URGENT ACTION REQUIRED
Predators and Prey
Location: Base Camp, Shaddam IVa
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1040
[MD1: 1040 Hours]
It was at that moment that two things seemed to happen almost at once. First, each of them felt the buzz of their comm-badges mixed with what sounded like a burst of static. The noise, like so many others, rent the air and then was tossed away on the wind. Comms went quiet again before another loud burst, this seeming to contain the telltale rumble of their Gorn colleague, but beyond that nothing could be made out.
Kestrel would have tried to respond, or to yell to Durand for direction, but an ominous creak sounded just above her head. She had exactly enough time to look up before the ground beneath where she and Noah had huddled groaned and the tree that had protected them thus far began to lean toward them, roots wrenching up from the ground as it did.
It was a split second decision. The Argelian's eyes darted down from the tree to where Noah also sat--likely coming to the same realization she was. But she didn't know that for sure and so when her eyes met his she acted rather than thought.
"Go!" Her shout came from her gut, ripping out of her. Like before the wind took it, but she'd put everything she had into that syllable and she hoped he heard. She followed that with a shove, putting her weight into creating momentum away from the tree for him. As she did the creak changed and a sharp crack set her back into motion, shifting away from the tree in the opposite direction.
Kestrel dove, desperate to be clear of the falling pillar of wood. She dove, and it wasn't far enough.
The pain was the first thing, as she caught her boot in the tearing roots, making her foot twist at a sickening angle. She yelped and with that yelp got a mouthful of dust that she spat. Debris from other trees was being drug past and a smaller, but no less painful branch, raked across her cheek before she could throw her arms over her head.
Panic welled quickly within her and she wriggled, desperate to pull free. The screaming pain of a limb, trapped and then wrenched again, nearly mad her pass out and she stopped. Laying as flat to the ground as she could she threw hear heads over her head and desperately tried to think.
The sound, deafened by wind, had been almost lost on Noah until he felt the shove. Then there was motion- and pain. Prickling, paper thin pain. He tasted the irony silt of the ground- alien in composition even from earth. Something like... pencil graphite. When Noah opened his eyes, one was blurry- below where her felt one cut. He reached, gingerly, and could feel the rough, almost metal-like cut that streaked through his eyebrow and into the hair near his temple. When he looked at his fingers, they were bloody.
Noah choked down a wave of nausea and then touched his cheek where his respirator partially covered. He felt another gash. That was when he realized the shove and the wind and landed him a little down the slope and into some dry, almost monkeytail tree sharp, artichoke like brambles. He scrambled up and realized he wasn't going to stand in this gale.
Instead he crawled back to see Kestrel partially pinned by what she must have shoved him away from. With a swipe of his hand, he tried to keep the trickles of red from doing anything more than caking in his eyebrow and on his face. "Hold on!" He said. Trembling fingers went to his skinny waist for a clipped kit. He pulled a cylinder from it. And he crawled toward the branch. He ended up having to straddle Kestrel's chest. he clamped his knees into her sides and breathily, he activated the tool in his hand.
A blue laser lanced out. He turned it down into the branch and started splicing it. A smell of burning wood flared as he carved his way through the wood.
Arianna replayed the sound from her comm badge in her mind whilst still sheltering her face between her legs at the foot of her tree. She thought she could make out 'fallen' and 'tr' but the other syllables were lost to static. Was it 'tree'? There was an urgency to the tone that suggested a problem, rather than an observation. Was it 'trapped'?
The impact of a falling branch sent vibrations through the soil that the wind could not steal away from Arianna. As she raised her head, she saw that the large tree limb lay only a few meters from her and then saw another fall about fifteen meters distant that she did not hear or feel. She climbed onto her knees to get a view around her tree and was horrified to see Kestrel trapped under an entire tree. Her eye was drawn to the blue light and a bloodied Noah trying to free her.
"Hold on!" Arianna cried as she used her tree to pull herself up and then push off of. In a few seconds, she'd arrived at their location and could see that the tree was still rooted to the ground despite the exposed tangle that had been torn up. All she could do was to try to reduce the pressure on Kestrel until Noah could cut all the way through. She took position just-up trunk from Kestrel and with her back to it, she dug her fingers under it and lifted with all the might she could muster in her legs. The movement was disappointingly small for all the effort, but it was something.
"J-just a second more!" Noah said. His hands were shaking. They were cold. And stiff. He swept at the blood still trying to trickle red into his eye and then just gave up. He squinted it, rebalancing his depth perception as best he could with a good eye. With a few jagged cuts in the wood, he redoubled and carved through. When he smelt the odor of a singed piece of fabric. The wood cracked and the branch ticked. Noah tried to lift the other half and grunted. It didn't move as much as he'd hoped it would. Stabbing at the wood near his knee, he lanced the blue line of energy out again and sawed a second line. The moment he heard it crack, he helped roll the piece that Kestrel had been mostly trapped under, off her.
