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Unexpected People In Unexpected Places [PLOT]

Posted on Fri Jan 11th, 2019 @ 10:42am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Ensign Ashralle Sh’shrytral & Jillian Mox & Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt & Chief Petty Officer Charles Stephens JR & Chief Petty Officer Arlan Harlan
Edited on on Wed Jan 16th, 2019 @ 3:08pm

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Planet ZP0442
Timeline: 18 July, 2394 - 1900 Hours

[ON]

Harlan and Stephens were walking through some scrub land that looked like every other bit of scrub land. It boiled Harlan's blood that the anti-tech people put up that stupid bubble and shoved everyone else out in these areas. He wanted nothing more than to find whatever it was, learn about it, break it, then leave and get back in space where he belonged, nestled safely in his beloved Jeffry Tubes. He turned to Stephens.

"Hey Stephens, how long do you think we might be out here until we find other Firebird crew?"

Stephens looked over at Harlan. His feet were beyond sore. They felt like molten fire with every step but he couldn't show that to Harlan. He'd never hear the end of it. Besides, he was the Chief of the Boat, even if they didn't have a boat at the moment. He was glad that their injured Techlon was able to walk by himself.

"At this rate? About ten years I'd guess. And since we lost Lieutenant t'Aegis, I think our track record is heading in the opposite direction. I'm just trying to make sure I don't lose you."

Harlan chuckled at his current companion. "Heh, it'll take a lot more than some farmers who don't like technology in a desert to take me out. I've survived more nonsense than most officers can shake sticks at. Did I ever tell you about the semi-sentient jelly from my time on the Norfolk? Someone on an away team brought a little bit in on their boots and before we knew it, the organism was budding and taking over people's actions. We actually had to vent warp core emissions at 1% strength inside the ship! The jelly couldn't handle the radiation. Sure, we made the crew violently ill for a couple weeks and gave our medical holograms fits, but we survived. I transferred about a month after that episode."

Harlan laughed to himself at that memory while Stephens looked at him askance.

Over the crest of a nearby hill, the echo of a laugh reached Ash's antenna, causing her to pause at her savaging of an old hovercraft. She rose, removing face scarf and angling her head towards the noise. It might be nothing. Maybe just the wind. But you could never be too careful in these wastes. Having rescued a pair of wounded travelers from highwaymen, Gantt, Jillian, and her were (grudgingly on her part) welcomed into their small colony. Mostly the people just stared at her though, as if she was about to grow a second head. The attention was grating and Ash found herself volunteering for more savaging missions.

"Gantt?" She called softly, "I think I hear someone."

"Probably another colonist. I swear if one more so-called Techlon tries to convince me that a thermal interferometery scanner is really a lateral sensor I will explode this thing in their town." In spite of his tone Gantt scanned the hills around them. Ashralle's instincts were pretty good when strange things were about to happen. If they ever got a chance to sit in a bar Gantt vowed to find out how she had turned out that way. Seeing no one, Gantt knelt back down and patted the metal hull of the wreck. "I wouldn't intentionally blow you up."

She looked down at him, amused, "I would hope not. They might make us leave then." She paused, "Though they'd probably try to keep Jillian." The nurse had been a welcome addition to the small colony. She seemed to get along with others well. Maybe it was the internal calm she possessed.

Ash's attention was caught then by another sound wave, muffled vibrations to the north, "I'm going to walk up the hill and check this out. I'll holler if I see something."

"Don't go too far by yourself," said Gantt from beneath the frame. "Can you keep an eye on her Jillian? I want to get this power cell out without breaking to see if it still works."

"Well, sure." Jillian winked at Gantt. The more she got to know him the more he felt like the brother she always wished she had. Jillian also liked being with Ash, even if her blue friend was crankier than normal. The truth of it was that every new event might bring Emily back to her. "Wait up." Jillian shouted. She was feeling a little peppy today and it showed in the tone of her voice.

Ash scanned the horizon as she waited for nurse to catch up. The environment looked monotonous at first glance, shades of brown and orange blending together. But after spending some time here, Ash could see life clawing its way into the wastes. Bushes and scrubs dotting the landscape. Wild camels and dromedaries roaming in the quest for grass and water. Even the 'landers were shockingly positive, if more than a little insane. Maybe if she didn't stand out like a drop of blue in a sea of bland she might actually like it here.

"I'm just going to peek over the edge." She nodded towards the hill.

