(( "Limbo", Day 112 ))
::After another day of trudging through the dense jungles of Limbo, the Team was finally nearing the coordinates of the mystery signal. G'var took one final swing with her bat'leth clearing the last of the creeper vines from their path, beside her Wil knocked a few lone branches down with his crude single bladed “pruner”. From behind them Cole continued to stare at his tricorder, double checking the readings, Crewman Bicondova brought up the rear covering the Officers with a bow. As the group cleared the last of the denser vegetation and the trees began to clear they were all stunned to see the ringed giant rising over a massive ravine. As they stepped to the edge of a rocky outcrop the massive defile came into focus, running from left to right, the far edge extended at least half a kilometer away, looked to run twenty kilometers east to west.::
Maxwell: ::reading the tricorder:: Just your standard two hundred meter deep ravine...
Unkinix: ::Looking down:: Woah.
G'var:::absently kicking a rock over the edge::-That's a long way down. ::looking left and right:: It’ll take at least another day to go around ::looks like we're climbing down.
Maxwell: All the same… the signal seems to be the strongest from down there...
G'var:::Letting out a breath::-Of course the readings are coming from down there ::beat:: Let's Hunt!
::After taking most of the day to descend the near vertical slopes the Team was able to reach the floor of the canyon. G'var was more fatigued than she liked to admit, she had managed to make the climb down using her left arm as much as possible, but the added stress to one arm had been tiring. Thankfully their tricorder readings showed the mystery object they had been tracking lay half a kilometer away.::
::After following a small stream for a half hour the Team began coming across broken and burnt limbs the tops of the surrounding trees shattered.::
G'var:::taking a few deep breaths::-Stay sharp Team ::beat:: eyes front ::beat:: be prepared for anything.
::Wil nervously looked between his tricorder, and the environment around them.::
Unkinix: Aye sir.
:: Cole hadn’t been carrying any sort of weapon the whole time, but now he decided being unarmed may not be the best court of action. After a quick glance at the surrounding forest floor, doctor grabbed a fairly robust limb he figured could be used as a club if absolutely necessary. A moment later, Wil’s tricorder let out a series of beeps. In the distance, Cole saw something completely alien to the jungle setting. ::
Maxwell: ::pointing with his club:: Over there!
::Resting half buried in the ground lay a standard ship's escape pod, the Federation logo still gleaming in the late day sun. The team hesitated for a moment as they got closed to the pod.::
Maxwell: ::to Ukinix:: Give me some good news Wil...
::Wil covered his mouth, before lowering it again.::
Unkinix: ::Shaking his head:: No life signs.
G'var:::taking in a deep breath::-The hatch is still secure ::beat:: steele yourselves
::Wil could sense his three other team members tension. He knew where this could be going. He hoped he was wrong. He turned off his tricorder, and put it back in his bag. He felt his heart in his throat as he suddenly paced ahead of the team..::
Unkinix: ::Swallowing, frowning:: I’ll see if I can access its panel.
::G'var watched as Wil worked to get the pod’s hatch open, seeing the looks of worried anticipation on her Team’s faces she knew none of them could smell the sickly sweet stench of death. G'var turned back to the Jungle, she didn't want any of the others to see her face as she fought the urge to wretch. Rolling her shoulder, G'var tried to focus on the phantom ants crawling across her arm, but all she could think of was how she had failed to keep everyone safe.::
::After ten minutes of work at the diagnostic panel, Wil was able to get the hatch open. Inside they found the remains of five of the missing Crew. The putrid stench of months old decay came wafting out. Cole nearly choked when his nose hit the smell. G’var didn’t seem to care and entered the pod without so much as a flinch.
