Moonfall Part 1
Posted on Fri Dec 30th, 2022 @ 7:41pm by Ensign Sheldon Parsons & Ensign Brian Davies & Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai & Lieutenant Charles Bridgeport & Lieutenant Gar'rath & Lieutenant Margarar & Lieutenant Nico Oliveria & Lieutenant Xex Wang & Lieutenant JG Gwenwyn Marwol & Ensign Mei Ratthi & Ensign Noah Balsam & Andrew Munro & Lieutenant Timmoz & Lieutenant Arianna Durand & Lieutenant JG Irynya & Lieutenant JG Kestrel & Ensign Tamblem Dravor & Ensign Jyl-eel Tor
Edited on on Fri Dec 30th, 2022 @ 8:20pm
Predators and Prey
Location: The Moon of Shaddam IVa
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1000
[Waverider Shuttle, Science Base Camp]
[The moon of Shaddam IVa]
[MD 1: 1000 Hours]
The Waverider was full. All told there were just shy of 20 bodies on the small vessel and nigh on complete science lab’s worth of equipment. Descent through the atmosphere to the surface of the moon had been smooth, much to Emni’s surprise. She’d silently reminded herself that just because transporters and communications were unable to penetrate the atmospheric interference didn’t mean that the shuttle would encounter any issues on its way down.
Lieutenant Timmoz had, in Emni’s estimation, set them down with the hand of a well practiced pilot, situating the Waverider just at the edge of the location the science team had identified as the best central point for the survey.
Now, with the Waverider’s back ramp descending, they were about to get their first taste of the planet’s thin atmosphere–capable enough of sustaining them in the short term, though more than a day could prove fatal to some of their team members. A gust of chilly air crossed the cargo area and Emni stepped up to the edge of the ramp making her way down to the dusty scrub-covered surface flanked by the ship’s new head of security and its new chief scientist.
The briefest of moments passed as she took in the area around the Waverider. The gritty air made it feel like she couldn’t draw a deep breath and gave her a strong urge to sneeze, and the light gave the impression that it was dusk, though their surveys indicated that it was definitely early morning on the moon. At a glance back from Emni the rest of the group disembarked. She’d give them a moment to get outside into the air and then they’d organize the groups. Most knew their assignments already, but for the sake of keeping everything organized the part-Romulan XO planned to run it all down briefly.
Lieutenant Durand stood to the right of her XO, waiting for her team to make their way out of the small vessel and over to her. The thin air was noticable, but certainly not as uncomfortable as the cold which bit at her face. Thankfully, the rest of her body was covered by a thermal undergarment that was only visible where it covered her hands like thin gloves. She glanced around the dusty expanse, but nothing unusual caught her attention.
Ensign Parsons had been tapped for this mission as engineering support. Truth told, there wouldn't be much happening on the ship, so the Chief, Assistant Chief, and even Noah Balsam had been ordered along, too. This left the Sojourner with minimal engineering staff but the need was on the ground, really. Getting a survey of this magnitude done in a day -- including solving the mystery of the transport-inhibiting alloy -- was going to take a lot of hands and equipment, so it made sense that Captain Kodak had loaded the team with engineers. Sheldon just hoped that things would go smoothly on this dust bowl of a moon they were assigned to survey.
Shrugging on his thermal suit, Parsons then loaded his arms with equipment from the Waverider's rear compartments, then strode down the gangway to take his first step's on Shaddam's surface. The ground felt both hard and soft at the same time -- likely a result of the fine layer of dust resting atop the scrubby soil. As he walked towards the staging area where equipment was being offloaded, Sheldon felt some difficulty with his breathing. The briefing had indicated the air would be thin -- and supplemental oxygen units were available on the Waverider for any who wanted them -- but the engineer found himself surprised by how restrictive his chest felt.
Taking deep, measured breaths, Sheldon began to put the equipment he was carrying down and begin organizing what was already there.
The Security challenges they would face on this mission were various. Charles went over operations for his security personnel whilst wearing EVA suits. Once they landed, Charles would set up his personnel in overwatch positions so there were no surprises, since he was sure they would most likely be in one area at a time due to the limited communications problems that persisted. Now it was hope for the best and expect the worst. He would be surprised no matter what happened!
Nico crossed his arms, rubbing his shoulders, nearly pouting as the door opened and his crewmates began to file out, "I'm from a damn tropical rainforest." He leaned over towards babbling away at Timmoz as he was finishing his after-landing checklist, "This is nothing like Vega. I'm not an Andorian. I was perfectly fine staying on the ship, but, no, here I am, freezing on a rock."