Stephens paused right before the crest of the latest hill. "Hold up, Harlan. I want to rest my feet for a minute. I could keep going, of course, but, well, a little rest is good for endurance," Stephens said and sat down on a stump. He wiggled his feet in his boots, eyes scanning back the direction they'd come from to make sure nobody was following them. "How you holding up, Harlan?"

"Ah not too bad." He replied, "I'm a little sore, but you don't spend a decade or two crawling away in the Tubes without developing some endurance and stamina. I imagine it's the same with everyone who makes it to my age in Starfleet. Though, I am getting tired of the same scenery and seeing nobody else for miles. Sure would be nice to run into someone else."

A voice carried over the hill and struck Ash still for a moment. It was familiar. Daring not hope, she signaled Jillian to remain quiet and marched silently up the crest. Popping her head up to take a look, she stared down at two sweaty Terrans. A joyful smile broke over her face and she raised her hand and her voice, "Chief!"

The Chief of the Boat surged to his feet, hand reaching for his weapon before he realized what was happening. He stared in disbelief as the Andorian popped to her feet, arm overhead. He didn't really know her very well but as there was only one Andorian on board the ship, he knew who it was. He grinned and waved at her. "Ensign Sh'shrytral! Are you alone?" Stephens said and began moving in her direction. The pain in his feet forgotten for the moment.

Harlan watched his companion lurch slowly in the direction of the Ensign, wincing internally as he watched Stephens struggle over the slightly uneven terrain on deteriorating footwear. It reminded him of his own growing discomfort; boy could he not wait to get back on a ship and crawl in the Tubes for a quick nap in the darkness.

Beneath the broken machinery, Gantt winced after Ash's cry. She could alert the wrong kind of people, the killing kind, that they were out salvaging. "You know better, Ash," murmured Gantt. This wreck promised parts he needed. Gantt sat upright. "Chief?" Grasping a long, twisted piece of alloy he hurried bent over towards the top of the rise.

Harlan watched Gantt scurry his direction. "Hey Gantt. What's with the piece of metal? You planning on running into any nefarious folks out here in this scrub? Have you even seen anyone since landing? We ran into some tech worshipers that are getting the short end of a big pretty stick out here."

Ash couldn't help the smile from her face. She didn't know them very well but the ache in her chest lessened with the sight of her crew. Her heart swelled. For one horrifying second, she thought that she might cry. Clearing her throat, "You are the first crew members we've seen. Mostly we have been stuck savaging, sir."

Realizing how hard he had been gripping the weapon, Gantt relaxed. His chest loosened a little, too. The words blurted out. "We met some folk who got the short end of Ashralle. You're both okay? You look okay. Jillian can help if you need it. I'm glad you both survived. Should we be expecting those worshipers to be chasing you?"

Stephens waved his hand. "No sir, lieutenant, we're just fine. Nothing more than a few bruises, despite the best efforts of some of the local wildlife. Take my advice and don't go wandering into any swamps around here. We are headed to the main Techlon camp. According to what our previous escorts said, it is that way," Stephens said gesturing in a general direction. "On foot we should be there in a couple days. Lieutenant t'Aegis is there. She was hurt during our crash landing in the swamp and needed more medical care than the two of us could provide."

"There's a main Techlon camp? Seems like they're all out for themselves, each gunning for the other," said Gantt. "How sure are you the lieutenant is safe there? Maybe I should ask how badly she's hurt."

Stephens held up his hands at the onslaught of questions. "Sir, I can assure you that there is a camp. From what Harlan and I could get out of them, they are split into a bunch of different factions but they have some kind of captain that runs the entire show. Sounds like a bunch of brothers and sisters who fight all the time until the parent steps in," Stephens said. "As for the lieutenant, she had a head wound and some other stuff but their medic seemed to know her business and they were familiar with Romulans I think. I don't know how." Stephens turned to Harlan. "Did I miss anything, chief?"

"Not particularly," came the reply. "We found out about some sort of anti-tech field, but no way of locating it or assaulting the problem once we do. We don't know enough about the non tech users on this planet to have much of a plan right now."

Gantt glanced around the circle. Their small group felt more secure, more stable with just two people. "Techlons are split into factions. We saved a couple people from another clan and they agreed not to kill us. They fight over every scrap of technology so our escape pods are prime commodities worth killing to get. We've been scrapping for them but out of pieces they believe are unusable I've built a clunky communicator. With a board pulled from this wreck I'll have it ready to send and receive to any Starfleet communicators, within range." He emphasized the last two words.