Maxwell: oO Not sure if I should be impressed or disgusted… Oo
:: Checking the pods flight record, G'var determined that micro fractures in the hull caused the loss of cabin pressure, and the life support system could not compensate for the loss of pressure, the Crewmen had suffocated.::
::Wil sat down on the ground outside, and rested his back on the pod. He closed his eyes, and held the bridge of his nose. Just as Evan had told him, he focused on a nearby sound - the sound of the stream. It relaxed him, but try as he might, he could sense sadness, despair and even a little guilt in the other three. He couldn’t tell who felt what, but at least he knew he wasn’t alone.::
::Stepping out of the pod, G'var could see the others were having just as hard a time as she was. Someone once said the hardest fights are sometimes the ones no one sees you win, G'var could think of no truer words at that moment as it took all her willpower not to breakdown. G'var walked over to Wil, placing a hand on his shoulder she gave a gentle squeeze, thankful for the presence of another soul. Turning to the others she knew the hardest part was to come.::
G'var:::involuntarily flexing her hand::-we have to give them rights ::beat:: and prepare them for the journey ahead.
:: Cole had his hand to his nose to try and dissipate the smell as much as possible. At G’var’s suggestion, he stood up and nodded. ::
Maxwell: We can bury them so they aren’t picked apart by scavengers. I think we should keep any ceremony non-denominational and to a minimum so as to not offend anyone.
::The sum of the other’s emotions got to Wil.::
Ukinix: ::Snapping:: And what do you propose -
::Wil closed his eyes, and took a breath, showing his palms to the other three. He took a large swallow, and blew through his cheeks, before speaking again.::
Ukinix: Sorry. Where should we - I mean we don’t have anything to dig with. And we need to identify them - ::Voice croaking:: - you know, their families.
G’var:::nodding::-Wil ::kneeling down to look Wil in the Eyes::-toDuj ghajbogh ::beat:: We will find away, together :: placing a hand on his knee:: the dead will be honored.
:: Cole knew Wil was probably having a hard time sussing out the emotions each of his three companions were feeling. For his part, the doctor was sad about the loss of life. He tried to push the feeling from his mind to take some of the weight off the engineer’s empathic reach. ::
Maxwell: ::to G’var:: See if there’s any power left in the pod to access the computer, it should have a record of who was aboard. Bicondova and I will pull the bodies out. ::to Wil:: Why don’t you try and find some rocks we can use.
::Wil simply looked down, and nodded.::
G'var::standing, holding a hand out to Wil::-ghopwIj tlhap
((Five and a half hours later))
::Five separate piles of rocks were laid out against the cliff face, deliberately as far away from the stream as possible. The sun had long set, but the rocks were lit up from the glow of the ringed gas giant. The four officers stood in front of them silently, exhausted from the efforts of the last several hours.::
G’var:::singing::-'eS pa' Qu' vavwI' vIlegh, eS pa' Qu' SoSwI' vIlegh, 'eS pa' Qu' rom'a' bI'reS nuvpu' tlhegh vIlegh, tobmeH chongaghpa' beside chaH gheSpu', vaSDaq jenDaq HuS meQbogh stovokor...nuqDaq yoHwI’...chaq yIn...reH…
(( OOC translation: Low there do I see my father...Low there do I see my Mother...Low there do I see my Line back to the beginning...They beg me to take my place beside them...In the Golden Halls of Sto’vo’KoR...Where the Brave...May live...Forever! ))
::After G’var finished singing, each crew member spoke.::
Maxwell: Um… I’m not religious in the slightest. But these folks were as brave as any person in Starfleet. We should make sure we do our damndest to get back to the ship so we can let their families know that.
:: Cole hadn’t been to a funeral since his grandfather’s when he was a teenager, and even then he hadn’t said anything during the ceremony. He hoped the message he had relayed was good enough. ::
Bicondova:::wiping a tear back::-May your next life be bright and joyous, as long as we remember what you taught us you will never die. May you enjoy immortality my friends.
::Wil had stopped trying to wipe the tears from his cheeks. There was no point. He had no idea what to say, so he just let words come out::
Ukinix: ::Swallowing:: I didn’t know you, and ::covering mouth with hand:: that makes me sad. ::Sniffing, bowing his head:: Your passing won’t be in vain. Vale.
::G'var was uncertain if Will was crying for her or for them all, it was something she could not afford to do. Closing her eyes she gave a silent prayer to Kahless for allowing her to find such strong companions.::
::The four officers turned around, and started walking back towards the escape pod.::
G’var:::bracing herself::-We need to see what we can salvage from the pod, we can't pass up the chance to bring back any desperately needed supplies.
Maxwell: What do you think Wil?