The time between the second wrench of Kestrel's ankle and the feeling of legs pressed to either side of her torso felt far longer than the few seconds it took for Noah to spot her and move into action. She was sweating by that point, a sign that struck her as both bad and strange in the slightly frantic part of her mind that scrabbled with the panic. A small sob tore from her throat as Noah worked and she tried to keep as still as she could, pressing her face into the ground and keeping her mouth clamped shut to avoid another mouthful of dust.
She felt the tree shift slightly and with it another stab of pain ripped up her leg followed a moment later by the heat of something near her leg. Some of the weight seemed to lift, but her foot was still held fast until another crack made something give way and she felt the hold of the tree release. Another sob ripped out of her, this one of relief. Her foot had gone numb except for an excessive throb from that limb and she worked hard to slow her breathing--getting up the nerve to move once Noah did. To turn and to look.
Arianna caught herself staring at Kestrel's uncovered foot. Something about it just didn't look right. A shiver ran down her spine as she realised that it lay at an angle that it shouldn't - at least not for Elladari physiology - and she doubted that Argelian physiology would be different.
"The med kit," she exclaimed as she started to scan the surrounding dirt with her eyes. "Did you see where it went?"
Noah had turned, meanwhile, into a babbling brook of, "Is she OK?" even as he'd dropped to the earth, covered in the filthy muck of the planet. He was swiping at his bleeding face to try and free his eye of the gore. He was shaken when the Science Officer demanded the med kit. He twisted onto his hands and knees and, scanning, located what he hoped Arianna meant. It had the winged caduceus of Starfleet Medical on it. He snagged it and brought it back to Arianna.
"Is she OK?"
The voices of her crew mates seemed like they were underwater and the wind still drove some degree of dust and debris in her direction, though the now fallen trees offered some semblance of protection. Squeezing her eyes tightly shut against the pain the Argelian made a bid to turn, barely managing to shift a few inches before black spots swam in her vision causing her to still and pant through the spike of pain. Tucking her forehead to the ground she tried, again, to slow her breathing and her racing heart. With eyes closed she listened, as well, dragging up the survival training she'd received at the Academy to try to pull herself together.
She could hear Noah and Lieutenant Durand talking, but their voices continued to go in and out as if she were hearing them through a blanket. The basso rumble of the Gorn ops chief, she realized, was missing. Not thinking she tilted her head back again to try to see driving another sharp vision clouding stab of pain through her. With a gasp she fought it, trying to at least get a head count. But the pain was by far the stronger opponent and as her vision clouded and static rang in her ears she passed out.
Arianna fumbled with the latches on the medical kit. Her freezing fingers protested, but she was able to gain access despite the reduced dexterity. Grabbing the medical tricorder, she knelt by the injured foot and began to scan it, adjusting the distance and angle as directed by the device.
After a single sweep of the sensor over the twisted limb, the device emitted a demanding tone that instilled equal amounts of urgency and anxiety. 'URGENT ACTION REQUIRED' dominated the display. 'Confirm species: Argelian' was the only action presented. Arianna hurriedly accepted the identification to get to the details that surely would follow. 'Hypoperfusion detected.' She couldn't think of what that meant. It wasn't so much the Earth nomenclature as the fog that she felt clouding her mind. Not that it mattered, the kit had been designed in such a way that thinking was not required. A graphic of the hypospray was shown alongside three vials that had been coded with color and symbols to minimise mistaking one for another. 'Administer immediately.' The instruction blinked on the display, drawing attention and underscoring the urgency. Arianna located the three vials in the kit and jammed each into the hypospray until the sound of their contents being extracted had stopped.
Kestrel lay unconscious, a small mercy perhaps but Arianna was sure that wasn't good. From her kneeling position, she couldn't reach the woman's neck and so leaned in Noah's direction with the hypospray in her outstreched hand. "Could you ..?" she motioned.
Noah eyed the hypospray like an alien instrument as a minor epiphany struck. He'd had one of these used on him hundreds of times- possibly thousands. And as his fingers wrapped the tepid warmth of the metal handle, he could especially remember the almost countless bone densifiers and ligament reinforcement serums to accelerate his ability to survive in a one-gravity environment.
But he couldn't remember ever actually using one. Noah shook it off quickly. He muttered, "Right here?" as a question but before Durand had any chance of answering, Noah pressed it to Kestrel's neck. He made extra effort to depress the thumb trigger, only satisfied his stand in as nurse was sufficient when he heard the hiss and pulled the hypo away to show the small pink welt the device always caused.
"OK," Noah said, "Ih-it's in," Noah said, sitting back on his haunches. He looked at Durand through his one good eye, nodding slowly. "S-surgery OK," he echoed. He shivered, the seeping cold of Shaddam IV's moon briefly reminding him of the cold. The cold, the kind Human bodies were never meant to feel. "A-anything else I can do?" He swung his head to look around them. "Maybe I can make something, um, we can lay her on. Like a dragging, uh, stretcher."
"Good idea." Arianna managed a smile, despite the stress of the situation. "You do that and I'll work through these treatment instructions."