Timmoz's pointed glare and shared look at the engineer was one of sharing. The air was too cold. The air was too thin. When he breathed out, he exuded a great cloud of warm air gone frosty. His smile blossomed and he leaned an elbow on the short Vegan's shoulder. He watched some of the crew wheel things around them and down the ramp. "And yet, Ashka, you decided to join a group that can't help but land on every space rock it runs in to." The Orion chuckled and squinted up at the filtered light. "Bleak." he shrugged. "Though. Very bleak."
Despite its intended audience, the engineer's comment also reached the ears of a certain silver-skinned doctor as he made for the hatch. “Join Starfleet, they said,” Xex chimed in with a grin, edging past the chief engineer while taking care for the bulky medkits he had strapped to his person. He winked as he joined the disembarking crew. “You can freeze on a rock, they said.” The CMO seemed perfectly happy to help lead the charge down the ramp, leaving the unhappy Vegan to his checklist and slightly-warmer atmosphere within the shuttle for as long as he could. Xex had hardly been able to hold still long enough for the ramp to extend down the Waverider's side before he was in slightly lopsided motion heading down it.
"Speak for yourself. I just spent the better part of two years on Andor. I'm used to frozen. This is less frozen than the Northern Wastes, so I'm fine." Mei said as she stepped out of the craft's dubious shelter and looked up at the pale and hazy sky. She stifled a sneeze and rubbed her nose. "Okay, on second thought, it's awfully dusty. And . . . lifeless? So why'd they send an anthropologist?" She looked up at Xex as though he might have an answer for her. "Join Starfleet, freeze on a rock while you're trying to talk to it?"
Xex held up a cautionary finger. “Apparently lifeless. Apparently.” He blinked a few times in the gritty air, shrugging his shoulders to resettle his thermal wear across them. “I'm pretty sure once you start talking to rocks I start referring you to Doctor Bracco. Perhaps you're here to study us?” he waggled his gray eyebrows at her as they continued down the ramp.
Mei laughed and slowed as they reached the end of the ramp. She took a delicate step off onto the surface and grinned at the way the dust swirled about her shoes and clung to the legs of her suit. "How about this, then? If the rocks end up being sentient, you'll refrain from referring me to Doctor Bracco. Deal?"
Xex considered this deal for what seemed an obscenely long time, his expression so grave, it was almost believable. Before he could answer however, another ensign was coming down the ramp behind them.
Ensign Davies had come down the ramp and meandered, spying a familiar face from the science lab. It was Mei -- someone the scientist had really come enjoy interacting with. But who was she talking to? He didn't recognize the man with glittering skin. "Hello there," he offered to the Lieutenant in question. "Ship's entomologist, Brian Davies," he introduced himself, holding out a hand toward Xex. To Mei, the bearded man smiled kindly. "I believe I heard someone mentioning an abandoned settlement in this area? It showed up on the initial orbital survey. Humanoid life must have existed here at some point. Maybe you can figure out what happened to them?"
“Ooh, bugs?” Xex exclaimed with excitement, radiating curiosity as he enthusiastically shook the man's hand. It was unclear whether or not he purposefully miscategorized the invertebrates the man studied. “Pleased to meet you!" For a wonder, he actually sounded pleased. "Xex Wang, your new CMO. Xex is fine,” he replied in kind and, while shaking Davies' hand, cocked a finger of his free hand at Mei. “Deal!” he finally agreed, quite as though he hadn't interrupted their conversation. “But if the rocks end up being sentient,” he muttered out of the side of his mouth to her, “I might refer myself to Doctor Bracco.”
"If the rocks end up being sentient, we should probably all have a talk with Doctor Bracco-- the rocks included," Mei said. She pulled out her tricorder to scan the dust that had settled on her gloves. Might as well get a head start looking for signs of intelligent geology. She took another ginger step-- every movement seemed to send more dust floating up into the air-- toward Davies. "I'm definitely up for checking out the settlement. Maybe we'll get a sense of what the people were like, or why they left. Or . . . " she trailed off, her eyes going wide with mock-fear, "maybe the structures are the sentient part of the place, and we have no idea what perils we'll be walking into." She tried, but couldn't hold back a smile for long.