Ukinix: The worst part is I know I have to ::hands on back of head, voice choking:: scavenge that pod. ::Sniffing:: Let’s do it in the morning, hey?
:: Cole walked closer to the engineer and put his hand on the man’s shoulder. He mustered the best grin he could. Wil firmly patted Cole’s hand a few times in appreciation. ::
Maxwell: Yeah, I think we’ve done enough for one day… ::to the two others:: don’t you think so?
G’var:::nodding::-The pod is not going anywhere ::rolling her shoulder:: we all could do with some rest. We can start the inventory and salvage in the morning.
(( Evening of Day 112 ))
:: Cole handed out ration packs that they’d scavenged from the wreck to the three others as they sat inside the pod. The canopy of the forest seemed to be more alive than ever, even as rain fell heavily. The shelter of the pod was some of the best the team had had in days. ::
::G'var felt the weight of the pack in her hand; this was probably the most nutritious thing she had had in almost two months. Staring at the pack G'var had to suppress a laugh, the stench in the pod was overpowering, she dared not even open the meal in fear she would not be able to keep it down long enough to enjoy a full stomach, G'var could feel Fek’lhr laughing at the bitter irony.::
Maxwell: Eat up folks.
:: Cole sat down and prepared to open the packet when his compatriots started to speak. ::
Bicondova:::chewing on a protein bar::-there looks to be plenty of components to salvage Sirs.
::Wil looked around the pod. There were panels exposed, bits of pod on the ground, and wires and tubes dangling everywhere.::
Ukinix: ::Sweating:: Well... I’ve pulled out some components that were on Teller’s shopping list. ::Small smile:: He’d be proud of this mess. ::Swallowing, mouth turning down.:: I should be hungry. But I’m not.
::G'var’s head rose at Wil’s statement, looking around at the rest of her Team it seemed only Bicondova was truly eating.::
G'var:::placing her back down::-I’m going outside for a bit ::I need a little fresh air ::beat:: I too have no appetite.
:: Even after most of the day exposed to the air, the smell of death still lingered in the pod’s interior. Cole sighed at the various responses. ::
Maxwell: Yeah… ::letting the meal pack fall between his legs:: neither do I.
::During the 10 seconds of silence that followed, Wil’s mind thought forward to getting out of there once the worst of the rain had passed.::
Ukinix: At least we got two new tricorders and a phaser. Someone should grab that tote bag over there. ::Pointing to corner of pod:: Like the one I’ve got, minus the dirt. They’re handy.
Bicondova:::reaching for the bag::-If you Sirs don't mind ::beat:: I'm happy to the pack mule. ::smiling wanly::
::Wil leaned forward and threw his ration pack inside his bag that was sitting nearby on the floor. It was now three-quarters full of components. After a second’s pause, he rummaged around in it and pulled out the damaged triPADD they’d found a day earlier.::
Ukinix: I wonder whose this is. And whether they’re still alive.
Bicondova:::adjusting the tote bag over shoulders::-that looks like the one Dr. Deveau is always carrying around ::beat:: sir
::G'var could faintly hear the others talking inside the Pod, turning her face to the rain she scrubbed her hands over her face trying to wash the smell of death out of her nose. The warm water helped a little, but G'var could still smell the sickly sweet scent. Taking a few steps away from the pod, G'var rested a hand against a tree, with her back to the pod, G'var weeped for her fallen comrades, their deaths were not in battle and their souls were in jeopardy of getting in to Sto’vo’KoR. Smashing a hand against the tree trunk, G'var let out a long cry, there were still missing Crew out her, she would find them for the dead, by rescuing the missing she would earn them all a place among the honored in Sto’vo KoR. G'var turned her face skyward, were the rain began and her tears ended she did not know.::
::They looked out of the pod. The dark grey clouds had turned into light grey clouds. There was still rain in the distance, but the fact they could see what was in the distance was a good sign.::
G’var:::stretching her arm:-Alright we still have missing Family out here ::beat:: so let's get off our backsides ::beat:: we've got Jungle to cover ::beat:: Let's Hunt!
::The team began packing up their gear, to continue their search.::
Ensign Cole Maxwell, M.D.
Ensign Wil Ukinix
Lieutenant Junior Grade G’var