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Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted on Tue May 9th, 2017 @ 7:00pm by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Ensign Asher Maddison MD & Lieutenant JG José Muñiz & Lieutenant JG Nealey Snowdon & Sergeant Bella Zaltin & Lance Corporal Thani th'Rrone & Elsie Cusack

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: Basecamp; Planetside
Timeline: Mission Day 83; 0715

The sun's rays beamed hot and bright over the basecamp. Akiva had been awake since before the dawn. Sleep came fitfully the night before. He felt so much excitement for the unknown, as new frontiers loomed on all sides. New planet. New relationships.

It felt good to be moving forward.

"Kus-emec!" Akiva had become so lost in his thoughts, he'd dropped his hyperspanner on his foot.

Sometime during the night, atmospheric interference had reduced comms between basecamp and the Vindex, so after he'd grabbed a bite of rations, Akiva had climbed to the roof of their shelter in order to calibrate the comm system.

As the light of predawn brightened into sunrise, Akiva had inspected the junction box on the roof. Finding that fully operational, he chased the comm interference from the rooftop connection down the side of the wall to the 10 meter cable leading to the miniature comm tower. It had been too heavy to put atop the roof.

Akiva picked up his hyperspanner and closed up the last panel. His outburst of profanity was not simply that he had dropped his tool, but that he'd failed to fix the problem. The interference could not be attributed to equipment failure, so no amount of calibration was going to compensate for it.

In his troubleshooting, though, he'd made enough noise to wake the dead. Or, at least, the rest of the away team.

Elsie stirred and looked up to see what the noise was. She was sleeping quite well until the noise had disturbed her and woken her up. Getting out of bed she picked up the nearest heavy object she could find - her microscope which she'd brought along - and opened the door of the structure to see what the noise was.

"Who's there?" Elsie called out.

Meanwhile Nealey was still sound asleep - unaware of the racket Akiva was making on the roof.

"Good morning, little one." Akiva wiped the sweat from his brow and dusted his hands off on his pant legs. "Good to see everyone is up and around. It looks like we have a full day ahead of us."

Elsie looked back into the structure before looking back up at Akiva and raising an eyebrow. Nervously hiding the microscope behind her back she tried to add some humour to the situation.

"Not quite. I think most if not all of the people inside are still asleep" Elsie replied.

"Well, let's go ring the bell for anyone not awake," Akiva said.

"I hope you didn't bring an actual bell," Laena said as she walked up behind Elsie. She leaned against the doorway of the structure and gave the XO a sweet smile.

Akiva fought to keep a straight face, though the twinkle in his eyes was clearly for Laena. "No, Petty Officer. I didn't."

The crackle of small, yellow-legged insects as they sputtered through the air like drunken shuttlecraft pilots was the only sound that broke the silence of the gentle breeze that rustled the orange-rust leaves of the low bushes and the crash of the surf from beyond the low cliff face to her south. The Marine First Sergeant had been up since just before daybreak, relieving Corporals Billings and th'Rrone alongside Corporal Drex, who held a position on the opposite side of camp. The spot was nearly perfectly idyllic, but if there was one thing that she drilled into the three on the shuttleride down (and all their training for months prior), it was that they must blend situational awareness with actions to take immediately upon the perception that a confrontational situation had arrived.

Of course Billings had to question the wording. Why “perception” and not confirmation? "Because," Bella barked as she looked at him out of the corner of her eye, "you need to react accordingly with the perception: the confirmation may be too late. Do you want to die surrounded by beauty because you let your guard down? Or worse, let everyone else on this shuttle meet a grisly fate because you couldn't stop watching the butterflies and smelling the flowers?" The man's silence had been answer enough.

Of course, it didn't mean that she hadn't been enjoying herself until the XO's epithet pierced the coastal stillness. Turning for a quick look over her shoulder, she saw everyone from the shelter begin stirring as Commander ben-Avram addressed them from the entryway. Securing her position, the female Marine began making her way to the morning gaggle.

The doctor groggily woke up, took a few seconds to get her bearings and then swivelled out of bed. She'd fallen asleep in her uniform, but Asher didn't particularly care, it was comfortable and it was warmer than the thin duvet she'd used.

"That bed is so uncomfortable." Asher commented, walking out of the door and leaning against the wall next to it.

José emerged from his bunk and headed outside to see where the light was coming into the structure from. Still dressed in his pyjamas the Spaniard walked out of the open doorway and looked up at Akiva on the roof.