Noah got up immediately, his gory fingers going into his engineering kit. His thumb swiped at his goggles, trying to defuse the silt caking a kind of haze to it. In his nimble digits he pulled an engineer's laser scalpel. He was chomping his bottom lip, eyeing several branches and their runs, on the collapsed piece that had taken out their security officer. He started sawing off small branches and filing them away nearby. With the scent of burning wood was the scent of Noah burning brain cells on an idea.
The tricorder seemed satisfied with the effect of the hypospray, or rather it ceased emitting worrying noises and alarming messages. The display now listed few torn ligaments, some fractures, a larger break and soft tissue damage. The dermal regenerator in the kit could take care of the tissue damage but the rest carried the recommendation to immobilize and transport to sickbay.
"She'll be ok," Arianna reported as she looked up from the display. "It'll take surgery to repair, so we're going to have to keep her off that foot until we get her back to the ship."
The engineer barely acknowledged the information, focused as he was on the task he'd suggested.
Better that than worrying about how they were going to get out of this, she decided. Returning to her own task, Arianna began by slowly cutting away the boot that concealed Kestrel's injury. The flesh was swollen and discolored with bruising and blood. She supported the foot with her left hand whilst operating the regenerator with her right. Although she didn't let the foot flop, it felt that it would and that was deeply unsettling. After repairing the tissue, the final step was to apply a dressing which solidified to hold the ankle and foot in their proper place.
"How's that stretcher coming along?" she called over to Noah.
"Um," the stick bug said distractedly. The smell of burning wood was strong. There was a crack of wood as well and then the slippery, odd sound of satchel straps being pulled fast through their harnesses. "Uh, ear-early days. Maybe sixty five percent." Then, the sound of scuffing boots on the gravely earth and Noah's loping body braced the weather for his discarded bag, He produced a roll- of something. "Maybe seventy." He muttered quickly, breathily. With it in short succession was a sound unmistakably like duct tape being quickly pulled off its cylinder.
Arianna checked the medical tricorder again. Kestrel was still unconscious, but stable, and could be moved. She waited for the signal from Noah, then gently scooped up Kestrel's body and carried it over to the stretcher, being careful not to bump the injured foot in the process. With the casualty taken care of, her mind returned to the broken up comms signal. "Any idea which direction Lt. Gar'rath went?"
"No ma'am," Noah called back into the wind, which was again picking up and worsening their line of sight. The youth got up, taking his ad hoc stretcher in tow to meet Durand's stride. "OK I-I think this is all I can do with, um--" another gust of wind hit him hard and he staggered, but pressed on. "-- With what I have!" He said, but his voice was almost entirely drowned out. He crouched low to help Durand get Kestrel on. Then, using the remains of his adhesive strips, lashed Kestrel to it.
He got up, ready to help carry- and another hard gust caught him. It was enough to bash his head, face and shoulder into the tree he'd clutched near. He cried in pain, holding his arm against his skinny self as fresh rivulets of blood streamed from both of his nostrils.
Arianna cursed under her breath. One team member was missing, one was injured and unconscious, and the remaining one had just accumulated futher injuries. They were still caught in the storm and the trees they sought shelter under were proving to be a danger in themselves. She chided herself for allowing her thoughts to dwell on the mounting disaster that was her mission and forced herself to focus on the problem in front of her.
"Don't move," she said to Noah as she produced the medical tricoder from the pocket she'd stashed it in. With a more practised motion, she waved the sensor in front of the bloodied engineer and scanned the information on the little screen. "It's not your arm," she nodded towards the arm that he was still clutching. "It's your clavicle. Fractured, but it hasn't broken." Aside from the wincing, he just looked miserable she relayed the information to him. "The good news is," she smiled and consciously lightened her tone. "I can fix your nose!"
Arianna brought the med kit over from where Kestrel had been and set about making field repairs to her technical specialist. First stop was pain relief in the form of a hypospray and then she bandaged his arm into a sling to keep it from moving when the pain wasn't there to remind him. The nose came last with a careful realign and a soft tissue repair with the regenerator.
"Does that feel any better?" she asked.
Noah nodded, sheepishly. But, with a grimace, he acknowledged the daunting reality: how were they going to move Kestrel if he had a bum wing? "We-we need to find a way to signal for help. And hope they can find us." An idea, shortly after he said it, came to mind when he touched his tools and an arc of static connected his fingers to the metal.
"Static..." Noah said. He quickly fumbled into his kit and handed Durand a plasma torch. "Ha-have you ever seen old footage of people with lighters. Um. At musical venues? Like Queen?"
The seed of an idea was planted. If they could find a way to use the tools at their disposal to create some kind of signal or visual effect noticeable in the storm, perhaps they could get help from Gar'rath, who'd become separated from them in all the billowing dust. Hopefully the Gorn -- or anyone else, for that matter -- would be close enough to find them and offer aid...
=/\= A Mission Post By... =/\=
Lieutenant Arianna Durand
Chief Science Officer
Chief of Operations
Lieutenant JG Kestrel
Midshipman Noah Balsam