"It's a pleasure, Xex," Brian smiled despite the dust he was breathing in. "Glad to have some medical staff down here with us, just in case something happens. You settling in OK?" he wondered, remembering his own coming aboard. To Mei, the scientist beamed. "Exciting, isn't it?! Walking where others maybe did hundreds or thousands of years ago. I wonder what those people were like?" Running his tongue over his teeth, Brian could feel gritty particulate in his smile. It made him wonder if he should have grabbed a respirator mask from the Waverider, though initial reports did say the air and dust were safe to breathe if limited to several hours of exposure only.
Xex's silvery nose wrinkled as his hands absently brushed against the thighs of his thermal gear, unconsciously brushing off the fine dust that continued to coat everything. "Let's just hope I'm bored to tears," he said, a little distractedly, then seemed to focus in on Davies' question. "Oh, settling in fine! I'm just fortunate to have a former CMO on board to refer to-- an absolute luxury, if I do say so myself."
Andrew descended the ramp after Davies, tugging uncomfortably on his thermal jacket that was a little too snug in the waist area. He followed the group, heading towards the side where the scientists were congregating.
With great reluctance, Margarar walked off the Waverider and onto the moon. Unlike the others, she came down in a full EVA suit. She knew that the thin air would likely be the death of her and she was not able to serve the ship or the crew if she was dead. She took a deep breath of the oxygen that was fed through her suit. "I do not like this place," she announced to anyone that cared to listen. "The polar ice caps back home are more welcoming than this."
Charles didn’t like the taste he got in his mouth, so he put on his nose and mouth filter mask. It made breathing in a little more difficult and would promote a slight panic attack if you were not strong enough to ignore the feeling of not getting enough air. Subsequently you could take a hit of oxygen if you needed to. So just before assigning static positions for his security teams, he gave them a quick pep talk. “Ok security on me here for a moment.”
As they gathered around the Chief Security officer, he began to speak. “ Ok, let’s remember why we’re here. We will be using hand and arm signals to communicate and keep a small oxygen tube handy to fight off the effects of lack of breathable air. It’s just thin air people. Don’t freak out. Mind over matter. Now let’s go to work.” And he directed his teams so that they were on the periphery of the area being searched and explored. “We change post and rotate in four hours. I’ll be coming around with meals when the time comes.” And he began to walk the different locations checking on his people.
Crewman Jayden Booth had come down the ramp and immediately assumed a protective position on the periphery of the group, keeping his eyes open (despite the dust blowing in the air) for any dangers that might present themselves. When Bridgeport signaled everyone to round up, however, the security officer used a hand signal to indicate acknowledgment and made his way to the huddle of other security officers. With a nod, Booth accepted the orders he'd been given and made his way back to the position he'd taken up only a couple of minutes before. He found himself thankful for the respirator he'd grabbed from the Waverider: no chalky mouth for him, though it did make breathing a little more difficult.
"Just think, if we have to stay here overnight, we all might wind up having to share sleeping bags," Tamblem murmured as he stepped next to Sheldon. The security officer seemed comfortable in the moon's thin air. However, his security training often included high-altitude training. He turned to head over towards Bridgeport but smirked at the engineer, "I can think of worse ways to spend an evening. Might even generate a little energy of our own."
"Um...I mean, if you want to buddy up, I'm, uh..." Sheldon gulped nervously, "I mean, we've...well, I..." Get it together, Parsons! he thought to himself, trying to push aside his anxiety. "We -- you and me -- could share one? We're not exactly strangers and I'm a very still sleeper. Unless you want to buddy with with Lieutenant Gar'rath, but I can't imagine that'd be very warm," he nervously chuckled, trying to use humor to distract from his awkwardness.
Irynya had come upon Sheldon where he was sorting things at the tail end of the exchange and though she hadn't caught exactly what Dravor had said she grinned wolfishly at her friend. "He really is a very still sleeper," she offered before lightly bumping her friend with her shoulder and then turning to the arrayed equipment. Really she was here to back up Timmoz. There had been redundancies built into the selections for this survey and since the Waverider was required sending two pilots to the surface of a moon that could, for all they knew, be hostile made at least some sense. What she was supposed to do, though, was less clear.
"Lucky you, Ashka." Timmoz commented. "I'm like a living heater."
Meanwhile, Balsam walked down the ramp and filled his lungs- as best he could- as a lank breeze ruffled at the lined excursion coat's lapel flaps. His eyes closed. He appreciated the cold. Though he agreed with the murmurings around him. The air was thin, and something chemically about it just tasted a bit.... off.