"An early start or a sleepless night?" José asked.

Akiva had climbed back on the roof to tighten down everything he had inspected that morning. There was no sense in breaking something worse while troubleshooting it.

"Maybe a little of both." Akiva slid over the edge of the roof and hopped down to the ground, landing in a crouch position. He shot a flirtatious glance at Laena before standing up to address the group.

"I know we were all expecting a day of R&R to recover from our hard work last night." The words were out before he could stop them. He coughed into his hand and pointedly look away from Laena.
"Basecamp looks great as a result. You all should be proud. But today has presented a new problem."

Akiva gestured to the comm tower nearby and the transceiver junction boxes on top of the roof which he had just secured.

"As you all have no doubt inferred, our comms are suffering. The way I read it, we're going to have to erect at least three more comm towers on the far ridge across the basin in order to punch through the increased atmospheric interference."

He pointed to Jose and Bella.

"I'll be taking a team in the Argo to get those operational as soon as possible. Sergeant Zaltin, assign two Marines to guard basecamp and one to accompany us along with yourself."

Bella nodded. Holding up two fingers before using them to point to Billings and th'Rrone, she turned to the Trill and nodded before looking back to the XO. No need to use words when none were needed.

José nodded and confirmed he was happy with his instructions.

Akiva addressed the rest. "Everyone else can continue with the survey studies as close to schedule as possible. Soil and flora samples, meteorological observations, whatever can be done in close proximity. Lieutenant Snowdon will be in charge until we return. Any questions?"

Nealey was one of the last to emerge - also still in her pyjamas she emerged just as her name was mentioned. Trying not to yawn too loudly - despite covering her mouth - she nodded to confirm she'd understood she was in charge until Akiva returned later.

"No problem. What are we looking at around here today?" Nealey replied.

"I'll leave that up to our Science officers," Akiva said. "Just keep it all in one piece and make sure nobody runs off."

Nealey nodded. "Fair enough. I think we should all have some breakfast first though - there's no way we can do a survey on an empty stomach. It's just a pity we couldn't bring the chef down with us"

"I'm with you on that, Lieutenant. I hope someone brought some proper coffee down with us, I barely slept on that thing last night so I'm gonna need something to keep me awake. Who designed that thing and called it a bed?" Asher said, quite moody and snappy after her lack of sleep.

"I'll leave you to sort that out," Akiva said. He turned back to Jose and Bella. "Grab a bite while I load the Argo. We leave in 10 minutes."

José immediately went inside to get changed and find something to eat. It was going to be another long day for the survey team - although the good news was a second and possibly a third were being prepared for later to survey different parts of the planet.

"Eight minutes of wasted time, sir," Bella responded with a nod. th'Rrone and Billings ambled over to a stack of cargo containers and opened one before rifling through it and bringing up several packages of...donuts. Why had Paul even packed those after her explicit instructions for foods low in weight and density but high in nutrition? More than likely the two marines had snuck the contraband and for the moment she didn't care; they would be burning those calories and many, many more in the hours to come.

Bella shook her head as she pocketed three spare phaser batteries and grabbed her small "go-bag" that contained food, water, a first aid kit, a survival blanket and several other odds-and-ends with which to protect and care for the small contingent. The pencil-necks needed a guardian angel and she figured that she and the Trill were the best they had so they better be prepared.

Akiva went inside the shelter to gather the supplies for the day, as well as the spare parts and materials required to set up the comm tower network. He didn't mind making several trips back and forth to the Argo if it meant the others would be prepared to leave as quickly as possible. A lingering thought passed regarding those who were staying at the basecamp, but ultimately they'd just have to manage themselves until he got back.

If anybody could keep them in line, he thought to himself, it would be Nealey.

Forcing herself to get moving again, Asher went back inside to get herself a cup of coffee and a decent meal to start the day. She was glad she was staying at base camp, Asher didn't think she could take a day of being on the move. Doctor Burrows was a fine doctor, but Asher wanted to relieve her at some point.

On his last trip out, Akiva fixed Asher with an even stare.

"Keep them alive, Doctor." The planet was beautiful and had no sign of intelligent life, but he just couldn't shake the premonition that something was about to go direly wrong.

Meeting that stare, Asher nodded once. Continuing to chew her breakfast, Asher waited until she had swallowed until she spoke.

"That won't be a problem." Asher replied.


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