Stephens nodded. "Sounds like engineering has things well in hand then. Harlan and I tried to help the Techlons we were with salvage some of our pod but we were interrupted by a dinosaur. Thing tried to eat us. Luckily we found some phasers and managed not get eaten," Stephens said with a grin. "So, lieutenant, you're the ranking officer. You want us to hunker down with you here or are you going to join us on our little walk?"

Gantt looked around the circle waiting for a response. Why was Stephens looking at him? Realization came like a jolt of energy. "Oh, you mean me," he said, scratching the back of his neck. "We have some food. Jillian and Ashralle are capable at medicine and survival. Harlan and Stephens add engineering and security knowledge. We could salvage for months and not finish, or be closer to rescue." He watched each face to pick up signs he was on the right track. This new position made his insides turn over. "I say we stay together to look for the main camp."

Harlan piped up. "Sounds like a plan, LT. Let's keep heading in this direction, but not quite so bunched up we can't scatter if another dinosaur or some other nonsense pops up. Maybe we'll run into a few more of our comrades in the meantime." He continued after another moment once they started moving.

"So have you guys been back to your pod since the initial crash? Our was pretty beat up, but we did find usable kits and some other stuff that we have with us now."

"Nope, we pretty much hightailed it out of there once we saw the greeting party," Ash chimed in, feeling like she finally got some of her emotions under control. She glanced Gantt, "Do you think we should go back...sir?" The word fell off of her tongue awkwardly. When it was just the three of them, formalities of the past went out the window in favor of practicality. But now with the entry of two more crew members, reality set in.

Being called "sir" by Ash felt as awkward as she looked saying it. Gantt considered her question. The last thing he wanted was his first "command" decision to end in someone's harm. After a pause he shook his head. "The clan wars around us are too unpredictable. We might be separated in town. Unless there's a strong reason to head back we head out now. The five of us together."

The pain in his feet was finally breaking through his tough man routine. "As much as I would like to stop walking for like ever... I agree the best plan is to go direct to this main camp and hopefully find more of the crew." Charles gave his two cents. Being enlisted but still part of the Command team out here it didn't matter, all that mattered was getting the hell out of here.

Jillian looked sympathetically at Stephens as he spoke. "I am happy to act as a crutch if you feel unsteady as we go, but I agree that we should go." She turned to see how Gantt and Ash were reacting.

Ash nodded in agreement. Both Stephens and Harlan looked like they could use a good meal and a night of rest. "Why don't we go back and rest up. We can make decisions in the morning. What do you say, sir?" She looked at Gantt.

He was pretty sure Stephens would gamely go along with any order and suddenly the edge of command was more keen. Gantt nodded. "Yes, let's go back to the shuttle to camp. Ensign Sh'shrytral and I will scout for some more food while you two rest. Nurse Mox, please help them get comfortable and are healthy enough for a long walk." Gantt was suddenly anxious to get moving.

"Okay, let's do this." Jillian whispered, as if leaving had become an important secret from the surrounding rocks. If these two were alive... She thought of Emily and for a moment let hope rush over her. "yeah, let's do this." She repeated her whisper, this time pointed toward the team.

[OFF]

Chief Petty Officer Charles Stephens JR
Chief of the Boat/Assistant Chief Intelligence Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Ensign Ashralle Sh’shrytral
Assistant Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Chief Petty Officer Arlan Harlan
Assistant Chief Engineer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Junior Grade Soto Gantt
Structural/Environmental Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Jillian Mox
Nurse
USS Firebird NCC-88298


 

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Comments (1)

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Sun Jan 13th, 2019 @ 4:57pm

Nuts. My comment deleted itself.

Okay, let's try this again... I liked how the small group dynamics were mentioned in terms of everyone realizing that Gantt was their new leader. This element of potential drama got touched upon when everyone's escape pods first landed, but I didn't realize until now that the tension could naturally happen all over again when each group merged with other groups.

ex. What happens when Escape Pod A goes through a lot more than Escape B does, they join up, and it's Escape Pod B which has the highest ranking officer? That's a scenario rife for resentment. Granted, they'll all Starfleet and are trained for having a hierarchy of command, but they're all people, too.

(If it's the janitor who risked his life by hauling me out of flaming wreckage, everything in my gut is going to be telling me to follow the janitor rather than a "superior" vice-president of proactionist-consultant-marketing who has spent the week sipping cappuccino in the shade.)