((Shuttle Alliance, Entering Karraka’s Atmosphere))
::Her brow furrowed as she studied the readouts in front of her. She could have sworn she saw something strange, but it had been gone when she'd looked again. She suddenly felt more than a little unsettled, anxiety twisting her insides. Pushing the feelings aside, she refocused on flying the shuttle.::
Riley: Freighter directly in our flight path, commander.
Rosek: ::nods:: Everyone hold tight. This is going to get a little bumpy.
Padix: Umm... I doubt they’ll move for us.
::Lael glanced at the readouts and noted the massive freighter directly in their path. It wasn’t anything to write home about. She had plenty of time to compensate. This had been one of the simpler flight tests she’d been faced with at the Academy. A first-year cadet with enough focus could easily maneuver around it.::
Rosek: Correcting our course to 124 mark 031. Should get us around them with plenty of room to spare. ::to Riley:: How are we looking, Lieutenant?
Riley: Tetryon pocket off our starboard bow.
Rosek: ::nods:: Adjusting to 126 mark 029. How are those energy fluctuations looking, Mr. Stennin? Are we still within nominal range?
Stennin: Affirmative, commander. If we alter our course by 4 degrees port-side, we will proceed as intended. ::He looked at his other screen for a moment.:: The Tetryon pocket is moving towards us, but will cause no permanent damage, with current course.
::The flight down was proving easier than she’d anticipated. It had been some time since she’d sat at the helm and had been worried that it would be troublesome at first. But providing input and instructions to the console was like greeting an old friend. She navigated the controls with practiced ease, grin spreading across her lips. She’d forgotten how freeing it was to have a craft following her every command, responding instantly to whatever she told it to do.::
Rosek: Sounds good, Crewman...Lieutenant. See if you can get that information sorted into a short overview for us to discuss when we land.
Riley: Aye, sir.
::Her hands flew across the controls.::
Rosek: Mr. Stennin, now would be a good time if you have a landing spot pinpointed. The longer we're in the air, the more likely we are to be a target.
Stennin: Acknowledged, commander. I will begin triangulating a stable position forthright. However, the interference will make it hard to monitor the ground until we are almost upon it. Maximally 3000 meters, I estimate.
Padix: ::murmurs:: Like a fly struggling in a spider’s web.
Sirk: Web? I don’t see any Tholians around here?
Rosek: ::chuckles:: It’s an expression, Ensign. An accurate one, too.
Galven: =/\= Lieutenant Galven to Commander Rosek =/\=
::Lael was in the midst of another course correction when the sound of German’s voice coming through the conn surprised her, causing her to tense. It took her a moment to relax and focus. She prayed the strain between the two of them wasn’t obvious to the others. This was part of why she’d avoided serious entanglements with those she worked with everyday. When there was tension in the relationship, no matter how hard two people tried, it came through on the job.::
Rosek: oO I’m a professional. I’m a professional. Oo
Rosek: ::finishes the correction:: =/\=Go ahead, Lieutenant.=/\=
Galven: =/\= Nice maneuvering you did a few moments ago, but that’s not why I comm’d you. Sensors have picked up Lenik’s ship. Transferring the data to you now. =/\=
::She sighed. F#$%!*% fantastic. Just what they needed. “You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.” Repeating the phrase gave her a small measure of comfort. She had to stay her course. God only knew what was going on down on the surface now that they knew Lenik was nearby. It was even more likely that this was a trap, but they had to see it through. The people of Karraka were counting on them.::
Rosek: =/\= Acknowledged, Lieutenant. We’re on course to land in ten minutes. Hopefully we can get out of the skies before Lenik gets close enough to fire weapons.=/\=
Galven: =/\= That’s not all, ma’am. The crash site seems to be 3 kilometers wide. =/\=
::A look at scans revealed that he was right. They were going to have a lot of ground to cover. As much as she hated the idea of splitting up, given that things nearly always went wrong when that order was given, it appeared as though they didn’t have much choice if they were going to get much looking done before Lenik sent people down after them.::
Rosek: =/\= Thank you, Lieutenant. Keep us updated on Lenik’s ETA. Rosek out.=/\=
Padix: That’s like almost 2 miles wide!
Stennin: If my calculations are correct, it would take a speed of almost 1000 kilometers per hour to create such an impact force. That would mean that if anyone was inside, would under normal circumstances, suffer the effects of being crushed under 500 times gravity.
Riley: It could be worse. We could be looking at an area twice that size.
Stennin: I have located the crater. There is a flatbed some distance south of it, where we could land.
::As she’d estimated, it only took them another ten minutes to arrive at the planet and about another ten to set down properly. With the shuttle’s engines deactivated, Lael turned her attention to their next steps. They had a lot to look through in a short time. They needed to strategize if they were going to use their resources to their greatest advantage.::
Sirk: Nice landing, Commander. Considering the 2 teams, we should start figuring out who goes where before we step out.
Rosek: ::nods:: My thoughts exactly, Ensign.
Padix: Since I can’t be on both teams, someone should bring one of these medkits.
Riley: Right. So, I wasn’t able to pick up any life forms near the crash site nor the installation we’ve landed next to, which appears to be a benamite mining camp. How would you suggest we proceed, commander?
Stennin: commander. It would be logical to search the crash site for any survivors.
::Survivors? Yes, it was the Starfleet thing to do; but she was grappling with her conscience. Any survivors on that ship were guilty just like Lenik. Innocent people had died and more would die if Lenik got his way. Something about this situation set her even more on edge. What was Lenik up to?::
Dito: ::to himself:: Belief and reality are often different from one another.