"We-we can't stay long unless we get the air filtration gear up and running," Noah pointed out.
“You got that right," Xex muttered, though it seemed more to himself than to the youngster. Xex paused with the two scientists at the bottom of the ramp, frowning as he took a deeper-than-usual breath of the thin atmosphere. As expected, the breath was less-than-helpful, leaving him still feeling oxygen deprived-- but that was not what caught his attention. What made him pause was the gritty feeling of particulates in the air, a cloud of which thickened around every person who stepped onto the moon's surface. He licked his lips, rolling saliva around in his mouth for a moment, before spitting it to the side. "Even with that kind of gear, inhalation bronchitis, here we come.” The silvery man took a step to the side of the ramp opposite the engineering and security teams, leaving it clear for the following crewmembers. He staked out a spot to pause and check his portable medkits for the umpteenth time, more for something to keep his hands busy than out of any real need to confirm their contents. As his fingers riffled past gelcasts and hyposprays, he glanced back over his shoulder for his second.
Gwenwyn followed suit behind everyone, as he walked down the ramp he took in some of the local oxygen, making his chest feel tight as his body took in minimal air. He walked over to the Medical officers and crewmen, where they all stood making last preparations, going over procedures and checking medkits.
"Chief," Gwenwyn said to Xex "Everything seems to be in order,"
Xex gave nods all around to the gathering medical team, the rear of which was brought up by that looked-for ACMO. "Excellent," he said, making a conscious effort to still his roving fingers. "Thanks for checking those respirators again. I daresay," he wrinkled his nose, and cleared his throat of the grit that seemed to be gathering with every breath, "We shall be needing them."
Kestrel had been just a few steps ahead of Dravor down the ramp and then, having circled up with the security team, made her way to a corner of the space. It was quiet and desolate and... frankly... boring. If the survey was as uninteresting as the landing site then she was in for a long day. Her fingers itched for her pencils and some paper. Even desolation could be beautiful when captured in a work of artistry.
The more Bridgeport walked the perimeter, the more he got an uneasy feeling. So he walked over to the science guys to ask them what they thought of the situation.
He soon found Lt. Durand and asked her consensus. “Excuse me Lt Durand, what do you make of this dust we’re breathing in?”
Arianna turned to face the security chief. "The particulates match the composition of the rocks in this area. Inhaling them should not cause any issues in the short term, although they do contain traces of the alloy that we don't fully understand yet."
Lt. Gar'rath walked out of the shuttle with a great amount of reluctance. No matter how much he had prepared for the cold that clung to the planetoid, actually having to set foot on it was torture in its own right. The reptilian officer was garbed in what would amount to arctic gear had it been on any of his other crew-mates, and the heat circulation coils that he had woven into the clothing himself was already being pushed to the point of burn-out just to keep his massive frame warm enough to move without undue sluggishness. It was a rare case for him to envy the mammals who weren't so ill affected by colder climates.
The hum of busyness had settled over the site nearly as soon as everyone had left the Waverider. For a moment Emni stood to the side by the Waverider’s ramp watching as the crew settled into an almost clockwork-like rhythm. Though this wasn’t the very first time she’d led a group off the ship, there was a deep swell of pride in her as their team brought the small site into existence seemingly out of nothingness.
With high swept brows and dark eyes one could almost accuse Emni for looking hawkish as she watched everyone. She kept her face carefully neutral though she nodded to folks as they passed, dispensing answers where needed. Finally, after things began to settle she pitched her voice so that those closest to her would hear and spread the word.
“All hands for a short brief at the ramp please,” she requested. “Pass the word to those further out.”
And then she waited as the nearly 20 crewmembers made their way over.
=/\= A Mission Post By =/\=
Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai
Lieutenant Arianna Durand
Chief Science Officer
Lieutenant Charles Bridgeport
Chief Security Officer
Chief Operations Officer
Lieutenant Nico Oliveria
Chief Engineering Officer
Chief Medical Officer
Assistant Chief Engineer
Lieutenant JG Gwenwyn Marwol
Assistant Chief Medical Officer
Lieutenant JG Irynya
Assistant Chief Helsman
Lieutenant JG Kestrel
Ensign Mei Ratthi
Ensign Sheldon Parsons
Ensign Tamblem Dravor
Ensign Jyl-eel Tor
Ensign Brian Davies
Midshipman Noah Balsam
Crewman Jayden Booth