run into the owners of these clothes, or that's going to be an awkward conversation." She hated the idea of leaving her uniform behind, as much because she feared what these people might say if it were found as because she didn't want to leave the familiar garments behind. A quick glance told her obviously something like her comm badge would be too advanced for this culture, assuming it could even reach the crew, but she didn't want to leave it behind, so she tucked it in her bra, for once, grateful for the presence of the garment. "Now, I realize we don't have any choice but to interact with these people if we are going to find our people, but we don't want to frighten them unnecessarily or expose them to even the knowledge of more advanced technology. I think we need to agree on a cover story so we have a better chance of blending in."

"That is a good idea, counselor. Do you have any ideas? It would appear that there are a number of small shops in that town. We could be a couple on our way to purchase something? Or do you think that is too complicated? We don't know what kind of currency they use here," Kipp said. He was thankful for a companion who was able to think about the future. He knew some of his friends were prone to rushing forward instead.

Nora took a moment to consider his suggestion. She knew it would be important to have a back story to share, but it was difficult to know what would make sense to the people they were about to meet. "It may be difficult to know what we could buy that would make sense. What if we told then we were in some sort of accident and now we're looking for the rest of the family? I'm not sure what kind of accident would make sense to these people, but I think it would make sense to tell them some story that is partially true. Not only will it easily be remembered, but it will ring true to those we meet."

Kipp listened to Nora talk, nodding from time to time. She was making good sense. "I think it is a good idea. I saw that they utilize horses here. Perhaps we could say that our horses were stolen? Or we lost them? Something of that nature might keep them inclined to understand why we aren't acting exactly correct. It would give us time to observe more about their culture," Kipp said.

Nora nodded. "That's not a bad idea. If we tell people our horses were stolen, will they expect us to find them as well as the rest of the crew? Finding horses that no one else might be missing may be a bit difficult. What if we said our family was supposed to meet up with us a while back and when they didn't, we decided to go looking for them here?"

"I like that. Plus, in a way, it is true. It is always easier to keep a story straight when it has truth in it," Kipp said. He peeked through the foliage and saw more wagons crossing the bridge. It looked like these people were early risers. "Shall we go now?"

Nora exhaled slowly and nodded. "Here goes nothing," she offered as she followed Kipp from the safety of their hiding place. She felt awkward in her new clothes, unaccustomed to wearing civilian clothes, let alone someone else's, but she knew they couldn't afford to anger the people here or cause fear in any way. Scared people made rash decisions, and there was no denying she and Kipp were vulnerable right now.

They made their way through the trees, emerging onto the rough wagon track that they had seen. It was wide enough for two wagons and worn from constant use. The brush on its sides had been cut back, giving Nora and Kipp a good view of the bridge ahead but also making them feel exposed. Kipp's palm itched and he wished he had a weapon of some kind, if only for self defense. They had no idea what they were walking into. Kipp's footsteps thunked on the solid wood planking of the bridge. He could see that it was heavy wood, banded with strips of metal at regular intervals. It was worn but still in good shape, as if it had been well taken care of. He could hear the river below, gurgling, and the smell of moss and dirt was mixed with horse droppings.

They were halfway across the bridge when they came across an old man, leaning against the waist high railing. He held a heavy oak staff and had a large basket full of some kind of root. The man eyed them, his wrinkled face wrinkling further.

"Happy day, travelers," the old man said in a gruff voice.

Nora's sense of unease didn't leave her as they moved, but it didn't intensify, which suggested they might not be in immediate danger. At least she hoped so. It was amazing how a lack of security could zap all desire for Starfleet exploration and adventure. "Happy day, sir," Nora greeted, figuring it was better to mirror what she heard.

The old man nodded. "You look like you've been off the hoof a while, friends. Where you all come from."

Kipp could feel that the man was testing them. Maybe he was a nosy person or maybe they didn't quite look the part. Either way, they were committed and they had to do the best the could to pass the test. Kipp smiled and nodded.

"Yes, sir, we sure have been. We live out on the edges in a new farm. My wife and I set out for town and we were supposed to meet some family along the way but they never showed up. We are worried about them," Kipp said and ran his hand through his hair. Why do I feel like I need a hat? he thought.

The man frowned. "I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I heard a story yesterday that there were some metal pods dropping from the sky," the man said. "Your family maybe run into one of those things? I heard that they might be full of aliens or maybe deadly disease. But they certainly are outlawed tech. A Seeker is probably on the way."

Nora wanted to ask what a Seeker was, but worried it would reveal they weren't telling the truth. She was focused on getting through this interaction at the moment but found it amusing Kipp had referred to her as his wife. If they survived this, she was definitely going to tease him about that later. "Thank you for your sympathies. It's quite possible they ran into those pods," she offered with a frown, wanting to make it clear the word was just as foreign to them as it was to him. "Will you tell me more about what happened and where these pods are? Any possibility at this point is worth exploring."

