The mud had not been polite enough to stay on the surface. No - it had followed Ensigns Kivik and Thorne and Commander Ukinix down into the hole. The beacon had failed and required repair twice so far, once due to the incessant mud, and once due to overworking the capacitors.
Apparently, the Veritas crew was struggling with similar issues - the power draw on the Veritas by the MTS had caused systems to shut down. Additionally, interference from the storm had sometimes caused the MTS to beam out only a few grams of pebbles. Kivik began to think of this interference as a sort of subspace mud. For some reason, that helped.
Additionally, the water had pooled in the cracks left behind by the transport process, leading to additional fracturing. The accumulated rock shards had hampered their progress as well, but the team was determined to complete their mission and, despite these delays, they were making good time.
Where scans had shown that a section surrounding extracted rock was weak, a self-inflating tubular airbag, a modified version of the ones used by the Starfleet Rangers, were beamed into place to hold the rock in place and stop a collapse.
As the sensor drone returned again, the Starfleet officer’s PADDs chirped excitedly. It had found something; something that could be useful.
Thorne: ::pointing at the PADD:: What does this mean?
Ukinix: I think it means we’re through. ::Smiling:: It worked!
Kivik: It’s found a way down - that’s fantastic news! ::To Thorne:: Lilith, looks like you’ll be putting your spelunking skills to the test again soon.
The Commander tapped a few commands into his PADD. The drone received the instructions, and began its descent down the newly formed 1.8km tunnel. He had fitted it with a subspace transceiver array, to act as a broker between the combadges on Level 1 and Level 2 of the mines.
Despite the pervasive damp that filled the air, the rushing of water, and sloughing of muddy rock all around them - Kivik imagined ne could hear Ukinix and Thorne holding their breath in anticipation.
Ukinix: =/\= This is Lieutenant Ukinix to Lieutenant Wong or Ensign Reade. Do you receive. =/\=
There was silence. The Commander placed his palm over his mouth, and looked at Thorne and Kivik. Kivik bounced nervously on the balls of nir feet, clenching nir fists at nir side.
Kivik: Maybe we just need to-
Wong: =/\=This is Lieutenant Wong. You have no idea how glad I am to hear your voice, Commander. You won’t BELIEVE how long the shifts are down here! =/\=
Thorne: Oo They're alive! oO
The relief was palpable. Kivik let out an excited squeal - one ne had not heard nirself make since receiving nir acceptance to the Starfleet Academy. Lieutenant Wong was alive. ALIVE. And, given the Klingon PA’s attentiveness, that meant the others would have been taken care of as well.
Reade: =/\= Lt Ukinix, this is ....... Ensign Reade…. Do you hear me? =/\=
Commander Ukinix clapped, and let out a big sigh of relief.
Ukinix: =/\= It’s good to hear your voices. What’s your status down there? =/\=
Wong: =/\=We have 25 miners that need out of here. We have twelve injured. Two need emergency evac. Although, I have kept everyone in stable condition. We have five deceased. I have marked down their locations on my PADD. We also have some major issues with flooding. The sooner you can get us out of here, the better. =/\=
Reade: Reade: =/\= I am doing well, I am currently separated from Lt.Wong and the main group. I went with S’Ten a miner, to check our transponders that we placed in the ventilation shafts. Sadly our route has been blocked, and we have water seeping in. =/\=
Wong: =/\= I don’t know how much you’re able to see and track in terms of our location. But we’ve set up beacons down here to give off a ping as to our relative location. They’re attached to the vents. Ensign Reade and a Romulan miner named S’Ten are close to east most vent on this level by my estimates. If you start there, you’ll stand a chance of finding them. As for the rest of us, we’re holding up in a breakroom nearby.=/\=
Ukinix: =/\= Righto, that should give us enough to pinpoint your locations. We’re all over this like Terothka rash. Seeya soon. =/\=
Reade: =/\= Copy, standing by. Let me know if you need me or S’Ten to do anything else =/\=
Thorne/Kivik: =/\= Response =/\=
Ukinix: ::picking up radio:: =/\= Commander Blake? We’ve found Wong, Reade and the miners. They’re alive. =/\=
Blake: =/\= That's good to hear. Get them ready for return as soon as possible. We're on stand-by. =/\=
Hext: =/\= Response? =/\=
Thorne: I was able to triangulate their coordinates, Commander.
Ukinix: Excellent work, Ensign, that’s great news. We’ve established communication, that’s a big win. Now we just have to work out a way to get down there.
Kivik: If you’re willing to chance it, Ensign, I say we try following the drone down. The passage might be difficult for those of us that can’t hover - but if we don’t go now, we just risk further damage to the mine. We could lose our opportunity.
Thorne: I am willing to chance it.
Ukinix: ::Palms up:: Oh, no. ::Shaking head:: Nononononononono.
The Ensigns turned to the Commander. Kivik’s face read clearly: ‘why not?’ The Commander’s expression shifted and, after a moment, he acquiesced.
Ukinix: ::Sigh:: Alright. I don’t know how you’re going to get down there, but alright.
Kivik: We’ll have to investigate the area first - but if the drone can manage it, I’m sure we can figure it out.
Ukinix: Actually, you want to tell me how you’re proposing to get down a 1.8 kilometre artificial tunnel?
Wil placed his hands on the back of his head, and interlocked his fingers.
Ukinix: Alright. But don’t let anything happen to you, Lilith Thorne. Otherwise, Commander Kelrod and Captain Rahman will have my guts. Good luck, Ensign.
As the pair set off towards the Kivik felt an unfamiliar feeling growing within. The J’naii recalled the decision ne had made years ago - the choice to leave home; to set aside the life ne had built and set off into the stars in hopes of finding something more. That had been the last time ne had felt this feeling… For the time being, doubt had been banished. The feeling was courage.