Rosek: Teams should each start at one end of the wreckage. I think that’s the most efficient way to go about this. Both teams can meet in the middle and discuss their findings. ::pauses:: Lieutenant Riley, take Ensign Sirk and Crewmen Dito and begin at the east end. ::to Shin:: Lieutenant Shin, you, Crewman Padix and Lieutenant Stennin will be with me, starting at the west end.
Sirk: Yes, sir.
Shin: Aye, sir.
Stennin: Acknowledged, commander.
Rosek: ::nods:: Get your gear and let’s get moving. We need to gather as much information as we can before Lenik arrives to crash the party.
Stennin: That would be only logical. ::He gestured for the door.:: We will follow your lead, commander.
::Lael rose from her chair and made her way to the back of the craft, slinging the rifle she’d set aside earlier over her shoulder. She was certain it would look more than a little threatening to anyone they came across, but she supposed that was the point. She couldn’t shoot a hand phaser worth a damn and the rifle was her best chance at steadying the weapon well enough to actually hit her target. The hand phaser sat in its holster at her hip just in case.::
Sirk: Anyone who needs a weapon or any kind of ammunition to reload should get some now.
Stennin: We have come to look for survivors. Using weapons will imply a sense of unease.
Rosek: ::to Stennin:: While I sympathize with your position, Lieutenant, this isn’t just any crash site. It’s on a planet that we believe Lenik is targetting. You heard the message earlier. Lenik has been spotted in the system. We have to take precautions.
Sirk: Just would like to play it safe, sirs.
Stennin: I understand, ensign. But I will not take up arms for the moment. I am not in security, I am only trained in a limited fashion.
::Though Lael could respect the man’s beliefs, it irritated her that he wasn’t at least willing to have a weapon to defend his team. Lael wasn’t carrying the rifle to scare the natives and didn’t enjoy using weapons. It was in case Lenik or his cronies showed up and tried to take them by surprise. Pacifism was all well and good, but just didn’t work in an organization like Starfleet and with the dangers of their jobs. It was foolish to think that one could serve in a military-based organization without ever having to pick up a weapon.::
Padix: I’ll take a rifle. Kicking butt and saving lives. ::chuckles::
Shin: Just remember it's a weapon, not a toy. :: He said to Padix with a grin.::
Stennin: ::Murmuring.:: Most Illogical.
Sirk: Good luck, Commander. ::to Riley:: Shall we start heading that way?
Shin: Ready when you are Commander Rosek.
Stennin: Reporting for duty as well, commander.
Riley: Yes. We shall.
(( Western Edge of Crash Site of Miran’s Tifar ))
::Lael’s brow furrowed as she studied the readings on her tricorder. The crash site was right in front of them and they were getting clear readings on the wreckage itself, but had yet to locate what was causing the interference they’d experienced in orbit. A faint beeping from Stennin’s direction caught her attention and she turned.::
Rosek: You have something, Lieutenant?
Stennin: Commander, the interference from the Montreal appears very much to be originating from the crater. It is logical to deduce that Lenik himself or other the shuttle inhabitants carried some sort of signal scrambler. A quite powerful one, too. Possibly stolen Starfleet ordinance that is able to block comms around the planet.
::She tensed. Blocked comms. It was a damned good thing she’d been paranoid enough to take a shuttle rather than the transporters.::
Stennin: Commander. I estimate the crater is almost 200 meters deep. The descent will have some steep slopes. ::He looked at his Tricorder for a moment.:: I have a visual on a possible route down to the site of the crash. Your orders, commander?
Rosek: You three repel down in and see what you can find. I’m going to explore more around the edge and I’ll follow you in a few minutes. ::enters a few commands into the tricorder::
::Though she wasn’t thrilled about having to repel down a cliffside, it was part of the job and she just had to suck it up. Not wanting her team to see how much the thought intimidated her, she kept her gaze trained on the tricorder readings, doing her best to appear focused. Within a few moments, she had her mask back in place and had raised her gaze to scan the environment around them, listening closely for the slightest indication that they weren’t alone.::
Stennin: Affirmative, commander. The tricorder will complete the calculations in a few moments, accounting for tectonic activity and weather patterns.
Stennin: No signs of lifeforms yet, commander. Crewman Padix, your medical tricorder would possibly provide us more information on that.
Rosek: We may not find any.
::It was harsh, but a truth they needed to be prepared for. They hadn’t survived life in Starfleet by putting their blinders on. Vigilance was a way of life for them and it was the price they paid for the life they’d chosen. Despite everything she’d seen and done, Lael didn’t regret her choice to join. Her mother’s words from the brief visit over shoreleave had stuck with her: “You were meant for this.” Starfleet was as much a part of her as her Al-Leyan heritage. At her very core, it was her calling.::
Stennin: It would be logical to assume that the impact will have caused a violent force that most lifeforms would not be able to withstand, without proper protection.
Rosek: ::nods:: Agreed. If we’re looking at any survivors at all, they’re likely going to be in critical condition and require immediate medical attention beyond what we can provide here.
Rosek: I understand that we want to help the survivors in any way possible. But I don’t think it’s realistic given the scrambler device Lieutenant Stennin detected. We are in no position to be transporting patients with critical injuries.
Rosek: We’ll do what we can, but protecting Karraka and the dilithium and benamite has to be our top priority. We can’t let Lenik cripple the fleet or he’ll have almost complete power in the Shoals.
::Lael shook her head, not allowing anymore argument.::
Rosek: Repel down and see what you can find.
::Without waiting for their responses, Lael walked away to investigate a strange reading she was getting a distance away. The further away she got, the quieter the world around her became. A chill ran down her spine and the hairs on the back of her neck raised. She was being watched. But when she whipped around, she saw no one. Her gaze narrowed slightly as she turned her attention back to the path in front of her, startled to find someone directly in front of her.::
USS Montreal, NCC-64927