The old man eyed them and then spit over the side of the bridge in an impressive brown stream. "Well," he said, wiping his chin with a hand. "I heard from my cousin that there was a bunch of these metal pods that have been crashing down. Someone said one landed on a farm and another they found and the bottom of a cliff. Some of them fell into the wastes, where those Techlons are probably ripping them apart for their cursed technology. I don't need to tell you that technology is evil."

Kipp nodded to appear in agreement. "That would explain a lot," he said. "Did they find anything inside?"

"Nah. I don't know for sure but I don't think so. I know the Seekers are moving to contain any heretical technology. If there were any people inside, they will find them soon enough and the trials will be pretty quick too. We don't need any corrupting influences here."

It took every ounce of strength Nora had not to look at Kipp in concern, but she forced herself to offer a sound that could be interpreted as agreement and keen interest. "Do you know where we might find this farm and cliff? I'm hoping our people weren't harmed by anyone associated with these pods and I don't think I'll feel at ease until I've looked for them myself." Morrison's concern did not need to be faked.

The man nodded. "I can understand wanting to protect your own," the man said. "My cousin's place is near to that cliff. It is about three days journey in that direction." He pointed back across the bridge. "The farm that got hit was a ways over there." He motioned through the town. "I'd be careful if I were you. Poking around that kind of stuff can be dangerous. You know a few decades ago some kinda... probe, landed near my great uncle's home. He went to poke around and the thing fried him. Dead."

Kipp nodded. "Of course. We will be most careful, sir. We appreciate your time and courtesy. My... wife and I will have to discuss what we should do," Kipp said and tapped Nora on the arm and gestured to the other side of the bridge. The old man smiled, a first, and kept his position on the bridge. Apparently they'd passed the test. For now.

"Thank you," Nora offered the older man, her mind spinning over what he had shared. She followed Kipp and spoke low so they would not be overheard. "I think we have an obligation to check out all of the places he mentioned. Normally, I would suggest splitting up, but I think we are safer together. I can't be sure, but I'm getting the sense the people here wouldn't be as forthcoming to me alone."

Kipp sighed. He didn't like the sounds of things. If some of the crew had been captured or hurt, they could be in a very bad situation. With two possibilities, whatever choice they made might end in disaster for someone. "I agree. We can't put ourselves at risk by splitting up. I think that we should avoid the town and head back across the bridge. We can make good time and we have enough rations to keep us fed. Hopefully we can run into some other crew. Let's get moving."

[OFF]

Petty Officer First Class Kipp Lak
Yeoman
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Nora Morrison M.D.
Chief Counselor
USS Firebird NCC-88298


 

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Comments (4)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Gianna Djokovic on Mon Oct 22nd, 2018 @ 9:04am

Kipp and Nora make such a good team! This is a fun story line to follow as they try to fit in and investigate where everyone might be -- it glues some more pieces of the puzzle together. Can't wait to read what happens to them. -Liam

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Tue Oct 30th, 2018 @ 2:18am

Favorite line: "I'm not sure what kind of accident would make sense to these people, but I think it would make sense to tell them some story that is partially true. Not only will it easily be remembered, but it will ring true to those we meet."

Kipp is probably the only person aboard who could get away with that line about wearing a dress, too.

As always, it's a hoot to read an escape pod story which makes me think from the POV of, "Aw, man. Why didn't we think of that?" (At times these escape pod stories let me wonder how 15 different D&D parties would play through the same module with utterly different methods of adventuring and success. Kipp and Nora seem to walk up like normal people and get the same amount of XP via a cautiously folksy conservation. Meanwhile, elsewhere are the parties who have swum through a moat of vampiric piranha, lost half their hit points, lost all their weapons to a rust monster, and after over 190 rolls of a d20, managed to finally, barely, climb UP through stinky sewer tunnels into the castle's dungeon. LOL I appreciate how Nora and Kipp make it look easy.)

Both characters' outlook and temperaments shone through as sane, realistically believable, different from the rest of our characters, congruous with their own behaviors in previous stories, and yet distinctly the same Starfleet culture that we've seen on t.v. It was another episode of watching likeable characters who have more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Kaya on Tue Oct 30th, 2018 @ 8:54am

What a great scenario for Nora. It's such a demonstrative opportunity to see her expertise in action - understanding how to keep others at ease, savvy diplomacy, and all that. They've perhaps come out ahead of many other pods in terms of gathering intel, which will be great to fold in later.

By Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt on Thu Nov 1st, 2018 @ 4:28pm

Both Nora and Kipp are careful, smart people. Every step they took before going into town was well-planned and cautious. They did it without bogging down the story so it was also a pleasure to read. "I think we've done enough daring things..." Yes, Nora, yes you have and you've only started.